The world of superhero television has been quite a abuzz this year. Whether it is the topic of the new DC Television shows like Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow or Arrow and Agents of SHIELD coming back for yet more after seeing some record success, or even the release of the Netflix Marvel shows, 2015 has been pretty damn incredible so far. And it only keeps getting better. Earlier this year we had the first of the new Defenders franchise, Daredevil, which did an incredible job of bringing the blind lawyer and superhero Matt Murdoch to television. Successful enough that it was almost immediately renewed for a second season, which only seems to be getting better with each new piece of information coming out about the show’s production.
But of course, one of the things that Daredevil was meant to do was pave the way for Jessica Jones, the second show in the series of 4 that will eventually lead to a Defenders show. Starring the likes of Krysten Ritter, David Tennant, Mike Colter and Rachael Taylor, Jessica Jones has had a great first season, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the show. Sure, it had some hits and misses like most debut shows (especially the superhero variety), but it also did some really mind-boggling things that you wouldn’t have expected. And the stars, and the writing and everything else all fit together into a really neat package that is worth going back for a rewatch.
Let’s not mince any words here. Ever since the show’s pilot got leaked online a few months back, I’ve been pretty damn excited for this. The trailers were promising, though a bit weird, but I had faith in the show and what it promised to deliver, and the leaked pilot did set me up on the positivity train. Well now, now we are in the second week of the show, and all those months of waiting has definitely been worth it. From the people who’ve brought us so many comic-book properties on television in recent years, Supergirl is a great addition to the line-up.
I reviewed the leaked pilot back in May, which you can read here, and it was a pretty good experience for me. As I said in that article, I found the actual pilot to be much better than the trailer let on, and it made me fall in love with Melissa Benoist’s portrayal of the Maid of Might all over again. Supergirl is one of my favourite DC superheroes, and it is great to see such a perfect portrayal here, which easily matches what Grant Gustin has been doing for close to two years now as The Flash. The supporting cast is also working fairly well together, and though there are a few kinks here and there in terms of story and general character-writing, this show has started off great.
Author Bradley P. Beaulieu is one of my favourite writers in recent years, thanks to his 2012 debut The Winds of Khalakovo from Night Shade Publishing. It was a pretty good year for the publisher, and we got lots of great debuts at the time, not the least of which was this incredible Russian-esque fantasy from Brad, which told an epic struggle between several noble families navigating the politics of the land. It was a very refreshing read for someone like me who grew up reading the more traditional fantasy settings, and Brad’s style in particular was one of the selling points as well. I have yet to read the third and final novel in the trilogy but after having just read Brad’s latest, I certainly itch to read more of his work, so soon perhaps.
Twelve Kings In Sharakhai is the first novel in Brad’s new series, The Song of The Shattered Sands. It is a very different novel in almost all sorts of ways, and that distinction certainly helps in the enjoyment of the book, though that is by no means the only thing. The setting is far grander this time, I think, for it deals with the past having an effect on the present and what that can mean to the future. The sins of old come to bite back, and it is up to a young girl named Çedamihn to challenge the authority of the Twelve Kings and have her vengeance on those who have wronged her and her family.
Towards the end of last year, Jean Johnson brought her Theirs Not To Reason Why military space opera series to a close in a grand fashion with Damnation, the fifth and final novel in the series. In this series, she introduced an amazingly detailed setting where our hero was a psychic soldier who takes on the entire known galaxy and reshapes it to battle a menace that no one else could even fathom. It was a fantastic series and by the time I was done reading it, I wanted to read more. But the series was done, and all that was left was the promise from Jean that this year we would go back in time to the First Salik War, the interstellar conflict that put Earth on the big stage and which ultimately segued into the events of Theirs Not To Reason Why.
The hero of The Terrans is a former regional politician named Jacaranda MacKenzie who is selected to be the political ambassador of humanity’s first deep foray into the rest of the galaxy, as the United Planets Space Force launches a massive first contact project on the back of several precognitive visions experienced by numerous powerful psychics. Yep, psychics affirming a first contact mission. We know from Jean’s previous series that this setting is populated by numerous psychics of various abilities, and that is something that she does a great job of in this new series, introducing us to many of the pros and cons of such people, especially within the context of a first contact mission.
Tales of Honor is the adaptation of David Weber’s Honor Harrington novel series and is written by Matt Hawkins, who is one of my favourite writers in the biz, and is drawn by Linda Sejic, an artist I don’t have much of an experience with, but love her work nonetheless. I’ve read a couple issues of the previous Tales of Honor volume, and even the recent FCBD issue, not to mention that I read the first novel recently as well, so I’m pretty well-versed with the setting and the characters, and going into this new arc, that’s a good thing since I can orient myself that much quicker.
Tales of Honor: Bred To Kill #1 picks up sometime after the recent war with the People’s Republic of Haven in the Basilisk system, and it has Honor coming back during some downtime from her job as the Captain of the HMS Fearless in order to discover the whereabouts of a missing relative. As the start to a new arc, Hawkins and co-writer Dan Wickline quickly establish the titular character’s “need to knows”, and move on with the meat of the story, which proves to be fairly interesting, and the corresponding art by Linda stands out as well, easily on par with some of the other top-notch stuff I’ve seen of late from various creators, including Linda’s husband Stjepan who is at the top of his game right now.
DC’s Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman got off to a really great start last year, but somewhere along the way, it kind of lost its momentum with some really odd stories that seemed to be shoehorned in, for no reason at all. And that’s kind of why I felt turned off from the experience of reading the comics, and even writing the reviews, because I didn’t want to review what I saw as less-than-expected. There were some good stories in the middle, sure, but mostly, it was all just rather boring.
Thankfully, issues #33 through #35 provide something of a revival in that respect. Some of the recent stories have been really good, and I think that it is this arc, Vendetta, that puts it all into perspective. Written by Josh Elder, this arc is all about a fateful encounter between Diana and Ares, set against the backdrop of a racial civil war in a war-torn African country. It feels simplistic at first, but it has a great message, and that’s the true value of it. The art by Jamal Igle, Juan Castro, Wendy Broome and Deron Bennett is also fairly decent, though it could use some improvements.
Just as Dynamite is no stranger to crossover event comics, it is also no stranger to team-up style comics, of which the publisher has done quite a few in recent years. Masks is once such title. It came out in 2012-2013 and it brought together many of the publisher’s various pulp action heroes such as The Shadow, Green Hornet, The Spider, and others. I never read the title then, as I wasn’t really into either pulp comics or Dynamite in general back then, and that’s kind of something I regret at this point, given how strongly some of these characters are in their solo series.
Masks 2 came out last month with its first issue, and it kind of proved to be a slam dunk for me. I’m of course familiar with Green Hornet and Kato from the unfortunate Seth Rogen movie, and the other characters like Shadow and Spider I’ve read about in some other titles like Justice Inc. and The Spider, whereas the others are all new to me. And that’s part of the fun of this first issue, that you get to see and meet so many different personalities. Cullen Bunn does some great work setting up the main conflict of the story here, and Eman Casallos’ art seems to hit the mark as well, capturing the feel and tone of the era quite well.
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.
Last year DC/WB announced that Supergirl aka Kara Zor-El would finally be making her way back to live-screen this year, with the character getting an ongoing show on CBS, which is part-owned by CW, the network that airs the hit-and-successful superhero shows The Flash and Arrow with a joint spin-off Legends of Tomorrow launching later this year as well. As a huge fan of the unfairly maligned Supergirl movie with Helen Slater, this was great news for me, especially since I love the character, and because the current creative team on the Supergirl comics is also just totally rocking it right now.
Through all the casting information and plot details that were revealed about Supergirl, it came across as a decent addition to the DC/WB television DC universe, and I was certainly excited by the prospect. And then just a few days ago we had what was an awesome 6-min trailer that introduced Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers aka Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl. The trailer had some flaws, but it was promising, and I couldn’t wait to see more. Which I did last night since the pilot episode got “leaked” onto the internet everywhere, and I saw for myself just how good this show was really going to be, and that the trailer didn’t do the show enough justice.
The previous issues of Black Widow have been pretty spectacular, as has been the norm on the title since its launch early last year. Natasha’s investigations into the organization CHAOS that has been causing all sorts of problems for SHIELD of late yielded some surprising results back in #15 and it made for a really interesting change of pace as far as the story was concerned. It also gave artist Phil Noto a chance to really go to town with the visuals and none of that seems to be headed for a slowdown in any way.
The two most recent issues, Black Widow #16 and Black Widow #17 are all about what CHAOS really is and what plans they have for Natasha and others like her all over the world. The reveal about CHAOS is something that really twists the head in ways you wouldn’t expect. Nathan manipulates the story in a really deft way and he shows some really mad skills as he has Natasha navigate the web of lies and half-truths being peddled by CHAOS. Supporting him, Phil also does a pretty incredible job and though some of the scenes were a bit more low-key than usual, his own mad skills were never in doubt I’d say.
The 2014-15 season has been pretty incredible for the DC universe. Not only did we have CW’s Arrow returning for a third season, but we also had The Flash on CW as well, alongwith projects like Gotham and Constantine on others. Not to mention some of the other stuff that is in the works, such as the recently announced Legends of Tomorrow, which is going to be the second spin-off show for Arrow (a truly awesome achievement by the way!), and the upcoming Supergirl.
Yes, Supergirl is coming to television for the 2015-16 season! And last night, CBS released a “First Look” trailer for the show, which appears to be basically a(n) (extended) teaser from the upcoming pilot episode. Can. Not. Wait!
As I’ve mentioned before, Geoff Johns’ Justice League found a new lease on life following the Forever Evil crossover and that it returned to its previous levels of awesome, especially with artists Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson coming on-scene to provide the other half of the team. The AMAZO virus storyline was definitely all kinds of awesome, and I really enjoyed getting back into such an involved and moving story after the (almost) dead beats of Forever Evil. But now it is time for something different yet again, and recent experience seems to hold up well in the new arc.
With the recent Justice League #40, Geoff Johns is kicking off yet another new phase in the title, this one titled “Darkseid War“. The issue itself is told through the viewpoint of the being known as Metron, a universal entity far above the ken of even such mighty beings as superheroes. The entire issue is pretty much his monologue, and we learn some startling things about the DC universe, as well as the true nature of the being known as the Anti-Monitor and how the ongoing Convergence event fits into the whole tapestry that Geoff and others at DC have been working on of late.