Darkness Falls was meant to be one of the big moments for the Top Cow universe a while back, given everything that was going on in David Hine and Jeremy Haun’s The Darkness: Rebirth at the time, just about a little over 2 years ago. The build-up was definitely fantastic, but then plans got delayed for some reason, and so we never really got the follow-up to Hine and Haun’s big-moment finale of the second volume of the series, up until now, and in the pages of Witchblade no less.
White writer Ron Marz began a new arc on Witchblade with its #179th issue, issues #180 and #181 are devoted to the re-energized Darkness Falls: The Death of Jackie Estacado storyline. A confrontation between Sara and Jackie had been signposted for a good while in the pages of The Darkness: Rebirth so it was rather rewarding to see it all come about finally, even though it kind of felt as if the story didn’t get the execution it deserved and kind of fell a little flat as well. But things heated up rather nicely with the recent #182nd issue, which reverts back to the new arc that Ron Marz had started, and presents a few answers to a few mysteries already introduced.
Jim Zub and Steve Cummings’ Wayward from Image has been one of the best new titles I’ve read in the last year or so. The series hit the ground running back in August, and seemed to kick all sorts of ass as it progressed through to the conclusion of its first arc. And that final arc was certainly quite explosive too, in more ways than one, and it was also an unexpected one. Jim Zub took some pretty big chances with that finale, and I think it served the series well, and of course the art by Steve & Co has been up to showing off those chances in as great a light as possible.
Issues 6 & 7 of Wayward start off a new storyline with a new central character. This time we get to spend some time with Rori’s classmate Ohara Emi who develops some powers of her own and ends up hooking up with Ayane and Nikaido, who have become… freelancers of sorts. Following the end of Wayward #5 they have been taking the fight to the demons as best as they can, and Emi’s journey as part of their team really helps shine a light on the new direction that the series is taking, and that’s pretty darn great too!
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 .
Last week, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow did something rather daring that I didn’t expect, twice. Not only was Henry killed off in the penultimate episode of the second season, but we also had Katrina travel back in the past to change history because of the circumstances of Henry’s death. What should have been a really emotional episode was perhaps less so, but I think the daring aspect of it kept me hooked. And it did have a sense of impending finality to it, so in retrospect it was kind of clear the route that the writers might take, but it was still pretty surprising.
This week’s episode “Tempus Fugit“, the second season finale, shows what Katrina hopes to achieve in the past, what particular outcome she wants to change so that she can have a life with Jeremy (Henry) that she’s always wanted and the lack of which turned him to his dark past. In terms of action, the episode definitely packs a big punch, but in terms of character development, it isn’t anywhere as impressive, and a particular decision of the writers in the final few minutes definitely did not work for me either.
Fox’s Sleepy Hollow’s has been trying some interesting things of late, especially given the fact that the show has now moved beyond the threat of the demon Moloch, the Horrid King, unleashing the foretold Apocalypse, with Ichabod and Katrina’s son’s Henry/James being the instrument of this release. The show has focused much more on the character relationships now and while it has had some success in some areas, it has also been a bit weak when it comes to certain characters, especially Captain Frank Irving and Katrina herself.
The recent three episodes of the show, “Spellcaster“, “What Lies Beneath“, and “Awakening” are very much focused on bringing Henry back into the fold. He disappeared at the end of the mid-season premiere, having turned on Moloch and killing him instead of Katrina and Ichabod, but now we learn that he is very much alive and is indeed planning something, though he is no longer beholden to Moloch. Quite different times in fact, and along the way, we also get to see some really dubious characterisation of Katrina, the most troubled character on the show, and also get to see that many of the recent things happening in Sleepy Hollow aren’t as isolated as we thought they were.
In the world of Swamp Thing, the new Machine Kingdom has made some incredible advances in a very short amount of time, going so far as to create its own Avatar, thereby picking one of the titular hero’s greatest enemies as its champion. And the battle that has followed from that has not been kind to the hero or his closest allies either. In fact, Swamp Thing and the others are losing the fight, and that’s where the fun really comes in I think, to see the hero tested beyond what you’d expect, and to see the incredibly rich lore of Swamp Thing really come alive.
In Swamp Thing #39 from last week, we pick up from where we left off in the last issue, namely with the cliffhanger of Swamp Thing being confronted by his own formally mortal body, now reincarnated by the Machine Queen to serve as her ace in the hole. The new issue is absolutely brutal in its execution, and writer Charles Soule sets a brutal pace for the reader. Losing to the combined power of his doppelganger, the Machine Queen and Arcane, Swamp Thing is now in for the battle of his life, to eke out the smallest measure of victory from these dark events.
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.
Last Fast-Shot Comics Review for comics released in January 2015!
The picks for this week are: Bitch Planet #2, Jungle Book: Fall of The Wild #2, Robyn Hood #6, Wolverines #1-4, Gotham By Midnight #1-3 and Unity #13-14.
Even though Fox’s Gotham had an interesting enough mid-season finale, the changes in the status quo didn’t really stick it out once the show came back on air a month ago, and things were back to normal pretty damn quick, as it were. All of which was rather disappointing since I was really looking forward to the writers exploring with the concept of Jim Gordon being a shift guard at Arkham. But at the same time we got to see the awesome Morena Baccarin as Dr. Leslie Thompkins, and things looked somewhat positive on that front.
In episodes 13 and 14 of the show, we see what the city is like once Jim Gordon is back in the GCPD as a full detective and thus back on the streets. And things are pretty damn crazy right now since Fish Mooney has finally been outed as Carmine Falcone’s enemy and is on the death-list, with Oswald Cobbelpot’s star in the ascendancy. While the main story deals with corrupt narcotics cops and the fearsome Dr. Crane, the subplots deal with the criminal politics of the city. And I’ve gotta admit that I’m starting to lose my excitement with the show since the stories are becoming more mundane and tiring than ever before.
Sleepy Hollow’s mid-season premiere got off to a rocky but interesting start about 3 weeks back or so, though I find that with Moloch gone and done with, the show has lost a little bit of its appeal as well since things aren’t so “2 minutes to midnight” anymore. There’s a lack of urgency to things, and though the mid-season premiere did well by further exploring the weirdly fun world of the town of Sleepy Hollow by introducing angels into the mix, I also find that the show is kind of plodding along now, with little thought to a longer story.
The recent two episodes, “Pittura Infamante” and “Kali Yuga” do one thing well: they take the rocky relationship between Ichabod and Katrina and then try to smooth over their many differences while also showing more cracks between Ichabod and Abby. Both are reflective of the loss of a common enemy that brought the three of them together, and that’s where the episodes really focus. However, it is all far too… mundane and the clear lack of an over-arching plot for the tail end of the second season is really hurting the show, as far as I can tell, since the characters and stories are just plodding along, doing the basics necessary of them.
Fox’s Gotham had a very interesting mid-season finale in that it ended with Gordon demoted from being a Detective on the GCPD to a watchman at the Arkham facility, which had recently been the metaphorical scene for a war of control between Don Falcone and Don Maroni. Other characters weren’t all that well-off either, and it seemed that the show was going to take a rather dark turn, more so than expected, and that with the whole status quo shake-up things would get really interesting in that nothing was certain and there was a lot of chaos going on in everyone’s life, which works for me on one level.
But it seems that the writers aren’t really committed to making the new status quo stick for too long. Because while the mid-season premiere two weeks back was fairly solid and promised a lot, the follow-up this week (with a weird break in between) didn’t work so well for me. And that kind of highlights the shortcomings of the show in that the writers often put forward some really great ideas, but they don’t go the distance with them, coming up short to take things in a yet another direction. And that kind of rankles as a fan, particularly when one half of the cast doesn’t even get any screen-time in these two episodes! Criminal, I tell you!
Note: Some spoilers from these two episodes are mentioned in the review.
No “Magic 40” in the first week of the new year, but the second week definitely sees me hit that landmark number, and with graphic novels mixed in to boot!
This week’s surprise hits were Angry Birds/Transformers #2 from IDW Publishing, Ares & Aphrodite #1 from Oni Press, Operation: S.I.N. #1 and Wolverines #1 from Marvel. The disappointments of the week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #2 and Ant-Man #1 from Marvel and Future’s End #36 from DC. Ongoing greats like Swamp Thing #38 and Detective Comics #38 from DC, Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #3 from Marvel, and John Carter: Warlord of Mars #3 from Dynamite to name a few were just as I expected them to be: superb.
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.