Category: Image Comics

Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Mark & Eve & Alex & Scott & Emma Edition

Invincible_118Invincible #118

Robert Kirkman/Ryan Ottley/Jason Howard/Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Image $.25

CHRIS FACT: If you offer a comic that I have the SLIGHTEST interest in for under $1, I will buy it.

Invincible is a book I’ve read for a long time. Like 104 consecutive issues long. It was also a book that got a little too gross for my liking and jumped ship. But for a quarter, I was willing to pick it up and see what Mark and the gang were up to these days. For the record, Invincible 118 is definitely NOT the perfect jumping on point for new readers. There’s a 6 page recap of the series, and that’s HELLA intimidating if your new to the series. But if you’re a lapse reader like myself, it’s pretty good issue to jump back in on and not be too lost.

Robert Kirkman is still going strong on this book, mixing drama with some much needed but slightly juvenile humor, which is needed because this book gets GRIM in the last few pages. TRIGGER WARNING/SPOILERS: There’s a sexual violence discussion that while handled well, kind of comes out of nowhere if you’re not caught up on the book. I applaud Kirkman for taking some story telling risks and actually pulling it off, but I’m not sure if that’s going to win him any new readers.

Ryan Ottley, one of my favorite artists today and one of the things I miss most about the book, has started inking himself, and it’s a bit jarring. His art looks a little looser, and more Erik Larsen-esque. It’s not bad mind you, it’s just took me by surprise. On colors we have  Jean-Francois Beaulieu who uses a brighter palette than John Raunch did, but still isn’t on FC Plascencia level. In his and Raunch’s defense, it could be a printing issue, but without a digital copy of the book, it’s hard to say.

 

Invincible ends on a solid cliffhanger, hoping to keep anyone new to the series on. For me, it’s not enough to get to start buying the title again, but it was a nice to revisit the book. I applaud Invincible for being a super hero book where there’s some consequences for the cast’s actions because there’s no status quo, I just have no desire to stick around.

 

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_32_TextlessUncanny X-men 32

Brian Michael Bendis/ Chris Bachalo/Tim Townsend

Marvel $3.99

I’m sure Brian Michael Bendis isn’t the type of dude who googles his own name and reads reviews of his comics. Dude has better to do with his time. But man, it really does feel like Uncanny X-men 32 addresses all of my complaints with the book in a single done in one.

The end of AXIS is finally addressed in this book as Cyclops’ brother Havok joins the cast. Bendis’ take on Alex is fun, although you’ve have to be caught up on Rick Remender‘s runs on Uncanny Avengers and AXIS to understand why he’s currently the way he is. Alex acts as the stand in for the reader, and helps us get caught up on what went down at the end of the last issue and the beginning of this one. There’s a bit with Scott and Emma that made me MAD as of fan of those readers, but speaks of Bendis’ talents. He managed to get some strong emotions out of me with this comic, something he hasn’t done with this book in some time. Bendis has a pretty good track record with done and ones on this title, but this is easily one of his stronger issues on this run.

Chris Bachalo and his army of inkers provide to supply this book with some fine art (that cover is especially good), although the 2 different colors and some odd photoshopping when it comes to the background hurts it in places. It doesn’t ruin the book in any way, but it certainly pulled me out of the experience a few times. But when it’s good, it’s good, especially when it comes to that Scott and Emma confrontation. Again, a great scene that hurt me oh so much.

As we approach the end of Bendis’ Uncanny X-men run, it’s nice to see the writer continue to take the X-men in some interesting directions while writing some excellent comics. His run on Uncanny has been a little uneven in place, but issues like these overshadow the weaker issues. Uncanny X-men 32 may be the best yet, setting the up the end of  this volume of  UXM on a interesting foot.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Jeff Lemire Debut edition

Welcome to the article where I know I’m going to spell Lemire as “Lemiere” at least twice and not notice it until it’s pointed out in the comments section/Twitter.

Jeff Lemire, who’s had a big week, is a writer who’s stuff I haven’t touched in awhile, but I definitely liked is work in the past. His run on Animal Man was quite good, he did a pre-Flaspoint/New 52 Superboy book that was equally bizarre as it was charming, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of his creator owned stuff. This week, Lemire launches his new Indie book under Image, and relaunches my favorite Marvel comic (that’s yet to be completed).

Descender-01-6b1c3Descender #1

Jeff Lemire/Dustin Nguyen

Image $2.99

Ever since Saga took over comics, Image has had no shortage of comics involving space, children, crime or a combination of all three. Most of those book has also been amazing, so no one complains about it because otherwise the alternative is going back to Spawn or Witchblade.

As every review of Descender will tell you, Sony Pictures ponied up a ton of money to secure the films right to the comic, despite the fact it was still a month away from hitting the stands. Created by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, it is a GORGEOUS looking book, and  it reads like Chris Nolan directing a Pixar movie. If that’s now something you want in your life, I wouldn’t hold you breathe, also welcome to the nightmare that is being me. But yeah, Nguyen’s water colors look great, and Lemire’s writing is spot on. Despite this being another comic about a young boy by Lemire (see Blankets, Superboy, parts of his new Hawwkeye series,  Sweet Tooth), he introduces a weird  cast that’s helps suck you into this world that he’s co-created. It’s a surprisingly charming book, despite some really dark plot points and themes.

I went into Descender with a good feeling, and I ended up liking it a lot more than I was expecting. Robots and space are often my jams when it comes to media, and Descender uses them to tell an exciting new story I’m eager to read more of.

 

All-New_Hawkeye_Vol_1_1_TextlessAll-New Hawkeye #1

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Here we have the other great looking Jeff Lemire comic to debut this week. Sadly, I am not as happy with it as I was with Descender.

All-New Hawkeye is not a bad comic, but it just didn’t wow me like the yet to be completed Matt Fraction/David Aja book did. That book had a mission statement from day one (Show what Hawkeye does on his day off). This one starts off mostly set in the past, and cuts to the Hawkeyes doing some avenging in the present. While I appreciate Lemire taking the book in a new direction, it still needs a hook. All I got from it was “Hey, the previous Hawkeye series got Marvel a ton of buzz and acclaim, let’s keep this book going.” Hawkeye volume 1 issue 1 felt like a cool new indie book, where as ANH feels like more like a really good cover band messing up my favorite song. Lemire’s attempt to capture Clint and Kate’s banter is appreciated, but it’s something he needs to work on. It felt colder and nagging than it did humorous and playful.

Visually, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring couldn’t be better replacements for David Aja & Matt Hollingsworth. Perez’s art is the best thing about this book, and his painted illustrations for the flashback material are gorgeous. And when paired with Herring for the modern stuff, we get some solid action scenes, with Herring doing his best to ape Matt Hollingsworth flat color pallet. It works for the most part, because while Perez isn’t as strong as the veteran Aja, Herring’s bold colors help complete the visual experience. All New Hawkeye is a great looking book, and I’m glad Perez and Herring are able to deliver on the art end of things like Aja, Annie Wu and the other Hawkeye volume 1 artists before them.

In the new creative team’s defense, it was an almost impossible task to make me fall in love with this book like I did with the previous volume. Following up to that creative team is a huge  challenge, and they definitely tried to do their best with this issue. I have faith that Lemire can escape Fraction’s shadow sooner rather than later, but I’ll admit, it felt weird to read a Hawkeye comic that I didn’t fall in love with immediately. I hope that’s something that doesn’t happen again.

 

 

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

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

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

WickedDivine_08_300_462The Wicked + The Divine #8

Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

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

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

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

GOTHAC_Cv5_545d116f223cc7.03502535 Gotham Academy #5

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

DC $2.99

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Petrie @ The Planet: Wonder Woman and Women in Comics

wonderwomanbolland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Squirrels and Seals Edition

saga-25-wraparound-cover-b8d91Saga #25

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

Yay, Saga‘s back, time for another comic to destroy me emotionally yet again!

I kid, because as far as Saga goes, Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples produce an entertaining comic that doesn’t make everything hurt this time around. If anything, it sets up the 5th volume of the series quite nicely, and uses the 3 month vacation to age the book in real time.

While I could point out how BKV & Staples continue to produce the best comic on the market with the greatest of ease, I much rather point out that tiny seal person Ghüs has joined the cast on the regular, and I’m clearly thrilled about that. Also I’m saying this now guys, if something bad happens to him I will drop this book and cry myself to death. Tiny seals with accents are one of my jams, and I need a Lucky the Pizza Dog type pledge that this little fellow won’t be killed off.

Seal deals ( kill me) aside, issue 25 is pretty great on ever level. Fiona Staples art is incredible, and it’s cool to see her experiment with colors at the beginning of the book, as well as later one when there’s a need for much yellow. We’re also treated to more wonderfully bizarre characters designs, a thing that I am a fan of.

BKV makes great use of the large cast in new surroundings, fleshing them out in tiny, clever ways. Vaughan has a way of making even the evilest of his characters sympathetic, as if you need more proof of his talents. He also teases several things that will be happening in the nearest future, so I may have to go ahead and take that nothing hurts statement back soon.

A quieter return than what we’re use too, Saga #25 is a delight start for the story’s next chapter. I’m excited to have my heart broken again and again over the next few months.

portrait_incredibleThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Note: While there is some Iron Man related shenanigans in this issue, there is zero surfing in this comic. The cover is full of LIES.

But that’s okay. After a super delightful debut issue, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2 continues to impress. Doreen attempts to join some college clubs, talk to a meghunk, oh and break into Stark Tower to stea  borrow an Iron Man suit so she can go to the moon and punch Galactus. Aka cementing it’s legacy as the best new Marvel comic of 2016.

Erica Henderson continues to impress me with every page of this comic. Her facial expressions  and body language really add an extra shot of comedic value to Ryan North‘s hilarious dialogue,  showing off how in sync these two creators are. It’s a dialogue heavy issue that lives and dies by it’s jokes, and luckily for us the reader, North and Henderson nails each and every one of them. Rico Renzi completes the package, making Henderson’s art crisp and bold, like a fine animation-esque quality salad. That’s a valid comparison yes?

Failed analogies aside, Squirrel Girl is rad and you should buy it to support fun and good looking comics. It’s a great read that super self contained, and the chances of a purple planet eater getting punched in the face remain high.

 

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Signed Spawn Poster Giveaway – Instagram/Twitter

The much anticipated 250th issue of Spawn finally releases tomorrow and to celebrate the occasion Forbidden Planet’s giving YOU a chance to win a FREE Spawn Resurrection poster signed by Todd McFarlane, Jon Boy and Brian Wood!

Signed Todd McFarlane poster

What you gotta do to enter:

Come to Forbidden Planet on Wednesday 2/4/15, tweet at us (@FPNYC) or tag us on Instagram (#forbiddenplanetnyc) a picture of you in the shop with a copy of Spawn #250 and you’re entered into a drawing to win this:

It’s that simple, albeit only open to those of you who can make it to the shop tomorrow. Creativity won’t increase your chances of winning, but come on, this is for posterity. (My idea? A pic of you buying the book from a ridiculously good-looking cashier!)

One random winner will be picked at 9am on Thursday (2/5/15) morning. Good luck!!!

Please note: This is a promotional poster for Spawn Resurrection #1, that will not feature the originally planned creative team. Also, this poster is by no means Near Mint. Truthfully, it was handled by our supplier rather poorly. It will be presented to the winner in the condition we received it.

But hey, it’s FREE!

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Secret Criminals Edition? Yeah I guess that works

I would read a book called Secret Criminals FYI.

SECAVN2014012CVR-659x1000Secret Avengers #12

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel/$3.99

Secret Avengers #12 can be best described as “Nextwave meets True Detective“, which is the best description for any comic, and I don’t care if you disagree with me.

I love it when Marvel has a book that features fairly iconic characters and allows it to operate under the radar. Like MODOK drunk texting Deadpool (complete with the use of the word “Bae”), or Hawkeye dropping the phrase “Resident Terrorist Sex Horror Advisor”, which is something we’ll probably not be hearing in a movie anytime soon. There’s also a killer gag involving ring tones, which only proves that I’m a big fan of phone-based jokes apparently. It makes for a fun read, and it’s nice that not everything has be average Disney XD viewer friendly.

But this book isn’t all jokes mind you. Spider-Woman and Maria Hill find themselves in a bit of a pickle, and their interactions ring true to their characters. Ales Kot‘s Maria Hill is a no-excuses workaholic, and she bounces off his equally determined but more sarcastic Spider-Woman quite nicely. We also have Kot writing Black Widow and Lady Bullseye in a cosmic horror setting, which is something I didn’t know I wanted, but glad I’m now have. These character interactions are a key part of which I enjoy this title so much, as Kot has a gift for dialogue. His jokes hit hard, and there’s so much subtext in some throw away lines that it warrants multiple re-readings. It’s a smart book wrapped in some crazy circumstances, beautifully illustrated by Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson.

Secret Avengers remains one of the craziest and surreal books Marvel’s been putting out for the last year. If this is the final incarnation of this book, I’ll be glad, because it will be an hard act to follow up on.

SEXCRIMINALS_10Sex Criminals #10

Matt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky #10

Image $3.50

Chip Zdarsky draws hella genitals in this issue, be warned if you’re squeamish. Also if you’re squeamish, what’s wrong with you, Sex Crimz is not for you.

A Tinder’s worth of crotch pics (or Grinder I suppose) aside, this is another brilliant installment of Sex Criminals. Writer Matt Fraction has never shyed away from discussing the importance of mental help, and he’s handling of Jon seeing a therapist is nothing short of inspiring. Sex Criminals has always managed to channel genuine human emotion despite it’s lewd premise, and this issue is proof of how good it can be.

Chip Zdarsky is a funny dude, no one is surprised by this statement. But ol’ Zdarkseid manages to use sound effects in a particular way this issue that had my dying as I read it. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but if it is, it’s fantastic. His timing and structure couldn’t be any better for setting up these little sound effect gags, and the use of all lowercase letter had me dawing as well as loling. And yeah, I just used “Daw” and “Lol” as actions, what of it?

There’s also  a bit in this issue that is very Scott Pilgrim esque, only with a lot more genital talk. I didn’t think I could love this series anymore than I have bee, but(t) here we are. Also is you think the last 200 words were mastubatory, let me make you aware of the fact that Hawkeye drops next week and it will get worse.

 

 

 

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Troys Toys But With Comics: The Very Very Very Late Edition

Between the annual Video Game and Musics Festival known as MAGfest and the annual blizzard that never was in NYC last night/today, my column almost didn’t happen. Forunately for you and my bank account, someone else is currently using my TV/WiiU, so I GUESS I can write about comics.

portrait_uncannyLegendary_Star-Lord_Vol_1_8_TextlessLegendary Star-Lord 7&8

Sam Humphries, Freddy Williams III, Paco Diaz, David Curiel

Marvel $3.99

Legendary Star Lord double shipped this month, as Marvel books tends to do that from time to time. Not to mention the Black Vortex begins next month, and I’m sure Marvel needs all their ducks in a row for that.

Issue 7 sees the X-men’s Kitty Pryde join the cast full time, as she attempts to liberate her captured sorta boyfriend from big bad Mr. Knife. Issue 8 sets the sage for the Black Vortex, adding a relatively new character to the story, as well as dealing with the Star-Kitty romance that’s been a thing since the book kicked off. It’s the calm before the storm, and giving the reader a chance to catch their breath before the SPACE PUNCHING starts.

I’ve said it multiple times before and I’ll say it again- Star Lord RARELY brings anything new to the table, but it consistently entertains. Issue 7 has an incredibly smart and well executed action scene that sees Kitty Pryde use her powers in an interesting way, and hearkens backs to Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-men run. You can tell Sam Humphries is having fun with this book, given the book’s tone and dialogue. Freddie William’s III art is a little sloppier than looser than series regular artist Paco Diaz, but it’s serviceable none the less.

I’ll be taking a break from Legendary Star Lord now that it’s crossover time, but I’ve really enjoyed the 2 installment we’ve gotten this month. It’s been an entertaining read that genuinely captures the feel of Chris Pratt’s Star Lord, but fits nicely into the proper Marvel 616.

wickeddivine_07The Wicked and the Divine #7

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelive and Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

One of the “perks” of following writer/ War Hammer 40k enthusiast Kieron Gillen on twitter is to see him toss out some of the worst puns I’ve ever seen on the internet. Spoilers: this is the month that bleeds into Wic+Div and it’s the best/worst.

We also get to know Woden, the Tron Legacy looking god a bunch more and get to see Laura attend Fantheon, which is not unlike a Comic Con but for gods. Yes I had several NYCC flashbacks while reading this, thank you for your concern. Woden is very much more of a Lucifer type of character, but less of a trickster and more of a jerk. I’m very found of this character obviously

The creative team nail the look and the feel of the convention spot on, continuing to remind us that these gods are very much rock stars. It’s very much like Phonograms, but with a murder mystery wrapping. It feels very genuine, even in a fantastic setting, and helps the reader connect to the cast, especially if they’re familiar with being super into a fandom. This book may be tumblr-baiting to a degree, but it’s so enjoyable that I don’t care.

Reviewing Wick+Div issue by issue is rough, as it’s like reviewing a song from an album one track on a month to month bias. But it’s paced well enough that you feel satisfied with ever issue, and are left dying for more.

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What I dug in 2014 finale: Creator Owned Comics

This is me saving the best for last. While both Marvel and DC had solid years creatively (and sales wise I imagine, but I don’t have those numbers at my hands), the number of quality creator owned comics that dropped this past year was astonishing. Today will be the day I focus on those quality books, which is why I’ve titled this article as such.

comics-the-wicked-and-the-divine-2-coverImage Comics had arguably it’s bet year to date in 2014. Aside from “older” on-goings like The Walking Dead, Saga, Invincible, Umbral, Rat Queens, and Sex Criminals (as well as the end of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Fatale), we saw the debut of  a number of excellent new comics. Such books like the often discussed The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, Fuse ( Antony Johnston, Justin Greenwood) Shutter ( Joe Keatinge, Leila Del Duca, Owen Gieni, Ed Brisson), Bitch Planet ( Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine Del Landro) among a dozen others all debuted within the last 12 months, which is impressive to say the least. Image continues to be the premiere comics company for creator owned books, luring some of the top creators from Marvel and DC (see Scott Snyder, Mark Millar, Rick Remender) to put out some of their best work of their careers without having to use corporate owned IPs. Image put out some of my favorite comics of the past year, all without having to resort to crossovers and $5 gimmick books.

boombox_lumberjanes_002_aBut Image wasn’t the only comic company to have a good year with creator owned comics. BOOM Studios produced some top notched horror comics with James Tylion IV with The Woods and Memetic. Their BOOM BOX! imprint also had the debut of the excellent Lumberjanes comics, arguably one of the best all ages comics on the stands The book by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen and Maarta Laiho was originally announced as a 8 issue mini series, but it’s well deserved popularity got it bumped up to an on-going and is constantly delightful and visually stunning. Oni Press published Charles Soule & Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque’s sci-fi drama Letter 44, a book that deserves more hype and discussion, and the books Charles Bunn’s put out through the company has been nothing short of great.  And while not exactly creator owned, Valiant Comics continues to impress, with some best under the radar super hero/action books being put out on a monthly basis.

51kMcl9F-rL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_And finally, two of 2014’s biggest releases, creator owned or otherwise, weren’t even from traditional comics publishers. Seconds, by Scott Pilgrim‘s Bryan Lee O Malley, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll saw print this year, and both are must reads in my opinion. While Seconds may  not be made into a movie by Edgar Wright any time soon, it’s a phenomenal comic that feels like a Miyazaki movie meant for the Scott Pilgrim crowd. Through the Woods is by far the creepiest comic I’ve read in years, as Emily Carroll delivers some genuine terror with her work, which blends horror with folk tales. I can’t recommend either enough.

2014 was a terrific year for comic. There may have been some dumb stuff that went down with some professionals and publishers, but the amount of good that came from the industry easily triumphs the bad. I’m eager to see what 2015 offers, what with us being a few short days from Image Expo, the release of Squirrel Girl, and whatever DC has up their sleeves once the company is united in California.

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Young and the Restless edition

This week’s unintentional theme for reviews is #Teens. It would have been #JamieMcKelviecovers, but Kris Anka did the cover to Ms Marvel, also, that hashtag would be crazy long.

STK655085Ms Marvel #10

G Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

After an unexpected hiatus, Ms. Marvel returns to deal with troubled teens and murderous robots via a mad scientist cockatiel. Also yes, I was giggling in delight as I typed those last 3 words, I am an adult.

With issue 9 revealing Ms Marvel’s roots (hint/spoiler: Inhuman), issue 10 is a return to form for the series, using the generational gap in America as a source of inspiration for the issue’s plot. It’s something I haven’t seen done as well since Brian K Vaughn and series artist Adrian Alphona were on Runaways,  mixing actual TEEN issues with comic book super villains. Is it a hoot.

G Willow Wilson was recently signed to an exclusive contract with Marvel, and the dialogue for this issue is all the proof why that was a smart movie. Everything that comes out of Kamala Khan’s mouth sounds genuine for a teenager in the Marvel universe, even when it’s calling for her teleporting pet doggie. Kamala as a  representation of the modern teenager works as well as Hawkeye as the 3o yr old uncomfortable in his own skin, cough cough me.

Alphona and colorist Ian Herring continue to be brilliant on this book. It’s trippy, colorful and so expressive, making it a unique looking book even in Marvel’s wonderfully diverse art styles. Each panel is crammed with details that contain fun little sight gags, Easter eggs or just some funny looking stuff.

Ms Marvel continues to be the best comics to debut from Marvel this year, with the most likable lead to be introduced into the MU in some time. Any and all the success and praise the title has received is warranted, and it’s well worth picking up, as per usual.

wickeddivine_06_2The Wicked + the Divine #6

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

It’s weird to have an Image book go on hiatus for only a month, but it’s certainly welcomed.

I believe in the concept of a multiverse. Somewhere, I’m sure artist Jamie McKelvie didn’t get into comics, but fashion instead, and is brilliant. Luckily we live in the universe where McKelvie draws pretty people who are insanely well-dressed.

The Wicked+The Divine #6 takes place one month after the events of issue 5, and sees our lead still in mourning. I reminds me a lot of the beginning of the recently conclude Legend of Korra season, only with less bending and more…British? Anywho, Laura’s a hot mess, we’re introduced into a rad new character, and the subject of fandoms and conventions are woven into the narrative.

It’s hard to picture a creative team more “With it” then Mckelvie and Kieron Gillen. Despite WickedDivine being urban fantasy, everything feels so realistic and modern, from the dialogue to the use of certain technology. Even Laura’s cracked iphone will make you take notice and give you a sense of familiarity.

Matthew Wilson is arguably my favorite colorist in comics at the moment, and reading his stuff digitally is the best way to experience his talents. His work really makes McKelvie’s art look as good as it does, as his choice in colors ultimately unit McKelvie’s pictures and Gillen words, making for a beautiful package, not to mention a terrific looking book.

This volume of The Wicked + The Divine is off to a smart start, and I’m super curious as to how the subject of fandoms will tie into the story. Their gods murder mystery book is somehow the most human book on the market, and a testament of how talented this team is.

 

 

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Troy’s Troys, but with Tiny Pink Books: Just the Tips

just_the_tips-cov1corJust the Tips

Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

Image, $12.99, RATED M/Mature

I grew up with an aunt who loved having small little humor books for her coffee table. A bunch of them contained content that I didn’t get at the time, nor should have been looking at to begin with, but the jokes I did get were pretty funny, I guess. So to see the guys behind Sex Criminals do something in that vein with their new book, Just the Tips, brings up some weird nostalgia in me. More importantly though, it makes me laugh quite hard, and I wish I phrased all of this better, hashtag yikes.

Just the Tips, for those of you not in the know, is a mix of new and older material from Sex Crimz, and on paper is a book in which Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky help you be better at sexy times. There’s nothing in this book that affects the narrative in the proper Sex Criminals comic, so if you’re expecting that sort of thing, you may be slightly disappointed. Speaking of disappointing, I was talking to your lady friend and-I’m sorry, I’ll stop.

Tips02That being said, if you’re just here for laughs and questionable imagery, you’re fine. Sure you’ll fine some letters and SEX TIPS from the generally excellent reader’s letters column reprinted here, but none of the smart  and thoughtful ones. It the gross and funny ones, don’t worry you won’t actually learn anything, which is all a part of the joke anyway.

Aside from the reprinted Sex Tips, positions and letters, Matt and Chip gifted the reader with a bunch of erotica, pick-up lines, dirty talk, and my personal favorite movie reviews of sex parody movies that they’ve created. Oh and the entire things kicks off with an introduction from the President himself of the Unite States himself, Barack Obama. Yeah, I’m surprised they got him for this book too, but Chip and Matt are pretty popular these days.

Chip Zdarsky and Matt Fraction telling terrible, dirty jokes, is the selling point of this book, and it’s the main reason it works out so well. Their personalities and humor have made them 2 of the most in-demand and beloved creators currently in comics, so them spending 92 pages making dick jokes is the type of book that would only work for them. Well them and Howard Chakyin, but that’s a difference talk for another day.

tips-panelDesign wise, Just The Tips is simplistic, but attractive, mostly consisting of float 2 color pages. A lot of black and pink, ensuring that this book looks like a sex toy, which I’m sure is intentional. Any of Zdarsky’s art that appears in here isn’t as refined as what appears in Sex Criminals proper, but it’s still charming in it own special way. Well  as charming as the topic can be. Be prepared to have the solar system ruined for you half way through this book.

Over the last year Sex Criminals has proven to be one of the most unconventional successes in comics, with it’s original premise, and it’s honest and hilarious look at sex. Just The Tips isn’t as thought provoking or insightful, but it isn’t meant to be. It’s 92 pages of adult humor and apologies, and the perfect thing to make for awkward conversation if read in public. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a Brimper, or know someone who’s down with Brimping.

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Mindtrip

Happy Turkey Day weekend. Assuming you weren’t trampled on Friday via stampeding crowds looking for hot dealz.

ODY-C-1-CoverODY-C #1

Matt Fraction/Christian Ward

Image $3.99

OY-C is a comic that….I…um….that is to say…

:: Stares at keyboard for several minutes at a lost for words ::

ODY-C is kind of a weird book y’all. A different type of weird that I’m use to from the writer. In the outro, Matt Fraction describes the book as a retelling of the The Odyssey with a Wonder Woman meets Barbarella filter. Which it definitely achieves, channeling some 4th World Jack Kirby with a dash of Blizzard’s Starcraft designs as well. But to be honest, Fraction’s writing left me a little cold with this debut. There’s hints of his brand of humor and dialogue sprinkled around the comic, but his dedication to the source material rubbed me the wrong way a few times. It’s far from bad, and impressive that Fraction managed to balance new dialogue all while paying homage to the original Odyssey, but I just didn’t connect to this comic like I did previous Fraction written debuts.

Visually, this book looks  like nothing else on the market. Christian Ward‘s visuals are as trippy as they are beautiful,  and his use of colors and the choice of palette is fantastic. My favorite moment comes from a multi-panel fight scene that’s coated primarily in shades of  red, with the only contrasting color being white. It’s an insane visual trick that really makes the art pop out. And Chris Eliopoulos‘ lettering couldn’t be better, doing this epic justice.

In addition to Ward’s gorgeous art, there’s an 8 page double sided fold out that kicks this comic off. There’s an insanely detailed battlefield image by Ward on one side, and the other is map/timeline that was done with help from one Drew Gill. It’s a dense read that sets the stage for the book, almost drowning the reader with information.

I applaud Fraction and Ward for making one of the most visually interesting books on the market with a female heavy cast.  I’m going to give the series another issue to see if it’s pull  worth of if I’m better waiting for trade. Regardless of my buying preference, ODY-C is a different type of comic, something that deserves to be read based on it’s boldness alone.

 

backgroundSecret Avengers #10

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of weird looking books that look good, this issue of Secret Avengers is arguably the best the book’s looked all year.

I don’t want to take away from Ales Kot‘s contributions to this book. Kot’s work on this title has been important, managing to combine some genuine humor into a exciting espionage thriller that’s pretty dark and very weird. But ultimately, it’s the team of Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson that made fall hard for this issue.

Allow me to explain why: the final 5 pages of this comic take place Venzuela, amiss of a downpour. Spoilers, if only you didn’t look at this book’s cover, it involves Hawkeye and Agent Coulson having a stare down  and it looks fantastic. Walsh’s body language, facial expressions, panel composition are great, and look amazing thanks to Wilson’s black and grey pallets. And the final page is equally hilarious and dreadful, setting up for the third and final arc of this series. Capped off by another fantastic Tradd Moore, Secret Avengers makes me a happy reader once again.

It’s hard to say if this book is coming to an end because of low sales, or if it had a plan ending from the beginning. Hopefully it’s the later, because it’s easily the best the book’s been since Warren Ellis‘ brief run. Either way, I’m excited to see how this all ends, despite the fact that and another wonderfully weird Marvel book will be over.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Trades!

Those invested in this blog’s continuity (WHY?!?) , you may have recalled that I only reviewed one single issue this past week.

That being said, Image, a publisher I have not shut up about at all this year, has released a number of super impressive hardcovers this past week (and a trade I’m tossing in there because I can). So I’m going to spotlight them here, because they’re all good reads that may or may not be under your radar, or you need some gift ideas for Black Friday.

CasanovaVol1HC_CoverFirst we have The Casanova Complete Edition Volume 1: Luxuria. Casanova is arguably the most Matt Fractiony Matt Fraction book and largely considered to be the book that made him stand out and be notice. It’s the third time this book’s been re-release and the 1st to be released by Image in color and in a fancy hardcover.

The easiest way to describe the book is a multidimensional spy thriller starring Secret Agent Mick Jagger who has some major daddy issues. That probably doesn’t clarify much, but such is the way in Casanova. It’s a book that requires you too devote your entire self to get comprehend, and if you do, you’ll be rewarded with an great read with gorgeous art work. Artists and brothers Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon channel a lot of Mike Mignola in their art, only trading in scares for trippy sci-fi tech and beautiful people. Having the art increased allows the reader to appreciate how much work they put into their art. While the $30 is a lot to ask for 4 comics, you’ll also get a ton of bonus content. It’s a must for Fraction fans, especially with the long await Volume 4 debuting in January.

 

51DjHOqStyL._SL500_AA300_The other massive re-release of collected material is Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples Saga. The deluxe hardcover collects the first 3 trades worth of material ( 18 issues to be precise) plus bonus material that was never put in the bare bones trades. Also a new cover, poking fun of some controversy the book faced by some people with dumb opinions. This Romeo and Juliet meets Star Wars comic is cheaper to buy in single trades ( $40 vs $50), but if you’re new to the book or want to double dip, I can’t recommend going with the hardcover enough. Staples art looks fantastic blown up in this oversized hardcover, and it’s probably the closet we’ll ever get to seeing Saga in the children’s book format that it draws its inspiration from. I know this isn’t much of a review, but I’ve talked about this book A LOT in the pass, so you should know my feelings towards it by now.

TheWickedAndDivine_vol1-1And while not in a snazzy hardcover, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine also gets its first trade paperback. This is the newest of the 3 Image collections to hit the stands, and tells of the tale of a fan obsessed with pop icons who are actually reincarnated gods, and looking super pretty while dealing with their moralities. Not exactly the cheeriest of books I know, but I’m a fan of Team Gillen/McKelvie/ Matthew Wilson, and cannot recommend the trade enough if you’ve dug any of their past works. The trade collects issues 1-5 of the hit series, but a cover gallery. Well worth the $10 price tag, especially given the level of quality in the book.

 

These three, along with the excellent delux edition of Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark are all excellent introductions to some of the best books available today. I recommend picking up all of them, or having someone do so for you as soon as possible.

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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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