Category: Comics

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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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Mark & Eve & Alex & Scott & Emma Edition

Invincible_118Invincible #118

Robert Kirkman/Ryan Ottley/Jason Howard/Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Image $.25

CHRIS FACT: If you offer a comic that I have the SLIGHTEST interest in for under $1, I will buy it.

Invincible is a book I’ve read for a long time. Like 104 consecutive issues long. It was also a book that got a little too gross for my liking and jumped ship. But for a quarter, I was willing to pick it up and see what Mark and the gang were up to these days. For the record, Invincible 118 is definitely NOT the perfect jumping on point for new readers. There’s a 6 page recap of the series, and that’s HELLA intimidating if your new to the series. But if you’re a lapse reader like myself, it’s pretty good issue to jump back in on and not be too lost.

Robert Kirkman is still going strong on this book, mixing drama with some much needed but slightly juvenile humor, which is needed because this book gets GRIM in the last few pages. TRIGGER WARNING/SPOILERS: There’s a sexual violence discussion that while handled well, kind of comes out of nowhere if you’re not caught up on the book. I applaud Kirkman for taking some story telling risks and actually pulling it off, but I’m not sure if that’s going to win him any new readers.

Ryan Ottley, one of my favorite artists today and one of the things I miss most about the book, has started inking himself, and it’s a bit jarring. His art looks a little looser, and more Erik Larsen-esque. It’s not bad mind you, it’s just took me by surprise. On colors we have  Jean-Francois Beaulieu who uses a brighter palette than John Raunch did, but still isn’t on FC Plascencia level. In his and Raunch’s defense, it could be a printing issue, but without a digital copy of the book, it’s hard to say.

 

Invincible ends on a solid cliffhanger, hoping to keep anyone new to the series on. For me, it’s not enough to get to start buying the title again, but it was a nice to revisit the book. I applaud Invincible for being a super hero book where there’s some consequences for the cast’s actions because there’s no status quo, I just have no desire to stick around.

 

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_32_TextlessUncanny X-men 32

Brian Michael Bendis/ Chris Bachalo/Tim Townsend

Marvel $3.99

I’m sure Brian Michael Bendis isn’t the type of dude who googles his own name and reads reviews of his comics. Dude has better to do with his time. But man, it really does feel like Uncanny X-men 32 addresses all of my complaints with the book in a single done in one.

The end of AXIS is finally addressed in this book as Cyclops’ brother Havok joins the cast. Bendis’ take on Alex is fun, although you’ve have to be caught up on Rick Remender‘s runs on Uncanny Avengers and AXIS to understand why he’s currently the way he is. Alex acts as the stand in for the reader, and helps us get caught up on what went down at the end of the last issue and the beginning of this one. There’s a bit with Scott and Emma that made me MAD as of fan of those readers, but speaks of Bendis’ talents. He managed to get some strong emotions out of me with this comic, something he hasn’t done with this book in some time. Bendis has a pretty good track record with done and ones on this title, but this is easily one of his stronger issues on this run.

Chris Bachalo and his army of inkers provide to supply this book with some fine art (that cover is especially good), although the 2 different colors and some odd photoshopping when it comes to the background hurts it in places. It doesn’t ruin the book in any way, but it certainly pulled me out of the experience a few times. But when it’s good, it’s good, especially when it comes to that Scott and Emma confrontation. Again, a great scene that hurt me oh so much.

As we approach the end of Bendis’ Uncanny X-men run, it’s nice to see the writer continue to take the X-men in some interesting directions while writing some excellent comics. His run on Uncanny has been a little uneven in place, but issues like these overshadow the weaker issues. Uncanny X-men 32 may be the best yet, setting the up the end of  this volume of  UXM on a interesting foot.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: SEXCASTLE

SexCastleCoverSEXCASTLE

Kyle Starks

Image $15.99

Reviewed by Chris Troy 

“Nurse, this baby was born mean!”

Comics Alliance contributor/upcoming X-men ’92 writer Chris Sims first brought Kyle Starks‘ brilliant SEXCASTLE to my attention via a an article/Kickstartr plug on CA. The panel that sold me on the book is below, edited because language, but the important thing about this page remains unaltered:

Sexcastle03-393x630

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last panel is arguably the best line of comics dialogue in 2015/the last 10 years/since Ben Grimm declared it was “Clobberin’ Time” for the first time.

Once SEXCASTLE was fully funded, Image Comics, who has also given us comics with sex in the title such as SEX and SEX CRIMINALS, picked up the publishing rights, and unleashed Kyle Starks insanely rad comic on the masses last week. It’s a tribute/parody of classic ’80s/90s action films, which is nothing new to comics, but so over the top it feels fresh. Sexcastle definitely pays homage to the works that inspired it, but it also laughs at them, and encourages others to do so as well.

fistburger006SEXCASTLE is the tale of Shane Sexcastle, once the world’s greatest assassin, now an ex-con who ready to start life over in a small town. Of course that sort of plot doesn’t make for the most action packed action comic, so Shane’s vow to give up violence is short lived, and his legacy of brutality* catches up to him once he messes up some locale. This ends in hella punching several characters that bear resemblance to a lot of action film icons, and all of them dying terrible and hilarious deaths. Oh and an actual bear. Sexcastle isn’t exactly the most serious of comics folks.

What Sexcastle is however, is arguably the most quotable comic in some time. The dialogue is a blend of action movies and Chris Onstad‘s Achewood, meaning a lot of dumb things are said in clever and hilarious ways. There’s jokes everywhere in this book, and all of them stick their landing mostly because they’re played straight, and rarely acknowledged. I’m honestly surprised the book isn’t labeled as an action-comedy, but then again I suppose there’s nothing funny about violence. No, that’s a lie, comics violence can be hilarious, especially when GUNCHUCKS are involved.

Sexcastle01Starks’ artwork is simplistic, and honestly that’s for the best. Like I just said, there’s a ton of graphic violence in this book, and this book would probably turn me off to it a bit if it looked too realistic. The cartoony style works in the comic’s favor, as does having the book being printed in black and white with some gray-scaling. Even the hand penned lettering is often hilarious, featuring sound sound effects like ONG-BAK’D, PANTIED, and a bunch of others words I can’t post here.

SEXCASTLE, while chock full of good morals, is definitely not for the children. BUT it’s arguably the best comic release of the year. Yeah, I know, Scott McCloud released something not too long along, and technically this was first released in 2014, BUT MCCLOUD’S FOR NERDS** AND SEXCASTLE DOESN’T ACKNOWLEDGE SUCH LAME CONCEPTS AS TIME! To paraphrase The Simpsons, BUY SEXCASTLE OR GO TO HELL!

 

 

 

*Shout of to the Misfits!

** Not personal Scott McCloud, but this book owns harder than both The Raids and Dredd combined.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: #BatgirlofBurnside Edition

So in case haven’t sold a large  small portion of your humanity to the internet like I have, you may have missed this week’s Batgirl controversy. The Outhouse has a good summary of the insanity if you care to catch up on it, and I agree with DC‘s  decision to recall the cover. Sadly, there’s a loud internet minority that doesn’t agree with me, but I really don’t give a toss about their whacks opinions.

As fate would have it (“or maybe it’s a CONSPIRACY?!” says that one guy on Facebook no one really likes), not only did this month’s issue of Batgirl drop this week, but the Batgirl: Endgame tie-in issue dropped as well. Since Barbara is once again in the spotlight, I’d figured I’d cover both issues in the column, because it makes or better narrative or something.

batgirlendgame1BG40cover-copy_5488f03771edf2.26063680Batgirl: Endgame #1

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Bengal

Batgirl #40

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks 

DC $2.99

Batgirl Endgame wasn’t what I expecting, but delightful none the less. Taking place before the events of Batman #40, but after Batgirl #40, the one shot sees Babs helping out with some evacuating while dealing with the ( HERE LIES SPOILERS) The Joker plague that infected Gotham.

The comic is impressive on 2 major levels. It’s a silent issue of sorts, which ever since G.I. Joe #21, is nothing new, but still an hard feet to pull off. What separate this silent issue from past ones is the clear use of Emojis, thus making it the MOST 2015 of comics. The other things that wow me was the art of Bengal, who has the not easy task of being the first artist to draw something related the series since Babs Tarr. This France-based artist delivers some gorgeous and really expressive art, and successfully manages to tell a emotional story without the use of any dialogue.

The story, by series regulars Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, itself is fairly straight forward, and a tad on the fluff side, but let’s be real, there’s only so much you can do with a editorial mandated tie in. Upside, it’s a simple one-shot (unlike the Death of the Story arc from a few years back), the gets to see Batgirl be a creative and triumphant hero, which is nice when dealing with Joker related stuff. It’s a solid alternative to the pretty grim stuff that’s been going with Batman proper, and shows that Barbara can be triumphant and stay true to her character even in the darkest of situations.

With Batgirl #40 we have a story in a very modern setting with a some retro plot elements. The previous issue gave us the reveal of the first arc’s big bad, and we get it’s origin with this issue. It’s a bit disappointing in my opinion, as SPOILERS a rogue AI based on Batgirl’s brain patterns is something  straight out of Wargames. I do appreciate it being  an analogy for the Batgirl’s ongoing struggle with her identity, but I thought it was a little ham fisted. That being said, I REALLY dug the last few pages of the issue, and I’m hyped to see what June will bring for this title and the upcoming Black Canary title.

 

Even though I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of the book’s plot, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Marius Wicks’ visuals are still gorgeous. Tarr’s facial expressions, beautiful character designs & outfits and brutal yet clean fights scenes combined with Wicks’ crisp colors palette are still the main reason to buy this book. And while Stewart and Brenden Fletcher’s script wasn’t as strong as i’ts been in the past, they do drop some interesting hints about the possible future of some of the cast members.

 

Batgirl #40 is a bit uneven, and Batgirl Endgame is a bit of light read, but I wouldn’t call either comics bad. They’re fun books, with visuals that aren’t afraid to try new things. They both feel fresh, which is appreciated and welcomed, as I rather see comic try and fail then stick to  a proven but tired formula. Batgirl is a book that embraces the changing comic book medium, and that makes it a must read.

 

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This Promotional Fly Swatter is Almost as Swell as Jeff Goldblum

This is easily one of the neatest, if not THE neatest, pieces of promotional swag we’ve ever received. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the official Fly Outbreak Fly Swatter from IDW…

Fly Outbreak Swatter

BONUS: We’re giving it away this Friday, 3/20/15! Keep an eye on our Twitter feed for more details.

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Duck Puns Edition

howard_the_duck_1_coverHoward The Duck #1

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

I love the fact that we now live in a world where the box office success of Guardians of the Galaxy means Chip Zdarsky gets to write a Howard the Duck book drawn by Joe Quinones.

Howard the Duck is the latest off-beat Marvel book that’s unsurprisingly amazing. Joe Quinones has been drawing a number of beautiful covers for years, so this book looking as good as it does is expected. And Zdarkseid (Mandatory misspelling of Chip’s pen name=GET) has been one of the funniest dudes in comics as of late, so Howard being a laugh riot also isn’t shocking.

What I wasn’t expecting was this creative team to build a narrative that spans from the original Howard the Duck #1 all the way to the GOTG post credit scene. It’s the opposite of the recently relaunched Ant-Man, embracing Howard’s weird history, not to mention the recently concluded She- Hulk series, yet presenting in a way that easy for new reader to pick up. I would say it’s the best Howard I’ve read since creator Steve Gerber’s last run, but I’m sure there was also a mini series where Howard turned into a MODOK, which is also pretty great.

I can’t ever recall wanting a Howard the Duck series, but now that I have one by this specific creative team I kind of love it. It looks great, it’s funny as hell and there’s enough content in the first issue that warrants a re-read. Howard the Duck #1 is not unlike Squirrel girl#1 where Marvel has given us super hero humor book by some top-self creators. Also if anyone at Marvel is reading this, a Zdarsky-penned “Self-loathing Spider-Man” series is something I want now.

 

portrait_incredibleSpider-Gwen #2

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodrigues/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

I’ll be honest, I was willing to trade wait Spider-Gwen even with the first issue being quite superb. But then Scumbag Matt Murdock made an appearance, and suddenly I was $4 poorer.

Spider-Gwen continues the trend of excellent talking animal comics by Marvel this week, as Spider-Ham plays a unexpected, but none the less important role in this issue, which sees both Stacys deal with their respected Spider-Gwen related problems. Having both Stacys take point this issue gives it a unique perspective, as Father/Daughter relationships are rarely explored in super hero comics. We also get to see more of this reimagined Marvel universe characters, and a background Easter egg promising an interesting take on one Felicia Hardy. In a way it hits a lot of the same beats the first issue did, while continuing to develop the characters and move the story forward. This continues to be Jason Latour‘s finest Marvel work to date, especially with the dialogue sounding and flowing as well as it does.

Visually, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi continue to provide stellar art for this book. Each character is boiled down to a specific characteristic (Murdock’s always sleazy, Frank Castle always looks determined, Spider-Ham is VERY much a pig) under Rodriguez’s skillful line work, and the heavy use of pink and green against the darker backgrounds of this book still make it look slick as hell.

Spider-Gwen #2 is pretty much more of the same of what we got from issue 1, which is fine. The first issue was rad, as was this one. Between this and the newly relaunched Spider-Woman, we have two awesome alternatives to Amazing Spider-Man, with each book offering something fresh and fun.

 

 

 

 

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Spider-Verse

2 Spider-Women and a little Silk

With the SPIDER-VERSE story arc over and the dust only beginning to settle, you may have noticed a shift in the shape of Peter Parker’s part of the Marvel Universe.

It’s got *gasp* girl heroes! Three of ‘em, even!

Yes, three new books have made their way out to you Marvel readers, each featuring a female protagonist, two of whom are brand-spankin’ new. But with MS. MARVEL already dominating and SHE-HULK‘s book sadly finished, the obvious question becomes – is their room in the sky for three new, distaff Spider-Man counterparts?

Probably not. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it while it lasts. So let’s look at why you should be reading the comics  for each of our gals – SPIDER-WOMAN, SPIDER-GWEN, and SILK!

SILK

So! Elephant in the room – we’ve still got a slew of copies of SILK #1 sitting on the stands right now. Which doesn’t bode well for newcomer, Cindy Moon, nor her creative team, Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, et al.

And that’s a shame because the centerpiece for the Spider-Verse story arc has a real solid story already in her own book. Girl out of time, missing family, and a complicated relationship to Peter Parker himself, Cindy’s got all the makings of a relatable super-hero. Plus, she’s one of the scant few Korean characters in the regular Marvel roster right now.

Even though her family is MIA, Cindy Moon is deeply affected by them. We get flashbacks of what her home life was like before she wound up in a lonely bunker, hidden away for a decade. And what we see isn’t so dissimilar from the kind of interactions we see between Kamala Khan and her family.

What it boils down to is this – if you’re looking for a book that marries the web-slinging sensibilities of Spider-Man with the more modern, slice-of-life style from Ms. Marvel, Silk is probably the book you ought to be reading.

SPIDER-WOMAN

If there’s a true dark horse among this three-some it is, unquestionably, Jessica Drew. While Silk may not have sold out, SPIDER-WOMAN #5 is seeing attention for all the wrong reasons.

While the comic-reading world was divided on Milo Manara’s butt-tastic variant cover to Spider-Woman #1, it’s her new costume that’s been universally agreed upon. And that response is “eh”. It’s not terrible, it’s not great, it’s just not particularly… right. That’s the consensus. And that tepid response mixed with kickstarting the new adventures of Jessica Drew at a number five rather than a number one isn’t helping things either.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be reading! Especially if you’ve been longing for something that feels less superhero and more A.K.A. Jessica Jones. Yes, it’s impossible to miss writer Dennis Hopeless’s homage to the Bendis new classic, ALIAS. Spider-Woman’s a detective, and she spends a lot of time being duped and getting it wrong. Throw in a snarky attitude, and the new Jessica Drew is definitely the new Jessica Jones.

And whether or not you’re happy with the costume or the fact that she left the Avengers, there’s no mistaking the potential for a more street-savvy, motorcycle riding, ain’t-afraid-to-fight-dirty Spider-Woman. So if you haven’t given her a shot yet, do. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

SPIDER-GWEN

And if there’s one hero who’s off to the best start it is, undoubtedly, Gwen Stacey. Spidey fans have loved Gwen since time immemorial, so the chance to see her in a new alt. universe where she was the one who got bit by that radioactive spider? Well that’s about as right as it can get.

And while Jessica Drew’s costume hasn’t played well with fans, you’re guaranteed to see multiple Spider-Gwen’s at every convention you go to. Rightly so. The stark-white and black, mixed with purple – and that hood! It’s costume-design perfection.

All that, and the book ain’t bad either. Much like Peter, Gwen’s not exactly beloved in her city either. And while her father tries to help, her reputation is tearing his down more than his is bolstering her’s up.

Yes, it definitely feels like a Spidey book just left of center. Which would explain why it sold out so quickly. Lucky for you the story’s easy to pick up AND SPIDER- GWEN #2 is out this week.

But you tell us next time you’re in the shop – who’s your favorite of the new(ish) Spider-Women?

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A Slice of Pye: John Pye talks Snyder’s Batman

Morning light breaks over the great old city and they’re all out there; clawing at the doors, peering through the windows, begging to get in to satisfy their insatiable need. They’re all calling his name:

BATMAN!

No, it’s not the blood-thirsty, Jokerized victims of Gotham City I’m referring to, but the Bat-Crazed fans who can’t get enough of artist, Greg Capullo, and writer, Scott Snyder’s modern legends of the Dark Knight.

But how did we get here? As Batman puts it in issue 38 of Snyder’s New 52 run, “let’s talk history.”

Along with Batman, we fought our way through a hellish labyrinth set to instill paranoia and despair (Batman Vol. 1 THE COURT OF OWLS  and Vol. 2 THE CITY OF OWLS). The, we faced off against our inner-most fears while a long-kept secret, finally revealed, tore the bonds of family apart (Batman Vol. 3 DEATH OF THE FAMILY). We battled for the soul of a darkened city within the grip of hopelessness and riddled with puzzles (Batman Vol. 4 ZERO YEAR – SECRET CITY and Vol. 5 ZERO YEAR – DARK CITY).

Through Batman’s eyes we’ve done all this, but the fight is still far from over. Bad news for Batman; great news for us.

“Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” Those words once delivered by Jack Nicholson’s Joker 26 years ago would coincidently be a fitting title to the Joker’s goodbye that takes its form in the ENDGAME story arc.

Scott Snyder has often-times compared his Joker to the devil himself. He’s the kind of devil that thrives off our misery as a mirror to the worst in us. He’s the kind of demon that whispers what we fear most into our ears – what we’re afraid to have exposed, to lose, or even to gain through means unforgivable.

It’s been said many times that the Joker is Batman’s mirror. And as Bruce gazes into that mirror, he is forced to come to grips with something he has always feared: uncertainty. Batman has uncertainty over who the Joker truly is and, more importantly, what Batman might have to do to ultimately bring the Clown Prince of Crime down.

Ironically, uncertainty is also what we, the die-hard readers of Batman, face as Snyder and Capullo near their contractual end with DC Comics on. There’s a sense of anxiety knowing that not only may Batman or the Joker be coming to their end, but the creative team may be as well.

It remains uncertain whether Capullo and Snyder will stay on the title beyond issue 50, but I assume that I can speak for everyone (or at least the thousands of us who fought alongside Batman for the last four years) when I say thank you for continuing to inspire us. Thank you for putting Batman through hell for the last four years. It has reminded and reinforced why we love the character as much we all do. We wish you success on whichever road you decide to take. We can only hope you allow your hearts to guide you on that road. We can only hope your hearts lead you back to Gotham.

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Sassy Spies Editions

Yes, yes, I’m well aware Spider-Woman isn’t a spy anymore, but she’s still in Secret Avengers for the next 2 months so it works.

 

635544611181339292-SpiderWoman-coverSpider-Woman #5

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez

Marvel $3.99

NEW STATUS QUO! NEW COSTUME! NEW ARTIST! 5TH ISSUE IN!

Spider-Woman, not unlike Spider-Gwen, is done with Spider-Verse nonsense, done with the Avengers, done with Greg Land, and is hitting the streets with a new mission and a new slick look courtesy of Kris Anka. Writer Dennis Hopeless is now free to tell stories without having to worry about tying into Amazing Spider-Man, and the book’s all the better for it.

 

Land is replaced by former Daredevil colorist/Fill in Artist Javier Rodriguez, who reminds everyone that he can draw and color the hell out of a comic 5 pages into this issue. Rodriquez definitely picked up some tricks coloring Chris Samnee over the years, which explains why is layouts are so good. And of course, the coloring on this book is surreal. The way Rodriquez colors the rain almost make those panels feel 3-D. And man, that new costume looks amazing on Jessica. Inking him is Alvaro Lopez, who knows where to thicken his black lines and where to keep them thin. He’s a fine match for Javier.

 

Hopeless staying aboard on the title is A-O-K with me, as he’s a smart writer with a knack of coming up with unique premises on corporate comic characters. Jessica struggling with going solo is an interesting predicament for a super hero, and it’s a cool challenge for her to overcome. And the addition of Daily Bugle mainstay Phil Urich is neat, and gives Jessica a great character to interact with. Also Hopeless appeals to my loves of the recently completed Superior Foes of Spider-Man and brings in several Z-list Marvel villains for Jessica to harass.

 

Spider-Woman #5 is not unlike the Bab Tarring of Batgirl, which is fine because that was a smart move, and it’s certainly now working for J-Drew.   Between this, Silk and Spider-Gwen, you’d think the comics world would be sick of female Spider-ladies, but not that’s far from the case. Each one of these titles brings something to new to medium, and all of them are good comics.  Spider-Woman #5 is a VERY good comic that should have been a #1. I know the book got a nice sales boost launching and tying into Spider-Verse, but THIS is the debut issue the creators and characters deserve.

 

stk665635Grayson #8

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

This issue sees the end of season 1 wrapping up, as the book goes on hiatus for 2 months due to DC moving to the west coast and not replacing them with robots like I did (Hence I spell all good like always). In terms of endings, I don’t think this could have been any better.

Issue 8’s cover is pretty spot on, as SPYRAL finds a traitor in it’s ranks, and it’s up to Agent Grayson to save the day. It brings the cast of mostly new characters together in a fun and creative way, and ends on a brutal note. It’s spy comics done right, which has been this creative team’s MO since day 1, so this issue being as great as it is doesn’t come at that much of a surprise. Tom King and Tim Seeley deliver another fine script with some choice dialogue and neat twists, and Mike Janin and Jeromy Cox make the whole thing looks so pretty. Even when things get dark and violent, which says a lot about how I judge beauty.

Issue 8 is an issue that wraps up some plot-lines, starts new ones, and sees one of Dick Grayson’s student name each of his butt cheeks. It’s another great installment of comic that has been a crazy fun ride, and this slight break will make me miss it a ton.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Jeff Lemire Debut edition

Welcome to the article where I know I’m going to spell Lemire as “Lemiere” at least twice and not notice it until it’s pointed out in the comments section/Twitter.

Jeff Lemire, who’s had a big week, is a writer who’s stuff I haven’t touched in awhile, but I definitely liked is work in the past. His run on Animal Man was quite good, he did a pre-Flaspoint/New 52 Superboy book that was equally bizarre as it was charming, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of his creator owned stuff. This week, Lemire launches his new Indie book under Image, and relaunches my favorite Marvel comic (that’s yet to be completed).

Descender-01-6b1c3Descender #1

Jeff Lemire/Dustin Nguyen

Image $2.99

Ever since Saga took over comics, Image has had no shortage of comics involving space, children, crime or a combination of all three. Most of those book has also been amazing, so no one complains about it because otherwise the alternative is going back to Spawn or Witchblade.

As every review of Descender will tell you, Sony Pictures ponied up a ton of money to secure the films right to the comic, despite the fact it was still a month away from hitting the stands. Created by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, it is a GORGEOUS looking book, and  it reads like Chris Nolan directing a Pixar movie. If that’s now something you want in your life, I wouldn’t hold you breathe, also welcome to the nightmare that is being me. But yeah, Nguyen’s water colors look great, and Lemire’s writing is spot on. Despite this being another comic about a young boy by Lemire (see Blankets, Superboy, parts of his new Hawwkeye series,  Sweet Tooth), he introduces a weird  cast that’s helps suck you into this world that he’s co-created. It’s a surprisingly charming book, despite some really dark plot points and themes.

I went into Descender with a good feeling, and I ended up liking it a lot more than I was expecting. Robots and space are often my jams when it comes to media, and Descender uses them to tell an exciting new story I’m eager to read more of.

 

All-New_Hawkeye_Vol_1_1_TextlessAll-New Hawkeye #1

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Here we have the other great looking Jeff Lemire comic to debut this week. Sadly, I am not as happy with it as I was with Descender.

All-New Hawkeye is not a bad comic, but it just didn’t wow me like the yet to be completed Matt Fraction/David Aja book did. That book had a mission statement from day one (Show what Hawkeye does on his day off). This one starts off mostly set in the past, and cuts to the Hawkeyes doing some avenging in the present. While I appreciate Lemire taking the book in a new direction, it still needs a hook. All I got from it was “Hey, the previous Hawkeye series got Marvel a ton of buzz and acclaim, let’s keep this book going.” Hawkeye volume 1 issue 1 felt like a cool new indie book, where as ANH feels like more like a really good cover band messing up my favorite song. Lemire’s attempt to capture Clint and Kate’s banter is appreciated, but it’s something he needs to work on. It felt colder and nagging than it did humorous and playful.

Visually, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring couldn’t be better replacements for David Aja & Matt Hollingsworth. Perez’s art is the best thing about this book, and his painted illustrations for the flashback material are gorgeous. And when paired with Herring for the modern stuff, we get some solid action scenes, with Herring doing his best to ape Matt Hollingsworth flat color pallet. It works for the most part, because while Perez isn’t as strong as the veteran Aja, Herring’s bold colors help complete the visual experience. All New Hawkeye is a great looking book, and I’m glad Perez and Herring are able to deliver on the art end of things like Aja, Annie Wu and the other Hawkeye volume 1 artists before them.

In the new creative team’s defense, it was an almost impossible task to make me fall in love with this book like I did with the previous volume. Following up to that creative team is a huge  challenge, and they definitely tried to do their best with this issue. I have faith that Lemire can escape Fraction’s shadow sooner rather than later, but I’ll admit, it felt weird to read a Hawkeye comic that I didn’t fall in love with immediately. I hope that’s something that doesn’t happen again.

 

 

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5.5 Questions with Marvel Editor Daniel Ketchum

One of the nice things about comics is that the people who write and draw ‘em are just as likely to show up at Forbidden Planet on a Wednesday to pick up their stack as anyone else.

And that’s when we strike!

This week we caught up with STORM, MAGNETO, and X-MEN editor, Daniel Ketchum. No Pokemon questions were asked. Probably for the best.

FORBIDDEN PLANET: So, as an editor, I’m assuming that you sometimes have to be the bad guy. SO in the world of bad guys are you more like Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay or Judge Judy?

DANIEL KETCHUM: If I had to choose one, I’d say Gordon Ramsay, because he’s a Tiger Mom like I am–he criticizes out of love and only wants people to be their best. But when it comes to likening myself to reality show judges, I have definitely said that I am the Michael Kors of Marvel. (e.g. “It looks like you colored that page with a trackball mouse and an eye full of lemon juice!”)

FP: If you could put any single character in all of your books, who would it be and why?

DK: Definitely Mary Cherry from your favorite TV show, Popular. (“Y’all, I’ve got two words for you: EXORCISM!”) But if we’re talking about a Marvel character I would put in all of the books that I edit, it would be STORM…and I do.

FP: If you could have any non-comic writer (novelist, screenwriter, poet) write book for you, who would it be?

DK: Oh, lordy. You know, the last book book I ran to the store to buy the day it was released was Joan Didion’s BLUE NIGHTS. I can only vaguely imagine what a comic written by Joan Didion would be like. But I’d love to read it and, even more so, I’d love to be the editor who got to collaborate with her on it.

FP: If you could have dinner with any comic character (you’re paying) who would it be and why?

DK: I would take Alfred Pennyworth and Jarvis to dinner because they deserve a chance to kick back and enjoy a delicious meal they didn’t have to lift a finger for. I might also take Jubilee, because it looks like she’s fallen on hard times…

FP: Follow-up: Would your answer change if they were paying?

DK: Yes. Because then I would be dining with ALL-NEW X-MEN‘s Hank McCoy and I would expect no less than a magical evening. MAGICAL.

FP: Who would win a Magic the Gathering game? Batman, Reed Richards or Emma Frost?

DK: Obviously Emma Frost. You can’t play a card game with a telepath! And you know Emma would totally cheat and, like, read her opponents’ minds to find out what their face-down morph creatures are…

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FP Spotlight: Jeff Lemire

If you ask someone what their favorite book is, they usually have a passionate explanation for it. “The main character is just like me”; “It’s just so heartbreaking”; “It made me laugh until I cried”; and so on. No one holds up a copy of something that changed their life and says “I dunno, it looked really cool.” This emotional core is something that comics sometimes find themselves lacking, but a few writers and artists have mastered the art of really getting to their readers, and Jeff Lemire is first among them.

Lemire kicked off his career with LOST DOGS, a 24-hour comic-turned-graphic-novel with the assistance of a Xeric grant. It’s messy, but it’s got a lot of heart in its black-white-red story of a lumbering oaf just wanting to help. It’s a book that gets by a lot on its atmosphere, and the messy inks Lemire employs.

For his second project, rather than try to go the superhero route, or a book where magic is law, or some other high concept project, Lemire turned his eye to his beloved home county in the Great White North itself, and decided to tell the story of a county full of average Canadian people. The ESSEX COUNTY trilogy is one of the most heartbreaking and simultaneously uplifting books I could possibly recommend. It’s the Spoon River Anthology by way of Slap Shot, with lots of hockey, kids and adults who dream of escape, and people who are just doing the best they can to get by. It’s Steinbeckian, and it’s huge, without losing a sense of intimacy into what these people want–and how rarely they will get it.

2009 was a banner year for Lemire: it finally saw the publication of ESSEX COUNTY (which went on to be named one of the Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade); the publication of THE NOBODY, his retelling of The Invisible Man; and the beginning of his first creator-owned series, SWEET TOOTH. Sweet Tooth tells the story of Gus, a young boy with deer antlers and an incredible taste for chocolate. It went on for several years, and turned villains into begrudging heroes, gave fathers to wayward children, and told the secret history of the world. All this in a world where Mad Max could have been the guy who killed Bambi’s dad.

Since 2012, Lemire’s work has been mostly at Vertigo and DC. He launched some of the best New 52 titles during the company-wide relaunch in 2011, including ANIMAL MAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, and FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. For a man who’s able to move around in so many genres, the quality of his books never suffers from title-to-title, because he’s a master of the emotional core of a book. Animal Man is about a superhero protecting his daughter while she grows up too fast; Frankenstein is about a man making amends with his friends and his estranged wife in order to face their future. Add into this a standalone graphic novel, THE UNDERWATER WELDER, that reads like a lost Twilight Zone episode, and you’ve got a winning combo.

Most recently, Lemire returned to the drawing board for a longer form experiment, writing and drawing TRILLIUM, a ten-issue series about a WWI soldier recently returned from the war falling in love with a 30th century scientist. They both help each other heal and they get in plenty of spacetime continuum fights. Add into this his radical experimentation with form, making a House-of-Leaves-like experience out of reading a comic, and it’s just this side of genius.

Lemire is one to watch out for, still. After his exclusive agreement with DC expired last year, he was quick to jump onto THE VALIANT (available at our fine store–issue 4 coming soon!), and BLOODSHOT REBORN from Valiant. This week we’ve got ALL-NEW HAWKEYE (miraculously out before the finale of Regular old Hawkeye!) as well as writing a brand new series called DESCENDER, about a young boy robot illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. We thinks it’s going to be a visual delight as well as an emotionally satisfying read.

And refusing to ever take a break, Lemire will be illustrating a series written by Scott Snyder (his best friend/nemesis– best fremesis) in the near future, too!

So here’s to you, Jeff Lemire. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

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