Category: Comics

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

IMG_0124The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Welcome to the issue of Squirrel Girl where our heroine tackles her most difficult foe yet: ONLINE DATING.

The team of Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi kick off a new arc with issue 8, that starts of with Squirrel Girl teaming up with her New Avenger chums and ends with a super hero truther & dealing with the Mole Man. This is pretty on brand for this title, and much like every previous issue, and absolute hoot.

What I love about this creative team is that Ryan North and Erica Henderson will always go out of their way to educate you while reading this book. I had no idea Tree Lobsters were a thing, and not only does this issue start off with the Avengers dealing with a giant one, but the creative team makes sure to give reader an history lesson about said insects that helps push the story along in a natural way. It’s not anything new for this book, but it’s something that pops up from time to time that I’ve genuinely enjoyed about the title. A little less high brow is a double spread of Squirrel Girl attempting to date, which has a bunch of sights gags and funny dialogue that’s pretty great in my opinion.

Also Erica Henderson draws the best outfits in comics, and getting to see how fashionable Doreen and her friends are in this issue is a personal highlight.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Gil #8 is another excellent issue by a creative team that’s never failed to amazed. Romance plotlines can make or break a comic, and North, Henderson and Renzi succeed, while making the title feel like one of the most fresh and relevant books on the stands

STL004332Spider-Man/Deadpool #5

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

One of the reasons I enjoy Spider-Man/Deadpool so much is that it feel like Joe Kelly returning to Deadpool again, telling stories that mash up the work he did with the character while building upon all the great stories Gerry Duggan wrote. Also these stories co-star Spider-Man, arguably the best super hero, which is something I am also all about.

Issue five of this series sees Deadpool dealing with the aftermath of murdering Peter Parker, which apparently wasn’t a fake out. Aside from being out of a co-star, it turns out he was mistaken about Peter Parker, and that means Deadpool’s got fix the mess he’s made.

It also means artist Ed McGuinness gets to draw some characters associated with the supernatural side of Marvel, which is welcomed, as he rarely gets to do spooky stuff. There’s some stuff, wonderfully inked and colored by Mark Morales and Jason Keith that’s genuinely terrifying , including a re-imagining of a Spider-foe who’s usually pretty goofy looking. It’s also see the team reference an infamous Spider-Man story,  which is one of several things that I can’t quite tell are just little nods, or if Kelly and McGuinness are planting the seeds for future stories.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #5 puts a nice little bow on the first arc, while setting up the next one quiet nicely. I’m glad the team is only off the book of 2 months, because the type of comics they’ve been making are the type of comics I adore.

 

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Chris’ Comics: DC Universe Rebirth #1

366074._SX640_QL80_TTD_DC Universe Rebirth #1

Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez, Brad Anderson, and others.

DC $2.99

DC Rebirth is here, and everything old is new and incredibly complex again! Also head’s up, mad spoilers for this comic follow.

Writer Geoff Johns and artists Gary Frank, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis and Ethan Van Sciver come together to revamp the DC for the the umpteenth time, and try to get lapsed readers to come back to the DCU. While setting up the premises of several books, fans are also treated to the return of (white) Wally West, a few plotlines from John’s Darkseid War arc over in Justice League, and the crazy pants reveal that Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen fame may or may not be responsible for the new 52/Rebirth earth. It’s super ambitious , as I’ve said so earlier in the week, and had it not been leaked onto the internet several days before it was released, I’m sure it would be the book everyone is talking about, instead of being 2nd fiddle to Captain America drama.

But while it’s definitely ambitious, it’s also something that requires you read several other books before hand before tackling. Not caught up on the events on Superman, Justice League, and several other books? Then a lot of this book won’t make sense to you.

As for the inclusion of the Watchmen characters into the DCU proper. I’m not a fan of how the company has treated Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in the past, nor am I a fan of when DC attempts to tell stories featuring those characters without those two creators. Having REB_1_1-6them, even if it’s JUST Dr. Manhattan, rubs me in the wrong way, especially when you factor in that he’s a analog for Captain Atom. Johns clearly has a plan, but it feel like it’s scraping the bottom of the barrel for shock value.

So yeah, it’s safe to say it’s something I’m not a fan of, or will be following for the next..2 years? Christ. Also see: the 3 Jokers subplot. 1 Joker is already 1 too many, I don’t need a gathering of Joker-los.

Now that I’m done ranting, let’s get to the good stuff. first and foremost, this book is gorgeous. Frank, Van Sciver, Reis and Jimenez all contribute some great art to this title, which definitely helps is feel like a “important” “epic”. All 4 artists bring a nice George Perez/Neal Adams look to the book, reminding older readers of classic DC, while giving newer readers some great art to admire.

It’s also nice to see DC and Johns embrace their legacy characters again. As someone who grew up with Wally West as the Flash, it’s nice to see a similar version of that character Blue-Beetlesreturn. Same with Ted Kord, who we get hanging out with Jamie Reyes, something Blue Beetle fans have been waiting years for. And the stuff teased for the Aquaman family of characters, the JSA and the Atom all shows promise, as they blend post crisis DC with the new 52 universe nicely.

YMMV when it comes to DC Universe Rebirth #1. There’s a lot of promise to the new status quo, even though I’m not feeling a few plotlines. But again, had I read it without spoilers, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more. 80 pages for $3 is a great deal, especially with the talent involved, and I recommend it if you want a quick sampling of what DC will be offering for the rest of the year.

 

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Chris’ Comics Special Edition: Making sense of Civil War II and DC Rebirth

This past week saw Civil War II #0 drop, and this upcoming Wednesday sees the release of DC Rebirth #1. Both comics are being marketed as huge event comics with massive repressions, but neither of them are particularly new reader friendly. Also both these event were spoiled on Reddit, because this is 2016, and this is how things work in this day and age.

So let’s pretend you dear reader would like to read one or both of these comics, but haven’t been paying close attention to Marvel or DC as of late. Which given the numerous reboots/relaunches/crossovers, is understandable.

DC Rebirth #1 is the result on the constant slumping sales of DC Comics over the past DC-Comics-Rebirth-Coveryear. As creatively successful the DC You initiative was, the who movement was crippled by the poor selling Convergence event (remember that). And after Superman V Batman: Dawn of Justice under-performing, DC needs a hit. DC Rebirth #1 is the comic that will kick off a company wide series of relaunches and reboots, and is a pretty good value at $2.99 for 80 pages. It’s written by Geoff Johns, one of DC’s top dogs, who’s written such comics as Green Lantern Rebirth, Flash Rebirth, and the Batman Earth One books. Drawing this comic is the team of Gary Frank, Phil Jimenez, & Ethan Van Sciver. As I said earlier, reddit, and then Bleeding Cool, spoiled the hell of this comic, with IGN and Newsarama following suit. It sounds pretty bonkers, but if you’re lapsed DC reader, this may not be you thing. Johns and co pull from Pre New 52 era DC comics, obviously the new 52, and make a BOLD decision to bring in some characters who never really fit into DC Continuity. I applaud DC for trying something, but this also reeks of desperation to a certain extent.

Despite the first issue not dropping until June, there are already 2 chapters of Civil War 2 out. There was a prelude by writer Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Cheung that civil-war-II-cover-96a7edropped on Free Comic Day a few weeks ago, and then this past week saw the release of Chapter 0. Written by Bendis and drawn by Oliver Coipel, this comic takes place before the Free Comic Book Day story, and focuses on She-Hulk and War Machine, both whom had really bad days in that free prelude comic.

The plot for Civil War 2 is strikingly similar to the movie Minority Report, something I’m sure Marvel and Bendis are tired of hearing. Newly hatched Inhuman (ugh) Ulysses apparently has the ability to predict the future.  Captain Marvel wants to use this Inhuman to prevent FUTURE CRIME, whereas Iron Man rather have disasters come about the natural way, despite once being all about the US Government having access to all super hero’s secret identity. And of course since this is cape comics, this debate can only be resolved via PUNCHING. David Marquez will be drawing this book, so at the very least, this will be a GREAT looking comic event.

There’s some cynicism surrounding the whole event, as Marvel hasn’t exactly been gun shy about massive crossovers involving heroes punching each other since the O.G. Civil War. We’re also only a few months removed from Secret Wars, which was well received, and generally agreed upon being the best Marvel crossover event in recent history. It is doesn’t help that it appears to be a bit of a cash grab, as there is that whole Captain America: Civil War movie in theaters as we speaking, making Marvel and Disney “Sick cash”.

So there you have it. 2 different events coming real soon, designed to “CHANGE THINGS FOREVER” and drain your bank accounts. That being said, if you’re up for big name creators taking some chances and throwing some insane ideas at readers, Rebirth and Civil War II are definitely going to do that. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key to be your entryway into Marvel or DC, you’re probably better off with a Squirrel Girl, Batgirl, Ms. Marvel or Gotham Academy.

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Chris’ Comics: Future Quest #1

QuestCover1Future Quest #1

Jeff Parker, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Steve Rude, Jordie Bellaire

DC $3.99

 

We’re living in an age where licensed comics are shaking off the stigma of being terrible, which publishers assemble creative team to tell high quality stories. Jem, the Power Rangers, Adventure Time and Transformers are prime examples of that, and it’s nice to be able to say the same for the debut issue of Hanna Barbara’s Future Quest.

Written, drawn, and colored by the INSANELY TALENTED team of Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, Steve Rude and Jordie Bellaire, Future Quest #1 ones takes a number of old Hanna Barbara characters and brings them together in a shared universe. Granted that sort of thing may be a tough sell for anyone who didn’t grow up in the 60/70s, or in my case 1990s Cartoon Network, Parker, Shainer and Rude certainly do their damnedest to Future Quest #1_Page_2_573e4dc63d3a48.34454091make this book as accessible, not to mention appealing, to as many people as possible.

Putting Doc Shainer and Steve Rude on this book guarantees is a damn fine looking comic. Both these artists have some Alex Toth influence in their work, and it prevalent on this book. Granted there are a few updates to a few characters, it’s in ways that feel nature, and make sense. Shainer and Rude’s art reminds me a lot of what Chris Samnee is doing over at Marvel, only a little more cleaner and bright. And there’s a certain cinematic flair to their collective styles that really does wonders for this story, making it feel like a big and “important” event comic. And when it comes to colors, there’s very few people on same level of talent as Jordie Bellaire, who’s colors tie this book together in a way very few colorists can. She uses a lot of bright colors that make Rude and Shainer’s art look very similar, even those Rude is a little tighter than the soft, rounder style of Shainer.

Jeff Parker is one of the best dudes working in comics today, and it’s a shame his name hasn’t been attached to more high profile work. He’s great on this comic, which starts off a Space Ghost origin story, and quickly introduces several of the book’s biggest players. Much like the art, Parker’s dialogue rings true to the type of stuff you would here on an Future_Quest_1_1episode of Johnny Quest, but updated for a modern audience. He does a nice job of making this book read like an all age title, without having to “dumb down” anything. The best example of this is the final page of this book, which sees the use of some interesting language. Parker seems to be setting up some sort of Marvel Team-Up type book, with the Quest Family serving as Spider-Man, with the likes of Bird-Man, Space Ghost and several other characters making up the rotating supporting cast.

Being the only book I was excited for once the DC X Hanna Barbara titles were announced, Future Quest #1 succeeds in rewarding my hype. It’s a promising debut, with gorgeous visual, fun dialogue and a lot of foreshadowing that looks to make this book a real interesting read. It’s clear as day that these creators are having a blast on this title from the get go, and I’m quite eager to see where they take this book, and what kind of the stories they tell without having to worry about things like budgets. It’s a very good first issue, which isn’t a surprise given the talent involved.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Fix #2 & Gotham Academy #18

STL004569Gotham Academy #18

Brenden Fletcher, Steve Orlando, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Moritat, Serge La Pointe, Minkyu Jung, Natasha Aletrici, Faith Erin Hicks

DC $2.99

Gotham Academy #18 has a story written and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks. If this was a CBR/IGN type site, that’s the sort of thing that would make me give this comic a 10/10.

Issue 18 is not only the final installment of the Yearbook arc, but also the final issue of this volume. The title will be taking a brief hiatus as Rebirth kicks off, and will return with an annual come August, follow by the 2nd volume starting up in September. So what this issue does is wrap up a plot point for season 1, and give this volume a nice cute ending.

Aside from the 2 page Hicks penned and drawn issue that I’ve clearly enjoyed, Brenden Fletcher also wraps up the scrapbook/Damian story arc with Adam Archer and Sandra Hope, plus checks in on another semi-forgotten character with Moritat. The team of Steve Orlando and Minkyu Jung get in on the fun with Maps and another super obscure DC character, and Natasha Aletrici does a cute 6 page story featuring on Pom and her never seen before mother. While these creators all bring their own respected voices to the book, it’s impressive how all these stories fit the tone of Gotham Academy.

With a lot of the weirder, off-bea DC books wrapping up, I’m glad Gotham Academy will be back in a few months. This arc was neat, and it super cool to see so many different creators come together and play in this sandbox. I’m now I’m eager for the original creative team come back and tell more stories with these creators.

 

 

CoverThe Fix #2

Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill, Nic J Shaw

Image $3.99

Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber need to be on this book for forever. Also if you want to put that on the trade jacket, y’all more than welcomed to do

Issue #2 of the new crime-comedy comic is just as incredible as the first. Our leads are in a bit of predicament after went down in the first issue, so they hatch up a scheme to deal with their problems. Said scheme involves shooting one of themselves in the hand, and ruining an innocent man’s life. Officers Roy and Brundo are terrible people.

And that’s why this book is so great! Like Superior Foes of Spider-Man, you SHOULD dislike our two dirty cop leads, as they are very bad people, and have yet to do a single thing to change that. But Spencer and Lieber have made a pair of character who are very charismatic, and placed them in a very funny book, so it’s all good. At least that is what I tell myself, truth be damned.

What’s really great about this issue is that everyone is putting 100% into this issue. Artist Steve Lieber not only draws a ludicrous number of panels per page, but Nick Spencer makes sure to fill them full of dialogue. Which means letter Nic J. Shaw has his work cut out for him, and does a excellent job of fitting all that dialogue onto the page without running much interference on the art. And Ryan Hill‘s colors are perfect for Lieber’s are, giving the book a nice warm, California feel.

The Fix #2 is great, simple as that. There’s a reason why this book is flying off the shelves, and it’s because the creators on this title are doing some career defying work. This is not a title you’re not going to want to trade wait for. Buy on sight.

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Chris’ Comics: All-New X-men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops

61lj1+9Td9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_All-New X-Men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops

Dennis Hopeless, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy, Nolan Woodard

Marvel $15.99

With the exception of the superb and insanely fun X-Men ’92, I’ve more or less stopped buying X-Men comics on a monthly basis. Between the decidedly darker tones of the current books and creative teams that don’t do much for me, not to mention the absence of several character I really like, I thought issue #600 of the previous volume of Uncanny X-Men would be a fine jumping off point.

With that being said, it seems Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley have made a liar out of me,

All-New X-men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops collects the first 6 issues of the Hopeless/Bagley run, which sees the 4 of the 5 time displaced original X-men join forces with the new Wolverine (formerly X-23),  Genesis (aka Kid Apocalypse) and Oya. Traveling around the world in a T.A.R.D.I.S. inspired Winnebago, this trade sees the team reuniting to deal with the threat of a Cyclops-inspired gang of upstart mutants, as well as the classic X-Villain the Blob. These 6 issues also deal with the young Scott Summers dealing with his legacy, as his older, supposedly deceased, counterpart has done something unforgivable. It’s a wonderful blend of action and drama that the X-men are AllNewXMen2Image2known for, which makes it very appealing for someone who has been reading Uncanny X-men for quite some time now.

Dennis Hopeless being the writer for this title definitely got me to come around on this series. Hopeless wrote the excellent X-Men Season One a few years back, and according to an appearance on the X-men focused podcast Jay and Miles X-plain the X-men, this series is a spiritual sequel to that graphic novel. Hopeless is excellent here. Be it making the Blob a complete badass, or having Bobby Drake struggling with coming out with his sexuality, everything Hopeless puts on the page is great. Granted I’m not the biggest fan of Pickels the Bamf, Hopeless does a good job of giving each and every cast member their own narrative. It’s classic Claremont done in 2016, perfectly balancing the melodramatics with action.

Journeyman artist Mark Bagley wouldn’t have been my first pick to draw a book that features teenagers and X-men, but then again I’m an idiot. Bags years on Ultimate Spider-Man serve him well on this title, as he draws an impressive amount of teens punching, snikting and dialoguing at each other. Bagley on this book remind me a lot of like Alan Davis on early Excalibur- not necessarily the flashiest artist in comics, but a strong story telling you can tell a clean and compelling story with his pencils. Inking Bagely is Andrew Hennessy, with Nolan Woodward on colors. I’m none too familiar with 18301925these creators, but they do great things with Bagley’s pencils. It’s a dynamic art duo that keeps the book looking clean, fresh and vibrant,  and the book looks timeless, which is important given the past meets present premise of this book.

All New X-Men is a surprisingly fun book, even with the baggage from it’s sister books and the Inhumans-related nonsense.. Hopeless has proven his ability to write younger characters again and again over the years, and Mark Bagley is a legendary talent. Their run on All New X-Men is a great start, and I highly recommend this book if you want an X-Men title that’s not too dark, but serious enough to make it incredibly compelling.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked & the Divine #19

tumblr_o6mfzkAJHN1tuoa2wo1_1280The Wicked + The Divine #19

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

DID YOU KNOW: Marvel isn’t the only comics publisher focusing on a Civil War these days. The cast of The Wicked & The Divine finds itself in the middle of feud, as secrets, murder, and secret murder have several characters at each other’s throats.What this means is that Jamie McKelvie gets to draw a lot of pretty peopling throwing punches at each other’s pretty faces for this arc. A while I love how smart and inventive this title usually is, and it’s commentary on fandoms, having McKelvie drawing big fight scenes again is nice. He did a bang up job on that sort of thing back during Young Avengers, and having him do an action heavy arc is a welcomed change of pace.

The Wicked and the Divine #19 sees Baal and the gods aligned with secret murderer & den mother Ananke go after the newly resurrected Persephone and her allies, as well as the return of party god Dionysus. We also learn about some additional plots involving murder, become holy crap, this is a VERY dark arc! While there’s a some trademark whimsy and snark to this book’s dialogue, for the most part Kieron Gillen’s writing plays it straight, letting the readers know we’re in for serious business. It’s very much in a Wicked+Divine19_01similar vein of what Gillen brings to his Darth Vader book over at Marvel, versus the low stakes, slice of life type stuff he did on Phonograms or the first volume of WicDiv.

Moving back to the subject of art, Matthew Wilson continues to do no wrong.  His work on Black Widow and Captain Marvel impresses me month after month, but what he brings to WicDiv is something entirely else. Issue 19 is a very dark issue in the literal sense, and Wilson’s colors do an excellent job working off a lot of pages where black plays a massive role in the design. Wilson also excels in the brighter panels, doing some fantastic stuff in the chamber where the Parthenon meet, giving it a clean, sterile look. I also dig the way he uses colors to show injury, especially in the case of Baal, enhancing McKelvie’s line art in the process.

Clayton Cowles’ font choices also remain inspired. I’m not going to lecture y’all on the importance of good letting in comics, but Cowles’ work on this book definitely deserves Wicked+Divine19_05some recognition. He’s a gifted letterer and much like Wilson colors, his choice in placement and design are brilliant.

The Wicked and the Divine #19 is a great comic. It gorgeous, dramatic and pushes the narrative in a very interesting direction. While it’s not as though provoking as some issues have been in the past, it being a more action oriented comic definitely livens things up a bit, while raising some fascinating questions. And it appears we’ll be getting some answers next month, which is a neat way to get reader to get excited for the future while thoroughly enjoying the present.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Black Widow #3

portrait_incredible (9)Black Widow #3

Chris Samnee, Mark Waid, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

With the excellent Black Widow #3, I recommend anyone who hasn’t read the comic yet to flip directly to the final page. Yes I know that sounds odd,  not to mention super spoilery, but trust me. I’ll wait.

 

RIGHT?!

 

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about this run so far is how minimalist it feels in terms of the amount of dialogue spoken by the character. Writer Mark Waid is a favorite of mine, and he’s usually a dude who fills his books with a plethora of pleasant words. Here on Black 5176762-3+bwidow2016003_int3-2Widow, it feels like Waid has scaled back on dialogue, letting the art of Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson tell the story, which is an incredibly smart creative choice by the team. Half the issue is without dialogue, and it’s all the better for it, as readers get to enjoy Samnee and Wilson’s art without being covered up by words balloons. And it works in Waid’s favor as well, as he makes the dialogue that is spoken feel all the more important.

Issue 3 sees Natasha return to Russia to retrieve data for the dude blackmailing her. While doing so, it revisits parts of her origin, but doesn’t let it bog down the narrative. I love the decision by Waid and Samnee to NOT do an updated origin story in this title so far, assuming the reader knows the deal with Natasha is. Thanks to the Marvel movies, the lot of us know Nat’s deals, so not going down that route is truly appreciated.

In terms of visuals, there’s so much to like about this issue. My personal favorite comes at the close of the second act, where Natashan takes down an enemy in hand to hand combat. In a single page, Samnee draws Natasha’s take down, while referencing her background in BWIDOW2016003-int3-4-36210ballet. Not only is the composure of the page brilliant, but the choreography is beautiful as well, as Matthew Wilson does the lords works on the colors. There’s some really good mixture of purples, blues and blacks on this page, with red being used to focus on 3 key images. The color red plays a huge role in this issue, which makes a sense give the character’s history and iconic hair, and I love how Wilson and Samnee use it in so many ways. Black Widow may only be three issues deep, but man it’s definitely one of the most visually interesting books on the market.

I feel bad that I don’t get to talk about Mark Waid more on this book, but given how Samnee and is credited as both as a writer and an artist, it’s hard to tell exactly what he brings to the table specifically. But the book is excellent, which is a trademark of most of Waid’s work.

Black Widow manages to be way darker than their previous collaboration on Daredevil, but never in a way that feels depressing. It’s a more serious and action heavy read, with zero time for jokes and quips. That being said, the quality of this book is the real reason it’s so enjoyable, and after that brutal cliffhanger,I’m eager for more.

 

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Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #3

portrait_incredible (8)X-Men ’92 #3

Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

X-Men ’92 #3 starts off with a gathering of Draculas (the actual Dracula, not that gag where you refer to all Vampires as Dracula) from different realities. If a league of multi-dimensional Draculas is not your thing, chances are X-men ’92 isn’t for you.

Last month I said it was amusing to see Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, and Alti Firmansyah pay tribute to “Curse of the Mutants”, which is decidedly not a 90s X-story arc, and one that isn’t exactly a fan favorite. This month the creative team goes one step further with the idea, tying that arc into their Alpha Red plotline, and the results are AMAZING. Well amazing as you can get without the presence of a Holy Water Enhanced Iceman.

I love the energy Alti Fimransyah’s style brings to this title. It feels very Disney influences, and it lends itself well to a comic defined by an animated series first and foremost. It really works when dealing with the younger characters, not to mention more off beat characters like Artie (of Artie and Leech fame) and Dracula himself. She also excels at clearly XM922016003-int2-5-ffdc7portraying the reference to past X-men stories, a running gag that I’ve enjoyed over the course of the mini series and this ongoing. Matt Milla’s colors are once again perfect for Fimransyah’s art, once again giving the book a clean and bright look.

Sims and Bowers continue to impress as much as their art team as well. The dialogue continues to walk that lines between ridiculous and class X-Men, never reading as parody, but never getting too serious. The interactions between Storm and Dracula this issue are a great read, and the two writers do a fantastic job of giving the two characters a history, despite the fact that this is the “first” time they’ve met. Their love for the source materail really comes across in this comic, but never ever getting too deep in the nostalgia/fan service.

One of the best things about this title is how the creators get to cherry pick from one of the most unique eras of X-men comics, without the baggage and excess (X-cess?) or the 90s and early 00s of the X-line. Seeing the kids of Generation X and TEEN version of X-Force/X-Statix dealing with vampires is something that sounds absolutely insane, yet goddess-2totally works for this universe.  It also helps that that Bowers, Sims and Firmansyah get to use one of the most iconic line up of X-men, and get to use them in their own separate corner of the Marvel Universe.

X-Men ’92 #3 is a hoot. Despite the over the top nature of this book, the creators do an excellent* job of raising the stakes**, and making the vampire threat feel genuine. Which by the way, if you would have told me this was a vampire story after the first issue, I would thought you were crazy. But here we are 2 issue later, and again, CROSS DIMENSIONAL CONCIL OF DRACULAS. God I love this book.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #51 & Grayson #19

STL001391Batgirl #51

Brenden Fletcher, Elenora Carlini, Minkyu Jung, Roger Robinson, Serge Lapointe

DC $3.99

I applaud what Brenden Fletcher did with this 51st issue of Batgirl. With Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart off the title and more or less done with DC Comics for the foreseeable future, Fletcher has 2 issues of comic to write before the new creative team takes over this summer. It appears he’s using these issues to do a low key crossover, using a plot line from the third Batgirl Annual he worked on to bring together the worlds of Batgirl, Black Canary and Gotham Academy. Aside from the slight fan service, Fletcher also has Barbara Gordon dealing with her new status quo, something he helped set up, which is a fun inverse of the super hero who also has to deal with running a company trope.

Oddly enough, having 3 artists on this book didn’t take away from my enjoyment on this book as much as you’d assume it would. Elenora Carlini & Minkyu Jung’s styles blend well together, channeling the same energy Stewart and Tarr brought to the book’s visuals. Roger Robinson is the odd man out here, with a style that’s less exaggerated and more traditional in a sense. His art isn’t bad per say, but it’s comparatively plain once stacked up against the other artists on the book. Serge Lapointe‘s colors are great as per usual, continuing to do some fantastic stuff on the Bat-books his colors.

Batgirl #51 is a fun read and feels like a cool little mini-event. The lack of Tarr and Stewart is felt, but if you’re a fan of the books Brenden Fletcher worked on during his time at DC, you’ll enjoy this issue.

GRAY-Cv19-6d216-7296dGrayson #19

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

The highest praise I can pay Grayson #19 is that if you told me that former writers Tim Seeley and Tom King wrote this issue, I would have believed you. Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly do a superb job and matching the tone set up by those 2 writers, making for an extremely fun read that sees Dick Grayson deal with a massive betrayal. It’s something that’s all too common in spy fiction, but because the creators involved are so talented, it comes off as a complete surprise.

Like the writers, artist Roge Antonio’s really steps up this issue and attempts to pay homage to the creators who came before him, His Dick Grayson may not be the prettiest, but Antonio excels at drawing some really solid action pieces, as well as getting a little trippy with the layouts at times. Having regular Grayson colorist Jeromy Cox color his art definitely helps with the experience, as his contributions really help set the mood and bring the art to life.

With next issue being the last, Grayson #19 ends with an encounter fans have been expecting/dreading. It’s a shame we already know who’s on this new Birds of Prey roster, because it definitely takes some of the suspense away from this encounter. But that’s on editorial/marketing, not the creators, so it’s hard to fault them. Regardless of quasi-spoilers, Grayson #19 is an thrilling comic, one that hopefully will be serviced by a fantastic ending next month.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 & Saga #36

ofcqtec1mz6l9xiwi8lgThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 isn’t writer Ryan North’s first attempt at “Chose Your Own Adventure” fiction, but none the less it’s one of the most technical impressive comics of this year so far. North dabbed in the subgenre a few years back with his choose your own adventure take on Romeo and Juliet, and it hilarious, much to no one’s surprise. This month, he and artist Erica Henderson swap out Shakespeare for Squirrels and the Swarm, a move that I fully support and dare call brilliant.

Henderson and Rico Renzi deserve a lot of praise for this issue, as the choose the story narrative demands numerous panels that require a ton of variation. And while you can see the demand take it’s toll on the art towards the end of the issue, the bulk of this comic is drawn extremely well. Considering this team is also working on several projects, it’s perfectly fine to overlook them taking some shortcuts here and there.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 is a genius comic that experiments with how to tell a story in this medium. It’s the perfect done in one that showcases this creative teams talents, and should be read for (successfully) taking such a risk.

Saga_36-1Saga #36

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Ah Geez, Saga’s gone and made my all emotional in the face this month.

The conclusion of this current arc is an assault on readers and their emotions. Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan give readers a moment we’ve been waiting for months, as well as a development no one saw coming, and it is a massive game changer. In addition to all of that, we get to see my personal favorite Ghus leap into action for the first time, and the results are shocking to say the least. I wasn’t prepared for the mixture of brutality and cuteness from that particular fight, but that’s what I got and I LIKE IT!

Fiona Staples remains an incredibly artistic tour de force. Nothing new on that front, but the way she does so much with seemingly such little effort is absolutely mind blowing. There’s 2 panels involving Prince Robot in towards the end of this issue that show some incredible growth for the character, with none of the dialogue pointing it out, just letting the body language do all the work. Not only does it show how impressive of a story teller she issue, but it shows how much BKV trusts her to convey these emotions to the reader.

That being said, if you don’t tear up come page 12, something is wrong with you.

BKV is real good on putting word on paper, this is fact. But God, he’s on top of his game with this particular issue. As great as Staples art is, the dialogue and narration he provides for this issue really enhance the emotional beats, especially on pages 10 and 11. These two creators are fantastic, and Saga’s repeatedly excellence is due to the bound these two have.

Saga #36 is a fantastic finale to this volume. It manages to surprise readers by being incredibly upbeat, something we as readers aren’t use to, and takes the book in an absolutely fascinating direction. For once I’m glad for break, because I want to take some time to enjoy this comic, before Vaughan and Staples do something to get me mad and or sad again.

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Chris’ Comics: All-New Hawkeye #6 & Captain Marvel #4

2016-04-21-allnewhawkeyeAll-New Hawkeye #6

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Hey it’s the finale issue of All-New Hawkeye! Again!

This ending is FOR REAL though, as it’s apparently the last installment in this series by the team of Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring. And while I’ve found this run a little uneven at times, issue #6 (which is the 12th issue for this team, but you know, COMICS!) offers the reader a lot, and actually changes things up for Team Hawkeye in a major way.

While I haven’t been the biggest fan of the flashback material Lemire and Perez have been doing throughout this run, this issue completely justifies the use of that narration device. Exploring Kate Bishop’s past was a good call, and the events in this issue does something real fascinating with Kate that I dare not spoil. It clarifies some things that date back to Kate’s earliest appearances in Young Avengers, and  hopefully retcons something extremely outdated & problematic from those stories as well. This carries over to the present day stuff, which I imagine will be used to launch whatever the next incarnation of Hawkeye will be in the coming months.

If there’s been on constant thing about this team throughout the last 12 issues, it’s been Ramon Perez and Ian Herring’s work. The two artists have been great time and time again, and this finale really sees them come into their own as story tellers, mixing some cool silver age aesthetics in the flashback material with some lush and vibrant pages for the modern day sections of the book. Perez and Herring really had their work cut out for them coming into this book, and it’s been super enjoyable watching them grow and experiment over the last year.

We don’t know what lies in store for Team Hawkeye in the coming months, but All-New Hawkeye was a interesting exploration of the lives of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Lemire, Perez and Herring didn’t exactly have the critically acclaimed run their predecessors had, but it was a fun story none the less. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see the Hawkeyes in action again.

portrait_incredible (7)Captain Marvel #5

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Felipe Smith, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

It’s slightly ironic that we’re discussing Captain Marvel, and to a lesser extent Abigail Brand, on 4/26/16, aka Alien Day (#brands). Earlier issues of this arc definitely felt like a homage to the classic Sci-Fi property, and this issue has 2 female character very much getting their Elena Ripley on.

Captain Marvel #5 sees writers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters make Carol Danvers current scenario go from bad to worse, as Alpha Flight’s attempts to deal with this “new” alien threat don’t go so well. Oh and that pesky traitor is still in their ranks, mucking things up. What’s bad for Carol and company is great for readers, and we’re treated to 20 pages of high stakes actions, beautifully depicted by Kris Anka, Felipe Smith and Matthew Wilson. I don’t think I’ve seen two artist who manage to blend their respected styles as well as Anka and Smith, and Wilson’s colors are a sight to behold. I love how Wilson sets such vibrant characters against dark backgrounds, giving the book a refreshingly modern and sharp look.

The Elena Ripley comparison feels spot on with Carol and Abigail never say die attitudes. Both character, despite their VERY comic book genealogy, feel so human, but never weak. It’s inspiring in several ways, and makes for a pair of characters that are easy to root for. I particularly like a very Shonen Manga influenced scene, where Carol’s staff let their leader know they’re with her in this high risk scenario. It’s a nice upbeat moment that gives the reader something to rally behind as the crisis at hand gets worse.

Captain Marvel #5 is the type of penultimate chapter you want from a 6 issue arc. The stakes of raised to the point where it genuinely feels no one is safe. It’s an impressive feet, given how predictable cape comics and can often be, and it’s just another reason why Captain Marvel is one of the best super hero titles coming out from Marvel currently.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Howard the Duck #6 & Spider-Man/Deadpool #4

Hey, sorry for the delay in reviews, but I was out of town for the last few dues on account of PAX East, which was relatively light on comics content. But now I’m back, so let’s get on with the hot comic TAKES yes?

portrait_incredible (1)Howard the Duck #6

Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera, Marc Deering, Jordan Gibson

Marvel $3.99

Hey look, I’m reviewing a Howard the Duck comic again, this is somewhat comforting! Also, mine is a sad existence.

The 2nd part of the “Animal House” crossover sees Ryan North join the creative team of Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, and several inkers and colorists for an issue where our heroes and several guest stars deal with a villainess who’s into cosplay and hunting man-beasts. There’s also a squirrel with Wolverine’s M.O.,  because of course there is.

It’s a little jarring to see Squirrel Girl drawn by Joe Quinones at first, as his style is a little more realistic than SG’s regular artist Erica Henderson. But once you grow accustom to it, it’s real easy to get caught up in the books visuals. It’s just a little unfortunate that the 3 inkers working on the book, Joe Rivera, Marc Deering and Quinones himself don’t mesh up as well as say as Jordan Gibson helping Joe on the coloring. It’s a minor thing, which doesn’t really derail the comic that much, but it’s noticeable none the less, especially in some of the later panels.

That being said, the dialogue and jokes are really strong in this issue. North and Zdarsky manage to do some nice world building with both their books, while injecting a ton of humor into the story. It’s quite the romp, and it’s the type of fun I don’t get enough of in comics.

Howard The Duck #6 is a fun read that closes out the brief crossover with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl on a high note. Hopefully this is not the last time these creators collaborate again, because after reading the last 2 issues of both series, I’m left wanting more for all the right reasons.

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_4_TextlessSpider-Man/Deadpool #4

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

Here we have another Marvel book that’s a crossover sorts. The key difference is that maybe you keep this one from the kids (once again I apologize to the small child and his father who thought it would be fun to look over my shoulder while I was reading this on the 7 train this past Wednesday).

Spider-Man/Deadpool #4 is the comic that not only gives Ed McGuinness a chance to draw Thor, which he excels at. It also gives the artist a chance to draw Spider-Man and Deadpool reenacting Dirty Dancing in their underwear. There’s a solid reason for both, because Joe Kelly is a hell of a writer, who does some extremely strange and wonderful stuff in this issue, despite Deadpool being THE WORST.

Spider-Man/Deadpool is a comic with prides itself on being a high energy read that constantly surprises reader in the most heartbreaking ways possible. Issue 4 is a prime example of that, as this issue that’s high on laughs ends on the most dour note possible. But Kelly, MxGuiness and inker Mark Morales and colorist Jason Keith excel at making funny and super enjoyable comics with some real depth to them, so I’m sure issue #5 will be just as fun.

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #17

Gotham_Academy_Vol_1-17_Cover-1_TeaserGotham Academy #17

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Annie Wu, Michael Dialynas,, David Peterson, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

 

One of the best things about the Yearbook arc is the variety in tone and genre the stories in each issue are. I knew nothing about the creators contributing to Gotham Academy #19, originally thinking it was the conclusion of this storyline. This month I was pleasantly surprised to see the issue kick off with a story that more or less crosses over Black Canary for example, another title that Brenden Fletcher writes.

We get a lot of content from issue #19, which see the girls set out to get their scrapbook from returning guest star Robin (Damian Wanye). It acts as the bridge between the other 3 tales, and again, not a bad bit of storytelling, I just get a little irked everything artist Adam Archer draws Olivia and company’s heads too large or too lumpy. I’m also not a fan of 2how it looks like Damian’s costume is too big for him.

The Annie Wu drawn crossover story sees the GA kids run into Heathcliff, who first showed up in this book and then started showing up as a supporting character in Black Canary. This is probably my favorite story of the bunch, as it looks great, and I really like the way Fletcher handles the reunion between Heathcliff and Pomeline. Wu is colored by Serge Lapointe, who’s washed out and neon color palette is perfect for a story involving relationships and music.

From there we get Michael Dialynas, who’s worked on The Woods for Boom Studios, telling the story of that one time Maps and Olivia ran into a demon cat on campus. This 6 page story starts off with a cool horror vibe to it, but then gets a little cuter once we find out who’s responsible for said cat. It’s the story has a Batman: The Animated series vibe to it, and I love how Dialynas can manage to pull off horror and adorable with his art.

By assembling so many different on this title the last few months,Gotham Academy has exposed me to a variety of creators I occasionally have little to no prior experience with. That statement is especially true come the end of this comic, where Mouse Guard creator David Peterson tells a story set in Gotham Academy’s past. He creates a quartet of 4 new GOTHAC_17_3characters, and the story revolves around the oft-mentioned “Sorcery & Spells” game that Maps loves so much. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous to look at, I love how it’s inspired by the 1980s Dungeon and Dragons panic, in which the game was believed to have some sort of Satanic ties. Also, the way Peterson tackled the project is super impressive, and I encourage you all to go visit his site and read up on how he approached this story.

“Yearbook” has been a incredible arc for Gotham Academy, and no issue proves that more than this one. The range of talent involved in every issue is insane, and it’s impressive how much mileage each creator can get from a book that only had a dozen or so issues under it’s belt before this arc started. Brenden Fletcher, along with Karl Keschel and Becky Cloonan have created a fantastic playground for this guest creators, and seeing the character celebrated like this month after month has been great.

 

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Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #2

5148021-02X-men ’92 #2

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marel $3.99

As someone who’s read a ton of Chris Sims’ work over the years, I’m actually a little ashamed I didn’t see the final page of this comic coming. Way to make me feel like a real dumb-dumb sir.

X-Men ’92 #2 doesn’t just embrace the fact that they can now tell stories that are TOO HOT FOR (1992) TV this month. Oh no, writers Sims and Chad Bowers rub our faces in it, practically screaming “HEY LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS WE CAN DO NOW, LOOK LOOK, LOOK!”, but in a fun and excited sort of way. Which is fair, because while this book definitely hits some notes that are DARK AND EXTREMEEEEEEEEEEE, it remain a delightful read that’s a bit over the top in all the right ways. If you told me that we’d see a plot point taken from Marvel’s defunct Midnight Sons line in a comic in 2016, I would have called you a liar. In the writer’s defense, they successfully create a narrative in which this relic from the 90s works for the story. And speaking of weird story beats, Bowers and Sims decide to pay tribute to a more recent but weird as all hell X-men story, once again merging the past with a more recent weird X-men story. It’s the best kind of fan service for any devout X-men fan, especially if they dig the odder bits of continuity.

Also Rogue can’t stop hitting bears is a new running gag of sorts that I am 1000% okay with.

Artist Alti Firmansyah really comes into her own this month, cutting back on the references in the art and doing her own thing with the layouts. I’m more than fine with this, as is results in some dynamic storytelling, complete with some very expressive faces, and some extremely well “choreographed” fight scenes. There’s a scene that’s surprisingly violent in this issue, which Firmansyah handles by blacking out the characters involved for a panel, making it X-Men-92-2-4way less graphic, but still coherent enough for readers to figure out what’s going on. Also I love how timeless she can mast her characters look, even though several of them have some rather dated and peculiar character designs. My only real complaint with the art is that Maverick loses his eyes for several panes in this book, although I’m uncertain if that’s on Alti or colorist Matt Milla. That snafu aside,  I love how bright and dynamic the colors are in this book, especially come the final pages of the issue.

X-men ’92 remains a engaging and entertaining read. By being set in it’s own continuity, the creators can pull from so much, and completely surprise readers. Sims and Bowers’ dialogue is very whimsical, and helps to make the stakes feel high, even while being a tad silly. And Firmansyah and Milla do an exceptional job of invoking the styles of the 90s, and updating them in a way that just feels right. As I said time and time again, X-men ’92 is a great book that’s self contained and scratches so many itches while only being 20 pages. It’s the perfect read for someone who only wants to read 1 X-men title a month, and not have to worry about other events in the Marvel Universe interfering with the story.

 

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