Category: Marvel

Chris’ Comics: X-Men ’92 #4

SHILL ALERT:  New York Comic Con is this week, and I’ll be there all 4 days as an attendee, which is the first time in forever. As usual, you can follow my nonsense on Twitter and Instagram, at @theanarchris. WARNING: I GET KINDA NSFW/ CURSE HAPPY WHEN I START DRINKING/GETT ANNOYED, SO HEAD’S UP THERE. Anywho on to #content

backgroundX-men ’92 #4 (of 4)

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Scott Koblish, Matt Milla

Marvel $4.99

For the record, if X-men ’92 wasn’t already confirmed for a returning on-going next year, I would have probably spent half this article pleading for people to go buy X-men ’92, because it was an incredibly fun book. Fun and X-men rarely go hand to hand these days (see the OTHER X-Men Secret Wars tie-ins, and the upcoming solicits for the All New Marvel Now stuff), making X-men ’92 a bit of a  rarity. A welcomed one at that, taking one of the most recognizable incarnations of the X-men, and setting them up in a world that loves and adores them for a change, all while injecting with a ton of humor and fan service into the story.


X-Men_92_4_2The final issue of the mini-series sees the X-men and their various allies fight the dreaded X-Sentinel, while Professor Xavier battles the Shadow King. Artist Scott Koblish does an incredible job drawing the massive fight scenes, having to draw and impressive amount of characters several times throughout the book, and never once dialing down the detail or the acting. The sense of scale and action he manages to portray is fantastic, and it’s cool to see him be able to switch up between action, comedy, and drama without skipping a beat. His character work is super expressive, and he manages to sneak in his fair amount of inside jokes and reference just as well as his writers, while perfecting capturing the excess of the nineties without going overboard.  Matt Milla, the book’s colorist is also as impressive, managing to set the scenes perfect with some excellent lighting and palette choices. While the books character designs are very much stuck in the 90s (because again, X-men 92), the coloring looks like a book from today.

Writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers, do a fantastic job wrapping up this mini on a high note. The writing is superb in this issue, making sure every core character gets their moment to shine, and having some fun while doing so. The dialogue is especially strong XMEN92-004-01this issue, be it Gambit and Rogue being….well Gambit & Rogue (something 90s X-fans will get says Buzzfeed), an insanely hilarious scene featuring Wolverine, and a touching end bit with Storm and Cyclops being the personal highlights of this issue. As I’ve said in the past I love how the use some of the obscure and insane elements of X-men history, and play it straight. The final fight has not one, but 2 bonkers bits that had my cackling like a mad man as I read this book, and am I grateful for them.


X-men ’92 was a mini that was welcomed for a number of reasons; one of them being one of the few Secret Wars tie ins that shipped on time for the most part. It was also a legitimately fun read that looked great and celebrated the X-men at the peak of the popularity, while poking some fun at it without coming off as mean spirited. I encourage anyone who grew up on the 90s animated series and found the comics too daunting to give this book a shot, especially since it basically laid the groundwork for the new ongoing next year.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Ms Marvel #18

Just a head’s up everyone: After this review, expect some radio science for a week or two. You’re truly and his wife are taking a trip to the Pacific Northwest, and won’t be back until the last week of the month. We’ll be hitting up Rose City Comic Comic in Portland, and be taking in the sights in Seattle. You can follow my nonsense on Twitter and Instagram ( @theanarchris), and if you’re at RCC or a native or either city, let me know, I’m always up for saying hi and giving out fresh high fives!


4791321-18Ms Marvel #18

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

I want to hug this comic.

Ms Marvel #17 is a surprisingly upbeat comic that takes place at the end of the world. We get to see the young Ms Marvel continue to work alongside her idol Carol Danvers (who is THE BEST in this issue) as the final Incursion (remember, SECRET WARS) draws near, all while dealing with the fact that she may not be the only Inhuman in her family. The creative team throws a lot of content at readers, but all of it is so good, it’s hard to mind so much info and drama to process.

This creative team has displayed the fact that their very talented a number of times throughout the book’s lifespan, but it’s the little things in that issue that really shined through to me. For example, there’s some fantastic facial expressions drawn by  Adrian Alphona in this issue. The slightly exaggerated look of frustration when Kamala is talked down to twice is hilarious to look at, which I included in this review (Source: Tumblr) And there’s a scene dealing with super powers (sort of) that’s a twist on Kamala’s origin story, but plays out in a completely different manner. Writer G Willow Wilson gives the scene some really intense and smart ms-marvel-18-2-carol-danversdialogue that fleshes out a supporting cast member in fascinating way, making the character all the more likable than they’ve been portrayed in the past. It give the chance to relate to Kamala and see this character in a whole new light, which I appreciate.  The bombshell cliffhanger ending, something the series has done a lot with this arc, is also pretty great, hitting a major emotional note and will definitely change how Kamala interacts with an important cast member in the future. And colorist’s Ian Herring muted colors give the book an nice dark look, reminding us that this whole thing is going down in the middle of the night. There’s really not much to complain about in this issue, aside from Alphona’s sort of lanky Captain Marvel. I like my Carol Danver looking she can lay out dinosaurs with a single bunch, sorry dude.

tumblr_nufpnxW26C1ufs2h7o1_r1_1280The next issue should wrap up this volume of Ms Marvel before a 1 month break that will see the book get a new number one and bump in price. I have zero problem with having to pay $4 for this book in the future, because issues like this are common for Wilson, Alphona and Herring. They’re arguably one of the most consistent teams in comics, let alone at Marvel, and they’ve make this new character super endearing and ultra-relatable in less than 2 years. Ms Marvel #18 may not be my favorite issue of the series to date, but it damn may be the best one.



Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #10 & X-men ’92 #3

Spider-Woman_Vol_5_10Spider-Woman #10

Dennis Hopeless/ Natasha Bustos/Vero Gandini

Marvel $3.99

Going into this issue knowing regular series artist Javier Rodriguez would not be drawing it, I was expecting myself to enjoying this issue of Spider-Woman a little less than usual. Nothing against guest artist Natacha Bustos, but the shadow Rodriguez casts on this book is MASSIVE, and it’s a hard to follow.

However, most of my issues with #10 aren’t with Bustos. She kills it with this issue, channeling Rodriguez while giving the book a softer, more manga-influenced look. Natacha never gives us any crazy, hyperactive layouts we’ve gotten in the past, but she does a fine enough job with the issue. It’s a shame that Vero Gandinis color pallet is so pale, otherwise I would have zero complaints with the art. Sadly, aside from his beautiful night skies,  his use of light colors irk me, making the final product look cheaper. I was willing to chalk it up to a printing error, but after looking at the digital copy, it’s definitely the shade. The day scenes are well lite enough, but it takes away from the night time scene.

CNWcZSSW8AAR1_CMy other issue with this comic was it being forced into being a Secret Wars: Last Days tie-in. 1/4 of the book is spent setting up Jessica’s appearance in Secret War #1, and it feels so forced, with an overly aggressive Black Widow that’s incredibly unlikable. It’s rare to see writer Dennis Hopeless slip up like this, but given how poor the Spider-Verse stuff was handled, it doesn’t come as a surprise. The book is at it’s best when it’s dealing with the A plot, which involves such greatness as HULK CATTLE and the Porcupine going full O.M.A.C. (Happy birthday Jack Kirby!), and could have used five more pages of that then lining up the events of a 4 month old comic.

Spider-Woman #10 is the uneven conclusion to a pretty great run of Spider-Woman comics. The book will be back in November with the Javier Rodriguez, and Natcha Bustos will be off drawing the All New Devil Dinosaur series. I’m excited for both titles, and I hope this next volume of Spider-Woman will be free of crossovers. Hopeless and Jessica are best when they’re left to their own devices, despite the chance of boosted sales thanks to being a major event tie in

X-Men_'92_Vol_1_3_TextlessX-men ’92 #3

Chad Bowers/Chris Sims/ Scott Koblish 

Marvel $4.99

Nothing says 90s X-men like X-Force. The New Mutants went from being the 2nd X-men book to being a sales juggernauts, launching the careers of both Rob Liefield and Greg Capullo, and introducing Marvel icons like Cable and Deadpool. It comes as no surprise that Sims and Bowers decided to use these characters for this title, and the results of pretty great.

X-Men ’92 #3 collects the 5th and 6th installments of the digital version of X-Men ’92, which are both the best and worst chapters of this series so far. The first half of this book sees X-Force off to save the captive X-men, all while Casanova Nova finds herself struggling against the combined might of Cyclops and Jean Grey. The 2nd of the half explains Casanova’s end game, ties the book back to Secret Wars, and is kind of all over the place. You can tell writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims are having a blast with this book when their focusing on the characters, which is where is when the book really shines. It’s an extremely fun fiction of sorts, and I wish these two could continue to have their fun instead of having to wrap this thing up so the 616 X-men can pal around with the Inhumans or whatever.

004085411ce2dfd3afbf59c707e7fe85Sadly the artist Scott Koblish‘s art isn’t as solid this time around. While he manages to draw some ridiculous guns and pouches this issue, some of the pages feel rush, and the art feels less parody and more cheap 90s licensed merchandise at times.

The good more than out weight the bad in X-men ’92 #3. Its an incredibly fun and exciting read that hits a few snags, but is worth the cover price. It’s been a while since we’ve had a light-hearted X-men book on the stands, and hopefully these creators will have a chance to work their magic again after Secret Wars.


Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

4741279-09Gotham Academy #9

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

DC $2.99

For the most part, Gotham Academy has been a delightful romp with some teen angst and a bunch of neat little shout outs to obscure Batman characters. Issue #9 is the first issue where I genuinely felt overwhelmed by a continuously growing cast, to the point where I wasn’t able to follow the plot. In this issue alone there’s our 5 members of the mystery team, 2 faculty members, a man-bat-boy, and at least 3-4 newer characters making cameos. That’s A LOT for a reader to follow, especially when there’s at least several different subplots going down in a 20 page book.

One thing the writers (Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan) managed to keep a good handle on up to this issue was making the teenage characters sound like teenagers. This isn’t the case for this issue sadly, as some really dated pop culture references make the Gotham Academy kids sounds like tiny adults instead of #TEENS. I’m sure it was more of a fluke than anything else, as any creator is capable of making a misstep every so often.That being said, Gotham Academy continues to look superb, thanks to Karl Keschl‘s excellent art, and Sergio Lapointe & Msassyk’s equally excellent colors. Keschel’’s line work is always clean and dynamic, but the coloring really brings it to the next level, especially when it comes to effects such as fire, flashlight lighting and fog. The art makes up for the subpar writing, elevating the book to a decent read instead of something skippable.

While I applaud the writers for attempting to cram as much content into Gotham Academy as possible, issue nine ultimately feels bloated, while looking great. I’m sure it won’t happen again, it’s just disappointing to see it happen in a book I’ve been enjoying a lot as of late.


portrait_incredible (4)The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Once again, Secret Wars ends another book that was launched this calendar year. And much like the also concluded for now Howard the Duck, the 2nd arc of The Unbeatable Squirrel girl is absolutely wonderful. The book opens on arguably THE BEST note, involving a long mention running gag that actually ends up being incorporated into the plot in a major way. It’s absolutely ridiculous by the way, but Ryan North and Erica Henderson are so smart and talented make it work so well.

One of the things that I really like about USG is that it’s a book that seems like it wouldn’t fit in with the rest of Marvel’s publishing catalog, but North and Henderson skate along the thin line of ridiculous and high stakes so well, the character, her presence and her actions make perfect sense. North’s sense of humor and clever dialogue makes him a perfect fit for handling mythological characters from the Thor side of the tracks, and Erica Henderson’s art fares better with these characters than more traditional spandex folk like spider-Man. Rico Renzi‘s colors are back on track after last issue, giving me literally nothing to complain about.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8 is the perfect ending for this chapter. The wait for October for this book’s return is going to be rough, but I’m fairly certain it will worth it.



Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Howard the Duck #5

4730614-howard2015005_dc11-page-001Howard the Duck #5

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Joe and Paolo Rivera, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Oh Howard A Duck, you are a gift.

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones and Rico Renzi’s first arc/volume (NEW HAT THOUGH!) wraps up with a massive super hero fight in Manhattan for the fate of the world, a concept Chip and Joe claim they were the first to come up with. In case you don’t know how #JOKES work, that is one and an example the A+ comedy one gets from a Chip Zdarsky penned comics.

tumblr_nt0y86mP6j1qeeerco2_1280There’s a lot to like in Howard the Duck #5. First and foremost is Joe Quinones drawing a massive amount of of Marvel’s NYC-based heroes, and them looking fantastic/amazing/marvelous/other puns. Quinones’ style is clean and detailed, and his takes on all these characters comes across as looking quite iconic. His commitment to to his craft results in some fine looking lay outs, mashing up some of Marvel most beloved, as well as some of their newer, heroes up against the ridiculous threats he and Chip Zdarsky have conceived. I like what Joe does with facial expressions, as several maskless character perfectly express the absurdity of the whole scenario, especially on the final page with has arguably the best drawing of the Human Torch and Spider-Man in some time. Assisting Quinones on art duties is the brilliant father and son inking team of Paolo & Joe Rivera, giving Quinones’ work the clean, thin lines it deserves. Rico Renzi’s colors pop off the page, completing the art package, and giving Howard a high quality look you wouldn’t expect coming from a comedic book.

Earlier this year writer Chip Zdarsky joked that he was cramming in a lot of content and guest appearances in Howard the Duck as he was expecting to be fire after every issue came out. Howard #5 won’t be Chip’s last ride with the character, but you’ll definitely get you 4 dollars worth from it. This issue wraps up the arch, reveals a supporting character’s secret, and makes several intriguing hints regarding the future of the this book. Oh and is absolutely hilarious as well. We get more “Inconsolable Spider-Man” jokes, editor notes for hilariously titled comics that never existed, several deep cut Marvel jokes and a subplot involving a rather obscure Marvel book that results in Howard freaking out. It’s not all jokes either, as Chip and Joe do some cool stuff with the Howard and Tracy relationship, injecting some heart warming material into the book. Again, a lot of stuff goes down in this book, but it never feels over crowded or bloated.

tumblr_nsznomBLdn1sajkn0o1_400Howard the Duck #5 is a great ending for a fantastic first arc. Howard is easily up there with Superior Foes of Spider-Man and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl in terms of being some of the best modern Marvel humor books, and the star power behind it should hopefully ensure that it sticks around for quite awhile. You can tell Zdarsky & Quinones definitely love or at least heavily appreciate the classic Steve Gerber era Howard, and embrace it while pushing the character forward. Howard the Duck is book I’ll continue to buy when it returns later this year, especially if the creative teams continues to put out this level of quality comic month after month.


Post to Twitter

Chris Comics: Ms Marvel #17

Last-Days-of-Ms.-MarvelMs Marvel #17

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona & Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

On the left we have cover artist Kris Anka , who cover may qualify as the best thing. But while this gives us everything we ever wanted from Ms Marvel, it worth noting the content are not as happy.

Given who’s on the cover, and that this book is tied into Secret Wars, Ms. Marvel #17 can be best described as an issue that’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Captain Marvel’s presence is something the fans have been demanding since the book dropped, and Wilson, Alphona and Herring deliver when it comes to this team in spades. But it’s not exactly  the feel good issue I was hoping for, given the whole end of the world thing, but it is an incredibly smart comics that has some really good emotional moments as well.

3577e735844c9f972469b12814ecd674What  I like about this issue is that we get to see that Kamala has come a long way since issue once, but a lot of key characteristics are still intact for the character. Writer G Willow Wilson has Ms Marvel freak out when she meets Carol Danvers, which as a super fan, is something that makes a ton of sense, not to mention completely adorable. I enjoyed watching the two Marvels bounce off of each other, and I REALLY dug the brief mention of Kamala’s faith when Captain Marvel gives her a pep talk early in the book,( as well as Carol’s advice for our you lead when faced with a difficult kitten-related matter). I also dug Wilson’s take on Carol Danvers, who’s a lovable & playful badass who manages to also be a solid mentor to Ms. Khan when she’s not busting her chops. There’s also several moments that will tug at your heart, giving the book a sense of sadness and desperation. There’s plenty of high, lows and even a few laughs, which says a lot given the fact that this is only 20 pages of content.

On the art side of things, gosh I love Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring. Jersey City may be facing the apocalypse, but Alphona crazy detailed  panels manage to maintain this book’s excellent sense of humor. His backgrounds are chock full of MAD magazine-esque hidden jokes, and not to mention some bizarre and hilarious looking characters. His Kamala will have her facial expression exaggerated for humor’s sake, and he’s capable of drawing some extremely derpy looking animals, ramping up the book’s cute factor. That being said, he also manages to capture the more serious and emotional moments with the gravitas needed to sell the scene, and his Captain Marvel has just the right amount of swagger worthy of Carol Danvers. Colorists Ian Herring’s colors are perfect for every scene, giving the day scenes the proper sense of end of the world times, and using some interesting colors choices for the scene heavy on the super hero-type effects.

As someone who gave up on reading Secret Wars proper and already has a sense on how this will end thanks to upcoming solicits, it’s worth noting how good this creative teams on making this Incursion feel like a real threat. The sense of danger and emotional strain of Last Days is there and feels real, even though we’re due for a new Ms Marvel #1 come this fall. Ms Marvel continues to be the best thing coming out of Marvel these days, even when it’s tied into a massive crossover. This book is definitely worth your time if you’re a regular reader scared who’s not reading Secret Wars, or a Secret Wars fan looking for an amazing tie in.




Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #2



BROTIP Forbidden Planet Faithful: Don’t get bedbugs. It is the worst thing. Also why yes, my apartment building does have them, however did you figure that out?


X-Men ’92 #2

Scott Koblish, Chris Sims, Chad Bowers

Marvel $4.99

It’s a good thing I’m not allowed to talk about books strictly with gifs and images (also known as the Tumblr method), otherwise my entire review for this comic would consist of the following image:








(( BONUS BROTIP:  If you’ve never read  Chris Onstad’s Achewood, you probably should go do so now))

X-Men ’92 #2 is a delight. Collecting the 3rd and 4th digital installment of the X-Men 92 Infinity Comics, the X-men find themselves at the mercy of Cassandra Nova, who’s been revised for this tie-in with a completely new origin that involves several classic characters. With the team at her mercy. Nova sets out to make the X-men more “Kids TV friendly”, which means making Wolverine hug it out, cleaning up Gambit and Rogue’s sexual tension and dealing with the likes of Storm and Beast as well, all while Jubilee and a few un-X-pected allies try to save them all. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s all played straight, which only makes the book all the funnier. Cassanova Nova as a literal stand in for US BS & P (That’s TV talk for Broadcast Standards and Practices) is a wonderful gag that’s effortlessly woven into the plot, not requiring the reader to know what sort of ridiculous TV rules the actual X-men 1992 animated series had to adhere to.

8dcc696bce064f1ebf5705823c76ca99Artist Scott Koblish is continues to mesh quite well with writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims, but you definitely get the sense Koblish is trying to out X-geek Chad and Chris at times. While Bowers and Sims make all sort of obscure X-Men reference, Scott’s channeling some iconic moments from X-history, as well as the people behind those books. That being said, it’s also the book’s biggest flaw. Sometimes the book is a little too inside baseball for it’s own good, and casual readers are properly going to be slightly lost at some of the references. BUT, if you’ve been reading the X-books from 1991-roughly 2012, you’re going to be fine. If you’re hoping that this is the issue that ties the story closer to Secret Wars, you’re out of luck, as it only mentions the Thors in passing, and nothing else related to the mega-event.

4704979-xm922015002_int2-3Even with the book deep in in jokes and nostalgia, casual X-fans will find something to enjoy with this issue. Sims and Bowers Wolverine feels like the more iconic version of the character, which makes his fate all the most amusing. Their Storm is over the top, Beasts is a fun genius, Rogue smoldering in generic southern angst, and like I said last time, their Gambit is PEAK scumbag. If whoever is responsible for “It not you it Gambit” doesn’t win some sort of aware in 2016, comics award ceremonies have failed me. Koblish is equally as impressive, telling a fantastic story while sneaking in all sorts of in-jokes and visuals gags.


This book is tie in comics at it’s finest: creators who are fans of their source material celebrating it’s rich history, even the more ridiculous stuff. X-Men ’92 continues to be everything I wanted from this sort of book, if not more.




Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #4 & Grayson #10

portrait_incredible (3)All New Hawkeye #4

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Following in Hawkeye volume one’s footprints, All New Hawkeye is back after a slight delay. #BURN A reverse of the previous issue sees the bulk of the issue being dedicated to the drawn out Clint and Barney origins, with the final panel of the page being dedicated to the present, with Clint and Kate dealing with the three spooky children the Hawkeyes liberated from Hydra. Much like the previous issue, those panels are mostly dialogue free, and I find them the most interesting, as it feels more in the same vein as the previous volume, and Ramon Perez more simplistic style looks gorgeous. Ian Herring‘s colors perfectly capture the style used by Matt Hollingsworth for these scenes, yet his best stuff is saved for the flashback material. Here we see a lot of interesting uses of purples and blues clashing against a brighter color which clash nicely with the muted art work.

HawkeyeBWith the origin-story stuff taking the point again for this issue, I find myself slightly less invested with this issue. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great and genuinely do like what Jeff Lemire has set up with the brothers Barton. But ultimately it’s not a story I want to read. Clint’s origin is arguably one of the least interesting aspects of the character, because who wants to read about the circus in 2015 right? I applaud Lemiere and Perez doing something different, but I much prefer Clint and Kate arrowing it up in Brooklyn than I do Hawkeye babies.  Especially after 4 issues, or in Lemire’s case, a hunk of his career. Also it really clashes with the promise of more Kate Bishop, who’s barely in this issue.

All New Hawkeye #4 takes some neat artistic risks, but I’m tired of this origin story. The modern stuff is far more compelling, and hopefully there’s more of that after this arc.


Grayson-10Grayson #10

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

Grayson continues to be a god send to the character of Richard “Booty Booty Booty” Grayson. Ol’ Dick (heheheh) has been on bit of quality decline ever since the new 52 started, but his role as a spy has given him a much needed shot in the arm that Dick hasn’t seen since Grant Morrison and friends made him Batman. Grayson #10 is the second installment of the “Nemesis” arc, which finds that boy Grayson amiss of a murder mystery where he is the main suspect. Oh and Lex Luthor shows up, which is big, because Lex is one of the reasons Dick had to fake his death to begin with. It’s compelling stuff, with some really engaging dialogue from Tim Seeley and Tom King and the cliffhanger ending is spectacular.

Grayson-10-ViewOne of the advantages of turning Dick Grayson into a globe spanning hero is Mikel Janin being able to draw the hell out of a number of exotic locations in a single issue. Two moments that stand out to me visually were the scene in Madrid early in the book, and later when Lex and Dick meet in Corscia. Aside from drawing the prettiest of people, Janin draws some gorgeous scenery, beautifully colored by Jeremy Cox. Cox is also another fantastic artist, managing to mix channel travel brochure quality colors as well as Jim Steranko SHIELD era stuff. Coz is easily one of the most underrated colorists in the business and pairing him with Mikel Janin has produced some incredible looking art. Meanwhile, Seeley and King continue to provide a solid and entertaining script with some really smart and fun dialogue.

Grayson #10 is another fine installment of a book that got me back into DC Comics. It’s spy drama and super heroics at it’s best, and I’m glad to see the team’s first multi-issue storyline going so well.



Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #9

SWOMAN2015009-Cov-c2f18Spider-Woman #9

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel $3.99

Javier Rodriguez is a beast y’all.

I’ve been a fan of both Spider-Woman and Javier for awhile. Jessica Drew is my wife’s favorite Avenger, and Rodriguez won me over back when he was coloring Daredevil. Putting him on Spider-Woman with that slick Kris Anka designed costume was a gift, and this issue may arguably be his most impressive work to date.  It also helps that he and writer Dennis Hopeless are channeling other quirky creator driven books like Superior Foes of Spider-Man, the aforementioned Daredevil and Hawkeye with this incarnation of Spider-Woman.

4691358-2+swoman2014009_int2-1Issue 9 kicks off the 2nd arc of this team’s run, which sees J-Drew, reporter Phil Urich, and reformed Z-list villain the Porcupine hit the road to help folk across the country deal with the various weirdness one would face as a denizen in the Marvel Universe. This results in the Porcupine not being the most obscure villain to show up in this book, which says a lot. It alsot means Rodriguez is able to draw a number of insane fight scenes, all of which are gorgeous and highly detailed. I also like how he also frames his pages, using photos as panels, and doing a lot of interesting things with the sense motion by drawing multiple Jessicas in a single panel. The book seems excessive to the untrained eye, but once you start reading it, the proper flow of events becomes apparent and it’s all very wonderful. And since he doubles as colorist, he uses lighting to his advantage throughout the book. I’m not saying he uses it for some easy outs, no, his pages are crammed full of content, the coloring just helps to guide the reader’s eyes as to where they should be focusing on. And the quality of the colors are worth mentioning, as it’s the first time the digital editions looks as good as the paper version. A lot of books look a lot crisper on a tablet then on paper (ie any DC book I buy) , but Rodriguez someone manages to avoid it. Inker Alavardo Lopez is as equally talented, providing the art with thin clean lines, showcasing just how detailed the art is. The finish product looks like it’s popping off of the page in several instances, making it one of the more eye catching books coming from Marvel.

tumblr_nryvwpapM11qlmthpo1_1280Dennis Hopeless’ Jessica Drew is a fantastic take on the character. She’s flawed – impatient, short tempered, slightly aggressive, but her heroic nature is never in question. It’s nice to see a veteran like Jessica not fall into the model of the good, but boring, role model, as it makes her a tad more relatable then some of her newer peers. She reads more like a more competent Clint Barton (or and adult Kate Bishop if you will) than a sexy Peter Parker, which makes her stands out a ton from the other Spider-female characters. Hopeless also give Porcupine some character, making the newest addition of the cast slightly more lovable. It will be interesting to see if the character will catch on like the Superior Foes of Spider-Man era Sinister Six Five have, but the potential is certainly there.

Spider-Woman #9 is another fantastic issue by a creative team that’s clearly firing on all cylinders. Jessica Drew is a delightful lead, her supporting cast is fun, and the book’s direction is interesting, until it’s interrupted by Secret Wars and relaunched. I can’t recommend it enough, as it’s arguably one of the best super hero books currently available.



Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Uncanny X-men 35

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_35_TextlessUncanny X-men 35

Brian Michael Bendis, Valerio Schiti, Richard Isanove

Marvel $3.99

Okay real talk (about fictional characters) time: This is a dumb comic.

I realize that there has to be some suspension of belief when dealing with super hero books. It’s fantasy, so things that don’t work in the real world may fly in comics, and cool, I’m down with that. But man, that is not the case with this issue, where I had to turn my brain off to get past a huge plot point.

UNCX2013035_int2_00006Uncanny X-men 35 sees the kids of the former New Xavier Institute go out on their own and try the whole super hero team thing. As a result, the hilariously terrible named Goldballs goes viral and becomes a minor celebrity (because you know, super heroes are a rarity on Marvel Earth 616), until SPOILERS, it’s revealed that he’s a mutant and everyone fears and hates him again. Which I think we’ve seen before with Dazzler in the 80s, but whatever. It’s a fun little cautionary tale and that doesn’t bug me. What does is the whole “Wait he’s a mutant” reveal. I mean the dude runs around with a giant X-belt buckle and with 2 dudes who are rocking big X jackets. Not to mention paling the 3 girls who are clones of wanted terrorist Emma Frost in broad daylight. How did no one know he was an X-man of sorts prior to this reveal, especially when this was hanging out with the literal face of the mutant revolution for months? Did they miss the giant X-plane as well? This book also suffers a number of bad Brian Michael Bendis troupes, such as Avengers-level threats jobbing to Bendis’ new wunderkind, Middle age dad dialogue for teens, a cool cover that has nothing to do with the interior, and jokes that miss that mark by roughly a mile. I’ve generally been a fan of Bendis’ work on this book, but the script for this issue is sadly quite rough.

That being said, there’s a gag involving Emma Frost and her past that really works for me, and appreciate it when Bendis makes little nods to X-godfather Chris Claremont’s numerous contributions to this franchise. And the book starts off and ends well, but 80% of this book’s script and direction really doesn’t work for me.

Comics-072215-UncannyHOWEVER, this issue certainly looks great. Valerio Schiti comes over from Guardians of the Galaxy to fill in for cover artist Kris Anka, and he’s a perfect fit for this book. Valerio’s style is comparable to Anka, although there’s also some hints of Joe Quesada as well, resulting is some softer, yet clean looking takes on the casts. It’s impressive how well these characters look under Valerio, as I’m certain this is the first time he’s drawn them, not to mention he was probably under a deadline crunch as well. I particular;y dig the final few pages of this book, where Schiti draws a scene involving an angry mob quite well, perfectly portraying some real anger and violence and hitting all the proper emotional beats to make the scene really work. Schiti inks himself as well, leaving veteran colorist Richard Isanove to finish the art with a crisp and bright pallet. It’s a fantastic looking book that would have been a buy on sight if the script was a little tighter.

I hate to sound nit picky and aggressive towards this comic, but I’ve re-read it a number of times and remain disappointed with it. I think it’s more so due to the fact the Bendis has been really good on Uncanny X-men for quite a while, so a dud issue hurts more, especially if this is the penultimate issue in his run. It’s really a surprise that the book reads so poorly, as Bendis’ past X-done in one’s have been some of the best issues of this run. Luckily Scitit’s art cushions the blow, making for a great looking coming that just read poorly. This issue is far from a must read sadly, and while I feel bad trashing a creative team I like, it’s something I can’t recommend to anyone at $4.


Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Hawkeye #22

4677223-hawkeye2012022_dc11-0Hawkeye #22

Matt Fraction/David Aja/Matt Hollingsworth/Chris Eliopoulos

Marvel, $4.99

::: Inspiring quote and or song lyrics tangentially related to Hawkeye’s ending goes here :::



After various delays, 2014’s hottest comic has finally made it into my hands, with the 2015 hot Marvel price of $4.99. To be fair, it’s double sized, AND ALSO FANTASTIC. It’s also (probably) the last time I’ll be spending $5 on a Marvel comic anytime soon I imagine, but that’s a different rant for a different day.

4633438-h2David Aja, Matt Fraction, Matt Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos’ final issue of Hawkeye sees all the key players reunited in Bed Stuy for the last time. It’s the freshly united Hawkeyes, Clint’s neighbors, and Lucky the Pizza Dog vs the Tracksuit Draculas and the Clown for a brutal, but never too graphic, final throw down. This issue is gorgeous, as David Aja goes to town on the visuals, incorporating so many cool nods to past issues without it being too overboard with the references. We get Aja showing off his full range of talents, making this one of the most impressive issues in the series on a technical level. Re-reading these pages invokes memories of modern awesome ultra-violent action flicks like John Wick, Nightcrawler and Drive, all while maintaining the originality and style Aja is known for. I cringed a few times reading this due to the cast taking some nasty hits, but Aja’s excellent framing and some great use of colors from Hollingsworth never made things too graphic. Eliopoulos’ masterful position of work balloons and font choices really ties the whole package together, as it moves the narrative along without interrupting the art. Marvel deserves a lot of credit for letting this team tell it’s story relatively uninterrupted, despite massive shipping delays. I imagine the collected version of this book are going to look amazing over the coming months.

4633437-h1Hawkeye #22 gives us a relatively quiet Matt Fraction. Oh sure, it’s difficult to tell who contributed what with this issue given both Fraction and Aja being listed as Storytellers instead of writer/artist. But it feels Fraction held back on some dialogue to let Aja go nuts on the action. Which is great, because at this point, exposition and banter would only take away from the experience. Hawkeye was always a low stakes book compared to the rest of the Marvel offerings, but thanks to the talent involved in this book, it feel like the most important thing. Fraction still manages to sneak if a few running gags/reoccurring narrative tricks into this script, but this ultimately feels more like David Aja’s show than Fractions. And another upside to this is that when someone speaks, it feels important. Clint drops 2 Die Hard-esque zingers that work way better thanks to Fraction dialogue restrictions, making less ultimately more.

Hawkeye #22 ends arguably one of the most important runs in comics in some time. This book redefined Marvel (see Marvel Now and it’s various incarnations), gave Matt Fraction’s career a well-deserved shot in the arm, and reminded everyone just how good of an artist David Aja is. It in brought people who usually didn’t read Marvel to the company, and gave people interested in comics thansk to the 2012 Avengers film the perfect entry way. It’s a damn fine comic, arguably my favorite, and I hate to see it over. But I’m glad to have an ending on a high note, and am eager for more content from Fraction and Aja and friends in the future.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Nuts about Squirrel Girl edition

Unbeatable_Squirrel_Girl_Vol_1_7_TextlessThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi Marvel $3.99


Squirrel Girl #7 is here and judging from the cover, she’s in a bit of trouble. No wait, the book is called The UNBEATABLE Squirrel Girl, she’ll be fine. Also that’s a dope cover. I really like how the excessive amount of negative space forces the reader to focus in on the characters centered in the middle, and how the logo is also used as an environment. It’s nice to see artist Erica Henderson switch up styles, something she’s she been doing a lot of as of late ( See: Issue 4’s Video Game style cover, and issue 5’s interiors where she paid homage to several Marvel artist from various “ages”). Issue seven is an incredible dense issue, which I dig, as I paid $4 for it and I want my money’s worth dangit.   Writer Ryan North, who’s yet to deliver a disappointing issue, crams a lot of subplots, jokes and cute little character moments into this issue, and it’s maddening how he seems to do it with such ease. And on top of quality comics action, 19 of the 20 pages has hilarious “Alt-text” on the bottle of it. I really like how this book does not shy away from the humor and strangest of being in the Marvel Universe, as well as being incredible clever at time. You WILL learn something from this book’s script, and I don’t mean a fun fact from the Deadpool trading cards, who are surprisingly absent this issue.   Back to Erica Henderson. The book looks pretty good this month, which is actually a step down from the usually amazing Henderson. She does a LOT to fill the book with cool backround gags and references, but some of her some of the human characters in this book look rushed. Also when the Avengers appear in the comic, they look a bit off, especially Spider-Man, who’s a bit on the lumpy side of things. It also doesn’t help that colorist Rico Renzi changes Hawkeye’s hair color from blonde to brown in the span of two pages, which is an odd error. That being said, a “weak” looking issue of Squirrel Girl is still a terrific looking comic. Henderson’s face expressions and panel composition are still on point, and really help elevate the overall quality of the book. Same with Renzi, who’s on point with the rest of the issue. It’s just a less awesome than usual Henderson and Renzi is a bit noticeable, and it’s proof that Marvel should adopt Image‘s method of giving the creators time off between arcs so that the book’s quality doesn’t take a hit ( IE the Saga method).   The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 is a fun comic that manages to raise the stakes for our heroine and her fellow animal themed pals quite a bit. It presents the character with a challenge worthy of the unbeatable one, although we know she’s totally going to save the day in the end. It’s the type of book you want more publishers to put out, which requires a creative team on par with North, Henderson and Renzi, which is difficult I imagine. As with every other issue of Squirrel Girl, issue seven is a book that worth buying on sight, unless your a dude who suckkkssssssss!

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-Men ’92 edition

XM92_HIRES.0X-Men ’92 #1

Chad Bowers/ Chris Sims/ Scott Koblish/Matt Milla

Marvel $4.99

So here we are in the middle of All New Marvel leaks week. There’s been 3 new X-men books announced so far, and Dennis Hopeless aside, I’m really not feeling them. Aside from some questionable character designs and artists, none of the rosters nor directions do much for me. It’s going to be weird to not be buying an X-book come this fall, but I’ll live, as there’s no shortage of great comics to buy at the moment. Case in point X-Men ’92, the digital first book from Marvel that’s based on one of the most lucrative and iconic eras of the team’s existence.

unnamed-136500The 1990s were a weird period for comics. It was decade that brought us the rise and fall of the collector market, nearly saw the end of Marvel, the creation of Image and a brief love affair with the extreme. Comic Book Scholars (aka older nerds) have varying opinions of the decade, but one thing can be agreed on: No one franchise ruled the decade more than the X-men. The Uncanny X-men (mostly Wolverine) were everywhere: over a dozen books which crossed over every other months, TV, video games, chain pizza restaurants, Mall kiosks, and toy shops. It was a complete 360 from now, where Marvel merchandising partners are allegedly attempting to get the general public from forgetting the character.

At first glance, X-men ’92 would appear to be Marvel’s answer to DC’s Batman 66. But it’s more than that. Writers Chris Sims, Chad Bowers and artist Scott Koblish celebrate everything the decade brought to Marvel’s mutants, while using the iconic animated series roster. Don’t get me wrong, the comic is definitely faithful to the cartoon in terms of character behavior: Gambit is a peak scumbag, Cyclops has a stick up his butt, Jean Grey falls down a ton, etc.  But it brings it a ton of things from the comics of the same time, as well as a character slightly newer to the X-lore. X-Men ’92 collects the first two digital installment of the series, in which the X-men throw down in a game of laser tag and investigate a rehabilitation center which reportedly cures villainous mutants of their evil ways. There’s some mention of Secret Wars related nonsense, but for the most part the crossover has minimal impact on the story, letting the creators tell their story.

x1-e1432736008112-600x415Sims and Bowers, making their Marvel debut, tell a story that’s incredibly faithful to the way the characters were portrayed in that era, and one that’s quite hilarious. The writing duo make a ton of inside jokes, ranging from references to Pizza Hut tie-in comics, to cameos from internet famous X-Men podcasters, and some more accessibly ones, like setting the bulk of the first issue in a mall. The book is incredibly fun and clever, never punching down when it comes to the source material, but always embracing it. Artist Scott Koblish is also on point, channeling everyone from Jim Lee to Rob Liefield, making this book look like a product of the 90s. He and colorist Matt Milla are just dedicated to making this book look like the X-men 90’s animated series and slip in some deep cuts, like constantly miss-coloring Jean Grey’s gloves, changing the length of Cyclops’ neck, and never putting Rogue’s white hair streak in the same location.  The duo absolutely nail the look and the feel of the show, to the point where I could here the animated series actors saying the dialogue in my head. And luckily for us, we don’t have to worry about the budget getting slashed at any given time.

Screen-Shot-2015-06-11-at-7.25.33-PM-672x372X-Men ’92 is everything I would want from a book based on one of my gateways into the Marvel Universe as a kid. The source material may not be the best incarnation of the X-men, but it felt larger than life, something the creators of this book obviously felt as well. It’s tells a story that you may not like if you’re here for Secret War related content or aren’t familiar with the 90s era of the team, BUT I’m not here for Doom and am VERY familiar with the 1990s! I’m here to see the X-men fight Free Ranged Sentinels and protect the X-treme. Er Extreme. I’m not sure if Adam X, the X-Treme will be showing up in this book. I mean it would make sense, but I can’t promise it. Either way, pick this book up, in print or digitally if you like the stranger side of the X-men, or just like chili fries. It’s higher price point is well worth the trip down memory lane bub. #killme

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys But with Comics: First and Last Days Editions

Hey look, it’s  2 books that actually came out recently! Let me review them!

ms-marel-124127Ms. Marvel #16

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Let’s get this review started  by talking about how good Ms. Marvel and it’s creators are. Solicitations for this issue spoiled the last page of Ms Marvel 16 3-4 months ago, depending on what websites you read, especially if you saw what’s on the cover for 17. It’s something we’ve yet to get on this title yet, wanted forever, and have finally gotten a taste of it. Even knowing it was coming didn’t diminish the moment, and if anything, only made me hungry for more.

Ms Marvel 16 is the first issue of the “Last Days” arc, which ties into Secret Wars. G Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring has put Khamala Khan through a lot over these last 16 issues, but how does Ms Marvel stop the end of the world? Knowing what we know from Secret Wars, it seems impossible, even though that Free Comic Book Day let us know that she’ll be fine when all is said and done. Still, Wilson and Alphona make the stakes feel real, without having to sacrifice all of the charm and humor this book is known for.

Then we get to the last two pages. This is comics at it’s finest, and the opposite of the bad feels Kieron Gillen and BKV have given me in the previous weeks. We see our hero doubt herself, but refusing to give up and accept oblivion. It’s inspiring, and it’s hard not to get excited when you reach the previously mentioned final page of this book. It’s a super important moment for the character, and the creative team nail it on every level, from the layout, to the dialogue and choice of colors.

Ms Marvel continues to be stellar, and this issue is no different. It may be the best, which says a lot given the fact it’s a tie-in issue. It super hero comics at it’s finest, fully embracing the legacy set by Jack, Steve and Stan, and taking it to the next level.


black-canary-1-promo-121636Black Canary #1

Brenden Fletcher/Annie Wu/Lee Loughridge

DC $2.99

I’ve seen a few comic blogger types refer to this new DC You (#killme) initiative as “The Batgirl effect”, which I think is a fair description. The Fletcher/Stewart/Tarr/Wicks Batgirl got DC attention and praise it hadn’t seen in a while, and it was only a matter of time before would attempt to recapture that magic with some of their other properties. With Black Canary, we see a one of the Batgirl writers teamed with a fan favorite artist, resulting in another strong DC Debut.

Black Canary is a kung-fu rock and roll comic, which is all sorts of my type of premise. Dinah Lance was given a cool new direction in the pages of Batgirl, and now we get to see Black Canary on the road, wrecking venue after venue while keeping her past a secret from her bandmates. However, she’s not the only person in her crew with a secret or two, which leads to violent hitting times  . It’s a fun premise that feels like a natural and much needed  evolution of this incarnation of the character.

I’ve been a fan of artist Annie Wu since her run on the often mentioned Hawkeye. Her take on Black Canary is great, giving her a slick punk rock meets MMA make over. It’s a cool take of the character’s iconic look, giving it a much needed update. Wu’s line work a little harsher and simplistic than her work on Hawkeye, which is fitting for the new status quo. Lee Loughridge‘s colors and Steve Wands letters give the book a cool vibe that can be best described as Sex Pistol ‘Zine meets DC comics. The whole thing feels very Image esque is terms of design, which I’m sure to intentional as to draw in a larger audience. And even if it isn’t, it’s still cool as hell.

On the script side of things, we have Batgirl/Gotham Academy’s Brenden Fletcher, who’s quickly carved out his little corner of the DCU. This is the first exposure to Fletcher’s solo writing duties, and it’s solid. The issue quickly establishes Dinah current M.O. in a cool bit of exposition via a number of new age media. It’s a neat narrative device, and it’s a cool way to catch readers up on Dinah if they haven’t been reading Batgirl. His dialogue is solid, and while there’s nothing that particularly stand out, it’s more than serviceable.

Between this and Starfire, DC “You” is off to a strong start with this new slate of diverse female lead books. Black Canary is another fun and good looking book with a fun premise. DC is finally beginning to fight back after Marvel‘s barrage of great quirky hits from earlier in the year, and I’m curious to see what else the company can produce on this sort of level of quality.



Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys But with comics: Special Edition NYC edition!


So hey, Special Edition NYC happened over at Pier 94 this past weekend, and while I wasn’t the biggest fan of the venue or the panel areas, the show was still pretty good. The quality of guests were solid, the amount of diversity present in the panels were nice, and I saw this adorable Ghus cosplayer when I arrive at the con. It was a fun show if you’re a fan of all comics convetions, as it’s very much in the vein of MoCCa and Heroescon. I fully recommend it if you’re a fan of those shows, or NYCC’s artist alley!

With that mini-convention review done, let’s get to the part where I review the comics I bought last week, yes?


4590451-sqgirl2015006_dc11-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

Ryan North/Erica Henderson/Rico Renzi

Marvel, $3.99

I love the Squirrel Girl creative team, but I think writer Ryan North may be a 100% real life crazy person. That’s fine though, as he’s using his powers of crazy for the forces of good on this book, co-creating a title that’s hilarious and fun for all ages, while drowning in words and insanity. So I guess North is also a bit of a genius. That line is extremely blurred.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 sees our heroine deal with other animal-themed heroes named after the animals they can talk to & both of them very familiar to her, for reasons she can’t figure out why. Meanwhile, North claims to quit writing heroes with rhyming names in the text at the bottom of the page. We  also get rampaging animals, and a rampaging animal-turn-human-animals, and North quickly abandoning that claim . This book sounds like a fever dream as I describe it, but it is very good, despite sounding nuts, and…really nuts? That’s what I wrote for real? Now I hate myself for making that (unintentional) pun.

While North may be madness incarnate, but Erica Henderson is a gift. That is the best way to describe her all too important contributions to this book. Squirrel Girl’s visuals may be too cartoonish for some, but those people are dumb and shouldn’t be heard/ allowed to have nice things. TUSQ benefits from having a non-traditional super hero comic look, especially when it’s very much a humor title, and Henderson’s pencils are a perfect fit for North’s constant barrage of jokes. It’s super expressive and exaggerated, helping sell the book’s humor. The coloring from Rico Renzi is crisp and clean, doing Henderson’s art justice and completing the package.

The 2nd major arc for Squirrel Girl is off to a wonderful start. Henderson and North have delivered the best all-ages Marvel title since Thor the Mighty Avenger, and the funniest Marvel comic since Nextwave. This is some career defining stuff for these creators and well worth your time.


Spider-Woman-8-Cover-e1433537865998Spider-Woman #8

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez/Muntsa Vicente

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Woman wraps up her first non-crossover arc, and man, the big fight scene is this issue absolutely brutal. While the violence is kept at a Teen + level (which I think means PG??), Javier Rodriguez‘s art make the feel more brutal. As you can tell from the cover, J-Drew fights a woman in a power loader, and it does not go well for her. Rodriguez doesn’t shy away from making Spider-Woman take some solid hits, but she never looks weak or timid. This is an experienced Spider-Woman, who can take some damage and keep fighting the good fight. Rodriguez’s layouts are phenomenal, with scenes bleeding into other panels or taking place in sound effects. Alvaro Lopez‘s inks are also crazy good, using heavy inks in just the right areas to main the wounds look all the more devastating and painful. VC’s Travie Lanham has some of the most creative lettering and sounds effects I’ve seen in some time, and Muntsa Vicente’s colors and bold and bright, helping this book look very stylistic.

While the art is the best reason to pull this book, Dennis Hopeless does a outstanding job on the script. He keep the dialogued limit in the fight scenes, but when the time for exposition and plot is needed, he absolutely nails it. He does a find job of making the book’s big bad incredibly sympathetic, and more importantly he writes and fantastic Spider-Woman.

Spider-Woman #8 ends with the solid new direction for the book that looks to be a fun read. Hopeless, Rodriguez and their friends have created a title that feels like a classic 70s Marvel book in a way, but also refreshingly modern. This take on Spider-Woman has done wonders for this book, and the character, who’s really come into her own there last 4 issues. It’s nice to see a female lead for Marvel who’s more of an experienced ass kicker, and it pairs well with other action oriented female lead Marvel books like Black Widow and Captain Marvel. Buy on sight.



Post to Twitter