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 .
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.
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.
Swamp Thing is one of those New 52 launch titles that I’ve wanted to read for a long time but didn’t get around to until very recently. And then it all just kind of happened last month and I blitzed through the three recent issues so I could be all caught up on the current arc. And it turned out to be a pretty good arc too, one that seeks to delve into the mythology of the character and also take it a few steps further. With all that the newly-formed Machine Kingdom is up to, it looks like the times ahead for the hero are quite grim indeed and that he is going to have to go through some pretty brutal challenges before he can succeed.
In past week’s Swamp Thing #38, we finally see the beginnings of the Machine Kingdom’s assault on the Avatar of the Green. When they failed in a previous attempt, the Machine Kingdom decided to create itself an Avatar of its own and said Avatar has completely changed around their mode of thinking and has taken battle directly to Swamp Thing, gathering allies and supporters of its own. And this pretty fight is pretty brutal indeed for the hero as Charles Soule explores how the combined powers of three supervillains launch a simultaneous attack on him.
The last week of 2014 and I hit my Magic 40 number. That pleases me immensely. I was hoping I’d be able to make it to this number, and I did, especially with 2 graphic novels in the mix a well!
For this final week of 2014, the surprise hits were: Jungle Book: Fall Of The Wild #1 from Zenescope and Transformers: Drift: Empire of Stone #2 from IDW Publishing. The disappointing comics of the week were Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #7 from Marvel and Secret Origins #8 from DC. The regular greats like Aquaman, Catwoman, Sensation Comics, Secret Avengers, Godzilla: Cataclysm and others struck once again in the final tally.
The graphic novels for this week were Sunstone by Stjepan Sejic and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 3 by Dan Abnett, Pop Mhan, Mark Roberts, Deron Bennett and Stjepan Sejic.
The current arc of Justice League Dark has seen the team split up into different sub-teams, and each sub-team has been fighting off a different threat. Zatanna had to face reunion with her father in a rather roundabout way, while Frankenstein, Bennett, Swamp Thing and Asa have confronted a dark, future version of Felix Faust who has gone insane. Which leaves just Deadman, Black Orchid and Madame Xanadu. The previous three issues of the series have seen the team under a lot of pressure and each has done something to move past the challenge before them and set about restoring their unity.
Which is where this new issue of the title comes in, and in a big way too. First Zatanna, then the team of four, have had to face some very obvious but also subtle challenges. For Boston, Black Orchid and Xanadu however, it is pretty much subtle all the way, for they are caught in a web the likes of which they cannot begin to imagine. And at the same time, while we don’t get to see the team of four doing anything this time, we see Zee trying to find a way to bring her entire team together, and by the time the issue ends, something rather disturbing happens, leaving another big gaping mystery for the heroes.
A third straight week this time without me hitting my magic 40 number, which I really regret since a ton of comics have been coming out these last two weeks, but no matter.
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, Dredd Uprise #1 from 200AD, and Swamp Thing #35-37 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1 and Hulk #9 from Marvel Comics. Comics which continued on with a good run yet again were Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #3 , Aliens: Fire and Stone #3, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #5 , Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #3, Inhuman #9, Gotham Academy #3 and Vampirella v2 #7 among others.
No graphic novels this past week unfortunately.
I ended up skipping last week’s Fast-Shot article since I was rather busy with real-life stuff and just did not have the time for doing it. But I stand by what I said in the previous two articles, that these reviews are a great way to work through the back-log and they let me do lots of different types of comics together in a single place. The last two reviews I’ve done for this new feature have both been pretty good ones in terms of that, and they’ve also been fairly popular, which is quite heartening to see. So, on to the reviews!
The picks for this week are: Dredd Uprise #1, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1, Batman: Eternal #35, Future’s End #31, Swamp Thing #35-37, and Rai #5. Another diverse line-up of titles, as always Of these, Dredd Uprise #1 is from more than a month ago I believe, one of the many comics I didn’t get around to in October, unfortunately, while Angela: Asgard’s Assassin is a new title, and Rai is returning after a significant layover, and proves to be even better with the new issue than the previous four, by a considerable margin. And with the DC titles, well, they all proved to be a very interesting lot.
The two recent issues of Justice League Dark have fleshed out a story where the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets conspire to use the supernatural League for their own ends and the whole process ends up throwing the team out of space and out of time, scattered in different directions and quite aimless as such things are measured. I quite like this new arc since with it writer DeMatteis is able to develop the team even more and bring them all together with some returning former members. Quite exciting really.
Unlike Justice League Dark #35, the new issue focuses on a different set of characters as we follow their own adventures at the end of time and space, a time where the Earth has been left as a useless, lifeless rock for uncountable years, and a space where the entire planet is nothing more than a very loose collection of floating rocks. Quite an interesting setting for the specific members of the team featured here to go up against one of their direst enemies. Fairly good story combined with fairly good art means that this issue is another winner.
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.
Last week’s Justice League Dark #35 presented a very interesting tale of Zatanna meeting up with her father Zatara in an alternate-reality kind of setting, following an adventure with the rest of the supernatural Justice League that split the entire team up. It was a really fun tale, and nice to see Zatanna take the lead in the title after the recent Nightmare Nurse and Deadman-oriented arcs that did a lot to flesh out those particular characters. But the big question of course was what kind of an event had split the team up, and just how it all went down.
J. M. DeMatteis’ latest issue on the title does a lot to flesh that out in its entirety and help answer some of the questions that I found myself raising after getting through Justice League Dark #35. The Justice League Dark Annual #2 is a pretty great story that explores the character relationships between Zatanna and Constantine, which segues into an exploration of how their relationship has ended up affecting the House of Mystery itself. The writing is fairly solid on this one, though I think that it moved a bit too fast and missed out on a few emotional beats, and the same kind of goes for the artwork as well.
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.