Category: Comics

Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #4 & Grayson #10

portrait_incredible (3)All New Hawkeye #4

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Following in Hawkeye volume one’s footprints, All New Hawkeye is back after a slight delay. #BURN A reverse of the previous issue sees the bulk of the issue being dedicated to the drawn out Clint and Barney origins, with the final panel of the page being dedicated to the present, with Clint and Kate dealing with the three spooky children the Hawkeyes liberated from Hydra. Much like the previous issue, those panels are mostly dialogue free, and I find them the most interesting, as it feels more in the same vein as the previous volume, and Ramon Perez more simplistic style looks gorgeous. Ian Herring‘s colors perfectly capture the style used by Matt Hollingsworth for these scenes, yet his best stuff is saved for the flashback material. Here we see a lot of interesting uses of purples and blues clashing against a brighter color which clash nicely with the muted art work.

HawkeyeBWith the origin-story stuff taking the point again for this issue, I find myself slightly less invested with this issue. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great and genuinely do like what Jeff Lemire has set up with the brothers Barton. But ultimately it’s not a story I want to read. Clint’s origin is arguably one of the least interesting aspects of the character, because who wants to read about the circus in 2015 right? I applaud Lemiere and Perez doing something different, but I much prefer Clint and Kate arrowing it up in Brooklyn than I do Hawkeye babies.  Especially after 4 issues, or in Lemire’s case, a hunk of his career. Also it really clashes with the promise of more Kate Bishop, who’s barely in this issue.

All New Hawkeye #4 takes some neat artistic risks, but I’m tired of this origin story. The modern stuff is far more compelling, and hopefully there’s more of that after this arc.

 

Grayson-10Grayson #10

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

Grayson continues to be a god send to the character of Richard “Booty Booty Booty” Grayson. Ol’ Dick (heheheh) has been on bit of quality decline ever since the new 52 started, but his role as a spy has given him a much needed shot in the arm that Dick hasn’t seen since Grant Morrison and friends made him Batman. Grayson #10 is the second installment of the “Nemesis” arc, which finds that boy Grayson amiss of a murder mystery where he is the main suspect. Oh and Lex Luthor shows up, which is big, because Lex is one of the reasons Dick had to fake his death to begin with. It’s compelling stuff, with some really engaging dialogue from Tim Seeley and Tom King and the cliffhanger ending is spectacular.

Grayson-10-ViewOne of the advantages of turning Dick Grayson into a globe spanning hero is Mikel Janin being able to draw the hell out of a number of exotic locations in a single issue. Two moments that stand out to me visually were the scene in Madrid early in the book, and later when Lex and Dick meet in Corscia. Aside from drawing the prettiest of people, Janin draws some gorgeous scenery, beautifully colored by Jeremy Cox. Cox is also another fantastic artist, managing to mix channel travel brochure quality colors as well as Jim Steranko SHIELD era stuff. Coz is easily one of the most underrated colorists in the business and pairing him with Mikel Janin has produced some incredible looking art. Meanwhile, Seeley and King continue to provide a solid and entertaining script with some really smart and fun dialogue.

Grayson #10 is another fine installment of a book that got me back into DC Comics. It’s spy drama and super heroics at it’s best, and I’m glad to see the team’s first multi-issue storyline going so well.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #9

SWOMAN2015009-Cov-c2f18Spider-Woman #9

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel $3.99

Javier Rodriguez is a beast y’all.

I’ve been a fan of both Spider-Woman and Javier for awhile. Jessica Drew is my wife’s favorite Avenger, and Rodriguez won me over back when he was coloring Daredevil. Putting him on Spider-Woman with that slick Kris Anka designed costume was a gift, and this issue may arguably be his most impressive work to date.  It also helps that he and writer Dennis Hopeless are channeling other quirky creator driven books like Superior Foes of Spider-Man, the aforementioned Daredevil and Hawkeye with this incarnation of Spider-Woman.

4691358-2+swoman2014009_int2-1Issue 9 kicks off the 2nd arc of this team’s run, which sees J-Drew, reporter Phil Urich, and reformed Z-list villain the Porcupine hit the road to help folk across the country deal with the various weirdness one would face as a denizen in the Marvel Universe. This results in the Porcupine not being the most obscure villain to show up in this book, which says a lot. It alsot means Rodriguez is able to draw a number of insane fight scenes, all of which are gorgeous and highly detailed. I also like how he also frames his pages, using photos as panels, and doing a lot of interesting things with the sense motion by drawing multiple Jessicas in a single panel. The book seems excessive to the untrained eye, but once you start reading it, the proper flow of events becomes apparent and it’s all very wonderful. And since he doubles as colorist, he uses lighting to his advantage throughout the book. I’m not saying he uses it for some easy outs, no, his pages are crammed full of content, the coloring just helps to guide the reader’s eyes as to where they should be focusing on. And the quality of the colors are worth mentioning, as it’s the first time the digital editions looks as good as the paper version. A lot of books look a lot crisper on a tablet then on paper (ie any DC book I buy) , but Rodriguez someone manages to avoid it. Inker Alavardo Lopez is as equally talented, providing the art with thin clean lines, showcasing just how detailed the art is. The finish product looks like it’s popping off of the page in several instances, making it one of the more eye catching books coming from Marvel.

tumblr_nryvwpapM11qlmthpo1_1280Dennis Hopeless’ Jessica Drew is a fantastic take on the character. She’s flawed – impatient, short tempered, slightly aggressive, but her heroic nature is never in question. It’s nice to see a veteran like Jessica not fall into the model of the good, but boring, role model, as it makes her a tad more relatable then some of her newer peers. She reads more like a more competent Clint Barton (or and adult Kate Bishop if you will) than a sexy Peter Parker, which makes her stands out a ton from the other Spider-female characters. Hopeless also give Porcupine some character, making the newest addition of the cast slightly more lovable. It will be interesting to see if the character will catch on like the Superior Foes of Spider-Man era Sinister Six Five have, but the potential is certainly there.

Spider-Woman #9 is another fantastic issue by a creative team that’s clearly firing on all cylinders. Jessica Drew is a delightful lead, her supporting cast is fun, and the book’s direction is interesting, until it’s interrupted by Secret Wars and relaunched. I can’t recommend it enough, as it’s arguably one of the best super hero books currently available.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Uncanny X-men 35

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_35_TextlessUncanny X-men 35

Brian Michael Bendis, Valerio Schiti, Richard Isanove

Marvel $3.99

Okay real talk (about fictional characters) time: This is a dumb comic.

I realize that there has to be some suspension of belief when dealing with super hero books. It’s fantasy, so things that don’t work in the real world may fly in comics, and cool, I’m down with that. But man, that is not the case with this issue, where I had to turn my brain off to get past a huge plot point.

UNCX2013035_int2_00006Uncanny X-men 35 sees the kids of the former New Xavier Institute go out on their own and try the whole super hero team thing. As a result, the hilariously terrible named Goldballs goes viral and becomes a minor celebrity (because you know, super heroes are a rarity on Marvel Earth 616), until SPOILERS, it’s revealed that he’s a mutant and everyone fears and hates him again. Which I think we’ve seen before with Dazzler in the 80s, but whatever. It’s a fun little cautionary tale and that doesn’t bug me. What does is the whole “Wait he’s a mutant” reveal. I mean the dude runs around with a giant X-belt buckle and with 2 dudes who are rocking big X jackets. Not to mention paling the 3 girls who are clones of wanted terrorist Emma Frost in broad daylight. How did no one know he was an X-man of sorts prior to this reveal, especially when this was hanging out with the literal face of the mutant revolution for months? Did they miss the giant X-plane as well? This book also suffers a number of bad Brian Michael Bendis troupes, such as Avengers-level threats jobbing to Bendis’ new wunderkind, Middle age dad dialogue for teens, a cool cover that has nothing to do with the interior, and jokes that miss that mark by roughly a mile. I’ve generally been a fan of Bendis’ work on this book, but the script for this issue is sadly quite rough.

That being said, there’s a gag involving Emma Frost and her past that really works for me, and appreciate it when Bendis makes little nods to X-godfather Chris Claremont’s numerous contributions to this franchise. And the book starts off and ends well, but 80% of this book’s script and direction really doesn’t work for me.

Comics-072215-UncannyHOWEVER, this issue certainly looks great. Valerio Schiti comes over from Guardians of the Galaxy to fill in for cover artist Kris Anka, and he’s a perfect fit for this book. Valerio’s style is comparable to Anka, although there’s also some hints of Joe Quesada as well, resulting is some softer, yet clean looking takes on the casts. It’s impressive how well these characters look under Valerio, as I’m certain this is the first time he’s drawn them, not to mention he was probably under a deadline crunch as well. I particular;y dig the final few pages of this book, where Schiti draws a scene involving an angry mob quite well, perfectly portraying some real anger and violence and hitting all the proper emotional beats to make the scene really work. Schiti inks himself as well, leaving veteran colorist Richard Isanove to finish the art with a crisp and bright pallet. It’s a fantastic looking book that would have been a buy on sight if the script was a little tighter.

I hate to sound nit picky and aggressive towards this comic, but I’ve re-read it a number of times and remain disappointed with it. I think it’s more so due to the fact the Bendis has been really good on Uncanny X-men for quite a while, so a dud issue hurts more, especially if this is the penultimate issue in his run. It’s really a surprise that the book reads so poorly, as Bendis’ past X-done in one’s have been some of the best issues of this run. Luckily Scitit’s art cushions the blow, making for a great looking coming that just read poorly. This issue is far from a must read sadly, and while I feel bad trashing a creative team I like, it’s something I can’t recommend to anyone at $4.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Hawkeye #22

4677223-hawkeye2012022_dc11-0Hawkeye #22

Matt Fraction/David Aja/Matt Hollingsworth/Chris Eliopoulos

Marvel, $4.99

::: Inspiring quote and or song lyrics tangentially related to Hawkeye’s ending goes here :::

 

RIGHT?!?! HOW RELEVANT IS THAT?

After various delays, 2014’s hottest comic has finally made it into my hands, with the 2015 hot Marvel price of $4.99. To be fair, it’s double sized, AND ALSO FANTASTIC. It’s also (probably) the last time I’ll be spending $5 on a Marvel comic anytime soon I imagine, but that’s a different rant for a different day.

4633438-h2David Aja, Matt Fraction, Matt Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos’ final issue of Hawkeye sees all the key players reunited in Bed Stuy for the last time. It’s the freshly united Hawkeyes, Clint’s neighbors, and Lucky the Pizza Dog vs the Tracksuit Draculas and the Clown for a brutal, but never too graphic, final throw down. This issue is gorgeous, as David Aja goes to town on the visuals, incorporating so many cool nods to past issues without it being too overboard with the references. We get Aja showing off his full range of talents, making this one of the most impressive issues in the series on a technical level. Re-reading these pages invokes memories of modern awesome ultra-violent action flicks like John Wick, Nightcrawler and Drive, all while maintaining the originality and style Aja is known for. I cringed a few times reading this due to the cast taking some nasty hits, but Aja’s excellent framing and some great use of colors from Hollingsworth never made things too graphic. Eliopoulos’ masterful position of work balloons and font choices really ties the whole package together, as it moves the narrative along without interrupting the art. Marvel deserves a lot of credit for letting this team tell it’s story relatively uninterrupted, despite massive shipping delays. I imagine the collected version of this book are going to look amazing over the coming months.

4633437-h1Hawkeye #22 gives us a relatively quiet Matt Fraction. Oh sure, it’s difficult to tell who contributed what with this issue given both Fraction and Aja being listed as Storytellers instead of writer/artist. But it feels Fraction held back on some dialogue to let Aja go nuts on the action. Which is great, because at this point, exposition and banter would only take away from the experience. Hawkeye was always a low stakes book compared to the rest of the Marvel offerings, but thanks to the talent involved in this book, it feel like the most important thing. Fraction still manages to sneak if a few running gags/reoccurring narrative tricks into this script, but this ultimately feels more like David Aja’s show than Fractions. And another upside to this is that when someone speaks, it feels important. Clint drops 2 Die Hard-esque zingers that work way better thanks to Fraction dialogue restrictions, making less ultimately more.

Hawkeye #22 ends arguably one of the most important runs in comics in some time. This book redefined Marvel (see Marvel Now and it’s various incarnations), gave Matt Fraction’s career a well-deserved shot in the arm, and reminded everyone just how good of an artist David Aja is. It in brought people who usually didn’t read Marvel to the company, and gave people interested in comics thansk to the 2012 Avengers film the perfect entry way. It’s a damn fine comic, arguably my favorite, and I hate to see it over. But I’m glad to have an ending on a high note, and am eager for more content from Fraction and Aja and friends in the future.

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #8

STK675909Gotham Academy #8

Becky Cloonan. Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe ,Michele Assarasakorn

DC $2.99

I’ve been trying to make a “The Black Parade” joke for the last five minutes and nothing has materialized. NO WAIT WRONG GERALD WAY PROJECT, CLEARLY THIS CALLS FOR AN UMBRELLA ACAMEDY JOKE? YOU SEE, CAUSE IT’S CALLED GOTHAM ACADEMY, BUT THERE’S UMBREL-I’ll stop now. Also apologies for talking about this book a week after it dropped, I have internet problems which made posting a tad difficult.

Gotham Academy #8 is out, and it feels like a proper beginning for the 2nd arc for this series. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adored last month’s issue, but that felt more like a fun done in one than a proper beginning for the next arc. This issue sees a lot more of the cast return to the book, as well as regular series artist Karl Kerschl. Which, surprising no one, means another great look issue from one of most beautiful DC book currently being put out.

Olive-at-Funeral-e1436861340318Head’s up by the way, this issue a little bit of a bummer compared to last month’s  Maps and Damian Wayne fun timez ©.  For the first time in the series, our lead is Map’s older bro/Prince of Tennis protagonist Kyle, who’s still sweet on Olivia, who really doesn’t want much to do with the boy. On top on dealing with a funeral, our boy Kyle begins to look into the campus’ residential Man Bat, as well and a the new teacher who knows a thing or two about Men who are also Bats.

Writers Becky Cloonan and  Brenden Fletcher goes full CW teen angst and drama which this issue, which has me wondering why a live action Gotham Academy adaption isn’t being actively developed at the moment. It doesn’t get too overbearing, but it’s something unique to this book, and gives it a weird shoujo manga esque edge. We also get a Kyle and Maps team up, which brightens the atmosphere a bit, as Maps is a tiny delightful angel. Olivia also faces a major new development, and it appears that there’s a new g-g-g-host/monster running around the Academy. Again all this, plus #TEENDRAMA crammed into 20 pages is impressive, as the book never feels too crowded. There’s a HUGE advancement with the overall plot for this book, and I’m really curious how it’s going to play out over the next few month.

image9Karl Keschl’s return is also worth celebrating. Granted this book apparently has problem keeping to a single colorist (Michele Assarasakorn would be the 3rd), it still looks incredible. No one draws these characters as well as Keschel, who’s does some fantastic stuff with Maps once she realizes there’s a Man Bat on the campus. Not to dismiss the work done by alternate GA artist Mingjue Helen Chen , but Stewart helped design and define the world of Gotham Academy, and perfectly manages to balance the school stuff with the spooky stuff perfectly. Assarasakorn and senior series colorist Serge Lapointe give Kerschl art a cool, animation cell-esque look and work together so well you can’t tell the two’s styles apart.

Gotham Academy #8 isn’t exactly the happiest comic this creative team has produced, but it’s another solid entry in the series none the less. There’s a new bunch of mysteries to be delve into, and new personal struggles for the kids to overcome, making it equally charming and compelling.

 

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Valiant party at Forbidden Planet TONIGHT!

Valiant-Book-of-Death

Starting at 5pm Forbidden Planet’ll have prizes and giveaways celebrating the kickoff of Valiant’s blockbuster event, BOOK OF DEATH #1!

Prizes and giveaways include:
-Rare Gold book variants of titles including Ninjak and Bloodshot Reborn
-Signed and Numbered Hardcover editions of Bloodshot and X-O Manowar
-Book of Death posters!
-Book of Death checklists!
-FREE #1 Issues!

To win:
To get your hand on a Gold book, come to the counter and give the password GILAD. Be there first, these will go fast!

To get your hand on one of the Signed and Numbered Hardcover editions, you must answer the following trivia question:

What kind of bath does Bloodshot take to replenish his nanites?

Have some fun, get some prizes, and pick up the red hot BOOK OF DEATH #1 on shelves today!

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #30

Saga_30-1_300_462Saga #30

Fiona Staples/Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Hope y’all are ready for another 500 words of praise for Saga. It’s gotten to the point where it’s pointless to praise how good Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan is again, because we all know how excellent they are by now. Talking about their talents seems redundant in a way, so I rather talk about what worked for me in this issue, in great detail. Also spoilers. Heavy, heavy spoilers.

Saga volume 5 has been a high stake concept that started off relatively slow. Volume 4 saw Alanna, her mother in law and daughter abducted by a baby-kidnapping terrorist, forcing her husband Marko to forge an alliance with their enemy Prince Robot IV, and adorable seal man Ghus. MEANWHILE. Marko’s ex Gwendolyn, The Brand, Sophie, and the Lying cat have searching for a cure to get lovable scum bag bounty hunter the Will out of a coma, which lead to an incredibly lewd but dangerous adventure. Issue 30 wraps up both of these arcs, but not in the ways anyone was expecting. Or at ways I wasn’t expecting.

Screen-Shot-2015-07-08-at-12.05.44-PMStaples and BKV get a lot done in this issue, but not all of it is quite the happy ending I was hoping for. Issue 29 was insanely brutal, so while issue 30 isn’t as soul crushing, it’s definitely not an uplifting one in the traditional sense either. There’s several reunions, but not all of them are happy ones, and the one we want the most doesn’t happen. But that’s part of the beauty of this book. Nothing is gratuitous or feel cheap, and character moments are earned, not handed to us. It makes the loss all the more painful sure, but when we get a victory here and there, it feels more important.

This is where things are going to get super spoilery, so head’s up. But I want to talk about 3 moments that stood out to me. First, is the return of the Will. On one hand, the moment should be considered a victory as our squad of awesome lady bounty hunters and their pets manage to succeed on their, but not without losing the Will’s sister. Who’s DEFINITELY DEAD, as she was rip into two and partially eaten.  The Will is less than thrilled by this, and refers to one of characters by a nasty four letter word. In the hands of a lesser creative team, this would come off as hacky at best, offensive at worst. But this team still manages to make the Will feel sympathetic. It’s a rough scene to read, but something crafted flawless. It’s hard to see the fan favorite Lying Cat slink away upset, but it helps set the sense of regret and sorrow that these characters are feeling. It’s powerful scene, and the fact that BKV used such a negative word to make it some emotional only speaks of his talents.

 

img_20150710_000550On the lighter side of things, Marko and Alanna are finally reunited. It’s been 7 issues (which factoring the hiatus, nearly a year) since the two have been in the same setting and it’s a bittersweet reunion. Hazel’s still not back with her parents by the time  this issue ends, but the Marko/Alanna is fine enough without it. Staples’ nails the body language and framing perfectly, while BKV’s narration is perfect. It’s a highlight for the series, which says a lot given the overall quality of the past issues.

And then we have the final page. Which sees Hazel in Kindergarten. This absolutely adorable, hilarious given it’s drawn, and raises a bunch of questions since it’s clear some time has passed  between the final scene with the Will and this scene. This is where Saga is at it’s best. You get an insane amount of pay off, and then a great end of chapter cliffhanger that makes the hiatus less painful. It’s something you can appreciate a bunch as someone who reads the book monthly or in trade.

Issue 30 is a powerful read that’s nothing new for this book. But man, the fact that Saga has been this astonishing for this long is why it’s just won a another bunch of Eisners this back weekend at San Diego.

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Chris’ Comics: Starfire #2

 

STARF_Cv2_552d9445eac847_14180805Starfire #2

 

DC $2.99

Starfire #2 is an interesting comic. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are attempting to do something new with the character, which is an admirable task given how bloated the super hero market is, not to mention an alien trying to fit in on earth is ALSO the premise to one of DC’s most iconic characters. Setting the book in a small Florida city gives it a unique hook and a unique look thanks to artist Emanuela Lupacchino. That being said, why I’m a fan of a the concept of this issue, the actual execution wasn’t as good as I was hoping.

Comics-070915---Starfire-02Case in point: Starfire vs. an actual hurricane (Named Betty incase you were wondering) is an interesting premise. Kori isn’t an exactly a Superman level character ( Well neither is Superman these days but ignore that for now), so it actually poses a threat to the character. The downside to this is that all the emotional beats (AKA characters who are actually expendable) are tied to a lot of characters too new to feel any real attachment too. It is nice to see Starfire actually be an actual hero and try to save everyone, so the book has that going for it. And good for the creators involved for putting out 2 issues of a super hero comics that hasn’t resulted in a slugfest yet. It’s an refreshing alternative to the usual fisticuffs, and it’s cool to see Amanda and Jimmy continue to push Starfire closer to her animated counterpart. The cheesecake from the first issue is also turned down significantly which is good, as the events of this issue really don’t allow for it.

But continuing my roll as a Negative Nelly, something else that irked me slightly about this book was the humor. Granted humor is subjective, a the vast majority of the jokes in this issue didn’t work for me, including a few I wasn’t sure if we’re jokes or plot points. But I’m glad the “Starfire doesn’t understand that word or phrase gag with cute visual cue” has been overused yet, as its one of the jokes in this book that works for me still.

sf-2-panelsI also have ZERO complaints about the visuals. HI-FI‘s colors really sell the sense of danger of this hurricane, and the use of black and blue backgrounds work nice against Starfire’s skin. The book still retains its tropical vibe thanks to HI-FI and Lupacchino, which is something that could have been easily overlooked. And Ray McCarthy deserves some praise for some really clean inks, tying the art package together nicely.

Despite some disappointing aspects, the second issue of Starfire is a light, but fun read. The creators are striving to do something with this book, even with a VERY obvious callback to their run on Powergirl. Even though it didn’t succeed on every level, Starfire deserves praise for being a very different type of super hero book, and for that I am grateful to the creators and the editorial staff involved.

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and the Divine #12

TheWickedAndDivine_12-1_300_462The Wicked + The Divine #12

Kieron Gillen/ Kate Brown/ Jamie McKelvie/ Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50 

If you recall my past reviews for Wic + Div, I referred to Kieron Gillen as a “Bad bad devil man” or some such. I took this claim to Twitter, when Kieron was “kind” enough to confirm that statement via a fave, which in 2015, is just as good as a 1000 word confessional in my opinion.

And while he’s a devil, he’s a also a clever and talented one. The proof of that claim lies in The Wicked & The Divine #11, which once again sees a mortal investigate the murder of a god. The twist is that instead of our lead Laura, we’re now following Beth, the former intern of series regular Cassandra. It’s a cool twist, as we’re now following a character who was almost a god, versus a girl who wants to become a god. It freshens up the narrative a bit without changing to book too much, and I really can’t much else without spoiling several events from the 2nd volume of bad times. ALSO: I kept this review light on images as this issue is full of spoilers and naughty words.

The change in lead isn’t the only difference. With co-creator Jamie McKelvie off working on the 3rd volume of Phonograms, the book is now drawn and colored by artist Kate Brown. Accordingly to Gillen in the letter pages of this issue, volume 3 will be showing several different artists, letting other creators that the team is a fan of play with their toys. I think it’s quite cool that Gillen and McKelvie are using their book as a showcase for budding creators, and I’m eager to see how this all plays out. It’s also not the first time she’s worked with Kieron, as they’ve also collaborated on the 6th issues of the 3rd volume of Young Avengers over at Marvel.

safe_imageWith Kate Brown having to lead off, she’s stuck with the unfortunate task of having to be the first artist to follow McKelvie on this title. I’m not implying that Brown is a bad artist, she’s not, she’s just a newer talent than Jamie, with a style that’s completely different than his. Her art is way more animated, and her talking head pages aren’t as strong as the ones we’ve gotten from McKelvie. Not to mention some of her faces look a little lumpy.  That being said, when it comes to the action pieces for this issue, her skills shine. It’s like a Dragon Ball Z page set in London, and you can see there’s some real weight behind the punches thrown. The reason why she’s drawing this book is made abundantly clear as the book progresses. In addition to drawing some great action sequences, Brown’s colors are fantastic. Having to follow up to Matt Wilson in addition to McKelvie is an Herculean task, but Brown delivers, with a softer palette that really works for the “recorded scenes”. Brown does some really neat things with color for backgrounds and “special effects”, much like Wilson before her, but in a completely different manner. Wick + Div continues to be a book where color is constantly played/experimented with, which is another reason why this book stand outs from a lot of the other books on the shelf.

“Commercial Suicide” (What the 3rd volume of The Wicked and the Divine is being called) is off to a great start, despite the absence of two of it’s  original creators. The team was wise to start off with Kate Brown, who’s unique style helps kick this arc off with a proper bang. If Brown contributions are any indication what we’re  getting with this next storyline, the book is in fine artistic hands until McKelvie and Wilson’s proper return.

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Chris’ Comics: Nuts about Squirrel Girl edition

Unbeatable_Squirrel_Girl_Vol_1_7_TextlessThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi Marvel $3.99

 

Squirrel Girl #7 is here and judging from the cover, she’s in a bit of trouble. No wait, the book is called The UNBEATABLE Squirrel Girl, she’ll be fine. Also that’s a dope cover. I really like how the excessive amount of negative space forces the reader to focus in on the characters centered in the middle, and how the logo is also used as an environment. It’s nice to see artist Erica Henderson switch up styles, something she’s she been doing a lot of as of late ( See: Issue 4’s Video Game style cover, and issue 5’s interiors where she paid homage to several Marvel artist from various “ages”). Issue seven is an incredible dense issue, which I dig, as I paid $4 for it and I want my money’s worth dangit.   Writer Ryan North, who’s yet to deliver a disappointing issue, crams a lot of subplots, jokes and cute little character moments into this issue, and it’s maddening how he seems to do it with such ease. And on top of quality comics action, 19 of the 20 pages has hilarious “Alt-text” on the bottle of it. I really like how this book does not shy away from the humor and strangest of being in the Marvel Universe, as well as being incredible clever at time. You WILL learn something from this book’s script, and I don’t mean a fun fact from the Deadpool trading cards, who are surprisingly absent this issue.   Back to Erica Henderson. The book looks pretty good this month, which is actually a step down from the usually amazing Henderson. She does a LOT to fill the book with cool backround gags and references, but some of her some of the human characters in this book look rushed. Also when the Avengers appear in the comic, they look a bit off, especially Spider-Man, who’s a bit on the lumpy side of things. It also doesn’t help that colorist Rico Renzi changes Hawkeye’s hair color from blonde to brown in the span of two pages, which is an odd error. That being said, a “weak” looking issue of Squirrel Girl is still a terrific looking comic. Henderson’s face expressions and panel composition are still on point, and really help elevate the overall quality of the book. Same with Renzi, who’s on point with the rest of the issue. It’s just a less awesome than usual Henderson and Renzi is a bit noticeable, and it’s proof that Marvel should adopt Image‘s method of giving the creators time off between arcs so that the book’s quality doesn’t take a hit ( IE the Saga method).   The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 is a fun comic that manages to raise the stakes for our heroine and her fellow animal themed pals quite a bit. It presents the character with a challenge worthy of the unbeatable one, although we know she’s totally going to save the day in the end. It’s the type of book you want more publishers to put out, which requires a creative team on par with North, Henderson and Renzi, which is difficult I imagine. As with every other issue of Squirrel Girl, issue seven is a book that worth buying on sight, unless your a dude who suckkkssssssss!

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Chris’ Comics: X-Men ’92 edition

XM92_HIRES.0X-Men ’92 #1

Chad Bowers/ Chris Sims/ Scott Koblish/Matt Milla

Marvel $4.99

So here we are in the middle of All New Marvel leaks week. There’s been 3 new X-men books announced so far, and Dennis Hopeless aside, I’m really not feeling them. Aside from some questionable character designs and artists, none of the rosters nor directions do much for me. It’s going to be weird to not be buying an X-book come this fall, but I’ll live, as there’s no shortage of great comics to buy at the moment. Case in point X-Men ’92, the digital first book from Marvel that’s based on one of the most lucrative and iconic eras of the team’s existence.

unnamed-136500The 1990s were a weird period for comics. It was decade that brought us the rise and fall of the collector market, nearly saw the end of Marvel, the creation of Image and a brief love affair with the extreme. Comic Book Scholars (aka older nerds) have varying opinions of the decade, but one thing can be agreed on: No one franchise ruled the decade more than the X-men. The Uncanny X-men (mostly Wolverine) were everywhere: over a dozen books which crossed over every other months, TV, video games, chain pizza restaurants, Mall kiosks, and toy shops. It was a complete 360 from now, where Marvel merchandising partners are allegedly attempting to get the general public from forgetting the character.

At first glance, X-men ’92 would appear to be Marvel’s answer to DC’s Batman 66. But it’s more than that. Writers Chris Sims, Chad Bowers and artist Scott Koblish celebrate everything the decade brought to Marvel’s mutants, while using the iconic animated series roster. Don’t get me wrong, the comic is definitely faithful to the cartoon in terms of character behavior: Gambit is a peak scumbag, Cyclops has a stick up his butt, Jean Grey falls down a ton, etc.  But it brings it a ton of things from the comics of the same time, as well as a character slightly newer to the X-lore. X-Men ’92 collects the first two digital installment of the series, in which the X-men throw down in a game of laser tag and investigate a rehabilitation center which reportedly cures villainous mutants of their evil ways. There’s some mention of Secret Wars related nonsense, but for the most part the crossover has minimal impact on the story, letting the creators tell their story.

x1-e1432736008112-600x415Sims and Bowers, making their Marvel debut, tell a story that’s incredibly faithful to the way the characters were portrayed in that era, and one that’s quite hilarious. The writing duo make a ton of inside jokes, ranging from references to Pizza Hut tie-in comics, to cameos from internet famous X-Men podcasters, and some more accessibly ones, like setting the bulk of the first issue in a mall. The book is incredibly fun and clever, never punching down when it comes to the source material, but always embracing it. Artist Scott Koblish is also on point, channeling everyone from Jim Lee to Rob Liefield, making this book look like a product of the 90s. He and colorist Matt Milla are just dedicated to making this book look like the X-men 90’s animated series and slip in some deep cuts, like constantly miss-coloring Jean Grey’s gloves, changing the length of Cyclops’ neck, and never putting Rogue’s white hair streak in the same location.  The duo absolutely nail the look and the feel of the show, to the point where I could here the animated series actors saying the dialogue in my head. And luckily for us, we don’t have to worry about the budget getting slashed at any given time.

Screen-Shot-2015-06-11-at-7.25.33-PM-672x372X-Men ’92 is everything I would want from a book based on one of my gateways into the Marvel Universe as a kid. The source material may not be the best incarnation of the X-men, but it felt larger than life, something the creators of this book obviously felt as well. It’s tells a story that you may not like if you’re here for Secret War related content or aren’t familiar with the 90s era of the team, BUT I’m not here for Doom and am VERY familiar with the 1990s! I’m here to see the X-men fight Free Ranged Sentinels and protect the X-treme. Er Extreme. I’m not sure if Adam X, the X-Treme will be showing up in this book. I mean it would make sense, but I can’t promise it. Either way, pick this book up, in print or digitally if you like the stranger side of the X-men, or just like chili fries. It’s higher price point is well worth the trip down memory lane bub. #killme

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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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