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 .
Not much of a secret of late that ever since Selina took over as the Head of the Calabrese-Kyle family that things have been heating up between the various crimelords of Gotham. She is a completely new element thrown into the picture, someone who never worked well with any of the others, being a lone wolf of sorts, but now she is suddenly at the head of the entire pack. Since taking over from the previous writer, Genevieve Valentine has been crafting a pretty incredible tale with the “former” Catwoman, and artists Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge have clearly enjoyed going to town with the new status quo of the titular character.
With all that Selina has been through of late, there are still plenty of challenges ahead of her and this past week’s Catwoman #39 presents one of the many ways in which she has started to bounce back after all the setup of the previous issue. This time, she takes Roman Sionis head on and even attempts to influence the Hasigawa family. Her enemies are all converging on her, and Genevieve shows that Selina is at her best with her back to the wall. This issue also presents some new opportunities to the artists, and they deliver quite well on the expectations.
Its really not a good time for Selina Kyle, or should I say, Selina Kyle-Calabrese. The head of the Calabrese crime family that rules a good portion of Gotham. She also happens to be in direct opposition to Roman Sionis aka the Black Mask and the Hasigawa family, though she is courting them for now and has a temporary alliance in place. With the advent of the new creative team, the title has undergone a serious makeover and has come off the better for it thankfully, with a superb crime story that also has some really great thriller moments to it.
When last we were with Selina, she had just ordered the death of her cousin, at the hands of his sister no less, and was also taken down a few pegs in the eternal battle for control of all criminal activities in Gotham. That definitely hurt her reputation and now in Catwoman #38 we see how she plans to bounce back from all of that, to regain the lost prestige of her family, and to come out of the experience with a solid and even unenviable position amongst all the other families. The story is great, the art is great, what more can you want really?
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!
The last week of 2014 and I hit my Magic 40 number. That pleases me immensely. I was hoping I’d be able to make it to this number, and I did, especially with 2 graphic novels in the mix a well!
For this final week of 2014, the surprise hits were: Jungle Book: Fall Of The Wild #1 from Zenescope and Transformers: Drift: Empire of Stone #2 from IDW Publishing. The disappointing comics of the week were Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #7 from Marvel and Secret Origins #8 from DC. The regular greats like Aquaman, Catwoman, Sensation Comics, Secret Avengers, Godzilla: Cataclysm and others struck once again in the final tally.
The graphic novels for this week were Sunstone by Stjepan Sejic and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 3 by Dan Abnett, Pop Mhan, Mark Roberts, Deron Bennett and Stjepan Sejic.
Selina Kyle’s world has changed greatly of late. She has given up her identity as Catwoman and embraced that of Selina Kyle-Calabrese, the daughter of one of the most feared and respected of Gotham’s old mob bosses, Rex Calabrese, who now languishes in Blackgate Prison. And along the way, with a new creative team behind her, Selina has picked up a whole new supporting cast to help her (and fight her) transition into the world of mob politics that run rampant through Gotham, and this supporting cast will either make or break her.
Hot on the heels of a recent issue where she had to… deal with a cousin who secretly a snitch for the Gotham PD, we get Catwoman Annual #2 where we get to see the details of one of the more prominent members of Selina’s new supporting cast, Eiko Hasigawa, the daughter and potential heir of the Hasigawa family which is currently being courted by Selina as allies in her bid to secure power in Gotham for the Calabrese family. Genevieve Valentine writes a pretty thrilling issue with a woman who wants to break out of the bounds of her family and make her own life on her own terms, and the art is pretty damn spectacular all the way too.
I was hoping for a second Magic 40 week in a row, but turns out that it was just wishful thinking. Still, I managed to get up to 30 comics this week, though no graphic novels sadly.
There was only one surprise hit this week, Eternal #1 from Boom Studios, as pretty much all the other comics I read this past week were ongoing series I’ve been following for a while. The disappointments of the week were Spider-Woman #2 from Marvel and Future’s End #33 from DC. And the ones that continued a great trend were the likes of Black Widow #13, Justice League #37, Catwoman #37, Supergirl #37, Wayward #5 and others.
The tenth book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Gareth Powell’s second Ack-Ack Macaque novel, Hive Monkey, which was an absolute joy to read this year. It follows on from last year’s Ack-Ack Macaque and is pretty much just as good a novel, if not better. Gareth expanded on the world he’d created for this series, and he did it magnificently, with a twist that you could never have seen coming from a mile off. That’s the fun thing about his work, his twists are always awesome.
The first of the tenth set of comic covers I pick this year is for Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1 by Ales Kot, Marco Rudy and VC’s Clayton Cowles with the cover by Marco only. The second is for Catwoman #35 by Genevieve Valentine, Garry Brown, Lee Loughridge, Sal Cipriano and Taylor Esposito, with the cover by Jae Lee and June Chung. The third is for Predator: Fire and Stone #1 by Joshua Williamson, Christopher Mooneyham, Dan Brown and Nate Piekos of Blambot with the cover by Lucas Graciano. The first cover is for the first issue of a new Bucky Barnes series set in the aftermath of the recent Original Sin
event wherein Bucky undertook a thankless but vital task on behalf of all of humanity, inheriting one of Nick Fury’s oldest burdens. The second comic is a soft reboot on the title and follows on from events in Batman: Eternal that see Selina Kyle leave behind her life as Catwoman to become Selina Calabrese-Kyle, one of the most powerful of all the mob bosses in Gotham, and the switch has been darn amazing. The third one is yet another new comic that is a part of Dark Horse’s wider Fire and Stone event and is definitely among the best of the four new mini-series launched by the publisher.
So without further ado, hit the break to see all the covers in their full glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
The latest creative team on Catwoman seems determined to make a damn good name for itself and establish a new status quo that explores very new territory for the titular character. In the last two months, we’ve seen how Selina Kyle deals with being the head of the Calabrese family (the Calabrese-Kyle family that is) and the many tough decisions she is forced to take in that position. Set after the events of Batman: Eternal, the new direction on Catwoman has done much to engender in me an interest in the title and the character alike.
The new issue this week has Selina make yet another hard decision, with one of her cousins exposed as a snitch for the police. It is a very precarious position for the character since she is still consolidating her leadership over the Calabreses and the other families that look to her for support, and also her many enemies and potential allies are watching out for her. Genevieve Valentine has shown a knack for exploring the character’s inner dilemma and self-recrimination without it coming across as heavy-handed, and the art team has been pretty damn superb as well.
Last month Genevieve Valentine and Garry Brown began their tenure on DC’s Catwoman, in a strong effort to shepherd the title and the titular character through a new phase in her life as she takes over Gotham’s underworld as Selina Kyle Calabrese, following some some relatively recent events in Batman: Eternal where she is revealed to be the daughter of Rex Calabrese, the man who ruled Gotham before Carmine “The Falcon” Falcone. This bold new phase also sees some strong storytelling and art both on the series, unlike before, and I’m loving the new direction.
Catwoman #35 was, for me, an incredibly good issue. It is also one of the extremely few issues on the title that have seen a strong positive interest and reaction (one of only four altogether, as far as I’m concerned). Following the events in the last issue, Selina continues to solidify her presence as the top gang boss in Gotham and she has to make some tough decisions this time around, including fighting off a copycat Catwoman, which was an interesting touch. And the art by Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge is even better than it was last time.
Truth be told, I don’t have much of an experience with the Catwoman title, apart from a couple issues I read as part of a couple of mini-events at DC. Ann Nocenti’s much-maligned run has put me off quite a bit from checking out her run from the get go, but with some recent changes in Selina’s status quo, particularly the fact that she currently stars in Gotham as her younger self, means that I’m much more interested in Catwoman than I ever was before. I’m generally familiar with her from various animated appearances, but that’s really it. And I think it is great that as of this week Catwoman has a new creative team.
With writer Ann Nocenti moving off to the new series Klarion, Genevieve Valentine is brought in to take the reins of Catwoman and shepherd the titular character to a new phase in her life, where she is no longer Catwoman but is instead Selina Kyle Calabrese, the heir of the Calabrese mob-family, given that her father is its patriarch, Rex Calabrese. Much of this was told in some recent issues of Batman: Eternal, and Valentine takes all of that and just runs with it, delivering a really great story. And the art by Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge is just as exciting as you can expect.
Thankfully, I’m finally settling back into the groove with comics reading and, most importantly, comics reviewing, as I managed to review a fair bit of titles this week and even caught up with reviewing some previous titles that I’ve unfortunately had to neglect for one reason or another.
The surprise hits of this week were Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War: Billy and Mandy #1 from IDW Publishing, Wolverine Annual #1 from Marvel Comics and Vampirella #3 from Marvel Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman: Eternal #20 from DC where the title seems headed downwards just when it was getting once again, and The Wicked + The Divine #3 from Image where the title took a nosedive this week after a second issue that was really good. No graphic novels again sadly, though I hope to correct that that this week. I hope..