Darkness Falls was meant to be one of the big moments for the Top Cow universe a while back, given everything that was going on in David Hine and Jeremy Haun’s The Darkness: Rebirth at the time, just about a little over 2 years ago. The build-up was definitely fantastic, but then plans got delayed for some reason, and so we never really got the follow-up to Hine and Haun’s big-moment finale of the second volume of the series, up until now, and in the pages of Witchblade no less.
White writer Ron Marz began a new arc on Witchblade with its #179th issue, issues #180 and #181 are devoted to the re-energized Darkness Falls: The Death of Jackie Estacado storyline. A confrontation between Sara and Jackie had been signposted for a good while in the pages of The Darkness: Rebirth so it was rather rewarding to see it all come about finally, even though it kind of felt as if the story didn’t get the execution it deserved and kind of fell a little flat as well. But things heated up rather nicely with the recent #182nd issue, which reverts back to the new arc that Ron Marz had started, and presents a few answers to a few mysteries already introduced.
Last week, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow did something rather daring that I didn’t expect, twice. Not only was Henry killed off in the penultimate episode of the second season, but we also had Katrina travel back in the past to change history because of the circumstances of Henry’s death. What should have been a really emotional episode was perhaps less so, but I think the daring aspect of it kept me hooked. And it did have a sense of impending finality to it, so in retrospect it was kind of clear the route that the writers might take, but it was still pretty surprising.
This week’s episode “Tempus Fugit“, the second season finale, shows what Katrina hopes to achieve in the past, what particular outcome she wants to change so that she can have a life with Jeremy (Henry) that she’s always wanted and the lack of which turned him to his dark past. In terms of action, the episode definitely packs a big punch, but in terms of character development, it isn’t anywhere as impressive, and a particular decision of the writers in the final few minutes definitely did not work for me either.
Fox’s Sleepy Hollow’s has been trying some interesting things of late, especially given the fact that the show has now moved beyond the threat of the demon Moloch, the Horrid King, unleashing the foretold Apocalypse, with Ichabod and Katrina’s son’s Henry/James being the instrument of this release. The show has focused much more on the character relationships now and while it has had some success in some areas, it has also been a bit weak when it comes to certain characters, especially Captain Frank Irving and Katrina herself.
The recent three episodes of the show, “Spellcaster“, “What Lies Beneath“, and “Awakening” are very much focused on bringing Henry back into the fold. He disappeared at the end of the mid-season premiere, having turned on Moloch and killing him instead of Katrina and Ichabod, but now we learn that he is very much alive and is indeed planning something, though he is no longer beholden to Moloch. Quite different times in fact, and along the way, we also get to see some really dubious characterisation of Katrina, the most troubled character on the show, and also get to see that many of the recent things happening in Sleepy Hollow aren’t as isolated as we thought they were.
Sleepy Hollow’s mid-season premiere got off to a rocky but interesting start about 3 weeks back or so, though I find that with Moloch gone and done with, the show has lost a little bit of its appeal as well since things aren’t so “2 minutes to midnight” anymore. There’s a lack of urgency to things, and though the mid-season premiere did well by further exploring the weirdly fun world of the town of Sleepy Hollow by introducing angels into the mix, I also find that the show is kind of plodding along now, with little thought to a longer story.
The recent two episodes, “Pittura Infamante” and “Kali Yuga” do one thing well: they take the rocky relationship between Ichabod and Katrina and then try to smooth over their many differences while also showing more cracks between Ichabod and Abby. Both are reflective of the loss of a common enemy that brought the three of them together, and that’s where the episodes really focus. However, it is all far too… mundane and the clear lack of an over-arching plot for the tail end of the second season is really hurting the show, as far as I can tell, since the characters and stories are just plodding along, doing the basics necessary of them.
The mid-season finale last month proved to be a major game-changer. The show had been building up to this one big epic confrontation between the heroes and the villains and it all finally happened as Moloch succeeded in manifesting himself on Earth and began to bring about a merging of Earth with Purgatory, over which he held dominion. But then, something really incredible happened, and it was all for naught because the great demon overlooked something quite… human, which proved to be his terrible downfall.
And that brings us to this week’s episode, “Paradise Lost“, the mid-season premiere of a great show. In this new episode, we find out what happened to the heroes after their big confrontation with Moloch, and how the span of time since then has changed them all. Moloch is gone, good and proper, and so a semblance of normality is returning to their lives, but an evil like Moloch doesn’t go out all the way and Team Witness’ bad time is about to get a whole lot worse because there are many more dangers out there now, now that many of the denizens of Purgatory have fled to Earth and have begun to cause mayhem.
Note: This review contains spoilers for the mid-season finale, episode 11.
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!
Doing one of these posts often takes a lot out of me because of all the linking and checking and verification and formatting and everything, but lists like this also help me crystalize my year in reading, so I value them quite highly. Thankfully, I’m able to get this list out in time and most of the books on the list have already been reviewed as well, so that’s something too.
With the year 2014 now done and over, it is time to do the first of my “Best of the Year” posts, for the period 1st July to December 31st. I didn’t read as many books this time as I wanted to, primarily because I got married in the first week of July itself, and things have changed a fair bit. But life remains exciting and interesting in equal measure, and my reading also happens to match that rather closely, so I’ll take that in full indeed!
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
I’ve long wanted to play EVE Online, a game that many friends over the years have recommended to me on various levels, but I’ve never been able to get around to it. The expansive scope of the game, the concept, the visuals, the mechanics, everything is very intriguing and compelling, and any time I come across something to do with EVE Online, I get a hankering to play the game. But sadly, no time for a game requiring as much investment in time and effort as EVE. That’s actually one of the reasons I stopped playing World of WarCraft a few years back, to my continuing regret since I still have a great amount of nostalgia for that game, which I try to get around by reading the books that are published, which is where EVE: The Empyrean Age comes in.
From a bit of googling I did a while back, EVE: The Empyrean Age by Tony Gonzales is a tie-in to the EVE Online expansion The Empyrean Age. In it, the writer covers the rise of the Caldari Providence Directorate, the return of the Minmitari Elders, the return of Jamyl Sarum to the Amarr Empire, the fall of CONCORD (in a way), and several other things besides. Since I know very little of the world of EVE Online, I was initially wrong-footed by the novel, but as the pages went by, I discovered a riveting tale of interstellar politics and wars and economics that really drew me in and instilled in me a fascination for all sorts of EVE lore, making it one of the best novels I’ve read this year, even though it wasn’t published in 2014.
Last year I started a seasonal “Best of…” list that focused on some of the best covers I saw that year, whether for novels or comics. And now, it being the same time of the year in the new year, it is an opportunity to bring the list back, more so since it was really popular when I started it.
The first of these “Best of…” book covers is actually a tie between William King’s Terrarch Chronicles #2: The Serpent Tower and Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns #1: The Thousand Names. None of these two are 2014 publications, which is usually how I do these lists, but I wasn’t particularly taken with the covers of the two 2014 books I did read, so here we are (Though, it should be mentioned that the mass paperback of The Thousand Names came out in July’14). I’ve long been a fan of William’s work for Black Library, and Terrarch Chronicles was his first self-published work, the first novel in the series being one of my favourites last year. And with Django’s debut from last year, I’ve become a big fan of his work too and will be reading the sequel in a few days, hopefully. Looking forward to that!
The first of these “Best of…” comics covers is another tie, owing more to how many more comics I began to read this year compared to previous years, each week. And the picks are the covers for Witchblade #172 by Stjepan Sejic and for Black Widow #2 by Phil Noto. The Witchblade is a character I’ve long been a fan, specifically its bearer Sara Pezzini and with Ron Marz coming back on the title last year, it proved to be a new fun era for the title in all respects. And on Black Widow, I’ve seen some of the best content from Marvel all-year, with the new title being matched in consistency only by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel.
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.
In last week’s “Magnum Opus” we got to see some truly incredible things from everyone involved on the front-face of the show. The acting was superb. The writing was superb. The execution was superb. It was, in many ways, one of most sublime of all episodes on the show so far, possibly rivaling only last year’s season one finale in terms of impact and emotion and tension and everything else. But then, it was also just the beginning of the end too since while Team Witnesses has taken a hell of a lot of knocks this year, they finally had a major weapon against Moloch, and that’s what counts in the end.
This week’s “The Akeda” is the mid-season finale, ending an eleven-week run of what I consider to be awesome. Just as last year, the ramp-up to this major episode was run through with some really game-changing material, such as the Team Witnesses getting some new allies, some new weapons and also some revelations about their history. Now, it all comes together as the team rushes in to take down Moloch for good, though the episode isn’t without its many twists. It is a great episode in most respects and while it is a bit too fast for my liking, it also ends on a very strong note.
No “Magic 40” this week since I wasn’t able to get around to a lot of the comics I wanted to get through this week, largely because I am traveling and in India for a cousin’s marriage. These things always take up a lot of time. I haven’t even had a chance to work on my NaNo novel these past two days!
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1 and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Amazing Spider-Man #10 and Spider-Woman #1 from Marvel Comics. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Black Widow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 , Future’s End, Predator: Fire and Stone and Witchblade all proved to be immensely fun.
The graphic novels for this week were Aphrodite IX v2 Volume 2 by Matt Hawkins, Stjepan Sejic and Troy Peteri, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 by Dan Abnett, Rafael Kayanan, Kathryn Layno, Deron Bennett, Yildiray Cinar, Randy Mayor, Michael S. O’Hare, Frazer Irving, Pop Mhan, Tom Derenick, Tony Avina, Ken Lashley and Ryan Sook.
A whole lot of different things are happening very quickly now on Sleepy Hollow as Henry aka the Horseman of War, prepares to unleash his master Moloch the Horrid King on the world, and bring about the Apocalypse. In the last few episodes we’ve seen how Henry has brought Moloch into the real world, using Katrina as the unwilling agent of this demonic birth, thereby demoralising the two Witnesses a great deal. But the heroes bounce back from this setback, as they are wont to do and that’s what I love about the series so much, that there’s always hope.
This week’s episode is titled “Magnum Opus” and that’s pretty much true of the story. This really is a magnum opus
kind of episode since this one has the Witnesses searching out a new weapon to fight off Moloch and his agents, the fabled Sword of Methuselah, and everything that happens in this episode is top-notch, without a doubt. With some really intense stories and plenty of flashbacks to happier days, this mid-season penultimate episode pretty much has everything I want in this show, and then some. Can’t argue against that!