Category: Comics

Chris’ Comics: Welcome Back Babs (A Batgirl #41 review)

Batgirl_Vol_4-41_Cover-1_TeaserBatgirl #41

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Joel Gomez/Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

So Batgirl’s back, and things are a little different this time around . Yes I’m well aware things have been very different since issue #36, but we have a few more changes on our hands. First and foremost, co-writer Cameron Stewart is no longer handling layout duties, as he’s busy drawing a thing I’m not supposed to talk about. What this means is that Babs Tarr is drawing this book by herself, a first for the book and her career, which is immediately noticeable. Her style is more expressive and looser than Stewart’s, giving the book a more over the top manga-style look in terms of character language and layout. It’s a little jarring at first, but it also give the more its own visual identity unlike anything else out there on the stands, and let’s Tarr experiment with her storytelling. With Babs (the artist, not the Batgirl) handling the bulk of the art now, she has Joel Gomez assisting her on backgrounds, something I wouldn’t have noticed with the proper crediting.

batgirl-41-robo-batThe book also has a new colorist in Serge Lapointe, who does a lot of neat things with the color. The book’s color has more of a softer feel to it, sometime giving it that pencils to color look to it depending on the panel. Another cool trick Lapointe does is giving some backgrounds a neat spray paint look, which stands out a bunch when slapped against white canvas-esque negative space. I definitely do miss Stewart’s visual contributions to the book, as well as Wicks coloring, but Tarr, Gomez and Lapointe are so talented it’s hard not to mind the slight changes all that much.

The other big change is the fact that Batgirl is now a little in-line with other non-Fletcher written Batbook’s continuity, which puts Babs (The Batgirl, not the artist) in a difficult position thanks to the events of Endgame. Her dad Jim Gordon is the new Batman (spoilers?), who’s under orders to get rid of the other vigilantes of Gotham .  This is obviously a problem for Batgirl, but for the reader, it’s an interesting story to bear witness too, as it adds a cool twist to the usually stable Jim & Barbara Gordon relationship. In addition to all that Bat-family drama, we get the new 52 premiere of a cult favorite villain, allowing Babs Tarr to get her Bruce Timm on, all while some seeds are planted for another Bat-character to make an appearance down the line.

sdsd-740x431The Brenden Fletcher/Stewart/Tarr team hit their sophomore arc of Batgirl at full speed. While there’s some changes on the visual side, Fletcher and Stewart’s dialogue is just as good as it’s was pre-crossover break. There’s some really cute humor here, as well as some character relations that feel honest and genuine. The book feels fresh and relevant to the times, but never goes overboard with the time-sensitive references. It’s a fun little read that looks fantastic, and you can sense the team is having a blast work on the book.

Batgirl continues to be a book that shows DC is willing to change to ensure it’s brand survives in a world where Marvel dominates the charts and box offices (Jurassic World being the exception.). It’s success is obviously the reason why we even got this DC You initiative to begin with, and I’m happy to say it’s as good of a comic as it is important to the company and the marketplace.

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: First and Last Days Editions

Hey look, it’s  2 books that actually came out recently! Let me review them!

ms-marel-124127Ms. Marvel #16

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Let’s get this review started  by talking about how good Ms. Marvel and it’s creators are. Solicitations for this issue spoiled the last page of Ms Marvel 16 3-4 months ago, depending on what websites you read, especially if you saw what’s on the cover for 17. It’s something we’ve yet to get on this title yet, wanted forever, and have finally gotten a taste of it. Even knowing it was coming didn’t diminish the moment, and if anything, only made me hungry for more.

Ms Marvel 16 is the first issue of the “Last Days” arc, which ties into Secret Wars. G Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring has put Khamala Khan through a lot over these last 16 issues, but how does Ms Marvel stop the end of the world? Knowing what we know from Secret Wars, it seems impossible, even though that Free Comic Book Day let us know that she’ll be fine when all is said and done. Still, Wilson and Alphona make the stakes feel real, without having to sacrifice all of the charm and humor this book is known for.

Then we get to the last two pages. This is comics at it’s finest, and the opposite of the bad feels Kieron Gillen and BKV have given me in the previous weeks. We see our hero doubt herself, but refusing to give up and accept oblivion. It’s inspiring, and it’s hard not to get excited when you reach the previously mentioned final page of this book. It’s a super important moment for the character, and the creative team nail it on every level, from the layout, to the dialogue and choice of colors.

Ms Marvel continues to be stellar, and this issue is no different. It may be the best, which says a lot given the fact it’s a tie-in issue. It super hero comics at it’s finest, fully embracing the legacy set by Jack, Steve and Stan, and taking it to the next level.

 

black-canary-1-promo-121636Black Canary #1

Brenden Fletcher/Annie Wu/Lee Loughridge

DC $2.99

I’ve seen a few comic blogger types refer to this new DC You (#killme) initiative as “The Batgirl effect”, which I think is a fair description. The Fletcher/Stewart/Tarr/Wicks Batgirl got DC attention and praise it hadn’t seen in a while, and it was only a matter of time before would attempt to recapture that magic with some of their other properties. With Black Canary, we see a one of the Batgirl writers teamed with a fan favorite artist, resulting in another strong DC Debut.

Black Canary is a kung-fu rock and roll comic, which is all sorts of my type of premise. Dinah Lance was given a cool new direction in the pages of Batgirl, and now we get to see Black Canary on the road, wrecking venue after venue while keeping her past a secret from her bandmates. However, she’s not the only person in her crew with a secret or two, which leads to violent hitting times  . It’s a fun premise that feels like a natural and much needed  evolution of this incarnation of the character.

I’ve been a fan of artist Annie Wu since her run on the often mentioned Hawkeye. Her take on Black Canary is great, giving her a slick punk rock meets MMA make over. It’s a cool take of the character’s iconic look, giving it a much needed update. Wu’s line work a little harsher and simplistic than her work on Hawkeye, which is fitting for the new status quo. Lee Loughridge‘s colors and Steve Wands letters give the book a cool vibe that can be best described as Sex Pistol ‘Zine meets DC comics. The whole thing feels very Image esque is terms of design, which I’m sure to intentional as to draw in a larger audience. And even if it isn’t, it’s still cool as hell.

On the script side of things, we have Batgirl/Gotham Academy’s Brenden Fletcher, who’s quickly carved out his little corner of the DCU. This is the first exposure to Fletcher’s solo writing duties, and it’s solid. The issue quickly establishes Dinah current M.O. in a cool bit of exposition via a number of new age media. It’s a neat narrative device, and it’s a cool way to catch readers up on Dinah if they haven’t been reading Batgirl. His dialogue is solid, and while there’s nothing that particularly stand out, it’s more than serviceable.

Between this and Starfire, DC “You” is off to a strong start with this new slate of diverse female lead books. Black Canary is another fun and good looking book with a fun premise. DC is finally beginning to fight back after Marvel‘s barrage of great quirky hits from earlier in the year, and I’m curious to see what else the company can produce on this sort of level of quality.

 

 

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(Late) Review: Starfire #1

So yeah, doing 3 shows in 3 consecutive weekends has caught up to me. Flamecon was a wonderful one day show that I’m glad I funded/attended, and Heroescon was rad as always. But it’s taken a hit on my writing time, not to mention drained me physically (and financially). So the reviews are coming, they’ll just be a mixture of new stuff, slightly old stuff, collected stuff and one advance review. Give me 2 weeks and everything will be back to normal. Well as close to normal you can get around these parts. First up, a dated review on a book that I’ve really enjoyed recently.

Starfire-1-CoverStarfire #1

Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti/Emanuela Lupacchino/Ray McCarthy/Hi-Fi

DC $2.99

I’ll start this review off with a confession: I never really cared much for Starfire, even though I’m a pretty big Dick Grayson fan. Ir’s probably because I missed her heyday as a member of the Marv Wolfman/George Perez New Teen Titans. And aside from a few random Teen Titan revivals from the 90s/00s, my biggest exposure to the character was from the animated TT animated series, which I liked enough, but wasn’t super into.

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti however, are 2 creators I’m very much familiar with and dig. Their run on Power Girl was a blast, and I like what I’ve read of their Harley Quinn run. Putting them on a character like Starfire, who was very much in need of some direction after appearing in that ROUGH Red Hood and the Outlaws book, was a smart choice

4619905-starf_1_4Conner and Palmiotti’s Starfire is wisely located in Key West, which makes for an unusual locale for a super hero comic. The most southwestern point in the US, this tropical locale isn’t exactly full of crime and super baddies. But Starfire isn’t exactly a traditional super hero book; it’s more a comedic character exploration piece. Kory is trying to figure out her identity in Key West, not unlike how the writers are trying to find her a play in this relatively new DC. The pair of writers give her a nice cast of characters to work with, giving  the book a delightful sitcom-esque supporting cast. Amanda and Jimmy do some really solid world building in 20 pages, and I’m curious to see what they can do now that the introductions are done.

Starfire-2Emanuela Luppacchino is the penciler on this book, and he’s a perfect fit for the comic. He’s more Ivan Reis than Amanda Conner, and he manages to capture the beauty of the setting and the book’s lead perfectly. His characters are sexy, with hints of cheesecake here and there, but nothing super objectifying. And the humor is done justice with the cute little thought balloons Starfire has whenever she’s unfamiliar with earth terminology. Trever McCarthy‘s ink are clean and straightforward, with Hi-Fi making the book looking bright and vibrant.  Starfire herself is a prime example on how good the art sides of things are,  with her cool hair-flame effect never clashing with her orange skin. It’s a pretty accurate recreation of Key West, right down to the drunk bros.

Starfire #1 is the perfect introduction for people familiar with the character from the character, or didn’t care for her previous handling. It’s a little to sexy for younger reader, so maybe we keep the kids are the Teen Titans Go! audience from it until their older. But for anyone over 13 who wants a more iconic take on that character, or something that’s just fun and great looking, this is the book you want to be reading. If you like Conner/Palmiotti’s past work, or offbeat female lead titles like Squirrel Girl and Rat Queens, this is the book for you.

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Comics Sit Down & Draw (& Sign) June 24th!

SPAZ 1 hi res

Here in NYC it’s easy to get confused when someone mentions the word “comics”. We’ve got such a rich culture of comic book creators and stand-up comics that you could easily be talking about either one. Rarely, though, is there a comic written specifically by comedians.

SPAZ Comics is that book, and we’ve got a signing coming up this June 24th to celebrate. And we’ve got a killer line-up of comics that’ll be there, including Dave Konig (Host of Hardcore TV, Louie), April Brucker (Last Comic Standing, Layover with Anthony Bourdain), Johnny Rizzo (who’s opened for Joan Rivers, Weird Al Tommy Chong, and more) and Rik Sansone (Editor of Spaz).

The event starts @ 7pm. Hope to see ya there!

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Troy’s Toys, But with Comics: Called it Edition

WHAT DID I SAY?!?!

STK674294Saga #29

Fiona Staples/Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

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DONE!

BRIAN K VAUGHAN IS A BAD BAD MAN. WORSE THEN KIERON GILLEN, WHO I GUESS IS A LESSER DEVIL NOW? I DON’T KNOW HOW DEVILS WORK AFTER A CERTAIN POINT.

So yeah, this issue of Saga is rough. Really rough actually, to the point where I have to think issue 30 HAS to end on good note for balanced karma. I mean he really owes us that after these last two issues being actual emotional war fare on the readers.

It’s not all violence and tears in this issue by the way. BKV and Fiona Staples, who is not at fault for this issue, inject this comic with some needed drama, action and comedy. There’s an amazing panel that leads into a better double page spread gag that will probably get this book banned from Comixology (again). When this book isn’t destroying me, it’s fantastic, especially when Vaughan’s dialogue is so natural, with a flawless flow.

And yes, Fiona Staples is on point once again. No one is shocked, as she’s always excellent. But her she’s given a lot to do in this in this particular issue, and she flexes her creative muscles and crushes it. Yes I just said crushes it, I’m wearing 3 polo shirts and drinking jaeger and pre-ordering the new Call of Duty as we speak. But it’s completely true, as a lesser artist may have failed at delivering the type of comic Staples has produced. ESPECIALLY  when it comes to the violence, which is not the most graphic thing, but the composition and character placement hits you like a freight train.

It’s been a while since an issue of Saga has been this devastating. Vaughan and Staples have created a comic that always creates Water-Cooler discussion moments, and they always feel earned, rather than relying on shock value. It’s a fantastic read, although an absolutely gut wrenching one. I expect no less from team Saga.

STK672338Gotham Academy #7

Becky Cloonan/Brenden Fletcher/Mingjue Helen Chen/Steve Wands

DC $2.99

Oh look, Gotham Academy is back, I can know what happiness is once again.

Issue 7 kicks off a few days after issue 6 wraps up, and focuses on my personal favorite character Maps. Maps, unlike the usual lead/narrator Olivia, offers a younger perspective, and is all hype and excitement, making for different yet equally enjoyable reading experience. Guest star Damian Wayne wasn’t a character this book necessarily needed to improve, but he’s a welcome sight none the less. The youngest Robin couldn’t be any more different than Maps, which results in some A+ hi-jinks, and some very funny gags.

Mingjue Helen Chen is the artist for this issue, marking the first time she gets to draw an entire issue by herself. Her style is plenty different than series regular artist Karl Keschel, but not any less great. It’s super expressive and whimsical, looking like a Pixar take on Gotham Academy, which makes sense given Chen’s day job working as an Disney animator. It’s looks unlike any other Bat-title out there, and nice to see DC giving such wonderful talent like this a shot on a book that supports such diversity.

Narrative wise, it’s back to business for Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher. They masterfully mix mystery with comedy, throwing little hints of romance in there resulting a fun, modern day Scooby Doo-esque script. My only complaints is that the art and the narration are at odds early in the book, which makes the big mystery reveal a tad confusing at the end. Luckily, it doesn’t take away from the rest of the comic, which is pretty perfect.

Gotham Academy #7 is a delightful done in one for all ages. The creative team is hella charming, thanks to visuals that make the $3 price tag a steal.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Bad Bad Kieron Gillen Edition

WickedDivine_11-325x500Wicked + Divine 11

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Clowes

Image $3.50

I’m really glad this and Saga are shipping within a week of each other, as it ensures 14 straight days of consecutive sadness for my June. The perfect way to kick off the summer!

WicDiv #11 is a well-crafted comic that is the emotional equivalent of the ending to The Empire Strikes Back. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie drop several bombshells on readers with the final issue of this arc, ensuring hundreds of Tumblrs to cry out “OH GOD WHY KIERON, YOU ARE A BAD MAN!” This isn’t much of a surprise, given Kieron’s past comics work and history of being the actual Christian Devil, but it still hurts, given how much these characters have been flesh out over the past year. Granted there’s a good chance some of these tragic events are fake outs, but the ones that aren’t are devastating game changers.

Jamie McKelvie being as good as he is on this book comes as no surprise. He’s the best at what he does, and what he does is draw many beautiful people with beautiful outfits.  McKelvie is on the top of his game on Wicked Divine, making the plot twists all the more painful, and the violence all the more real and horrible The level of detail he puts into his line work is insane, especially when it comes to the more fantasy elements of this book.

Matthew Wilson, McKelvie’s colorist, continues to reinvented himself with every issue. Issue 11 has a 6 page action sequence that isn’t the most impressive in terms of choreography, but thanks to Wilson’s talents, it looks more kinetic and dynamic. Clayton Clowes‘ lettering is also phenomenal, giving several character their own unique fonts that help them find their own voice. This whole creative team is brilliant, but also lesser devils for striking an alliance with Gillen.

Wicked and the Divine #11 is an assault on your feelings and emotions, but also one hell of a comic. This bookwill  feel different during McKelvie’s absence these next few months, but on the upside, his temporary departure is for MORE PHONOGRAMS! Wic Div remains a must read title, but man, expect to be bummed out with this one.

nonplayer_2_cover_web (1)Nonplayer #2

Nate Simpson

Image, $2.99

Here we have Nonplayer #2, the second issue to a comic who has its first issue ship in early 2011. Suddenly, the Hawkeye delays don’t seem so bad.

This past week has seen a bunch of good looking comics being released, but man o man, Nonplayer is something else. Writer/Artist/Colorist Nate Simpson is part Geoff Darrow part Shirow Masamune, resulting  inn insane amount of detailed art set in a wide variety of different environments. It’s a book that literally has content from cover to cover, dealing with a murder mystery in the most popular video game in the world. That premise sounds pretty cliche, but the twist with this case is actually being handled by NPCs, with the assassin in question being a play controlled character. It’s a fresh twist on something that’s been done before, but never this good looking. Simpson’s unique imagination and talents give us a world with all sorts of fantastic character, ranging from battle-worn kings to giant tank robots. And the fact that he’s doing all of this with little to no help shows how crazy talented the dude is.

My only issue with this installment of Nonplayer is that coloring feels a little flat in some areas. Nonplayer works best when it’s set in wide, sprawling areas, so hopefully we’ll be getting more of that. To be fair, the book is a complete 360 of the first issue in terms of feeling and genre, which is very impressive, and the coloring choices may have been intentional. Regardless, it’s a gorgeous comic, overflowing with creativity and hopefully this is the beginning of getting this book out on a more regular schedule.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But with comics: Special Edition NYC edition!

IMG_5060

So hey, Special Edition NYC happened over at Pier 94 this past weekend, and while I wasn’t the biggest fan of the venue or the panel areas, the show was still pretty good. The quality of guests were solid, the amount of diversity present in the panels were nice, and I saw this adorable Ghus cosplayer when I arrive at the con. It was a fun show if you’re a fan of all comics convetions, as it’s very much in the vein of MoCCa and Heroescon. I fully recommend it if you’re a fan of those shows, or NYCC’s artist alley!

With that mini-convention review done, let’s get to the part where I review the comics I bought last week, yes?

 

4590451-sqgirl2015006_dc11-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

Ryan North/Erica Henderson/Rico Renzi

Marvel, $3.99

I love the Squirrel Girl creative team, but I think writer Ryan North may be a 100% real life crazy person. That’s fine though, as he’s using his powers of crazy for the forces of good on this book, co-creating a title that’s hilarious and fun for all ages, while drowning in words and insanity. So I guess North is also a bit of a genius. That line is extremely blurred.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 sees our heroine deal with other animal-themed heroes named after the animals they can talk to & both of them very familiar to her, for reasons she can’t figure out why. Meanwhile, North claims to quit writing heroes with rhyming names in the text at the bottom of the page. We  also get rampaging animals, and a rampaging animal-turn-human-animals, and North quickly abandoning that claim . This book sounds like a fever dream as I describe it, but it is very good, despite sounding nuts, and…really nuts? That’s what I wrote for real? Now I hate myself for making that (unintentional) pun.

While North may be madness incarnate, but Erica Henderson is a gift. That is the best way to describe her all too important contributions to this book. Squirrel Girl’s visuals may be too cartoonish for some, but those people are dumb and shouldn’t be heard/ allowed to have nice things. TUSQ benefits from having a non-traditional super hero comic look, especially when it’s very much a humor title, and Henderson’s pencils are a perfect fit for North’s constant barrage of jokes. It’s super expressive and exaggerated, helping sell the book’s humor. The coloring from Rico Renzi is crisp and clean, doing Henderson’s art justice and completing the package.

The 2nd major arc for Squirrel Girl is off to a wonderful start. Henderson and North have delivered the best all-ages Marvel title since Thor the Mighty Avenger, and the funniest Marvel comic since Nextwave. This is some career defining stuff for these creators and well worth your time.

 

Spider-Woman-8-Cover-e1433537865998Spider-Woman #8

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez/Muntsa Vicente

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Woman wraps up her first non-crossover arc, and man, the big fight scene is this issue absolutely brutal. While the violence is kept at a Teen + level (which I think means PG??), Javier Rodriguez‘s art make the feel more brutal. As you can tell from the cover, J-Drew fights a woman in a power loader, and it does not go well for her. Rodriguez doesn’t shy away from making Spider-Woman take some solid hits, but she never looks weak or timid. This is an experienced Spider-Woman, who can take some damage and keep fighting the good fight. Rodriguez’s layouts are phenomenal, with scenes bleeding into other panels or taking place in sound effects. Alvaro Lopez‘s inks are also crazy good, using heavy inks in just the right areas to main the wounds look all the more devastating and painful. VC’s Travie Lanham has some of the most creative lettering and sounds effects I’ve seen in some time, and Muntsa Vicente’s colors and bold and bright, helping this book look very stylistic.

While the art is the best reason to pull this book, Dennis Hopeless does a outstanding job on the script. He keep the dialogued limit in the fight scenes, but when the time for exposition and plot is needed, he absolutely nails it. He does a find job of making the book’s big bad incredibly sympathetic, and more importantly he writes and fantastic Spider-Woman.

Spider-Woman #8 ends with the solid new direction for the book that looks to be a fun read. Hopeless, Rodriguez and their friends have created a title that feels like a classic 70s Marvel book in a way, but also refreshingly modern. This take on Spider-Woman has done wonders for this book, and the character, who’s really come into her own there last 4 issues. It’s nice to see a female lead for Marvel who’s more of an experienced ass kicker, and it pairs well with other action oriented female lead Marvel books like Black Widow and Captain Marvel. Buy on sight.

 

 

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Review: Fight Club 2 Issue 1

I know this because I paid $3.99 to know…this? Dang, that almost worked.

4544291-fclub2-1-variant-fc-fnl-b-4x6-e1e1dFight Club 2 #1

Chuck Palahniuk, Cameron Stewart, Dave Stewart, Nate Piekos

Dark Horse $3.99

The original Fight Club film came out during the point in my life where I was very much an angry white boy in his late teens who loved him some nu-metal. Hot Topic was more than happy to sell all sorts of FC merchandise, the DVD had some sweet features, and I was more than happy to drop my disposable income on all of it. It was a movie I was super into for about 6 months, but quickly distanced myself from when I met other fans who were equally, if not as obnoxious about it as I was.  I’m still found of the movie, my tastes of music remains questionable to this date, but I haven’t give much thought to Fight Club until talks of a sequel emerged.

When Fight Club 2 was announced, I was conflicted at first. On one hand, Chuck Palahniuk and Cameron Stewart are one hell of a creative team to be working on any comic. On the other hand, was there a need for a Fight Club 2? I never read the novel (I know, I suck), but I thought the movie wrapped up things quite nicely and didn’t need a follow up. I was hesitant to pick it up, but decided to anyway, because I love my reader(s) and I’m not very good with money. Well that and Cameron Stewart has been killing it over on Batgirl and I genuinely like Palhniuk’s work. At the very worst, I would be out of $4, which I would have blown on a beer or something.

fightclubsequel_page1.0Fight Club 2 #1 is a merciless read. It does very little recap, and assumes everyone is more than familiar with the source material. Of course with a the number 2 in a title, I guess assuming everyone is on the same page is to be expected, but you figured someone would throw a bone to the uninitiated (Decompression comics has ruined me). But props to Palhniuk for not caring about if you’re new or not, he’s obviously here to tell a story, not get new readers. Issue one is a very unique comic. Parts of it feel very immature, and the 19 year old me would have loved the “Me against the world, wake up sheeple, pills are killing us” aspect of this comic, completely unaware of it’s satire or not. Present day Chris is rolling his eyes at it at times,  but it possibly being satire makes this comic extremely fascinating, with some crazy over the top twists that genuinely caught me off guard. Fight Club 2 is super clever at times, or so confident in it’s stupidity that it buys into it’s own hype all too well. I can’t actually tell which scenario plays out when, and that itself is strangely wonderful.

fight-club-2-issue-1-03While the quality of Palahniuk’s writing is subjective, the quality of Cameron Stewart’s art is not. Stewart, alongside letter Nate Piekos, really help the readers realize that Sebastian/Tyler Durden is a bit of a hot mess when it comes to his mental health with some really smart placement of panels, word balloons and sound effects. It’s an incredibly well-crafted comic on the art side of things, and it does wonders for the script. Cameron’s stylistic art looks fantastic, especially when colored by Dave Stewart, much how like the movie was full of pretty people doing awful things. It’s easily worth the price of admission just to bear witness to this team drawing a great looking book and tell the story in such a unique way.

Fight Club 2 is ultimately a comic full of terrible people doing various terrible things. It’s definitely not for everyone (there’s some material from 1999 that doesn’t fly in 2015) and at no point within these 20 pages does it justify it’s existence, aside from the art. That being said, it’s either brilliant satire, or a hot outdated mess, which means it’s not good enough for me to buy on a monthly basis, but it’s something I’ll buy collected to find out. It definitely managed to elicited some emotions from me I haven’t felt in awhile, but I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing.

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: All New All Shameless Edition

So hey, before I start my weekly Hawkeye discussion/Comics Review, I wanted to make the FP Faithful aware of a few things

1)The DC Sneak Peeks from this week are pretty great, and if you don’t want to spend your money on Convergence tie ins, are available on Comixology and several other websites. My personal picks are We Are Robins Black Canary and Batgirl, but you should definitely track down the Starfire, Grayson and Gotham Academy ones as well.

2) Speaking of digital offerings, Fresh Romance is available on Comixology too. I kickstarted it, and man, I am glad that I did. It’s a cool return to romance comics featuring some fantastic stories by several rad up and coming creators. It’s 5 bucks for 30 pages, which I know is steep, but it’s a rare occasion where the price is justified by the quality of the content.

3)  June kicks off Summer Convention time, which means if you’re on the East Coast, you get to see me dressed up as a super hero in a crowded environment. I’ll be at Special Edition NYC, FLAMECON and Heroescon next month, and if you want to say hi or track my nonsense on social media, I’m on twitter & instagram @TheAnarCHris .

 

Alright, shameless plug theater is over, Hawk-talk begins now

All-New_Hawkeye_Vol_1_3_TextlessAll-New Hawkeye #3

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

When writing one Crapsack Tire Fire (aka Clint Barton), one way to keep my interest in the character is to have equal amounts of one Kate Bishop and one Lucky, the Eisner award winning pizza dog. It took Team Hawkguy 2.0 three issues to realize that, which makes issue 3 the best issue of All-New Hawkeye to date.

This time around, writer Jeff Lemire limits the Flashback/Origin-y stuff to one panel per page. It’s a neat storytelling technique, as most of these story allows artist Ramon Perez tell the story in mostly dialogue free scenes. It also allows the reader to see how these circus bits relate to the story that takes place in the present, which is treated as the A-side story this issue. Clint and Katie Kate has to deal with the fallout of their mission, and end up getting into more trouble as a Hawkeye tends to do.

With a few issues under their belts, Lemire and Perez read and look more comfortable on this title. Lemire’s dialogue flows better, and the Kate and Clint banter is great. Lemire’s Kate Bishop has noticeably improved with every issue, as his Clint. Perez’s art has also improved ten fold with the modern setting, and we’re treated to a double page multi-panel fight scene that is delightful as it is brutal.  Perez’s more traditional art style is a little more loose and animated than it has been in the past, and the book is all the better for it. It’s still relatively minimalist, but so expressive and energetic. And Ian Herring‘s wonderful colors give the book a nice since of depth despite being so flat like Matt Hollingsworth before him. There’s a sense of fun to this comic, something missing from the previous issues

With the rocky start  hopefully behind it, it appears All New Hawkeye has finally found it’s footing and is becoming a solid title.  I imagine those who are trade waiting it may not be as harsh as I have been as they get read the story in a single chunk. But as someone who reads it monthly, it’s nice to see this creative team improved steadily with every issue, and hope the team keeps it up.

 

 

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Review: Batman Volume 6: Graveyard Shift

51hNXab4FEL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Batman Volume 6: Graveyard Shift

Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo/ Marguerite Bennett/Andy Kubert/James Tynion IV/Alex Maleev/Andy Clarke/Dustin Nguyen/ Wes Craig/Matteo Scalera/Gerry Duggan

DC Comics, $24.99

With the first 5 volumes of the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo run on Batman, we the reader got a series of cohesive and quite excellent stories by the same team of creators. Those who have been reading the book monthly have had a different experience, as there has been several issues that have interrupted this run with some guest creative teams. Volume 6 is a collection of those issues, which range back to as far back as 2012 and as recent as 2014. Needless to say, this book is a bit disjointed,  with some of the material dated already.

One of the biggest things to occur during the Snyder/Capullo era was the death of Damian Wayne, which occurred over in the Grant Morrison/Chris Burnham Batman Inc. title. With it not happening in Batman proper, trade waiters now finally get to see that event addressed by Snyder and several other creators in a few different stories. The downside of that is that Damian was already revived earlier this year (with an ongoing set to debut soon), so said stories kind of lose their impact. It’s even worse if you’ve only been reading this incarnation in trade, as there’s zero explanation as to how Damian passed. There are also 2 Year Zero-era tales included, which is odd for several reasons. The biggest one being that Year Zero was already collected in Volumes 4 & 5, and would have made more sense being included there than in this volume. Finally, the last story collected is tied into the recently concluded Batman: Eternal, which I feel would have been suited for one of those trades more so than this one.

BM_19_300-005_HD.480x480-75So while this book feels scatterbrained and uneven, it also looks fairly sharp. Greg Capullo is joined by a ton of talented artists. Andy Kubert, Dustin Nguyen, Alex Maleev, Andy Clarke and Matteo Scalera are some of the more notable contributors and while their styles are all wildly different, they all bring their A game. It’s a little jarring to see different artists tackle the Gotham envisioned by Greg Capullo at first, but these veteran artists contributions are great none the less. It helps that Scott Snyder oversees if not straight up writes a lot of the guest stories, so the tone feels consistent throughout the collection.

Joining Snyder on writing duties are two of his former students, James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett. The Snyder penned material is obviously the strongest, and Tylion and Bennet aren’t exactly slouches either. Similar to Snyder, both writers mix horror and action scenes well, although none of their dialogue ever hits as hard as Synder’s does. It’s almost a bit of a unfair comparison, as neither of those two have Greg Capullo to work with. The story written by Gerry Duggan is antiquate: not the best Batman story in this volume, but nothing wrong with it, and it looks great. Matteo Scalera was a perfect fit to draw a Batman story, and his stylistic take on the character is fantastic.

Batman Volume 6: The Graveyard Shift is a weird anthology of sorts. The Snyder/Capullo issues are great, and anyone who’s dug their work in the past won’t be disappointed. The other issues require some knowledge of the going-ons in other DC comics, but are enjoyable none the less. It’s not the best collection of Bat-Material in this run, but it’s a fun little collection of stories that will hold you over until Endgame is reprinted. A shame it’s not as accessible as the past collections have, but that’s not really on the creators as it is on whoever decide to collect the book like this.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Memorial Day Lateness

4339743-uxm34Uncanny X-men #34

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

As I’ve said plenty of times in the past, the strongest issues of Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-men run have been the done in ones. UXM #34  is another done in one, so it’s safe to say you can another positive review from me for this title.

One of the things Bendis did early in his run was set up a cool Mystique Vs Dazzler feud. It’s something I’ve enjoyed because they’re 2 of my favorite mutants, and it’s lead to a cool Kris Anka (who draws this issue) redesign for Dazzler. With the Bendis run coming to an end soon October,  he uses this issue to wrap up that plot up in a satisfying way.

One of the reasons why this issue worked for me was it gave Dazzler some much needed focus and characterization. She joined the team shortly before the Charles Xavier retcon a go-go arc, but was quickly delegated to a background character role. She’s a lead character here, and Bendis gets a lot out of her in 20 pages. It also helps that Bendis get to bounce her off of Maria Hill, a character he co-created and has a massive amount of experience writing. His take on Mystique is also rad, as he handles her with a certain degree of sympathy that makes the character relatable even though she’s a bit of a monster. Aside from the Dazzler & friends related business, we get to  check in on the new students who are currently without a school. Bendis drops some hints that he has some plans for them to be revealed soon, and I’m curious to see what they are. It’s been a bit of a challenge to get new mutants to stick around for an extended period of time, and I’m curious to see if Bendis has any ideas on how to change that with his generation of  “X-kids”.

Kris Anka was the best choice to draw this issue, as he is great at drawing female characters and can convey the proper emotions needed for this story. His body language is really strong, and it shows in this issue, especially since there’s a lot of scenes involving 2 or more character standing/sitting around chatting. Anka’s work is exceptionally clean, and Marte Gracia‘s coloring keep the book looking fresh, giving Anka’s minimalist style a much needed sense of dimension.

Uncanny X-men 34 is another fine single issue that tell a story within 20 pages and will warrant an immediate re-read. It’s not the best this run has seen, but it’s definitely worth the price of admission if you’ve been enjoying this incarnation of X-men

Kaptara_02Kapatara #2

Chip Zdarsky/Kagan McLeod

Image, $3.50

Kaptara #2 is a fine comic, but I’ll be honest: the art is wasted on the monthly format. Artist Kagan McLeod‘s work is so good, it begs to be put in one of those oversize albums (Hardcovers as their known as in the States) the European market gets because they appreciate the medium better. This  absolutely bizarre but incredible looking take on the Masters of the Universe universe deserves an over-sized hardcover at the very least. McLeod’s art, especially his character designs, are hard to describe properly. They’re extremely odd, but are flowing with creativity that it’s worth admiring. Everything from the body language, to the layouts to the environments are so unique, and have just the right amount of comedy to remind you that this is not exactly the most serious book. The best way to describe it would be those old  Sunday morning newspaper strips with a modern Adult Swim twist.

Writer Chip Zdarsky‘s second efforts on this book are a improvement from the previous issue. The main character Keith is given some much needed drive, and the characters from the previous issue also get their fair share of development. Chip and Kagan also introduce several new characters that are also as equally amusing and well designed, expanding the cast quite a bit. Now that the general premise is explained, Chip gets a little more room to breath, and the book benefits greatly from it.

Kaptara #2 is insanity on paper, but also gorgeous. It’s unpredictable, hilarious and something genuinely unique, which something both the readers and the industry benefits from.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Star Wars References edition

STK671573Saga #28

Fiona Staples/ Brian K Vaughan

Image, $2.99

It’s been awhile since Saga’s crippled me emotionally. But we’re 4 issues deep into this current arc, so I guess it was due, and  yes, that is my spoiler warning for this review.

Issue 28 sees another cast member die.  Granted there’s a very small chance it’s a fake out, it seems very final, given  how it plays out. Oddly enough, the scene is actually pretty hilarious, especially with the final words being what they are (I will not reprint them here due to not wanting to spoil the death, and also because a naughty word is featured prominently). But that’s the thing about Saga; Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples are great storytellers, so getting a range of emotions from me out of a single scene isn’t exactly a shocker. I am curious if the 3 final word of this issue were drawn by Staples, or was the work of Saga’s letter Fonografiks, but either way the fonts nicely match the illustration.

In addition to a funny yet still tragic death, Saga #28 has the poop hitting the fan for our cast. The majority of the lead characters find themselves in various types of trouble, and those who aren’t will be soon enough. What has started as a simple Romeo and Juliet in Star Wars story has expanded into so much more, without being too bloated or confusing, and having plenty of character defining moments.

After a relatively slow and safe start, Saga is back to being the monthly tear jerker I’ll gladly drop $3 on. It’s another fine issue that I’m sure is going to play out great, as it has time and time again. Also that is sarcasm.

 

 

STK670957Ms Marvel #15

G Willlow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

My friend Ashley recently described Ms Marvel as being cuter than several baby snow owls . She’s not wrong mind you, but this issue is equally parts adorable in some areas as it is a ::: channels his inner Stan Lee ::: action packed thrilling adventure in the Mighty Marvel Manner. Also Jack Kirby did nothing when we we-okay, that’s enough Stan the Man channeling.

Ms Marvel #15 wraps up the “Crushed” arc, a three part saga which saw Ms Marvel fall for a boy and get dragged into whatever the heck has been happening in those Inhuman comics I don’t read. Khamala has to deal with a betrayal and some crushed emotions, while her BFF Bruno attempts to save the day.

Writer G Willow Wilson‘s dialogue continues to be as fresh at it is clever. Some of the jokes may feel dated in a few years, but for the time being they work and feel relevant. Also Ms Marvel does some growing in this issue (both literally and figuratively), and when she learns her lesson, it feels genuine, without every coming across too hokey after school special. Also much like Captain Marvel this week, Wilson sneaks in a very cute Star Wars reference, as one that’s bound to lead to some major repercussions soon.

On the visuals, fill-in artist Takeshi Miyazawa pencils and inks are really something. Miyazawa style is very much more looser and detailed oriented this time around, making it look like the book’s regular art style, but more expressive and Manga-liked. It’s great, and Ian Herring‘s colors keep it looking fresh.

Ms Marvel is an absolute delight of a comic, which is nothing new for this series. Things are getting pretty serious for our lead, but the book remains faithful to it’s youthful and fun vibe. Secret Wars tie in time is around the corner though, so I’m curious to see if this will keep up, and more importantly, to see Ms Marvel FINALLY meet her idol.

 

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Take a Comic Book History Tour of New York City

New York City is the birthplace of the comic book, and I’m pleased as punch to announce that Forbidden Planet’s sponsoring a series of walking tours in which you can experience the medium’s rich history firsthand. The folks over at ETC Custom Events are offering the following sojourns, titled “New York is Comic Book Country.” There’s an email address at the end of this article. Reach out to them if you’re interested in any or all of these fascinating tours.

ETC Custom Events,walking tour, geek tour, comic book tour, new york city tours

It Started on Yancy Street

Ranging from the birthplace and childhood neighborhood of “King of Comics” Jack Kirby — co-creator of Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and scores more — to the laboratory of Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2, this tour through the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village shows guests a veritable history of comic-book lore in New York. You’ll see Peter Parker’s pad in Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3, the site of Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, the original home of both All-American Comics (where the Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and the Justice Society of America all began) and EC (Tales from the Crypt, Mad), the campus of Marvel’s “Empire State University” and much more. The tour ends at Forbidden Planet, the be-all and end-all of comic books, graphic novels and comics collectibles. We’ve got some surprises in store (pun intended), both along the way and at the final stop. This is a great one for all comics True Believers.

Look — Up in the Sky!

The amazing lobby of the skyscraper where Timely (later Marvel) Comics began sets the stage for our midtown Manhattan tour, which takes sightseers to such venues as the W.R. Grace building (site of the Silver Surfer’s flight from the Human Torch in Fantastic Four: Rise of the SilverSurfer), the lair of Superman’s Lex Luther below Grand Central Terminal, and the home of the famed Daily Planet. Along the way, you’ll peek into Midtown Comics, see the sites of the Baxter Building and the Stark Tower (film version), and maybe even hang out right where the Avengers staged an epic battle. We’ll see where DC Comics got started and where the original Captain Marvel (Shazam), Human Torch and Sub-Mariner were born — not to mention Superman and Batman. Bank on a few surprise extras and a bunch more stops en route. Want even more? For the true devotee (or those with extra-sturdy sneakers) this one has several optional stops — ask us about them.

Avengers Assemble!

Stan Lee’s inspiration for the Avengers Mansion came from a real mansion right here in New York, and it’s the first stop on our uptown comic-book themed tour. Learn about the current headquarters of Marvel (you’ll even pop into a Marvel staff hangout). You’ll pass the former homes of two comics superstars, mosey on over to the site of Stark Tower (which might now be under construction), wander by the art studio of a brilliant but reclusive comics legend, and see other cool stuff as you explore the comic-book world here in NY. Ask us about a special add-on: A visit to MoCCA (the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) for a brief tour.

All tours available Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Feeling devil-may-care and spontaneous? Email us about our next-day tours, Thursday-Monday: Book a tour the following day for a 10-percent discount. Email us: eventsbyetc@gmail.com for info and to book a tour!

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Troy’s Toys but with WAUGH: Howard the Duck #3 edition

DIG057129_1Howard the Duck #3

Chip Zdarsky/Joe Quinones/Joe Rivera/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Things I didn’t know I wanted from comics: Howard the Duck teaming up with Aunt May.

Things I now have from comics: Take a guess genius, and then read 500 words about Howard the Duck #3, which is easily the funniest comics numbered 3 that I’ve read this year.

Creators Zhip Cdarsky (spelling Chip’s name wrong is always cool and funny according to Sex Criminal Solicits and Tumblr!) and Joe Quinones’ take on Howard the Duck continues to impress with this third issue, in which said Duck and said Aunt attempt to solve some crime after the time honored traditional fight/robbery at gun point (I swear that all makes sense in context, read the book and see how right I am). This collaboration involves going under cover, fighting the elderly, and more Spider-Man crying, three things that continue to make this book sound like a fever dream, but are real and also quite enjoyable.

Joe Quinones is a talent artist who I’ve seen drawn many a pretty lady throughout his career, but apparently he’s also good at drawing old people, all types of  ducks and Z-list Marvel villains. It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that his talents allow him to blend all these things together without anything sticking out, but it’s constantly impressive. Quinones usually handles pencils and inks by himself, but he’s joined by Joe Rivera this month, something I wouldn’t have know if it wasn’t listed in the credits. Rivera’s matches Quinones’ style perfectly, and I could not tell who inked what. Rico Renzi’s coloring is also fantastic, giving the characters a cool 3-D effect that makes them pop out from the pages a bit, and stand out from their environments.

This month they’re joined by Jason Latour, who also did some fun stuff with Aunt May this month (FYI I resisted making so many May puns) in Spider-Gwen last week. Jason draws a backup story that’s so New York you would swear it was written by a Gothamist columnist. Latour’s style is a lot more pulp and abstract compared to Quinones, but is great looking none the less. Also his take on a certain iconic Marvel character is rad as hell, and I want to see him draw him more in the future.

Chip Zdarsky is a NICE boy who is also hilarious and Canadian. His comedic writing skills are in full force here, giving the readers a ton of content to digest. There’s a ton of humor and character development crammed into this book, but none of it feels forced. We’re beginning to see some running gags form, and they still seem fresh, even though some of them are related to some deep cuts from Marvel’s past.  Chips shows some amazing amount of restrain, even with everything coming at the reader so fast, and the comic is better for it.

Howard the Duck is not unlike Chip’s other big book Sex Criminals in a few ways, as both are great looking, hilarious, and have a surprising amount of heart at times. Oh as of issue 3, lead characters who are often naked. It’s well worth your time and money, despite how I’m making the wholw thing sound.

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Walking in the Spider Webs edition.

Spider-Gwen_Vol_1_4_TextlessSpider-Gwen #4

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodriquez/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Gwen #4 aka, the issue where writer Jason Latour gets a lot of mileage from a bunch of dead people.

In a relatively quiet installment of Spider-Gwen, as we have our lead hanging out with May and Ben Parker, two characters who’ve played massive parts in Peter’s life but rarely got interact the world around them as a living couple. Here we get to see the two of them bounce off of Gwen in a world where Peter is dead, and even with that in mind, the results are really heart warming. While we’ve seen a similar Peter-less Gwen/May dynamic explored before in Ultimate Spider-Man, but things play out slightly different here. The Ben/Gwen stuff is great, despite it being a quick scene. Latour’s wonderful dialogue and Robbi Rodriquez‘s art really make it a memorable, and I’m excited to see these characters in the book more in the future. We also get some more Captain Jean DeWolffe, a long gone Spider-Man supporting character who’s given a new dynamic thanks to these talented creators.

Half the fun of Spider-Gwen is seeing how different the world she habits is from the 616. And while it hasn’t stopped being charming, it’s nice seeing these characters form deep relationships and bonds in a short amount of time. It continues to be a great looking book that’s equally charming and emotionally, not unlike the classic Lee/Dikito Spider-Man run.

SWOMAN2014007_CovSpider-Woman  #7

Dennis Hopeless/ Javier Rodriguez/Alvardo Lopez/Muntsa Vicente

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of Spider-Woman, here were have the O.G. Spider-lady Jessica Drew. We’re 3 issue into this run (ignore that number seven), and I am still marveling over how much this book has improved now that Javier Rodriguez has taken over artistic duties.

It’s rare to have a comic have something impressive about every page in it, but that’s the only fair description of Rodriguez’s contributions to this comic. We got a hints on how great his panel placement and layouts during his guest stint as a penciler on Daredevil and his work on AXIS: Hobgoblin, but his art is on a whole other level here. It’s equal parts Chris Samnee and Marcos Martin, but still it’s own style. Rodriguez is the next big thing in term of comics art, and Spider-Woman #7 is proof of that.

As good as Javier is, he obviously not the only reason why this book is as good as it is. Alvardo Lopez’s inks are tight and clean, perfectly in sync with Rodriguez’s line art. And Munsta Vincete‘s contributions as colorist are crucial, as he gives the book a clean and bright look with some really bold imagery at times. The art is on POINT, as is Dennis Hopeless‘ writing. Hopeless’s dialogue sounds as good as the book looks, as the arc takes an interesting turn, and introduces a fantastic new locale to the Marvel Universe.

Under a lesser creative team, a book like Spider-Woman would risk being redundant, especially with Spider-Gwen and Silk being as good as they are, especially in the visuals department. But this team has made this book both the heir to the Waid/Samnee Daredevil run as well as the Spencer/Lieber Superior Foes of Spider-Man. It’s visually amazing, hilarious, clever and slowly becoming the book I read first when I buy my comics.

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