A stable week for a change and this meant that I was able to read some more comics this time. Didn’t get through quite as many as I wanted to, and I certainly didn’t get around to reviewing as many as I wanted to, but that’s fine really. Gotta take a bit of an occasional lighter load I think. Most of the Marvel books I read this week weren’t all that impressive (as the top picks at the end will show), but DC was better. And Vertigo’s newest series looks to be damn good too, can’t wait to check out the second issue of that next month.
And I did manage to begin my Flash New 52 read-through finally with volume 1 last night, so that’s something there. Planning to read a lot of graphic novels this year, mostly in terms of catching up with series I’ve missed out on, so we shall see how it all pans out.
Another new week of comics, and that means another new week with a new book launching from Marvel, as part of its brand-new All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, under which the publisher is either relaunching some series, or launching new ones with characters old and new alike. One of this week’s big highlight is X-Force, which already existed under the Marvel Now banner, but not quite in this form, I’m given to believe. I’ve never read any X-Force or related comic, and neither have I read anything with any of the characters featured here, except for Psylocke, who has had some good moments in Brian Wood’s X-Men of late.
Being my first X-Force comic, and with these characters in particular, the transition is a bit rough. I barely know any of them, and Si Spurrier’s writing isn’t very comfortable in that regard either. But, I think the series has a really interesting premise all the same, with the X-Force team being mutantkind’s self-appointed black ops team, and that’s the charm, certainly. Rock-He Kim’s art on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired and is definitely one of the weaker points of this issue. It has neither the substance nor the charm that I expected.
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.
The previous two issues of Marvel Knights: X-Men have been surprisingly good. As someone who was a bit jaded with the X-books following last year’s Battle of the Atom crossover, this new (mini) series proved to be a breath of fresh air in almost all respects and the creative team of Brahm Revel and Cristiane Peter did some really good work on both these issues. They introduced the characters well and gave them a compelling mystery to sink their teeth into, something that could resonate with the reader alongside some of the more compelling X-Men stories.
But sadly, the third issue, released this week, proves to be a bit of a bummer. After the awesomeness of the previous two issues, we got a very disappointing issue this week. And its not so much as the art as the writing that is problematic here. The X-Men don’t exactly act in character and the revealed powers of Darla grow steadily more messy, in both story and art. I’m not sure really. I kind of enjoyed the story here, but I was also put off by it in several places. Perhaps that’s why I found it so disappointing.
It has been quite an interesting month in many respects as far as Marvel’s latest round of relaunches is concerned. This is their big month, marking the release of several new series such as Avengers World, All-New X-Factor, Black Widow and more. It seems that in the first months of all the new series, Marvel is double-shipping the titles, and with Black Widow at least that has really paid off since Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto have delivered on an amazing book. I read All-New X-Factor #1 a couple weeks back and it was not so good. It was a letdown basically.
But All-New X-Factor #2 seems to be turning that around. I enjoyed the story for sure. I wasn’t really expecting it to be better, but it was and I have to say that there’s a big difference between this issue and the debut issue. The art is slightly better as well, although it could be more well-defined at the least, so there’s that. When all is said and done, I’m now getting interested in the title, and if things continue to improve, I can see myself sticking around for a while.
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.
For better or for worse, Marvel’s next big event has kicked off and a lot of titles this month are suffixed by .INH to indicate that they are all tie-ins to this big event, that won’t actually start till April of next year. Its a fact that Marvel comics this year have been embroiled in one event after another almost non-stop, and that things aren’t looking to slow down either. Last month’s Uncanny X-Men #14 was an issue where one minor character got his time to shine, independent of any tie-in business. It was quite an average issue at best, and far too removed from previous events so I was looking to see if this month’s issue would be better.
Uncanny X-Men #15 is barely better, at least in terms of writing. The first half of the issue is really good, but once all the Inhumanity stuff gets started, the issue takes a big nose-dive and it is quite disappointing because of how incidental it all seems. So definitely a mixed issue at best, and I’m really lamenting that this issue is not as independent as the previous issue. However, one thing I can say with confidence is that the art is pretty damn good, aside from a few off things here and there. Kris Anka is the guest artist on the issue and his work is glorious.
In the last few years, a really interesting trend has surfaced. When it comes to the entertainment industry, specifically the visual media segment, movies based on Marvel Comics characters have set a new benchmark for box office success in the superheroes genre. DC Comics characters have struggled to meet those same successes outside of the tentpole movies like the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy and the recent Man of Steel. On the flipside, television shows featuring DC Comics characters have established their own high benchmarks that Marvel Comics characters are struggling to meet, rather desperately so. Case in point, the brand-new Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has been hemorraging viewers every single week while DC’s Arrow, now in its second season, has continued apace and its success has led to DC green-lighting several more shows.
However, when it comes to the animation divisions, there is much more equity between the Big 2 of the comics industry, and this is where Wolverine and the X-Men steps in. A fourth animated adaptation of the X-Men characters, the show brings along a whole different team, and things start off with a bang, with a three-parter opening arc which puts the X-Men on the offensive from the get go and touches on various different areas of the X-Men universe. It is bold, it is ambitious, and based on the first three episodes it is also rather good.
For this new seasonal end of year list, the fifth book cover that I pick is Christian Schoon’s debut novel from Angry Robot’s YA imprint Strange Chemistry, Zenn Scarlett. Launched last year, Strange Chemistry has put out some great novels and Zenn Scarlett is certainly one of the best that I’ve read. Despite being a near-future science fiction story set in the near-future on Mars, it is also quite a magical fairy tale as well. I love that dual aspect of the novel and I’d certainly recommend it.
And the fifth comics cover that I pick is the first issue of writer Brian Wood and artist Olivier Coipel’s X-Men. This series made some waves before its release because it is a book absent of any male characters in its core team of X-Men. A more appropriate title for this book would have been X-Women. As it is, many people refer to it is as such any way, typically X-(Wo)Men. This is the book that got me really started with reading the X-books, and its been a fun ride for the most part. Another recommended series to read!
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.