Gail Simone and Walter Geovani’s Red Sonja, launched last year in July, has proven to be one of the best new comics of recent months. It even made my “Top 5 New Comics of 2013” list. For a fan of the character and the setting, Gail and Walter have done some incredible work with the series and their first arc of six issues was always fun and enjoyable without fail. Now, they are launching into their second arc after a 2-month break and it looks like they have both upped their game significantly. Which is all that I wanted really.
As said, this issue starts off a new arc. After defeating Dark Anisia in the previous arc and freeing the populace of an usurper king, now Sonja is headed all over Hyrkania and beyond to round-up the six greatest artisans of the age for an immense banquet being held in a month’s time by Samala, the Emperor of a pseudo-Egyptian kingdom. Gail’s writing is as top-notch as ever this time around and even the art clicks together very well. This might just be my favourite issue of the series thus far.
Not as busy a week as the last but fairly busy nonetheless. The new creative teams on various ongoing titles continue to go strong, particularly Justice League Dark and Witchblade while some of the newer titles like Black Science continue to be exception, so that’s one thing that I really liked about this past week. January in particular has been a really excellent month of comics what with Marvel’s full-on All-New Marvel NOW! launch and some really good issues for DC’s Forever Evil event.
Just one graphic novel again this week, the Lee/Buscema magnificence that is Silver Surfer: Judgement. I was meaning to read at least one more, but time wasn’t on my side and I missed out. Hopefully the new month gets off to a good start.
For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my twelfth and final pick is actually a tie. Its no secret to anyone reading my blog and reviews that there are two series that have come out this year that have had a great impression on me and have really taken me on a bit of a nostalgia trip, one of them more than the other. The first is Red Sonja from Gail Simone and Walter Geovani’s excellent new Red Sonja series from Dynamite and the second is Samurai Jack Jim Zub and Andy Suriano’s brand-new series Samurai Jack from IDW Publishing, based on the Cartoon Network series of the same name from the early 2000s.
Hit the break to see why I picked these characters.
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!
Looks like its going to be the month of busy weeks. The last two weeks I’ve read two graphic novels each along with all my regular monthlies and this past week proved to be no different. Both Detective Comics Volume 4 and The Flash Volume 4 proved to be exceedingly good and now I have two more series that I need to catch up on for the New 52. Tall order, but doable. And as regards the usual monthlies, there were comics across the board, in all sorts of ways: genres, publishers, characters, etc, etc. The year has slowly transformed over the months into a really solid year for comics overall.
I still haven’t made any dent in the pile of graphic novels I have to read, but I’m not too worried about any of it, to be honest. Already used to that phenomenon from my novel reading.
And so we come to it, the final issue of Gail Simone and Walter Geovani’s first arc on the new Red Sonja series. When the first issue came out in July, it seemed as if the road to the end of the first arc would be long. But here we are, and the journey to this issue has been a really fun and exciting one. The last issue promised one hell of a one-on-one clash between Dark Annisia and Red Sonja, but there was a gut-wrenching twist at the end, something that did leave me quite shocked. It was a cliffhanger which made me really anxious to get to this issue, and I’m quite elated that the finale lives up to its promise.
The final issue of the arc this may be, but it is still just as great an issue as any of the others. The Red Sonja who we saw in the first issue has grown quite a bit and the one we see at the end of this issue is a different person. Not too different, mind you, but the character has definitely been changed by her experiences fighting against her sister-from-the-pit and almost dying in the wilderness. If you were waiting for Red Sonja to truly be the hero of this story, then this is the issue that you have to read for that.
The sixth book cover that I pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013” list is Jon Sullivan’s superb illustration for Ari Marmell’s In Thunder Forged, the first Fall of Llael novel from Pyr Books, set in the Iron Kingdoms setting. I read the novel a few weeks ago and while its not among the best novels I’ve read this year, its certainly been one of the better ones and I definitely loved the setting and the characters book. It makes me wish that I knew more about Iron Kingdoms and that the next book in the series was already out. Now that would truly be amazing, especially if Jon draws the cover once again.
The sixth comic cover that I pick is the cover for writer Gail Simone and artist Walter Geovani’s first issue of the rebooted Red Sonja series from Dynamite Entertainment. The cover itself is courtesy of Nicola Scott, who is one of my absolute favourite comics artists. The first issue was rather remarkable in that Gail put together a team of seriously awesomely talented female artists and got them to do the cover and several variants, one each. The result was pretty fantastic, as was the rest of the issue itself. Gail and Walter have definitely put Red Sonja on the map for me, a dilettante with the character’s comics, and now I’m a full fan.
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.
Bradley’s Lays of Anuskaya series was on my radar this year thanks to all my Night Shade Books reading last year and it ended up going on my “25 Series To Read In 2013” challenge. When I read the first book earlier this year in February, I was quite struck with the scope of the world-building and with the characters. Not to mention the fact that I loved the (inspired-by) Russian setting, despite sometimes getting lost with the names and the familiar names. The Winds of Khalakovo is definitely one of my favourite books of the year and Bradley one of my favourite authors.
The second novel, set some time after the events of the first novel, goes further with the world-building and deals in concepts and cultures and locales that we did not see in the first book. That gets some automatic points from me, for sure, because I love that aspect in a second or third novel. Fleshing out the setting created and introduced in the first book is one of the most important things in a sequel that I look for, and Straits of Galahesh is enjoyable for that fact. But, some of the characterisation and the pacing did suffer this time around, so it wasn’t as smooth sailing as the first book.
By now I’m sure that you have all heard the news. Actress Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel movie. To use the big cliche going around the interwebs, the movie still does not have an official title. It is being referred to as both Man of Steel 2 and Batman vs Superman. Complicating that somewhat is the fact that we know Wonder Woman is going to be in the movie in some capacity and there are rumours going about that we might see Batman’s protege Nightwing in the movie as well, and that there might even be Doomsday, the big bad alien bio-construct who killed Superman in one of the most popular comic events of all times. So there’s a lot to handle.
But the focus of this editorial is the casting of Gal Gadot as the iconic Amazon Princess, who is the most recognisable and most popular female comics hero in the world, despite her 71 year history in the medium. She’s the only female comics hero that I know of who has sustained her own solo title for high triple digits, something like around 650 issues or so, not to mention all the other titles she’s been a part of, or the fact that together with Batman and Superman, she forms DC’s Trinity, the three most important and central properties the publisher and its parent company Warner Bros. owns.
Slightly slow comic-reading week again, but not by all that much since I got to read a graphic novel as well, so that balances things out a little bit. Really interesting week this one, particularly with the launch of a Harley Quinn ongoing from DC Comics and some really good second issues or the start of new arcs for some of the other regular books.
The month is closing out now though, not all that much time left, just a handful of days, and I’d like to end the month on a good high. TO that end, I might well be reading two graphic novels at least this weekend to catch up on things a little since that particular reading pile creeps higher every week or two weeks. Getting almost scary now!
One thing that I love about Gail Simone’s story arcs is that she writes strong, consistent stories regardless at what point they are set. Be it the beginning, or the middle, or the end, her writing always entertains in all sorts of different way. The Movement, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, she’s been excellent in all of them, and her revival of Red Sonja in collaboration with artist Walter Geovani is further proof that she is one of the best writers in the industry, no doubts about that.
As a fan of the character, I was immediately on board with this series even before the first issue had been released. After that, it was only a matter of form since Gail and Walter gave me a story and a character that I could really latch on to. They’ve put Sonja through some really tough moments in the previous four issues, and now she is on the mend, and spoiling for a fight, which she does get by the end, except for a slight unforeseen complication which was perfect.