Category: Comics

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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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Secret Avengers #15

Hey gang you know what’s cool? Allergies that lead into in nasal infection. Which really knocks the wind out of your sails. But I’ve over it, and giving you an review that should have been up last week! That’s…something right?

Anway, here’s my final review for Secret Avengers, which will be followed by a Secret Wars review, because Secret is the new Uncanny at Marvel, or it’s not, I dont know, adjectives are confusing.

 

backgroundSecret Avengers #15

Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Here we have the 3rd final issue of Secret Avengers since 2013. Even in it’s prime, Secret Avengers was never the top selling Avengers book, constantly overshadowed by vanilla and New Avengers, despite seeing some major talent attached to it throughout it’s existence. With Secret Wars coming, and the existence of the Mark Waid’s S.H.I.E.L.D. title, this may be the FINAL Secret Avengers finale for the foreseeable future.

That being said, it’s almost arguably the STRONGEST and consistent run on Secret Avengers to date. Ales Kot, Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson (with Tradd Moore on covers and VC’s Clayton Cowles on letters) managed to deliver 15 excellent consecutive issues month after month, something that’s become rarer and rarer in comics. The quality of the title has never dropped, being one of Marvel’s boldest and brilliant titles in recent history.

Secret Avengers #15 is a surprising quiet issue, with the team having already saved the day and dealing with the fallout. After last month’s action filled issues with a dramatic cliffhanger, it was kind of a shock to see the book end without a single punch or explosion, and letting the reader fill in the blanks. The book focuses mostly on Maria Hill and MODOK, fleshing out the SHIELD commander a bit, while continuing the theme of her and MODOK being on the same side of the coin in a number of ways. Kot has never shyed away from Secret Avengers being a metaphor for his views on the US government, with SHIELD as a stand in for the military, so some of the events and conversations that go down in this comic do not come as a surprise. But it’s definitely and upbeat ending mind you, as Kot expertly sprinkles humor and legit joy masterfully throughout this comic, as he touches upon every major character he’s dealt with in this series, even a big name character no longer with us.

The equally talent Michael Walsh draws the hell out of this finale as well. Walsh’s art is best described as a rougher David Aja, and he’s just as bold and experimental as the former Hawkeye artist. His expressive characters are a treat to look at, and it’s amazing how much emotion Walsh can channel from his simplistic, sketchy style. Matthew Wilson compliment his pencils and inks perfectly, with the Eisner nominated colorist uses a flat yet bright palette. It’s adds a nice warm glow to the book, that pairs well with Wilson heavy lines.

Secret Avengers was a book that had a message that it was not afraid to shy away from, and was pretty bold for a Marvel book. And while it wasn’t as good as the modern cult classic Nextwave, it’s definitely somethings fan of that book can enjoy. It was a strange and often overlooked book from the publisher that’s worth reading. It also gave us of cover with Modok in funny hats, which speaks volumes to me.

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Batman #40

Happy May Forbidden Planet Faithful! Hopefully you had a fine Free Comic Book Day, and found Avengers: Age of Ultron enjoyable as I did. I’m going to do something different this week, as 2 stories that I’ve dug wrapped up, and I’m dedicating an article each to them. First off, let’s take a look at arguably the biggest release of the week, DC Comics’ Batman #40!

Batman_Vol_2_40_ComboBatman #40

Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo/Danny Miki/FCO Plascencia

DC, $4.99

Here we have me being made in to a liar. The type of liar who was willing to drop $5 on a comic, which I’m sure also makes me a double liar of sorts.

As stated here and here, I am not a dude who reads Batman monthly. I am a dude who trade waits it, because it’s very good and reads extremely well collected. HOWEVER, the hype for this issue was insane, the leaks/spoilers for the next arc are as equally crazy, and it was a slow release week. Also I’m bad with money, so I figured why not spend 5 bucks on a comic that is the ending to an arc I’ve only read 1 chapter and two tie in.

Even with putting myself at a disadvantage, I still found myself really loving Batman #40. Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia are in the middle of a legendary run, and this final issue is a brutal emotional experience that really rewards those who’ve been with the book for a while. The Endgame arc has been building up since issue one of the series, with the creative team revealing their hand , showing exactly what from what arcs lead to these events.

For those out of the loop, here’s the general premise of Endgame (also, here be spoilers): The Joker did not take the events of 2012’s Death of the Family too well and has decided to end his beef with Batman once and for all. What this means is turning his infamous laughing gas into a biological weapon, Jokerizing most of Gotham, and the Justice League. Batman managed to stop the JLA, taking them off the playing field for a week, but now has to face a city turned against him while looking into the revelation that the Joker may be some sort of immortal boogeyman. With the odds stacked against him, Batman #40 see the Dark Knight being  forced to make several strange alliances while working with some of his more traditional allies, or risk losing everything.

Scott Snyder holds nothing back with this issue, dropping bombshell after bombshell without giving the reader a chance to recover from any of them. There’s several callbacks his own work on the characters, as those who became before him, including a delightful twist that had me quite pleased. It’s smart and engaging script, which is nothing new for Snyder, but is appreciated none the less, as he does “dark” comics right. They feel important with the stakes raised, but never soul crushing (at least without a good reason).

But ultimately, this comic is Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascenica’s finest hour, as their combined efforts make for an incredible visual experience. Capullo’s panels pack a real punch to them, as his brutal, chaotic and stylized pencils will make you cringe from the violence, yet respect the talent and skill involved. And the way he draws character’s body language and expression helps conveys the emotions so well, it’s like he reading Snyder’s script to you in person.  Danny Miki‘s inks are equally impressive, with his use of heavy black ink giving this book a creepy, yet slick look. And Plascenica really brings everything together, with his palette giving this book an emotional weight it needs to convey the story it’s telling properly.

With 30 something issues under their belts (there’s been a few guests artists and writers), it’s impressive how good this creative team has been on this title. There’s a reason why Batman is the flagship DC book, and it’s nice to see this team tell the type of stories they want to tell with little to no editorial interference. Endgame is yet another triumph for Snyder, Capullo and friends, and it’s exciting to see what they’ll do next come June.

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Troy’s Toys, But with Comics: Yet more Image debut editions

Kaptara-coverKaptara #1

Chip Zdarsky/Kagan McLeod

Image $3.50

KAPTARA: The comic where you come for Chip Zdarsky’s action figure fan fiction but stay for the gorgeous art by Infinite Kung Fu’s Kagan McLeod….as well as for the insanity of Churp’s action figure fan fiction.

“When Kaptara was first announced, I didn’t know what to make of it except for GAY SAGA will read many a comic journalist review of this book. I may be paraphrasing, but it did honestly feel like Zdarsky and McLeod were relatively tight lipped about the book until its release. Which I’m fine with, I don’t need the damn thing spoiled and dissected before it comes out (see: Avengers: Age of Ultron).

That being said, Kaptara isn’t as strong script wise as Howard the Duck was. Our main lead isn’t exactly the most likable, which I’m fine with, as I dig flawed main characters. That being said, not much of the supporting cast has much to going on either, so it’s kind of a drag in that department. It does pick up once things are planet-side, and once the series’ premise is explained a bit more, Kaptara’s cast and narrative  get FAR more interesting. It also helps that McLeod gets to flex his artistic muscles a bit more as the book progresses, giving us the goods and forests made of MURDER!

Kagan McLeod’s art is the reason you should buy this book. While Zdarsky may not be at his strongest in the premiere, Kagan certainly is, and it shows in the art. It’s equal parts Ryan Ottley and Sean Murphy, but with a European-esque vibe to it, making it entirely trippy, but unique. This is especially true once the book is set on Kaptara, where we’re treated to some really well executed action scenes and wonderfully odd character designs.

Kaptara is a fun comic oozing with potential. Now that Chip is done with introductions, I’m sure the script side of things will only improve, all while Kagan’s art will continue to impress and amaze.

STK666093Beyond Belief #1

Ben Acker/Ben Blacker/Phil Hester/Eric Gapstur/Mauricio Wallace/Marshall Dillon

Image, $3.50

CLINK!

Let’s be honest for a section: comics adaptions of other mediums tend to have a spotty track record. Not everything can be Mark Waid and the Dodsons on a Star Wars book, because not every property is Star Wars, and not every comics writer can be Waid. HOWEVER, some mediums lend themselves better to comics, which is exactly the case with The Thrilling Adventure Hour’s Beyond Belief Image comic debut.

Translating the popular podcast done in an old timey radio to a comic is something THA creator’s Ben Acker and Ben Blacker have done before with Arcadia Press to much success. Now with Image, they get to tell episode length stories in comics, enlisting veteran artist Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur and Ande Parks to tell the tale of Frank and Sadie Doyle. For those not in the know, the Doyles are an upper class couple who deal with spooky ghosts and their ilk, usually highly intoxicated. That is literally my #SQUADGOAL FYI.

With the Bens on board, the book sounds like an extended episode of the podcast, which is great for a fan like myself. Phil Hester’s art is also welcomed, as his work is clean is smooth and crisp, capturing both the humor and horror elements of Beyond Belief perfectly. It’s enhanced greatly by Gapstur and Parks inks, which are heavy on the shadowing but not to the point of saturation, but on a comfortable enough level that it blends perfectly with Marshall Dillion’s colors.

Beyond Belief #1 does an excellent job of introducing people not familiar with the Doyles to the TAH hour with a nice back up explaining how Frank and Sadie met. It’s incredibly new reader friendly, and fans of Beyond Belief should dig it as well. It’s a fun horror comic that isn’t too spooky, but not silly enough not to be compelling. It’s highly welcomed if your looking for something a little more off beat.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: C2lateagain

Hey, sorry for the delay (again) folks, but I just got back from c2e2 in Chicago, aka, NYCC’s Midwestern sister convention! I had a delightful time watching Chip Zdarsky hug/tackle people and scored some neat swag, but have very little to report aside from thinking that title for that 3rd Frank Miller Dark Knight book is a BAD idea. I do have plentiful comics to review though, so you can settle for that and what typos are in said reviews.

portrait_incredibleAll New X-Men #40

Brian Michael Bendis/Mahmud Asrar/Rain Beredo

Marvel $3.99

Even with the c2e2 delay, there’s very little chance I’ll be spoiling anything for anyone with this issue of All New X-men. Everyone from your racist high school friend on Facebook to Playboy has chimed in on the issue, and I’m going to do the same, despite dropping the title several issues ago.

When then leaked pages from this issue first hit the internet, I have to admit, I was slightly concerned about the content. Brian Michael Bendis is a plenty nice guy, but he’s also a straight white guy, and the sort of story requires a certain amount of finesse and maybe even some life experience to pull off correctly. However, once I actual read the comic and saw that the leaked images left out some important pages and panels, I was quite pleased with what had gone down.

All-New-X-Men-40-2-1429646420All New X-men #40 is the story of Jean Grey confronting Bobby Drake about his sexuality, which means 2 teenagers from the 1960s talking about sexual preference in the modern world. While the conversation is a tad problematic, not to mention complicated in that special sort of X-men way, it’s actually fine being so problematic in some aspects. Not everyone coming to terms with their own sexuality is a simple moment in their life, as it can be quite difficult for several reasons, and this comic is a necessary representation of that. Which is great, because even though these 2 characters are time traveling teenagers, it makes the scene and the character feel all the more realistic. It’s representation without a sugar coating, which really show just how good of a writer Brian Michael Bendis is.

anxm40_2Art wise, I’m really not feeling Mamhmud Asrar‘s work this issue. He’s far from bad, but his facial expressions and head shapes don’t work for me. There’s a lot of talking head panels here, and sadly instead of kids, the X-men look more like Mr Potato toys on super heroes bodies, and some odd panel choices kill an attempted joke halfway through the issue.  Asrar also seems to be struggling in body language, and the constant recycling of panels doesn’t help either. Rain Beredo‘s coloring is solid though, giving the book a vibrant look that helps make looking at the dull, lifeless panels less painful. I feel bad ragging on Asrar’s art, and I know following a lengthy run by Stuart Immonen is no easy task, but this is honestly one of the less impressive looking Marvel books I’ve read in quite some time.

All New X-men #40 is a book that succeeds on dialogue alone, and manages to do a lot in 20 pages. The Jean Grey/Bobby Drake conversation is great, some lesser mutant make a welcomed appearance, and apparently Angel has glow wings or something. I guess that was a thing that happened during Apocalypse Siege Per   The Black Vortex or something. Either way, while it may be a tad confusing for those not hype to the events in the last 40 issue of ANXM, it’s still a comic worth looking at just for the Iceman stuff alone. It’s a different take on comics dealing with sexuality, but an important one none the less.

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Free Comic Book Day at Forbidden Planet NYC 2015

Saturday, May 2nd, is Free Comic Book Day and here’s the deal on what Forbidden Planet NYC has planned for this year’s festivities.

First off, if you’re not familiar with FCBD, it’s an annual event on the first Saturday of May wherein participating comic shops all over the world give away comic books for FREE.  Forbidden Planet has participated in FCBD since its inception and has given away hundreds of thousands of comics on throughout the years.

Each year publishers produce comic books intended to be given away that day- often samplers of what they normally publish, or reprints/previews of  first issues and jump-on points of established series.  The full list of what’s available this year can be seen here.

Forbidden Planet NYC will be giving away bags of comics starting at 9am, May 2nd.  All ages bags will also be provided as this is a family-friendly event and there’s little else we like more than comics in the hands of a new generation of readers.  We give away COMPLETE bags of books until we start running out of titles, and will do so as supplies last, so remember to ARRIVE EARLY.

Forbidden Planet NYC FCBD signing with Ed Piskor and Dash Shaw Hip Hiop Family Tree Cosplayers

 

We will also be hosting a special FREE signing with Ed Piskor and Dash Shaw, whose Hip Hop Family Tree/Cosplayers from Fantagraphics is one of this year’s biggest FCBD releases, starting at 12pm.

What’s more, ALL comic books, graphic novels and manga in stock will be ON SALE at 15% OFF for the entire day!!!

The Free Comic Book Day festivities begin when we open at 9am and run until we close at 12 midnight.  I encourage you to come by, pick up some free swag, and save some dough on new reading material.

Gonna be a special, insane-o day, but we’re used to that.  Hope to see you here!

Forbidden Planet NYC is located at 832 Broadway (between 13th and 12th Streets), New York NY 10003. You can contact us by phone at 212-475-6161.

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Date Night Edition

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_33Uncanny X-men #33

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka/ Antonio Fabela

Marvel $3.99

Note: Despite Kitty Pryde and Magik being the focus of the issues, there is zero actual dates in this issue.

This particular issue works on a number of levels. Brain Micahel Bendis uses Marvel continuity to his advantage. Uncanny X-men #33 focuses on Kitty Pryde and Illayana Rasputin’s friendship, while setting the issue on MONSTER ISLAND, which is the best island location in the Marvel Universe. Bendis expertly draws upon both the character’s pasts to tell a compelling story that’s been done a million times before in X-men comics, but everything’s so good the reader doesn’t notice. His voices for these characters ring true and natural, to the point that this may be the best done in one he’s done on Uncanny.

Art wise, the book couldn’t look better. Kris Anka returns to draw this issue, and he’s the perfect fit for it. His Kitty and Magik look great, thanks to Anka’s clean line work and Antonio Fabela‘s flawless colors. Anka’s super expressive faces also help with the emotional beats of Bendis’ scripts, making the whole thing feel so genuine and Chris Claremont-esque. MOST IMPORTANTLY, he channels some serious Wally Wood/Jack Kirby when it comes to drawing the massive residents of Monster Island. He’s a great enough talent that he can mix those gold and silver age era character designs with the modern age looks of Kitty and Magik  and have it look natural. Well as natural as you can get in an X-men comic.

This particular issue of Uncanny X-men rewards you based on how long you’ve been with the franchise. There’s some calls back to the book’s earlier days, and it definitely has that nice, Claremont era vibe to it, without feeling too much like fan fiction. It’s fun read that now only showcases some great art, but shows how good Bendis is when he focuses on a dense done in one issue.

Ms.-Marvel-14-CoverMs Marvel #14

G Willow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

NOTE: This issue very much has dates and emotions, justifying the title of this article.

It’s been a few months since I’ve wrote about Ms Marvel, but it’s not like I stopped reading the book. It’s been consistently excellent, but much like Saga, it was getting to the point I was running out of ways to praise it. This month’s issue isn’t any less excellent that those non-reviewed issues, but there’s a particular scene I want to talk about.

Said scene is between Khamala’s older brother Aamir, and her bff/boy with a secret crush Bruno. SPOILERS, said moment involves both males discussing Bruno’s crush on Khamala, her new male friend who she’s clearly sweet on, and why it would never work between Ms Khan and her bestie. It’s scene we’ve seen before in all sorts of media, but writer G Willow Wilson brings a cultural spin on it that makes for a really compelling 2 pages. It gives a good reason for it to not happened, which in turn makes it all the most fascinating.

That is not to say Khamala is a no factor in this comic. Our spunky lead is dealing with her first crush, and it results in her being dragged closer to the shared Marvel Universe. Fill in artist Takeshi Miyazawa  (who ironically was also the back up artist on regular series artist Adrian Alphona’s run on Runways) line work is great, slightly more focused and manga-esque than Alphona’s but beautiful none the less. Ian Herring‘s superb colors helps Miyazawa’s art stay in constant with how the title looks normally, without taking away from his particular spin on Ms Marvel and her cast.

Ms Marvel #14 is another delightful issue from one of the best comics on the stand today. It’s a wonderful series that never disappoints and constantly entertains, and it will be interesting to see if this issue’s cliffhanger will play out next month.

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Childhood Flashbacks editions

There are currently 12 unwatched episodes of Daredevil in my Netflix queue right now, please note that I took time to write this article instead of ODing on DD.

Saga_27-1_300_462Saga #27

Fiona Staples/Biran K Vaughan

Image Comics $2.99

I’ve been running out of ways to complement Saga. Each issue is a 20 page celebration of comics, with the creators doing their damnedest to show exactly  why they’re the best what this medium is capable of. This month’s issue is no exception, as Fiona Staples and Brain K Vaughan show off their full range of talents.

Issue 27 has Fiona Staples drawing everything from odd/unusual erotica, to grotesque violence, to absolutely adorable thanks to tiny sealman/my favorite character Ghus. Ghus in particular is an fine example of Staples’ artistic skills, as she manages to convey a lot of character and emotion in a character with a comparatively simplistic design. There’s also some really powerful emotional beats that Staples hit without the assistance of BKV’s words. While she’s never been anything less than impressive, this particular arc of Saga may be Staples finest work to date. I couldn’t think of a better artist to see their name listed before the writer’s name in the credits page.

Brain K Vaughan continues to be the very best at what he does when it comes to dialogue and the script, snikt. We get to take another glimpse of Marko’s past in this issue, and the stuff revealed in the flashbacks is brutal, but compelling none the less. He also injects some much needed humor in places that helps ease the tension, as well as remind us how delightful these characters are. Vaughan’s words are overshadowed by the art at times, but it never feels like he’s coasting on Staples talents.

Saga is still very much the best book on the market, and this issue is just further proof of that.

portrait_incredible (1)All New Hawkeye #2

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

AWWW, Fact: This is the 2nd Hawkeye #2 in which a/the Swordsman is a crucial element to the plot!

This 2nd issue of All New Hawkeye is a slight improvement over the previous issue, but I’m still a tad confused over the direction of the title. The book continues to be split between the past and present, but the present sections continue to feel like an after though. Ramon Perez and Ian Herring certainly do some cool stuff with this book’s visuals, but it genuinely does feel like writer Jeff Lemire prefers re-telling Clint’s origin than moving his Hydra/creepy-ass children plot forward.

To be fair, the Circus flashback segments are fairly enjoyable, even with the art being a little uneven in places. The sketchy art looks a tad incomplete at times, but Ian Herring’s colors really help enhance it a ton. The modern segments look slightly better, as Perez channeling David Aja suits his style better. Lemire is still struggling with the Hawkeyes banter, but it’s improving.

All New Hawkeye #2 is a much needed step in the right direction, although it’s not quite there yet. Hopefully the next issue will continue to improve in quality, and this book will be on par with the previous creative team’s efforts.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with comics: Platinum Blondes edition

backgroundSpider-Gwen #3

Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriquez, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Gwen #3 lacks scumbag Matt Murdock for SOME reason, but writer Jason Latour slips in a Wu-Tang Clan reference, so I guess i can let it slide.

This issue is heavy on fights, which is great, because it allows Robbi Rodriquez to go all out on the layouts. Rodriquez uses a lot of unique “camera angles” and hyper exaggerated body language to sell the fight scenes, lead to some over the top and more importantly visually stunning panels. Rico Renzi’s green heavy color palette is very crucial to this, making this book pop, drawing the reader in more than a lesser colorist would. There’s also some very fun and creative uses of sound effects in this comic, reminding me more of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim film adaption than the tradition comics sound effects. The end product is a comic that feels very loose, bright and chaotic, but so visually appealing you can’t help but love it.

Jason Latour’s scripts are getting tighter and tighter with every issue. He ramps up the traditional Spider-related drama and action with this issue, but he continues to add new elements to story to make things interesting. An important character to the Spider-mythos makes his debut this issue, and while it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, the execution makes it seem fresher than it actually is. I know that seems like a backhanded compliment, but it’s pretty impressive given how long the Spider-Man concept has existed.

Spider-Gwen continues to be a delight month after month. It gives off an fresh indie vibe unlock any other Marvel book, despite being tied to such an iconic comics character. Latour, Rodriquez and Renzi are so in sync with each other for a relatively new creative team, it’s scary to think how much better this team will get with every issue.

GA02Gotham Academy Endgame

Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Jeff Stokely, Jenny Donovan, Cilo Chiang, Joy Ang, Vera Brosgol, Sonia Oback

DC $2.99

Once again I have bought another Endgame tie-in, despite not having bought a single issue of Batman proper in years (#tradewait). Also once again, I am charmed by a Endgame tie in.

While crazies and shipping delays overrun Gotham, Maps, Olivia and Pomeline are having a sleepover of sorts, swapping SPOOKY stories that are Joker-related. It’s a lot like that episode of Batman: The Animated Series where kids sit around swapping Batman stories, and I can’t help to think that this issue may be a homage to it. It’s also a surprisingly gruesome issue in some parts, which I guess makes sense given its semi Joker related.

Sadly, Karl Kerschl couldn’t draw this issue, so he’s replaced with 4 different artists. While I’m crazy over the art that sets up each story, Jenny Donovan, Cilo Chiang, Joy Ang, Vera Brosgol, and Sonia Oback all come through on their shorter stories. The end product is a bit uneven, but good none the less. It’s also nice to see DC let new talent work on one of their more highly acclaimed titles.

On the script/dialogue side of things, there’s a lot of good stuff from regular writers Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan. Using the campfire spookum stories as a framing device, the duo cleverly incorporate horror movie clichés and folklore into their Jokers tales, making for some fascinating results. Sadly thanks to to the slightly amateurish and rough at times art by Jeff Stokley, the book suffers in places.

Gotham Academy Endgame is a nice showcase for new talent, but it’s strictly for GA fans only. It’s not exactly a good introduction to anyone coming by from Batman proper, but regular Gotham Academy readers should get a kick out of it.

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Wicked Academy

WickedDivine_09The Wicked & The Divine #9

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

KIERON GILLEN IS A JERK!

He’s not really. I’ve met him several time, if anything he’s the complete opposite. But man, this issue of The Wicked and the Divine ends on a bummer of a cliffhanger.

Gillen’s pacing has been incredible throughout the series. The previous issue of #WicDiv ended on saucy note, and this issue lead up to believe sexy times were instore for everyone. That couldn’t be any farther than the truth, as we’re instead treated to a few reveals, some heartbreak, and some choice dialogue by KG once again.

Surprising no one, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson are still in top form with the art for this book.  McKelvie reminds us just how good he is by giving a trio of familiar supporting characters a new look, and it’s gorgeous. McKelvie excels at designing and redesigning character, so I shouldn’t be surprised the end results are as good as they are, but I’m impressed time after time.  Wilson remains equally important, as his choice in colors for these character really give them a visual style that helps win the reader over.

Wicked and Divine volume 2 continues to be a consistent and stellar read. The WicDiv fandom has come to expect certain things from a Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson project, and they deliver in usual  fashion again with this is, despite its being quite brutal at times.

 

 

 

STK666956Gotham Academy #6

Brenden Fletcher/Becky Cloonan/Karl Kerschl/Mingue Helen Chen/Msassyk/Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

Guys, I’m not sure if I get this message across in my reviews, but this is the BEST time to be reading comics.

Gotham Academy wraps up its first arc, and it’s delightful. It’s funny that arguably the most light hearted of the Bat-titles, this is the book that has Batman come off as a villian. Obviously he and Croc has a history that says otherwise, but a teenager with mom issues may see the Bat in a different light. Batman’s extended appearance doesn’t detract from the feel and tone of the book though, as it shakes things up a bit and takes the book in some interesting directions. The most  shocking being the tease of the addition of a established Bat-character who’s presence is welcomed and makes a ton of sense.

Karl Keschl gets some help on the art end of things from Mingue Helen Chen and style wise it couldn’t be better. While it’s not as bright & colorful as Keschl’s art, it’s definitely beautiful in its own way, channels the same animation vibe, and fits the narrative quite well. Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher are in top form, writing very believable kids & a very rich and interesting world. In the span of 6 issues, these  5 kids have been given an impressive amount of depth in such a short period of time, and it kills me I’m going to have to wait until June before we re-visit this world again.

Gotham Academy #6 is another great installment of the best Batman book no one’s reading. Hopefully the new addition to the cast will get the book some new readers, because I would hate to see it end after the next arc.

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