On account of traveling to and from India this past week, my comics reading took a back-seat, as did my novel reading incidentally. Very few comics read, but most of them were good at least, a saving grace.
Its been an interesting year for the movie industry, whether we talk Hollywood or Bollywood. Big tent-pole movies were the norm at the box office, and there were both successes and flops from each region. It can’t be denied either that some of the box offices successes have proved to be quite surprising, such as the runaway hits Frozen and The Hunger Games #2: Catching Fire, which continue to tell studio executives that female-led movies, especially action movies, CAN be successful if given a chance and that hiding behind ridiculous sexist attitudes and thinking just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Or let’s talk Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim which underperformed in the US but was a big hit in international markets and the reason for the former can no doubt be laid at the feet of the subversive trend in American media of trash-talking movies that are different.
But enough of that. This post, the first such that I’m doing, is meant to celebrate the movies that I thoroughly enjoyed this year, whether Hollywood or Bollywood, and that’s what I’m going to focus on here. So let’s have at it.
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!
For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my ninth pick is the Asgardian who doubles up on Earth as a Norse god, the mighty Thor from Jason Aaron’s phenomenal Thor: God of Thunder from Marvel Comics, a new series that started last year with the Marvel NOW! initiative and has consistently been one of Marvel’s top comics of each month. I credit Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic for helping me break into Marvel’s comics full and proper with this title and its been a damn good read throughout its run till now.
Hit the break to see why I picked this character.
For this new seasonal end of year list, the fourth book cover that I pick is Brian McClellan’s debut novel for Orbit Books, Promise of Blood, the first novel in the Powder Mage gunpowder fantasy series that, for me, does some really new things with magic systems. Additionally, it describes a very rich and layered world that is driven by politics on all levels of culture and society. And finally, Brian writes some great action scenes that definitely make it easy to visualise in the mind what’s happening on the pages. That in itself is quite fantastic.
And the fourth comics cover that I pick is the seventh issue of writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic’s Thor: God of Thunder. This is the series that really got me to read Marvel comics since it was the only comic from the publisher for months that I was following regularly. The two creators together wove a wonderful space operatic tale with fantasy elements and the comic featured regularly on my end of month lists, which can be found here.
So without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
Last week I talked about how uneven Agents of SHIELD was in terms of story quality, and I mentioned that the show flip-flopped with good and bad storylines every other week with almost a regularity to it. Still, it is very early days yet for the show, we are barely two months into it in fact, and so I can sort of accept such unevenness since a lot of shows struggle at this point in their development. The creators have to work from scratch, have to spread themselves around and hit on the magical story that will truly resonate with viewers and keep bringing them back in droves every week.
I’ve said again and again that this show is a very promising one and that it needs to take chances and be truly bold. It has a solid premise, it just needs to work on its execution, which is where it is most lacking for now. This week’s episode does some really interesting things and best of all it finally gives a reason for why Agent Melinda May gave up field-work and took a desk-job. At the same time, we also get an indirect Thor: The Dark World tie-in, which is just in keeping with last week’s episode which was much more of a tie-in than this one. However, the show still continued its “villain of the week” pattern and that was most disappointing, more so since there was a distinct lack of any story elements related to the previous episodes.
Agents of SHIELD is a show that often tests my patience. One episode will be good, another not so much. And this flip flop continues in a loop every two weeks. There’s almost a regularity to it. It is one of the most uneven shows that I’ve watched, which is saying something since I’m quite a fan of Joss Whedon’s other shows and the ones I’ve seen have all been excellent, losing steam only about the time that they hit their final seasons. The show is extremely promising, but it just doesn’t capture the imagination as well as it should be.
Last week’s episode was kind of a bore. It lacked all the excitement and character drama of the episode the week before. But this week’s episode somehow turns it around. It is better than last week’s episode, primarily because it makes a strong effort to tie-in to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. And there is some interesting character development as well, with regards to Agent Ward, one character on the show who desperately needs that kind of development.
Managed to read a handful of more comics this week, since there were a lot of titles released that I was really interested in, and a couple from previous weeks that I hadn’t been able to get around to at the time. As usual, it was all a mixed reading experience, with some really good comics mixed in with some bad ones and a few that straddle the fence between the two extremes. More positive ones than negative ones.
No graphic novels this week sadly, since this week was a real slog in reading, again, and I was struggling for time in general with everything else too. Perhaps this coming week can be different!
Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder has been one of the biggest successes of Marvel’s line-wide reboot. A lot of that undoubtedly has to do with the Thor franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe being such a big breakout success as well. The second movie, Thor: The Dark World, which launched last week has so far proven to be another big hit and has broken several box office records of its predecessor already. Jason Aaron has been going all-out with the series and its an approach that has clearly worked out.
The current arc stars the long-forgotten Thor villain Malekith, one-time leader of the Dark Elves of the realm of Svartalfheim. Broken out of his prison in #13, he has been waging a guerrilla war across the Nine Realms and it has fallen to Thor and representatives of some of the other realms to hunt him down and bring him back in chains. In #14 we see the League of Realms form, an Avengers-like team-up of warriors from across the Nine Realms, and we see their first outing together. In #15, we see them a second time and this time, a lot of emphasis is placed on the character drama between the characters, rather than on the action.
Finally, this was a week where my non-DC reading far out-stripped my DC reading. Villain’s Month really seems to have taken a toll with my reading, what with reading like seven or eight titles a week. Things are finally becoming more normal, and that’s excellent in and of itself. Lots of Dark Horse and IDW reading as well this week, which was really nice, since I’m playing catch-up with a few of their titles and really need to be getting down to read these issues.
However, no luck with reading any graphic novels again this week. I had hoped to read at least one during my flight back to Dubai from Delhi but things didn’t work out like that since I slept on the entire flight, all three and a half hours of it. That’s something I suppose. But now I have the time I hope so will see what happens.