Catching up with comics!

It’s Sunday evening, so what better way to spend the time than to catch up with some comics? Having fallen in love with the TV series, I’ve been reading more Flash comics of late – I’m really enjoying the New 52 stuff, I have to say! But I also spent this afternoon with another incredible Aquaman tale! Let’s catch up…

Flash 4: Reverse picks up the story of the folks Flash saved from the Speed Force last time around. Turns out they’ve been dying, and Flash thinks it might have something to do with Kid Flash, prompting a mad dash across the globe as he tries to catch up with the teen. However, when the two eventually manage to talk, Flash realises his powers don’t come from the Speed Force. After further investigation, he thinks Dr Elias might be responsible. He puts Iris under police protection and goes to confront Elias, but finds out that it is in fact Reverse-Flash – none other than Daniel West! Daniel has been killing speedsters in an attempt to harvest their powers, so that he can travel back in time to kill his and Iris’ abusive father. Flash manages to save the day and Daniel is back in Iron Heights, where Iris tells him their father prompted her to become who she is today.

It’s a pretty involved story that sees a lot of character development that I really liked. Barry and Patty move in together, which was lovely, and Iris seems incredibly jealous. Speaking of Iris, Flash hides her connection to the Speed Force using a suit similar to his own, which made me convinced we’d be seeing her as Impulse, though nothing yet has happened along those lines. I actually really dislike the character of Iris West, much preferring Patty Spivot as the girl for Barry. Aw, yeah!

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Time for some more #Flash I think! #DCComics #New52

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Volume 5 was pretty great, I have to say! It starts with a story featuring Green Lantern, who is becoming another clear favourite character of mine! I’m actually holding off starting to read any of the Lantern stories for fear I’d need to buy a dozen other books. Anyway! The main story from this book, History Lessons, follows Flash as he thwarts a jewellery store robbery but stumbles onto a serial killer graveyard. Turns out to be that of the Broome Hill Butcher, who Flash believes may have been behind his mother’s murder. There are a few twists and turns as Flash delves into the past, both of the Gem Cities and also his own. Turns out the ghost of Ulysses Sutter, a prospector from the Midwest back in the day, has been murdering the descendants of his killer, Marshall Fletcher – the founder of the Gem Cities! And guess who’s a living descendant? Yep, Barry Allen. The book ends with the cryptic meeting between Barry’s father and Captain Frye, where Frye tells Henry that Barry can never find out who murdered Nora Allen…

This was a great story – while I loved the last book, which had a lot of inter-character development, this one deepened that somehow, particularly as we got to see some more of Barry’s relationship with his surrogate father, Captain Frye. The ghost/possession thing, which I’m not normally a fan of, was also really cool here, and seeing more of the history of the Gem Cities was also great. Generally, a great pair of books!

From my all-time favourite superhero to another favourite – Aquaman! Following the Throne of Atlantis crossover event (covered here!), Arthur is now fulfilling his duties as the King of Atlantis, though not all of his subjects are happy with this. Murk, still loyal to Orm, plots with Arthur’s half-sister Tula to help break Orm from Belle Reve, though the plot is only partially successful, as Atlantis is invaded by the Scavenger’s army of submarines just as the first king of Atlantis, Atlan, is revealed to be still alive (somewhat) and leads the penal colony of Xebel in an attack on the sunken city. Aquaman manages to lead an attack against Atlan, with the aid of Mera (so happy to see them reunited!) and resume the throne. The story The story ends with Nereus, the leader of Xebel, allying with Orm for an attack against Aquaman.

This book is tremendous! The story is so wide-ranging and intricate that I’m not even attempting to provide a summary, because I couldn’t possibly do it justice. You just have to read it and enjoy it for yourself – and trust me, you certainly will enjoy it! The artwork is incredible, with several double-page spreads of truly gorgeous art. We get a truly tremendous sense of history and scale here – this is the sort of comic book story that reminds me why I love the medium so damn much.

These three books have been really great, and I can’t wait to get round to reading more DC superhero comics. However, my blog turns 2 next week (can you believe?!) and I’ve got some research to do for that… it’s another theme week incoming, one that I hope you’ll all enjoy as much as me!

Stay tuned for awesome!!

The Throne of Atlantis

Hey everybody,
I read an awesome comic book crossover yesterday, and have been pretty much buzzing about it since. Back in 2012, the Justice League and Aquaman titles from DC’s fresh New 52 series crossed over in an epic five-part awesome storyline that featured Aquaman facing off against his bother Orm (Ocean Master) as the East Coast of the USA was almost submerged.

It was pretty incredible, let’s just say that from the off. both the Justice League and Aquaman books were written by Geoff Johns at this time, so I guess a crossover was pretty easy to facilitate. Both pick up directly from where they left off, with some hints being dropped in Aquaman especially around the Trench in the previous arc, The Others. In fact, having read the second volume of Aquaman beforehand really helps here, as we see the evolution of the character into a team player, while also showing us Black Manta on the lookout for relics of Atlantis that will become important. His story in The Others echoes the opening of Justice League volume three, where Wonder Woman almost begrudgingly accepts the help of the League in hunting down the Cheetah.

Anyhow!

The story begins with the US Navy on exercises in the mid-Atlantic, and a missile test goes awry, targeting the submerged city of Atlantis. This causes Orm to bring his Atlantean warriors to the East Coast in retaliation – Aquaman guesses his brother is using the first King of Atlantis’ sceptre to cause one of the cities on the coast to sink beneath the waves. Metropolis and Gotham both see heavy casualties in the storms, but Boston is Orm’s true target.

Aquaman and Orm face off, Aquaman trying to show dominance over his brother in order to force the warriors to heed his commands. When Batman tries to intervene, Orm captures most of the League, leaving only Cyborg in the Watchtower to help. Cyborg goes to STAR labs to ask his father to perform an enhancement that will make him able to operate under water, at the cost of a little more of his humanity. Once he’s ready, he activates the JL reserve list of superheroes, including Hawkman and Green Arrow, to defend Boston against the Atlantean forces. Cyborg then travels to the deep waters to rescue his companions, whereupon they discover the Trench has opened, and the demon fish-people from the first Aquaman arc have returned to terrorise the coast as well!

Turns out that Orm was manipulated by a former Atlantis royal adviser called Vulko, who had hoped to engineer to the conflict to restore Aquaman to the throne of Atlantis. Aquaman goes ballistic, imprisons Orm and beats the crap out of Vulko, but ultimately decides he needs to take his place as the King of Atlantis to prevent any further conflict.

The story is just awesome in its scope and execution, and is very definitely worthwhile taking the time to read! The danger for big team stories like these is that some people will inevitably fall short in the course, and while this is certainly an Aquaman story as much as it is a Justice League story, the other members of the League have a lot to do here as well. Chief among them, Cyborg – I’ve always been vaguely interested in this guy, but he’s becoming a really cool character in this series, and it’s really interesting to see his story develop. We also continue the burgeoning romance between Superman and Wonder Woman that began in volume two. In the midst of all this, we still have time to see Black Manta offered a place on the Suicide Squad, and the book ends with Steve Trevor and Green Arrow discussing another of the Darkseid “mother boxes”.

In a storyline as packed to the gills (ha!) as this one, some things are bound to be left out. Green Lantern had already left the team as a pariah in the last book, so it’s no real surprise he’s not here, but we also don’t see Flash, as he’s explained to be dealing with a “primal problem” of his own – presumably, the Grodd storyline from the third volume of his series. Shame, that, as he’s my favourite DC hero, but some things have got to give.

We’re left with Aquaman leaving the surface world, and the final pages are a bit heart-rending as we see him part ways with Mera, but more problematic (for me) is the enlarged team. Another thing I often dislike in big team stories like these is how the make-up will often change; I loved the first volume of Justice League because of the characters it used – since that book, we’ve now lost two of the principal seven players! I’m intrigued as to where we’ll see this go next, of course, but I’m also a little wary of having the team I came to love mixed up too much.

Anyway – Throne of Atlantis was an amazing read, and I think I may delve into the world of DC’s animated movies to see how the storyline fares there shortly! I can highly recommend this book – however, as an aside, both the Aquaman and Justice League collections have the same issues, so you don’t really need to get both books to get the story. I’d recommend getting the Aquaman collection if you had to only get one, because of the additional storyline from his book, but you won’t be totally lost if you pick up just the Justice League book instead!

Thursday was awesome!

Hey everybody!
Pretty much as the title up there says, my Thursday was awesome! Let me ramble inanely for a while…

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Time to get in the mood… #Batman #Superman #DCComics

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First of all, I’ve been reading comics again. Batman / Superman: Cross World was a bit of an impulse buy not long ago, back when the movie was really hyping up for its release last week; I’ve not been to see it yet, though hoping to remedy that this weekend. To get in the mood, I thought I’d read this book, and I have to admit, I wasn’t that impressed. It seems to follow the demon Kaiyo as she causes chaos in the multiverse, uniting Earth-1 Batman and Superman with their counterparts from Earth-2 in an attempt to see which Earth has the best champions to defeat Darkseid. I’m not a big fan of alternative-reality stories, as I get easily confused, and there were parts of this book that I felt I didn’t quite follow. The epilogue was the best part for me, as we see the early years of Darkseid on Apokolips.

Not the best – but then, I’ve been reading a lot of DC Comics of late, so I was bound to find something I wasn’t too keen on before long!

Next up was Aquaman: The Others! I basically fell in love with the character before I’d even finished reading the first book, so had high hopes for this one and, I’m pleased to say, it delivered! We see Aquaman working with his old team The Others again, as Ya’Wara comes to warn him that Kahina has been killed by Black Manta. The storyline follows each of the other members of the team as we see Black Manta on the hunt for relics of Atlantis – turns out, there’s a still-undiscovered relic in the tomb of the first King of Atlantis, and Black Manta is trying to find it using the others. The sceptre of the king is the most powerful of all the relics, it actually caused Atlantis to sink all those years ago – and now Black Manta has it!

This story was terrific, as we get to meet Aquaman’s team and everything. I know very little of the lore, but that has no bearing on my enjoyment of this story – I imagine if you do know the team, you’ll appreciate it even more! The artwork is gorgeous, especially that double-page spread of the tomb of the king. It’s a pretty dark story, however, as Aquaman shuns the help of his team, feeling he’s gotten them into too much trouble already, but ends with an entirely too-emotional scene that actually had me filling up! Oh, Vostok! In the final panels, we see the next story being set up, with conspiring Atlanteans and the Trench reopens!

This story certainly didn’t disappoint, anyway, and I’ll be moving on to volume three soon, no doubt!

My mid-week painting update is quite impressive, I think! There’ll be more on this on Sunday, of course, but I was so excited I thought I’d post this early! Getting the bases done has suddenly made me feel so much closer to completing all of these things now, so hurrah for that!

And while I’m on the subject of games, I’ve been getting back into Android: Netrunner today, with a couple of games at the local store. I haven’t played this in months, and still have next to no experience playing the Corp, so sat down with Rob, the guy who I taught to play last summer and who, as a result, created a whole ream of converts to the game, and we had two games.

First of all, I played my Shaper deck with Kate McCaffrey, which I’d wanted to re-do for a while but had just left in the deckbox, against Rob’s new Corp deck: NBN! This was an extremely lucky game for me, as I pulled out all the cards I needed, and only stole two agendas, but they were Vanity Projects, so they were all I needed!

We then switched, so Rob played Noise and I played my NBN deck that I’d thrown together a while ago (with some recent refinements). The whole plan for my deck was to have cards that reduced the value of my agendas when they were stolen, or made it fiscally impossible to steal them. Despite drawing two Day Jobs, Rob just couldn’t get past my ICE to get them, and somehow, I managed to win the second game, too!

Such a great gaming experience. Not just for the wins, here – rather, to see my decks come together and do what they’re supposed to do! My NBN deck in particular made me happy, because I’ve had such bad luck playing as the Corp in the past! The deck is actually a little large, so has a lot of agenda points, but it runs a lot of higher-costing agendas, to make sure the actual card count is low. A lot of low-cost ICE also helps, though I had some serious problems with placements – a lot of the cards I put down affect the Runner when he’s tagged, but I put those in front of cards that tag the Runner in the first place, so that didn’t quite work out! Managing to get a Utopia Fragment scored first also helped with making the agendas difficult to steal, and News Team made sure, given the ICE I had out, it was in Rob’s score area to de-value the agenda he had stolen. I was so gutted when he trashed Director Haas, converting her into an agenda, but in the end, it didn’t matter, and all was well!

NBN appears to have become a popular Corp in the local meta since Data and Destiny came out (and since my hiatus from the game) so I’m thinking about mixing it up a little more as I look to come back to the game. I’m considering making up a Wayland deck, and also an Andromeda Criminal deck as an alternative Runner!

But first – let’s get to the Throne of Atlantis!

Comics Catch-Up!

I’ve been catching up on some more DC comics lately, and it’s been wonderful! Let me wax lyrical about these books for a bit!

After reading the first Justice League volume (and loving it!) I’ve been checking out the next one, The Villain’s Journey. Following on from their origin story last time, we see the team fractured by the villain Graves, who briefly appeared in the earlier book as something of a fan of the League. It turns out Graves was poisoned during Darkseid’s attack, and his family perished as a result. Blaming the superheroes, he has collected information on each one’s weakness from their arch-nemeses. He manages to fracture the team, culminating in a massive fight between Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, which is broadcast around the world, destroying the reputation of the team. They manage to defeat him, though with some pretty fractured results.

While this book wasn’t as good as the Origin story, it was still nice to see how the storyline develops from the last book. However, being totally honest, I didn’t find it quite as good as the first story. It felt somewhat fractured, and while it was interesting to see more of the dynamics between the group and all that, parts of this felt like the obligatory “rift” style of storyline – the classic sequel that sets up the third act. It feels a little generic in this sense, but at the end of the day, it’s a pretty decent enough comic book story.

Having enjoyed the first Justice League story so much, I bought a couple of other books featuring those heroes, to see what I’d been missing in the solo series, one of which was the first volume of Aquaman. Also by Geoff Johns, it serves as something of an origin story for both Aquaman and Mera, as we see them battle a piranha-like race called The Trench, who live deep in the ocean floor. Along the way, we see both Aquaman and Mera interact with the people of Amnesty Bay, in often pretty hilarious vignettes that show how “real world people” sometimes deride Aquaman.

This story is absolutely amazing. I’d never read an Aquaman story before, so didn’t really know what to expect, but was totally blown away. This book is just awesome! So entertaining – the scenes with folks asking for his help that demonstrate common misconceptions of the character are both humorous but also serve to really affirm Aquaman’s place as a superhero in the DC universe. I think not knowing anything about the character helped, because I came to this fresh and felt like I really learned something about him, but anyway, it was a really interesting story, and I’ve already bought the next two volumes in the series, as I can’t wait to see what happens next!

While I’ve found a new interest in Aquaman, I’ll always return to Flash as my favourite superhero. Following the last book, where we saw Flash confront Grodd in Gorilla City, this storyline sees Central City invaded by the gorillas, and Flash must team up with the Rogues in order to defeat them! There are some pretty neat twists and turns in this story, which ultimately sees Grodd removed to the Speed Force as Iris West and the others burst out in a Soviet tank.

Following on from the main event, there is a smaller story in here also, where those others who came out of the Speed Force with Iris have developed super powers. We get a brief look at Reverse-Flash, but the main story follows Flash as he tries to clear the Trickster’s name of a crime he didn’t commit – an interesting side story type of thing, but one that further helps to explore Flash as a character.

I liked this a lot more than the second book, which felt a bit odd, and had some strange one-shot stories tucked in the back of it. While King Grodd has ostensibly been defeated, it was nice to see the brief glimpse of Reverse-Flash that will hopefully promise a lot of awesome to come soon, anyway!

All in all, then, I’m really loving this discovery of the New 52 comics from DC, and I’m a little annoyed with myself for not having looked into this stuff sooner, to tell the truth. There have been some stand-out awesome stories from my delvings thus far, and even those stories I didn’t think as highly of are still good enough for entertainment!

Can’t wait to get round to some more real soon!