Category: Image Comics

Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Feel Good Inc.

 

Hell of a week y’all. Talking comics today is a welcome distraction after everything we’ve see go down over the last couple of days

 

STK644079All New X-Men #30

Brian Michael Bendis/Sara Pichelli/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

 

Call it a breather issue. Much like Chris Claremont before him, Brian Michael Bendis uses this issue of All New to do some character building, with Angel taking X-23 out on the town, Emma Frost beginning Jean Grey’s training and Kitty Pryde taking a holographic phone call from her kinda boyfriend Peter Quill. It’s a very cute script, and it’s something needed to cleanse the palette after all that time travel shenanigans.

 

With the previous issue seeing the departure of series regular artist Stuart Immonen (who’s stick around to handle this book’s cover), Bendis is joined by his former Guardians of the Galaxy artist Sara Pichelli. Immonen is a difficult artist to follow up to, but Pichelli, who has some experience drawing these characters, makes a strong debut. For a mostly taking heads issue, Pichelli’s facial expressions and body language really sells the book, especially with the few pages that are dialogue free. The one area she actually surpasses Immonen in is having this cast look like teenagers, something Stuart struggled with, especially when their older counterparts were also on the page. She’s a welcomed addition to this book, and I’m excited to see her draw more of it.

 

My only real beef with this issue is that the final page’s cliffhanger is tied into the last 2 issues of Uncanny X-men , and will probably play out over there instead of this book. If you’re like me and buy both Bendis X-books this isn’t much of an problem, but those not may be disappointed to have to track down a pair of issue that shipped before this one. Ultimately, I dug the hell out of this comic. It was cute, good looking and chock full of fun moments. These sort of one offs are appreciated, and it’s a nice break before another famous Bendis/Pichelli shows up next month.

 

 

sexcriminals_07Sex Criminals #7

Matt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky

Image $3.50

The letters section for this issue alone is worth the $3.50. There I just saved you 2 minutes of reading.

Oh you stuck around! Really? Did you not read what I wrote above? Oh you want more reasons? Yeah okay sure, I suppose I can help you there.

Sex Criminals is probably my wife’s favorite comic not called Saga. Which means my wife has great taste in both comics and men. But the opening sequence of this book really impressed her this week, as there’s something that Suzie, our female lead, is suffering from that my wife knew all too well. It’s a testament to both Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, who managed to hit the symptoms of said problem dead on, despite being dudes. It’s also a reason why this book is such a hit.

 

Issue 7 is a return to form for Sex Criminals. Not that issues 5 or 6 were bad, but they were heavier on the serious side. This one is chocked full of humor, including the use of a word that makes me giggle every time I read/hear it because I am 12. There’s even a bit of action and suspense too, making it a nice balanced read.

 

I’ve already sung Fraction’s praises plenty of times in the past between this book and Hawkeye, so I’m gonna talk Chip Zdarsky for a bit. First off, that cover. Extremely sharp and a very cool design. Zdarsky’s always been a bit experimental with the covers, and the results are great. But this is kinda next level for the ol Chipper, and I hope it continues. Then there’s in the interiors. I had to re-read some sections and few times just to catch all the gags hidden in the background. It’s a shame that some of this Easter eggs and gags are sacrificed for word balloons, but it’s nice to see Chip put so much effort into something a lot of people not named Matt Fraction aren’t going to see.

 

Sex Criminals seven is the result of 2 creators having a blast creating a comic. Which is great for the reader, because the ends results are stupendous. Combined with a first-class letters column that’s as insightful and hilarious as the interior, Sex Criminals #7 is another can’t miss comic from Fraction and Zdarsky.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics-Shorty got Low Low Low (and some other books)!

I could easily talk about the new issue of Hawkeye in 500+ words. But I won’t because this was a damn fine week for comics, and the other books that I pulled are also worth discussing. Plus Hawkeye’s return may warrant a separate review column (spoilers: it will!).

Uncanny-X-Men-24-cover-artUncanny X-men #24

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka

Marvel, $3.99

A few weeks ago, Kris Anka spoke about this very issue of UXM on Pat Loika’s Loikamania podcast. During the podcast, Anka pointed out that there’s a moment that Emma Frost has a reaction that she’s only capable of having that was a delight to draw. I’m not saying that specific moment is worth the $4, but it’s easily the best 2 panels in this issue, so yeah, it really is the best reason to drop $4 on this book.

After what I felt was a phoned in issue from Brian Michael Bendis last time around, he and Anka deliver the goods with issue 24. The script is a vast important, as one of the promised SEKKKKRETTTSSS of Charles Xavier is relieved and it’s a massive one. Bendis actually hinted at it a few months ago over in All New X-men, and this reveal takes away the grossness of that scene, clearing things up nicely. You can tell Bendis has been influenced by the last 2 X-films, and what element from the films he chooses to incorporate should lead to some interesting stories.

The only thing that irks me about UXM #24 is the handling of Dazzler’s new ( and awesome) look. The motivation behind it last issue explains why she’s now all faux-hawked out, but there’s no explanation as to how she got a new costume, and there’s zero reaction from the other X-men she’s been hanging with. Considering it’s the focus of the cover, not addressing it at all is kind of a cop-out in my opinion. That being said, I’m glad to see thing improve all over this issue, and I’m excited for issue #25 and how the big reveal is going to play out.

portrait_incredible (4)Secret Avengers #6

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel, #3.99

Oh look, another Marvel book that double shipped this month, goodbye money.

Coming off of a relatively dark issue #5, issue 6 is a step back in the fun, action direction the earlier issue of Secret Avengers were. This incredibly dense issue sees an awesome Black Widow/Lady Bullseye rematch (and yes, the video game motif returns this time it’s fighting games), Hawkeye step up for Maria Hill, and most importantly, MODOK rocking a monocle.

Another beautiful issue under Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson, writer Ales Kot does some really cool things with the narration boxes and editorial notes. They kinda break the 4th wall a bit, but it all makes sense once the issue wraps. I dug it a bunch, as it’s tricky technique that actually works here, given one of the characters involved.

I really feel bad for the creative team on Secret Avengers. It’s a really smart and fun book that doesn’t get enough hype for whatever reason. I urge anyone who digs Marvel’s quirkier tittles to give this book a chance. If you’re down won over by M.O.D.O.K. discussing sex with one of his minions, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Low_01-1Low #1

Rick Remender/Greg Tocchini

Image $3.99

The last time I read a story by Rick Remender & Greg Tocchini, it was a relatively underwhelming arc of Uncanny X-Force from a few years back. I always felt Tocchini was a little mismatched for the spandex world, and this debut issue of Low is proof of that.

Low is a gorgeous looking book that benefits from Tocchini inking and coloring his own art. It reminds me a lot of Sean Murphy on  The Wake in a way, given that their both heavy on the aquatic stuff,  but ultimately it’s a different type of beast all together. Both artists are heavy on the inks, but Tocchini’s style is smoother and cleaner overall. It reminds me a lot the Bioshock video game series in away, which is good, because I love those games.

Despite the relatively grim premise of the book, (Mankind is forced to live under the sea after the Sun goes supernova, and the search for a new planet to live on isn’t going well) our female lead Stel Caine is an eternal optimist determined to work everything out. Upbeat female leads is something Rick Remender hasn’t done at all in his creator owned books, and it’s a nice alternative from the usual grizzled and jaded male character that stars in his creator owned stuff. He’s caught some flack with his handling of female characters as of late, and it’s nice to see address them in the best manor possible: by creating great comics.

Low is off to a great start, continuing Remender’s creator owned hot streak at Image. It’s a beatiful looking book, and I hope this level of quality continues throughout the series.

 

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toy, but with Comics: Afterlife Saga

LAST WEEK’S LATE REVIEW:

Secret-Avengers-2014-5Secret Avengers #5

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

First and foremost, that cover is dope. Tradd Moore’s covers for this series have pretty top-notch so far, but when you toss in ammo crate in goat form with a Wolverine-fish, you get points in my book.

That being said, this book isn’t as light in tone as the cover suggests. There’s a murder mystery aboard the Helicarrier, and one of the Secret Avengers may be guilty. Also one of them may be getting a new super power while another one of them may be suffering from PTSD. There’s a ton of mistrust amongst the team, and this may not end well for S.H.I.E.L.D. once everything is said and done.

Issue 5 is particularly dark, but also incredibly smart. There’s a conversation between Maria Hill and M.O.D.O.K. that shows that Ales Kot isn’t afraid to draw parallels to the current state of the US Military and some of the ugliness that they can be capable of. It puts some blood on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hand, making the organization a little more grey and grounded than it’s use to.

So yeah, this issue of Secret Avengers isn’t exactly a feel good issue, but it successfully builds tension and leads to interesting character interactions. Well worth the $4.

saga_21Saga #21

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

Team Saga won a number of Eisners again this past Friday, much to the surprise of no one. Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples have yet to disappoint with this title,  and all acclaim given has definitely been earn.

That being said, this new issue of Saga isn’t the most upbeat of issues. There’s a great moment with Hazel, and some sexy times, but for the most part, it’s all building up for some bad stuff. BKV and Staples have been carefully building to an event spoken on the final page of the first chapter of this arc, driving us, the readers insane. The first hints were given last issue, and here they’re expanded up further, making the turning of each page each more dramatic. There’s also a new element tossed in, which is definitely not going to end well for our lead couple.

But like a car wreck on a highway or NASCAR racing event, you can’t help  but watch. It’s done so well, and we already know how it ends, and it’s going to be terrible. But again, BKV and Staples are on top of their games and the end product is craft so well.

Ultimately Saga continues to be great but, but ultimately one that’s going to send me to my grave early, weeeeeeeee!

 

Sabrina02Afterlife with Archie #6

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa/Francesco Francavilla

Archie $2.99

Spoilers: This was not the happiest of weeks for comics

A lot of comics fall into the habit of being cliche and predictable. You can see the outcome early  in an arc, the status quo is maintained, no one ever stays dead, etc.

Afterlife with Archie is not that book. It is the book that plays a zombie outbreak in Riverdale straight and has lead to some amazing moments. This issue is a done in one focused on Sabrina, the teenage witch. Sabrina is partially responsible for this mess, has been exiled from our realm, and wakes up in a nice house with padded walls.

And the final 2 pages of this story is amazing. There’s a huge twist that’s definitely setting up something big down the road in AwA and Francesco Francavilla draws the hell out of it. And the twist itself is brilliant. You can kind of see it coming if you’re familiar with a partial horror writer, but  it doesn’t take away from the final reveal, especially with how good it looks.

There’s also a preview of a Sabrina solo book by Aguirre-Sacasa, which looks neat as well. It’s weird to see a spin off of a book that’s only six issues deep, but it makes sense once you read everything.

Afterlife with Archie continues to impress, and this is arguable the best looking comic of the year so far. Buy volume 1, and the pick up this issue immediately if you want to be caught up with one of the best horror books on the stands.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: The Wicked + Doge

Before I start yakking about comics, I just wanted to say I also picked up Secret Avengers #5 this past week and dug it. But I’m saving the proper review for next week, as Saga’s the only book I’m picking up, and I would like to talk more than just one book.

 

detailMs. Marvel #6

G. Willow Wilson/Jacob Wyatt/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Behold, the first use of the Doge meme in a Marvel Comic.

Jacob Wyatt swings by to lend a hand with the art this arc, where Ms. Marvel takes the fight to her new arch nemesis The Inventor. We get some answers as to WHY the Inventor is exactly is the way he is, and I could not be happier with the answers. Over the top super villains are my jam, and this is VERY much an over the top super villain which an insane origin.

Kamala also has her first big-time team up with a major Marvel hero, and responds in the most adorable fan girlish way possibly. For hints as to who this character is, buy the comic, or IDK, google the cover for issue #7. And without spoiling much, I like the reasons why said hero is here, and the chemistry written between the two of them is perfect. As is the such of said Doge meme, which is the most Reddit comment I could make.

Wyatt and series regulars G. Willow Wilson and Ian Herring continue this book’s hot streak, perfectly blending our heroes’ personal life with PUNCHING EVIL ALLIGATORS. Wyatt’s art is a little different from what we’re used to, but it’s still very expressive, with detailed backgrounds and very animated characters. It’s very much another indie/alt comic vibe that Marvel has been excelling at for the last couple of years. Herring’s color pallet keeps the book looking good as per usual, and Wilson’s script hits all the right notes, being equal parts charming, sincere and action packed.

I’m once again finding myself at a lose of words when it comes to finding new ways to praise Ms. Marvel and it’s creative team. It may end up surpassing Hawkeye and Superior Foes of Spider-Man as the best book Marvel puts out if it can continue to maintain this level of quality.

comics-the-wicked-and-the-divine-2-coverThe Wicked + the Divine #2

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

WEEKLY CONFESSION: I was willing to wait for the first volume of Wic+Div to hit trade, as that’s what I did with Phonograms, but then Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals) went and did the variant covers for issue 2, so…..

And I’m glad I did! Issue 2 contains some AMAZING dialogue by Kieron Gillen that can’t help but make you fall in love with the cast. Luci (aka Lucifer) shines the brightest among the cast. There’s a scene in particular that takes place in a prison that contains some hilarious dialogue, and does a great job of fleshing out the character that’s justifies the $3.50. One of the reaosns it works so well is the fantastic art from Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, that’s up there with their Young Avengers stuff. There’s a few pages in the book where McKelive and Wlison experiment with colors and layout that are fresh and amazing looking, and I’m  glad to see them to continue to experiment and innovate with their styles.

But ultimately what wins me move over with this title is how refreshing and honest it is. It’s about people and gods in a terrible world doing things that they didn’t entirely think out, and will have to eventually answer for them. It’s fantastic, and the type of comics I’m not surprised is coming out from Image and this particular creative team.

uncx2013023-dc11-page-001-102321Uncanny X-men #23

Brian Michael Benid/Kris Anka

Marvel $3.99

This is going to sound harsh and a bit manchildish, but ugh, what a waste of Kris Anka.

Anyone who’s been reading this column for the last year can confirmed that I’m bee quite ‘BOUT Uncanny X-men as of late.  Brian Micahel Bendis and his art team have been  moving the story along quite nicely. But this issue man. Ugh.

And again, I place the blame entirely at Bendis’ feet. Anka’s art was great, especially the bit where Dazzler is having a mental breakdown in a bathroom. But this script is a mess. The cover implies that this is a Original Sin tie-in, and the solicit promises an earth shattering change to the X-men.

And despite Emma Frost actually appearing in the proper Original Sin book, there’s nothing that ties this is issue into it. And there’s no reveal of any sort regarding this will, except for a weak as hell cliffhanger. Instead we get the introduction of a new character complete with a cliche origin story, an extended She Hulk cameo and teasing some other mysteries without any resolve. It’s something that Bendis has been guilty of in the past and I find it quite irksome. I’m not saying the book has to be slavishly devoted to the solicitation, but c’mon, this was nearly a completely book than what we were promised.

So yeah, Uncanny looked better than it read. A shame, and hopefully something that will be fixed next issue.

 

 

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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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Troy’s Toys, But with Comics: End O’ May edition

NTW-Cv30-01ba5Nightwing #30

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Javier Garron/Jorge Lucas/Mikel Janin

DC Comics/$3.99

Read this issue to learn the final fate of Dick Grayson (which was revealed like 2 months ago)! Stay for the debut of Helena Bertinelli’s questionable new costume design.

If there was anyone who’s suffered the most from Forever Evil (aside from the people who actually paid for it), it’s been Nightwing. The homie Dick Grayson got the bejesus beat out of him by an evil Justice League and his secret identity exposed to the world, much like Peter Parker did during Civil War several years ago. However, unlike Spidey, Dick has no wife to offer up to Satan to magically retcon away his problems, so now he has to deal with being outed. BUT WAIT, the world thinks he’s dead (well everyone but Batman, Cyborg and several villains), problem solved!

Nightwing 30 is the “final”issue of the series, setting up July’s new Grayson series. In that series’ defense, the regular creative team of Tom King, Tim Seeley and Mikel Janin get to tell a fun prelude in the final chapter of the book  that sets the upcoming series up nicely. What stinks is that it’s that the two other stories leading up to it are not so good.

The first story, featuring art by Javier Garron, shows Dr Leslie Thompson being attacked by a crazy cult of serial killers. Fear not, the good doctor is saved by Helena Bertinelli  in her new Skullgirls cosplay. While the writing in this chapter is relatively solid, the art is kinda ugly, and not in the stylish sort of way. We also get another stereotypical multi-color hair Japanese assassin cliche, which ughhh, tired troupe is tired. The 2nd story deals with Dick and Batman throwing down because of reasons? It’s an ugly and violent story drawn by Jorge Lucas that makes little to no sense with the rest of the book. Batman comes off as a jerk, it’s super-bloody for no apparent reason and there’s some swiped Chris Nolan dialogue which doesn’t fit the scene and is ultimately several shades of dumb. Needless to say, I am not a fan, despite there being a panel where Batman kicks a motorcycle in half.

That being said, that final chapter is great. Once the book is freed of Batman and Forever Evil nonsense, we get our first taste of what’s to come from the Grayson series. It looks greats and feels really fun, even if Dick Grayson is running around in Clint Barton’s hoodie for some reason. And the Helena Bertinelli we get here is a major  visual improvement, looking like a rad Jamie McKelvie redesign opposed to a titillating fighting game character.

It’s kinda hard to recommend Nightwing #30 given the overall quality of the book. Some readers may find some enjoyment in it, but honestly, you can wait for Grayson #1 and see the proper creative shine.

trees1Trees #1

Warren Ellis/Jason Howard

Image $2.99

Warren Ellis doing weird Warren Ellis things is a good way to get me to buy your comic most of the time. I’m generally a fan of Ellis and the bulk  of his creator owned work, and even with some really strong art from Jason Howard, the Trees debut issue didn’t do much for it.

Great visuals aside,  Ellis spends too much time jumping from location to location in this issue, giving us brief glimpses of the cast. I’d be fine with this if these characters were actually interesting, but since we spend so little time with them, it’s hard to actually get attached to any of them.

My issues aside, there’s a chance that this book may read better collected once more issues are out. There’s a ton of potential, and the argument that the world of Tree is a political allegory for modern America can definitely be made. I’m just a little disappointed with this debut issue.

ms-marvel-4Ms. Marvel #4

G Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Ms. Marvel is becoming a book that’s approaching Saga-levels of difficult to review. I say this, because much like the previous 3 issues, it’s comics done right.

Wilson and Alphona are approaching Lee/Dikto levels of perfection when it comes to writing Kamala’s adventures. There’s some action, boy drama, and issues with her family and to an extent, her faith. And it all works, looks great and ultimately makes for a delightful read. Adrian Alphona‘s art (masterfully colored by Ian Herring, who literally makes parts of this book shine) somehow manages to improve with every issue, cramming his pages full of fantastic levels of detail and even some Chip Zdarsky-level sight gags, be it background jokes, facial expressions or a villain wearing a shirt that straight up says his a bad guy.

G. Willow Wilson‘s dialogue, while always good, gives Brain K. Vaughn a run for his money with issue 4. Our new Ms Marvel’s interactions with her mother and BFF Bruno take up most of the book, and really capture what a modern teenager would sound like. It’s great stuff.

With all I mentioned above, as well as another striking cover by Jamie McKelvie, Ms. Marvel remains the break out Marvel comic of 2014. There’s no fear of this book getting cancelled early it seems, and you really owe it to yourself to read it if you’re not already.

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Better never than later

Think I may have messed up that intro title.

 

BELATED REVIEW:

Lumberjanes_002_coverALumberjanes #2

Noelle Stevenson/Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen

BOOM! BOX $3.99

Let me start off this review by congratulating team Lumberjanes, as the series has gone from being an 8 mini series to a on-going! Lumberjanes is a great and important book for a number of reasons, and I’m glad BOOM! is giving the book and it’s fan the support it deserves.

Last week’s second issue is a another stellar comic, this time involving the girls going on a canoeing trip. Obviously things do not go according to plan, and more animals with 3 eyes may or may not show up (spoilers, they do) and the girls stumble upon a good ol’ fashion spooky woods mystery. It’s a ton of fun, and the book looks gorgeous. A lot of the humor, as well as the character building is expressed in the art without much exposition, letting the Brooke Allen‘s pencils do the talking. I’m 100% okay with this, as Allen’s art is super expressive, capturing the girl’s personalities and actions perfectly. Maarta Laiho‘s color art is excellent, and really captures the nature and feel of nature. Noelle Stevenson  & Grace Ellis are fantastic as well, as the dialogue and spoken humor are a hoot.

The all female created, LBGT  and all aged friendly Lumberjanes is arguably one of the most important books out in the market, not to mention one of the strongest. I’m glad it’s found an audience, and I certain hope it grows with each and every issue.

Saga_19-1Saga #19

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

Yay, Saga‘s back. Boo, Saga’s last page is brutal.

Saga continues to be the textbook definition of perfection is comics. From cover to cover, Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan continue to do everything right. It looks greats, the dialogue is fresh and crisp (no one uses profanity like BKV folks, and the plot moves at an impressive rate. It’s mind blowing on how much BKV and Staples can cram into 20 pages, especially when they’re introducing new characters into the cast.

And the last 2 pages. Just….man. Without going into details, Vaughn and Staples change the game on the readers. They managed to completely changed the mood of the book with 10 words, and not by the traditional comics means of death of destruction. It hurts y’all, it’s hurt something fierce.

TLDR: Saga continues to be the best, although sometimes it can be a jerk while doing so.

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_21_TextlessUncanny X-men #21

Brian Micahel Bendis, Chris Bachaelo, Tim Townsend

Marvel, $3.99

The current arc of UXM is titled X-Men vs SHIELD. If’ you’re keeping up on the title, you’re probably expecting things to play out a certain way. 3 issues into this arc, I can safely say that they’re not going to, and the book is stronger for it.

Several plot lines are coming together and the results are interesting. That’s a compliment mind you, as the book has never been better, and a certain X-man needing some redemption in my eyes comes through, while another one makes his triumphant return. Brian Michael Bendis‘ handling of these characters is impressive, and his dialogue and script on this book has never been better.

I’ve spoken highly of Chris Bachalo before in the past, but it’s usually about his art. While it’s great here, his coloring is really impressive this issue. The various uses of reds, greys, and greens are fantastic, and what really won me over was the 3rd last place. The shade of blue Bachalo uses for the sky is beautiful  and it shows off how he’s grown as a colorist.

Uncanny X-men has been stellar for months, and the book is probably the strongest it’s ever been in years. Bendis and Bachalo are an excellent creative team, and I’m really digging the direction the book has taken during their run.

 

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Image X Einsers 3: Pretty Deadly

MARVELCoverTemp copy.indtPretty Deadly

Kelly Sue Deconnick/Emma Rios/Jordie Bellaire/Clayton Cowles

Image, $9.99

 

I’m the type of guy who traditionally does not enjoy westerns. I don’t hate them per say, but I don’t go out of my watch to read, watch, or in the case of Red Dead Redemption, play them. There’s not any one specific reason why, it’s just that they don’t traditionally grab me.

That being said, Kelly Sue Deconnick (Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble) is one of my favorite people working in comics today and Emma Rios is a tremendous artist that I feel no one but David Brothers has been talking about. So when Pretty Deadly was announced, I was more than willing to put my personal biases aside and drop the $3.50 to give it a shot. It kind of hard to pass up the opportunity to read about the story of the daughter of Death, as told by dead bunny to a butterfly (You can thank Kelly Sue’s son Henry Leo for that imagery by the way).

MARVELCoverTemp copy.indtPretty Deadly is a comic that the reader really benefits from when read collected in trade. KSD said it herself ( I think it may have been on a Nerdist’s podcast, or on Tumblr), and after several re-reads, I agree. The first two issues are….vague to say the least. It takes about 2 issues for the majority of the cast to be introduced, and a lot of the key plot elements aren’t brought up until the middle and end of the story. It’s far from a bad comic, especially when you factor in the amount of ass kicking that goes down (Issue 2 is the first example of what a fully unrated Emma Rios and Jordie Bellaire fight scene looks likes), but I felt a little more confused than I usually like when reading comics. As I said earlier, it’s a type of comic that benefits from multiple re-reads.

587488848While I had some issues with the narrative, I have to give praise where it’s due in the visual department. Emma Rios, expertly colored by the great Jordie Bellaire, comes out swinging in this series. Her art is nothing short of fantastic, and I encourage anyone who‘s reading this article to Google the cover gallery. The amount of detail in everything from animal’s fur, feathers and wings to the folds in the human characters clothes is breathtaking. The interior art is as equally impressive, with some very fluid and kinetic scenes set in non-traditional panel layouts. The ultra violent fight scenes mentioned earlier, are a great example of this, as they’re very well choreographed, and when an attacked lands/hits, it’s so intense that you can practically feel it. Bellaire’s colors are equally important, helping both sell the more realistic as well as fantasy elements in the book. Both the western landscapes and the spirits worlds seem to have their own special set of colors assigned to them, and the end result is some stunning looking art. And Clayton Cowles‘ lettering is great, and helps tells the tale without interfering with the penciled and colored art.

prettydeadly01_p5Despite it not being my favorite Kelly Sue Deconnick penned book, Pretty Deadly is the type of book worthy of the praise it’s received from other. Deconnick and Rios are not the first pair of creators with a solid supernatural western series to hit the market in recent years (the EXCELLENT Sixth Gun series from Oni comes to mind), but the combined talents of its creative team make it stand on its own and for fans to take notice. It’s always good to have more books out there with female leads by female creators, especially when they’re as good as this. Pretty Deadly is definitely worth your time, and Emma Rios, Kelly Sue Deconnick and Jordie Bellaire’s Eisner nominations are well deserved.

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Eisners X Image part 1: Sex Criminals

The Eisners are kinda like the Academy Awards of comics, but the key difference is that I kind of care about them (Suck it Oscar!) . Image, a company whose output I’ve been loving for the last few years, was nominated for 20 awards, including 4 out of the 5 best on going series noms (that 5th man? Marvel’s Hawkguy, thus proving I am right about everything!)

Since I’ve already recently spoken about Rat Queens in great detail, I figured I’d spend some time over the next few weeks preaching about some other fantastic Eisner nominated series. So if you wanted to pick up East of West, Saga, Sex Criminals or Pretty Deadly but were waiting for the Chris Troy nod of approval, you’re in luck. We’re starting this thing off with a personal favorite of mine, Sex Criminals, nominated for best new series, best continuing series, and a best writer nod for Matt Fraction! So now that I’ve knocked off 150 word, let’s get to the Brimp,.er,…Sex Crim talk, focusing on the recently released first volume of the hit series!

sex-criminals-vol-01-releasesSex Criminals volume 1 

Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

Image $9.99

+5 to me for not starting this discussion off with “Let’s talk about Sex Criminals baby“. Proud of myself for the restraint shown there, great hustle Chris.

As a dude who reads A LOT of Marvel on a weekly basis, I can confidentially say there’s not a lot of things the publisher offers that aren’t related to dudes in costumes punching each other. And even if we include stuff like the MAX titles, not a lot of their comics, nor DC’s, actually cover topics like sex and dating without tossing in a Wolverine or Deadpool somewhere. Those topics are SEVERELY overlooked in comics, and if they are, it’s usually not in the best or adult manner.

1600d25dc8012d796418a60fd6061011Which is one of the best things about Sex Criminals It’s an earnest and hilarious look at the world of dating and  relationships (as well as sexy times). Sure the main characters freeze time every time they climax to rob banks (hence the title), BUT their relationship is depicted in a super realistic and enjoyable manner  thanks to creators Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky.

I’ve spoken highly of Fraction in the past, as I am a big fan of his clever dialogue and his ability to write flawed, all too human characters (see Hawkeye, Iron Man, Casanova). But I honestly feel that Sex Criminals works as well as it does thanks to Chip Zdarsky’s visuals. His cartoonist background (or is that background as a cartoonist? My grammar is shit folks) helps makes Sex Criminals stand out on the shelves, as his characters actually look human.  All different body types inhibit the semi-realistic world Fraction and Zdarsky created, which again, acknowledges the human element of this book that really won me over. And because they’re so human, it only makes them THAT much more easier to relate to, and helps sell the humor with some really well drawn facial expressions and body language. It’s also use of colors and special effects ( or whatever the correct term of lightening is for comics, again I am GREAT at this!) is really interesting, and only helps to improve the visuals.

sDEAqnYThe humor, by the way, is phenomenal. While R-rated sex comedies usually do well in the box office, there was little to no comics alternative prior to Sex Criminals, at least at the scale of recognition  and relevance Image, Fraction and Zdarsky can offer. Some of it is quite vulgar, some of it surprisingly dark, but a lot of it works because it’s sometime we can all relate to. That and the panels are crammed with hidden jokes and easter eggs, like Sexual Gary, who’s due for his own t shirt this summer!

It’s also one of the first comics to offer a musical sans actual music, which is impressive and hilarious. I’ve included a page from it to the left as evidence.

sexcriminals01-21If you’ve chosen to go the trade route over the singles, be warned that you’ll be missing out on some hilarious recaps and an amazing letter’s page, which I believe is being published separately later this year. You do get some extras though, like a collection of variant covers and some content that you have to see for yourself to understand/believe.

In a country where sexual education is lacking at best, Sex Criminals does a lot to be educational as well as sex positive. Again, it’s something so new and refreshing that you have to respect if even if you don’t like it. Easily one of my favorite books out there today, Sex Criminals is a title worthy of the hype. Pick it up immediately and see how right I am about that. #humblebrimp

- Chris Troy doesn’t actually profit from Sex Criminals sales, but he’ll praise it like he does. Find him on twitter @theanarchris

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REVIEW: ALL HAIL THE RAT QUEENS

rat-queens-vol-01-releasesSo it seems to be confession time once again (It’s only Clobberin Time when Ben Grimm or CM Punk says so). This time, I must come clean and admit that I’m not a big fan of fantasy. Well at least not in the DnD/Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones/Dragon Age sense of fantasy. I’ll mess around with a Final Fantasy here or there, or Blizzard’s super addicting Hearthstone, and hell, I even own all 9 issues of Battle Chasers. But traditional fantasy stuff really isn’t my thing, try as I might.

However, I am a fan of comedy, ass-kicking females, and Brian K Vaughn/Fiona Staples’ hit comic Saga. So if someone were to take those elements, and blend  them together (on a smoothie kick, sorry) in a Warcraft-esque setting, I’ll pay attention. Especially when the results are as good as the first volume of Rat Queens.

adf293b4c8f7f409df77c1bb9093da52Volume 1 is titled “SASS and SORCERY”, which now is automatically the best sub-genre of fantasy, no one denies this.  Jokes aside, it’s a really clever and funny title, and does a really good job of setting one’s expectations for this book. The 4 female leads are great, despite one of them being a dirty, dirty hipster (more of this later, which will lead to unintentional irony). They’re funny, tough as nails, attractive and most importantly believable, even though 3 of them aren’t even being human. Roc Upchurch, an artist who’s work I wasn’t familiar going into this first trade, is great, and really makes me regret not getting into this series sooner. I see a lot of Fiona Staples and Stjepan Sejic in Upchurch’s style, which if there’s any 2 creators you want to be channeling when drawing beautiful destructive ladies, it’s them. It’s a gorgeous looking book, even when it gets extremely violent (and it does, trust me)  and Upchurch’s work is that much more impressive once you realize he handles to colors as well.

Rat-Queens-004-2014-Digital-Fawkes-Empire-007And while Upchurch was a a new name to me, Kurtis J. Wiebe is not, which was one of the many reasons I was attracted towards this title once the buzz began. I really dug his work on Green Wake a few years ago, and Rat Queens shows how much he’s grown as a writer since. Wisely choosing to skip over old-timey talk, the more modern dialogue talk definitely helped draw me into this fantasy world and it’s cast. The Queens are extremely well-fleshed out, and there are some killer jokes to be had that work even without Upchurch’s  slick visuals. And speaking of jokes, there’s 2 in here that are arguably the funniest things I’ve seen in comics for some time. Props to Wiebe and Upchurch for that.

I’m about 400 words in, so it’s probably best that I explain what the premise is. The Rat Queens are 4 young female adventurers; there’s Dee the sole human who happens to be an atheist mage, my personal favorite Violet, the hipster dwarf warrior ( BEHOLD THE IRONY), Rockabilly Elf-mage Hannah and “Baby” Betty, the drug-fueled Hippy Smidgen Thief. This quartet is extremely good at what they do, which includes such activities as getting drunk and destroying parts of their hometown during their down time.  Someone in the town is less than pleased with this, and decides the best way to deal with the Queens and their peers to have a bunch of assassins kill them. Needless to say, shenanigans ensue. Violent ones at that!

There was some ridiculously awesome books that dropped via Image in 2013, but  Rat Queens may be up there with Sex Criminals in terms of overall quality. If you’re a fan of funny and awesome comics , the $10 for the first volume is more than worth. The series picks up back in May (glad to see another book following the patent Saga format), and you’ll want to be on board with it’s return.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics : Uncanny Sex Marvels

Once again, I am extremely too proud of that title.

Books what shipped this week that you may dig!:

Buffy the Vampire Slays Season 10 #1

Witcher #1

Animal Man #29

Superman Unchained #6

Wonder Woman #29

American Vampire Second Cycle #1

Bad Ass #3

Samurai Jack #6

Fuse #2

Lazarus #7

Rocket Girl #4

Daredevil Vol 4 #1

Iron Man #23.Now

Thor God of Thunder #20

Adventure Time #26

Sixth Gun #39

WWE Superstars #3

Shadowman #15

X-O Manowar #23

REVIEWS!

 

 

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_19.NOW_TextlessUncanny X-Men 19.NOW

Brian Michael Bendis/ Chris Bachalo/ Tim Townsend

Marvel $3.99

FACT: That pet variant is both frightening and terrifying, stay the fresh hell away from it.

It’s UMX Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. (part 1), despite the fact that neither group appear on panel together at any given point. THAT BENDIS DECOMPRESSION LYFE Y’ALL!

What we get is the reveal of Dazzler’s fate (it’s super icky!), S.H.I.E.L.D. grilling a former X-man, and Scott’s team versus a whole bunch of new Sentinels! Which is still a fun read, don’t get me wrong, but has nothing to do with that cover. Chris Bachalo and his army of inkers are all in fine form, with some really cool Sentinel redesigns, some sick looking spells from Magik, and what is probably an intentional horrible new costume for Goldballs. Yes he’s a thing. Yes, that name is definitely intentionally horrible.

Bendis and company don’t do anything ground-breaking with this issue, but they seem to be setting up a fun little story that will hopefully wrap up several yet to be addressed plot points the book has set up in it’s first year. It’s off to a good start, I just hope it delivers, as this book has been on a hot streak as of late and I’d hate to see it end with this arc.

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-10.09.55-PM-424x400Sex Criminals #5

Matt Fraction/Chip Zdarsky

Image, $3.50

This issue starts off with a MATURE READERS ONLY recap poem. And with that, I officially forgive Matt and Chip for the delays the book has been facing.

Issue 5 officially wraps up the first volume of Sex Crim, changing the book’s status quo a bit. Nothing too big though, as this book is called Sex Criminals for a reason after all.

Also the whole “pooping in the plant thing” is explained, which I was surprised that it would be at all. Had it pegged as a one-note gag at best, but there’s a deeper meaning behind it. “Deeper” is a relative term by the way.

Something I really like about Sex Crim is that is requires re-reads. These are due to Chip Zdarsky putting a ton of work into his panels, and hiding all sorts of disgusting and awesome jokes everywhere. Do they further the narrative? No. Did I laugh out loud several times reading this issue? Yes. Maus this book ain’t, and it never claimed to be. Issue 5 feels a little slow in terms of development, but it’s definitely a book worth buying. The hiatus until June may kill me (HYPERBOLE!)

portrait_incredible (1)Captain Marvel #2

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

On paper, this opening pages of Ms Marvel sound like a horror book. A mysterious fog blows into Jersey City and a young girl becomes a shape shifting freak as black helicopters circle Manhattan. It’s not until a transformation gag kicks in 4 pages deep does the book remind us this is a spandex affair.

That’s not a bad thing by the way. After an incredibly strong debut issue, Wilson, Alphona and friends deliver a great follow up issue, as Kamala tries to figure out what exactly she’s turned into, and springs into action for the first time. Also family drama. It’s an fun read, with some really clever use of faith interwoven into the narrative. Plus some “be careful for what you wish for” type stuff, going back to my opening statement about how this book feels kind of feels like a horror title in the beginning.

With gorgeous visuals from Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring and some incredibly endearing dialogue from G. Willow Wilson (and a sharp cover by Jamie McKelve), Ms Marvel is shaping up to be a can’t miss title from the House of Ideas.  With Saga on hiatus on May, this may be THE book to be reading in 2014.

 

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Jeff Zornow Signing!

Jeff-Zornow-SigningWEBForbidden Planet will be hosting a signing with artist Jeff Zornow in celebration of his new comic 68: Rule of War #1 (Image) on the day of its release. Jeff will be on hand from 7:30 to sign and sketch the night away on April 2nd. Blank variant covers of the book will be available, so don’t miss the chance to jump on a great new series and have a personalized cover drawn by the very man who made it. See you then!

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: #1 with a Bullet

I’m still waiting to read it, but I thumbed through Moon Knight #1 off the rack this poast week and DAYUMMMMMMM, this is a good looking book. You should buy it just based the art by Declan Shavley & Jordie Bellaire. It’s worth the $4, especially when you factor in  that this book is written by Warren Ellis. So yeah, go get on that y’all.

PICKS OF THE WEEK:

Veil #1

Action Comics #29

Green Arrow #29

Trillium #7

Turok Dinosaur Hunter #2

Revival #18

Starlight #1

Velvet #4

Magneto #1

She Hulk #2

Wolverine and the X-men #1

Afterlife with Archie #4

Archer and Armstrong #18

REVIEWS

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_18_TextlessUncanny X-men #18

Brian Michael Bendis/Marco Rudy/ Val Staples

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

THAT is how you do covers y’all. Props to Alexander Lozano on some fine work.

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen J.H Williams III draw comics, cover or interiors. Between him quitting Batwoman and the delays on the new Sandman mini series (#2 was supposed to drop last month BTW), his presence on the comics stands is missed.

Marco Rudy is not quite on J.H. Williams’ level, BUT YO, this is a great looking book! Rudy does some amazing things with the layouts, ranging from using giant Xs to lay out the panel, to using Cyclops’ out of control powers to frame the pages. The end results, heavy on reds, blacks, and whites colors, are breathtaking. I really hope we see more of Rudy on this book when Chris Bachalo needs a break. His ability to mimic other artists style is showcased too, channeling some David Mack & John Byrne at times. There was a lot of GOOD looking books coming out from Marvel this week, and this is one of the best looking ones.

Plot-wise, Brian Michael Bendis and Rudy touches upon a number of various plot elements the team has faced, focusing heavily on Cyclops. The creative team does a great job of having Scott touch upon these events, and is a fitting end to these last few done in ones. It does a great job closing out one chapter and setting up the next “Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.” arc, which I’m very excited for.

 

BurnTheOrphanage_03-1Burn The Orphanage: Born to Lose #3

Daniel Freedman, Sina Grace

Image, $4.99, 41 pages

3 issues in, I thought I had Burn the Orphanage figured out. Thought #3 was going to be the wrap up to the Born to Lose trilogy, a cool arc that introduced the cast, set up their very video game inspired world, and enjoy the most video game reference in a comics since Scott Pilgrim’s heyday.

And then this issue dropped. Oh sure there’s some video game references in it. And yes, it does deal with the fallout with the events of issue 2, placing the lead character Rock on an alien world, frame for a crime he didn’t commit. Which is very much something that makes sense for this series.

What I WASN’T expecting was a in-dept discussion about love and dating between 2 of the Rock’s friends. And it’s very well done, I won’t deny that. BUT it just felt very out of place given the previous themes explored in issue #1 and 2. And I applaud Daniel Freedman and Sina Grace for trying something new with the book, I just wish it was executed a little better.

I also wish the book had an actual ending, and not a cliffhanger that won’t be addressed until May when the series becomes a monthly. Which is great, but again the execution could have been better. Despite my problems though, BTO:BTL #3 is a solid read. A weird one, but a good one none the less.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, But With Comics: Down Set Fuse

I am entirely too proud of that title.

the-fuse-01web-The Fuse

Antony Johnston/Justin Greenwood/Shari Chankhamma/Ed Brisson

Image/$3.50/ 30 pages

Weekly Chris Confession: I had every intention to skip over “The Fuse” this week, figuring I could trade wait it if it was ant good. But then the Twitter buzz for this book hit crazy levels, and I like Antony Johnston’s “Wasteland” series a ton, so I figured there was no harm in picking up the first issue at the very least.

Needless to say, I was very pleased with that decision.

First thing first: That cover. Simplistic, bold and VERY clever once you read the issue and figure out what it signifies. “Smart” is arguably the best way to describe this book;  a murder mystery set on a space station is a cool premise, and the actual execution is brilliant. It’s a good book, full of potential, and it reminds me a lot of “Powers” when that first came into the scene. So your typical Image debut issue in a way.

My only beef with this debut is the art. For the most part it’s pretty good, a more animated version of Sean Murphy’s art. It’s intentionally “ugly” which works for a crime book, and a lot of environments and character expressions are good,  but it’s disappointing when the scale and anatomy are off, or when things like eyebrows aren’t colored or inked properly or at all. Certain panels and pages look rushed at times, which really took me out of the story when I read it.

If you told me that “The Fuse” was originally published in 2000 AD or something, I would have believed it. Johnston states it’s an influence in the book’s final pages and it shows. My issues with the art aside, it’s a good debut, I’m just been spoiled by a ton of amazing #1s from Image over the last 2 years. Your mileage may vary,  and it’s a good read, but I’m going to the trade route with it.

3581036-all_new_x-men_23_keown_variantAll New X-Men

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

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

For all of my problems with this crossover, I could deal with Stuart Immonen drawing the Shi’ar-related characters 5-EVER!

Part 3 of this crossover is here, and it’s kinda cliche. Now that our heroes are united, they’re attacked by their common foe, and something that’s been explained to us repeatedly is now explained to Jean Grey. It feels lazy and drawn out, despite it being really good looking. And prop’s to colorist Marte Gracia, the book’s colors look darker than usual, which makes a ton of sense given the fact that it’s in space and all that. It goes really well with the tone and the setting of the book, and it only does the pencil and ink art justice.

And to be book’s credit, the ending tosses in a neat twist (one that was immediately spoiled for me by the announcement of a new book debuting in May). And there are some good humorous bits in it too, but the character’s voices all lack variety. A familiar frustration that comes with Bendis-penned comics as time and feels super decompressed, something that could be resolved in 2 or 3 issues and not five. And like I said, a bunch of questions promised to be resolved at another time or in another book, it only adds insult to injury. We’ve seen better on this book, which is already suffering from crossover fatigue. We deserve better as readers.

Sorry for being a little late this week, holiday weekend and all that. I still have Oni Press’ “Down. Set. Fight” to read, and Toy Fair news to deal with. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on everything later this week though!

-The super behind schedule Chris Troy writes for Forbidden Planet on a weekly basis, and can be found on a variety of social media related thiniges @theanarchris

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