Category: DC Comics

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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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Lovable Rogues edition

Grayson_Vol_1-5_Cover-1_TeaserGrayson #5

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin/ Jeremy Cox

DC Comics  $2.99

Grayson #5 is arguably the most ambitious issue since the Future’s End one-shot. That being said, while issue 5 looks great, it’s arguably the weakest issue to date.

The premise of this issue is that a mission has gone off the rails, so Dick Grayson, Helena, the Midnighter and a new born child are forced to walk across 200 miles of desert to reach civilization. The purpose of this issue is to show the reader that Dick Grayson never gives up, is pretty much perfect, doesn’t afraid of anything, blah blah blah.

While I dig what Tim Seeley and Tom King are trying to do with this issue, it’s something that we’ve been seeing since issue 1: that Dick Grayson values life and will do whatever to protect it. This issue feels like it spinning it’s wheels a bit, instead of advancing the plot. Helena’s presence feels tacted on, and the ending is kind of a mess.

That being said, it’s still a gorgeous book. Mikel Janin does a excellent job of drawing sexy people in the desert, and I’m sure a ton of people are glad to see shirtless Dick Grayson run around with a 10 day year old beard. He also does a lot of interesting things with his story-telling with double page spreads and multiple panel work, And colorist Jeremy Cox really steps up this issue, showing how brutal the desert setting  is, and making the relatively simplistic backgrounds come to live.

Grayson #5 is a frustrating comic, that looks great but offers new in the narrative. It’s a rare misstep from a solid creative team.

Legendary_Star-Lord_Vol_1_6_TextlessLegendary Star-Lord #6

Sam Humphries/Paco Medina/Juan Vlasco/Davis Curiel/

$3.99 Marvel

WACKY DATE ISSUE, WACKY DATE ISSUE!

Legendary Star-Lord  #6 sees Kitty Pryde and Peter Quill go on their first date. Well sorta date, as Kitty is still on Earth, so it’s Kitty via hologram. Oh and there are still a bunch of people trying to kill Peter Quill, so that complicates things a bit, and ensures that this is a wacky date issue.

This is not the first comic that’s tried to do the date with a twist thing. It’s be done to death, and even by attempting it, risks being extremely troupey and cliche. That being said, the team of Sam Humphries and Paco Medina have made their run on Star-Lord incredibly fun, so it’s comes as no surprise that this issue is a hoot.

Humphries and Medina’s handling of Kitty Pryde in this series has been nothing short of excellent, so getting more screen time with her in this issue works in the book’s favor. She works well opposite of Star-Lord, and Humphries draws a lot of the character’s history to make her very compelling co-star. Also he and Paco and like the only dudes in comics that seem to remember Lockeheed exists, so seeing that little purple dragon pop up a bunch is a treat for me.

Speaking of treats, Paco Medina’s art is great. The details on his backgrounds are Jim Lee-esque, and his facial expressions and  character’s body language is superb. Star-Lord is a book that is very high energy and fun and is serviced well by Medina’s art, combined with excellent and clean inks from Juan Vlasco and bright & vivid colors by David Curiel.

Legendary Star-Lord continues to be a fun book with a ton of humor, romance, and action. It’s a nice homage to the space operas inspired by it, but not afraid to add some fun little twists to it. And with a cool mystery revealed and fun, exciting cliff hanger ended, I’m excited to see what the next issue brings.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Purple is the new Black

MISSING: Intro. Last scene: When I didn’t have a lot of words about comics to vomit upon my computer.

Hawkeye_vs._Deadpool_Vol_1_2_TextlessHawkeye/Deadpool #2

Gerry Duggan/Matteo Lolli/Jacopo Camangi

Marvel $3.99

With the Fraction/Aja’s Hawkeye series continuously hit with delays, I’ve had to turn to the wonderful Secret Avengers and this mini series for my Clint Barton and Kate Bishop fix. As luck would have it, I couldn’t have chosen 2 better books to do so, and oddly enough, book both has a healthy amount of Deadpool in them.

Not that I’ve pointed out Marvel’s lack of original content (KIDDING), I should talk about this comic that I have purchased.  This issue, tying into recent events in both  Deadpool and Amazing Spider-Man,  sees our team try to set a trap for the baddies, and it goes as well as one would an except a Hawkguy conceived plan to go. Also the Hawkeyes learn just exactly how weird and complex Deadpool’s life can get, and video games are played. Other things goes down too, but those are spoilers, so it’s probably bess that I don’t discuss them.

Gerry Duggan, who co-writes Deadpool’s monthly series, draws upon both characters histories, bringing up some more obscure elements of their careers for hilarious results. I was not expecting a reference to the beloved Joe Kelly era Deadpool book, nor a discussion about the fate of Hawkeye’s Sky-Cycle. The book also continues to reference a few visual gags from the Hawkeye on-going, and they continue to remain fun little nods to that book.

Matteo Lolli gets some help from Jacopo Camagni on the art side of things, and it’s certainly something I welcomed. I was a fan of Camangi’s work on last year’s Longshot mini series, and he fits the book well. His Kate Bishop looks like a young woman, and his softer, round faces and exaggerated body language help sell a lot of the book’s humor. The two artists’ styles are similar enough to tell a cohesive story, but you can also appreciate what each brings to the book as well without preferring one to another. And the colors complete the package, making this title long for a Hawkeye/Deadpool animated series that we’ll never get.

For a mini I was willing to write off as a cash grab, I’ve been having a blast reading Hawkeye Vs Deadpool. It’s a fun hero team up/fight book that looks great, is good for a few laughs, and helps fans realize how much growth these two popular characters have gone through thanks to their respected creative teams.

 

Batgirl-36Batgirl #36

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

Dc $2.99

Batgirl’s 2014 soft relaunch continues to impress, with a strong follow up issue to the current creative team’s debut. In this issue, Barbara Gordon’s supporting cast continues to grow, with several new characters introduced, as well as a throw down with a pair of cosplayers turn contract killers on stolen high-tech motorcycles. As someone who loves Barbara Gordon as a character, having her throw down with murderous cosplayers isn’t needed for me to buy your comics, but I appreciate you targeting my tastes.

Judging from what I just wrote, it’s safe to assume that I liked this comic. And I don’t mean to take away from writer Brenden Fletcher, who’s contributions to this book are crucial, but a lot of this book worked for me thanks to the talents of  artists Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and colorist Maris Wicks. While Burnside is very much a new part of Gotham, the artists really did an excellent job of fleshing out the city and it’s various locales, making it a very believable place. Tarr using a number of fashion blogs for her character designs also helps sell the city, which definitely looks like part of Brooklyn I’ve been to recently.

Maris Wicks’ colors are fantastic. The book definitely pops out thanks to his bright palette and blends well with Tarr’s kinetic pencils, especially when it comes to the book’s climatic fight scenes. I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s the best looking book on the market, but it definitely sticks out on the shelf, and yes,  looks great. And Fletcher’s dialogue is sharp, smart, and manages to tug at the hear at times. It’s a creative team that meshes together well, giving the reader one hell of comics experience

Batgirl continues to be a title I didn’t know I wanted, but glad I now have. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this invested in Barbara Gordon’s life, and this creative team is already batting (not a pun, I swear) .1000 after 2 strong issues. Batgirl is giving my pull list a run for being my current favorite title, which says a lot given how strong comics have been as whole in 2014.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: MANTY RAID!

portrait_incredibleLegendary Star-Lord #5

Sam Humphries/Paco Medina/ Juan Vlasco/David Curiel

Marvel $3.99

Looks like it’s time to get ready for editorial mandated crossover.

I know crossovers are proven money makers for Marvel and DC, but I’m not the type of guy who’s willing to start buying books I’m not already reading to get the complete story. Except with Battle of the Atom. And The Trial of Jean Grey. Okay, sometimes I’m that guy, but most times I’m not, really!

The Black Vortex (coming in February 2015 apparently) is introduced in this issue of Legendary Star Lord, after being teased in previous issues. While I’m less than thrilled that a multi-title crossover is almost upon us, I also really enjoyed this particular issue of Star-Lord.

Issue 5 sees Peter Quill grill a space horse (not Beta Ray Bill. A different type of space horsie unrelated to Thor) for info regarding said crossover inducing MacGuffin, and we’re introduced to a group of Anti-Guardians of the Galaxy in the form of the Slaughter Squad (not to be confused with Slaughter’s Marauders of G.I. Joe fame). We also get a appearance from Kitty Pryde, which I welcomed because I am a sucker for romance and all about this Kitty-Lord pairing. Apologies for me going all Tumblr there.

Despite the plot-twists for this issue coming a mile away, LSL is a really enjoyable comic. Sam Humphries, Paco Medina, and their artistic collaborators have been doing solid mostly done and one stories with an over-arching plot, something I enjoy a lot in comics. Star-Lord is the type of character that works best as being a light-hearted space action book, which is something the creators gets and use to their advantage. Also after GOTG made a hojillion dollars, why wouldn’t you channel Chris Pratt’s take on the character right?

Again, I’m less than thrilled this book is going to be pulled into a multi-series crossover, but I’m enjoying the ride there. Legendary Star Lord #5 is a great comic, and I intend to keep on buying it until I’m forced to pull several other books to get a complete story.

GRAY_Cv4_53ebb7b4b35e55.53061085Grayson #5

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin

DC Comics $2.99

Sidenote: Gotham Academy #2 also dropped this week, was great, I recommend you buy that as well.

As much as I’ve been enjoying Grayson since it’s premiere, the last couple of issues have been pretty dark. Not grimmdark, but still pretty “feels bad man”-type stuff, even though it’s been a great read. Issue 5 does not have this problem, and it’s all sorts of rad.

Grayson is book that is well aware of Dick Grayson’s fans, their tastes, and that they like his booty, they doooooooooo. The words “Manty Raid” are used in this issue, not just as dialogue, but as a plot point, and it’s delightful. And the way our shirtless hero deals with it isn’t just true to the character, it’s also a ton of fun.

And it’s okay a book that’s more than just fan service. Even with Mikel Janin’s art being gorgeous, Tim Seeley and Tom King provide a bounty of interesting subplots and character moments that make this book both incredibly clever, charming and surprisingly tense. It’s arguably the best portrayal of Dick Grayson since Grant Morrison made him Batman several years ago.

DC has been getting a lot of well deserved praised for books like Gotham Academy and Batgirl, and I feel Grayson deserves to be in that group as well. It’s a damn fine book, and super progressive even without a female lead or creators.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Smells and Sagas

harley-quinn-vol-2-annual-1-cover-1-teaser-107613Harley Quinn Annual 1

Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmotti/John Timms/ Paul Mounts/Others

DC $5.99

This comic stinks….literally!

::: Pats himself on the back and calls it a day for being the best. :::

Now that the premature congratulations are over, DC has revived (?) scratch and sniff comics for the $6(!) Harley Quinn Annual! This is the first issue of Harley’s series I’ve read, and at $6 I probably could have chose a better and cheaper jumping on point, but a poly-bagged comics with scratch and sniff pages is the stupidest of gimmick, which I am very weak against.

 

In my impulse purchasing defense, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are a pair of creators who are fully capable of pulling this gimmick off. I loved their work on their fan-favorite Power Girl series from a few years back, so I figured if anyone could do this weird cash-grab gimmick justice, it would be them. Turns out for the most part, I was right.

The comic revolves are Harley trying to break out her BFF Posion Ivy from Arkham Aslyum, not knowing there’s more going down than expected. My problem with this book is that for a lack of better words is that its “try-hardish”. Connor & JP makes several ham fisted attempts to offend, amuse and educate throughout the comic, and at times it’s groan worthy and bloated. I appreciate the effort, but it’s as graceful & subtle as a bad Deadpool comic. It could use about a less 1/4th dialogue, and about 95% less social commentary.

That being said, the book excels when it aims to offend. The scratch and sniff panels work more than miss, and the art is fantastic. This is my first exposure to John Timm’s work, but he’s easily one of the best artists to work on Harley, and all of the guest artists all deliver on their short contributions.

The Harley Quinn Annual sounds a little weird on paper, but the execution is phenomenal. It’s a fun done in one with some great art and some fantastic character moments. As a guy who finds Harley hella problematic in general, I couldn’t recommend this book enough as an entry point into the book, but  will understand if you prefer to grab that first volume hardcover instead.

 

 STK652827Saga #24

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

 ::: Insert Chris’ Quarterly Saga Hiatus Withdrawal rant here:::

I really want to end the review there and go back to playing video games. But I don’t think I hit 500 words yet so I guess I should do some explaining.

 

Saga #24 in a single word, is incredible, not unlike the last 23 issues. 18 of the 20 pages focuses on characters we haven’t seen since volume 3, and its compelling as hell. 3 characters who was previously a 1 panel gag gets a ton of fleshing out , and we get caught up with several slightly more familiar  and it’s completely delightful. And of course the final 2 pages hit like a ton of bricks, but in the best ways possibles. BKV and Fiona Staples do some things NO ONE was expecting, and man it only makes the build up for chapter 5 more incredible/painful.

It’s business as usual for Saga, which is great, because Saga’s business is the best.

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Late, yet again.

Belated post once again, this time due to NYCC. Con was great, and I saw many a fine folk. Last week was also a really great week for comics too, but I’m only going to highlight 2 of them today, because they are arguably the most important. I’m sure Sex Criminals will be fine.

 

586cfd30a87203654de3e206e1093d7dBatgirl #36

Brenden Fletcher/Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr

DC $2.99

::: Cut and pastes last week’s Gotham Academy review, changes a few names, call it a day :::

So yeah, despite there being no shortage of dope comics released this year, THIS is the book I wanted more than anything after it was announced. Barbara Gordon is my number 1 with a bullet favorite DC character, and I haven’t been excited for the character in quite some time. No offense Gail Simone, you’re still rad.

But man, that Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr new costume effect. Stewart’s drawn many a fine comic in his career, and Tarr has been one of my favorite people since I met her at Heroescon this PAST summer. And that new costume is all sorts of dope, which btw if you’re paying attention DC Collectibles, new Babs figure ASAP. A statue is fine as well.

So yeah, I went into this book a little excited. And much like Gotham Academy before it, it exceeded my expectations. Tarr, Stewart and Brenden Fletcher crafted a comic that felt like the sort of book the new 52 should have been in the first place. It’s refreshingly modern, in both tone and style. Burnisde may be a Gotham-stand in for Portland or North Brooklyn but its the plot that really make this book stand out. Not too many mainstream comics are willing to tackle revenge porn and privacy invasion, but team Batgirl 2k14 do so, and kick it straight in the face.

Batgirl is another example of DC actually getting it. Gotham Academy is a great book, but Batgirl is an A list character that non-comics people are familiar. This is the type of book that should be an entry gate to DC Comics/Comics in general, and it’s off to a damn good start.

 

WYTCHES_webWytches #1

Scott Sndyer/Jock

Image $2.99

(Somehow) it is October, which means SPOOKY comics are a plenty this month. Oh and hilariously named donuts like “Boston Screme”. Both are things that I like, but only the former involves the talents of creators Scott Snyder & Jockat least as far as I know.

The pair released Wytches last week, and the hype for that book was nearly comparable to Barbara Gordon’a new look. Snyder may be sitting on top of the comics world due to Batman ( rightfully so mind you), but Wytches serves as a reminder on how well this dude does horror. The first few pages of this book are horrific, which is something I imagine one would want from a spooky-scary comic.

And then there’s Jock. Easily one of the most interesting and talented artists working in comics today, Jock’s art is phenomenal in this debut. Paired with colorist extraordinar Matt Hollingsworth, the pair set the tone of the book perfectly. The book looks great when the characters are suffering the most, which I know makes me sound like a sociopath, but it’s true. It’s a great looking book featuring terrible things happening to questionable people.

I also really like the hook for Wytches. Said Witches are far from the black hat/cat cauldron troupe, and are hardly the worst thing in the book. I refuse to say more due to fear of spoilers, but Snyder/Jock/Hollingsworth have something special going on in this book. Wytches does for witches what The Wake did for mermaids.

Wytches is off to an impressive start, and has me rethinking my pull list in order for me to buy it monthly. It’s a stellar debut, something Image has become notorious for, and it’s great to see one of the industry’s biggest name flex his horror muscles again with a fantastic art team.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Of Spies and School

It’s a DC heavy week you guys, the first time since…well I think ever. Making history y’all.

STK652755Gotham Academy #1

Becky Cloonan/ Brenden Fletcher/Karl Kerschl/Geyser/Dave McCaig

DC $2.99

Holy cats, that’s a lot of creators.

The minute Gotham Academy was announced a few month ago, I was instantly BOUT this book. As someone who enjoys quirky books about TEENS in weird schools somehow related to Superheroes (see Wolverine and the X-men), G-Academy sounded like the type of book that I needed from DC. It’s a fun and well crafted all-ages book by a bunch of underrated talents telling the types of stories usually not associated with Batman. I went into this book with high expectations (Expect to read this description again next week when Batgirl #35 drops by the way), which were met in some of the best ways possible.

 

First and foremost, this book is gorgeous. I’ve never seen art by Karl Kerschl that I didn’t like, so the good looking visuals didn’t exactly come as a surprise. But the colors by Geyser and Dave McCaig really complete the visual experience. I’m not used to seeing this side of Gotham, given how bright and colorful this book is, but it somehow fits into the larger Batman Universe without any problems. The visuals remind me a of very stylized hand drawn Disney film, with very bright and expressive characters against detailed and gorgeous background. There’s an brief action piece at the end of the book that looks gorgeous, quickly shifting from a tight dark environment to a bright, colorful environment. I can’t even begin to describe how refreshing this book is on a artistic level.

And while I can’t desrcibe how pretty the pictures in this funny book are, I can sing the praises of the writers Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher! I’ve been a fan of Cloonan for years, and really enjoyed a number of her past works, so seeing her and Fletcher (whom I only know from Twitter sadly) launch a new book in the proper DCU got me excited. And they cam through, introducing a bunch of awesome new characters, dropping some interesting mysterious and carving out a nice littler corner for themselves in Gotham.

With  female-written books like Lumberjanes and Ms Marvel becoming break out hits, it’s nice to see DC do something to appeal to the female audience and succeed for all the right reasons. Gotham Academy is a delight, and it’s the type of comic that makes me appreciate what the medium is capable of.

 

GRAY_Cv3_53bd7c6b2566a1.03372938Grayson #3

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC Comics $2.99

 Now that we’re done with crossovers and gimmick covers month, we’re back on track to addressing the fact that the former Nightwing is now a spy. Which means a member of the Bat-family has to get familiar with a gun, something very un-Batman like. Needless to say, drama ensues in Grayson #3.

In less capable hands, this book would have been a hot mess. Justifying gun violence in today’s society isn’t exactly the easiest job in the world, but writers Tim Seeley and  Tom King deliver a script that addresses that problem head on, and the results are great for the reader and bad for our hero.

 

This month’s “monster of the week” is also insane in the best sort of way. Grayson tends to riff/channel some Grant Morrison-type weirdness, but in the best sorts of way. I’m not sure if the insanity revolving around the villiain’s gimmick was intentionally over the top, but I certain think it is and enjoyed it. In addition to that, we actually get to see some other Spyral agent, expanding Dick’s cast a bit. Artist Mikel Janin’s art is perfect for this book, as he can adept at capturing both the sexier and weirder sides of this book incredibly well. Much like the writers, his in an important part of this comic, and the book is all the better because of his presence.

 

Grayson is a surprisingly smart and deep book that does a lot of different things right. It’s a little bit of high-octaine action mixed with some intrigue, with a dash of sexiness met with genuine human interactions. There’s even some room for debate that Dick’s constant flirting and making kissy faces with the ladies makes up for the void in his life formerly occupied by his Bat-family. Regardless if you buy into that or not, at the end of the day Grayson is an incredibly well crafted comic that shows just how well the comics coming out of the Bat-offices are these days.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics Big Week part 2!

Here we have the more “Affordable” $3 and $4 books. Insert back in my day rant here.

53ea63633a61fLegendary Star-Lord #3

Sam Humphries, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, David Curiel

Marvel, $3.99

Light Spoiler Warning: Kitty Pryde appears in a banana suit in this comic. 10/10, Book of the Month.

I’m not sure how much access Sam Humphries had to James Gunn’s GOTG script before the movie and this comic launched, but I would not be surprised if you told me he knew everything about the movie’s plot before writing this book. This Star Lord feels a lot like the movie version, only with an updated taste in music.

This third issue of GOTG is a hoot. It’s a nice little done and one that expands Quill’s support cast, and undoubtedly plans a seed or 2 for future stories. Paco Diaz, Juan Vlasco and David Curiel still continue to deliver month after month, making this book look as good as it deserves to. Legendary Star Lord is a ton of fun, and I’m glad the success of the Guardians movie allowed this book to happen.

GalleryFuturesEnd_1900x900_GRAYFE_Cv1_A_53763827398858.73816675Grayson: Future’s End #1

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Stephen Mooney

DC, $2.99/$3.99

On paper I should hate this comic. The art is barely serviceable, it’s a tie-in to an event book/weekly series I’m not reading, and it’s starts on a major downer. In a way, it comes off as the type of comics that’s kept me away from DC in that past.

Despite a lot working against it, I ended up LOVING Grayson: Future’s End. It’s Batman meets Momento, where the book continuously flashing back to the past, ending at a beginning. Tim Seeley and Tom King take a risk with the plot of this comic, and despite all odds, pull it off with some incredible results.

It’s just a shame that this book doesn’t look as good as it has in the past. I’m not sure why regular series artist Mikel Janin isn’t present, but  guest artist Stephen Mooney doesn’t posses the same talent. It also worries  me that we’re having guest artists only 3 issues in.

Ultimately this book is saved by the story and dialogue. King’s own spy experience comes into play here, and you’ll want to re-read this issue once you figure out a certain plot element.  Im also curious as to see if a few of the plot points introduced in this book are going to play out in the future of this book or not.

I encourage anyone who’s enjoyed the first 2 issues of Grayson to pick up this issue. Despite the dip in the quality of art, it’s still a good book that’s worth the $3.

 

backgroundSuperior Foes of Spider-Man #15

Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Rachelle Rosenberg

Marvel $3.99

Anyone who’s been reading SUP FOES for the last year could tell you the formula of this book. The previous ending is address in the first few pages, the Sinister  6 5 get out of one jam and into another, things look up for the team and the final page blows that to hell, setting up the next issue.

With the book wrapping up at #17, this issue turns the dial up to 11. The Sinister 5 4,  chalk up several wins this time around, which only means things are going to get real bad for them real quick. This arc is called “Gang War” for a few reasons and readers will know why by the time they hit page 20.

Creators Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber and Rachelle Rosenberg are doing some career defining stuff with this book. We finally get to set the Sinister ( insert number here) work together as a team, but the creators have been on same page since day one, making this one of the most constantly great book on the stands.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man continues to be everything I want from a comic: humor, action and fully fleshed out characters. Issue 15 is all of that, and as sad as I am to see this book wrapping up, I have no doubt it will absolutely stick it’s landing.

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Lovable Scamps Edition

Quick Movie Review: I saw Guardians of the Galaxy last week. It was very fun. You should see it too. Unless you hate fun. Then don’t I guess.

::: counts up word total and is upset that doesn’t count up 500 words :::

 

Dammit, I guess I should review some comics then.

3792239-starlord-#2-cover-finalLegendary Star-Lord #2

Sam Humphries/Paco Medina/ Juan Vlasco/ David Curiel

Marvel $3.99

Hey look a book starring on the characters from GOTG, check out my synergy! #toyetic

This second issue finds Star Lord pitted against a nasty bounty hunter, with a nasty pet, as well as the commander of the Spartax Royal guard. With Marvel announcing 3 new Star War titles at SDCC, the lack of a Han Solo project makes more sense with the release of Star Lord #2. There’s a monster who’s very much a Sarlacc Pit homage in this issue, although the twist to it is very cool.

And now that we’re living in a post-James Gunn GOTG movie world, we can see that  this Peter Quill is very much a Chris Pratt  (aka Burt Macklin) influenced version of the character.  Sam Humphries drops the word “man” into Star-Lord’s vocabulary a lot, there’s a bit involving his rocket boots and this version of seems a little more sneaky and underhanded than the more heroic version we’ve seen in the DnA and Bendis runs of Guardians of the Galaxy. This is not a complaint by the way, as comics starring dashing space rogues are my jam.

Paco Medina continues to do a solid job of drawing the hell out of this book, and the character designs he’s using are really solid. My only complaint is that the coloring in the print edition pales greatly to the digital version of LSL #2. I’m not sure if it’s a printing error in my copy or just something that’s lost when made a physical copy. Either way, if you don’t mind reading comics digitally, redeem that code ASAP. It does wonders to the work done by  Juan Vlasco & David Curiel.

Overall, Legendary Star Lord #2 is a fun read that will scratch your Peter Quill itch if you’re looking for more of the character after the movie.

portrait_incredibleThe Superior Foes of Spider-Man #14

Nick Spencer/ Steve Lieber/ Rich Ellis/ Rachelle Rosenberg

Marvel $3.99

And the best use of a corgi in the Marvel Universe goes to the Superior Foes of Spider-Man! Before we dive into the interior, let me start off by talking about the front of this book. Kris Anka‘s cover may come off as simplistic, but it does an excellent job of capturing the cast’s attitude and the overall Sinister 6 group dynamic. Also the coloring is insane.

Artist Rich Ellis returns to help Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber flesh out the back story of one of the Superior Sinister Six’s member, something this book has excelled at doing. Not all of the villains in the book had established backgrounds coming into this book, and the origins Spencer and friends have been providing them with have been clever, super entertaining, and very satisfying. In addition, the fate of Speed Demon’s corgi puppy is revealed in a heart warming story that consists of 3 wordless pages. It’s a testament to Ellis’ skills, as he manages to blend humorous and heart warming moments perfectly. Rachelle Rosenberg’s color help of course, and she does an amazing job with the crazy last 2 pages.

So yeah, even with adding another artist to the mix for an issue, The Superior Foes of Spider-Man remains flawless. I’m also glad we’re getting more comics where Marvel Hero’s masks are used as censor bars.

 

4008079-grayson01Grayson #2

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeremy Cox

DC $2.99

Yes good, more of this please.

As apprehensive as I was with Grayson when it was first announced, this book continues to impress. 2 months in and King and Seeley have taken several obscure elements from Grant Morrison’s run on Batman Inc, retooled a fan-favorite character, and most importantly focused on what make Dick Grayson one of the BEST characters to grace the page of DC Comics.

I don’t want to discuss the plot of issue two much, mostly because the hook is kinda cool in an incredibly gross sort of way, but it does make for a great read. There’s also some amazing interactions with Dick Grayson and the Batman, and a mention of a certain red head that gives me the Tumblr-type-feels.

And I think that’s why I’m digging Grayson so much. It’s a beautiful looking and smart book that actually strives to get an emotion response from the readers. It takes a lot of stuff from the Bat books from the last few years, add some cool elements together and blends everything together for a great read.  The cast in engaging and intriguing, and the big mystery to this title is super interesting.  The end result spy book than channels some weird 60s Marvel comics, with a lot of heart and pretty pictures. Grayson has done an excellent job of getting me back into buying a DC Comic on a monthly basis, something that hasnt been done since Snyder/Capullo’s Batman started up.

 

 

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Batman Day at Forbidden Planet NYC

The Caped Crusader is celebrating his 75th birthday this year, and DC Comics has officially declared Wednesday July 23rd 2014 Batman Day!

Batman_75th_Anniversary

 

On  7/23/14, starting at 8am, Forbidden Planet NYC will be giving away complimentary (ie FREE!) copies of DC’s new Detective Comics #27 Special Edition, and FREE Batman anniversary bags. We’ll also have commemorative masks (99 cents per. These are extremely limited and will be sold on a strictly first come, first served basis) and capes for sale ($5.99).

detective_27_special_edition

 

batman75mask

 

batman75thCape

What’s more, we’ll be running a sale(!) throughout the day- 20% OFF all Batman related comics, books, and graphic novels.

Come by Forbidden Planet to celebrate Batman’s 75th on Wednesday the 23rd and save some Bat-dough!

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Troy’s Toys: Actually about Toys this time!

Hey look, I’m taking a break from screaming about comics books to scream about comic book toys! How fortunate for all of you, right?

1395362963_HAS23670Marvel Universe Infinite Figures

Wave 1 & 2

Hasbro, $11.99 each

I’d make a snarky comment that a infinite series of figures contains 5 reissues, but I’d like to think that I’m better than that. I’m not, but I enjoy lying to myself.

I’m not exactly sure why the MU  toyline has been rebranded, but I’m okay with this. Since the Legends line is hella expensive/focused on movie-related properties and character for the most part, I need a toy line decided to 616 stuffs. Which despite the numerous and outdated reissues ( Heroic Age Iron Man and  Steve Rogers haven’t appeared in those uniforms for over 2 years at this point in), the NEWER releases are really cool. The Marvel NOW! Hulk is arguably the best Hulk figure to be released in the 3.75″ scale, and it’s cool to see more female figures with good sculpts with the release of Red She Hulk and the Wasp. And if you want obscure comics-only character, Infinite Waves 1 and 2 give up Hyperion, Grim Reaper, Whirlwind and friggin Death’s Head! Kieron Gillen is a far more powerful mage than I thought. There’s also a  Eric Materson version of Thor, which is a cool little throwback to 80s/90s Marvel Comics.

marvel-avengers-universe-infinite-3-75-inch-action-figure-series-2-set-of-7-pre-order-ships-tbd-2014-6The reissues are as following: the aforementioned Cap and Iron Man, another classic Captain America, Beta Ray Bill, and Yellowjacket. 2 Caps being re-released makes sense in this, the year of the Winter Solider, but it’s nice to see Hasbro go a little more obscure with Bill and Yellowjacket. I’m also just happy that it’s just not another Wolverine figure. And most importantly we have Hank Pym and Janet available in the same scale for the first time in FOREVER.

In terms of quality, these 2 waves are really good looking and as possible as you’d expect MU figures to be. The important thing is that the female faces don’t look like total butt, because that’s what I care about when it comes to action figures apparently. And at least half of the figures come with an accessory of some sort, which is neat. Overall, I’m pleased with this selection, and eagerly await for wave 3, because Cyclops.

San-Diego-Comic-Con-2013-First-Look-DC-Comics-Greg-Capullo-Batman-Designer-Series-Action-Figures-Batman-Nightwing-TalonDC Comics Designer Figures Greg Capullo

Wave 1

DC Collectibles, $24.99

 

I’ll be honest, I could not even begin to tell you how many Batman figures are out there on the shelves today. DC, as well as Mattel, Square Enix, Lego and a few Japanese companies all have the rights to make Bat-merch. So as a result, I’ve lost count of what the fresh hell has been going on with these figures sometime back in early 2013.

That being said, I’m WELL aware of Greg Capullo‘s art on the ongoing Batman comic, and know that it is very much the business. So DC Collectibles making toys based on his work is a smart-ass move, because Capullo’s art translates into toy form quite well.

dc-comics-designer-series-1-greg-capullo-riddler-action-figure-pre-order-4The first wave (I believe 3 waves in total have been announced so far) consists of Batman, The Riddler, Talon and Nightwing. While the articulation is SLIGHTLY better than post DCC figures, they look a ton better than anything Mattel or Square’s released recently. Capullo’s a fantastic veteran artist, and this figures looked like they popped up from the pages of the comic. And I REALLY like the choice of packaging, as it looks super sharp and clean.

This is easily the best debut for a new line of DC Collectibles in some time. I’m eager to see more of the Capullo stuff get the plastic treatment, as well as other artists getting the spotlight. Hopefully it will expand past Batman titles at some point too.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: All New, Superior Review Spread (also something about Dick Grayson)

What I want to do this week: Dedicate 500 words on how rad that new Batgirl design is.

What I’m going to do this week: Dedicate those words to reviewing comics. Consider yourselves lucky. :/

tumblr_inline_n7pxrxoy321qbujoxGrayson #1

Time Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin

DC Comics $2.99

I’ll be honest, 2/3rd of that final issue of Nightwing really had me worried about Grayson. The last chapter of that comic was promising, and luckily, that quality carried over to the first issue of this new series, which was an excellent debut.

Dick Grayson’s got a new gig as a spy for Spyral, whom you may remember from Grant Morrison‘s Batman Incorporated run. And if you don’t hey no worries, the organization gets a good introduction, so you really don’t need to read that (which you should) or Forever Evil (Thank God) to get the full story. He’s partnered with Helena Bertinelli (she was the Huntress pre new 52 kids!) and is set to retrieve a Meta Human Bio Weapon from another shady organization because that’s the type of thing you do when you’re a super hero spy I guess.

Like I said above, it’s a great book. Tim Seeley and Tom King‘s script is fun and clever, which is the type of thing you want from a spy book. And Mikel Janin has come a long way from when I last saw him on Justice League Dark, providing some really good looking pencils and ink for the book (colored nicely by Jeromy Cox). It’s a bright, clean and colorful book, which seems to be the polar opposite of most DC titles and their Jim Lee-inspired house style. With my concerns put to bed, I’m quite pleased with this issue and am excited for a DC ongoing for the first time in forever.

3886216-all-new_x-men_29_coverAll New X-men #29

Brian Micahel Bendis/Stuart Immonen/ Wade Von Grawbadger/ Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

80% of this book is really good. It’s fun, good looking, and a nice little ending to this current arc of All New X-men. But man, there’s some things involving time travel and mind control that are a tad hazy, and I’m not sure if it’s on Bendis or Immonen. It’s unfortunate, because there are plenty of cool moments from this comic, and it’s rare to see this creative team not synch up 100% all of time. Overall a great, read, it’s a shame it stumbles a bit towards the end.

Spread-01-cover-kyle-strahm-felipe-sobriero-530x815Spread #1

Justin Jordan/Kyle Strahm/Felipe Sobeiro

Image $3.50

The first issue of Spread does not shy away from it’s influences. Writer Justin Jordan name drops Mad Max on the letter’s page, and you can tell the team also drew influence from the legendary manga Lone Wolf and Cub, fellow Image mega-hit the Walking Dead, and maybe not intentionally, Marvel’s last Cable solo series. That being said it’s a great read that proudly wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve.

Kyle Strahm reminds me a lot of mangaka Tsutomu Nihei (Blame! and the new Netflix anime Knight of Sidonia) in terms of style. The world of blame is disgusting and brutal, and Strahm’s art hammers that point across quite efficiently. The Spread monsters are made of pure nightmares, and there’s several panels/pages that really made me do a double take at what I was looking at.

The Spread isn’t the most original comic on the stands this week, but if you’re in the mood for something fun and horror-related, you could do a lot worst. That may sound like faint praise, but I assure you, I dug the hell out of the book, and this may end up being Justin Jordan’s equivalent to Fear Agent in a few issue.

SMFOES2013013-cov-8ab5aThe Superior Foes of Spider-Man #13

Nick Spencer/Steve Lieber/Rachelle Rosenberg

Marvel $3.99

So by now everyone knows that I like my super hero books to have some humor in them. Grimmdark too-serious comics are not my thing, which is why I favor things like Hawkeye to the bulk of the DC Comics library. So it should go without saying that I loved this issue of SUP FOES.

That’s not to say that Superior Foes of Spider-Man #13 doesn’t have some more serious moments to it. There’s a cool action piece featuring the Shocker, and this issue’s cliffhanger is fairly dramatic. But said action piece is also chocked full of little one liners, ans there’s a bull in chinashop bit earlier in the issue that’s also great.

So yeah, another funny and exceptionally well crafted  issue by Spencer, Lieber, Rosenberg. Also look at that cover, it’s super villains cosplaying other super villains. If that’s not your jam, I don’t even want to know you.

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