Category: DC Comics

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #48

BG_CV48Batgirl #48

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr, Rob Haynes, Serge Lapointe, Lee Loughridge

DC $2.99

BABS TARR!! BLACK CANARY!! CO-O-ah dang, I almost had enough things that started with “B”to warrant a “BACKGIRL” gag. ::: is fired immediately for even suggesting that. :::

 

Batgirl #48 sees Babs Tarr return to art duties, which means the book is back to firing on all cylinders. Her pencils (with Rob Haynes helping with breakdowns) are great, and her artistic vision and style help Batgirl bounce back after an issue where I wasn’t really feeling the art. Tarr is the life blood of this book, and it’s nice to see the book look as good and it reads. Also Tarr finally gets to draw Batgirl as a Luchador, which is obviously great, and long overdue in my opinion.

batgirl-48-vid-gamesBabs’ art and holographic pro wrestling aside (again, GREAT!), Batgirl #48 offer readers a lot for their $3. We finally get some answers regarding what’s going on with Babs’ (Gordon) brain,  see her team up with Batwing against the video game themed villains Co-op, said Black Canary team up, and some other things that I don’t want to spoil. My only complaint is that one reveal in this issue was something we all saw coming a mile away, which is a bit anti-climactic, unless there’s a last minute swerve next issue, which would be welcomed.

Also that fight with Co-op had some many terrible puns it felt like I was reading Kieron Gillen’s Twitter feed. Painful if you’re not down with that sort of thing, but also wonderful in a Batman ’66 sort of way.

My beef aside, I also like how the book manages to have 2 colorists work on it and come out relatively fine. Serge Lapointe is joined by Rob Haynes, and while you can tell the differences in style from first glance, the book doesn’t suffer as a result from it. Bab Tarr’s demands colors that pop and are energetic, and both colorists manage to nail that without any issue. I dug how Haynes used darker, bolder colors for his segments, stressing the action/dramatic vibe the book took, where as Lapointe’s palette was lighter. Batgirl uses color extremely well, and it’s great to see colorists not named Matt Wilson kill it in comics.

While there was some fun at their expense earlier, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart really do a superb job on the script. Cringe worthy jokes aside, there’s a healthy mix of batgirl-48-vid-games-2action and drama, resulting in a fun super hero soap opera. In addition to forwarding the plot and character relationship, the book manages to bring reader up to speed as to what Black Canary’s been up in a fun scene that doesn’t read like an forced ad for her book.

Batgirl #48 ends on a great cliffhanger,  really raising up the stakes for this arc. It’s a great read, and proves how important Babs Tarr role in this title is. If there rumored DC relaunch does go through, hopefully this creative team stay intact. They’re created an incarnation of Batgirl that’s delightful, and it’s the most fun I’ve had with the character in years.

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson 16

 

Grayson01Grayson #16

Tim Seeley,  Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

This week, Grayson reaches new heights of awesome, some of which resulted in me almost losing my composure in public several times. Please note that I am a adult (legally), and that I will still sometimes react physically to comics when they’re THIS good.

Those of you who have reading this blog for the last year and a half or so know that I’m quite fond of the title. Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox (as well as the occasionally guest artist) have been kicking all sort of butt on this comic since day one, making it one of the best books coming out of DC, let alone the market in my opinion. While I wasn’t that big of a fan of the book being forced into to a crossover event last month, issue 16 more than makes up for, delivering one hell of an experience.

 

WARNING FROM HERE ON OUT, THERE BE SPOILERS YO!

Team Grayson has done an excellent job of taking obscure Wildstorm  and DCU characters and reintroducing them to the new 52 universe fully fleshed out. We’ve seen them work wonders on the Midnighter, who’s gone on to start in his own wonderful spin-off comic. This issue sees the similar discarded Grifter show up, amongst several other character being introduced for the first time/were starring in a book that got cancelled. As someone who got into WildCATS as a kid and gave his quickly cancelled on-going series a shot, I’m excited to see this team give ol Cole the treatment he deserves. Oh the once-before teased 5021674-gray_16_2Maxwell Lord shows up, which I’m sure won’t result in heartbreak, betrayal or any Blue Beetles getting shot.

This is also the issue where the creative team decided to go full Bond with the references. What does that mean exactly? Well first and foremost, it means Dick taking out a James Bond homage in front of several Bond lady tributes. It also means a montage designed as tribute to the Bond intro, complete with it’s own theme song as perform by Dick Grayson himself. Aside from it being one of the BEST running gags in the book, it looks amazing, as Janin draws Dick and his fellow deflected agent Tiger fighting spies in a variety of exotic locales. Jeromy Cox really shines in this section, giving the 2 double page spread outs some really trippy colors, giving it a 60s mod vibe. The combination of word class colors and line art continue to make Grayson a gorgeous book, well worth the $4 cover price.

And man, I love the banter Tiger and Dick have between themselves in this issue. Seeley and King have been really solid with the humor these last few issues, but the jokes in this particular issue, including said song, are really strong. They’ve done an excellent job of tumblr_o1mh53FBTc1sqep2mo2_1280poking fun of some of the more sexist troupes spy-fiction, and they continue to do so twice in this issue, while balancing a pretty serious plot that advances in an interesting direction. I absolutely adore the direction this book is going, especially when you tease me with a upcoming story called SPY WARS!

Grayson continues to be a delightful read, and this issue is ridiculously good. The creative team gives the reader a comic that delivers a generous amount of action, laughs and fantastic visuals, and it’s something I look forward to reading every month. Grayson #16 isn’t the BEST issue this team has done so far in this fun, but between the humor and what’s to come, it’s damn enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #47

4999675-0+bg_cv47_dsBatgirl #47

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Eleonora Carlini, Moritat, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

 I’m a reasonable critic, or I’ve lied to myself enough times to fully believe that I am. I understand that fill in artists are a thing that needs to happen when it comes to super hero comics. Babs Tarr is still relatively new to the business, and it’s hard for most artists, old and new, to hit that 12 issues a year mark. It’s something I’ve grown accustom to, and don’t mind when guys artists like Bengal swing by a draw an issue.

Batgirl #47 has 2 artists assigned to this comic, and while they’re both similar in style, neither Eleonora Carlini or Moritate really give the readers much to talk about. Carilini’s out of costume stuff looks fine enough, almost hitting those Babs Tarr level of 4999685-3+bg_47_3energy to the book, but it falls apart when character in costume show up. Moritat’s backgrounds are nice and detailed but his characters, especially the faces, are weak, and the art looks more like a children’s book than a comic at times. It’s a shame, because Serge Lapointe does some great stuff with the coloring, which does save the art work in some portions of the book, but certainly not others.

I do dig what Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher are doing on the narrative end of the title. We get to see Barbara Gordon pal around with the Spoiler, who I adore, and Bluebird, someone I not as familiar with, but dig none the less. It’s a fun team up that sees the trio working with Bab’s roommate Frankie, who also has gotten herself a code name that starts with an O, but isn’t the one that you want. It does makes for a solid running gag, hopefully editorial will let Frankie take up the name we want her to have sooner rather than later. Regardless, it’s fun to see Babs pal around with other female super heroines who are not Black Canary, and I hope to see them stick around.

The 2 writers also manage to balance a number of subplots in the span of 20 issues without things getting out of hand. I like how they manage to keep this book in line with the events of two other Bat books while having Barbara deal with her own set of problems 5010044-bg_47_5with each plot line have enough space to breathe. It’s a shame the art for this title isn’t on par with this writing, because the dialogue is a ton of fun, and the narrative is incredibly strong.

I hate to trash a book, but ultimately Batgirl #47 disappointed me. Again it’s a shame, but I really like what the writers bring to the table, and I enjoyed Batgirl running around with some of the less prominent members of the Bat-Family. On paper it sounds like a fun team up book, but the execution suffers from not so great art. A shame, as the book turns out to be a textbook example of how a weak art can ruin a good comic. It’s super unfortunate, as this issue sets up some important things up for the upcoming 50th issue, so it’s a bit a crucial issue, despite not being the most enjoyable comic.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #14

GOTHAC_Cv14_PREVIEWS_R1_5616b1b7728111.33337671

Gotham Academy #14

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Steve Wands, Katie Cook, Dustin Nguygen, Derek Fridolfs, Hope Larson, Kris Mukai

DC $2.99 

So yeah, I’m still worried about the fate of this title. Karl Kerschl left 2 issues ago, and Becky Cloonan has been M.I.A. since issue that issue. Hopefully this month’s round of solicitations will answer some questions, but I’m assuming the worse for this title but the time is said and done.

That depressing intro now out of the way, let’s focus on the fact that Gotham Academy #14 is wonderful. Here, the original creator standing Brenden Fletcher and the possibly new creative team of  Adam Archer and Sandra Hope are joined by a insanely talent roster for the first part of the “Yearbook” arc. This story seems to be a guest creator jam session, which I’m very cool with, if this issue is any indication of what we’ll be getting.

GOTHAC_14_3The framing sequence by Fletcher, Archer and Hope is solid enough, but Archer is still struggling a bit with character faces. The team is limited to 4 pages, which is good, because the real meat of the story comes from the guest creators. Leading things off is Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen, 2 creators I didn’t know I wanted to tell a Gotham Academy story, but now am glad I  got one. Prank enthusiast and general troublemaker Colton Rivera is the focus of this story, which has our lead deal with one of Kirk Langstrom’s bizarre subjects. It’s fun little chase story that looks amazing thanks to Nguyen’s gorgeous water-colored art. The humor these creator inject into this story is great, really capturing the tone you would expect from Gotham Academy. The final page of this story is AMAZING, and I would definitely assault a hobo with a wiffleball bat to see Nguyen draw these characters again.

From there it’s Katie Cook drawing a Maps and Olive story, which is by far the cutest incarnation of these characters to date. Cook’s style is perfect for a tale that involves mid control via Glee Club, and I believe it’s the first we get a DC Comics story revolving around cat tumblr_o0x790kQfg1rj45a8o1_1280videos.  Cook’s style is absolutely adorable, her sense of humor is fantastic, and this story was an absolutely treat.

Wrapping up the issue is Hope Larson and Kris Mukai focusing on Gotham Academy professor Isla Macherson in her teen years. If you want to see what the 1980s looks liked because you’re a stinking youth or some such, this is the comic to look at. It’s arguably the most well rounded tale of the bunch, mixing fantastic visuals with a really sweet story. It manages to avoid teen drama cliches by embracing the fact that it takes place in a city where Batman is a thing.

An jam issue with multiple creators sounds more like a special or an annual then a proper arc, but it’s hard to hate when the creators involved are this good. Gotham Academy #14 could be accused of staling, but frankly I don’t care. It’s a fun issue that allows a number of talent folk to play in one of the best new sandboxes in the DC Universe. If this is a proper taste of what to expect from this arc, consider me excited.

 

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Chris’ Comics: What I loved about Comics in 2015

It’s been awhile FPNYC Faithful! Both my wife’s and my parents are divorced and remarried, so that means 4 families in 3 different states over the course of 3-5 days, depending on the year. The upside to that is that I got to see “The Force Awakens” twice, which I enjoyed a bunch. Downside is that my portable keyboard’s “N” and “B” keys don’t working, making writing while traveling virtually impossible, at least if I wanted proper spelling.

2015 was kind of a mix bag for Comics. Between Convergence and Secret Wars, there were WEEKS where I didn’t pull any big 2 comics. Which was fine really, as Dark Horse, Image and Boom put out some fantastic books this year. Which means I’m going to spend today talking about what I loved about comics this year.

Kaptara-coverTHE RISE OF CHIP ZDARSKY: The homie Matt Fraction is probably my favorite dude working in comics, but in terms of books released in 2015, I think I’ve read all of 6 books written by Fraction in 2015. HOWEVER, his chum/Sex Criminals co-creator Chip Zdarsky had a fantastic year as far as I’m concerned. 2015 saw Chip teamed up with Infinite Kung-Fu creator Kagan McLeod and put out the excellent Kaptara for Image, Joe Quinones on Marvel’s absolutely hilarious Howard the Duck series, and in a move no one saw coming, Archie hired him and Erica Henderson for a Jughead series. Zdarsky and his army of artists released some gorgeous comics packed with sharp and brilliant humor. I’m excited to see what Chip and his friends can do come 2016, which will hopefully include Sex Criminals coming out on a regular schedule.

KIERON GILLEN, JAMIE MCKELVIE AND MATT WILSON PUT OUT PHONOGRAM VOLUME 3, OH AND THE WICKED AND THE DIVINE REMAINS AN EXCELLENT TITLE. 

PhonogramIG_04-1 Warning, this is where things get a little Image heavy for a bit.

For months, WicDiv has been battling it out with Saga for the crown of “Most Emotionally Damaging Image title”. 2015 saw that book hit all sorts of new creative highs, making for a fantastic read.

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT PHONOGRAM CAME BACK!

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl isn’t the trio’s most accessible work, something I’ve stated several times,  but I don’t care. The music + magic plot point with it’s fascinating cast resonates with me in ways most comics don’t. I’m glad to see it come back, especially with these creators as good as they are now, and it deliver on levels I couldn’t predict. Between this and WicDiv, it’s hard to argue any creative team have had such a banner year more than these two.

PaperGirls_02-1BRIAN K VAUGHAN RELEASES A 2ND ON-GOING, IMAGE GETS ME TO GIVE THEM MORE MONEY. 

I might as well just get the rest of the Image stuff out in a single, dedicated section. In addition to books I was already reading like Rat Queens, Deadly Class, Saga, Sex Crimz, WicDiv & Pretty Deadly, Image decided to let a bunch of talented folk to put out more great books, which is both great for me as reader, and terrible for my savings account. Bitch Planet, Paper Girls, The Goddamned, Island, Montress,  and Tokyo Ghosts are just a few of the incredible offerings coming out from Image, who has had an banner year in 2015. And with creators like Bryan Lee O’ Malley preparing books for Image in 2016, I can’t see the publisher slowing down anytime soon.

SECRET WARS ISN’T TERRIBLE, A TON OF MARVEL BOOKS ARE FUN, THE STAR WARS BOOKS ARE GREAT, AND ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT MARVEL Silk Marvel #1NOW HAS A TON OF POTENTIAL HITS ON THE WAY*!

I have plenty of issues with Marvel 2015, but I can’t deny the company has put out some amazing books over the past 12 months. Secret Wars, even with the delays, may be the new standard of excellent for event books. Marvel added wonderful books like The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Spider-Gwen, and Silk to their catalog. Hawkeye, Uncanny X-men and Secret Avengers all ended on high notes, as the Star Wars line kick several types of ass in ways Star Wars comics never had before. 2015 has been another great year for the House of Ideas, and 2016 looks to continue that trend with the new Black Panther, X-Men ’92, Black Widow, Luke Cage/Iron Fist and Captain Marvel titles dropping over the new few months.

*Anything Inhuman related being the exception, unless we count the wonderful Ms. Marvel.

DC….WELL DC TRIED REAL HARD AND THEY DESERVE SOME PROPS FOR AT LEAST MAKING AN ATTEMPT!

DC did not have a banner year, which is a shame. Convergence was a massive flop and it Batgirl_45_coverdid a ton of damage towards the DC You launch this past summer, which was pretty great for the most part. Black Canary, Starfire are excellent companion books to the already established (and wonderful) Batgirl and Harley Quinn titles, and Tom King is doing the Lord’s work over in Omega Men. The creative teams over on the Superman and Bat books are taking some neat risks, and the Justice League books have been pretty solid as a whole. Sadly, the sales haven’t been there, so who knows what’s to become of books like Gotham Academy and Prez come 2015. But with such cutting edge and diverse titles like John Constantine: Hellblazer, Cyborg, Grayson, and Midnighter coming out, hopefully DC’s 2016 will be better without having to sacrifice much.

And that concludes the annual wall of text. A weird but good year for comics IMO, which plenty to look forward next year! Thanks for reading, hope to see you again come 2016!

 

 

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Chris’ Crossover Comics: Grayson #15 & Gotham Academy #13

tumblr_nyhq1sRENk1s2pnhbo1_1280GOTHAC_Cv13_55f367cf6faa42.56004071Grayson #15

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikkel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

 Gotham Academy #13

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

It’s ROBIN WAR time, which means….I’m not entirely sure what exactly. I kinda skipped over part 1, a $5 one shot that dropped last week, flipped through part 3 in the store, and got a general idea of what’s going on, kind of? I don’t know, there’s something going on with the Court of Owls, and the We Are Robin kids shooting a cop and there being a Robin ban? It’s a tad insane, and kind of unnecessary in my opinion, given the fact that we also have the excellent Batman & Robin Eternal weekly mini series going on.

4907323-5gray_15preview-4Grayson #15 is the 2nd chapter of the Robin War, where as Gotham Academy #13 is a tie in, which tries to set up the 3rd arc of the book while tying into this mini event. Both of these books are a bit of a mix bag quality wise, as is often the case when it comes to cross overs and tie ins.

Grayson #15 has the advantage of being handled by it’s established creative team, which mean the dozens of Robins look great under the art team of Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox. And to their credit, King and Seeley does a fantastical job of writing the various Robins WHILE moving the story forward. I have no  previous experience with the We Are Robin cast, but the Grayson team does a fine job of writing the lot of them as some really likable characters. And it’s nice to see them tackling the various Robins again, something we got a taste of a few issues ago. Where the book falters is explaining what happens between this issue and the last, assuming you read the first chapter of Robin War coming into issue 15. I did not, hence me being a tad lost. Luckily, even with the lack of recap/explanation, the book is still relatively solid, and the cliffhanger ending does peak my interest as to what’s going on with this event.

As for Gotham Academy #13, I can’t say the same about that book’s quality. It’s a tie in, so knowing the exact details of Robin War isn’t’ as crucial to the book as it was in Grayson, GA13-b-990x1522but the lack of series’ co-creators Becky Cloonan and Karl Kerschl is felt. And handing the art chores to Adam Archer, who isn’t quite on Kerschl’s level skill wise definitely does it no favor.While the book’s visual get better as the issue progresses, it’s incredible rough looking at first, and a lot the charm seen on the title in the past isn’t there. Sandra Hope and Serge Lapointe do what they can with the inks and colors, but they can only do so much with a comic that tries doing too much in 20 pages.

It’s hard to judge an entire event based on 1 chapter and 1 tie in, but the Robin War isn’t working for me. I don’t like buying crossovers for books I’m not already pulling, and it’s impact on these two books do nothing to make me think otherwise. Each of the book’s respected creative teams certainly tried, but ultimately the Robin War doesn’t do Grayson or Gotham Academy any favors.

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #12

tumblr_nyre9qVVj81rawmemo1_500Gotham Academy #12

Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschel, Serge Lapointe, Msassyk

DC $2.99

Karl Kerschel is arguably the biggest reason why I was sold on Gotham Academy when it was initially announced. I’ve been a fan of Kerschel’s rich, expressive style for years, and seeing his gorgeous cover art when the book was first unveiled had me HYPED for the title. Granted every creator on this book has done some great work, Kerschel’s art has been incredible, being some of the best work coming out of comics over the last year. I mention this now because hours after I snagged my copy of Gotham Academy #12, it was announced via Twitter that Karl’s run as artist on this title was over.

Kerschel’s departure from Gotham Academy is a real shame. He really defined the look of the book, and I’m worried about it’s future now that he’s off it. It’s also a shame because his final issue on the book is kind of lackluster. There’s several plot bombs dropped regarding the character of Olivia, but none of them are given enough time to be explored. 4935814-gothac_12_1Especially the biggest one of them all, the identity of Calamity, which has been the driving point of this arc and the book several times. I assume they’ll be some answers when the third arc starts in a few issues, BUT I’m impatient and want some answers now.

My biggest problem with this issue is the pacing. There’s too many panels/pages where the creative team felt that it more important to focus on jokes that are just okay ( at least in my opinion) and chewed up scenery instead of dealing with the plot itself. I usually dig the cute character moments, but when there’s 2 major bombshells are dropped, I wish writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher spend more time on those then dealing with tunnel gags and jail cells without floors.

Visually though, this book is excellent. What Kerschel brings to this final issue is phenomenal, much like every issue he’s worked on before it.  I may not be a fan of the humor bits in this issue, but his line art is fantastic, giving a sense of movement and life into every panel. Of course Serge Lapointe, & Msassyk factor in heavily on the book looking so good, giving the Karl’s art some gorgeous colors. The book’s tone get darker as the book advances, and the colors really reflect that. But the best example of the colorists tumblr_nyrek8xdzx1rawmemo1_500comes when we get our first shot of Arkham Asylum in this issue. The coloring gives us a nice supernatural vibe to the scene, with some really great use of the color green. The backgrounds in GA are unlike anything else in comics today, and it’s thanks to the colorist.

Gotham Academy #12 is a rare misstep in a usually sold series. I wish Karl Kerschel would have gone out on a higher note, but it happens. Hopefully whoever follows up to him will be just as talented, because they obviously have some large shoes to fill. As for issue number 12, again it looks great, but it just didn’t work for me overall.

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #14

Grayson-14Grayson #14

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Stephen Mooney, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about Grayson is seeing writers Tom King and Tim Seeley  pull unused characters and concepts from the DC and now defunct Wildstorm Universes . It’s lead to the best use of Midnighter since Warren Ellis wrote The Authority, in addition to a ton of cool toys Grant Morrison created when he had his Batman Incorporated run.  Issue 14 of Grayson sees the team of King and Seeley do it again, working wonders on Ladytron, another remnant of  Wildstorm Comics, as well as the duo putting their own spin on the Spyral mythos. It’s a cool bit of world building done via a neat framing device, and it results in fleshing out two characters a bit via explaining their origins. The pair have done a wonderful job of building upon material established by other Bat-creators before them, while adding a ton of new content, making the Grayson cast one of the most diverse and interesting casts in DC Comics. Also their take on Ladytron is very much in the same of Machine Man in Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen‘s Nextwave, which is something I absolutely adore.

Rejoining the writer’s on art duties this month is Stephen Mooney, who does a decent Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.42.39 PMenough job on the art side of things. Sadly Mooney isn’t capable of reaching series artist Mikel Janin levels of sexy or psychedelic, but his Bryan Hitch-style art works more times than not. Mooney certainly has good eye for action scenes, and his successfully captures some of the more creepier elements of the books. It’s just unfortunate that some of his art looks rough or even in some panels. Jeromy Cox‘s colors are great as per usual, so at least the art has that going for it when it’s not at it’s best. This is not the worst looking issue of Grayson, but it’s noticeably different that’s what come before it.

Art issues aside, I really like what Tom King and Tim Seeley brought to script/dialogue aspects of this issue. For the most of the book’s existence, a lot of the humor revolved about Dick Grayson being sexy, which is something I don’t mind, but the joke was beginning to become played out. It also doesn’t work as well without the presence of Janin’s gorgeous art. Luckily, King and Seeley went into this issue seemingly aware of their disadvantages and use Ladytron’s dialogue as a source of most of the book’s humor, freshening things up a bit. In addition to that, I really like how they’ve given Spyral a sense of history in this new DCU, giving the organization some really cool origins, and then image64using these revelations to completely change the direction of the book. Granted it’s something the writers have been hinting at for the last few issues, so it does feel like the book is spinning its wheels in place a bit. But we’re also looking at a editorial mandated tie-in issue next month, so I can see why King and Seeley wanted a clean finish for this issue.

This issue of Grayson is far from the best the book has been, but it’s very enjoyable none the less. The creative team produces a book that worth the cover price for loyal readers, but it’s not something that’s going to bring in any new ones.  It remains a clever and exciting read none the less, and I’m eager to see where the book is headed next once Robin War is over.

 

 

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Thanksgiving Eve at Forbidden Planet NYC and, While I’m At It, Thanksgiving 2015

76194133395310101 Frank miller new Batman release Forbidden Planet NYC fpnyc.com

It’s Tuesday November 24th and we’re at the shop preparing tomorrow’s new comics, graphic novels and toys, like we do on Tuesdays, with our hands plenty full. 

The hard work’s well-worth it though. Traditionally, Thanksgiving Eve is one of my favorite days of the year to be working at Forbidden Planet. Lots of familiar faces come back in through our doors and it’s a pleasure to catch up with old chums. People need little presents for family members or a board game or something similar to occupy the weekend and from my customer service perspective it’s always a treat to recommend stuff that’s going to be enjoyed in such a manner.

And, oh yeah!, comics publishers and many toy manufacturers usually release a crap-ton of great new reading material and toys the day before Thanksgiving in advance of Black Friday/Cyber Monday. This year’s no different.

Whether you’re braving the horrors of the NJ Transit or the long flight to Walla Walla or the constant chug of the Staten Island Ferry or the bus to Philly or the subway home to your tiny NYC apartment… Wherever you’re off to, here’s some of this week’s highlighted new releases to get you through the trip.

Have fun! We’re closed on Thanksgiving. Mebbe I’ll see ya tomorrow or Friday?

(Dark Knight 3 pictured above and available 11/25/15)

Saga #31 – New Story Arc! Picks up after trade paperback Volume 5. Don’t forget your coupons and receipt (wink, wink) if ya got ’em!

Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Saga #31, forbidden planet NYC

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #45

Batgirl_45_coverBatgirl #45

Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, Serge Lapointe

DC, $2.99

Batgirl #45 is a comic with 0 super villain punching and 100% romance and relationship-based plots. That may sound less than ideal for a super hero comic, but you also have to factor in there’s also a 100% increase of Dick Grayson in this month’s issue; which is important to me obviously, making it the lack of costumed violence more than okay.

 

But before I start gushing over a Babs Tarr drawn Grayson (aka the best thing), let me start off by saying that this issue is actually a pretty big moment for mainstream comics. Early in the run, the Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.34.41 PMcreative team made an error that could be viewed as transphobic. While it was not their intent, the team apologized, promised to do better, and made sure the digital and collected version of the story were fixed to be less offensive. This issue illustrates that the team has continued to make good on their promise, as we see a trans character get married to her girlfriend, without one of them being a Skrull or super villains showing up to crash wedding. As far as I can tell, this is the first trans-wedding in mainstream comics, which is great, as it shows Big 2 comics creators striving to be more inclusive and mature about LGBTQ issues. It’s also nice because it feel genuine, not a marketing stunt, and chances are we don’t have to worry about these characters being fringed anytime soon. It’s also nice to see a wedding happen in comics that’s not full of shenanigans, but that’s less impressive, at least comparatively speaking.

Okay, back to me gushing over Dick (PHRASING). Babs Tarr is back on solo layouts and finished pencils for this book, and the results are pretty great. I really dug the portrayal of Grayson under Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, who write him as more of a (incredibly handsome) jerk than the Screen-Shot-2015-10-29-at-12.31.32-AMteam over in Grayson do, but given the history between the two, it makes sense, and doesn’t really damage the character in any permanent way. Their relationship is flirty and playful, and respects each of the characters new histories in this newer DCU. I also really appreciated the creators allowing male characters pining over the female lead in a way that reverses gender stereotypes, showing some vulnerably we usually don’t see from male super heroes.

I’ve stated that Tarr has drawn Batgirl with a shoujo manga influence in the past, and issue 45 allows the artist to go all out in that style. Colorist Serge Lapointe gets in on this, using a lighter palette, heavy on the pinks, purples, and whites. Of course given the wedding theme of the issue, it make totally sense, and I like how Lapointe drops the Shoujo filter a few times, going with bolder, crisper palette for the more intense, non-smooching-related scenes. It’s a neat technique, and it’s cool to see an artist experiment like that.

Batgirl #45 may be my favorite issue of this team’s run to date. It’s a fun issue with a lot of fun character moments, and focuses on my 2 favorite DC characters. Babs Tarr’s art couldn’t be better, and the writers inject the book with some stellar dialogue, while doing some really progressive stuff. Plus it’s nice to see someone do take on romance comic that’s not from Rosy Press. Pick it up if you have feeling/opinions on Batgirl and the Robin formerly known as Nightwing, or if you just like refreshingly modern romance comics.

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #

GOTHAC_Cv11_559c14eab7e5c4.74432291Gotham Academy #11

Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Msassyk, Minhjue Helen Chen, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

As much as I loved Gotham Academy pre-Convergence break, I haven’t been as keen on the book since its return, the Damian Wayne issue aside. I think the problem was that the last few issues felt too busy for their own good, crammed with way too much content with little room to breathe. Issue #11 finally puts that to an end, as the gang heads into Gotham City proper to do some research on Olivia’s deceased super villain mom, or in Kyle’s case, play tennis. And much liked the previously mentioned last issue I really dug, a Robin shows up for a cameo! This time it’s Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, aka the best Robin, who never takes up too much space, and plays off of the cast incredibly well.

The creative team doesn’t cut back on the amount of exposition or action that we’ve seen in the previous issues, but the issue seems to flow much better than the previous ones Maybe I’m biased and think it has to do with the increase of jokes/focus on Maps? While it 4866252-gothac_11_1certainly could be a factor, it’s not the only reason why I’m big on this issue. This issue seems less removed from the proper Bat Universe (there’s Red Robin, a flashback involving the Dick Grayson Robin and Batman that ties into Olivia’s mom heavily, as well as a shout out to We Are Robin), and the inclusion of all of that works in the book’s favor. I also love how we’re getting more of proactive Olivia, who determined to get some answers and work with a team than the reluctant sack of angst we’ve been getting as of late.

This issue sees 3 artists working on the book:  Karl Kerschl, regular fill in artist Mingjue Helen Chen, and colorist Msassyk stepping up to lend Kerschl a hand. I really like Msassyk’s line work, as it’s very much in line with Kerschl’s style, to the point where I was assuming it was mostly Kerschl drawing this issue until I re-read the credits. The coloring is a little uneven sadly, but it’s still good enough that it doesn’t take away too much from the art, especially in the earlier portions of the book, the flashback scene, and the book’s climax. A lesser book would have suffered from having too many in the kitchen, but these 4 creators really do a excellent job of giving this comic a nice, cohesive look.

GA03Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher‘s dialogue is excellent in this issue. The duo do an excellent job of sprinkling some quality humor throughout the issue, which contrasts nicely with the all the action and sleuthing that goes down. Also, I could read Maps interacting with a member of the Bat Family forever, because it is delightful.

 Gotham Academy #11 is a well crafted comic that’s nice mix of everything really. It’s a book that well aware of the current on-goings of they’re darker sibling books, but thanks to a filter that heavily influenced by Batman The Animated Series, it also posses’ a sense of charm the other books don’t have. I’m back on board with this book 100%, and I’m excited to see  how the mysterious surrounding this issue will be resolved when this arc is over.

 

 

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Chris Comics: Batgirl #44

4815993-bg_cv44_dsBatgirl #44

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Bengal, Serge Lapointe

DC, $2.99

I’m not entirely sure if it’s a coincidence or the work of Bat-Group editor Mark Doyle, but I can help but notice that the 3 DC books I read every month have really great alternative artist to fill in for their respect books. Bengal, previoulys seen on the Batgirl: Endgame one shot and the lead story in this year’s often-mentioned-by-me-Batgirl Annual, fills in for the first time on Batgirl proper, and delivers some fantastic visuals. While he’s not as experimental or fashion savvy as regular series artist Babs Tarr, Bengal’s more traditional lay outs and strong body language make for a good looking comic none the less. Bengal’s style is comparable to Tarr’s in that they’re obviously from a generation of artist raised on anime and manga, but where as Babs is Shoujo Manga/Anime, Bengal is very much shonen. This is evident in the big fight scene in the issue, which is the bulk of Bengal’s best art is present thanks to incredibly well choreographed panels. And even though some of the character heads are a little too lumpy or round at times,  my biggest fault with the art doesn’t lie with Bengal. I felt the pale colors provided by usual on point colorist Serge Lapointe take a bit away from the visuals. Batgirl has been a book which has been visually define by being kinetic and bright, but the muted colors take things back a notch this time around.

 

4815995-bg_44_2Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart (as well as previous series writer Gail Simone) deserve a decent amount of praise for giving Babs a wonderfully diverse cast of supporting characters. Despite living in the fictional area Burnside, based on super gentrified real life areas like Portland and Brooklyn, Fletcher and Stewart have surrounded Babs with some wonderful characters from various walks of life, and quickly made them stand out in a number of fascinating ways. It’s a shame the same can’t be said about this month’s villain, who felt rather disposable and a bit of an afterthought. I understand it’s hard to build upon on of the strongest collection of villains in comics when you’re NOT Grant Morrison, and that the team is channeling Batman 66 as well as Batman The Animated Series, but it would be nice to see Batgirl face a more formidable foe instead of another throw away villain who wears an absurd amount of eye shadow. My issues with the Velvet Tiger aside, the writing in this comic is still pretty great. Barbara’s various relationships with her friends all fell genuine thanks to the superb dialogue, and while there’s plenty of talk, it never feels like too overbearing. Fletcher and Stewart also know when to dial back and let Bengal and letterer Steve Wands handing all the heavy lifting with the fight scenes, leaving the slick action sequences relatively uncluttered.

CQAMp_kUcAA1KmPDespite my various critiques/nit-picks with the comic, Batgirl #44 is ultimately another fun issue of this great run. Bengal’s art is quite solid, and the writing is on par as usual, and I really felt like I got my $3 bucks worth with all the content crammed into 20 pages. Between this and the previously reviewed stellar Grayson installment, it was a good week for Bat-Family fans.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #12

Hey look it’s me, Chris, I’m back now. Rose City Comic Con was a delightful little show, and Seattle was a nice city that I’m sure Amazon will continue to ruin over the next few years. And now that I’ve dispensed some hot takes, let’s get to comics talk!

ff33f701f2ec2c8518ab96fd2acf9cc3Grayson #12

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin, Hugo Petrus, Juan Castro

DC $3.99

Every once in awhile I read a comic that ends with me standing up and doing and happy little boogey, or screaming something incoherent which results in my wife questioning as to why she married me. Grayson #12 resulted in both, because man, this comic was a hoot.

 

For most of this book’s existence, Grayson has resided in it’s own little corner of the Bat-universe by itself, only more recently having the title character show up in other books like that Batgirl annual from a few weeks back, random cameos in various Batman books and the  Midnighter spin off series. Aside from being a spy, a job that requires a low profile and less spandex, the main reason for Dick’s limited appearances was him “dying” in Forever Evil, a dumb comic you should not waste your time on unless you’re super into reading comics that were not particularly good. But now Dick is at a cross roads of sorts, and has decided it’s time to  go back to Gotham to catch up to the “family” he left behind, which of course is more complicated than he imagined. One being the fact that SPYRAL the espionage group Dick has been recently working for isn’t quite done with him yet,  and second, most of the family thinks he’s dead.  You know, typical comics drama.

 

grayson12_1While co-writer Tim Seeley has some experience writing the other Robins, Alfred, and Batgirl thanks to Batman Eternal, this is the first time we’ve seen Tom King handle the extended Bat-family. And it’s wonderful, as he manages to give each Robin their own distinct voices that captures their personality perfectly. Same with Batgirl, Alfred and the man who sent Dick to SPYRAL, but now has no recollection of doing so, or even who Dick Grayson is. It’s an bit of an emotional issue, light on the punching and heavy on the history of the character, and one that sets up the next arc of the book perfectly. And despite the new 52 world only being around for 5 years or so, Seeley & King draw upon Grayson’s 75 years of existence via the use of various dialogue from dozens and dozens of comics old and new.  It’s a wonderful use of continuity, giving long time readers some fan service without alienating newer readers, while explaining the bonds between these characters. It’s all very compelling and fun to read, and I really dug the Damian and  Dick reunion, especially after recently re-reading the Grant Morrison run on Batman and Robin.

 

GRAY_12_2Mikel Janin being as good as he is on this book comes as no surprise, but man his take on the Bat Family is stunning in a way I couldn’t have predicted. Everyone looks great, even the Robins with terrible costumes ( cough Jason and Tim ), and its fun too see Janin transition from sexy spy stuff to sexy super hero stuff. He has a great handling on the characters costumes old and new, and the body language his characters emote is fantastic. The coloring really empathizes the bright, fun colorful costumes, which contrast nicely with the mostly back background. Janin doesn’t get to experiment with layouts and positioning as much in this issue as he has in the past, but the brief action scenes still look amazing, and the talking head scene are as equally stunning. He gets some help with colors this month from Hugo Petrus & Juan Castrobut they ape his style so well you can’t tell. Janin and company continue to excel on this title, and the art he’s produced his book is arguably some of the best coming out of DC today.

 

GRAY_12_1I REALLY dug this Grayson #12. It was a brief but fun visit to Gotham, and I enjoyed seeing Dick interact with the other Bat characters for the first time in forever. The issue is chock full of fun little character moments, the return of a great gimmick from a previous issue, and a fun new M.O. for our lead character. It’s a fantastic done in one that showcases the entire creative teams talents, and a great start for what’s next.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #43

BG-Cv43-ds-dd959-600x923Batgirl #43

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr, Michel Lacombe, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

Batgirl #43 is a frustrating comic (but at least that David LaFuente cover is rad). On the narrative end of this book, it’s hard to find fault with this issue, which really comes as no surprise. Writers Brenden Fletcher & Cameron Stewart give us an narrative with plentiful content, juggling multiple characters and plot lines with little to no problem. It’s impressive considering 3.5 new characters are added/reintroduced to the mix and are given plentiful face time, in addition getting some cool moments with Babs’s roommate Frankie and another supporting character in my favorite scene in the book. All of this, plus a cool murder mystery involving tigers! Stewart and Fletcher really make me  feel like I’m really got my money’s worth with this book, which I appreciate.The various relations between all the characters make the book that much more enjoyable, and the mystery while a tad bizarre is also a ton of fun. That quality writing also makes me feel a little bad that I’m about to be a little harsh on the book’s art.

bg-43-2-148685-320x180As I said last review, Babs Tarr is responsible for the layout/breakdown for this book now that Cameron Stewart is off drawing Fight Club 2. In the span of the last 3 issues we’ve seen Tarr handle the bulk of the art either by herself, or with a guest artist. Issue 43 continues the trend with Michel Lacombe helping with breakdowns, and Juan Castro inking some of the final few pages. This is where the problems lie, as the book looks different from page to page at times, with the art either looking really good, or incredibly rushed. Some of the blame can be placed on colorist’s Serge Lapointe‘s shoulders, as some pages have a weird glow to them, and there even panels where the colors are darker than the previous ones for no reason. See the panel I’ve included; the lighting on the forearms/hands makes zero sense given where the direction of the light is coming from. There’s a few panels like that which really took me out of the 4767224-bg_43_4experience. The addition of Castro’s ink is interesting, as it gave Babs’ art a little more of a finished look, but it also clashes with her looser, sketchier style. The middle section of the comic is ultimately where the book looks it’s best, but again, the odd changes in the hue takes away from the stronger portions of Tarrs and Lacombe’s art.

Batgirl #43 is a fun comic that’s hampered by an unfortunate amount of art issues. I probably wouldn’t mind it as much as I do if we were dealing with a multi issue run, but we’re only 3 issues in after a 2 month hiatus. Hopefully Editorial can find someone who can help Tarr with breakdowns on a more regular basis, because seeing the book hampered by inconsistent art is extremely annoying. Hopefully, much like this month’s Gotham Academy, this is a rare misstep but a member of proven creative team, and thing will be back on track next issue.

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #11

JUN150255Grayson #11

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

While never being a bad read, the last few issues of Grayson were not exactly up to par with the level of quality we were getting back during the pre-break. That being said, issue 11, the conclusion of the Nemesis arc, is arguably the strongest installment of the book in awhile. Writers Tom King and Tim Seeley put all their cards on the table and the revelations that ensue shake the book to it’s core.

It’s worth mentioning that while the plotting/writing in Grayson has been a bit uneven up to this issue (Too many butt jokes believe it or not!), Mikel Janin‘s art & Jeromy Cox‘s colors never saw a dip in quality. Grayson’s always looked incredible, and this issue is no exception. It’s an exceptionally brutal issue with a fair amount of blood, but also gorgeous in it’s owned twisted way. The “acting” in Janin’s fight scene is flawless, and perfectly emphasizes how raw and intense this battle is. Janin also experiments with layouts, playing up the book’s weird spy stuff and getting some fantastic results, as if J.H Williams was channeling Jack Kirby. And Cox’s colors really enhance the whole experience, and his ability to switch from black/blues to bright reds on the fly is worth commemorating. The backgrounds in this book are also fantastic, continuing the excellent use of locations in the title. Grayson is a book I’ve never regretted buying thanks to the art alone.

4759300-4-gray_11_4-5King and Seeley also deserve their fair share of praise for this issue. Aside from the aforementioned slick revelations and possibly shaking up the statue quo for the title character for awhile (which may help set up this fall’s Batman and Robin Eternal maxi-series), the dialogue in this issue is flawless. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a comic hero banter as well as Dick does in issue 11 (see the image to the left), and it’s genuinely hilarious. Dick Grayson is a character know for being a little goofy and light hearted, and this page/rant (which continues for another page or so) is a nice breath of fresh air in a relatively dark and serious arc. And I really like how quickly that little rant is soon turned on its head and turned into a character examination of Mister Grayson, all whle dropping hints to the identity of the Faux Dick ( hehehehe) running around. This arc may be a little back loaded in terms of quality, but it makes for all the more satisfying conclusion

It’s ridiculous how good Grayson #11 is. In a week where DC needs some good news, it’s great to see a book of Grayson’s caliber hit the stands. It’s a title that really feels like anything can change in an issue, which for a heavy espionage comic, is great. This book is flying without a safety net, which I imagine is how Dick Grayson would want it. While it’s not at all accessible for anyone who hasn’t been reading the series, fans of the title are definitely going to dig it once their hearts stop breaking.

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