Category: DC Comics

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: #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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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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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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Troy’s Toys, But With Comics: Rapid Fire Edition

Here lies Chris Troy, what died of emotions related to Parks and Rec ending.

Aside from the best show wrapping up, hella fine comics dropped this week, including an issue of Secret Avengers I refused to review because it would just be me gushing about how self-aware and insane the issue is. So instead, I’ll talk about these 2 non-Marvel book, in an effort to to distract myself from this Johnny Karate-less future.

WickedDivine_08_300_462The Wicked + The Divine #8

Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

This may be hyperbole, but this is probably the best use of color in comics I’ve seen in the last 5 years.  Matthew Wilson absolutely delivers the good in Wicked and the Divine #8, in which our lead character attends what can be best described as a “God Rave”.  It’s as psychedelic as one would imagine, and Jamie McKelvie’s simple yet expressive layouts are enhanced tenfold thanks to Wilson’s brilliant colors. This is Wilson’s “Pizza Dog issue” moment, which I mean that he deserves an Eisner for it, and that I’ve made my weekly Matt Fraction reference.

And it’s not like the other contributors are slacking in any capacity. McKelvie is incapable of drawing a bad comic as far as I’m concerned, giving us some really interesting layout and panel placement and Kieron Gillen‘s script and dialogue is wonderful as per usual. But Matthew Wilson really flexes his creative muscles and busts out a Tron meets Andy Warhol color palette, and we the reader are richer for it. The book not only embraces the fact that comics are a strictly visually medium, but it grabs you by the throat and screams it in your face with it high intensity use of color. Of course, you can make an argument that Gillen and McKelvie set up Wilson to deliver such a performance, but I feel his colors make the issue.

Long story short: The Wicked + The Divine #8 is an $3.50 tab of acid that’s well worth the trip. As someone who’s never done acid, I hope that analogy works, because I don’t know any better way to describe this comic.

GOTHAC_Cv5_545d116f223cc7.03502535 Gotham Academy #5

Becky  Cloonan/Brenden Fletcher/Karl Kerschl/Msassyk/Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

If you’re a fan of quirky (And excellent) comics, Gotham Academy #5 is a book you need to read. Aside from always gorgeous visuals from Karl Kerschl and his talented team of colorists (Msassyk and Serge Lapointe ), this month’s installment involves a man bat, a lizard man, hidden tunnels, a school dance, intrigue AND a shout out to one of the best moments of Batman: The Animated Series. Dense doesn’t even begin to cover it, and it’s impressive how much this creative team crams into a single issue month after month.

Gotham Academy continues to use elements of Bat-Lore in interesting and unique ways, and it’s hard not to compare it to Harry Potter or Wolverine and the X-men. But like those works, it’s a fun as hell read, and you can tell Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher are really having a blast working with Kerschl and company. And their fun means a slick looking book with some great character moments, which is all I want from my #TEEN romance, spookums and mystery comics. Granted this month’s issue is heavier in Bat-stuff, literally, than past issue, it’s uses those elements to it’s advantage, so it seem natural, not forced.With the Batline being so good over the last 6 months, it’s hard to claim that Gotham Academy is the best book coming out from DC these days. But man, it’s a discussion worth having.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Petrie @ The Planet: Wonder Woman and Women in Comics

wonderwomanbolland

Wonder Woman saved my life. When I was young (I was not little, weighing in, at my lightest, about 30 pounds heavier than I am now) I was an adopted, multi-racial, overweight child. I was also, not to be politically incorrect, really gay. I thought there was something terribly wrong with me that I didn’t want to play sports or go fishing, but instead wanted to hang out with the girls, play with dolls and read.

Then along came a metal spinner rack at our local convenience store. There was a woman in a red, white, blue and yellow costume holding back a lightning bolt with a rope (“Hera help me stop this lighting before it splits this building in two!”).

I have no idea what drew me to her but, there she was, right in front of me. Back then comics cost .25 cents (Yes, .25 cents!! I’m showing my age, but no more than the crows feet) and fortunately she was there on Saturday mornings with her friends. Her Super Friends.

Then came Lynda Carter. I’ve made no secret of my love affair with Stephen Amell and the passion he and I share, but Lynda was my first crush. I had her poster. I had her puzzle. I had her doll. More importantly as I got a bit older and began to realize why there was a gulf between myself and other boys my age, I also began to realize that Wonder Woman was different as well.

Wonder Woman was a woman in a field of men. She wasn’t a girlfriend or a damsel in dstress. She did the rescuing. She wasn’t the same as me, but she knew what it was like to be different and I always got the feeling she was okay with it. I knew she’d say to me, “It’s okay to be different and I like you BECAUSE of that.”

Unlike Superman or Batman or, even, Captain America who I thought would like me “even though” I was different. To my six or seven year old self, the space between ‘because of’ and ‘in spite of’ meant the world to me. It meant I would have a friend who would help me through the teasing and bad times.

Now, not to be more maudlin, I say none of this to make anyone feel sorry for me. I say this as a lead in to why I love women in comics. From Wonder Woman (I call her Diana. Yeah, we’re on a first name basis. I’m that cool now.) I was lead to Batgirl, Hawkgirl, Wonder Girl, The Wasp, Scarlet Witch (She and Diana and I had coffee the other day. She’s not crazy about how she’s been written recently, but mostly, she’s NOT CRAZY.)

I love that comic book women are more than one trait.  I know in my heart of hearts that Natasha is the toughest Avenger out there, but she’s dying for human connection. Black Canary could take down Batman if needed but she loves life so much she’ll never be a dark knight. Helena Bertinelli is an angry, vengeful creation, but she never gives up trying to make Gotham and herself better. The Wasp is silly, and flighty and the best field leader the Avengers ever had, keeping an arrogant Hercules in check and giving orders to Thor and Iron Man.

I love that comic book women are bad-ass. Diana will give you her hand in peace, but she’ll make it a fist and take you out if you want to cause trouble. I cannot overstate how much you should read the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang Wonder Woman. It’s an epic masterpiece, blessedly free of continuity. Azzarello makes Diana powerful and compassionate, two qualities which people seem to forget are NOT mutually exclusive. (Editor’s note: the Greg Rucka run is worth a look, too, if you can get your hands on it.)

I love that comic book women teach me how to have fun. Paul Dini’s BLACK CANARY/ZATANNA: BLOODSPORT graphic novel came out early last year and it’s fantastic! Two women who wear fishnets better than anyone on the planet (except our co-worker, Dany) and are friends. It’s a comic full of joy. And fisticuffs.

I love that comic book women teach me about the world. G. Willow Wilson’s MS. MARVEL is a revelation. This book is an addictive read. A teenage, Muslim fan-girl gets superpowers and succeeds in becoming like her idols. I look forward to this book every month. It’s fun and touching and beautifully written. It will make the hurt of losing SHE-HULK slightly less. I’m not sure how Charles Soule pitched SHe-Hulk. “She’s a big, green, super hero lawyer! We’ll make her as awesome as Gina Torres in ‘SUITS!’ And we’ll throw in Patsy Walker and a monkey named Hei Hei!!”  There is no way this book should work, but I fell in love with it. As has everyone else. Shulkie, we hope to see you soon.

You should know how awesome Kelly Sue DeConnick is, but in case you haven’t read her books yet, she’s simply an amazing writer who deserves the heaps of praise she’s gotten. If you want trippy, read PRETTY DEADLY. It’s drawn by Emma Rios and despite what some people say it’s not over-hyped. It’s Death’s Daughter as John Wayne in ROOSTER COGBURN written by H.P. Lovecraft. I’ll let that sink in. If you want a more super-hero piece, you’ve got CAPTAIN MARVEL. Whatever she’s writing, Kelly Sue hits it out of the park. If you haven’t read BITCH PLANET, please do. (Editor’s Note: Her run on GHOST is a solid, oft unsung winner, too.)

If I could have dinner with any working comic creators, I think it’d be Gail Simone and Nicola Scott. If you haven’t read EARTH 2, you should. James Robinson builds a world, and Nicola brings it to life. She not only draws beautiful pictures, she tells a story. and when she and Gail did the SECRET SIX? Well, it’s magic. Twisted, creepy, sick magic. And I loved every last second of it.

Babs Tarr on BATGIRL is genius. She does amazing things with this book, not the least of which she manages to dress a super heroine in casual clothes that a woman would actually wear. Gather around and listen to your new gay best friend, straight guys: when picking out clothes for your girlfriend as a present, stay away from using comics as a guideline; I guarantee, you’ll be wrong.

Marguerite Bennett is another writer that you should take notice of. If you didn’t read her recent spy series BUTTERFLY, then run back to the store and get the few autographed copies we have left. She’s about to start co-writing A-FORCE, an all female Avengers squad and the rumors are true, I did a little dance when I heard about this series.

There are a lot of books I want to tell you about with women who are strong and powerful and sexy and all those things in between, but mostly I want to tell you about women who are written as fully fleshed out characters. Grab Mark Waid’s SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT and you’ll know in an instant why Supes fell in love with Lois Lane. Pick up some Marv Wolfman/George Perez NEW TEEN TITANS and you get the fiery Starfire, the reserved Raven and the glorious Donna Troy, or, as I call her, Julia’s wife and eternal love. Get Kurt Busiek’s ASTRO CITY: VICTORY to have the best comic book study of feminism and heroism, where Winged Victory fights to remain the inspiration she is. Grab some BIRDS OF PREY (honesty time: read any pre-New 52 BOP, but post-New 52, stop after the first trade. The first collection is an awesome take on modern-day paranoia in the information age, after that the book gets, well, not as great.)

Read HAWKEYE for Kate Bishop’s attitude. Read HARK A VAGRANT! for Kate Beaton’s humor. Read anything by Greg Rucka for a male writer who simply writes great characters regardless of gender. Read Ed Brubaker’s CATWOMAN for some moral ambiguity.

More than anything else though, I beg and implore and plead with modern dance for you to read some WONDER WOMAN. She’s a multitude of things but, more important than whether she’s a warrior or a diplomat or anything else, she’s the personification of love. And, more than anything else in the world, don’t we need more love? And that’s why I read comics by and about women. Love.

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Troy’s Toys : Toy Fair 2015 part 1

I did a thing on Monday! A thing being street for “Attended Toy Fair 2015 at the Javitis Center  for the very first time!” in case you’re not in the know.

Anywho, fun Toy Fair fact- you can’t see the big boys of toys ( Hasbro/Lego/Mattel) without appointments. Apparently a guest badge has less power at Toy Fair that I was lead to believe, so I missed out seeing all the cool Marvel figures I wanted to steal.

What I did see, aside from an alarmingly amount of educational toys, are some cool action figures that will be dropping over the next year. Also fun fact: everyone wants to be Funko now. Despite the fact that Funko has the license to do ANYTHING at this point, so it seems kinda redundant.

heroes-of-the-storm-series-1-nova-terra-63ef0 devil-may-cry-afa02NECA was the first booth I checked out, because they announced they’re doing figures based on Blizzard’s “Heroes of the Storm”, which is my current MOBA jam. The large prototypes on display  looked great (NOVA! <3), and I’m eager to see what the final products look like this summer. Also on display were more Simpsons Celebrity figures, Pacific Rim toys, more Aliens and Predator figures, as well as Planet of the Apes. The most surprising had to the often delayed Player’s Select Dante figure ( Devil May Cry 1 none the less), which looks to be the most accurate/best version of the character to date. NECA will also continue to do NES/Genesis era versions of their licensed characters, like Godzilla, Rambo and Predator, because they’re down with that sort of synergy. And finally, expect to see a bunch of figures based on the Playstation hit Little Big Planet, with Sackboy in his original form, plus in the form of other Playstation franchises like Uncharted and God of War.

Flash-TV-Flash-AF-65377 DC-Icons-AF-MisterMiracle-f83a0From there, I paid a visit to the Diamond Selects/DC booth. While most of the non-DC toys were already released, the DC selection was quite rad. Expect to see a ton of new figures & statues based on their non-Constantine TV shows ( Gotham, Flash and Green Arrow, plus classic stuff like Batman 66 & Batman the Animated Series)  dropping in the near future. In addition to that, there’s the DC Icon lines, which seem to be the In-house evolution of the dead Mattel DC Universe Classics line. The first couple of waves are a mix of iconic characters like Batman and Superman, with lesser know ones like Mister Miracle, Deadman, and Blue Beetle III. The $24.95 price tag seems to be justified, although I’m curious if this line will eventually replace the new 52 figures that have been coming out from the company as of late.

 

Pop-Doctor-Who-10th-Doctor-eb9bd Legacy-Firefly-Hoban-Washburne-5f2dfI touched upon Funko earlier, cracking wise about how they have the license for everything, but that’s not that much of an exaggeration. Aside from the usual licenses, expect the POP line to grow with figurines based on Doctor Who, Evolve, Futurama, Bravest Warriors and the Breakfast Club, amongst other. Their Legacy line of 6″ figures will add Firefly, the Rocketeer and Evolve to it’s ranks, and the Faux Classic-Kenner esque line continues to grow, with toys based on Arrow, Breaking Bad, The 5th Element and Terminator 2.

That’s all I’ll cover this time. Next up: More from DC and Funko, some McFarlane Toys plus some cool import Goodness from Bandai, Square Enix and Good Smile!

 

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Troy’s Troys: Actually about Toys edition

Hey, so it looks like I’m going to Toy Fair 2015 tomorrow, thanks to a little help from my wife’s company! Meaning I’ll have FRESH photos to post on here in a few days that I took, versus asking around/stealing  acquiring from the Google.

In honor of this occasion, I decided to write about a few collectibles I’ve been enjoying as of late. My #toygame was pretty weak in 2014, because New York apartments are small and expensive and I only have so much space/money. HOWEVER, I did manage to snag a few things here and there.

set-of-x-men-classic-pop-vinyl-figuresdancing-groot-figure-03First and foremost, I’ve think it’s safe to say I’m slightly addicted to the Funko’s POP Vinyl line. I’ve managed to avoid picking up too many over the past few years (Batgirl being the lone exception, which is fine, because she is perfection), but the company’s made a hard push for my wallet as of late, to much success. Aside from the amazing NFL POP line, Funko recently released a all X-men‘s Marvel line, as well as a 2nd Guardians of the Galaxy line. While I’m managed to avoid buying anything not Duck or Groot related from the GOTG line, the Marvel line consists of Mystique, Professor X, Storm, Magneto, Colossus AND MOST IMPORTANTLY Cyclops. What I’m saying is that the lone Batgirl POP is now chilling with Nightwing, Drew Brees and hella X-Men.

 

For the record, we currently have POPs in from everything from Firefly to the WWE, but it’s me, so comics and football rule everything around me. I’m a fan of Funko’s ability to capture all these various properties well in such a small and minimalist style, and the low price doesn’t hurt either.

avengers-marvel-legends-captain-marvel-carol-dangers-figure-maid-111990And since I’m already on the topic of Marvel Comics, the newest line of Marvel Legends just dropped.  This Avengers themed line consists of Marvel NOW Thor, Iron Fist, The Sentry, Classic Hawkeye, Machine Man, Scarlet Witch, and probably the most in demand figure in a long while, Captain Marvel herself, Carol Danvers. This particular wave is great, and the Old Thor/Odin build a figure is a cool addition. In addition to this wave, we also have some of the older Legends from 2014 in stock (Spider-Man, The X-men, Guardians of the Galaxy and I THINK some Winter Soldier line), all for $30 a pop.

 

batman-the-animated-series-action-figures-wave-one-set-of-4-4 San Diego Comic-Con 2014 First Look DC Comics Greg Capullo Batman Designer Series Wave 3 Action Figures - Zero Year Batman, Batgirl, Two-Face and Commissioner James GordonThere’s also no shortage of DC Collectibles in stock. And by DC I mean Batman, of course. Snark aside, at least some of the latest Bat-offerings have been neat. The 3rd Wave of the excellent Greg Capullo designer line dropped recently, complete with the visually interesting Batman Year Zero, Two Face, and two Gordons in the form of Batgirl and Jim Gordon himself. The line continues to captures Capullo’s art perfectly, and may be the best line of toys DC Collectibles is current putting out. The other major Batline is the Animated Series themed line, which has a New Adventures of Batman and Robin accurate Batman and Mr. Freeze figure, and a B:TAS themed Catwoman and Two Face. All of these figures look gorgeous, but be warned, they’re a tad fragile.

This doesn’t even begin to cover all the collectible we have in stock. We got a ton of fandoms covered like Aliens, Sailor Moon, Transformers, Star Wars, Adventure Time covered, as well as several more than escape my lizard brain at the moment. But yeah, come on by, see what we got and expect actual Toy Fair coverage soon!

 

 

 

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Toys Toys But With Comics: Teen Hi-jinks Edition.

Hey look at that, some reviews, but on time! We live such a brave new world!  Also this is totally not me trying to get as much writing done before the Super Bowl as possible, no no no.

 

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_30_TextlessUncanny X-men #30

Brian Michael Bendis/Chris Bachalo/An army of inkers

Marvel $3.99

 So here’s the thing. I know it’s in fashion to be a pretty pretty internet hate machine and smack talking big 2 comics to show your indie cred is a trend. But even with that being the case, I’ve tried avoiding going that route, and praise Cape Comics  when they do things right.

But man, it’s hard to stay positive when a comic is all kinds of bad, especially when a comics is disappointing enough to make me consider dropping the series.

I applaud  Brian Michael Bendis for taking some risks with Uncanny X-men with this current arc, despite it being drawn out like no one’s business. Last month’s cliffhangers were crazy, and there’s some follow up to it this time that would be really neat if they actually stuck. But between upcoming solicits, Bendis himself putting future covers online, and the decompression mentioned earlier, a lot of the impact of these events is lost. Also quick side note: this book was solicited as a book that deals with the repercussions of AXIS. This arc began during Original Sin, and is still going on. There’s zero crossover with AXIS (or OS come to think of it), and feels more like an issue of Doctor Who with all the timey whimey nonsense. I know Chris Claremont was a master of the long game and was also guilty of time travel shenanigans, but he did it early enough in the X-men history where it was still fresh. It feels cliche and tired here, nearly 30 years later.

 

This mostly talking heads issues wastes Chris Bachalo’s talents. Bachalo is a skilled and kinetic artist that gets to stretch his muscles a bit with some brief action scenes but it’s the kind of dialogue heavy issue that’s better served by a Kris Anka (who did a dope job on the cover). That being said, the book still looks good, but not good enough for me to recommend on visauls alone, especially with the inking and the coloring being all over the place.

Ultimately this book is the worst type of bad by just being boring. Bendis’ mutli-MccGuffin balancing act isn’t working out for my tastes, and if this ship doesn’t steer itself right with the next issue, I’m afraid my time with Uncanny X-men is done for the foreseeable future.

 

GalleryComics_1920x1080_20150121_GOTHAC_Cv4_5490db710bf4f8.47907702Gotham Academy #4

Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Msassyk/Serge Lapointe

 DC $2.99

Man that last review was kinda rough. Let’s focus on a good comic now, yes?

Gotham Academy #4 is a hoot. A hoot that involves one of the leads painting D&D monsters in art class, which I adore, and  I don’t even play Dungeons and or Dragons.

What I like about this book is aside from looking AMAZING month after month, is that is operates far enough outside of the DCU where it’s not affect by whatever crossover or event is going on that month, but is close enough to remind you that it’s still a Batman-related book. This month does that by giving 2 REALLY cool shout outs to the classic Batman: The Animated Series, as well as the monthly Bruce Wayne cameo.

Fun easter eggs aside, the book also effortless blends TEEN romance, school, and spooky mysteries, which are my favorite type of mysteries. It’s reminds me a lot of what Marvel was going for in the mid 2000s with The Runaways, which is a good look.  Combined with the gorgeous visuals, it reminds me more of a Japanese Role playing game than a Batman comic. It may not be for everyone, but it’s nice to see DC make an attempt to go after the same market who would also be reading something like Ms Marvel (aka people with great tastes).

 

Gotham Academy is a fantastic read month after month, and it really deserves more of an audience. Word on the street (Twitter street that is) is that sales for this book aren’t so hot, which is a shame because it’s a great little book that’s truly all ages. If you want something that’s fun and a visual delight, I can’t recommend this book enough.

 

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Daily Deals for January 31st 2015

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Batman The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga… ($15) $6.99

Predator ReAction Closed Mouth Predator… ($10) $4.99

Star Wars TP Vol 01 In the Shadow of Yavin… ($20) $4.99

Star Trek Skele-Treks Kor Vinyl Toy… ($14) $5.99

*Forbidden Planet’s DAILY DEALS are updated every morning. Prices are valid in-store til the shop concludes its business day (10pm or 12am, depending on the day) and online for roughly 24 hours. Prices are valid while in-stock supply lasts.

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Everything is OKAY edition

PREVIOUSLY ON TTBwC: You may remember some of my recent reviews for DC’s Grayson and Batgirl have been either slightly negative, or concern about some of the content. This month, said books are released on the same week, and man I am no longer concerned about either title’s quality.

GRAY_Cv6_543db3662f95c5.33622396Grayson #6

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

After 6 issues, 1 Annual and one Editorial Mandatory Tie in Issue, Grayson gets an issues that isn’t a done in one. And man, the cliffhanger is everything I love about this book.

Grayson #6 is a return to form for the creative team, as Dick and the Midnighter final get to throwing down mano y spanish word for hand. Well technically this is like the 3rd time they’ve fought in this series, but this one takes up the bulk of the issue for a change. We also get some new insight on the SPYRAL organization and the people who run it, and the reveal of a new big bad, as well as some jokes. Great jokes at that, including at least 2 laugh out loud bits of dialogue.

There are a few deep cuts to both Pre and New 52 comics continuity in this issue, as Tom King and Tim Seeley really come through with this issue. It’s a smart fight book, that perfectly blends weird sciences with a great fight scene, complete with some superb dialogue. And artists Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox continue to amaze, which some really kinetic line work and some outstanding coloring. This book looks as good as it reads, if not better, especially with some of color choice’s Cox uses to really make the fight scenes pop. Especially with the throwdown’s location, the almost psychedelic color pallet has this book almost out Jim Sterankos your average issue of Secret Avengers.

Grayson #6 comes damn close to being a perfect comic. The creative team starts 2015 off on the right foot, and I’m eager to see what a full year of Grayson will bring us.

tumblr_ne60quQzFV1qfd9cso1_1280Batgirl #38

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

DC $2.99

Speaking of A+ plus coloring, Maris Wicks does some really neat stuff with this month’s issue of Batgirl. Wicks has been doing some dynamite work since this creative team took over the title, but the color in this issue really stands out. There’s several scenes, ranging from a confrontation in a alley way to a high speed motorcycle race that really pop thanks to Wicks’ skills.

Great coloring aside, Batgirl #38 finally raises the stakes with the plot, and moves the story in an interesting direction. Batgirl’s new boyfriend doesn’t approve of the vigilante in town, Black Canary doesn’t approve of her heavy social media presence or her behavior, and there’s still a large helping of jerk-ass white boys making Burnside not so great at times. Granted some of these elements may not seem like the boldest and most original, they’re blended together well enough to seem fresh and entertaining, especially given how well Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher write dialogue. Batgirl is very much a book that reads like it takes place in 2015.

Babs Tarr (with Cameron Stewart on breakdowns) is a beast with this issue. She crams pages with a numerous amount of panels (her average is about 7 in this book, where your usual comics is 5-6 at most), which a frightening amount of detail and expression. It’s impressive to see her talents grow with every issue, especially when she’s this new to the medium.

Batgirl #38 is another delightful issue from the creative team, with a cool mystery, fantastic character interaction and slicks visuals. It’s exactly what this book needed after some of the more controversial material from the previous issue.

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Spies like Us Edition

First and foremost, happy 2015 Forbidden Planet faithful! There were all of 7 comics released this past week,  none of which I pull,  so we’re going to take a look at 2 books that dropped last week instead. Then I’ll finish my “What I like dug” over the next few days, just in time for the first New Comics Wednesday of 2015. Aren’t schedules fun?

GRAYANN_Cv1_540f47df5c1c08.60705222Grayson Annual #1

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Stephen Mooney/Jeremy Cox

DC $4.99

I want to like this comic more than I do.

I’m doing my best to not be an old man and start ranting about how Annuals should be saved for big stories like were in my day. Hell this annual was originally solicited as such, promising us the New 52 origin of Helena Bertinelli. Which we get, sort of, for all of a page.

The rest of the book is dedicated to several new characters, one who’s supposedly really good at what he does, and we get a lot more focus on said new character than we do on Helena, as well as a Irish Folktale. Which is different, but not exactly the most compelling stuff in the world.

While the book isn’t bad ( Tom King and Tim Seeley‘s script is okay, Stephen Mooney‘s art is serviceable, and Jeremy Cox‘s colors remain excellent), it’s not exactly required reading at $5. It does nothing for the over all narrative of the series, even  thought there’s some cool stuff sprinkled throughout the issue.

December was not the best month for Grayson in my option. Between the annual and issue 5, the book feels like it’s stuck in neutral. Hopefully January will see a proper return to form for this book and it’s creative team.

background (1)Secret Avengers #11

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

And once again, Secret Avengers is espionage comics done right.

The final arc of Secret Avengers begins with this issue, and properly raises the stakes. The mysterious world of TLON has began to appear in “our” world, the secret mastermind behind the whole ordeal begins to make his presence known and now it’s up to MODOK and his allies to save to the day. It’s Cosmic Horror meets Archer (wordplay?) at it’s finest.

And speaking of F-I-N-E (#segue) Michael Walsh & Matthew Wilson continue to be at the top of their respected games with this book. Between the storm in Venezuela and the various action pieces on the Hellicarrier, Walsh and Wilson continue to do some interesting and beautiful things with format, design and panel layouts. They do Ales Kot’s script the justice it deserves, being able to convey the emotion needed for the Hawkeye/Coulson confrontation, as well as providing some awesome fight scenes.

Kot also deserves some praise for the way he’s been handling Agent Coulson and his PTSD in this book. Hawkeye, Maria Hill, and Black Widow may be normal human comfortable with some of insanity that goes down on the reg in the 616, Phil Coulson is not, and is affected by it. It’s something that could be handled poorly in the wrong hangs, but Ales Kot writes Phil and his condition properly, which makes for a compelling and a emotionally invested read.

Secret Avengers continues to be one of the strongest offerings from Marvel month after moth. It’s weird, violent and funny, and every so often, it has something smart and endearing to say.

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What I dug in 2014: DC Comics edition

It’s the end of 2014, which means it’s time for everyone to drop “Best Of” lists. Truth be told, there’s been a ton of acclaimed comics I didn’t read this year, so me complying one is kind of whack. HOWEVER, I’ve read a bunch of good comics this year, so I’m going to make 3 articles dedicated to some of my favorites from the past year. A solid cop-out if you ask me, #biased.

2012/2013 saw me drop a number of DC Comics titles, mostly due to the lack of interest in the direction DC editorial was heading. 2014 changed that, as  editor Mark Doyle came aboard the Bat-line and shook things up a lot, assigning some top notch creators to old and new titles. It’s resulted in me getting interested back in Dc’s catalog for the first time in a while, with the exception of one book I never really stopped reading.

Batman_Vol_2_31_Textless-1That exception is Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo‘s amazing run on Batman. This book has been constantly excellent since the beginning of the new 52, and this year saw the conclusion to the incredible Year Zero story line, as well as the fantastic Endgame arc. Snyder’s Batman has been a more human take of the character, way different from the Bat-god we’ve seen from Grant Morrison‘s run, and has been the most relatable take on the character in some time. Greg Capullo, inked masterfully by Danny Miki with amazing colors by FCO Plascencia, is doing some next level stuff with this book. His villains are grotesque, his Batman is a mix of iconic and pulp hero, and his Gotham varies from modern metropolis to nightmare-fuel garbagetown depending on the scene.

4008079-grayson01But Snyder and Capullo kicking ass isn’t anything new. What is new is Grayson, the spy thriller that saw Nightwing go from vigilante to spy who refuses to kill. Which is problematic given his new profession. Written by Tim Seeley and former actual spy Tom King, with  Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox, it’s been the most compelling Dick Grayson has been since he was Batman, and is a fun book that incorporates espionage with some weirder elements of the Batverse. While the book suffers the occasional misstep, it’s also incredibly smart and sexy when the book (in a non-insulting/offensive way) delivers. The Future’s End tie-in was easily one of the best editorial mandated tie-in book to an event I don’t read this past year, and would be the best single issue for the series if we didn’t have a surprisingly sweet issue involving a Manty Raid.

STK652755586cfd30a87203654de3e206e1093d7dI also can’t overlook the trio of female lead books set in the Batverse. Gotham Academy, but Brendan Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, Karl Kerschl and and a trio of amazing colorists ( Geyser, Dave McCaig and John Rauch) is Batman meets Harry Potter, and is a slick looking book I didn’t know I wanted, but now am incredibly happy we have. It reminds me of Jason Aaron‘s insanely charming run of Wolverine and the X-men, only with less mutants and more #Teens. Harley Quinn, by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Chad Hardin and Alex Sinclair, has became a massive hit for DC Comics, and while the book is pretty hit or miss to me, it’s hard to overlook it’s importance. It’s the closest DC has an book that truley appeals to the Deadpool audience, and when the book is good, it’s good. And finally there’s Batgirl, DC’s arguably most hyped book of the year. The book, seeing Fletcher joined by Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Maris Wick, set the internet aflame when it was announced, and has delivered ever since they creative team’s debut in October. It’s a much needed book that does some interesting things with Barbara Gordon, and much like Gotham Academy, it’s gorgeous and incredibly fun.

 

So yes, while DC has put out some incredibly bad books this past year (Forever Evil and the current run of Wonder Woman spring to mind), it seems they’ve finally found some books that match some of the gems Marvel has been offering as of late. I’m hoping this trend continues well into 2015.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Inside Baseball edition

In a year we’ve had a lot of great books drop, this may be the strongest week for comics all year. And no, I’m not just saying that because Sex Criminals dropped with an a incredible reference to another hit Image title. Spoilers, that joke is all sorts of wrong in the best sorts of ways. There’s also another pair of books that dropped that were rad, although one of them has some troublesome elements. Let’s discuss yes?

4264340-batgirl+01Batgirl #37

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

DC $2.99

If I could recommend this book based on it’s cover alone, I would. It’s sharp, clever and easily one of the best covers to drop in 2014.

Be warned though, I’m sad to say that the villain of Batgirl #37  issue is bit of a problematic trope. Which is unfortunate, because anyone should be able to enjoy this book, as it definitely one of the finest coming out from DC these days.

If you don’t mind that particular rough element though, you’re in for a visual treat. Babs Tarr‘s storytelling is incredible (also reminder that Cameron Stewart does the break downs) and Maris Wicks’ coloring is definitely on another level. There’s a lot of glizz and glam in this issue, and Wicks’ coloring makes it almost look 3-D, which is an super impressive feat in itself. There’s a panel in this issue that could have easily ruined the book for long time Batgirl fans, but it’s handled so well it got an audible “Holy Crap” from me when I read it on the subway.

Batgirl continues to be a fun revamp of a beloved character. And while all the Instagram/Uber references may date the book in a few years, it still feels like the most relevant and fresh book coming out of DC these days. Even with the problems this issue faced with the villain, it’s still a good issue early in it’s fan favorite run.

bitchplanet_01aBitch Planet #1

Kelly Sue DeConnick/Valentine De Landro/Cris Peters/Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

It’s been entirely too long since I’ve gotten to talk about Kelly Sue Deconnick book, so you may want to prepare yourself for some serious gushing soon.

Bitch Planet has been on my radar since it was announced earlier this year at the Image Expo in San Fran. The original pitch made it come off as campy sci-fi space drama, but the first issues reads more like “Oz” than “Orange is the New Black“, and I couldn’t be happier.

Kelly Sue Deconnick is one of most favorite people currently working in comics, and I couldn’t help but love how fresh and unapologetic it is. It’s a unique concept (women being tossed in a planet-sized prison for any number of reasons) that’s illustrated beautifully by the talents of Valentine De Landro and Cris Peter. Visually it reminds me a lot of Michael Walsh & Matthew Wilson‘s work on Secret Avengers, but  a little more cleaner line work and with a little more psychedelic color palette. Paired with KSD’s razor sharp dialogue, it’s amazing debut, with 2 pair of fantastic new characters that will get your attention immediately.

DeConnick, De Landro and their team have created a book that feels important, with it’s strong feminist message, characters with body times usually not associated with comics’ protagonists and it’s “our way or the high way” approach. The type of book comics needs, and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate creative team to deliver it. Bitch Planet may be Kelly Sue’s best work to date, and it’s worth your time.

 

 

 

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