Category: DC Comics

Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow #1

GA-Cv1_56fc1133c2db86.88017993Green Arrow #1

Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt

DC $2.99

 

 

 

 

IMG_8643 Hey there Forbidden Planet Faithful! Before I start talking about Green Arrow #1 ( It feels weird to write that instead of Hawkeye), I just want to give a shout out to everyone I ran into and saw at Hereoscon 2016 this past weekend. I got to shoot the breeze with a number of great creators, including 1 of my favorites as you can see on the left. I highly recommend that anyone who loves comics check out Heroescon in the near future, especially in this post NYC Special Edition world. Unrelated, I’m taking a week off, after this article due to life demands, so expect this blog to be Chris-free for a week.

Green Arrow #1 is a extremely fun follow up to a promising Rebirth debut issue. While I’m not sure how this whole twice a month shipping thing is going to play out in the long run, I’m not going to get ahead of myself, especially when there’s some stuff I want to address now.

IMG_0125Given how prominent of a character Batman is, not to mention the numerous similarities, creators who write Green Arrow have a difficult hurdle to clear when it comes to making the two characters distinct. In less skillful hands, this arc of Green Arrow could have ended up feeling a lot like the modern classic Batman story “Court of Owl”. Even with the cliche”one of the guys within Queen’s company is secretly totes evil and plotting against him ” reveal, writer Benjamin Percy does a fine job of steering clear of said birb story  by embracing the difference between the two title characters. Percy’s more proactive, society conscious Oliver Queen who isn’t afraid to bend the rules a bit is a smart narrative choice, and something you don’t see when it comes to Big 2 super heroes.

As for Benjamin Perry’s script, it’s not as tight as the last issue. There’s a REALLY solid cliffhanger ending to this comic, but it doesn’t hit as hard if you’ve just joined the book like I have. Also while I know not every super hero archer comic can read like Hawkeye, some of the dialogue in this particular issue is cheesy in a an eye-rolling way. Where this comic IMG_0126really shines is when it focuses on Oliver Queen and the various relationship he has with this supporting cast, Black Canary especially. Ultimately it’s a pretty solid script, just a little tarnished with some disappointing dialogue.

With an opportunity to draw some quitter moments this time around, Otto Schmidt’s art remains a just cause for buying this comic. The quieter, more intimate scenes are really strong, and it’s a nice showcase of the type of art Schmidt was can produce. That being said, the fight scenes are also quite dope, making for a complete package, especially when you factor in he inks and colors the book as well.

Green Arrow #1 is a good comic that continues to shine with a solid creative team. The good more than out weights the bad for this issue, making it a flawed, but enjoyable read.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Titans Rebirth

Titans-Rebirth-1-456x700Titans Rebirth

Dan Abnett, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse

DC $2.99

While Green Arrow is a character/franchise I’ve never given a damn about, Teen Titans/Titans is something I’ve flirted with for most of my comics reading life. Having characters like Dick Grayson, Wally West, and Donna Troy associated with the franchise helps a lot, but for whatever reason helps, but ultimately I’m out after an arc. I doubt I’m the only one who’s had this problem, as it seems like DC has a problem with the franchise post Geoff Johns departure from the title in the mid 2000s. With Rebirth, the brand is split into two books, one with a fairly iconic roster of Teen Titans debuting later this year, and an older lineup of Titans dropping this past week.

Titans Rebirth isn’t a bad comic, but it’s very much the definition of a zero issue. With Wally West back in action, he seeks out to reunite himself with his former sidekicks, who’ve recently reunited in the Dan Abnett penned Titan Hunt mini-series. While that mini-series isn’t mandatory reading for this issue, I imagine it will help reader recognize the less iconic characters in this story. Abnett’s script is very by the numbers, chock of cliche dialogue and by the numbers moments, including the mandatory hero on hero fight due to misunderstanding. It’s not particularly bad, but nothing worth celebrating.

TNSREB_1_5_5Drawing this comic and I believe the series going forward is Brett Booth, who is the very definition of Jim Lee 90s style art, for better and for worse. Booth excels at layout, going with some very dynamic layouts that ooze with the type of energy you want from a super hero comics. He also get creative with his panel layouts towards the end of the comic, something that I enjoyed very much, and does a really great job with language and facial expressions. Where Booth falters is his inability to draw teenagers early on in the issue, and his design for Roy Harper aka Red Arrow, aka Arsenal. I know he’s not the guy who gave him an “iconic” backwards Baseball cap, but that plus goggles is a dated look that makes very little sense. Also I question how Wally’s costume continues to shine, even in the dark

Assisting Booth on the art are  Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse, who ink and Image-71-600x633color the book respectively. Rapmud tends to do heavy on the cross stitching at time throughout the comic, but that aside his work is really quite excellent. His linework is clean and thin, and looks gorgeous when paired with Dalhouse’s bright and playful colors. Even if Booth’s art isn’t your thing, it’s hard not to like it thanks to the contributions by Rapmund and Dalhouse

Titans Rebirth is a comic book-ass comic book. The heroes have a misunderstanding, fight and resolve everything within 20 pages. Abnett tries to stir emotions with some fun flashbacks, but given this DC Universe is only 5 years old, it feels cheap, and unoriginal (I think this is the third time a writer has tried doing a Kid Flash/Robin stealing the Batmobile story in the last decade). But imperfections aside, Titans looks to be in capable hands, and there’s definitely some promise.

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow Rebirth

STL007334_5f7a59e4-abc5-4b67-beca-66ed49ca8f3d_1024x1024Green Arrow: Rebirth

Benjamin Percy, Otto Scmidt

DC $2.99

Something’s off about this issue of Hawkeye. It’s in Seattle, Clint’s got a beard, Kate is now blonde and not wearing pants. Weird that they change the status quo for these characters so much, I give it a 4/10.

This week sees Rebirth season officially kick off, and instead of reviewing Superman or Batman, I decided to give a character I usually don’t give a toss about a shot with Green Arrow Rebirth. What got me to pick it up was the art by Otto Schmidt, whose style reminds me a lot of your Sean Murphys and Robbi Rodriguezes. This one shot mostly focuses on Green Arrow’s relationship with Black Canary, which really isn’t a thing these days, but for some reason Dinah finds herself drawn to Ollie and vice versa. Also apparently someone is abducting homeless people, which calls for a resolution via Super Heroics.

Coming into this series, I felt bad for writer Benjamin Percy. Green Arrow is arguably one of the most popular DC heroes thanks to his hit CW TV show/abs showcase, and I imagine he has marching orders that require him to make this book accessible to that GAREB_1_hires-4audience as well as to GA fans who’ve been in this hobby for a few years. And why I can’t tell you if that’s something he succeeds at doing yet (also because I don’t watch Arrow ,sorry Val!), Percy has certainly written an enjoyable comic, successfully getting me interested in a character I haven’t cared about in like….ever. In the span of twenty pages, we’re treated to a Green Arrow who’s determine to right the wrongs ignored by traditional law enforcement agencies, get introduced to some creepy new villains, and quickly forge a relationship between Arrow and Black Canary. I was worried about the use of the term Social Justice Warrior, as it’s usually used by the worst type of people on the internet, but Percy takes it back, and makes it something that works for Oliver Queen. His Canary is super fierce and r960-d0831b070e0c5113b59b28fc844cce70an ass kicker, not unlike the incarnation that popped up in Batgirl and her own series.

Getting back to Otto Schmidt, much like Percy, I was completely unfamiliar with him coming into the series. But I warmed up to his art quick, as I love how stylized and dynamic it is. Doing both the pencils and color, Schmidt gives this book captures the ton of the book perfectly, giving his characters a ton of personality. His pencils bring a certain energy to the page that I dig, an his use of color, especially with Canary’s powers is cool. It’s a very modern looking book, and something DC’s needed for some time.

Green Arrow Rebirth feels like the fresh start that DC Rebirth is setting out to do. While it doesn’t seem to be a 1:1 mirror of the TV show, it definitely succeeds at being an entertaining read. This Green Arrow reads and looks like the classic incarnation without feeling dated, and with a costume that makes more sense. And while Black Canary may not be a title character, she’s used in a way that makes her feel more like a co-star than a supporting character. For the first time in my life I’m excited to read a Green Arrow comic, or at least the issues drawn by Otto Schmidt

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Chris Comics: Putting The New 52 to rest with Grayson and Batgirl

Grayson-20Batgirl-52-variant-cover-by-Babs-TarrGrayson #20

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

Batgirl #52

Brenden Fletcher, Elenora Carline, Minkyu Jung, Serge Lapointe, Steve Wands

DC $2.99

Now that DC Rebirth is up and running, May sees the end of several DC titles before they get rebranded and relaunched with new creative teams. Which means both Batgirl and Grayson have come to an end, which is a shame.

Batgirl #52 wraps up the Brenden Fletcher-verse crossover, and sets up the next chapter of Barbara Gordon’s life for the creative team of Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque. Grayson #20 ends Dick’s run as a spy, puts the genie back in the bottle in regards to his secret identity, and gets him back in the Nightwing costume in time for Tim Seeley‘s return to the character. Despite neither storylines wrapping up with their original creative teams attached (Fletcher on Batgirl being the exception), both stories wrap up nicely, with only a few missteps.

As I’ve said several times in the past, Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly read exactly like image-117Tim Seeley and Tom King do on this book and that’s excellent. I’m sure they studied the notes left by those writers to a T, which I appreciate, especially when they were brought on the book so late in the game. Not only do they close out one of the most interesting status quos for Dick Grayson on an extremely high note, but they set things up for Helena Bertinelli’s role in the upcoming Batgirl and the Birds of Prey book flawlessly. And Roge Antonio’s art improves tenfold this issue, drawing an incredibly compelling action final fight scene between Grayson and Otto Netz for the bulk of the issue. He does a superb job of keeping in the spirit of the trippy art direction established by previous series artist Mikel Janin, while doing his own thing. Jeromy Cox has been fantastic on this title since issue one, and he’s just as great here. I HATE to see Grayson end, but man, this was a real solid ending by this team.

Batgirl #52 on the other hand, feels rushed, as there are a number of grammatical and spelling errors that plague this issue. The art from Elenora Carline & Minkyu Jung,  is okay, but there’s a lot of stiff posing and flat looking characters despite some excellent colors from Sergio Lapointe. Even Brenden Fletcher’s dialogue is extremely disappointing at times, reading more like a cheesy all ages comic more than the fresh and relevant to today’s audience stuff we as readers have been used to. Which is odd, given how good a solo Fletcher can be, as seen in Black Canary and Batgirl_52_01Gotham Academy.

I also find it odd to remove Barbara Gordon from her company so early in the game. I know WHY it needed to happen (new creative team and with a new MO), but to do 2 issues after the company’s up and running feels really out of place. It feel likes it was more than an editorial call rather than something Fletcher elected to do, although I have no evidence of such.

At the end of the day, we have 2 books I’m sad to see end, for entirely different reasons. With Grayson, it’s an end of an era that I really enjoyed, but know that the character’s in good hands. With Batgirl, it feels like the character is being forced into a more traditional role, rather than allowing her to exist in a status quo that very few, if any, female characters get to inhibit. I’ll be reading both characters once their reintroduced in Rebirth, although there’s no guarantee I’ll be sticking around for the long haul.

 

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Chris’ Comics: DC Universe Rebirth #1

366074._SX640_QL80_TTD_DC Universe Rebirth #1

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

DC $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chris’ Comics: Future Quest #1

QuestCover1Future Quest #1

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

DC $3.99

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

STL004569Gotham Academy #18

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

DC $2.99

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

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

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

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

 

 

CoverThe Fix #2

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

Image $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #51 & Grayson #19

STL001391Batgirl #51

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

DC $3.99

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

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

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

GRAY-Cv19-6d216-7296dGrayson #19

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

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

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

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #17

Gotham_Academy_Vol_1-17_Cover-1_TeaserGotham Academy #17

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

DC $2.99

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Avengers Incoming- Happy 500!

It is a fairly light week in FP’s toy department. There are a few items on their way in to us however and I’ll tell you about them now. It’s also our 500th issue of the Weekly Planet, so I’ll talk about my all-time favorite DC Comics Anniversary Issues. If you want my thoughts on last week’s Arrow debacle, please refer to fpusadailyplanet.com where I have my final say on what they did to Black Canary.

A couple of the stragglers from the Avengers: Age of Ultron Hot Toys series will be making their appearance in-store soon. Fans of the film can look forward to figures of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver and Paul Bettany’s Vision joining their growing cast of movie Avengers. The Hasbro Marvel Legends Civil War Series 2 figures should also be making their way in sometime soon. The hot figure from this assortment is sure to be the Black Panther, who makes his feature film debut in Captain America: Civil War this May, portrayed by actor Chadwick Boseman. Black Panther was also recently announced as a Hot Toys figure. There will also be a small Funko restock of various ReAction figures and Star Wars Wacky Wobblers on their way into the store shortly as well. If you still have Star Wars fever, we will be getting the Rey, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma and other Wacky Wobblers back in.

So it’s our 500th Weekly Planet issue, I can’t believe it’s already at 500, I remember when I used to shop here(as opposed to working here) and when the newsletter had just started. It was a fun bonus to read with my comic purchases and for a while I had amassed a collection of them, I’ve moved several times since and can’t remember where any of the really early issues could be- maybe at my childhood apartment. I never dreamed that one day I would be writing for it myself.  When I think of Anniversary issues, I think of some of the ones I bought as back issues when I was a kid and since I was always a DC fan, I had a bunch of those.  Batman #400 was one I bought at the newsstand in 1986, I enjoyed the story which had pretty much everyone of importance to Batman involved (with two surprising omissions) and was drawn by several of that era’s finest comic book artists.  The cover itself was striking with the Bill Sienkiewicz artwork, the purple and yellow Batman logo and the Gold DC Bullet and Anniversary Logo. Great story about Batman’s enemies all being sprung from Arkham Asylum in a plot by Ra’s Al Ghul to corrupt the Batman. This was essentially a  done in one “Knightfall” 7 years earlier and to date has not been reprinted.

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Another particularly memorable issue for me was 1982’s Justice League of America #200, which I bought as a back issue. I am a massive JLA fan, I have every single one of the now discontinued DC Archives plus a good portion of the issues from the 70s and on. (I even have JLA #75, which is considered the first appearance of one Dinah Laurel Lance) JLA #200 was a pretty much perfect issue, although again, someone prominent was missing from the storyline for some reason. The tale was again illustrated by a bunch of DC’s finest talent of that era and featured the 7 founding  members of the JLA facing off against the new kids- so you had battles between Superman and Hawkman, Aquaman and Red Tornado, Wonder Woman and Zatanna, plus a great Brian Bolland-illustrated Batman Vs. Green Arrow and Black Canary portion amongst other tales. Why are they fighting? I’ll let you read the story. This was reprinted in a now out of print George Perez JLA Hardcover.

Next up is Action Comics #600 from 1988 which I loved as a huge Wonder Woman fan back in the day. This was the issue where the lead story finds Post-Crisis Superman and Wonder Woman trying to figure out if they should pursue a romance, but run afoul of Darkseid and his minions on Olympus during this first date. Great tale by Perez and John Byrne. Speaking of romantic Anniversary issues, Tales of the Teen Titans #50 springs to mind with the nuptials of Donna Troy and Terry Long, attended by Titans past and present as well as some other familiar faces, all mostly out of costume. The Action tale is reprinted in Man of Steel Volume 8, while the Donna Troy(HI JULIA!) story is reprinted in New Teen Titans: Who Is Donna Troy?

There’s many more Anniversary issues out there, but these are the ones that have stuck with me from childhood til today. Hope I jogged some of your nostalgia for some of these old DC tales and I hope you enjoyed this 500th issue of The Weekly Planet! Catch you next time!

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #50

BG_Cv50Batgirl #50

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr, Roger Robinson, John Timms, Elonora Carlini, James Harvey, Serge Lapointe

DC $4.99

I’ll be blunt, Batgirl #50 is a little bit of a disappointment.

While it’s not entirely the creative team’s fault, this is a $5 comic that feels more like an annual. What was suppose to be the final issue for all 3 members of Team Batgirl (Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher & Babs Tarr,who are off to do creator owned stuff for Image), the comic actually features several additional guest artists, once again making the title feel more like a art jam project.  Babs Tarr does draw the bulk of these pages (20 aka the amount of your average DC/Marvel book), which is where the book really shines. If this was the springboard for the new Birds of Prey book, the additional pages by the guess artists would make a ton of sense. But seeing how none of those character except Batgirl & Black Canary are appearing in that title come this summer, it feels like an excuse to pad the book’s page count. I’m genuinely curious if the decision to make the comic double sized was editorial or the creative teams, because it feels incredibly disjointed.

To be fair to the guest artist, their work is certainly solid. Roger Robinson, John Timms, Elonora Carlini, and James Harvey have all pitched in on art duties before on the character, so they certainly feel familiar on the book. They all manage to ape Tarrs’ sBatgirl-50-11tyle quite well, so the book looks good all throughout the issue. And while I may complain about the presence of multiple guest artists, I really do dig the Street Fighter-influenced Vs. pages that break up the chapters. And it’s cool to see Babs working off of Cameron Stewart’s layouts again, as we can see how much she’s grown since she last worked off of them.

The book is at it’s best when it towards the ending, as you can really see where the team was trying to take Barbara. It’s where the real meat of the story is, and it does some really cool things with Babs and the cast of supporting characters the team has assembled. It’s a shame that there’s not more time spent on that sort of thing, versus the amount of time spent with the guest artists and guest stars dealing with other villains. The book ends up feeling back-loaded, which is a batgril-50-teamshame, because again, while I don’t dislike the artist, but there’s a lot of fat to chew through to get to the good stuff.

Batgirl #50 has some genuinely good moments in it, but this book will test your patience. A shame really, because the team had spent a considerable amount of time taking Babs into her this new and exciting direction. They do ultimately succeed in blazing some new paths with the character, and set things up for the next creative team to do some real interesting things with the character, but I just wish the execution could have been a little better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #5 & Grayson #18

All-New-Hawkeye-5-2016-coverAll-New Hawkeye #5

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

It’s the penultimate issue of All-New Hawkeye! Which is a surprise to me, as I have no clue if this is the last time we’re going to see Clint and Kate in an on-going for a while or not. Yay Marvel Comics stealth cancellations!

All-New Hawkeye issue 5 sees Kate discovering the truth about her father in the past, while Clint makes an attempt to save the Project Communion kids in the present. Why this was solicited as Hawkeye vs Hawkeye (which the cover seems to imply as well) is beyond me. But we’re here to discuss the comic itself, not its marketing.

Ramon Perez & Ian Herring are SO GOOD on this book. As I said last review, I really like how Kate Bishop remains the only defined character in the flashbacks. But this issue sees Herring and Perez do something neat when Clint removes his hearing aid. The book goes from colored to black and white, symbolizing how isolated Hawkeye is without aid. It’s a nice way to show how deafness works, without stating the obvious. Sadly, I’m not feeling the flashback material all that much with issue 5. While the present day stuff definitely works for me, the Kate “origin” stuff seemed to dominate more of the issue, forcing the modern day material to be rushed.

All New Hawkeye #5 isn’t worst issue issue by this creative team, no, not by a long shot. But it’s best? Sadly no again. Wrapping up the series with the next issue may be for the best, and hopefully whoever inherits the Hawkeyes next will be able to tell some stories that don’t stall out as much.

Grayson_Vol_1-18_Cover-1_TeaserGrayson #18

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Geraldo Borges, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

So apparently 2 issues ago was the final issue of Grayson for the King/Seeley/Janin team. Which means this book is wrapping up with an entirely different creative team, because LOL DC COMICS. Granted Tim Seeley will be returning this summer to write Nightwing, it strikes me as odd to bring in an entirely new creative team to wrap us this book. I personally find it a bit insulting to readers who have become invested in the character because of the creative team, and it feels like DC Comics editorial thinks we as readers will buy the book because of the character/IP, not the talent behind it.

That being said, editors Rebecca Taylor & Mark Doyle usually does a solid enough job of finding guest creators for their books. Taking over writer duties from Seeley and King are  Jackon Lanzing &  Collin Kelly, who’s previous comics works I’m unfamiliar with. They definitely do a solid job of getting the tone of Grayson down, which is impressive given the fact that they have to juggle such a large cast. There’s not much done in terms of character development sadly, as this issue is heavy on the action and reveals. Still it could have been much worse, and the two writers manage to replicate the voices King and Seeley have established quite well.

Sadly, while the art by Roge Antonio & Geraldo Borges isn’t bad per say, it’s definitely not something to praise. I did enjoy the last few pages, which set up a cool new status quo for one of the supporting characters, but aside from that and a solid splash page, there lack of sexy and trippy we usually get from Mikel Janin is noticeable. Colorist Jeromy Cox does an admirable jobs with the colors, but he can only do so much with the art when it’s muddled and rush.

Grayson #18 is a comic that succeeds despite have the odds stacked against it. It’s just a shame I couldn’t go into this comic with the usual confidence I have when reading an issue of Grayson.

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Chris’ Comics: G.I. Joe Deviations #1

GIJoe-Deviations-coverG.I. Joe: Deviations #1

Paul Allor, Corey Lewis, Gilberto Lazcano

IDW $4.99

2015 was the year that I took some time to read some comics about Transformers, specifically Windblade, who is the best. 2016 sees me purchasing G.I. Joe: Deviations #1, a one shot done in the what if style. I assume I’ll finally be given IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series a shot comes 2017.

G.I. Joe: Deviations probably wouldn’t have landed on my radar is it was mentioned on Comics Alliance few times, or if it wasn’t drawn by Corey Lewis, who’s Snark Knife I’ve enjoyed and upcoming Sun Bakery I’m very excited for. It also helps that the premise for this comic and its execution is right up my ally.

The plot for GIJ:D sounds pretty grimmdark at first as the few pages sees Cobra successfully conquer the world and lay waste to their enemy G.I. Joe. But then it flashes forward 5 years later, where we see Cobra Commander at odds with his role of leader of the world and his desire to be a cartoon super villain. Now that he and Cobra have succeeded, he has very little time for inane world conquering plots involving questionable gi_joe_deviations_preview_03technology. He has to focus now on being a bureaucrat, something he does not enjoy doing obviously. “Luckily” for him, 4 Joes remain, and are looking for revenge, which obviously leads to hijinks (who is NOT a existing G.I Joe character surprisingly).

Writer Paul Allor does an excellent job of telling a solid story while making sure there’s some laughs to be had. The original G.I. Joe animated series has not aged well, and Allor is well aware of what the internet has mined from this show for meme purposes. Case in point, this comic starts off with a PSA parody that goes pretty dark real fast, but is also funny in an incredibly cruel way.  This comic is very much an action comedy, as Cobra Commander’s inability to give up his love of causing a ruckus leads to some interesting decisions.

As stated above, Corey Lewis was a key reason why I bought this book, and he does not disappoint. His style is perfect for a book like this, as his stylized, Jim Mahfood-esque art successfully gives the book a animated feel. I love his character designs, which make all sorts of pop culture references, but only if you’re in on the joke, so they don’t really gi_joe_deviations_preview_05distract much. His art really shines when it comes to the book’s action scenes, as his kinetic, manga esque layouts really make for some fun visuals. I’m glad that Lewis inks and colors himself as well, because the finished art really pops, re-imagining the old animated series in the best way possible.

My only complaint is the price tag. Its 5 bucks for 36 pages, but a lot of those pages (14!) is dedicated space for extra content. Had I not been such a fan of the artist, chances are I would have skipped over it to be honest, and it may be a deal breaker for those of you who want a more serious story. That being said, I’m okay with my purchase, especially since it’s a done in one. G.I. Joe Deviations is a fun alternate universe one-shot that I can’t recommend enough if you want a different take on a beloved property. By not being the most serious of affairs, the books works for me in ways other G.I. Joe comics haven’t before. If you’re willing to drop the $5 on it, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

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Val’s Toy Chest- Odds and Ends

She’s here! Actually that phrase applies to a couple of items we have received over the past week and a half. I mentioned in last week’s article that we’d gotten our shipping notice for the Hot Toys’ Scarlet Witch from last summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and she has finally arrived. The likeness to Elizabeth Olson is excellent and the rooted hair doesn’t detract from the figure at all, plus the costuming is gorgeous and the accessories all make sense. A very tempting piece for sure, I know I’m going to want one.

The other “she’s here!” piece I am referring to is the breathtaking Yvonne Craig as Batgirl Tweeterhead statue. Approved by Ms. Craig before she passed away last summer, the folks at Tweeterhead definitely put their best foot forward with this release. The Batgirl Maquette features the costume as seen in the 1960’s Batman TV series as well as a base that features the secret door to access her BatgirlCycle. Definitely one of the best Yvonne Craig likenesses out there and highly recommended if you are a fan of that iteration.

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Back in stock for Star Wars fans out there are the Hasbro Star Wars 6″ Black Series figures of Captain Phasma, The Guavian Enforcer and Poe Dameron have returned to our shelves and new to the store is the 6″ Kylo Ren figure. We also have a few assorted characters from the basic 3 and 3/4″ line still in stock as well as a handful of vehicles for both scales of figures. Speaking of Star Wars, Funko and Diamond Comics have teamed up to bring out their latest exclusive POP vinyl figures. The Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Funko POP three pack features Luke Skywalker, a 6″ Rancor and fan favorite Oola in POP vinyl form. Oola and the Rancor are both first timers for the POP line and this piece should also be a hot one.

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I don’t frequently talk about comics in this column but I thought I’d mention one this week since it is a character dear to my heart written by a person that I also adore. Black Canary #9 hits the stands on Wednesday and instead of the solicited story by regular series writer Brenden Fletcher, will feature a story by former FP employee and writer of last year’s acclaimed We Can Never Go Home, Matthew Rosenberg. Black Canary(the band) is hired to play at the birthday party of a young girl named Julia(possibly named for a fellow FP employee…) and there seems to be more to the gathering than meets the eye. I definitely think this issue will be an underrated gem and highly recommend picking it up as soon as you see it.

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That’s it for me this week, catch you guys next week with more toy and comic news. See you in the store!

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