The previous issues of Black Widow have been pretty spectacular, as has been the norm on the title since its launch early last year. Natasha’s investigations into the organization CHAOS that has been causing all sorts of problems for SHIELD of late yielded some surprising results back in #15 and it made for a really interesting change of pace as far as the story was concerned. It also gave artist Phil Noto a chance to really go to town with the visuals and none of that seems to be headed for a slowdown in any way.
The two most recent issues, Black Widow #16 and Black Widow #17 are all about what CHAOS really is and what plans they have for Natasha and others like her all over the world. The reveal about CHAOS is something that really twists the head in ways you wouldn’t expect. Nathan manipulates the story in a really deft way and he shows some really mad skills as he has Natasha navigate the web of lies and half-truths being peddled by CHAOS. Supporting him, Phil also does a pretty incredible job and though some of the scenes were a bit more low-key than usual, his own mad skills were never in doubt I’d say.
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 .
Nathan Edmondson has been going full out with Black Widow of late, backing the SHIELD agent into a corner of hell and making her work doubly hard. Recently, she finally infiltrated a high-level meeting of CHAOS, the group that has been causing problems for SHIELD and for her right from the first issue of the series last year, and she didn’t exactly come out of it without a scratch. It has been a pretty incredible journey so far in this series, and with the addition of yet another guest star this past week, things look set to get even more crazy.
Black Widow #15 deals with the aftermath of Natasha’s infiltration of a high-level CHAOS meeting, a meeting that she forced to happen so that she could finally face her enemies. But things didn’t go according to plan since it turns out that CHAOS has hired soldiers who can, effectively, turn invisible. Problematic for sure, and much of this issue focuses on how Black Widow beats these guys, with some expert help of course. And that’s where the true fun of this book is, since each guest appearance so far has been handled artfully, and that looks set to continue with this one too.
Recently writer Ales Kot turned Secret Avengers on its head when he revealed that Modok had actually been the one to have planned all the bad stuff that had been happening to the Secret Avengers and Maria Hill, and that at the same time his favoured henchman Snapper had also been quite actively involved in his master’s machinations. It was truly a head-twisting moment, as far as I’m concerned, and it helped put into perspective certain other things that the series had been developing of late. And all of that went hand-in-hand with the excellent art that the series art team had been putting out, especially of late.
In Secret Avengers #12 we see some more momentous things. The revelation about Modok has certainly been a game-changer, but events elsewhere have already gained steam and this issue deals largely with the fallout of such. If you are a fan of Secret Avengers in general or the characters found herein in particular, then this is an absolute must-read issue because we finally learn some of what goes on in Modok’s mind, and that’s more valuable than almost anything else.
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.
Black Widow ended on a great note last month, with the ongoing storyline of what happens when the global media at large learns of Natasha’s various activities, both covert and otherwise, and then proceeds to vilify her and question what her role with SHIELD and the Avengers really is. This also then segued into some bread-crumbs that Nathan Edmondson had left behind in his early issues, and we saw more glimpses of the manipulators behind some of Natasha’s recent missions. All very spy-ish and all, which was fantastic.
Black Widow #14 continues Natasha’s search for answers and it is a tale of a vengeful superspy who is out for blood and damn the consequences. In a world where almost everyone she knows has a superpower, barring a very small handful of people, it would be easy to consider her nowhere near as proficient at them in getting things done, but that’s far from the reality. She has her own methodology and this issue shows just how effective that really is. And Phil Noto’s artwork is as pleasingly beautiful as always, a big plus as always.
The last week of comics of 2014, that is, the week of 31.12.2014, saw the release of SHIELD #1, a new comics series from Marvel that is presumably set in its own continuity and also contains characters from Agents of SHIELD, Marvel’s first live-action show that is currently in its second season. To see characters like Agents Simmons and Fitz, or Agent Melinda “The Cavalry” May among others is a great feeling, and the first issue two weeks back was a lot of fun indeed, with its focus on Phil Coulson and his particular strengths as a SHIELD agent.
In last week’s SHIELD #2, we got to see some different things than in the first issue, particularly since this issue starred Marvel’s biggest hit character of 2014, Kamala Khan aka Miss Marvel. And the best thing was that we got to see Kamala interact with Jemma Simmons and even bond. That’s pretty fantastic. The comics version of Jemma is of course quite different from her live-action counterpart, but that has little bearing on the matter here since she is so much more immediately awesome here. The art was different this time as the art team is different, but it was still pretty fun, and the final one-page backup with Fitz and May was hilarious.
Last year I did a small roundup over at The Founding Fields with fellow reviewer Bane of Kings which contained a list of the best new comics to have come out in 2013. It was a rather small list with only 10 entries each from the two of us, reflecting our reading for the year and the consequent small pool to pick from. But in 2014, I greatly expanded my weekly reading, and so for the round-up of the best new comics to have come out in 2014, whether as mini-series or ongoings, I have decided to go much bigger.
There were a ton of new comics to come out last year and many of them started off well enough but unfortunately well by wayside since subsequent issues were nowhere near as good. That however, is a call to make on any new comic and you have to have a wait-and-see attitude for the most part. For this embiggened round-up, I have some mini-series here and some ongoing titles. Some have had multiple issues come out in 2014, while some have had less than three.
Irrespective of that, these are all the most promising new series of 2014, and I think that they are all well worth the read in 2015.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
The first Comics Picks of the new year, and while I of course wished for a Magic 40 to kick off 2015, I’m happy with the fact that I didn’t go overboard much and read only a few measly 10 comics, two of which were graphic novels.
For the first week of 2015, the top hits were SHIELD #1 from Marvel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes from Boom Studios, Legends of Red Sonja Volume 1 from Dynamite, and Star Trek/Planet of the Apes from IDW/Boom Studios. The disappointing reads of the week were both from Zenescope unfortunate, Dark Shaman #3 and Quest: Age of Darkness Volume 1. The others… they were decent, nothing major.
As mentioned above, the graphic novels for the week were Legends of Red Sonja Volume 1 from Dynamite and Quest: Age of Darkness Volume 1 from Zenescope. The former was a fun book where Gail Simone brought together several different female prose writers, paired them with different artists, and wrote a grand, sweeping Red Sonja story. The latter was part of the publisher’s Age of Darkness event and was more a prequel story.
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!
Marvel’s cinematic universe has had an interesting effect on its comics in recent years. And that applies to the movies released by Marvel itself, and those by other studios who own rights to some of Marvel’s characters. One of the most noticeable of late is that Fantastic Four is facing cancellation without recourse to a republish, possibly because Disney is pushing its own properties to which it has full control. Another is that through Agents of SHIELD, we are seeing some trickle down of characters and relationships in the comics from the television/movies stuff, and one of the biggest changes of late is the new SHIELD comic, out this week.
Phil Coulson has been a mainstay of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since it kicked off back in the Bronze Age with Iron Man. Since then, the character has come a long way and has gone from being a regular old field agent to becoming the Director of SHIELD itself in Agents of SHIELD. In the comics, he is still an agent in Secret Avengers but with the new SHIELD #1, we learn that he is the supreme commander of SHIELD’s Special Ops department, giving him an unparalleled access to all the different heroes and all of SHIELD’s resources. And Mark Waid writes a damn good story that is beautifully illustrated by Carlos Pacheco and the rest of the art team.