The first Middle East Film and Comic Con happened back in 2012, three years ago, and it was a huge success for fans of all types of entertainment media. We all are so familiar with the big conventions that happen in San Diego and Boston and London and other places all throughout the year, and so, having a “local” on a somewhat similar level is a great thing to have, by far. I’ve certainly enjoyed my three years of going to the convention and while there have been some hiccups along the way, as there were this year, the MEFCC is still a great force to reckon with and should things really work out at the top level, then we can make some magic happen I think.
This year’s MEFCC was billed to be bigger than it was last year, primarily on the back of a guest list that included as superb celebrities like William Shatner, Haley Atwell, Gillian Anderson, while also bringing in some top western comics talent like Charles Soule, Andy Suriano, Matt Hawkins, Tula Lotay and Mahmud Asrar. That was pretty much the reason I wanted to go this year, in addition to the fact that I was taking part in a Magic the Gathering tournament at the event, the PPTQ Milwaukee. Here then is my kinda-sorta log of the event, such as it was.
Another week of a “Magic 40”, though no graphic novels.
This week’s surprise hits were Ivar, Timewalker #1 from Valiant, Mortal Kombat X #4 from DC, and Twilight Zone: Shadow And Substance #1 from Dynamite. The disappointments of the week were Spider-Woman #3 from Dynamite and Spider-Verse #2 and The Amazing Spider-Man #13 from Marvel and Vampirella: Feary Tales #4 from Dynamite. Ongoing greats were Wonder Woman ’77 #3 , The Flash: Season Zero #11 and Supergirl #38 from DC, Black Widow #14 and Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #4 from Marvel, and, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #6 from Zenescope among others.
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.
Recently, there have been signs on IDW’s Samurai Jack that Jim Zub and Andy Suriano’s current arc, The Quest of the Broken Blade, has been moving towards a big, epic showdown. In a story that saw Jack’s trusty blade broken during a powerful ritual to send him back to his own time, we have seen Jack being a hero, being a desperate refugee, and having his worthiness in being the keeper of an ancient sword tested by some truly god-like cosmic beings. With each issue of the arc, I’ve been more and more impressed by the team, and the last issue ended on a pretty big cliffhanger.
The way I read it, Samurai Jack #15 is the end of the current arc, and it is an explosive showdown all the way. Just 2 weeks ago, in Samurai Jack #14, we saw that three cosmic deities tested Jack’s devotion to his beliefs, and his worthiness of being a warrior of the light. And just as the test was drawing to a close, Aku found the hero, setting up a huge confrontation. Now, we see how this big battle plays out as Jack proves himself yet again, proves that he is indeed a worthy successor to his father, who possessed that self-same sword before him. Both Jim’s writing and Andy’s art is incredible here in a way that I have not yet seen on the series before.
With the current arc on Samurai Jack, Jim Zub has been exploring Jack’s past and how he got his fabled sword, a weapon that has been his constant companion on his dark journey to get back to his own time and defeat Aku once and for all. With the blade broken during a ritual to short-cut Jack’s journey, Jim has explored how the character has been reduced, and all the strange trials that await him now, which include him having to prove his worth to the glorious beings who created the blade in the first place and gifted it to his father.
In Samurai Jack #14, Jim shows exactly how Jack is tested by these supreme beings who stand as the grand judges of a cosmic battle between good and evil. And it is as brilliant issue as any of Jim’s other issues have been in this series. It is a beautifully executed issue that focuses exclusively on Jack, taking a look at everything he has learned in his life, and how he can move on from the dark events that surround him. Also, Andy Suriano, Ethen Beavers and Josh Burcham turn out another awesome-looking issue that really makes you feel at peace at times and is all about the details rather than the overall picture.
Hit the almost-magic number of 35 once again and though I have yet to repeat my personal best of 40, I think this was my best week regardless since I managed to read 31 singles and 4 graphic novels. That definitely counts as an achievement, yes?
My surprise hits for this week would be Tales of Honor #1 from Top Cow, Swamp Thing Annual #3 from DC, Inhuman #7, Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1 and Deathlok #1 all from Marvel. Those that count among this week’s top disappointments would be Conan the Avenger #7 from Dark Horse. Justice League United Annual #1 from DC. Others like Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #4 and Grimm Fairy Tales: Robyn Hood #3 from Zenescope, Wayward #3 from Image, The Flash Volume 2 from DC, and a bunch of others were as good as I expected them to be, probably better even.
The graphic novels for this week were Supergirl Volume 4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, The Flash Volume 2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul, Krypton Returns by Various and Thanos: The Infinity Revelation by Jim Starlin.
Slight lows on the reading this past week since I didn’t manage to finish either of the graphic novels I started this week, and generally didn’t read as many singles either, but I did manage to get through 35 of them, so that’s something, yeah?
For this week, I’d say that the surprise hits are Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1 from IDW Publishing, Catwoman #35 and Secret Origins #6 from DC Comics and Predator: Fire and Stone #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The comics that win the “disappointment of the week award” are Grimm Fairy Tales: Dark Shaman #1 from Zenescope, Arkham Manor #1 and Sensation Comics #11 both from DC Comics. Ongoings like Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #8, Aquaman #35, Tomb Raider #9 and Nancy A. Collins’ prelude Vampirella: Prelude To The Shadows #1 were all first-rate comics this week, and quite satisfactory as well.
The graphic novels I’m in the middle of at the moment are Supergirl Vol.4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, and The Flash Vol.2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.
IDW’s Samurai Jack has been a great continuation of an animated series that I feel had an entirely too short a life. I’ve said many times before that the animated series was one of the best programmings that did Cartoon Network did in the early 2000s, easily borne out by the fact that the show went on to win quite a few awards. Jim Zub and Andy Suriano’s run, along with the occasional guest artists, have continued in that same award-winning tradition, making Samurai Jack one of the best comics on shelves right now, which really is all that anyone could have asked for when the series debuted last year.
Recently, Jack’s war against Aku has taken a dramatic turn. His sword lies broken and useless, and with its loss has come a time of ascendancy for Aku since the Jack is divested of his greatest ally and instrument. It was a heartbreaking moment indeed and in last month’s issue we got to see some of the consequences of this. Samurai Jack #13 is more of the same but it also moves the story forward in a great way, and I really liked what Jim did here. Andy Suriano is back on pencilling duties for this arc, with additional art by Ethan Beavers here, and this is another strong installment in a really strong series.
Lightning strikes in the same place for a third time. I mentioned last week that I read 38 singles and 2 graphic novels for that release week, and that holds true for this week as well. I had a chance to read a bit more, but I chose to use that time to get done with some of my novel reading and also catch up with some of my reviews. 15 titles out of 40 read were reviewed by me this week. I feel good!
The surprise hits of this week were Aliens: Fire and Stone #1 and Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1, both from Dark Horse Comics, Pathfinder: City of Secrets #5 from Dynamite Entertainment, Catwoman: Future’s End #1 from DC Comics, Hack-Slash: Son of Samhain #2 and Chew Volume 1 both from Image Comics. Comics which disappointed me this week were Edge of Spider-Verse #3 from Marvel Comics, Sensation Comics #7 from DC Comics, and… that’s it thankfully! The graphic novels of this week were Chew Volume 1 and Thor: God of Thunder Volume 3.
It may just be me, but I think that with his work on Samurai Jack that writer-artist Jim Zub has really mastered the art of standalone storytelling. Each of his issues, whether they are part of an arc or not, really feel like great self-contained stories, and that’s one of the things that I love so much about his run on Samurai Jack. Apart from the whole nostalgia feel of it, his writing has been spectacular on this series, and the art by both Andy Suriano and (guest) Brittney Williams has been impressive to a great degree. Each month I can tune in to a Samurai Jack comic and not be disappointed.
I didn’t get around to doing reviews of the last two Samurai Jack issues, either because I was traveling in the week they came out, or because I just couldn’t focus enough to get through as many reviews in that week that I wanted to. But with this week’s Samurai Jack #12, I kind of take a stand on it and so here it all is. Samurai Jack #10 is a standalone issue that deals with Aku trying to defeat Jack by going into his dreams and taking over his mind while Samurai Jack #11 and #12 are part of an arc that really tests Jack’s skills and his endurance and his thirst for vengeance on Aku. Of course, it helps that the art is as great as it is too, so the overall experience is that much better.
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..