Category: Image

Graphic Spotlight – Monstress Vol. 2

After a monstrously long hiatus (see what I did there?), the next exciting act of MONSTRESS is here! This beautiful and bewitching series returns with the stakes ever higher and harder choices for the flawed and beloved characters. MONSTRESS is a feast for our eyes and quenches our brain’s thirst for personally epic storytelling. Maika is possessed by the God Monstrum, y’all! Things are not okay and now we can see if they ever will be.

MONSTRESS is a breakout hit for Image Comics. Tackling themes including racism, sexism, weakness, and classism, the series is powerful. I mean that in every sense of the word. Sana Takeda’s art is addictive. The series has walked an incredibly fine line between western comics and manga. Takeda pulls off the brilliant balancing act with engrossing images and heartrending visual storytelling. Thus, a series that is mesmerizing enough to stare at let alone read more than once. You want to look at it all the time. Takeda and writer Marjorie Liu take us back into the crisis of Maika and expands the world with her supporting cast, Kippa and Ren.

While Maika is being a…monster (I can’t help myself), Ren and Kippa journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past. But what they find will be dangers to her future. Welcome back to this alternate world where the subtext is explicit and delicious. Maika’s quest to revenge her mother’s murder will take new twists and turns. This world where the lower class is food and fuel for the upper crust will have new secrets to uncover. Where will this hero’s journey take us next? Most likely someplace pretty freakin’ dark. Without a doubt, it will be somewhere we’ll be hooked to look at. The conclusion is that Maika’s story will probably not end quite how we think it will. And whatever end we find at the end of this trade is going to be too captivating to unsee.

Collects Monstress #7-12

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Crosswind #1 Takes Deadly Twists And Turns

Crosswind #1 is the Freaky Friday from Hell.

Fan-favorite creators Gail Simone and Cat Staggs are bringing you a new creator-owned series from Image Comics. It’s a deadly body swapping story involving a Chicago hitman and a Seatlle housewife. It sounds like an eighties sitcom put through the Cinemax lens (you never watched Banshee or Strike Back? Get to it!). There’re some high hopes that this will be a mind-bending hit from the home of the most critically acclaimed creators looking for some more editorial control over their content. For fans of sci-fi crime and mistaken identity stories that Hitchcock would have salivated over, this might be the new read you didn’t know you were missing.

The kind of story Crosswind is offering hinges on execution. In general, the best chance we have of figuring out if the execution will be excellent are the preview pages and the creators. It’s no secret that there are about five hundred comics that come out every month. That’s a lot of paper competing for the credits in your wallet. There has to be something to entice you that this series above a lot of others is going to be worth what you’ve worked hard for and will be a treat for that effort.

Gail Simone last hit us with Clean Room. It was a rather dark turn from a writer known for giving levity in even the most dire circumstances her characters go through. It was a critical home run for Vertigo, a publisher that was in need of a few of those at the time. Cat Staggs has been a cover hitmaker for a few years and has been growing more confident in her interior work. Her covers for the Wonder Woman ’77 story made Lynda Carter fans squeal and her Orphan Black work was the best part of the series. She’s been a highlight for every project she’s touched thus far. There’s a real chance of a new dynamic duo on the creator-owned scene.

Crosswind has a familiar hook, two intriguing respected creators, and the fact that they’re about to unleash their vision as they see fit on our shelves. Could be a fun ride filled with a lot of barrel rolls.

 

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Graphic Spotlight – Motor Crush Vol. 1

Her name is Domino Swift and you’re going to want to hang on for the ride.

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr were a beloved terrific trio on their popular run of Batgirl. When the Rebirth era of DC Comics was announced and creative teams were being rolled out, these three were noticeably absent. Many readers were wondering where they were going and why did they leave? Turns out, they went to the land of Image Comics, where creators go to unleash their imaginations. What came out of them? Domino Swift and the extreme vivid world of Motor Crush!

Domino Swift’s story is one of badass battles. Except her battles are ones of extreme sports, painful secrets, and addiction. She’s addicted to a new drug known as Crush. She’s addicted to winning. She’s addicted to the possibility of losing and all that entails. She’s battling demons oftentimes can be beaten, you can only do your best to stay ahead of.

Motor Crush is sci-fi action adventure in a world built on adrenaline and filled with characters who are racing against for themselves, each other and who see life is a race that can either never be won or has to be won. The trophy? The finish line? The fame and fortune? Come find out what it all really means.

Oftentimes after working on major properties, creators are looking for an outlet to bring out stories they can’t tell for anyone else but themselves. Image has proven to be the home for creator-owned work. Fletcher, Stewart, and Tarr came to the land of the creator-owned with a world that felt like was revving to get out of them. A lot of the praise from critics and readers alike have gone to the artist. Babs Tarr is the star of the book, as she tackles some of the most daunting challenges in the comic book medium and makes it look effortless but elegant. Her style is now very often imitated but she’s been in rare form on this series.

If you’re looking for a vibrant, violent, and vigorous turbo boost to your reading pile then pick up Motor Crush.

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Graphic Spotlight: Bitch Planet Vol. 2: President Bitch

It’s about damn time!

Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro captured lightning in a bottle with their series Bitch Planet and after way too much waiting, we’re finally able to dive into the second part of their spectacular opus in the making, Bitch Planet Vol. 2: President Bitch.

Bitch planet has been accused of being a vehicle for roaring feminism. Whether it is or isn’t are for the critics, I’m not a critic in this article, I just get to tell you the cool stuff coming out. What Bitch Planet does offer is a world where being noncompliant to what’s acceptable, in some cases and extreme while in others mundane, gets you imprisoned. Your choices, genetics, nature, and nurture can all get you labeled “NC” and shipped off to a place like the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost #2. In that case, we’re talking about getting jailed in the meanest penal planet in the galaxy. But how did the world begin going down this path? How did emotions and our DNA become punishable offenses? The answers are coming in this second volume. We’re going to be getting some of the first clues to the history of the world as we know it. Plus, we meet President Bitch!

There are some comic book series that tend to transcend the medium and have an impact on readers that spark something revolutionary in them. Based on a lot of you who come into Forbidden Planet that’ve been asking for this book, there’s plenty of evidence to support Bitch Planet being deemed as such a series. Sure, there might be some flashier space family adventures out there but there’s room in our hearts for more than one great book. Make a place in yours and on your bookshelf for this one.

Collects BITCH PLANET #6-10

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Graphic Spotlight – Moonshine Vol. 1

The team that brought you 100 Bullets is back with southern roots!

I’m a crime guy. There are certain contemporary writers that when their name is on a new crime book, I’m on the hook. Brian Azzarello is one of them. If you haven’t read 100 Bullets, what’s the matter with you? He and Eduardo Risso created a masterpiece for every fan of the genre to enjoy forever. Now, they’re back with a new story and under a new publishing banner.

Moonshine Vol. 1 is a collection of what we hope is merely the beginning of this epic prohibition era southern gothic noir. It’s a hardcore crime book about gangsters with a layer of horror on top. Moonshine is about Lou Pirlo, a “city-slick ‘torpedo'” that’s been sent from the Big Apple, New York City, to get a deal done with the best moonshiner in West Virginia. That moonshiner’s name is Hiram Holt and in this era where liquor could get you sent to prison, Hiram Holt is a king over a kingdom of his own making. Lou thinks he’ll take this country bumpkin for everything he has but Lou’s going to learn, in a real painful way, that Hiram Holt will do whatever it takes to protect his boozy operation and a bloody Holt family secret.

Do you like 100 Bullets? Do you like Southern Bastards? Do you like creators like Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, or David Lapham? Then you have zero excuses, especially at the reasonable price of $9.99 not to pick up this exciting new story from one of the most iconic comic book teams of the modern age.

Collects Issues 1-6

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Graphic Spotlight: SEVEN TO ETERNITY VOL. 1- THE GOD OF WHISPERS

This week we put the spotlight on Rick Remender‘s latest sci-fi sensory overload!

Rick Remender is no stranger to crafting amazing science fiction stories. If you haven’t read FEAR AGENT then you’re missing out on the greatest space western of all-time (yeah, I’m looking at you Firefly and Cowboy Bebop). In 2016 Remender brought us a vast amount of genre treasures in SEVEN TO ETERNITY. This week, the first arc of one of 2016’s best series comes out in trade paperback with an accessible price tag of only $9.99!

Do you love space operas like SAGA? BLACK SCIENCE? PROPHET? Do you love characters whose backs are against the proverbial wall pinned down by overwhelming enemies? Are you a fan of crazy ridiculously beautiful artwork that will expand your mind with new worlds? Then get to know the seven who will hold the fate of a world in their hands with what they do, what secrets they keep, and how fast they can do whatever’s necessary.

A paranoia has spread to every part of the kingdom of Zhal. It destroys like a plague of fear whose source is the God of Whispers. His spies hid in ever hall spreading mistrust, fear, and breeding acts of cruelty that destroy communities and even families. Adam Osidis, a dying knight from a disgraced house is put to a dangerous choice: Will he help a band of hopeless and homeless band of magic users in their attempts to free the world of this evil God? Or will Adam give into what his heart most desires, accepting a promise from the God of Whispers himself. Free the world or free yourself?

Writer RICK REMENDER reteams with collaborators JEROME OPEÑA (UNCANNY X-FORCE, FEAR AGENT) and MATT HOLLINGSWORTH (TOKYO GHOST, WYTCHES) take you down a hard read where men have surrendered their freedom to fear and one last free man is left to choose. Collects SEVEN TO ETERNITY #1-4.

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Gods Come To Texas in GOD COUNTRY #2

Finally, the next chapter of this Gods among us epic is here!

In case you missed it (if you did, go get a copy of God Country #1 immediately), one of the best new series has its next issue coming out this New Comic Book Day. It’s rare when a book this good comes along. Do you like Southern Bastards? Thor? Epic mythological tales with heartbreaking family drama? Then you’ve no excuse not picking up God Country #2 this week.

Donny Cates (Buzzkill, The Ghost Fleet) might just be making a cult favorite. In the first issue we learned some of the deep and mythology busting secrets of Emmett Quinlan and his family. Having returned home to take care of his aging and mentally deteriorating father, Emmett was putting his wife and child through the ringer. His wife had had enough of Emmett’s dad’s cruelty and Emmett’s stubbornness to put his father in a home where he could be cared for properly. For some reason, still to be further explored, Emmett couldn’t bare to “give up” on his dad. Meanwhile, a twister was getting set to touch down. Little did we know this was no ordinary tornado and that it carried within it the key to unlocking mysteries of Emmett and his father.

After the amazing reveal at the end of the first issue, Emmett will continue to attempt to rebuild his family in the wake of the storm that broke them. Meanwhile, something otherworldly screams through the sky under a banner of war. The Gods have touched down in Texas and they are not going to leave empty handed. Why are you still reading?!?Buy your copy and get in on this at the ground floor.

Not sure if you can make it Wednesday? Sign up for a subscription box and put it on your pull list! This is one journey you don’t want to be left behind for.

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Chris’ Comics: The Top 4 (and a Hawkguy) Finale

At last, it’s time for my final article for the Daily Planet. Instead of reviews, I’m going to recommend 4 series to you (plus Hawkeye, because we all know that’s coming) that are some of my favorite comics. There’s a few “well duh” choices on the list, but hopefully someone will find a new favorite on this list, or at least think I have excellent tastes in comics.

DCD5297571) Batgirl: Year One (Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Marcos Martin) The only way you can buy Batgirl: Year One these days is in a trade packaged with the also great Robin: Year One. But Batgirl: Year One is arguably my favorite story featuring my favorite DC character. It’s a nice re-imagining of her origin from pre New 52 times, from a writer who wrote a good portion of the best Babs Gordon stories in the 90s. Marcos Martin later blew up on books like Spider-Man and Dr. Strange: The Oath, but this is where the Martin hype train officially began. A gorgeous story that does wonders for one of the most iconic superheroes out there, Batgirl: Year One is the one DC story I can’t recommend enough.

DCD4061942) Phonogram: The Singles Club  (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson). While I absolutely adore this team’s work on The Wicked + The Divine and Young Avengers, P:TSC is my next pick, which was the first time Wilson joined Gillen and McKelvie on a creator owned joint. Set over the course of a single night, each issue in this trade tells a different story, focusing on a different character, and occasionally crossing over. My personal favorite of the various stories is the finale, a relatively silent story that focuses on Kid-With-a-Knife, one of the more simplistic but exciting characters in the series. While it’s technically the second part of the Phonogram trilogy, it’s by far the most accessible, and an excellent entry point for Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson’s indie work.

15958246263) The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, Becky Cloonan). I really wanted to throw a Grant Morrison penned story on this list, but honestly, there’s enough best of/recommendation lists out there featuring his work on All Star Superman, JLA, Doom Patrol, etc. Instead I’ve opted for a comic featuring a character played by Morrison in the My Chemical Romance music videos this comic series is based on/a sequel to. While being familiar with said music videos/album helps. Killjoys is good enough to enjoy on it’s own, thanks to Cloonan’s gorgeous art, and Way’s sensational and kinda out there scripts. While you can make an argument that both creators have stronger work on the market, this is a favorite of mine, and it’s definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of either creators.

07851983934) NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. (Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen) Also known as my favorite comic series before Hawkguy was a thing. Warren Ellis’ funniest book to date, in which his team of super hero pirates fight an evil corporation profiting from a war they’ve created. A cult favorite that’s influenced so many books, NEXTWAVE was at one point the weirdest but also one of the best looking books Marvel had ever published thanks to Stuart Immonen’s art. Assuming you haven’t read it, you should, unless you hate nuclear puppies, flesh eating koalas and dragons that wear shorts.

 

 

0785192190Hawkguy) Hawkeye (Matt Fraction, David Aja, Annie Wu, Matt Hollingsworth, and various) And here it is, my obvious favorite that I’ve never shut up while writing for Forbidden Planet NYC. Hawkeye was a game changer for Marvel, and is easily the best for-hire work Fraction and Aja have done, possibly ever. The creative team makes walking dumpster fire Clint Barton one of the most relatable characters in comics, while making Hawkeye Kate Bishop a break out star. From the Pizza Dog issue to the Sandy relief issue, there’s some many amazing, genre defining comics that show that you can do big 2 comics with an indie comics sensibility. No comic series has affected as much as this book has, and there’s never going to be a time where I won’t recommend it.

And with that, I take my leave. I’d like to thank everyone who’s read my work, my fellow contributors, and the fine folk at Forbidden Planet for giving me a stage over these last years to talk about comics, and toys. I’ve had a blast, and if you care to see what I’m doing post Forbidden Planet, give me a follow on twitter (@theanarchris). Thanks for the memories FPNYC faithful!

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #2 & Snotgirl #2

Batgirl_002_2016_2_covers_Digital_Zone_EmBatgirl #2

Hope Larson, Rafael Albuquerque, Dave McCraig

DC, $2.99 

Batgirl #2 takes Babs to Singapore this month, where she attempts to up her hero game by learning mixed martial arts, while also trying to discover what kind of secrets her friend Kai is keeping, plus a dabbing of some romance. It’s a dense, but fun issue that offers very little time for Batgirl in costume, but a ton of focus on Barbara Gordon.

Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque‘s 2nd issue is a delight, as their take on Batgirl is a lot of fun. Larson’s voice for Barbara reads like someone in their early 20s, and captures the intelligence and spunk you’d expect from the character. She’s also genuinely funny in a way that she hasn’t before, almost in a classic Peter Parker way. And I like how the plot manages to weaves between multiples threads, without ever getting too overwhelming.  It’s a nice blend of romance, mystery and action that should appeal to old and new fans of the character.

While Rafael Albuquerque doesn’t have a breakout scene this month, is art is gorgeous none the less. I love, LOVE his facial expressions, and how he draws Babs’ MMA sequences. She looks like a legit brawler, never too sexy or frail, and the composition of the pages with the fight scenes are insanely good. Dave McCaig‘s colors are stunning as well, as he plays some bright colors off of white space.

Batgirl #2 is a another good comic from a team who’s doing some great work. It’s been awhile since I’m seen new creators excel so much after following a fan favorite run, and I’m glad to see Larson, Albuquerque and company hit the floor running.

Snotgirl_02-1Snotgirl #2

Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung

Image Comics, $2.99

The cool thing about Snotgirl so far is that it’s the type of book that will keep you guessing. From the solicits and early previews, it was safe to assume Snotgirl was a comic about a fashion blogger with a nasty allergy, while also being a discussion about identity on the internet. Then the ending hit, and well, the only thing that was safe to say there’s more going on then I had initially imagined.

Issue two deals with the fall out of the previous issue’s ending, while raising a few more questions. We’re also introduced to a pair of intriguing new characters, and reminded that our lead and her friends are still some of the most shallow characters in comics.

Despite some more intentional confusion and leads that are hard to rally behind, Snotgirl remains one of the best new books on the stands. Bryan O’ Malley‘s script and dialogue ooze of the type of creativity that he can only bring to a comic. Oh sure you may not like Lottie, but you’ll be drawn into her world all too easily. As for the art by Leslie Hung, the best way to describe it is like a Korean drama with L.A. sensibilities. It’s bright, gorgeous, loose and expressive, perfect for a book that in some ways is about fashion and a vapid existence.

Snotgirl #2 is a treat for anyone who enjoys the comic medium and isn’t afraid of trying new things. Buy on sight.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked & The Divine #22

 

TheWickedAndTheDivine_22-1The Wicked & The Divine #22

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelive, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

The timing of this issue of The Wicked + The Divine couldn’t be better, given the current drama surrounding the Steve Universe fandom.  Toxic Fandoms are something that affect comics on the regular, i.e. anytime a creator gets death threats for taking a book in an unpopular direction, and it’s cool to see WicDiv attempting to have another discussion about that while pushing it’s narrative forward.

The Wicked & The Divine #22 wraps up the current arc, with an ending that can be best described as “THIS IS FINE!” While I won’t be spoiling the ending here, I’m glad to say the finale of this arc isn’t as much as of endgame for the series as I previously imagined. Yes it definitely wraps up this action heavy arc, but how this book ends sets up a few more arcs nicely. The downside is that the potential for disaster for these gods remains YoUChildrenat an all-time high, as someone may have bitten off a little more then they can chew.

Matt Wilson and Jamie McKelvie’s art for this arc has been nothing short of career defining, and this issue is no different. We get the artistic duo’s most graphically violent scene to date, and I say that well aware that this is a book where heads and people explode on a semi-regular basis. There’s also an amazing double spread (accompanied by some choice Kieron Gillen dialogue) and a nice visual callback to another character at the end that will have long time readers worried about the remaining cast members. McKelvie’s lay out and facial expression are top notch as always, but Wilson really takes things to the next level. “Neon ultra violence” is the best way to describe the colorist’s contributions to this book, with blood reds playing off of bright greens, blues, pinks and whites.  Issue 22 is another gorgeous issue, and it’s hard to imagine a better artist/colorist duo working in comics than McKelvie and Wilson.

Writer Kieron Gillen is also doing some amazing stuff with this book’s dialogue. The humor in this book is great, being perfectly self-aware when it needs to be and completely devastating for maximum effect. There’s a bit where a character does something absolutely savage, but the reasoning behind it is all too sound. It’s shades of gray characterization like that make Gillen such a fantastic writer, and makes the book all the more compelling. There’s also a bit of running gag between Amaterasu and the Norns this issue that’s simultaneously funny, but also manages to show wickedandivine26 (1)how immature and naive Ammy is. Again, I adore how complex and layered this cast is, and am fully expecting to feel all sorts of awful once the creative team starts killing them off.

The Wicked + The Divine is a rare book that somehow gets better with every arc. While this issue ends one threat, it unintentionally sets up so many other potential problems, which is both exciting and terrifying to me as a reader. It’s a book that continues to be a fantastic read every issue as well as incredibly topical in an era where some fans have problems accepting actors/actresses based solely on their skin color or sex.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter@TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. Please don’t @ him with your scorching hot film TAKES.

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Chris’ Comics: Snotgirl #1

STL011624Snotgirl #1

Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung, Mickey Quinn, Mare Odomo

Image $2.99

Snotgirl #1 is not only the first time Scott Pilgrim/Seconds creator Bryan Lee O’ Malley has delved into a monthly comic, but it also marks the first time someone else is drawing his work. Making her comics debut is Leslie Hung, who teams with O’Malley to tell the story of one Lottie Person. Lottie is 25 year old Fashion blogger who lives in L.A., and is crazy popular on the internet. Her personal life is a bit of a mess though as her friends are constantly flaking out on her, her love life is  a mess, suffering from serious allergies. Also she’s not exactly the nicest person, as O’Malley and Hung have made her a very shallow and self absorbent lead who at times deserves the hand she’s dealt. Having a unlikable character as your lead is a risky move, but it works, thanks to the talent involved.

If there’s anything that you can compare Snotgirl to, it’s shoujo-manga (I.E. manga that’s aim specifically at women). Both the dialogue and manga feel very breezy and flowery, which Snotgirl03I’m sure is intentional; after all given o’ Malley love of manga. It’s also an incredibly smart comic, hidden behind a paper-thin lead. Aside from Lottie dealing with her problems, this book serves as both  commentary and a critique on social media careers while examining the duality of having a online and offline personality.

I absolutely adore the art team of Leslie Hung and Micky Quinn. Hung’s art is gorgeous, well except for the parts where our lead is dripping excessive snot from her nose. It’s manga with a touch of Babs Tarr, meaning it looks VERY 2016. My only nitpick is that there’s a pair of panels at the end of the comic that’s very vague, and I can’t tell if that’s intentional or not. Quinn’s colors are fantastic; very bright and clean, capturing the LA feel of the book exceptional well. Bryan Lee O’ Malley comics always look good, and Snotgirl is no exception to that. I also don’t want to over look Mare Odomo, who handles the letters. Odomo isn’t the first letterer who’s had to work emojis/text messages into a comic book’s narration, but this comic is some of the best use of it I’ve seen in awhile.

Speaking of O’ Malley, I love what he’s down with this debut. He manages to make Lottie snotgirl01-review05really polarizing, but also someone you’ll want to read about. Every time the character has a moment that makes her the least bit tolerable, O’ Malley makes sure there’s a moment that completely undoes that. That’s not to say that there’s nothing endearing about the book’s cat, but O’ Malley throws out a last minute twist that puts and end to that.

Snotgirl is book unlike anything else out. It’s hard to explain why it’s such a amazing read without spoilers, but given the fact that it’s Bryan Lee O’ Malley’s first attempt at a 20 page comic, that’s all you need. But the book doesn’t succeed due to his talents alone,  as Hung, Quinn and Odomo all excel at their respected roles. Snotgirl #1 is fantastic comic with a unique premise, and it’s something you should be reading now versus waiting for the trade.

 

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The Wicked + The Divine #21

TheWickedAndTheDivine_21-1The Wicked + The Divine #21

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

While The Wicked + the Divine has definitely had its share of fight scenes in the past, I can’t recall there being an arc that has been this heavy on action. That’s not a critique mind you, as artist/co-creator Jamie McKelvie’s ability to draw pretty people hurting each other, with breathtaking colors from Matt Wilson, is something I enjoy immensely.

WicDiv #21 sees bitty demi-goddess Minerva returned to Ananke and Woden, which is less than great for her, as the duo has some less than great plans for the wee deity. Obviously this does not sit well with Laura/Persephone and her allies, which means fighty time, fighty time, blood blood blood! This is not exactly the deepest issue of WicDiv, but again, McKelvie and Wilson excel at drawing fight scenes, and writer Kieron Gillen does a Wicked+Divine21_01damn fine job with the dialogue that it’s still a super fun read.

“Fun” may be the wrong word to use. Two minor characters meet their untimely fates in this issue, but since they weren’t exactly the most fleshed out nor beloved, their deaths seem to serve no purpose other than a reminder that Ananke isn’t a nice lady. But this more restrained Kieron Gillen thrives with his abrupt, straight to the point, dialogue, Baphomet and Baal have been bitter opponents throughout this arc, but their beef may finally be squashed when Baphomet drops 16 words that completely changes his opponent’s views. Dionysus finally has a break out moment, and it’s a less than 20 word affair. And my personal favorite is an exchange between Ananke and Woden, in which she #micdrops him in 10 words. It’s quick brutal and and a fine example how good Kieron Gillen’s dialogue is. Clayton Cowles also deserves props for his lettering contributions, especially when it comes to font choices and word balloon placement. Letterer’s are often the unsung heroes of the medium, and considering what Cowles brings to this book, creators like him deserve more recognition.

That being said, McKelvie and Wilson’s art is the real selling point of this issue. McKelvie once against manages to draw some brutal fight scenes, mixing what he did with Young Avengers with a heavy manga influence. And Wilson is incredible this issue, from his ability to set scenes with his palette choices, to incorporate some many effects into the art. Wicked+Divine21_03As well choreographed as Dionysus’ scenes are by McKelvie, Wilson’s colors bring those pages to a different level, injecting a level of energy very few colorists are able to. Woden and Dionysus alone are proof of that, but when you factor in the other 4 characters with their own signatures palette and visual effects, it speaks volume about Wilsons talents. Also best nicks and bruises in the business.

The Wicked + The Divine #21 is a VERY good fight comic which some fantastic visuals. It’s the type of comic that really takes advantage of the medium, overloading the reader’s eyes with fantastic and colorful visuals. It also feels like working towards an endgame of sorts, which is odd, because the end of the book hasn’t been announced. It’s the type of comic that will leave you both satisfied with what you got, but will leaving you dying for more.

 

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Saga/DC Collectibles/Funko POP and More

Saga fans have a lot to look forward to and a lot to be upset about all in one fell swoop this week.  First off- the long-awaited Lying Cat plush doll is finally in stock. I haven’t had a chance to test the talking feature of the plush out yet, but I do love the Image comic series it is based on. On that note- Lying Cat seems to have come out at the perfect time, especially if you only read Saga in trade. I love reading single issues , but I got into Saga long after the first arc was done and made a conscious decision to wait for the trades to release. It makes waiting for each arc to play out in single issue form before being collected GRUELING, but I also manage to avoid spoilers for Saga– thank goodness. That being said, a brand new volume of Saga is out this week with the release of volume 6 of the Brian K. Vaughan/Fiona Staples series. I cannot wait to see what Marko, Alana, and Hazel are up to now. Speaking of Marko and Alana, I am sure if you are a fan of the series, you are drooling over the San Diego Comic Con Exclusive Action Figure Two-Pack from McFarlane Toys of the star-crossed couple. I hope individually packed figures make their way to comic shops at some point, because these figures are gorgeous and this two pack will almost certainly be hard to find.

Shifting gears to DC Comics and their stable of characters, DC Collectibles is finally starting to get some of their long-awaited figures out into the world. From the CW TV series I don’t watch anymore,  comes the Malcolm Merlyn action figure. Based on the character as he appears in the 3rd season of the show, this figure also features the likeness of actor John Barrowman, also known as Captain Jack Harkness for you Doctor Who fans.  From the Flash TV series, we get a figure of Heat Wave, now also a cast member on Legends of Tomorrow. Heat Wave features the likeness of Dominic Purcell and can hang with the previous Captain Cold figure. Future CW figures include Ollie in his season 3 outfit, the long-awaited Laurel Lance Black Canary figure and the Reverse Flash. If the current CW based figures aren’t your thing(and if they aren’t I can’t blame you, especially after the debacle on that show…), we are also receiving the Batman The Animated Series Mad Love 2-pack featuring Harley Quinn and the Joker. The figures are both fully articulated and Harley is an exclusive Nightgown version. Each set also comes packaged with a full color trade paperback of Mad Love and other stories, featuring plenty of Joker and Harley Quinn tales. Finally, fans of Supergirl and of late artist Darwyn Cooke have a sweet release to look forward to this week as the first in DC’s new Designer Series is released. Supergirl is based on Cooke’s retro-style artwork and will come packaged with a couple of her super pets. Future figures include Batman, Harley, Flash, John Stewart and Wonder Woman.

New Funko product just keeps on coming. This week we have received The Green Arrow and Speedy(Thea) POPs, Suicide Squad DORBZ and Mopeez, as well as a handful of Scooby-Doo and Game of Thrones DORBZ. We also got Zoom, the BFG, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk and some others in recent weeks. The Game of Thrones 3 3/4″ figures have also arrived including Jon Snow and Ghost. For those of you with a more political bent, we have received a limited supply of the three presidential candidate POPs, including Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. I will say no more.

I’ve spoken at length in previous columns about the new set of DC Superhero Girls figures and dolls that Mattel is introducing to capture the younger female audience. We are finally getting a couple of cases of these action figures in and having seen these before, these are nice poseable, inexpensive figures that should appeal to little girls and boys as well as female action figure collectors. Each character may not be wearing the traditional versions of their iconic outfits, but they are all still highly recognizable. Figures that have been introduced into the line thus far are Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Bumblebee.

Briefly: a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre 8″ figure has arrived depicting Leatherface as he appeared in the 2nd film and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is back in stock as a ReAction figure. That’s all for me this week- next week, I’ll give you my impressions of Heroes and Villains Fan Fest as I venture to meet the fabulous women of the live-action DC TV universe, including Katie Cassidy, Caity Lotz, Katrina Law, Willa Holland and Ciara Renee. Can’t wait!

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Chris’ Comics: The Fix #3

TheFix_03-1The Fix #3

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

Image $3.99

I’ll be honest; for a hot minute, I almost didn’t review this comic. Given what went down in Orlando this past weekend,  the events in The Fix #3 made my reading experience uncomfortable. That is not the fault of Nick Spencer, Stever Lieber, Ryan Hill or Nic J Shaw in ANY shape or from mind you, as there was no way they could predict was would offer a few days after the book’s release. I will point everyone to this tweet, and encourage anyone who can afford to give to do so.

The Fix #3 sees our lead Roy putting in some overtime, which he scored in the most horrible of ways, poor Pete. Body-guarding musician Elaina seems like a sweet gig for him at first, but things quickly spiral out of control, leading is an ending you won’t see coming.

Nick Spencer is currently know by the majority of comics readers as the guy who did some bad things to Captain America (The Steve Rogers flavor). In this comic though, Spencer is providing some commentary on what fame and the music industry can do to a person. The character of Elaina can be easily called a stand in for a Lindsey or a Brittany,  and what they endured once becoming household names. Spencer may be taking some of the plot points straight from the headlines, but he manages to stay away from becoming too preachy at any given point, which is appreciated.

Steve Lieber’s art is impressive as per usual on this third issue. His work is so expressive, and it definitely helps set up several gags in this issue. Lieber knows exactly when to exaggerate character’s faces for maximum comedic effect, and his body language is just as fantastic. He knows how the switch up the tone on the fly, which really helps keep readers on the edge of their seats. Ryan Hill’s colors are superb, giving this book the proper Shane 3074774-007_fix03Black feeling this book deserves. The constant presence of orange/red colors helps create an environment that appears to be welcoming, but there’s that feeling of tension bubbling underneath. Nic J Shaw, just feels like the right guy to be lettering this book, especially come the finally pages of the book where multiple types of fonts are required. Despite being only 3 issues in, it’s scary how good this art team is, and how well the collaborate.

Further proof of this creative team’s brilliance comes early in the issue, where Roy and his pal Donovan are having a conversation about Elaina. Not only is it a nice bit of exposition, but there’s an amazing gag towards the end that works due to the pacing of the dialogue, Lieber’s page layout, and a killer line at the very end. It’s definitely a tad crude, as is the conversation leading up to it, but given the type of people involved in this scene, it’s completely in character, and serves as a reminder that they’re not exactly the best of folk. It’s something Lieber and Spencer did in SUP FOES a lot, and it’s good to see it return, turned up to 11, here.

The Fix #3 may have be a victim of unfortunate timing, but I can still recognize how excellent this comic is.  It’s a a perfect blend of action, comedy and drama that’s really unlike any comic out there, and by an writer/artist team that’s a proven commodity.

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Chris’ Comics: Paper Girls #6

PaperGirls_06-1Paper Girls #6

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

Image $2.99

After a brief hiatus, Paper Girls returns, with our girls no longer in the mid to late 80s, but now in June 2016. Also from this point on, I’m going to get deep into spoilers, so if you’re a trade waiter or behind, know that this is a solid comic and move on.

Anywho, spoilers. Now in the year 2016, the girls come across a 40 year old Erin Tieng, whom I can relate to in the worst sort of ways. Things get kind of X-men-y as we have both a teen and middle age incarnation of a character running around, but Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang keep things relatively grounded, or at least as grounded as you can when time travel is involved.

First and foremost, I love how modern day/future Erin Tieng is portrayed. You rarely see middle aged women drawn as middle aged women in comics, lets along be put in starring rolls. But Chiang doesnt shy away from Erin’s age, giving her wrinkles, a bit of a belly, and Screenshot-31body language that shows that she’s been through some stuff. It also raises some interesting questions about her younger counterpart’s trip into the future goes, especially with the arrival of a new, yet familiar looking character halfway through the issue.

And while Paper Girls has yet to hook me (or emotionally devastate me) like BKV’s other hit comic Saga, the series has definitely excelled at being an extremely well put together comic book. Colorist Matthew Wilson is known for his vibrant, dynamic colors on books like The Wicked and the Divine and Thor. Much like his work on Daredevil, Wilson’s color choice are more subdued here, but still striking by using more unusual color choices to set scenes like purples and pinks. It’s very much in style with Chiang’s style and help keeps the book looking unique.

Also I’m not sure who decided to have the fan letter’s page ALSO go from the 80s to 2016, but it’s a fun bit of meta storytelling that I dig. Speaking of things I dig, Jared K Fletcher’s design work remains top notch. I really enjoy what he and Vaughan have been doing with language and the book’s dialogue, be it the raw but totally fitting choice in fonts and how the time-travelers(?) language is used. If I’m not mistaken (famous last words), the visitors Screenshot-30weird, broken language is getting clearer with every passing issue, which I think is a neat way of making the reader feel more familiar with these characters. This issue in general also feels more restrained for character building, which is something I very much appreciated.

Paper Girls is a very unique read with an excellent sense of design. It’s easy to see that it’s very much  the product of creators who love the medium, and want to use it to tell a story that perfect for this format. Again Paper Girls isn’t my favorite book on the stands by BKV or Matt Wilson, BUT it’s so rewarding on a technical level, not to mention captivating as hell, I can’t help but to buy it on sight.

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