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.
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.
Slow reading this week, mostly because of the fact that my weekend was taken up entirely with celebrations for Diwali, an annual Indian festival, and because the National Novel Writing Month began on the weekend too. So I was either having a blast with cousins, and getting tired out a lot, or doing lots of writing on a new project which you can read about here.
Right mix of comics once again, some of them disappointing, some of them unexpectedly good, and some in between as well. Got another graphic novel finished this week, which was good. I’ve had it on my reading list for ages now, so its nice to get that out of the way and reduce my immense reading pile by that much at least. Pretty tough to maintain a reading list as long as mine.
Next week, or this week rather, should be good since there are a lot of cool comics coming out. And I’m hoping to get another graphic novel out of the way. We’ll see.
And finally this mini-series is at an end. Its a been a long road, all five weeks of October to be precise, but the story is done and dusted and there have been some important changes in the status quo of Feudal Japan, changes that have rocked the island nation and its foundations. And there have been heroes here, and villains aplenty as Rob Levin brought this screenplay to life as a comic.
When I first picked up this mini-series, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it turned out. Not really. I thought it’d be decent fun and that was that at the time. But then I began reading it, tuning in each week for the next installment, and finally we are here as Rob Levin closes out the story of Kichiro and Orochi, of a Vampire invasion of Nippon. This week’s final issue turned out to be fairly good, but it was still plagued by all the deficiencies of the previous issue unfortunately.
More than a year on since I first read a Witchblade comic, and I’m still in love with the character of Sara Pezzini and the entire setting that has grown up around her and the other Artifact-bearers in the Top Cow Universe. While initially it all comes across as very superheroish, its all just the surface details really since none of these characters are what I’d typically call superheroes. They are quite different, and Sara Pezzini/the Witchblade show that off quite handsomely.
I haven’t actually read all that many Witchblade comics, which is why this week’s Witchblade #170 is so significant a read for me. Ron Marz is returning to the title after a long hiatus, replacing Tim Seeley as the series writer and Laura Braga is coming on as the artist, replacing Diego Bernard. As such, this is meant to be a jumping-on point for readers and it starts off a whole new arc.
As we move into the final days of the month, Rob Levin’s comics adaptation of the “Rising Sun” screenplay by Shahin Chandrasoma also draws to a close. Today sees the release of the fourth issue, and then there is one more left till this mini-series completes up and we get the full story of Kichiro’s coming of age from a gaijin to a samurai.
By injecting vampires and their brutality into this story of feudal japan and a denied romance between Kichiro and the Shogun’s daughter, Mitsuko, Levin and Chandrasoma have done much to create their own (inspired) setting. Its certainly been a fun ride this far but the cracks are somewhat showing now. This remains a pretty fun mini-series, but I’m still waiting for it to really step up.
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.
Like I said last time, the fertility of vampires in fiction is at an all-time high these days. Novels or comics, movies or TV shows, they are everywhere, and the horror/urban fantasy genre is doing really well as a result. Frankly, there couldn’t be a better time really if you wanted to write vampires because now is the time to truly differentiate your work from the rest.
And this is what Rob Levin has done with Bushido. Vampires and samurai are a fairly interesting mix to throw together for a story, more so when it is in the medium of comics. Rob Levin presented a fairly interesting take in the first issue of his new mini-series for Top Cow and it proved to be a delightful read. Keeping up the momentum isn’t always easy for a mini-series but Levin looks to be set to do just that with his second issue.
This week was filled with reading a lot more than just the regular DC books. I read a fair amount of Marvel stuff this time, and also other titles from other publishers, particularly Vertigo, which is a DC imprint. A lot of these comics were really good, some not so much, and that’s pretty much normal really. Never a full week of solid comics. An impossibility I think.
I wasn’t able to get around to reading any graphic novels this time around, sadly, mostly because I was caught up reading a really big fat military space opera novel. It was written by a favourite author so that helped get over that a little bit but the book still took too much time. Not to mention that I was generally short on time so had to make do with reading single issues.
Perhaps this week I can get a couple graphic novels down!