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 .
A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the comics I read in the second half of 2014. And back in July of 2014, I did the first “best comics of 2014” post. The reason I mention that is because of the changes I’ve made for this list. While previously I used to do it so that I put up my top 6 comics, in July’14 I did a top 12 on account of the increased number of comics I was reading at the time. And that same holds true for this list as well since I’ve gone up on the number yet again, and this list has the top 20 and then 20 honourable mentions.
More comics, yay!
So, with the books of the second half of 2014 already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the same period. The next post will be a list of the top graphic novels I read in all of 2014.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
The last week of 2014 and I hit my Magic 40 number. That pleases me immensely. I was hoping I’d be able to make it to this number, and I did, especially with 2 graphic novels in the mix a well!
For this final week of 2014, the surprise hits were: Jungle Book: Fall Of The Wild #1 from Zenescope and Transformers: Drift: Empire of Stone #2 from IDW Publishing. The disappointing comics of the week were Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #7 from Marvel and Secret Origins #8 from DC. The regular greats like Aquaman, Catwoman, Sensation Comics, Secret Avengers, Godzilla: Cataclysm and others struck once again in the final tally.
The graphic novels for this week were Sunstone by Stjepan Sejic and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 3 by Dan Abnett, Pop Mhan, Mark Roberts, Deron Bennett and Stjepan Sejic.
The current arc of Justice League Dark has seen the team split up into different sub-teams, and each sub-team has been fighting off a different threat. Zatanna had to face reunion with her father in a rather roundabout way, while Frankenstein, Bennett, Swamp Thing and Asa have confronted a dark, future version of Felix Faust who has gone insane. Which leaves just Deadman, Black Orchid and Madame Xanadu. The previous three issues of the series have seen the team under a lot of pressure and each has done something to move past the challenge before them and set about restoring their unity.
Which is where this new issue of the title comes in, and in a big way too. First Zatanna, then the team of four, have had to face some very obvious but also subtle challenges. For Boston, Black Orchid and Xanadu however, it is pretty much subtle all the way, for they are caught in a web the likes of which they cannot begin to imagine. And at the same time, while we don’t get to see the team of four doing anything this time, we see Zee trying to find a way to bring her entire team together, and by the time the issue ends, something rather disturbing happens, leaving another big gaping mystery for the heroes.
The sixth book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Bloodsounder’s Arc #2: Veil of The Deserters by Jeff Salyards, published by Night Shade Books under the auspices of Skyhorse Publishing/Start Publishing. As with Jeff’s debut from 2012, Scourge of the Betrayer, the story wasn’t all that much to my tastes. There are some good moments in Veil of The Deserters sure, but at times it was just too dragged out for me to really appreciate the story.
The sixth set of comic covers I pick this year are for Black Canary/Zatanna: Bloodspell by Paul Dini, Joe Quinones, Dave McCaig and Sal Cipriano with the cover by Joe himself, and Green Arrow #32 by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, Marcelo Maiolo and Dezi Sienty, with the cover by Andrea and Marcelo. The new graphic novel by Paul and Joe was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and thankfully, it delivered quite well, being one of the best graphic novels I’ve read all year, more so since it features a great relationship between the titular characters. Green Arrow #32 on the other hand was one in a long line of awesome issues by the creative team, which really changed the landscape of the title last year and which continued with incredible consistency for more than a year. The creators are now off on other titles, but with Green Arrow #32 they took things to a new level and delivered one of my favourite issues of the year.
So 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.
The two recent issues of Justice League Dark have fleshed out a story where the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets conspire to use the supernatural League for their own ends and the whole process ends up throwing the team out of space and out of time, scattered in different directions and quite aimless as such things are measured. I quite like this new arc since with it writer DeMatteis is able to develop the team even more and bring them all together with some returning former members. Quite exciting really.
Unlike Justice League Dark #35, the new issue focuses on a different set of characters as we follow their own adventures at the end of time and space, a time where the Earth has been left as a useless, lifeless rock for uncountable years, and a space where the entire planet is nothing more than a very loose collection of floating rocks. Quite an interesting setting for the specific members of the team featured here to go up against one of their direst enemies. Fairly good story combined with fairly good art means that this issue is another winner.
Hit the almost-magic number of 35 once again and though I have yet to repeat my personal best of 40, I think this was my best week regardless since I managed to read 31 singles and 4 graphic novels. That definitely counts as an achievement, yes?
My surprise hits for this week would be Tales of Honor #1 from Top Cow, Swamp Thing Annual #3 from DC, Inhuman #7, Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1 and Deathlok #1 all from Marvel. Those that count among this week’s top disappointments would be Conan the Avenger #7 from Dark Horse. Justice League United Annual #1 from DC. Others like Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #4 and Grimm Fairy Tales: Robyn Hood #3 from Zenescope, Wayward #3 from Image, The Flash Volume 2 from DC, and a bunch of others were as good as I expected them to be, probably better even.
The graphic novels for this week were Supergirl Volume 4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, The Flash Volume 2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul, Krypton Returns by Various and Thanos: The Infinity Revelation by Jim Starlin.
Last week’s Justice League Dark #35 presented a very interesting tale of Zatanna meeting up with her father Zatara in an alternate-reality kind of setting, following an adventure with the rest of the supernatural Justice League that split the entire team up. It was a really fun tale, and nice to see Zatanna take the lead in the title after the recent Nightmare Nurse and Deadman-oriented arcs that did a lot to flesh out those particular characters. But the big question of course was what kind of an event had split the team up, and just how it all went down.
J. M. DeMatteis’ latest issue on the title does a lot to flesh that out in its entirety and help answer some of the questions that I found myself raising after getting through Justice League Dark #35. The Justice League Dark Annual #2 is a pretty great story that explores the character relationships between Zatanna and Constantine, which segues into an exploration of how their relationship has ended up affecting the House of Mystery itself. The writing is fairly solid on this one, though I think that it moved a bit too fast and missed out on a few emotional beats, and the same kind of goes for the artwork as well.
Slight lows on the reading this past week since I didn’t manage to finish either of the graphic novels I started this week, and generally didn’t read as many singles either, but I did manage to get through 35 of them, so that’s something, yeah?
For this week, I’d say that the surprise hits are Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1 from IDW Publishing, Catwoman #35 and Secret Origins #6 from DC Comics and Predator: Fire and Stone #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The comics that win the “disappointment of the week award” are Grimm Fairy Tales: Dark Shaman #1 from Zenescope, Arkham Manor #1 and Sensation Comics #11 both from DC Comics. Ongoings like Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #8, Aquaman #35, Tomb Raider #9 and Nancy A. Collins’ prelude Vampirella: Prelude To The Shadows #1 were all first-rate comics this week, and quite satisfactory as well.
The graphic novels I’m in the middle of at the moment are Supergirl Vol.4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, and The Flash Vol.2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.
After the end of the 2-parter arc in late summer that focused on Deadman’s past, last month we got to see a future vision of the Justice League Dark, a future in which The Demon has joined the team and Zatanna is fighting some of the biggest battles of her life. It was a fairly good issue, but it didn’t really satiate my desire to read more of the JLD in the present DC timeline, since the current team dynamics are really excellent and writer J. M. DeMatteis has been dong some great work on the series, focusing on particular characters every few issues, and the art has never been better either.
In this week’s Justice League Dark #35, J. M. DeMatteis presents a story where Zatanna and Constantine have cast a really powerful spell that has torn the fabric of reality and sent the entire team hurtling through the multiverse. Separated from the others, Zatanna ends up on a world unlike any she has seen with monsters unlike any other either. And she meets someone completely unexpected, setting off a great story that explores Zatanna’s past and provides some great emotional moments. Tom Derenick and Scott Hanna are the guest artists on this issue along with Chris Sotomayor and they absolutely knock things out of the park.
Lightning strikes in the same place for a third time. I mentioned last week that I read 38 singles and 2 graphic novels for that release week, and that holds true for this week as well. I had a chance to read a bit more, but I chose to use that time to get done with some of my novel reading and also catch up with some of my reviews. 15 titles out of 40 read were reviewed by me this week. I feel good!
The surprise hits of this week were Aliens: Fire and Stone #1 and Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1, both from Dark Horse Comics, Pathfinder: City of Secrets #5 from Dynamite Entertainment, Catwoman: Future’s End #1 from DC Comics, Hack-Slash: Son of Samhain #2 and Chew Volume 1 both from Image Comics. Comics which disappointed me this week were Edge of Spider-Verse #3 from Marvel Comics, Sensation Comics #7 from DC Comics, and… that’s it thankfully! The graphic novels of this week were Chew Volume 1 and Thor: God of Thunder Volume 3.
Next month, almost all of DC’s titles are going to jump forward five years from their present timelines, to bring them to parity with the on-going Future’s End weekly series. It is going to be an interesting month, though I can’t help but groan at the massive time-jump, and part of that interest is what is going to happen to characters and titles that I love, such as Justice League Dark. Since the end of Trinity War last year, the title has really stepped up to become one of my favourite titles with the JLD crew being among my favourite titles. J.M. DeMatteis has shepherded the supernatural Justice League quite nicely in the last year, and the recent issues bear that out.
Boston Brand aka Deadman has kind of operated on the fringes of the Justice League Dark since he joined up back in 2011. Most of the stories told so far have focused on the other members and he didn’t really get a chance to shine until quite recently with the Forever Evil: Blight story arc that saw him possess the Sea-King from Earth-3. With Justice League Dark #33 and #34 however, DeMatteis has changed that around and even delved into Boston’s history and his time at Nanda Parbat. As ever with the writer, the story is well-told and artist Andrew Guinaldo has finally settled into the title as well.