Category: Image Comics

Chris’ Comics: The Fix #2 & Gotham Academy #18

STL004569Gotham Academy #18

Brenden Fletcher, Steve Orlando, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Moritat, Serge La Pointe, Minkyu Jung, Natasha Aletrici, Faith Erin Hicks

DC $2.99

Gotham Academy #18 has a story written and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks. If this was a CBR/IGN type site, that’s the sort of thing that would make me give this comic a 10/10.

Issue 18 is not only the final installment of the Yearbook arc, but also the final issue of this volume. The title will be taking a brief hiatus as Rebirth kicks off, and will return with an annual come August, follow by the 2nd volume starting up in September. So what this issue does is wrap up a plot point for season 1, and give this volume a nice cute ending.

Aside from the 2 page Hicks penned and drawn issue that I’ve clearly enjoyed, Brenden Fletcher also wraps up the scrapbook/Damian story arc with Adam Archer and Sandra Hope, plus checks in on another semi-forgotten character with Moritat. The team of Steve Orlando and Minkyu Jung get in on the fun with Maps and another super obscure DC character, and Natasha Aletrici does a cute 6 page story featuring on Pom and her never seen before mother. While these creators all bring their own respected voices to the book, it’s impressive how all these stories fit the tone of Gotham Academy.

With a lot of the weirder, off-bea DC books wrapping up, I’m glad Gotham Academy will be back in a few months. This arc was neat, and it super cool to see so many different creators come together and play in this sandbox. I’m now I’m eager for the original creative team come back and tell more stories with these creators.

 

 

CoverThe Fix #2

Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill, Nic J Shaw

Image $3.99

Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber need to be on this book for forever. Also if you want to put that on the trade jacket, y’all more than welcomed to do

Issue #2 of the new crime-comedy comic is just as incredible as the first. Our leads are in a bit of predicament after went down in the first issue, so they hatch up a scheme to deal with their problems. Said scheme involves shooting one of themselves in the hand, and ruining an innocent man’s life. Officers Roy and Brundo are terrible people.

And that’s why this book is so great! Like Superior Foes of Spider-Man, you SHOULD dislike our two dirty cop leads, as they are very bad people, and have yet to do a single thing to change that. But Spencer and Lieber have made a pair of character who are very charismatic, and placed them in a very funny book, so it’s all good. At least that is what I tell myself, truth be damned.

What’s really great about this issue is that everyone is putting 100% into this issue. Artist Steve Lieber not only draws a ludicrous number of panels per page, but Nick Spencer makes sure to fill them full of dialogue. Which means letter Nic J. Shaw has his work cut out for him, and does a excellent job of fitting all that dialogue onto the page without running much interference on the art. And Ryan Hill‘s colors are perfect for Lieber’s are, giving the book a nice warm, California feel.

The Fix #2 is great, simple as that. There’s a reason why this book is flying off the shelves, and it’s because the creators on this title are doing some career defying work. This is not a title you’re not going to want to trade wait for. Buy on sight.

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 & Saga #36

ofcqtec1mz6l9xiwi8lgThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 isn’t writer Ryan North’s first attempt at “Chose Your Own Adventure” fiction, but none the less it’s one of the most technical impressive comics of this year so far. North dabbed in the subgenre a few years back with his choose your own adventure take on Romeo and Juliet, and it hilarious, much to no one’s surprise. This month, he and artist Erica Henderson swap out Shakespeare for Squirrels and the Swarm, a move that I fully support and dare call brilliant.

Henderson and Rico Renzi deserve a lot of praise for this issue, as the choose the story narrative demands numerous panels that require a ton of variation. And while you can see the demand take it’s toll on the art towards the end of the issue, the bulk of this comic is drawn extremely well. Considering this team is also working on several projects, it’s perfectly fine to overlook them taking some shortcuts here and there.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 is a genius comic that experiments with how to tell a story in this medium. It’s the perfect done in one that showcases this creative teams talents, and should be read for (successfully) taking such a risk.

Saga_36-1Saga #36

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Ah Geez, Saga’s gone and made my all emotional in the face this month.

The conclusion of this current arc is an assault on readers and their emotions. Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan give readers a moment we’ve been waiting for months, as well as a development no one saw coming, and it is a massive game changer. In addition to all of that, we get to see my personal favorite Ghus leap into action for the first time, and the results are shocking to say the least. I wasn’t prepared for the mixture of brutality and cuteness from that particular fight, but that’s what I got and I LIKE IT!

Fiona Staples remains an incredibly artistic tour de force. Nothing new on that front, but the way she does so much with seemingly such little effort is absolutely mind blowing. There’s 2 panels involving Prince Robot in towards the end of this issue that show some incredible growth for the character, with none of the dialogue pointing it out, just letting the body language do all the work. Not only does it show how impressive of a story teller she issue, but it shows how much BKV trusts her to convey these emotions to the reader.

That being said, if you don’t tear up come page 12, something is wrong with you.

BKV is real good on putting word on paper, this is fact. But God, he’s on top of his game with this particular issue. As great as Staples art is, the dialogue and narration he provides for this issue really enhance the emotional beats, especially on pages 10 and 11. These two creators are fantastic, and Saga’s repeatedly excellence is due to the bound these two have.

Saga #36 is a fantastic finale to this volume. It manages to surprise readers by being incredibly upbeat, something we as readers aren’t use to, and takes the book in an absolutely fascinating direction. For once I’m glad for break, because I want to take some time to enjoy this comic, before Vaughan and Staples do something to get me mad and or sad again.

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Chris’ Comics: The Fix #1

TheFix_01-1The Fix #1

Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill, Nic J Shaw

Image $3.99

I am grateful for Marvel’s The Superior Foes of Spider-Man for a number of reasons, some of the being the head of crime boss Silvermane in both KISS make up and on top of a remote control car. But the biggest reason I loved that book was seeing creators Steve Lieber and Nick Spencer work together and create a comedy comics with lead characters who are quite the jerks. With SUP FOES ending last year, the creative team has reunited and created The Fix, which is published through Image, and debuted this past week. While Superior Foes excelled while playing within the confines of the Marvel Universe, The Fix being creator owned allows Spencer and Lieber to do and say things that are VERY not main Marvel continuity approved.

The Fix’s premise is very at home for anyone who loved SUP FOES; only thing time around, instead of super villains, we get 2 small time criminals who are also cops. A pair of Boomerangs if you will (i.e. likable, but also the worst type of people), Roy and Mac are trying to make an easy buck in a number of illegal ways; robbing nursing home residents, pqeleyk6dqxzsbtu0walillegal robot fights, letting a “producer” off the hook after a bath salt induced rampage for a cut of his profits. Somehow, they’re super charismatic despite all of this, but I guess that’s because they’re surrounded by folk who are somehow worse. Come the end of the book, we’re finally introduced to a character who is actually morally upstanding, but there’s bit of bit of twist involved that’s super hilarious.

Nick Spencer is an excellent writer who does a lot of  genres quite well, but I find him the most enjoyable when he’s writing crime comedy. It’s a little off-putting at first to see him drop F-bombs and tell stories about accidentally swallowing things that I can’t mention here, but it’s so funny that you’ll get over it fast. Nick is definitely one of the smartest 002_thefix01dudes I currently follow on Twitter, so this script and the dialogue being as clever as it is comes as no shocker (no pun intended). Read the pages where we meet crime boss Josh and see what I mean.

Steve Lieber’s art is as equally inspiring. There’s a flashback involving a Bath Salt induced rampage, and there’s maybe all of 2 dudes in comic who could even come close to capturing this short of insanity/depravity as well as he does. His ability to convey comedy is spectacular, and I absolutely adore how Steve draws facial expressions. In short, Lieber’s art is absolutely terrific. Coloring Lieber’s art is  Ryan Hill, whom I’m not too familiar with, but absolutely kills in this first issue. He manages to nail the sleeze and grit you would expect from a crime drama extremely well, but keeps things bright enough to remind you that this whole shebang takes place in sunny California.

The Fix is incredible. I’ve loved a lot of Image #1s over the last few years. but it’s been a good while since I’ve been tickled by a book this much. If there’s any justice in the world, The Fix will be the next big thing at Image, so you should get on it NOW.

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked + The Divine #18

1The Wicked + The Divine #18

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

Hooray, The Wicked + The Divine is back! Quick, come grab a copy for yourselves immediately, shoving and or trampling anyone who dares get in your way!

DISCLAIMER: It is impossible to discuss this book without mentioning some spoilers, so if you aren’t caught up on WicDiv, skip this review.

The title for The Wicked + the Divine #18 is “Don’t Call it a Comeback”, which is WAY too appropriate. Series lead Laura Wilson returns, reborn as the Goddess Persephone, and she has a score to settle. Writer/co-creator Kieron Gillen made a joke that this arc was the WicDiv equivalent of Civil War (The Marvel version, not the historical one), and that’s a pretty fair description of the event of this issues. This issue also sees the return of Artist/Co-creator Jamie McKelvie, who will remain on art duties for the book until it ends. More details on that over the coming months. Both returns are welcomed, as the artist and colorist Matthew Wilson create one of the most action packed issues in quite some time. It’s McKelvie meets Shonen Manga in the best sort of ways, as Wilson’s bright, Wiced+Divine18_002energetic colors give the book a cool look that also reminds me of the action scenes in Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim adaption. The use of pinks, greens and blues are the types of colors usually not associated with action scenes is a nice touch, and really gives the book a distinct look.

Kieron Gillen also said that Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video serve as inspiration for this comic. That much is obvious, given Laura’s dialogue, and the way McKelvie draws her. Before her “death” Laura came off a naive, an excited fangirl walking amongst gods. Now she’s drawn with more confidence and swagger, obviously looking to settle the score with Ananke and her co-conspirators.  I love the way McKelvie handles body language, and the devil may care smile on Laura’s face is fantastic.  Also look how he arranges the panels on the 2 preview pages I posted; you can switch the first two on each page, and the comic still makes sense. And the range of emotions McKelvie can draw is some next level stuff, and I’m thrilled to see his return to this title being nothing short of spectacular.

Kieron Gillen seems oddly restrained in this issue. That’s not so much a critique as it is an observation, which makes sense, as this issue really feel like more of a celebration of the art team. That’s not to say that Gillen doesn’t make any worth contributions to the issue.There’s still plenty of good to be mined from the dialogue, especially the scenes Wiced+Divine18_003involving Baal and Baphomet. Seeing two lovers scorned go out it twice in this comic gives it some really emotional weight. Well more emotional weight, can’t forget Laura’s return and all that. The team also begins to shine some light on X, who’s probably the least developed of Parthenon, and it’s revealed that she’s in a really unique position due to her age.  There’s a lot to enjoy from this issue, which is no surprise, given how good this creative team can build worlds.

I really missed the lack of The Wicked + The Divine in my life, and am over the moon that is came back as strong as it did. It’s a title that’s gone from something I was really digging, to someone that gets read immediately once the newest issue drops. The way Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson choose to explore fandoms and icons makes for an fabulous read, and issue 18 is more proof that they’re one of the most consistent, creative,  and thought-provoking teams working in the industry today.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #35

First and foremost, a shameless plug!  I’m putting out a web comic that costs you all of zero dollars to read. It’s titled “In the Name of Thy Mother”, and I’m writing it with art by Ing. It’s exclusively on Tumblr for now, and if you like stuff in the vein of Sailor Moon but wish it was given a bit of a modern horror touch, you’re in luck. Thanks for reading that, let’s get to the review yes?

Saga_35-1Saga #35

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Come for the space hijinks, stay for BKV trying to figure out what to call Ghus fans ( Ghus-steppers is definitely a bad look man)! Also see Forbidden Planet NYC be called a “fine retailer”, which is 100% true, on the ad page for the Limited Edition TALKING Lying Cat plush, which you should totally pre-order right this minute.

Surprising no one, there’s a lot to like in Saga #35, the penultimate issue for this arc (something I was wrong about last month). My Ghus-feels aside, issue 35 offers the usual selection of wonder you would expect from this creative team: exotic locations with new characters (like a Lying Cat dressed as royalty!), sharp dialogue peppered with profanity, and stunning art by Fiona Staples. Which by the way, let’s talk about that cover for a minute. The composition is solid, really drawing you eyes towards the characters, and anyone who’s familiar with what the new tattoo symbolizes Saga35acan have themselves nice cry. Also the gray back ground is a nice choice to offset the more colorful characters.

Seeing these characters interact with each other. Here comes spoilers for anyone not caught up with volumes 4 & 5, but seeing Marko and Alanna bounce off of Prince Robot is hoot. Villains being forced to align with the heroes is nothing new to comics, but the Prince’s history with Marko and Alanna really sets it apart, especially once you consider he’s been in a situation similar to their’s.  It’s a nice bit of character growth, which makes him a little more likely, oppose to the Will, who’s definitely going down a dark path.

I’ve said it before, and I probably won’t stop saying it until the series is over, but I love all the various body types and characters that Fiona Staples creates. It really feels like no character is regulated to just a background role, not unlike the Simpsons. The facial Saga-35-i2-640x600expression she draws in this issue are also particularly striking, especially in the first few pages that involves the most stylish use of drugs I’ve ever seen. The fact that she colors and inks everything as well speaks of how extremely talented she is.

Saga #35 is another gorgeous issue in a series that rarely ever disappoints. Brian K Vaughan‘s dialogue is on point, as we ramp up to a battle that will probably make me feel really bad real quick. It’s business as usual, but in a way that I welcome, and rarely feels repetitive. It’s a another great issue of a great read, and I cannot wait to see how this arc ends next month.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #4 & The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

 

STK696446Saga #34

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image #34

Ohoho, what is this? A very cute Ghus cover?! 10/10! Next review!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

Alright, alright I’ll talk more about Saga. For the most part this arc has been pretty low key and lacking on the soul crushing, the later which I don’t mind at all. But with one more issue left in this arc, the pieces are now being moved to either set the cast up for several victories, or a ton of heartbreak.

Aside from Fiona Staples’ always amazing visuals, I really like how the book jumps around a checks on the vast majority of the big players in this story. Juggling nearly a dozen characters is no easy task for any writer, but Brian K Vaughan manages to do so with minimal effort. At 22 pages of content, the pacing for this book is fantastic, and manages to move the plot in several interesting directions. It’s a nice rebound after an issue that really didn’t work for me, and it’s nice to see the book back being as good as it has been in the past. Plus I really like any time that Fiona gets to draw animal people, even when they’re not named Ghus.

Saga #34 is the penultimate issue of this arc that could go either way for the cast. There’s even chance that we also may not any resolution at all, and that all the good stuff will go down in the next arc. Either way this comics is an enjoyable read, chock full of great and dialogue that’s also too clever, but never goes overboard.

Unbeatable_Squirrel_Girl_Vol_2_5_TextlessThe Unbeatable Squrrel Girl(s) #5

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Reniz

Marvel $3.99

Prepare for a weird complaint with this review.

While The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5 definitely sticks the landing of this 4 issue arc, it’s not exactly the cleanest of landings. This book is a bit overwhelming, as Ryan North doesn’t just go full Grant Morrison, but he manages to make me feel dumber in the process.

While I don’t mind comics trying to make me up my game, or hell being chock full of #content, I feel like this arc could of used another issue. A LOT goes down in this issue, and while it puts a nice little bow on this arc, I couldn’t finish this issue in a single sitting. And it’s only 20 pages. That being said while it’s a bit intimidating, there’s some REALLY good bits of dialogue and jokes that make for fun reading experience.

Visually, I have no complaints as per usual. Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi are a fantastic creative team, and they really go all out this issue. Henderson does some amazing things with her, cramming her pages with multiple panels and not cutting any corners. How she manages to draw this book and Jughead without taking any time off speaks volumes about her talent and dedication towards her craft. Also that cover is striking as hell.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5 may be a tricky read, but it’s a great one none the less. North, Henderson and Renzi craft a fun comic that shows off their talents in a multiple of ways. And considering the book is crossing over with Howard A Duck next month, the future is bright for Doreen Green.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Goddamned #3

TheGoddamned_03-1The Goddamned #3

Jason Aaron, r.m. Guera, Giulia Brusco, Jared K. Fletcher

Image $3.99

The Goddamned is a great comic to review because every issue offers something worth examining. After the first 2 issues, both which I’ve enjoyed thoroughly, I was afraid that Kain and Aga were going to go down the cliche route of Savior and Damsel. While some of that still rings true, issue 3 shows some much needed development for both characters, as Jason Aaron and r.m. Guera do some much need character growth in this issue.

While the man who invented murder (again, such a fantastic title) is a fun lead, Kain hasn’t been one we the reader could get behind. It risked the character being a bit 2 dimensional, but this issue steers away from that by looking us several glimpses at Kain’s past. The flashback involving his parents (Adam and Eve in case your Biblical knowledge is rusty or lacking) is great for fleshing out the character, given us a much needed moment of humor and allowing Guera to draw something pleasant for a minute. Eden under r.m and 002goddamned03jpgcolorist Giulia Brusco is gorgeous and by giving us a quick look at paradise, it shows up how far the world has fallen.

And while it may be hard to look at, the look and design of the world of The Goddamned is gorgeous in it’s own twisted way. I’ve compared it to those old timey Prince Valiant/ Sunday Comics strips, but I’m seeing some Dr. Seuss influence in this month’s issue when it comes to the designs of the newly introduced Night Raiders. Maybe it’s a combination of the exaggerated faces with the bright colors of their eyes, but I’m reminded of the ol’ Chuck Jones “Horton Hears a Who!” TV special. Yes, I’m ancient, this has been established. Either way, I love the look of this book, from it’s malformed characters, to detail backgrounds to “exotic” wildlife. Guera and Brusco deserve like 20 Eisners for the art in this book.

Going back to Jason Aaron, I like how restrained he is in this issue. For the most part, he lets the spectacular art tell the story, which is a smart move given the quality. It also makes the dialogue feel all the more important, not to mention informative. There’s a lot of cool bait and switching in this issue, rarely for the greater good, and I dig the hell out of it. Also I love the choice of fonts Jared K. Fletcher uses for the dialogue, which really feel primitive and biblical, for a better lack of proper adjective.

The Goddamned is definitely the most brutal and old school Vertigo-feeling comic out on the shelves today. Issue 3 is a reminder of how this creative first took off, and as a reader, I couldn’t be any more thrilled to have it. The final pages tease at something very interesting, and I’m curious to see how it all plays out given the type of person Kain is. The Goddamned is a comic that I didn’t really mind being a month or so late, because every issue has been a epic in itself.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Sex Criminals #14

SexCriminals_14-1Sex Criminals #14

Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

Image $3.99

Finally, the David Bowie tribute comic no one was asking for!

As someone who’s been championing t3h Sex Crimz since its debut, I’m more than willing to admit that the third arc has not been the smoothest. While the quality really hasn’t dropped much, the delays between issues have definitely made it difficult to remember exactly what has happened during this storyline resulting digging through the old long box. Granted we did get that one issue that wonderfully discussed being asexual, the other 2 issues have been kind of a blur for me.

That being said, issue 14 feels like a return to form. At least in terms of humor, as we get some fantastic jokes this issue. There’s a 4 page gag in which the chums Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky channel Chuck Jones in most chum-like fashion. It’s a play on a gag they used in an earlier issue, but ramped up to the next logical level. The payoff is sexcriminals14-review06_180_277_s_c1incredible and it shows how the creative team successfully dealt with a potential problematic plot point without scrapping it. It also highlights exactly what each creator brings to the table, be it incredible dialogue, or sensational art, and how their bond makes for some fine comics.

And while that particular gag is definitely my favorite thing about this issue, it’s far from the only good thing about Sex Criminals #14. The issue starts off with a really great sequence that showcases how great of an artist/colorist/letter Zdarsky is. The delays in Sex Criminals, while disappointing, are usually the product of Chip trying to cram as much into a single panel as possible. His dedication to his craft is admirable, and we the reader benefit as we’re treated to some fantastic line work, hidden jokes crammed into the smallest of places and some genuinely amazing coloring. I dislike it when my funny books are late, but when the creators are as good as Zdarsky, it certainly makes up for it.

Matt Fraction is okay too, I guess.

That was #JOKES. It’s been months since I’ve been able to enjoy the Notorious M.A.T.T.’s writing, as this issue serves as a fine example of what he’s capable of bringing to that table. Fraction is not unlike Brian K Vaughan in that he excels at that his characters sound sexcriminals14-review07-68677natural when they speak, even though no one can actually talk as perfect like that in the real world. There’s also something so genuinely in the way Fraction writes his characters, and granted maybe some of it also comes from Chip, but the final few pages of the comic read like some of Fraction’s strongest stuff. Sex Criminals is often at its best when it’s grounded in reality, and I really dig how Matt handles the cast and their dialogue in this issue.

Sex Criminals #14 is a great comic. There’s some strong character work from two creators who are known for writing compelling characters in the medium. Sex Criminals is unlike any other comic out there not just because of its plot, but because Matt and Chip are unlike any other creative team currently working in comics.

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Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel #2 & Paper Girls #5

portrait_incredible (5)Captain Marvel #2

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Matt Wilson, Joe Caramagna

Marvel $3.99

Come for the Captain Marvel meets Aliens premise! Stick around for Sasquatch-related romance drama!

Captain Marvel #2 sees the good Captain and her Alpha Flight pals investigate a seemingly abandon spaceship that bears an all too familiar emblem on it. Meanwhile, Abigal Brand finds herself back in a familiar role of dealing with alien tomfoolery. If you’re a fan of space politics and gross alien stuff, this is a comic for you.

As noted several times in the past,  Kris Anka is really good at drawing pretty people with huge muscles. While that is certainly a thing he does in issue 2, he also tosses some stuff at the reader that can be best described as  “fairly disgusting” and “slimy”. He does it quite well, which is a testament to his skills, but some of the imagery that Anaka and Matthew Wilson manage to create I could have gone without seeing in life. Also props to Wilson, who’s colors help give the early pages of the book a sense of Claustrophobia, really selling the how unnerving the alien ship is.

Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters do a great job of fleshing out some of the supporting cast this issue. Shifting the focus on Alpha Flight as Carol narrates shows just show strong of story tellers these writers are, letting the dialogue explain the character’s motives. They also excel in the Brand related subplot, which sees a few new twists and forces the readers to question some character’s motives. Captain Marvel’s new supporting cast grows on you real fast, and helps the book establish it’s own voice.

Captain Marvel #2 is an immensely enjoyable sci-fi super hero comic. Carol Danvers as a leader is an extremely fun reading experience, especially when the creative team is as good as this. It sits nicely next to Ms Marvel, The Ultimates, Spider-Woman and A-Force, letting readers know the character is in good hands without the guidance of Kelly Sue Deconnick.

PaperGirls_05-1Paper Girls #5

Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher

Image $2.99

Paper Girl #5 is a lot like Captain Marvel #2 in a lot of ways: Great art. Matthew Wilson on coloring and some grossness that I could have lived without seeing. That being said, this issue didn’t work for me as CM #2 did.

Paper Girls certainly get points for getting a lot of stuff done in a single issue. The creators dump a lot of info and potential new plot beats in this issue, not giving the readers much time to breathe. I applaud the decision by writer Brian K Vaughan and artist Cliff Chiang to make the book a dense read, but it’s definitely a little more than I was ready to handle in a single sitting.

Paper Girls art though, that never fails to please.. Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson both come through on the visuals, supplying the book with gorgeous art and fantastic colors. Chiang is an inventive story teller, so watching him tell this story with his illustrations choices is super fascinating, He’s so good at blending the period accurate material with the sci-fi stuff, giving the reader a lot to marvel at. And I love Wilson’s choices of colors, which feel retro in a way, but also perfect for the tone of this book.

A good, but not great issue of Paper Girls is still an solid read none the less. The visuals are the selling point this month, and hopefully the break will do the book some wonders.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #6

tumblr_o199gy2Mcg1uxdbsko1_1280Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #6

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles, Tom Humberstone

Image $3.99

The final issue of The Immaterial Girl, which is also the final issue of Phonogram in general, is an extremely satisfying read. Creators Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles and Tom Humberstone come together not only to deliver a fantastical final issue, but to eulogize and pay tribute to a part of Kieron Gillen’s life. It’s an extremely personal story, and that’s part of the appeal of it to me, as we rarely get comics that discuss what it’s like to be in your 30s as in-depth as P:TIM girl does (especially with that B-side drawn by Tom Humberstone).

In past reviews of this mini series, I’ve stated multiple times that this is Gillen at his most Grant Morrison-y here, only instead of weird magics and silver age comics, Kieron pays tribute to pop music from over the last couple of decades. Also there is magic, hence the Morrison comparison. However this final issue, the various references to bands and song lyrics, and very distinct Kieron Gillen dialogue reminds me of another favorite comic creator of mine: Chris Onstead of Achewood fame. At first glance, Achewood and tumblr_inline_o1byuiTjOz1qa75wn_540Phonogram couldn’t any more different (if anything WicDiv and Achewood make the better comparison, given the fact that both properties have cats who don’t wear much clothing in them) , but when you blow off your day job responsibility to really think about it, there’s a lot more in common between then one. More than just that fact that one could easily see Kid-With-A-Knife screaming “BONE! BONE! BONE!, making lewd gestures while David Kohl looks on in disgust/embarrassment.

First and foremost is that both Phonogram and Achewood make some deep music cuts (as well as ones that aren’t as deep, i.e. Emily referencing both Brittany Spears and Lady Gaga in this final issue), without much care if you’re on their level in terms of recognition. But what comics force to do is to learn their specific languages to ensure you fully appreciate them. Morrison does this sort of referencing too, but you can still enjoy a lot of his comics without fully being clued in on what he’s talking to. Not so much with Phonogram and Achewood, which REALLY force their audiences to almost re-learn how the English language works in a way. But once you do, it pays off immediately. Also both Gillen and Onstead do a superb job of creating a wide range of characters with their own distinct personalities. By doing so, it’s really easy for the readers to connect with the casts, even if the represent some less than desirable traits.

Screen-Shot-2016-01-19-at-10.32.07-PMI feel bad spending so much time talking about Kieron Gillen and noted-owner of Airwolf, Ray Smuckles, and not mentioning the art in this issue. Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson are so damn good, as per usual, and always find new ways to blow your mind. They do stuff with blood in this issue that’s so good you’ll want to quit drawing/coloring immediately. And that’s only the tip of the iceburg, as there’s some fantastic page layouts, panel composition, pallet choices…the first 10 pages of this comic are some of the best and inventive use of art I’ve seen since the pair’s work on Young Avengers. Even the quieter stuff towards the end of the issue is great, as you can see what the years of magic-related drama have done to these characters. Also it’s nice to see Jamie draw characters who aren’t model gorgeous all the time, and I feel better about that slight winter gut I got now.

Phonogram will probably never be the breakout hit The Wicked and the Divine is, which is a shame, because I love it just as much. It’s the “3 Cheers for Revenge” and “Killjoys” to WicDic’s “Black Parade”, which makes me love it all the more, because I’m a bit of a snob and prefer the works that don’t get as much love. The Immaterial Girl is a perfect ending to pair of mini series I’ve read dozens of times over the year, and I cannot thank the creators involved enough for this journey.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Kaptara Volume 1- Fear Not, Tiny Alien

kaptara-vol1tp-cov-webKaptara Volume 1: Feat Not, Tiny Alien

Chip Zdarsky, Kagan McLeod

Image  $9.98

::: Wipes forehead in relief:: Phew, almost went 3 weeks without mentioning a comic written by Chip Zdarsky. Glad I put a stop to that!

2015 was the year Chip Zdarsky went from being Matt Fraction’s chum who drew Sex Criminals, to Chip Zdarsky, Matt Fraction’s chum who draws Sex Criminals as well as plethora of covers, writes Howard the Duck for Marvel, as well as Jughead for Archie. It was the year that saw Zdarsky grow as writer, not just as artist and a guy who favorites a bunch of stuff I say on social media.  And while his work for hire stuff is great, those books didn’t get to show off the Zdarsky brand like Kaptara does.

Kapata, drawn by Kagan McLeod, was original sold as “Gay Saga”  when it was first hitting the stands/being marketed. In reality it’s “Intentionally Gay Masters of the Universe”, which is something I think is fantastic. It stars Keith Kanga, a scientist who’s Kaptara04_Preview_Pageship crash lands on the planet Kaptara, and find out that the Earth is in grave danger. However, Keith isn’t sure if he wants to actually return to Earth, or continue to live among his new acquaintances.

In my defense, art aside, the first issue of the series wasn’t as strong as Chip’s debut on Howard or Jughead. I decided to wait for the trade, which turned out to be my prefered method of reading Kaptara. Once the initial cast/naked shape shifting wizard is introduced, and the plot is establsihed, the book begins to take off, mixing Zdarsky’s trademark humor with some gorgeous work from McLeod.

Kagan’s work on this book is stunning, managing to recreate the Kirby meets Robert E Howard look of He-Man, only taking it to the extreme. McLeod creates such interesting visuals as a Smurf-like race of Mushroom people who are the actual worst, Cat Tanks, oh and like 50 new characters all with names and M.O.s in the span of 2 pages. McLeod is artistic tour de force, and Kaptara’s all the richer for having him attached to the book. His pages are filled with lush colors and wonderfully bizarre characters and setting. McLeod was absolutely stunning on Infinite Kung Fu, and he’s equally wonderful  on this book.

screenshot_2015-05-20-19-07-302I’ve sung Chip’s praises as a writer plenty of times before, but with Kaptara, we get to see his skills as a writer that are more in the vein of Sex Criminals than his work for hire, as he and Kagan have created everything from the ground up. Like I said earlier, the book suffers a little bit early as the cast/plot is established, but once Keith lands on Kaptara, the book really takes off. We get to see Zdarsky’s trademark brand of humor mesh with some interesting character building, letting us see a different side of Chip’s skill sets. It’s some solid work, and shows just how talented Zdarsky is as a writer.

Kaptara Volume 1 includes the first fives issues of the series, a cover gallery,  breakdown of the final 2 pages of issue 5 (this will make sense once you read it!), and autobiography/tale kaptara02_preview_page5-jpgof sexual conquest by Dartor (Prince of Endom!), really making this $9.98 (Chip will NOT be undersold!) package all the more attractive. Overall, Kaptara is a really charming book, well charming for a sci-fi fantasy comedy adventure book with sexist Mushroom folk. I know Image isn’t exactly short on comedy books OR sci-fi comics, but between Kagan McLeod’s psydelic visuals, and Zdarsky’s witty dialogue, Kaptara is a book worth checking out if you haven’t yet.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Paper Girls #4

PaperGirls_04-1Paper Girls #4

Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chang, Matt Wilson, Jared K Fletcher

Image $2.99

One of these days I want to read and Image book and be disappointed with it. For starters, a review fueled by rage and HOT TAKES would be easier and possibly some fun than thinking of new ways to praise books that deliver month after month. But no, Image gotta Image and release quality comic after quality comic, forcing me to up my game and find new ways to praise their books. Unlike Marvel and DC, who throw me a bone every so often and do something dumb, helping me find new ways for me to toss shade at them.

This month’s issue of Paper Girls is another solid one, as team creative team produces a ton of cool visual and narrative moments once again. Yeah I know, another great comic by Cliff Chang, Brian K Vaughan, Matt Wilson and Jared K Fletcher, big shocker there. But at least they give me plenty to talk about, which I’m grateful for.

First and foremost, and slight spoiler,  I’m intrigued by the decision to make one of the girl slightly homophobic. While their words aren’t as harsh as they were back in issue 1, it’s still not great, just slightly less offensive. To have a lead character act like that is bold cb3c481590c0d42e112bf54a45b914ff._SX640_QL80_TTD_decision, as it could result in some readers dropping the book, despite this sort of behavior not being entirely unheard of in the 80s. And in the creators defense, they make sure that she’s called out on it by the other leads, so it’s not like her actions are condoned, and she’s certainly young enough to change her stances as the book progresses. It’s something worth keeping an eye out, but given Chang and BKV’s track record, it’s safe to say they’ll handle this correctly.

Something less controversial to touch upon is Chang’s art for this issue. There’s a bit where a character has a flashback of sorts, and I how Chang and Wilson go with the 9 panel layouts with black borders for 4 wordless pages, and that those pages are printed horizontally. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a book printed out like that, and it’s jarring in all the right ways, giving the chaotic nature of the scene. Chang is stellar as usual on this issue, giving us more bizarre characters and creatures, but this sort of story telling through visuals only is really something else. Vaughan has shown a tone of restrain in this series, and the results have work in the book’s favor, letting the gorgeous art tell the story instead of going with a ton of scene-chewing exposition.

All joking earlier aside, Paper girls #4 continues to be a quality read, deserving your attention along with BKV’s excellent Saga. It’s a fun sci-fi book with some really clever nods to it’s late 80s setting, and the gorgeous visuals and design make it unlike anything else on the market. The first arc will wrap up next month, and it’s hard to predicate how this whole thing will end, which is exciting in it’s own right. Visually stunning, Paper Girls is a shining example of how good Image Comics is right now, and is worth your attention and money.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Bitch Planet #6

STK674615.jpg.square-true_maxheight-285_size-285Bitch Planet #6

Kelly Sue Deconnick, Taki Soma, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

The Feel Good Book of 2015 returns, with all the smiles, jokes, and sexiness you’ve come to expect from Bitch Planet. No wait, that’s all lies. Bitch Planet #6 is a bit of a downer, and an exceptional comic that covers a variety of topics rarely covered by comics. That’s the Bitch Planet we’ve come to know and appreciate.

Comics with parental advisory ratings slapped on them is nothing new to the medium Bitch Planet #6 however, is the first comic from a major publisher I’m aware of with a trigger warning for sexual assault, which is something I appreciate, even as a Cis White Dude. NOTHING in Bitch Planet is ever glorified, and writer Kelly Sue Deconnick and guest artist Taki Soma definitely put in some thought and consideration before doing what they did in this issue. Which, in case you didn’t pick up on the sarcasm above, makes for a depressing read, especially when you consider how issue 5 ended.

Bitch Planet #6 tells of how and why Meiko Maki landed was incarcerated.  It’s a tale of family, blackmail, casual racism, and revenge, making for a powerful comic that will make you feel 91b79f76075ba039b72f8e44051f9ad9._SX640_QL80_TTD_AWFUL once you’re done with it. Oh sure, Kelly Sue does toss in a few jokes to lighten up the mood, but it’s far from a fun read. Artist Taki Soma’s style is perfect for a flashback comic, as her styles gives off a nostalgic, Mad Men vibe. Her more simplistic, grounded style is perfect, for establishing the tone, and I love clean and minimalistic it is. There’s some excellent use of negative space, and Soma absolutely slays KSD’s violin metaphor. And most important all of her characters are super expressive, which really enhances the dialogue. New series colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick is a perfect fit for Taki, as her retro style color palette really gives the book a cool, exploitation era vibe, and the yellow, ageing look for the pages are a clever way to remind readers this a flashback. Clayton Cowles’ choice of fonts are all too fitting, as you would expect from a master-class Letterer like him. I’m impressed on how good Bitch Planet continues to look with rotating artists, and I hope to see this continue.

Bitch Planet continues to be some of the best work of Deconnick’s career, as she puts so much into every script. What we get in 24 pages of comics is so good, intelligent and fresh it really makes it hard to want to talk about other comics. Even when we get an issue like that that’s super depressing, you can really appreciate the level of craftsmanship involved in it.  And to sweeten the pot, we get some great back matter, including a nice pair of essays and a really important response to a well-meaning but ultimately insulting letter from a reader. For $4, you can do a lot worst.

Bitch Planet has always been one of the more rewarding and thought-provoking comics released in recent history, and issue six is no exception. The creators set out to tell a horrifying story, but make it so if you risk being triggered by it, you can skip over for it and wait for assault-free recap when issue 7 drops. It’s that sort of dedication to the reader/inclusion that I really appreciate, but am not surprised by given how thoughtful of a person Kelly Sue is.

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Chris’ Comics: The Goddamned #2

TheGoddamned_02-1The Goddamned #2

Jason Aaron, r.m. Guera,, Giulia Brusco, Jared K. Fletcher

Image $3.99

 

I really wish this review was just me giggling inappropriately. Granted it would be the vaguest review, it would also be my cutest. Or creepiest I guess, depending on your perspective. Either way I should start doing video reviews for this blog.

The Goddamned #2 is more of the same insanity as issue 1 was, which is the breed of bonkers I love from my comics. This issue is split between Jason Aaron & r.m. Gueras take on Noah and his clan, and Kain, who stumbles across the distraught mother trope. There’s a lot for me to like in there 20 pages, even though it kind of stinks that the first female character we’re introduced to is a damsel in distress of sorts.

The-Goddamned-2-preview-mjmplajmuwohka5h64nauee8jtjzd0vdfa13tw2p1oNoah was introduced in the final pages of issue 1, and this issue sees him a little more fleshed out. Aaron and Guera’s Garth Ennis influence shines here, as we see Noah portrayed as a  righteous religious man who fully believes in carry out God’s work, just in the most violent of manners. He’s a fascinating character, and given his history, I’m excited to see his story play out.  A shame the same can’t be said for said female characte,r who doesn’t even get a name this issue.

While I’m less than pleased with how the book’s only female character is handled in the Kain portion of the book, I love what Guera and Aaron do with the character in this issue. While Kain throws down with a new tribe of foes, Aaron recalls the various methods Kain has tried killing himself. It walks to the line between ridiculous and tragic, because we feel for Kain in a way, but he’s also the dude solely responsible for the way the world is. I do appreciate Aaron and Guera finally giving the readers a reason to get behind Kain as a lead, and how they manage to let the reader know how bad the world is strictly from dialogue and visual cues.

Aside from the great narration and dialogue from Aaron, we get some fantastic stuff from the art team of this issue. Jared K Fletcher‘s choice of fonts really give the book a Prince Valiant/ old timey look, which I dig for a biblical action book.  It pairs well with the colors The-Goddamned-2-2015-Page-22used by Giulia Bruscowhich give the book a nice painted look. And of course r.m. Guera is fantastic. I like the various body type he uses for the book’s cast, especially when so many fantasy type stories only stick or two or 3. He really does a fantastic job of creating a sick and twisted world, while drawing some fine dinosaurs, and uses dark black inks to invokes shadows in some interesting wats. He also shines when it comes to drawing the action pieces in this issue, creating some really brutal art that hard too look directly art, but gorgeous in it’s own way none the less.

The Goddamned is pretty much everything I wanted from the team who gave us Scalped. It’s a violent fantasy book with a killer hook, and small but intriguing cast. Given what we know about the Bible & the Old Testament, we have a rough idea on how this whole thing is going to play out, but it’s fascinating none the less. Guera and Aaron managed to create a captivating narrative quickly, and with Brusco and Fletcher, and visual style that blend European style comics with some Games of Thrones level violence. It’s a book I can’t recommend enough if you want something a little more brutal from Image.

 

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Chris’ Comic: Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #4 and The Wicked and the Divine #17

PhonogramIG_05-1_263_405_s_c1TheWickedAndDivine_17-1Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #4

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

The Wicked and the Divine #17

Kieron Gillen, Brandon McCarthy

Image $3.50

I’ll confess, I’m a little sad that this is the last WicDiv/Phonogram same shipping day  that we’re possibly ever getting. It’s a real shame, because I’ve really enjoyed the last 4 months of having my heart torn out when reading the former, and then being confused in the best sort of ways when it came to Phonogram. 2015 has been a fantastic year for fans of Kieron Gillen comics, and it’s only appropriate the final month of the year gives us a penultimate issue of one series, and the end of the arc with the other.

CWTGfPkWsAIH-szPhonogram: The Immaterial Girl #5 features the return of Kid-With-A-Knife, who is the best character. That it not an opinion, mind you, it is fact. Also it’s the first issue in a long time that focuses on David Kohl, who’s clearly based on Kieron Gillen, and is the closest thing Phonogram has to a main protagonist.  Having Kohl as the issue’s central character seems appropriate, he was the first character we were introduced to, so it makes sense that he sets up the ending of Phonograms.  Once again, Gillen, artist Jamie McKelvie, colorist Matt Wilson and letter Clayton Cowles are brilliant, taking everything they created specifically for this minute and showcasing it in this issue. It’s been a incredible run so far, and I’m excited to see it all come to a head next issue. And props to artists Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt, who handle the art to the B-side story for this issue. Higgins and Brandt create some gorgeous art, art that actually rivals what McKelvie is capable of creating. It’s another delightful installment of my favorite mini series of the year, as every creator really shines in this issue.

 

Over in The Wicked and the Divine #17, the final chapter of “Commercial Suicide” focuses on the Cat-demigod Sakhmet, drawn, colored and letter by  Brandon Graham. I really like how this issue is a play on the excessive partying Rock Star stereotype, with a the-wicked-and-the-divine-17-statuetwist that is horrifying, but makes total sense given Sakhmet’s M.O.. Graham is a fantastic talent,  and having him work with Gillen is a treat for readers. His more manga/graffiti mash up art style couldn’t be any more different than regular series artist Jamie McKelvie, but it’s so good that you shouldn’t mind. Gillen’s dialogue is as sharp as ever, and particularly dig the page in which cat and dog people are mentioned. And speaking of McKelvie, his final page of this comic sets up the next volume quite nicely, teasing at the return of a character who’s presence in this book has been missed. It’s a fantastic finale, and surprisingly easy on the reader’s nerves for a change.

Kieron Gillen’s creator owned output in 2015 has to be highlight of sorts for him, because it definitely is for me as a fan. The Immaterial Girl has exceed my expectations, and the Commercial Suicide arc of WicDiv has been nothing sort of incredible. Of course him being surrounded by a murder’s row of artistic talents helps a ton as well. It’s going to challenge for him and his team of creator to wow me as much come next, but if there’s anyone who can do it, it’s Gillen and co.

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