On account of traveling to and from India this past week, my comics reading took a back-seat, as did my novel reading incidentally. Very few comics read, but most of them were good at least, a saving grace.
Its been an interesting year for the movie industry, whether we talk Hollywood or Bollywood. Big tent-pole movies were the norm at the box office, and there were both successes and flops from each region. It can’t be denied either that some of the box offices successes have proved to be quite surprising, such as the runaway hits Frozen and The Hunger Games #2: Catching Fire, which continue to tell studio executives that female-led movies, especially action movies, CAN be successful if given a chance and that hiding behind ridiculous sexist attitudes and thinking just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Or let’s talk Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim which underperformed in the US but was a big hit in international markets and the reason for the former can no doubt be laid at the feet of the subversive trend in American media of trash-talking movies that are different.
But enough of that. This post, the first such that I’m doing, is meant to celebrate the movies that I thoroughly enjoyed this year, whether Hollywood or Bollywood, and that’s what I’m going to focus on here. So let’s have at it.
A few days ago I did my best of 2013 list for the books I had read in the second half of the year. In a departure from previous such lists I divided the books and the comics into separate posts so that I didn’t have one massive post up. Massive posts are a bit tough to handle, especially when you are promoting them on social media. And with the split posts, the directions are different and there’s no unnecessary crossover.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite graphic novels of the year. A post with the best single issues will follow on later.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my ninth pick is the Asgardian who doubles up on Earth as a Norse god, the mighty Thor from Jason Aaron’s phenomenal Thor: God of Thunder from Marvel Comics, a new series that started last year with the Marvel NOW! initiative and has consistently been one of Marvel’s top comics of each month. I credit Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic for helping me break into Marvel’s comics full and proper with this title and its been a damn good read throughout its run till now.
Hit the break to see why I picked this character.
For this new seasonal end of year list, the fourth book cover that I pick is Brian McClellan’s debut novel for Orbit Books, Promise of Blood, the first novel in the Powder Mage gunpowder fantasy series that, for me, does some really new things with magic systems. Additionally, it describes a very rich and layered world that is driven by politics on all levels of culture and society. And finally, Brian writes some great action scenes that definitely make it easy to visualise in the mind what’s happening on the pages. That in itself is quite fantastic.
And the fourth comics cover that I pick is the seventh issue of writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic’s Thor: God of Thunder. This is the series that really got me to read Marvel comics since it was the only comic from the publisher for months that I was following regularly. The two creators together wove a wonderful space operatic tale with fantasy elements and the comic featured regularly on my end of month lists, which can be found here.
So without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
Agents of SHIELD is a show that often tests my patience. One episode will be good, another not so much. And this flip flop continues in a loop every two weeks. There’s almost a regularity to it. It is one of the most uneven shows that I’ve watched, which is saying something since I’m quite a fan of Joss Whedon’s other shows and the ones I’ve seen have all been excellent, losing steam only about the time that they hit their final seasons. The show is extremely promising, but it just doesn’t capture the imagination as well as it should be.
Last week’s episode was kind of a bore. It lacked all the excitement and character drama of the episode the week before. But this week’s episode somehow turns it around. It is better than last week’s episode, primarily because it makes a strong effort to tie-in to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. And there is some interesting character development as well, with regards to Agent Ward, one character on the show who desperately needs that kind of development.
Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder has been one of the biggest successes of Marvel’s line-wide reboot. A lot of that undoubtedly has to do with the Thor franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe being such a big breakout success as well. The second movie, Thor: The Dark World, which launched last week has so far proven to be another big hit and has broken several box office records of its predecessor already. Jason Aaron has been going all-out with the series and its an approach that has clearly worked out.
The current arc stars the long-forgotten Thor villain Malekith, one-time leader of the Dark Elves of the realm of Svartalfheim. Broken out of his prison in #13, he has been waging a guerrilla war across the Nine Realms and it has fallen to Thor and representatives of some of the other realms to hunt him down and bring him back in chains. In #14 we see the League of Realms form, an Avengers-like team-up of warriors from across the Nine Realms, and we see their first outing together. In #15, we see them a second time and this time, a lot of emphasis is placed on the character drama between the characters, rather than on the action.
It’s back to comics for another day of Advent Reviews. This time I take on one of Marvel’s latest reboots, Thor: God of Thunder #1, which is written by Jason Aaron and is part of the publisher’s Marvel NOW! staggered line-wide relaunch. The recent movie piqued my interest in the character, and as a fan of Norse mythology, I couldn’t really pass up an opportunity to “start from the beginning” as it were.
In the Week 2 Update, I said that my goal for Week 3 was to hopefully complete chapter 4 by the end of the week and to have roughly 14,000 words in the bag. The first of those goals was going to be really tricky since I tend to overwrite chapters a lot and stick to my outline only in the most meta sense, but I was confident that I could do the second goal. I had done it in Week 2 and I had been traveling then, so no big deal.
Following on from my Week 1 Update, Week 2 was both better and worse for Project Cloak of Secrecy. The trip to India proved to be as bad as I had thought it would be, since I had two really terrible days of writing that set me back considerably. I managed to really in the second half of the week, but that required a near superhuman effort on my part, not to mention that I even ended up breaking a writing record, one that I’m really proud of in retrospect.
As I mentioned in my October Report, I’m taking part in the National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, once more this year after my successful run with it last year. The project, tentatively titled Ragnarok Chronicles Volume 1: Cloak of Secrecy is a space opera style science fantasy with Norse Gods, Giants and Humans in an interstellar and pan-dimensional power struggle. The concept was borne out of a want to do something with the growing body of work in this subset of science fiction/fantasy featuring gods in contemporary timelines such as James Lovegrove’s “Age of” novels or M. D. Lachlan’s Claw series.