Category: Marvel

Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Star Wars References edition

STK671573Saga #28

Fiona Staples/ Brian K Vaughan

Image, $2.99

It’s been awhile since Saga’s crippled me emotionally. But we’re 4 issues deep into this current arc, so I guess it was due, and  yes, that is my spoiler warning for this review.

Issue 28 sees another cast member die.  Granted there’s a very small chance it’s a fake out, it seems very final, given  how it plays out. Oddly enough, the scene is actually pretty hilarious, especially with the final words being what they are (I will not reprint them here due to not wanting to spoil the death, and also because a naughty word is featured prominently). But that’s the thing about Saga; Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples are great storytellers, so getting a range of emotions from me out of a single scene isn’t exactly a shocker. I am curious if the 3 final word of this issue were drawn by Staples, or was the work of Saga’s letter Fonografiks, but either way the fonts nicely match the illustration.

In addition to a funny yet still tragic death, Saga #28 has the poop hitting the fan for our cast. The majority of the lead characters find themselves in various types of trouble, and those who aren’t will be soon enough. What has started as a simple Romeo and Juliet in Star Wars story has expanded into so much more, without being too bloated or confusing, and having plenty of character defining moments.

After a relatively slow and safe start, Saga is back to being the monthly tear jerker I’ll gladly drop $3 on. It’s another fine issue that I’m sure is going to play out great, as it has time and time again. Also that is sarcasm.

 

 

STK670957Ms Marvel #15

G Willlow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

My friend Ashley recently described Ms Marvel as being cuter than several baby snow owls . She’s not wrong mind you, but this issue is equally parts adorable in some areas as it is a ::: channels his inner Stan Lee ::: action packed thrilling adventure in the Mighty Marvel Manner. Also Jack Kirby did nothing when we we-okay, that’s enough Stan the Man channeling.

Ms Marvel #15 wraps up the “Crushed” arc, a three part saga which saw Ms Marvel fall for a boy and get dragged into whatever the heck has been happening in those Inhuman comics I don’t read. Khamala has to deal with a betrayal and some crushed emotions, while her BFF Bruno attempts to save the day.

Writer G Willow Wilson‘s dialogue continues to be as fresh at it is clever. Some of the jokes may feel dated in a few years, but for the time being they work and feel relevant. Also Ms Marvel does some growing in this issue (both literally and figuratively), and when she learns her lesson, it feels genuine, without every coming across too hokey after school special. Also much like Captain Marvel this week, Wilson sneaks in a very cute Star Wars reference, as one that’s bound to lead to some major repercussions soon.

On the visuals, fill-in artist Takeshi Miyazawa pencils and inks are really something. Miyazawa style is very much more looser and detailed oriented this time around, making it look like the book’s regular art style, but more expressive and Manga-liked. It’s great, and Ian Herring‘s colors keep it looking fresh.

Ms Marvel is an absolute delight of a comic, which is nothing new for this series. Things are getting pretty serious for our lead, but the book remains faithful to it’s youthful and fun vibe. Secret Wars tie in time is around the corner though, so I’m curious to see if this will keep up, and more importantly, to see Ms Marvel FINALLY meet her idol.

 

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys but with WAUGH: Howard the Duck #3 edition

DIG057129_1Howard the Duck #3

Chip Zdarsky/Joe Quinones/Joe Rivera/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Things I didn’t know I wanted from comics: Howard the Duck teaming up with Aunt May.

Things I now have from comics: Take a guess genius, and then read 500 words about Howard the Duck #3, which is easily the funniest comics numbered 3 that I’ve read this year.

Creators Zhip Cdarsky (spelling Chip’s name wrong is always cool and funny according to Sex Criminal Solicits and Tumblr!) and Joe Quinones’ take on Howard the Duck continues to impress with this third issue, in which said Duck and said Aunt attempt to solve some crime after the time honored traditional fight/robbery at gun point (I swear that all makes sense in context, read the book and see how right I am). This collaboration involves going under cover, fighting the elderly, and more Spider-Man crying, three things that continue to make this book sound like a fever dream, but are real and also quite enjoyable.

Joe Quinones is a talent artist who I’ve seen drawn many a pretty lady throughout his career, but apparently he’s also good at drawing old people, all types of  ducks and Z-list Marvel villains. It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that his talents allow him to blend all these things together without anything sticking out, but it’s constantly impressive. Quinones usually handles pencils and inks by himself, but he’s joined by Joe Rivera this month, something I wouldn’t have know if it wasn’t listed in the credits. Rivera’s matches Quinones’ style perfectly, and I could not tell who inked what. Rico Renzi’s coloring is also fantastic, giving the characters a cool 3-D effect that makes them pop out from the pages a bit, and stand out from their environments.

This month they’re joined by Jason Latour, who also did some fun stuff with Aunt May this month (FYI I resisted making so many May puns) in Spider-Gwen last week. Jason draws a backup story that’s so New York you would swear it was written by a Gothamist columnist. Latour’s style is a lot more pulp and abstract compared to Quinones, but is great looking none the less. Also his take on a certain iconic Marvel character is rad as hell, and I want to see him draw him more in the future.

Chip Zdarsky is a NICE boy who is also hilarious and Canadian. His comedic writing skills are in full force here, giving the readers a ton of content to digest. There’s a ton of humor and character development crammed into this book, but none of it feels forced. We’re beginning to see some running gags form, and they still seem fresh, even though some of them are related to some deep cuts from Marvel’s past.  Chips shows some amazing amount of restrain, even with everything coming at the reader so fast, and the comic is better for it.

Howard the Duck is not unlike Chip’s other big book Sex Criminals in a few ways, as both are great looking, hilarious, and have a surprising amount of heart at times. Oh as of issue 3, lead characters who are often naked. It’s well worth your time and money, despite how I’m making the wholw thing sound.

 

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Walking in the Spider Webs edition.

Spider-Gwen_Vol_1_4_TextlessSpider-Gwen #4

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodriquez/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Gwen #4 aka, the issue where writer Jason Latour gets a lot of mileage from a bunch of dead people.

In a relatively quiet installment of Spider-Gwen, as we have our lead hanging out with May and Ben Parker, two characters who’ve played massive parts in Peter’s life but rarely got interact the world around them as a living couple. Here we get to see the two of them bounce off of Gwen in a world where Peter is dead, and even with that in mind, the results are really heart warming. While we’ve seen a similar Peter-less Gwen/May dynamic explored before in Ultimate Spider-Man, but things play out slightly different here. The Ben/Gwen stuff is great, despite it being a quick scene. Latour’s wonderful dialogue and Robbi Rodriquez‘s art really make it a memorable, and I’m excited to see these characters in the book more in the future. We also get some more Captain Jean DeWolffe, a long gone Spider-Man supporting character who’s given a new dynamic thanks to these talented creators.

Half the fun of Spider-Gwen is seeing how different the world she habits is from the 616. And while it hasn’t stopped being charming, it’s nice seeing these characters form deep relationships and bonds in a short amount of time. It continues to be a great looking book that’s equally charming and emotionally, not unlike the classic Lee/Dikito Spider-Man run.

SWOMAN2014007_CovSpider-Woman  #7

Dennis Hopeless/ Javier Rodriguez/Alvardo Lopez/Muntsa Vicente

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of Spider-Woman, here were have the O.G. Spider-lady Jessica Drew. We’re 3 issue into this run (ignore that number seven), and I am still marveling over how much this book has improved now that Javier Rodriguez has taken over artistic duties.

It’s rare to have a comic have something impressive about every page in it, but that’s the only fair description of Rodriguez’s contributions to this comic. We got a hints on how great his panel placement and layouts during his guest stint as a penciler on Daredevil and his work on AXIS: Hobgoblin, but his art is on a whole other level here. It’s equal parts Chris Samnee and Marcos Martin, but still it’s own style. Rodriguez is the next big thing in term of comics art, and Spider-Woman #7 is proof of that.

As good as Javier is, he obviously not the only reason why this book is as good as it is. Alvardo Lopez’s inks are tight and clean, perfectly in sync with Rodriguez’s line art. And Munsta Vincete‘s contributions as colorist are crucial, as he gives the book a clean and bright look with some really bold imagery at times. The art is on POINT, as is Dennis Hopeless‘ writing. Hopeless’s dialogue sounds as good as the book looks, as the arc takes an interesting turn, and introduces a fantastic new locale to the Marvel Universe.

Under a lesser creative team, a book like Spider-Woman would risk being redundant, especially with Spider-Gwen and Silk being as good as they are, especially in the visuals department. But this team has made this book both the heir to the Waid/Samnee Daredevil run as well as the Spencer/Lieber Superior Foes of Spider-Man. It’s visually amazing, hilarious, clever and slowly becoming the book I read first when I buy my comics.

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Secret Avengers #15

Hey gang you know what’s cool? Allergies that lead into in nasal infection. Which really knocks the wind out of your sails. But I’ve over it, and giving you an review that should have been up last week! That’s…something right?

Anway, here’s my final review for Secret Avengers, which will be followed by a Secret Wars review, because Secret is the new Uncanny at Marvel, or it’s not, I dont know, adjectives are confusing.

 

backgroundSecret Avengers #15

Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Here we have the 3rd final issue of Secret Avengers since 2013. Even in it’s prime, Secret Avengers was never the top selling Avengers book, constantly overshadowed by vanilla and New Avengers, despite seeing some major talent attached to it throughout it’s existence. With Secret Wars coming, and the existence of the Mark Waid’s S.H.I.E.L.D. title, this may be the FINAL Secret Avengers finale for the foreseeable future.

That being said, it’s almost arguably the STRONGEST and consistent run on Secret Avengers to date. Ales Kot, Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson (with Tradd Moore on covers and VC’s Clayton Cowles on letters) managed to deliver 15 excellent consecutive issues month after month, something that’s become rarer and rarer in comics. The quality of the title has never dropped, being one of Marvel’s boldest and brilliant titles in recent history.

Secret Avengers #15 is a surprising quiet issue, with the team having already saved the day and dealing with the fallout. After last month’s action filled issues with a dramatic cliffhanger, it was kind of a shock to see the book end without a single punch or explosion, and letting the reader fill in the blanks. The book focuses mostly on Maria Hill and MODOK, fleshing out the SHIELD commander a bit, while continuing the theme of her and MODOK being on the same side of the coin in a number of ways. Kot has never shyed away from Secret Avengers being a metaphor for his views on the US government, with SHIELD as a stand in for the military, so some of the events and conversations that go down in this comic do not come as a surprise. But it’s definitely and upbeat ending mind you, as Kot expertly sprinkles humor and legit joy masterfully throughout this comic, as he touches upon every major character he’s dealt with in this series, even a big name character no longer with us.

The equally talent Michael Walsh draws the hell out of this finale as well. Walsh’s art is best described as a rougher David Aja, and he’s just as bold and experimental as the former Hawkeye artist. His expressive characters are a treat to look at, and it’s amazing how much emotion Walsh can channel from his simplistic, sketchy style. Matthew Wilson compliment his pencils and inks perfectly, with the Eisner nominated colorist uses a flat yet bright palette. It’s adds a nice warm glow to the book, that pairs well with Wilson heavy lines.

Secret Avengers was a book that had a message that it was not afraid to shy away from, and was pretty bold for a Marvel book. And while it wasn’t as good as the modern cult classic Nextwave, it’s definitely somethings fan of that book can enjoy. It was a strange and often overlooked book from the publisher that’s worth reading. It also gave us of cover with Modok in funny hats, which speaks volumes to me.

 

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: C2lateagain

Hey, sorry for the delay (again) folks, but I just got back from c2e2 in Chicago, aka, NYCC’s Midwestern sister convention! I had a delightful time watching Chip Zdarsky hug/tackle people and scored some neat swag, but have very little to report aside from thinking that title for that 3rd Frank Miller Dark Knight book is a BAD idea. I do have plentiful comics to review though, so you can settle for that and what typos are in said reviews.

portrait_incredibleAll New X-Men #40

Brian Michael Bendis/Mahmud Asrar/Rain Beredo

Marvel $3.99

Even with the c2e2 delay, there’s very little chance I’ll be spoiling anything for anyone with this issue of All New X-men. Everyone from your racist high school friend on Facebook to Playboy has chimed in on the issue, and I’m going to do the same, despite dropping the title several issues ago.

When then leaked pages from this issue first hit the internet, I have to admit, I was slightly concerned about the content. Brian Michael Bendis is a plenty nice guy, but he’s also a straight white guy, and the sort of story requires a certain amount of finesse and maybe even some life experience to pull off correctly. However, once I actual read the comic and saw that the leaked images left out some important pages and panels, I was quite pleased with what had gone down.

All-New-X-Men-40-2-1429646420All New X-men #40 is the story of Jean Grey confronting Bobby Drake about his sexuality, which means 2 teenagers from the 1960s talking about sexual preference in the modern world. While the conversation is a tad problematic, not to mention complicated in that special sort of X-men way, it’s actually fine being so problematic in some aspects. Not everyone coming to terms with their own sexuality is a simple moment in their life, as it can be quite difficult for several reasons, and this comic is a necessary representation of that. Which is great, because even though these 2 characters are time traveling teenagers, it makes the scene and the character feel all the more realistic. It’s representation without a sugar coating, which really show just how good of a writer Brian Michael Bendis is.

anxm40_2Art wise, I’m really not feeling Mamhmud Asrar‘s work this issue. He’s far from bad, but his facial expressions and head shapes don’t work for me. There’s a lot of talking head panels here, and sadly instead of kids, the X-men look more like Mr Potato toys on super heroes bodies, and some odd panel choices kill an attempted joke halfway through the issue.  Asrar also seems to be struggling in body language, and the constant recycling of panels doesn’t help either. Rain Beredo‘s coloring is solid though, giving the book a vibrant look that helps make looking at the dull, lifeless panels less painful. I feel bad ragging on Asrar’s art, and I know following a lengthy run by Stuart Immonen is no easy task, but this is honestly one of the less impressive looking Marvel books I’ve read in quite some time.

All New X-men #40 is a book that succeeds on dialogue alone, and manages to do a lot in 20 pages. The Jean Grey/Bobby Drake conversation is great, some lesser mutant make a welcomed appearance, and apparently Angel has glow wings or something. I guess that was a thing that happened during Apocalypse Siege Per   The Black Vortex or something. Either way, while it may be a tad confusing for those not hype to the events in the last 40 issue of ANXM, it’s still a comic worth looking at just for the Iceman stuff alone. It’s a different take on comics dealing with sexuality, but an important one none the less.

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Date Night Edition

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_33Uncanny X-men #33

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka/ Antonio Fabela

Marvel $3.99

Note: Despite Kitty Pryde and Magik being the focus of the issues, there is zero actual dates in this issue.

This particular issue works on a number of levels. Brain Micahel Bendis uses Marvel continuity to his advantage. Uncanny X-men #33 focuses on Kitty Pryde and Illayana Rasputin’s friendship, while setting the issue on MONSTER ISLAND, which is the best island location in the Marvel Universe. Bendis expertly draws upon both the character’s pasts to tell a compelling story that’s been done a million times before in X-men comics, but everything’s so good the reader doesn’t notice. His voices for these characters ring true and natural, to the point that this may be the best done in one he’s done on Uncanny.

Art wise, the book couldn’t look better. Kris Anka returns to draw this issue, and he’s the perfect fit for it. His Kitty and Magik look great, thanks to Anka’s clean line work and Antonio Fabela‘s flawless colors. Anka’s super expressive faces also help with the emotional beats of Bendis’ scripts, making the whole thing feel so genuine and Chris Claremont-esque. MOST IMPORTANTLY, he channels some serious Wally Wood/Jack Kirby when it comes to drawing the massive residents of Monster Island. He’s a great enough talent that he can mix those gold and silver age era character designs with the modern age looks of Kitty and Magik  and have it look natural. Well as natural as you can get in an X-men comic.

This particular issue of Uncanny X-men rewards you based on how long you’ve been with the franchise. There’s some calls back to the book’s earlier days, and it definitely has that nice, Claremont era vibe to it, without feeling too much like fan fiction. It’s fun read that now only showcases some great art, but shows how good Bendis is when he focuses on a dense done in one issue.

Ms.-Marvel-14-CoverMs Marvel #14

G Willow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

NOTE: This issue very much has dates and emotions, justifying the title of this article.

It’s been a few months since I’ve wrote about Ms Marvel, but it’s not like I stopped reading the book. It’s been consistently excellent, but much like Saga, it was getting to the point I was running out of ways to praise it. This month’s issue isn’t any less excellent that those non-reviewed issues, but there’s a particular scene I want to talk about.

Said scene is between Khamala’s older brother Aamir, and her bff/boy with a secret crush Bruno. SPOILERS, said moment involves both males discussing Bruno’s crush on Khamala, her new male friend who she’s clearly sweet on, and why it would never work between Ms Khan and her bestie. It’s scene we’ve seen before in all sorts of media, but writer G Willow Wilson brings a cultural spin on it that makes for a really compelling 2 pages. It gives a good reason for it to not happened, which in turn makes it all the most fascinating.

That is not to say Khamala is a no factor in this comic. Our spunky lead is dealing with her first crush, and it results in her being dragged closer to the shared Marvel Universe. Fill in artist Takeshi Miyazawa  (who ironically was also the back up artist on regular series artist Adrian Alphona’s run on Runways) line work is great, slightly more focused and manga-esque than Alphona’s but beautiful none the less. Ian Herring‘s superb colors helps Miyazawa’s art stay in constant with how the title looks normally, without taking away from his particular spin on Ms Marvel and her cast.

Ms Marvel #14 is another delightful issue from one of the best comics on the stand today. It’s a wonderful series that never disappoints and constantly entertains, and it will be interesting to see if this issue’s cliffhanger will play out next month.

 

 

 

 

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Childhood Flashbacks editions

There are currently 12 unwatched episodes of Daredevil in my Netflix queue right now, please note that I took time to write this article instead of ODing on DD.

Saga_27-1_300_462Saga #27

Fiona Staples/Biran K Vaughan

Image Comics $2.99

I’ve been running out of ways to complement Saga. Each issue is a 20 page celebration of comics, with the creators doing their damnedest to show exactly  why they’re the best what this medium is capable of. This month’s issue is no exception, as Fiona Staples and Brain K Vaughan show off their full range of talents.

Issue 27 has Fiona Staples drawing everything from odd/unusual erotica, to grotesque violence, to absolutely adorable thanks to tiny sealman/my favorite character Ghus. Ghus in particular is an fine example of Staples’ artistic skills, as she manages to convey a lot of character and emotion in a character with a comparatively simplistic design. There’s also some really powerful emotional beats that Staples hit without the assistance of BKV’s words. While she’s never been anything less than impressive, this particular arc of Saga may be Staples finest work to date. I couldn’t think of a better artist to see their name listed before the writer’s name in the credits page.

Brain K Vaughan continues to be the very best at what he does when it comes to dialogue and the script, snikt. We get to take another glimpse of Marko’s past in this issue, and the stuff revealed in the flashbacks is brutal, but compelling none the less. He also injects some much needed humor in places that helps ease the tension, as well as remind us how delightful these characters are. Vaughan’s words are overshadowed by the art at times, but it never feels like he’s coasting on Staples talents.

Saga is still very much the best book on the market, and this issue is just further proof of that.

portrait_incredible (1)All New Hawkeye #2

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

AWWW, Fact: This is the 2nd Hawkeye #2 in which a/the Swordsman is a crucial element to the plot!

This 2nd issue of All New Hawkeye is a slight improvement over the previous issue, but I’m still a tad confused over the direction of the title. The book continues to be split between the past and present, but the present sections continue to feel like an after though. Ramon Perez and Ian Herring certainly do some cool stuff with this book’s visuals, but it genuinely does feel like writer Jeff Lemire prefers re-telling Clint’s origin than moving his Hydra/creepy-ass children plot forward.

To be fair, the Circus flashback segments are fairly enjoyable, even with the art being a little uneven in places. The sketchy art looks a tad incomplete at times, but Ian Herring’s colors really help enhance it a ton. The modern segments look slightly better, as Perez channeling David Aja suits his style better. Lemire is still struggling with the Hawkeyes banter, but it’s improving.

All New Hawkeye #2 is a much needed step in the right direction, although it’s not quite there yet. Hopefully the next issue will continue to improve in quality, and this book will be on par with the previous creative team’s efforts.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys, but with comics: Platinum Blondes edition

backgroundSpider-Gwen #3

Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriquez, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Gwen #3 lacks scumbag Matt Murdock for SOME reason, but writer Jason Latour slips in a Wu-Tang Clan reference, so I guess i can let it slide.

This issue is heavy on fights, which is great, because it allows Robbi Rodriquez to go all out on the layouts. Rodriquez uses a lot of unique “camera angles” and hyper exaggerated body language to sell the fight scenes, lead to some over the top and more importantly visually stunning panels. Rico Renzi’s green heavy color palette is very crucial to this, making this book pop, drawing the reader in more than a lesser colorist would. There’s also some very fun and creative uses of sound effects in this comic, reminding me more of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim film adaption than the tradition comics sound effects. The end product is a comic that feels very loose, bright and chaotic, but so visually appealing you can’t help but love it.

Jason Latour’s scripts are getting tighter and tighter with every issue. He ramps up the traditional Spider-related drama and action with this issue, but he continues to add new elements to story to make things interesting. An important character to the Spider-mythos makes his debut this issue, and while it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, the execution makes it seem fresher than it actually is. I know that seems like a backhanded compliment, but it’s pretty impressive given how long the Spider-Man concept has existed.

Spider-Gwen continues to be a delight month after month. It gives off an fresh indie vibe unlock any other Marvel book, despite being tied to such an iconic comics character. Latour, Rodriquez and Renzi are so in sync with each other for a relatively new creative team, it’s scary to think how much better this team will get with every issue.

GA02Gotham Academy Endgame

Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Jeff Stokely, Jenny Donovan, Cilo Chiang, Joy Ang, Vera Brosgol, Sonia Oback

DC $2.99

Once again I have bought another Endgame tie-in, despite not having bought a single issue of Batman proper in years (#tradewait). Also once again, I am charmed by a Endgame tie in.

While crazies and shipping delays overrun Gotham, Maps, Olivia and Pomeline are having a sleepover of sorts, swapping SPOOKY stories that are Joker-related. It’s a lot like that episode of Batman: The Animated Series where kids sit around swapping Batman stories, and I can’t help to think that this issue may be a homage to it. It’s also a surprisingly gruesome issue in some parts, which I guess makes sense given its semi Joker related.

Sadly, Karl Kerschl couldn’t draw this issue, so he’s replaced with 4 different artists. While I’m crazy over the art that sets up each story, Jenny Donovan, Cilo Chiang, Joy Ang, Vera Brosgol, and Sonia Oback all come through on their shorter stories. The end product is a bit uneven, but good none the less. It’s also nice to see DC let new talent work on one of their more highly acclaimed titles.

On the script/dialogue side of things, there’s a lot of good stuff from regular writers Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan. Using the campfire spookum stories as a framing device, the duo cleverly incorporate horror movie clichés and folklore into their Jokers tales, making for some fascinating results. Sadly thanks to to the slightly amateurish and rough at times art by Jeff Stokley, the book suffers in places.

Gotham Academy Endgame is a nice showcase for new talent, but it’s strictly for GA fans only. It’s not exactly a good introduction to anyone coming by from Batman proper, but regular Gotham Academy readers should get a kick out of it.

 

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Duck Puns Edition

howard_the_duck_1_coverHoward The Duck #1

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

I love the fact that we now live in a world where the box office success of Guardians of the Galaxy means Chip Zdarsky gets to write a Howard the Duck book drawn by Joe Quinones.

Howard the Duck is the latest off-beat Marvel book that’s unsurprisingly amazing. Joe Quinones has been drawing a number of beautiful covers for years, so this book looking as good as it does is expected. And Zdarkseid (Mandatory misspelling of Chip’s pen name=GET) has been one of the funniest dudes in comics as of late, so Howard being a laugh riot also isn’t shocking.

What I wasn’t expecting was this creative team to build a narrative that spans from the original Howard the Duck #1 all the way to the GOTG post credit scene. It’s the opposite of the recently relaunched Ant-Man, embracing Howard’s weird history, not to mention the recently concluded She- Hulk series, yet presenting in a way that easy for new reader to pick up. I would say it’s the best Howard I’ve read since creator Steve Gerber’s last run, but I’m sure there was also a mini series where Howard turned into a MODOK, which is also pretty great.

I can’t ever recall wanting a Howard the Duck series, but now that I have one by this specific creative team I kind of love it. It looks great, it’s funny as hell and there’s enough content in the first issue that warrants a re-read. Howard the Duck #1 is not unlike Squirrel girl#1 where Marvel has given us super hero humor book by some top-self creators. Also if anyone at Marvel is reading this, a Zdarsky-penned “Self-loathing Spider-Man” series is something I want now.

 

portrait_incredibleSpider-Gwen #2

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodrigues/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

I’ll be honest, I was willing to trade wait Spider-Gwen even with the first issue being quite superb. But then Scumbag Matt Murdock made an appearance, and suddenly I was $4 poorer.

Spider-Gwen continues the trend of excellent talking animal comics by Marvel this week, as Spider-Ham plays a unexpected, but none the less important role in this issue, which sees both Stacys deal with their respected Spider-Gwen related problems. Having both Stacys take point this issue gives it a unique perspective, as Father/Daughter relationships are rarely explored in super hero comics. We also get to see more of this reimagined Marvel universe characters, and a background Easter egg promising an interesting take on one Felicia Hardy. In a way it hits a lot of the same beats the first issue did, while continuing to develop the characters and move the story forward. This continues to be Jason Latour‘s finest Marvel work to date, especially with the dialogue sounding and flowing as well as it does.

Visually, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi continue to provide stellar art for this book. Each character is boiled down to a specific characteristic (Murdock’s always sleazy, Frank Castle always looks determined, Spider-Ham is VERY much a pig) under Rodriguez’s skillful line work, and the heavy use of pink and green against the darker backgrounds of this book still make it look slick as hell.

Spider-Gwen #2 is pretty much more of the same of what we got from issue 1, which is fine. The first issue was rad, as was this one. Between this and the newly relaunched Spider-Woman, we have two awesome alternatives to Amazing Spider-Man, with each book offering something fresh and fun.

 

 

 

 

Post to Twitter

Spider-Verse

2 Spider-Women and a little Silk

With the SPIDER-VERSE story arc over and the dust only beginning to settle, you may have noticed a shift in the shape of Peter Parker’s part of the Marvel Universe.

It’s got *gasp* girl heroes! Three of ‘em, even!

Yes, three new books have made their way out to you Marvel readers, each featuring a female protagonist, two of whom are brand-spankin’ new. But with MS. MARVEL already dominating and SHE-HULK‘s book sadly finished, the obvious question becomes – is their room in the sky for three new, distaff Spider-Man counterparts?

Probably not. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it while it lasts. So let’s look at why you should be reading the comics  for each of our gals – SPIDER-WOMAN, SPIDER-GWEN, and SILK!

SILK

So! Elephant in the room – we’ve still got a slew of copies of SILK #1 sitting on the stands right now. Which doesn’t bode well for newcomer, Cindy Moon, nor her creative team, Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, et al.

And that’s a shame because the centerpiece for the Spider-Verse story arc has a real solid story already in her own book. Girl out of time, missing family, and a complicated relationship to Peter Parker himself, Cindy’s got all the makings of a relatable super-hero. Plus, she’s one of the scant few Korean characters in the regular Marvel roster right now.

Even though her family is MIA, Cindy Moon is deeply affected by them. We get flashbacks of what her home life was like before she wound up in a lonely bunker, hidden away for a decade. And what we see isn’t so dissimilar from the kind of interactions we see between Kamala Khan and her family.

What it boils down to is this – if you’re looking for a book that marries the web-slinging sensibilities of Spider-Man with the more modern, slice-of-life style from Ms. Marvel, Silk is probably the book you ought to be reading.

SPIDER-WOMAN

If there’s a true dark horse among this three-some it is, unquestionably, Jessica Drew. While Silk may not have sold out, SPIDER-WOMAN #5 is seeing attention for all the wrong reasons.

While the comic-reading world was divided on Milo Manara’s butt-tastic variant cover to Spider-Woman #1, it’s her new costume that’s been universally agreed upon. And that response is “eh”. It’s not terrible, it’s not great, it’s just not particularly… right. That’s the consensus. And that tepid response mixed with kickstarting the new adventures of Jessica Drew at a number five rather than a number one isn’t helping things either.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be reading! Especially if you’ve been longing for something that feels less superhero and more A.K.A. Jessica Jones. Yes, it’s impossible to miss writer Dennis Hopeless’s homage to the Bendis new classic, ALIAS. Spider-Woman’s a detective, and she spends a lot of time being duped and getting it wrong. Throw in a snarky attitude, and the new Jessica Drew is definitely the new Jessica Jones.

And whether or not you’re happy with the costume or the fact that she left the Avengers, there’s no mistaking the potential for a more street-savvy, motorcycle riding, ain’t-afraid-to-fight-dirty Spider-Woman. So if you haven’t given her a shot yet, do. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

SPIDER-GWEN

And if there’s one hero who’s off to the best start it is, undoubtedly, Gwen Stacey. Spidey fans have loved Gwen since time immemorial, so the chance to see her in a new alt. universe where she was the one who got bit by that radioactive spider? Well that’s about as right as it can get.

And while Jessica Drew’s costume hasn’t played well with fans, you’re guaranteed to see multiple Spider-Gwen’s at every convention you go to. Rightly so. The stark-white and black, mixed with purple – and that hood! It’s costume-design perfection.

All that, and the book ain’t bad either. Much like Peter, Gwen’s not exactly beloved in her city either. And while her father tries to help, her reputation is tearing his down more than his is bolstering her’s up.

Yes, it definitely feels like a Spidey book just left of center. Which would explain why it sold out so quickly. Lucky for you the story’s easy to pick up AND SPIDER- GWEN #2 is out this week.

But you tell us next time you’re in the shop – who’s your favorite of the new(ish) Spider-Women?

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Sassy Spies Editions

Yes, yes, I’m well aware Spider-Woman isn’t a spy anymore, but she’s still in Secret Avengers for the next 2 months so it works.

 

635544611181339292-SpiderWoman-coverSpider-Woman #5

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez

Marvel $3.99

NEW STATUS QUO! NEW COSTUME! NEW ARTIST! 5TH ISSUE IN!

Spider-Woman, not unlike Spider-Gwen, is done with Spider-Verse nonsense, done with the Avengers, done with Greg Land, and is hitting the streets with a new mission and a new slick look courtesy of Kris Anka. Writer Dennis Hopeless is now free to tell stories without having to worry about tying into Amazing Spider-Man, and the book’s all the better for it.

 

Land is replaced by former Daredevil colorist/Fill in Artist Javier Rodriguez, who reminds everyone that he can draw and color the hell out of a comic 5 pages into this issue. Rodriquez definitely picked up some tricks coloring Chris Samnee over the years, which explains why is layouts are so good. And of course, the coloring on this book is surreal. The way Rodriquez colors the rain almost make those panels feel 3-D. And man, that new costume looks amazing on Jessica. Inking him is Alvaro Lopez, who knows where to thicken his black lines and where to keep them thin. He’s a fine match for Javier.

 

Hopeless staying aboard on the title is A-O-K with me, as he’s a smart writer with a knack of coming up with unique premises on corporate comic characters. Jessica struggling with going solo is an interesting predicament for a super hero, and it’s a cool challenge for her to overcome. And the addition of Daily Bugle mainstay Phil Urich is neat, and gives Jessica a great character to interact with. Also Hopeless appeals to my loves of the recently completed Superior Foes of Spider-Man and brings in several Z-list Marvel villains for Jessica to harass.

 

Spider-Woman #5 is not unlike the Bab Tarring of Batgirl, which is fine because that was a smart move, and it’s certainly now working for J-Drew.   Between this, Silk and Spider-Gwen, you’d think the comics world would be sick of female Spider-ladies, but not that’s far from the case. Each one of these titles brings something to new to medium, and all of them are good comics.  Spider-Woman #5 is a VERY good comic that should have been a #1. I know the book got a nice sales boost launching and tying into Spider-Verse, but THIS is the debut issue the creators and characters deserve.

 

stk665635Grayson #8

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

This issue sees the end of season 1 wrapping up, as the book goes on hiatus for 2 months due to DC moving to the west coast and not replacing them with robots like I did (Hence I spell all good like always). In terms of endings, I don’t think this could have been any better.

Issue 8’s cover is pretty spot on, as SPYRAL finds a traitor in it’s ranks, and it’s up to Agent Grayson to save the day. It brings the cast of mostly new characters together in a fun and creative way, and ends on a brutal note. It’s spy comics done right, which has been this creative team’s MO since day 1, so this issue being as great as it is doesn’t come at that much of a surprise. Tom King and Tim Seeley deliver another fine script with some choice dialogue and neat twists, and Mike Janin and Jeromy Cox make the whole thing looks so pretty. Even when things get dark and violent, which says a lot about how I judge beauty.

Issue 8 is an issue that wraps up some plot-lines, starts new ones, and sees one of Dick Grayson’s student name each of his butt cheeks. It’s another great installment of comic that has been a crazy fun ride, and this slight break will make me miss it a ton.

 

Post to Twitter

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

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

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

Descender-01-6b1c3Descender #1

Jeff Lemire/Dustin Nguyen

Image $2.99

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

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

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

 

All-New_Hawkeye_Vol_1_1_TextlessAll-New Hawkeye #1

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

 

 

Post to Twitter

danielketchum

5.5 Questions with Marvel Editor Daniel Ketchum

One of the nice things about comics is that the people who write and draw ‘em are just as likely to show up at Forbidden Planet on a Wednesday to pick up their stack as anyone else.

And that’s when we strike!

This week we caught up with STORM, MAGNETO, and X-MEN editor, Daniel Ketchum. No Pokemon questions were asked. Probably for the best.

FORBIDDEN PLANET: So, as an editor, I’m assuming that you sometimes have to be the bad guy. SO in the world of bad guys are you more like Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay or Judge Judy?

DANIEL KETCHUM: If I had to choose one, I’d say Gordon Ramsay, because he’s a Tiger Mom like I am–he criticizes out of love and only wants people to be their best. But when it comes to likening myself to reality show judges, I have definitely said that I am the Michael Kors of Marvel. (e.g. “It looks like you colored that page with a trackball mouse and an eye full of lemon juice!”)

FP: If you could put any single character in all of your books, who would it be and why?

DK: Definitely Mary Cherry from your favorite TV show, Popular. (“Y’all, I’ve got two words for you: EXORCISM!”) But if we’re talking about a Marvel character I would put in all of the books that I edit, it would be STORM…and I do.

FP: If you could have any non-comic writer (novelist, screenwriter, poet) write book for you, who would it be?

DK: Oh, lordy. You know, the last book book I ran to the store to buy the day it was released was Joan Didion’s BLUE NIGHTS. I can only vaguely imagine what a comic written by Joan Didion would be like. But I’d love to read it and, even more so, I’d love to be the editor who got to collaborate with her on it.

FP: If you could have dinner with any comic character (you’re paying) who would it be and why?

DK: I would take Alfred Pennyworth and Jarvis to dinner because they deserve a chance to kick back and enjoy a delicious meal they didn’t have to lift a finger for. I might also take Jubilee, because it looks like she’s fallen on hard times…

FP: Follow-up: Would your answer change if they were paying?

DK: Yes. Because then I would be dining with ALL-NEW X-MEN‘s Hank McCoy and I would expect no less than a magical evening. MAGICAL.

FP: Who would win a Magic the Gathering game? Batman, Reed Richards or Emma Frost?

DK: Obviously Emma Frost. You can’t play a card game with a telepath! And you know Emma would totally cheat and, like, read her opponents’ minds to find out what their face-down morph creatures are…

Post to Twitter

FP Spotlight: Jeff Lemire

If you ask someone what their favorite book is, they usually have a passionate explanation for it. “The main character is just like me”; “It’s just so heartbreaking”; “It made me laugh until I cried”; and so on. No one holds up a copy of something that changed their life and says “I dunno, it looked really cool.” This emotional core is something that comics sometimes find themselves lacking, but a few writers and artists have mastered the art of really getting to their readers, and Jeff Lemire is first among them.

Lemire kicked off his career with LOST DOGS, a 24-hour comic-turned-graphic-novel with the assistance of a Xeric grant. It’s messy, but it’s got a lot of heart in its black-white-red story of a lumbering oaf just wanting to help. It’s a book that gets by a lot on its atmosphere, and the messy inks Lemire employs.

For his second project, rather than try to go the superhero route, or a book where magic is law, or some other high concept project, Lemire turned his eye to his beloved home county in the Great White North itself, and decided to tell the story of a county full of average Canadian people. The ESSEX COUNTY trilogy is one of the most heartbreaking and simultaneously uplifting books I could possibly recommend. It’s the Spoon River Anthology by way of Slap Shot, with lots of hockey, kids and adults who dream of escape, and people who are just doing the best they can to get by. It’s Steinbeckian, and it’s huge, without losing a sense of intimacy into what these people want–and how rarely they will get it.

2009 was a banner year for Lemire: it finally saw the publication of ESSEX COUNTY (which went on to be named one of the Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade); the publication of THE NOBODY, his retelling of The Invisible Man; and the beginning of his first creator-owned series, SWEET TOOTH. Sweet Tooth tells the story of Gus, a young boy with deer antlers and an incredible taste for chocolate. It went on for several years, and turned villains into begrudging heroes, gave fathers to wayward children, and told the secret history of the world. All this in a world where Mad Max could have been the guy who killed Bambi’s dad.

Since 2012, Lemire’s work has been mostly at Vertigo and DC. He launched some of the best New 52 titles during the company-wide relaunch in 2011, including ANIMAL MAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, and FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. For a man who’s able to move around in so many genres, the quality of his books never suffers from title-to-title, because he’s a master of the emotional core of a book. Animal Man is about a superhero protecting his daughter while she grows up too fast; Frankenstein is about a man making amends with his friends and his estranged wife in order to face their future. Add into this a standalone graphic novel, THE UNDERWATER WELDER, that reads like a lost Twilight Zone episode, and you’ve got a winning combo.

Most recently, Lemire returned to the drawing board for a longer form experiment, writing and drawing TRILLIUM, a ten-issue series about a WWI soldier recently returned from the war falling in love with a 30th century scientist. They both help each other heal and they get in plenty of spacetime continuum fights. Add into this his radical experimentation with form, making a House-of-Leaves-like experience out of reading a comic, and it’s just this side of genius.

Lemire is one to watch out for, still. After his exclusive agreement with DC expired last year, he was quick to jump onto THE VALIANT (available at our fine store–issue 4 coming soon!), and BLOODSHOT REBORN from Valiant. This week we’ve got ALL-NEW HAWKEYE (miraculously out before the finale of Regular old Hawkeye!) as well as writing a brand new series called DESCENDER, about a young boy robot illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. We thinks it’s going to be a visual delight as well as an emotionally satisfying read.

And refusing to ever take a break, Lemire will be illustrating a series written by Scott Snyder (his best friend/nemesis– best fremesis) in the near future, too!

So here’s to you, Jeff Lemire. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Troys, But with Comics: Back, with my friend Gwen edition

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK! No for real, don’t, I’ve only been gone for about a week, also I may have used this joke before.

Sorry for the sudden disappearance, but I had a move on my hands, which meant, me, my wife, our dumb cat went from Brooklyn to Queens, care of the Tracksuit Bros from Hawkeye. The snow did not make things easier by the by. But I’m back, chock full of new comics to talk about, and I’ll eventually get back to Toy Fair coverage. Give me a week and we should be good*.

 

*Citation needed.

Spider-Gwen-1-Cover-Robbi-Rodriguez-720x1112Spider-Gwen #1

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodriguez/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Verse is old, busted and bloated, Spider-Gwen is the new hotness.

When Spider-Gwen made her debut back in the Edge of Spider-Verse mini, I thought it was too much of a  (great looking) tease that played it a bit too safe, which sucked for me at the time. Then that particular issue went through several reprintings, giving Gwen that Babs Tarr Batgirl hype, so here we are 4 months later, looking at the relatively Spider-Verse free debut of Spider-Gwen’s ongoing. Editor Nick Lowe credits the fans excitement for the character for  the birth of the book in the debut issue’s letter section, and it’s a good to Marvel to see listening and giving the fandom what they want with this book.

spider_gwen_1_1Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi do some amazing work with this issue. Rodriguez’s layouts and energy put a fresh paint of on this familiar yet different Marvel Universe. His style is the child of the exaggerated expressions you see from Erica Henderson‘s work combined with the sharp lines and “dirt” you see from Sean Murphy.  His line work is loose, and when paired with Rico Renzi’s bright color palette, it makes for a superb visual experience. Between Renzi’s Gwen and Jordie Bellaire’s Moon Knight, Marvel’s making an impressive case for characters to have more white in their costumes. Also, I hope that doesn’t read as a Klan reference. Gwen’s costume grabs your eyes when it’s on the page, and its demands you attention, making it the focus of the panel, despite her positioning within. And the graffiti element leads to some really fascinating use of colors, which looks fantastic in digital. It’s Spider-Man meets Jet Grind/Set Radio, which is my jam, and makes the book worth it for the visuals alone.

Jason Latour‘s script is great too. Now free to tell his own story that’s not limited to a single issue tie in, Latour is free to flesh out Gwen’s world and cast more. His Gwen has her share of bad luck, but it’s way different than the type Peter Parker’s dealt with in his various incarnations. Which is great, because powers aside, Spider-Gwen really feels different from Spider-Man on every level. Additionally, Latour does a nice job of adding several established Marvel characters to the world with some neat twists, obviously planting the seeds for future story. And the situation Gwen’s dad is now faced with is really interesting, not to mention what’s going on with her band mates. It’s a surprisingly dense read for a 20 page comic, even with a cliffhanger ending. The pacing is great, and Latour has really stepped it up from the EoSV one shot.

Spider-Gwen #1 is another great debut from a company that’s been on fire with female lead books as of late. Latour, Rodriguez and Renzi come out swinging with this debut, and I mean that with fists, not webs, ugh, never mind, just buy it, this review has died via wordplay overdose.

 

 

Post to Twitter