Dynamite Entertainment is not a publisher to shy away from doing crossovers and events every now and then. Sometimes you have crossovers such as Tarzan and John Carter, or Red Sonja and Witchblade or even Sherlock Holmes and Red Sonja and Vampirella all together fighting against a Hyborean villain of all things. I love reading crossovers and event books, primarily for the reason that they always have an exciting cast of characters where I’m not really familiar with many of them. Tarzan? Nope. Witchblade? Not at first. Vampirella? Not really. And Dynamite has a good track record with these things, so it makes for a much better experience that way too.
And the latest crossover/event from the publisher is Swords of Sorrow, a massive event that brings together heroes and villains from across worlds and timelines in an all-out battle. You have characters such as Red Sonja, Vampirella, Dejah Thoris, etc fighting to defend all of reality against Hel, Purgatori, Chastity and others. This could all be easily summed up as a feminist crossover given the incredible number of (great) female characters represented, and both the writing by Gail Simone and the art by Sergio Davila is absolutely top-notch.
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.
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.
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.
The mid-season finale last month proved to be a major game-changer. The show had been building up to this one big epic confrontation between the heroes and the villains and it all finally happened as Moloch succeeded in manifesting himself on Earth and began to bring about a merging of Earth with Purgatory, over which he held dominion. But then, something really incredible happened, and it was all for naught because the great demon overlooked something quite… human, which proved to be his terrible downfall.
And that brings us to this week’s episode, “Paradise Lost“, the mid-season premiere of a great show. In this new episode, we find out what happened to the heroes after their big confrontation with Moloch, and how the span of time since then has changed them all. Moloch is gone, good and proper, and so a semblance of normality is returning to their lives, but an evil like Moloch doesn’t go out all the way and Team Witness’ bad time is about to get a whole lot worse because there are many more dangers out there now, now that many of the denizens of Purgatory have fled to Earth and have begun to cause mayhem.
Note: This review contains spoilers for the mid-season finale, episode 11.
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!
Doing one of these posts often takes a lot out of me because of all the linking and checking and verification and formatting and everything, but lists like this also help me crystalize my year in reading, so I value them quite highly. Thankfully, I’m able to get this list out in time and most of the books on the list have already been reviewed as well, so that’s something too.
With the year 2014 now done and over, it is time to do the first of my “Best of the Year” posts, for the period 1st July to December 31st. I didn’t read as many books this time as I wanted to, primarily because I got married in the first week of July itself, and things have changed a fair bit. But life remains exciting and interesting in equal measure, and my reading also happens to match that rather closely, so I’ll take that in full indeed!
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
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.
I’ve been a fan of Judge Dredd for a good while now, which for me translates into about a three-year period. It all started with the horrible 1980s movie with Sylvester Stallone, but then extended into the audio dramas range from Big Finish Audios, and then into the comics from IDW Publishing, and then the new movie with Karl Urban, and so on. Back in 2012 I also read the Dredd Omnibus from Abaddon Books which contained three stories from the perspective of a veteran Judge Dredd and which proved to be a really fun collection with some really strong stories.
And now we have this year’s Judge Dredd: Year One, which collects three more short novels, but the twist being that they focus on a Judge Dredd who is just a year out from the Academy, and is thus still finding his feet in the mess that is life in Mega-City One. Each novel does something different with the character, with the third one, Wear Iron by Al Ewing, which contains quite a bit of misdirection. But still, each novel here is pretty excellent and the stories told are definitely a lot of fun too, such as the first novel City Fathers which shows the Mega-City 5000 race. Great stuff!
I read Dredd Omnibus back in 2012, just a few short months after Dredd, starring Karl Urban in the titular role, debuted on movie screens around the world, and unfortunately flopped. It was a great movie, truly, but I can see why it lacked a certain mass appeal, not to mention the other decisions taken with it. And then came this omnibus, which collected three novels featuring the titular character and proved to be one hell of a read when put together. The omnibus explored the culture of Mega-City One from many different angles and it also proved to be a great look into Dredd as a character, as he went about the city on patrol and dispensed justice to criminals.
This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.