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.
It has been a good long while since we’ve had a Death Vigil release. Stjepan Sejic ended the sixth issue on a very grim note, with events heading completely downhill for the Vigil, especially Bernie, and it was a really, really bleak moment for the entire crew, especially once there was a betrayal from within. It was a grim story, but at the same time, a lot of Stjepan’s comic timing really made its presence felt as well, and that kept me chugging along. And it kept me foaming at the mouth for the next release, which was unfortunately delayed until recently.
Some personal problems for Stjepan meant that we didn’t get Death Vigil #7 until last week, and that too through his own blog rather than through the regular distribution. I won’t go into the specifics as they are kind of irrelevant to matters at hand, but suffice to say that the new issue is well worth the long wait since mid-January. Stjepan launches straight into the story and picks up the beats from where he left off, and the new issue proves to be one hell of a ride, keeping up a fine tradition that began in Death Vigil #1 last year.
The first half of Realm War: Age of Darkness was packed with a hell of a lot of action. Writer Joe Brusha devoted a lot of time to fleshing out the post-Grimm Fairy Tales #100 world, one in which the bad guys won and took over the realms, even as the heroes rose up again to fight them, to reclaim their individual worlds. And things have certainly been downhill for them for most of the way. It was a rather classical approach, and it worked out well for me, for Brusha presented lots of fun mysteries and relationships, even as artists Sami Kivela and Maxflan Araujo went to town on the illustrations and all the cool action sequences and what have you.
But, Realm War #7 marks a turning point in that we move into the second half of this epic crossover, and the good guys are now starting to make some real headway. Despite all the adversity, all the losses and the betrayals, it looks like the good guys finally have a real chance of stopping the Dark Queen (retrospectively we know already that they win, courtesy of the other titles from the publisher, namely Grimm Fairy Tales itself). Issues 7 through 9 are full of more epic action, more character moments, etc, and it is the ninth issue that finally gets the ball really rolling, as the heroes strike out for a major blow against the villains, a definitive one in fact.
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 .
In December of last year, writer Michael Alan Nelson and artists Dan Mora and Gabriel Cassata kicked off the second arc of their smash-hit series Hexed with a new arc that develops on everything we were introduced to in the first half, such as the complicated relationships between the three main characters, and the mysteries that surround all of them. Deservedly, the fifth issue of the series was an all-star issue that hit the perfect note for me at the end of the year, and I expected the next few issues to be more of the same.
And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Issue #6 from last month builds on the concept of Lucifer being the Harlot’s heir, and Lady Cymbaline trying to use that to get a hold on her since she has a bitter enmity with the Harlot. Issue #7 then, in turn, builds upon some of the secrets that Val has kept from Lucifer to date, and it all becomes kind of a really interesting mess by the end. Great story, amazingly great art, that’s what you can expect from this seasoned team, and you will definitely not be left wanting.
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.
Last month we saw a pretty big and epic showdown go down between various members of the Death Vigil and the coven of necromancers who have opposed them for several centuries now. It was something that Stjepan Sejic had been building up for a while now, and to watch it unfold was something straight out of my imagination. Or so I’d like to think, though the fact stands that if there’s one thing that Stjepan has done really well with this series, it is that he continues to surprise and amaze with each issue.
This past week’s Death Vigil #6 continues on that same path. This is a pretty big issue actually, both in terms of its page-count and also in terms of the story packed herein, which the cover makes quite plain I think. Or the direction of it in any case. The showdown results in some big changes in the status quo and we see that sometimes the good guys really get outdone by the bad guys. The twists just kept on coming in this issue and with the typical Sejic high-pace, the story leaves you gasping for air and almost crying because of what happens in the final pages.
I skipped another FSCR last week, largely because I kind of felt… tired about the whole thing and just wasn’t in the mood I suppose. But, to make up, I’m definitely back in it for this week!
The picks for this week are: Ivar, Timewalker #1, Scarlet Spiders #3, Spider-Woman #3, Wonder Woman #38, Samurai Jack #16 and Star Trek/Planet Of The Apes #2.