Not as busy a week as the last but fairly busy nonetheless. The new creative teams on various ongoing titles continue to go strong, particularly Justice League Dark and Witchblade while some of the newer titles like Black Science continue to be exception, so that’s one thing that I really liked about this past week. January in particular has been a really excellent month of comics what with Marvel’s full-on All-New Marvel NOW! launch and some really good issues for DC’s Forever Evil event.
Just one graphic novel again this week, the Lee/Buscema magnificence that is Silver Surfer: Judgement. I was meaning to read at least one more, but time wasn’t on my side and I missed out. Hopefully the new month gets off to a good start.
In December Jeff Parker took over writing duties on Aquaman from Geoff Johns. After more than two years of Geoff’s excellent run on the title, which saw the title become one of DC’s best-selling titles in the New 52, we are finally getting a fresh perspective on things and based on #26 and #27 both, I have to say that some really exciting times are ahead for the readers. The previous issue was almost perfect. It met my expectations and it has some great story and art both.
This past week’s #27 proved to be another good installment of the series. It wraps up the plot with the Atlantean mythological sea-monster that was terrorising Reykjavik, Iceland and at the same time it furthers the subplot involving the political tensions in Arthur’s advisory council while also giving us more information on Triton Base, a hidden underwater research base created to investigate future potential threats from the underwater kingdom and Aquaman’s relationship to it, among other things. And the art was also good, although the switch at the end with the pencillers created a bit of a WTF moment.
Another Justice League release in December? Heavens, yes! With the delayed release of #25, #26 was definitely affected and it came out this week along with Forever Evil #4, which too had been delayed. Lots of delays on this event, and I’m starting to think that somewhere along the way DC has dropped the ball, in more ways than one. As my Forever Evil #4 review states, I found it to be a dull and disappointing issue at best. Sadly, that seems to be the case for this issue as well, making it two Geoff Johns issues in a row that I’ve found to be subpar. The one saving grace is that this issue is nowhere near as bad as Forever Evil #4 was.
Issue #25 was a character study on Owlman and it gave a lot of backstory on the character. This is in keeping with the other issues of this event across both Forever Evil and Justice League where we’ve seen the origins of the other characters. Ultraman was the first, then Owlman, and now we have Power Ring, Grid, Deathstorm, and the duo of Johnny Quick and Atomica in this issue. In and of itself, this is a decent enough issue but as part of the Forever Evil event, this is subpar because there is almost no plot progression. We don’t really learn what’s happening right now in the DC universe.
The seventh book cover that I pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is Gene Mollica’s (again) excellent cover for Jean Johnson’s third Theirs Not To Reason Why novel, Hellfire, published by Ace Books. I discovered Jean earlier this year, that is, I started reading her books earlier this year but actually heard of her work last year through an SF Signal podcast. Jean made a switch from writing romance fantasy novels to writing military space opera with this series and all the three books in this series have been quite excellent. I’m definitely a fan of her work now, and I may even give one of her (many) romance fantasy series a chance, just to see how those books hold up.
The seventh comic cover that I pick is actually a splash art for DC’s (at the time) three Justice League titles. With Justice League #22 (Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis), Justice League of America #6 (Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke), and Justice League Dark #22 (Jeff Lemire, Mikel Janin), DC kicked off its Trinity War crossover that saw all the three different Leagues go up against each other, manipulated by a villain none of them could have been foreseen. The event got me to start reading Justice League Dark and right now under writer J. M. DeMatteis it is currently one of my favourite DC monthlies. All three issues were quite fantastic, and they set a great tone for the crossover as well.
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.
After a 2-week delay (might be as much as 3), Geoff Johns’ Justice League #25 finally hit stands this week. As the overlord of all of the Forever Evil titles and controlling the core story of this mega-event, Geoff Johns has been doing great on his most high-profile New 52 book and the new issue is more of the same. If the art on Forever Evil itself could be much better, then that mini-series too could be really good. Thankfully, this is where we get Justice League to plug in all the gaps, where Geoff can let loose with all his crazy ideas and come out with something really good.
Despite what it shows on the cover (another misleading Forever Evil cover by the way), Justice League #25 really is about Geoff exploring the backhistory of Owlman, who is the Earth 3 evil version of Batman. And other than Owlman, we also get to see Dick Grayson through Owlman’s eyes, which was pretty neatly handled. Sadly, Ivan Reis & Co. are not on the art duties on this issue, and we have Doug Mahnke & Co. stepping up to the table, but that ends up benefiting the title rather than taking away from it. And in the end, this proves to be another great issue of Justice League from Geoff and team.
After twenty-six months on the relaunched title, Geoff Johns’ run finally comes to an end with this issue. Responsible for reintroducing the character to comics fans everywhere and making him as big a character as he could, Geoff revamped Aquaman and made him into one of DC’s definite heavy-weights. The title has recorded some high sales and the collected editions have even made it to the New York Times Bestseller’s List. Now that is impressive for a character who was largely relegated to suffering fish-jokes, despite always being a mainstream DC hero.
As is appropriate, Geoff closes out his run on the title by closing out his current arc as well, Death of A King. He created some wonderful mythology for the character, giving his backstory an epic scope that I definitely did not expect. Even with this final issue, he goes some places that I didn’t expect and he wowed me. He goes out with a definitive bang and leaves a teaser for his next crossover arc that is coming next year, Rise of The Seven Seas, which will unfold in the pages of Aquaman (under Jeff Parker) and Geoff’s own Justice League. Exciting times!
If there’s been one high-profile DC comic coming out this month other than Forever Evil #2, then that’s this one, Justice League #24. Geoff Johns has emerged as the premier storyteller of New 52, right alongside Gail Simone and Scott Snyder, and he’s been doing a fairly good job in the two years and one month of DC’s universe-wide relaunch. First Throne of Atlantis, then Trinity War, and now Forever Evil, he’s been writing some really good comics and this new issue marks the high point of the month for me.
I’ll be honest, I think Forever Evil has been a bit stumbling around with its first two issues thus far, but I have confidence in Geoff to pull things off because he really understands his characters and his vision for his story is always spectacular. After the end of Trinity War in August with Justice League #23, I was impatient to get to the next issue and while some of the related Villain’s Month issues gave me that fix, Justice League #24 is where all the pay-off is at.
Its no secret that I love Geoff Johns’ run on Aquaman in the New 52, which was my first time reading anything directly related to the character. The series really came out of nowhere and it has impressed me month after month as the storytelling and the art keep getting better, with some minor stumbles here and there. For me, this is the series that got me to really like, and even respect, Aquaman as a character, and for that alone, this series rates highly in my list of favourites.
Going into Villain’s Month, the coverage that Aquaman villains get wasn’t all that spectacular, focusing as it did on two characters we’ve already seen a fair bit of in the main series, but I was excited for them nonetheless. Aquaman #23.1 which Black Manta was good, but it fell short of my expectations. With the new issue, it is better, but it still fails to meet those same expectations, and that is largely due to the narrative decisions made by Geoff Johns and Tony Bedard.