In December of last year, writer Michael Alan Nelson and artists Dan Mora and Gabriel Cassata kicked off the second arc of their smash-hit series Hexed with a new arc that develops on everything we were introduced to in the first half, such as the complicated relationships between the three main characters, and the mysteries that surround all of them. Deservedly, the fifth issue of the series was an all-star issue that hit the perfect note for me at the end of the year, and I expected the next few issues to be more of the same.
And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Issue #6 from last month builds on the concept of Lucifer being the Harlot’s heir, and Lady Cymbaline trying to use that to get a hold on her since she has a bitter enmity with the Harlot. Issue #7 then, in turn, builds upon some of the secrets that Val has kept from Lucifer to date, and it all becomes kind of a really interesting mess by the end. Great story, amazingly great art, that’s what you can expect from this seasoned team, and you will definitely not be left wanting.
A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the comics I read in the second half of 2014. And back in July of 2014, I did the first “best comics of 2014” post. The reason I mention that is because of the changes I’ve made for this list. While previously I used to do it so that I put up my top 6 comics, in July’14 I did a top 12 on account of the increased number of comics I was reading at the time. And that same holds true for this list as well since I’ve gone up on the number yet again, and this list has the top 20 and then 20 honourable mentions.
More comics, yay!
So, with the books of the second half of 2014 already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the same period. The next post will be a list of the top graphic novels I read in all of 2014.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
Almost a month after the last time, I finally had a Magic 40 week! And not just any plan Magic 40 week, but one where I managed to read three graphic novels as well!
For this week, the surprise hits were Fables: The Wolf Among Us #1 from Vertigo Comics, Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #6 and Spider-Man & The X-Men #1 from Marvel Comics, Justice League #32-36 from DC Comics and The Valiant #1 from Valiant Comics. The comic (yes, the only one!) that proved to be rather disappointing, even unexpectedly so, was New Suicide Squad #5 from DC. Apart from that, a good run continued on several other titles like Hexed, John Carter: Warlord of Mars, Batman: Eternal, Birthright, Prometheus: Fire and Stone and others.
The three graphic novels for this week were: Grimm Fairy Tales: Code Red Volume 1, which is set during the recent Age of Darkness crossover event from Zenescope Entertainment, Mighty Avengers Volume 2 from Marvel, which is an effort by me to catch up on this mostly-good title, and Supergirl Volume 1, which is an older Supergirl title, pre-New 52.
This segment is proving to be quite interestingly popular in certain corners, and I still am taken with how it allows me to cover so many more comics than I would otherwise be able to. It is suitably time-intensive as well, which can sometimes wear on me when I have so much more to do, but not such a big deal. Plus, choosing which comic to feature here, while a challenge, is also quite a fun process in and of itself, so that’s something as well.
The picks for this week are: Brides of Helheim #3, Chastity #4-6, Dredd Uprise #2, Hexed #5, Spider-Verse Team-Up #2 and Prometheus: Fire and Stone #3-4. Lots of catch-up on the reviews this week, as you can see!
Getting on a roll again, this week I managed to repeat the “Magic 40” with 2 graphic novels and 38 singles, with many of the latter being absolutely new series, so that was a lot of fun for the most part.
My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1 from Valiant Comics, Deep State #1 from Boom Studios, Django/Zorro #1 from Dynamite Entertainment and Vertigo Comics, and The Kitchen #1 from Vertigo Comics also. The most disappointing comics of this week were Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #4 both from Marvel Comics, New 52 – Batman #36 from DC Comics and Grimm Fairy Tales: Cfinderella #1 from Zenescope Entertainment. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Hexed, Fables, New Suicide Squad, Red Sonja and Unity all proved to be immensely fun.
The graphic novels for this week were King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon by Timothy Truman, Tomás Giorello and Jose Villarrubia, and Fables Volume 5 by Bill Willingham, Tony Akins, Jimmy Palmiotti, Daniel Vozzo, Todd Klein, James Jean, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha.
Given how many comics I usually get to in any given week, anywhere from about 25 or so and all the way up to 40 even, it is not possible for me to review everything. Especially when I watch a lot of television in the week as well, and review as much of that as I can, or anime or even book reviews. Hence this new effort, Fast-Shot Comics Reviews, which I’m hoping to make a regular weekly thing on the blog. But no pressure! Every week on Wednesday, I’m going to try and review about 6 comics from the week prior that I didn’t get to in that week, and see where things go from here!
The picks for this week are: Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1, Deep State #1, Django/Zorro #1, Hexed #4, The Kitchen #1 and Unity #12. As you can see, four of this comics are brand-new series, with the very first one being a spin-off of Valiant Comics’ hit title Archer & Armstrong. I picked these six comics because they are undoubtedly among the best comics I read this week, but also because they are all incredibly diverse, very different to each other and to other comics on the shelves this past week, especially Unity #12 which is a superhero comic, but deals with something rather different than the norm.
Boom Studios’ Hexed, from Michael Alan Nelson and Dan Mora is one of the best new comics on shelves right now, and with good reason. It stars three incredible female character who are awesome in all sorts of ways, particularly the protagonist Lucifer, and it also has a really cool premise the likes of which is perfect for the medium itself. The first two issues were incredibly good, whether you talk about the writing or the art, and I foresee the series making its way onto several best of the year lists by the end of the year. It is just that good, and it is definitely going to make it on mind.
Hexed #3 continues the story of Lucifer caught up in the other-world where she got trapped a while back, even as her mentor Val Brisendine carries on in the real world, with the aid of her secretary Raina, who is new to all the kind of weird and freaky that Val and Lucifer are a part of. Recently, a major villain found his way into the real world and both Lucifer and Val are trying to stop him from doing too much harm. It is a great setup and Michael Alan Nelson’s story/script have definitely been great, same as the art by Dan Mora and Gabriel Cassata has been great, with Hexed #3 being the best of the series till now.
I haven’t read a whole lot of comics from Boom Studios to date. I was onboard with their Hypernatural series for a while back in 2012, and read a few other titles here and there, but didn’t really stick with anything. Which is something that I really should correct since a lot of the publisher’s titles are really interesting, such as Polarity mini-series, or even the fact that they publish the Planet of the Apes comics, which I’ve wanted to read for a good long while now. With my increased reading capacity each week, perhaps this is the time for getting back on track with that and I already have a great title that I’m following at present.
Michael Alan Nelson’s Hexed debuted last month and the first issue was awesome. An urban fantasy involving a female thief who steals magical items so bad guys can’t get to them? Let’s chalk that up to being an awesome masterpiece. The first issue involved some crazy action involving a post-Impressionist masterpiece and led to some really interesting developments for the hero, Lucifer. And the second issue continued that, with even more action involving a trip to metaphysical realms and using magic items to stop the bad guys. This has to be Michael’s best work to date, that I’ve read, and the art by Dan Mora and Gabriel Cassata is mind-blowing as well.
Last week’s penultimate episode of Agents of SHIELD proved to be a disappointment. I had had such high expectations of the episode, but it failed to deliver on many of the most important elements and it made me somewhat fearful that the finale this week would similarly fail to deliver. After all, the show had just recently experienced a positive turn-around, and I wanted that to continue. Looking back, having just seen the finale, I suppose that I should have seen the penultimate episode as a sign of what was to come. Because this is the show that is based on a superhero-verse and yet it proceeded along as a standard police procedural.
The finale, “Beginning of the End“, hasAnd part of the problem is that while the show did complete a few lingering storylines, it left things far too open-ended and it was basically a cliche from start to finish. For me, it showcased some of the worst of the source form, and it really did not add positively to the overall experience of this season. I must say that this episode is not at all the kind of finale I was expecting. It was bland and uninspiring, the only good thing being Nick Fury’s cameo, and even that I found problematic.
The last few episodes of Agents of SHIELD have been a cut above almost the entire season thus far. A significant part of is that the show has finally begun to accept the comic-ness of the setting, and has made great strides in furthering along the characters and the meta plot in a way that we didn’t see outside of a very small handful of episodes like TRACKS and YES MEN. As I have said recently, it has finally become the kind of show that I’ve wanted it to be since the start, and although I detest that we had to wait so long for it to get going, I’m just glad that it finally did. But some vestiges of the first half of the season remain.
In this, the penultimate episode of Agents of SHIELD‘s debut season, I expected some really big things. I expected some big clashes, some big reveals, perhaps a movie guest star or two even, but no, none of that happened. Watching this episode, “Ragtag“, you would never get the feeling that next week this season is ending. It is so… normal, so… average that it just beggars belief. The last few shows had the team deal with some of the fallout of HYDRA’s emergence from within SHIELD. This week, it is all about heavy-handed character development, which is kind of weird.
I just got done watching the latest episode of Agents of SHIELD and all I can say is “YES! YES! YES! YES!”. Why couldn’t the show have been like for the whole of season 1? Oh yes, that’s right, because Marvel execs wanted to do the big reveal in Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier and they handicapped the show. Which doesn’t really make sense at all. All the fun weirdness of the Marvel comics-verse was put aside to give viewers a tedious procedural that was rarely fun and exciting. But thankfully the recent episodes since the Captain America movie have turned things around and have focused more on the universe itself.
This week’s episode, “Nothing Personal“, is hands-down the best episode of the entire season. Why? Because for starters it has Maria Hill in it. And it has Deathlok. And May is back to being her usual badass self. And Skye finally becomes 100% not irritating. And Ward is a convincing villain. And we find out who was behind the entire TAHITI project that brought Coulson back to life. So there’s a whole lot of awesome going on in this episode and pretty much no downside at all. Which is a huge, huge thing for this show as far as I’m concerned.
So the last two episodes of the show have been something else. In the wake of the revelations made in the recent Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier movie, that HYDRA is still alive and kicking and has even infiltrated SHIELD at its highest levels, the nature and direction of the show has shifted significantly. The current team of heroes, already suffering from trust issues with the establishment, has more cause than ever to trust anyone but themselves, and even that isn’t saying much since there have been several betrayals on that front already. Despite some conflict over whether last week’s episode was good or not, I gave it the benefit of doubt and tuned in this week, only to be disappointed, again.
The new episode basically maintains the status quo. All the fun action and weirdness of the previous episode is pretty much gone and this one is, as a friend put it to me when we discussed the episode, just setting the pieces for the finale, which is going to be very soon. The thing that gets me is that the characters still act as if they can do whatever the hell they want (looking at you, Coulson) without any regard for anything else. And the story doesn’t really move forward any, nor do we have even a hint of any appearance from two of SHIELD’s biggest names: Nick Fury and Maria Hill.