In recent years, my relationship with the Star Wars franchise in its entirety has been in flux. Whether it be the disappointments of Episode VII: The Force Awakens or some of the recent novels like A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller or Honor Among Thieves by James S. A. Corey, I haven’t been enamoured of the franchise at all. There have been stand-outs such as Paul Kemp’s Lords of the Sith and James Luceno’s Tarkin, but there haven’t been many. And I won’t even get into the new comics from Marvel since most of them are retreading the area already covered extensively under Dark Horse and I don’t have much interest in them. However, when Rogue One was announced as a stand-alone movie in the franchise, and a prequel to the original Star Wars no less, I was excited because it was going to focus on almost entirely new characters and present us with something that we hadn’t really seen before on such a major platform.
Cue this past Thursday when the movie finally released. The trailers had built up a lot of hype for me, who was desperately looking for something to cheer for after the failings of The Force Awakens. Yes, the story would go over some material from Dark Horse and what some of the earlier video games had covered, but it was still mostly uncharted territory. Additionally, the period of the Galactic Empire’s dominance of the galaxy is one of the most fascinating periods in Star Wars lore, and I was totally ready for this movie. It looked to have a really awesome cast with some great promised cameos and I was all-in. And you know what, the movie didn’t disappoint. It was almost everything that I wanted from The Force Awakens but never got, and then some.
Note: This review contains some major spoilers from the movie, especially the ending, so read at your own risk.
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.
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.
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.
DC’s He-Man: The Eternity War has been kicking butt since it started. Spinning out of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series, this new book has really ramped up everything that was great about that series, and given it a new context, one that is grander and just generally more epic. While I loved the contributions from the early creative team on that series, the change of guard with Dan Abnett as writer made things so much better, and The Eternity War has pretty much delivered on everything that I could ask of it, month after month.
Issues #4 and #5 continue the tale of Hordak’s all-out invasion of Eternia as the big bad himself has come to the world now, intending on destroying his enemies in a final all-out conflict. He-Man and his sister She-Ra have done much to head him off, what with He-Man and She-Ra leading an army of Serpent Men against Hordak’s forces, even as the rest of the loyal Eternians do their own thing. But things are really heating up now, and even as one of He-Man’s oldest enemy returns, the future of the war to save Eternia is very, very uncertain, because if there’s one thing that defines this setting, it is the constant betrayal and deception that is employed by the villains.
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 .
The first two installments of The Eternity War have been very impressive. Writer Dan Abnett did some great work in the now-cancelled ongoing and then he ported all of that to the new series, where he has finally pitched He-Man against Hordak in a mass epic war that is something straight out of a fantasy novel. And it is glorious. Utterly glorious. It also helps that artists Pop Mhan and Mark Roberts have given him ample support and have put out some really great visuals that perfectly capture the feel of the setting and the franchise at large.
The newest issue from this past week takes a break from all the He-Man stuff and instead focuses on a character I’ve dearly missed in the new series, She-Ra aka Princess Adora aka Despara aka He-Man’s sister. She has been conspicuous by her absence so far, but in this issue Dan Abnett deftly segues her arc into a mission for the new Sorceress, Teela, and shows what happens when She-Ra goes after her former Horde comrades. And along the way, we get more awesome visuals by Pop and Mark, who have a great handle on how to depict all the glory of She-Ra.
Last month Valiant launched Ivar, Timewalker, bringing the third and final Anni-Padda brother into the spotlight with his own book, with Gilad and Armstrong already having their own solo titles in Eternal Warrior and Archer & Armstrong and the two have also shown up in the recent The Valiant mini-series. This new book by Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry and Brian Reber explores the time-traveler’s self-appointed mission to keep the timelines safe and also feature a great supporting actor in CERN scientist Neela Sethi, caught up in Ivar’s time-hopping madness.
The second issue, out this past Wednesday, picks up from where the first issue left off last month and we have Ivar and Neela in a prehistoric time several millions of years in Earth’s past trying to figure out what to do next. Having just “discovered” time travel, Neela is attempting to sort everything out while Ivar fills her in, and the neat thing here is how he teaches her about the immutable nature of changing the past or the future, with the most classic of tropes of time travel: killing Hitler.
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.
DC’s Supergirl experienced yet another creative team change about 2 months back, and thankfully, it has been a good change for once, with a team that is focused on empowering and developing the titular character without making her suffer through yet more angst and family issues that were so… roughly executed in the first three years of the rebooted title. Putting the character in a school-environment in outer space has done wonders for the character as far as I’m concerned, and that’s what I want to see more of, as this particular story is developed further.
The first 2 issues by the new creative team did a lot to flesh out the new phase of Supergirl, as the titular character met some new people, honed her abilities further, and learned more about the wider galaxy. At the same time, she has also had somewhat of a tough time fitting in, having had to contend against some natural biases among her fellow students at Crucible Academy, and that’s where this book really excels I think. Goes without saying that the art by Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, Hi-Fi, Rob Leigh and Tomeu Morey has also worked out really well with the new direction.