If you’ve been following Top Cow news in the last couple of months or so, then you know that writer Ron Marz is back in the saddle for Witchblade, this time with artists Laura Braga and Betsy Gonia. Working in a world set after the events of Tim Seeley’s run with the Rebirth mega-arc, the new run is a great place for new readers to get into the series, especially for someone like me who kind of just tapered off with the title and has only read a few issues here and there. The new creative team has started off fairly strong and the Borne Again arc looks set to be a really good one.
The previous two issues were slow-burners, but not this one, for this one has much more action this time and it is paced well along with the backstory reveals, not to mention a guest appearance by someone unexpected! What I liked about this issue was that it really opened up the world of Witchblade lore for readers, whether new or old, and Laura’s art continues to be good, despite a few problematic areas here and there.
So welcome to the first Comics Picks of The Week for 2014 where I list the comics that were actually to be the first ones released in the new year. Everything that has been revealed so far about 2014 promises an amazing year, I have to say. Well, for the most part at least. There are some things that I don’t quite understand, or like, but eh, it is still going to be a great year I feel.
This past week, Marvel finally launched its All-New Marvel NOW! line with Black Widow, All-New X-Factor and Revolutionary War: Alpha and they aren’t going to stop. New releases will continue throughout March at the least and we will even be getting some of these new titles double-shipped, such as Black Widow #2 which comes out next week. In other news, I had some fun reading DC titles this week, although Detective Comics #27 proved to be quite disappointing for most of the first half. And my disappointment is on several levels, not just with one particular aspect of it. But, more on that in the reviews.
My first graphic novel of the year happened to be the (unfinished) mini-series that Steve Gerber and Matthew Sturges wrote a few years ago, with the former writing the tale of a new Doctor Fate while the latter wrote about the supervillain Eclipse. Only eight issues of this double-sized series were released, but I have to say that I definitely enjoyed it and based on that, my graphic novel reading is off to a good start.
A few days ago I did my best of 2013 list for the books I had read in the second half of the year. In a departure from previous such lists I divided the books and the comics into separate posts so that I didn’t have one massive post up. Massive posts are a bit tough to handle, especially when you are promoting them on social media. And with the split posts, the directions are different and there’s no unnecessary crossover.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite graphic novels of the year. A post with the best single issues will follow on later.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
After a slight bit of delay, Witchblade #171 is finally out. When Witchblade #170, marking the start of a new arc on the title with Ron Marz returning after a long time, came out in October, I was pretty damn excited for the issue, being a big fan of Witchblade and Sara Pezzini. Joining Ron on the title was artist Laura Braga, and together they turned out a fairly good issue that was better than I had expected. Not having kept up with the series for a while, I felt I would be lost, but with the new arc, Ron and Laura turned out a great jumping-on point.
Witchblade #171 continues the arc begin in the previous issue and it deepens the mystery surrounding the cliffhanger ending that we saw at the end of that issue. And the flashback scenes are perfectly placed to move along the overall narrative. The ending to this issue is just as damn awesome as the one for the previous issue, and given the flashback, it makes a strange kind of sense. The mysteries continue and everything looks pretty darn good for sure.
Earlier this year Top Cow relaunched its Aphrodite series, giving the character a new spin by putting her in a post-apocalyptic future where mankind has mostly destroyed itself and is now divided into two factions, one that holds genetic engineering supreme and the other that holds machines supreme. The first arc was an absolute cracker and as a fan of the character from her appearances in Ron Marz’s Artifacts series, I thoroughly enjoyed the new take.
With the newly-released #6, Matt Hawkins and artist Stjepan Sejic begin a new arc that picks up some time after the end of #5. The lead-up to this has been quite good and Matt doesn’t disappoint with the story. Aphrodite has been targeted by both sides of the ongoing conflict and a new faction has entered the mix, someone familiar and yet very different. The fun is in finding out how all the characters are continuing to develop and where they are all headed, as well as all the revelations about who and what Aphrodite really is.
Reading Top Cow comics always gives me a thrill. Whether its the characters or the story or the art, everything is always spot on and entertaining. Having read a wide variety of their books in the last year or so, I’ve enjoyed almost all of them, whether monthlies or trades, and the experience has been very positive for me. Reading Matt Hawkins’ futuristic reboot of the Aphrodite property has been one of the highlights of that experience, and for good reasons too.
Characters like Aphrodite, in all her different incarnations, are very few and far in between in comics. In the Top Cow Universe, she occupies a very specific and niche place, built up on the concept of Artifacts that a few select individuals are heirs to. Ever since I started reading Ron Marz’s Artifacts maxi-series last year, Aphrodite has been one of my favourite characters, and Matt Hawkins’ recent work with her has only solidified that, and given me even more reasons to like her.
Last week I posted a book survey, in response to a similar post by a blogger friend. I had a lot of fun writing that post and I immediately wanted to do a comics version of the same. In addition, I’ve talked two other friends, fellow The Founding Fields reviewer Bane of Kings and blogger Stefan at Civilian Reader, into contributing to this survey.
My post goes up today. Bane’s post will go up tomorrow (For those interested, you can check out Bane’s own A-to-Z Book Survey on his blog). And Stefan’s post will follow the day after. Do keep an eye on them!
Hope you enjoy! And even if not, do share your thoughts in the comments! And remember, all my comics reviews can be found here.
My reading of more of what Top Cow publishes continued lat night with the latest issue of Matt Hawkins’ Aphrodite IX, a series that was rebooted under his direction and features art by Stjepan Sejic, Top Cow’s premier artist. In the three issues that I’ve read so far, Matt has created a really interesting post-apocalyptic world and has populated it with equally interesting characters, whether they be the geneticists of Genesis City or the cyborgs of Speros, or the protagonist herself, Aphrodite IX.
The tale so far has been one of deceit, betrayal, assassination and a race of control, which are always great concepts to base a story around. And that is exactly what Matt has been doing so far.