There haven’t been any “Comics Picks of the Week” articles for a while, and the major reason for that is because I’ve just been too caught up with other stuff and I just can’t be… well bothered. It just takes too much out of my time to keep these titles going, especially when Wednesdays also see me trying to get through two TV shows and doing reviews for them. Though, that situation has kind of abated now.
Anyway, this week’s surprise hits were Batman: Arkham Knight #2 and Gotham Central Book 1 from DC. It was a relatively small week for me since I didn’t read all that many new titles and most of those were middling. Ongoing greats were Django/Zorro #4, John Carter: Warlord of Mars #4, Fantastic Four #643 , Inhuman #12, Aquaman #39 , Catwoman #39 , and He-Man: The Eternity War #3 among others .
Last year veteran Batman writer Grant Morrison finally killed of Damian Wayne, the character that he created along with artist-writer Andy Kubert almost a decade ago. The fallout from Damian’s death was a bit intense across the Bat-family titles (for most of them anyway), but then the titles moved on, and the gaping heart remained since Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne aka Batman and Ra’s al-Ghul’s daughter Talia, was the current Robin and had apparently gained a lot of popularity among fans despite his many… flaws. I certainly didn’t enjoy what little I read of the character in various comics, but he was… interesting.
With Robin Rises: Omega #1, a one-shot comic, it appears that DC is looking to bring back the fan-favourite Robin from the dead, and I’m already turned off by it. I got this double-sized issue to see what kind of a story I was going to get here and because there was a good amount of buzz for it, and all I’m left with after reading through it is plain disappointment. Tomasi’s writing has been decent at best for me, but with this issue he really bored me from the get go. And while Andy Kubert’s art has been decent at best as well, I couldn’t get into it so much, although the art is definitely better than the story here.
So welcome to the first Comics Picks of The Week for 2014 where I list the comics that were actually to be the first ones released in the new year. Everything that has been revealed so far about 2014 promises an amazing year, I have to say. Well, for the most part at least. There are some things that I don’t quite understand, or like, but eh, it is still going to be a great year I feel.
This past week, Marvel finally launched its All-New Marvel NOW! line with Black Widow, All-New X-Factor and Revolutionary War: Alpha and they aren’t going to stop. New releases will continue throughout March at the least and we will even be getting some of these new titles double-shipped, such as Black Widow #2 which comes out next week. In other news, I had some fun reading DC titles this week, although Detective Comics #27 proved to be quite disappointing for most of the first half. And my disappointment is on several levels, not just with one particular aspect of it. But, more on that in the reviews.
My first graphic novel of the year happened to be the (unfinished) mini-series that Steve Gerber and Matthew Sturges wrote a few years ago, with the former writing the tale of a new Doctor Fate while the latter wrote about the supervillain Eclipse. Only eight issues of this double-sized series were released, but I have to say that I definitely enjoyed it and based on that, my graphic novel reading is off to a good start.
Less than a year since Detective Comics celebrated its 900th issue with New 52: Detective Comics #19, an anthology issue which brought together several different creators, we have New 52: Detective Comics #27, which celebrates the landmark issue of the original series that first introduced Batman to the world as Bat-Man, the caped crusader and dark knight of Gotham who solved the city’s crime with acts of vigilantism. And again, we have an anthology issue bringing together different creators, and telling some really different stories while also giving some bonus art to fans.
I was really excited for this issue. I kind of missed the whole lead-up to Detective Comics #19 since I wasn’t reading the series at the time, but I am now. And one thing that happened this afternoon was that I was massively disappointed. This issue, in its first half, basically retells classic tales and does a hack-job. The second half, with original stories that will be carried over in future issues, is actually good. But the first half definitely bothered me, and it was the writing far more than the art that bothered me.
Managed to read a handful of more comics this week, since there were a lot of titles released that I was really interested in, and a couple from previous weeks that I hadn’t been able to get around to at the time. As usual, it was all a mixed reading experience, with some really good comics mixed in with some bad ones and a few that straddle the fence between the two extremes. More positive ones than negative ones.
No graphic novels this week sadly, since this week was a real slog in reading, again, and I was struggling for time in general with everything else too. Perhaps this coming week can be different!
DC’s Forever Evil is hitting its stride as the main-event and the four tie-ins across some seven titles get off to a rollicking start and move into their meatier moments. There is absolute chaos in the world right now and in Tomasi’s Arkham War mini-series, we see how that chaos is mirrored in the no-holds barred chaos in Gotham, where two criminal factions are going full-out at each other. Bane, powered by the Venom super-serum is leading one side, while the Society-backed Scarecrow is leading the other side, defined by the majority of the freak villains that call the city their playground.
The first issue of the series was quite promising. It was slightly better than I expected and the way that Tomasi wrote all the character interactions and sprinkled the hints of his longer plan for the series was really engaging. Of course, I didn’t get the big all-out fight I expected but the issue gave me enough to come back for this issue, which does involve some big splash scenes between the villains (and supervillains) of both sides. But, there are a few missteps made that I find really, really odd.
Finally, this was a week where my non-DC reading far out-stripped my DC reading. Villain’s Month really seems to have taken a toll with my reading, what with reading like seven or eight titles a week. Things are finally becoming more normal, and that’s excellent in and of itself. Lots of Dark Horse and IDW reading as well this week, which was really nice, since I’m playing catch-up with a few of their titles and really need to be getting down to read these issues.
However, no luck with reading any graphic novels again this week. I had hoped to read at least one during my flight back to Dubai from Delhi but things didn’t work out like that since I slept on the entire flight, all three and a half hours of it. That’s something I suppose. But now I have the time I hope so will see what happens.
After all the heavy build-up in the Villain’s Month issues, we finally get around to the first Forever Evil tie-in. It is slightly disappointing that Trinity War didn’t turn into a full-blown event but turned into a “road to…” kind of prequel, but the “main” event is still pretty fun. Villain’s Month gave us week after week of villainous one-shots and the Gotham-centric issues all were prequels to this, the crazy inmates of Arkham against the regular soldiers under the command of Bane himself.
I wasn’t too taken with the Scarecrow #1 and Bane #1 issues, and they were primarily a case of the writing being a letdown instead of the art, but still, Arkham War is something I was looking forward to. It has a really cool concept and it features some of Batman’s most iconic villains, so what’s not to love?