Category: Marvel

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.

 

 

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Petrie @ The Planet: Wonder Woman and Women in Comics

wonderwomanbolland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Troy’s Troys: Actually about Toys edition

Hey, so it looks like I’m going to Toy Fair 2015 tomorrow, thanks to a little help from my wife’s company! Meaning I’ll have FRESH photos to post on here in a few days that I took, versus asking around/stealing  acquiring from the Google.

In honor of this occasion, I decided to write about a few collectibles I’ve been enjoying as of late. My #toygame was pretty weak in 2014, because New York apartments are small and expensive and I only have so much space/money. HOWEVER, I did manage to snag a few things here and there.

set-of-x-men-classic-pop-vinyl-figuresdancing-groot-figure-03First and foremost, I’ve think it’s safe to say I’m slightly addicted to the Funko’s POP Vinyl line. I’ve managed to avoid picking up too many over the past few years (Batgirl being the lone exception, which is fine, because she is perfection), but the company’s made a hard push for my wallet as of late, to much success. Aside from the amazing NFL POP line, Funko recently released a all X-men‘s Marvel line, as well as a 2nd Guardians of the Galaxy line. While I’m managed to avoid buying anything not Duck or Groot related from the GOTG line, the Marvel line consists of Mystique, Professor X, Storm, Magneto, Colossus AND MOST IMPORTANTLY Cyclops. What I’m saying is that the lone Batgirl POP is now chilling with Nightwing, Drew Brees and hella X-Men.

 

For the record, we currently have POPs in from everything from Firefly to the WWE, but it’s me, so comics and football rule everything around me. I’m a fan of Funko’s ability to capture all these various properties well in such a small and minimalist style, and the low price doesn’t hurt either.

avengers-marvel-legends-captain-marvel-carol-dangers-figure-maid-111990And since I’m already on the topic of Marvel Comics, the newest line of Marvel Legends just dropped.  This Avengers themed line consists of Marvel NOW Thor, Iron Fist, The Sentry, Classic Hawkeye, Machine Man, Scarlet Witch, and probably the most in demand figure in a long while, Captain Marvel herself, Carol Danvers. This particular wave is great, and the Old Thor/Odin build a figure is a cool addition. In addition to this wave, we also have some of the older Legends from 2014 in stock (Spider-Man, The X-men, Guardians of the Galaxy and I THINK some Winter Soldier line), all for $30 a pop.

 

batman-the-animated-series-action-figures-wave-one-set-of-4-4 San Diego Comic-Con 2014 First Look DC Comics Greg Capullo Batman Designer Series Wave 3 Action Figures - Zero Year Batman, Batgirl, Two-Face and Commissioner James GordonThere’s also no shortage of DC Collectibles in stock. And by DC I mean Batman, of course. Snark aside, at least some of the latest Bat-offerings have been neat. The 3rd Wave of the excellent Greg Capullo designer line dropped recently, complete with the visually interesting Batman Year Zero, Two Face, and two Gordons in the form of Batgirl and Jim Gordon himself. The line continues to captures Capullo’s art perfectly, and may be the best line of toys DC Collectibles is current putting out. The other major Batline is the Animated Series themed line, which has a New Adventures of Batman and Robin accurate Batman and Mr. Freeze figure, and a B:TAS themed Catwoman and Two Face. All of these figures look gorgeous, but be warned, they’re a tad fragile.

This doesn’t even begin to cover all the collectible we have in stock. We got a ton of fandoms covered like Aliens, Sailor Moon, Transformers, Star Wars, Adventure Time covered, as well as several more than escape my lizard brain at the moment. But yeah, come on by, see what we got and expect actual Toy Fair coverage soon!

 

 

 

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

saga-25-wraparound-cover-b8d91Saga #25

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

portrait_incredibleThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

 

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Five Questions with Forbidden Planet: Dan Slott!

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!

For our inaugural Five Questions, John Petrie thwipped Spidey writer, Dan Slott to the wall and made him talk. Then there was some awkward, upside-down makey-outies, but that’s neither here nor there, except to say, “We’re all very sorry, Dan.”

On to the questions!

Forbidden Planet: Who would win in a creepy laugh contest: Green Goblin, Hobgoblin or the Joker?

Dan Slott: Now that Norman Osborn’s had the Goblin Serum removed from his system? Sadly, no contest. Joker.

FP: Since we all love cosplayers, what’s the one character you’ve never personally seen cosplayed that would make you smile?

DS: Spider-UK. I’m going to a show in London this summer, so fingers crossed.

Spi11

FP: So, chaos magic, does it exist or not?

DS: Totally exists. We confirmed that during my run of MIGHTY AVENGERS.

FP: Would you rather live in a world without any flavor ice cream or a world without movie popcorn?

DS: Without movie popcorn. Couldn’t live in a world without ice cream.

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

DS: Spider-Man. And I’d pay. Would just want to apologize for the hell I’ve put him through in the past… and… will be putting him through in the future.

FP: If you could write a series with any character (or characters) who don’t currently appear in a Marvel book, who would they be?

DS: Indiana Jones, Doctor Who, and Batman.

Thanks again, Dan! And keep an eye out — there will be more FIVE QUESTIONS WITH FORBIDDEN PLANET featuring your favorite comic creators coming soon!

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Arrow’d

54c2825aaaa9dHawkeye #21

Matt Fraction/David Aja/Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel $3.99

I wanted Marvel‘s Hawkeye ongoing back more than anything.  As good as Secret Avengers and Hawkeye vs Deadpool were, what Matt Fraction and David Aja ground breaking series has been doing with Clint Barton and comics in general is hard to replicate. So when the 21st issue of this series was solicited with a 100% guaranteed to ship date, I was excited. I thought I was ready to handle part one of what will be the end of the oft-delayed Fraction/Aja/Matt Hollingsworth run.

3 pages into this issue and those creators made a liar out of me. I was not ready. I was a hot mess of emotions by the time we got the the brutal 19th page of comic, and then I hit page 20 and nearly lost my composure at the shop. It would have been an messy bout of ugly crying, but one that was warranted given everything that goes down.

4360109-hawkeye2012021_int2-1Hawkeye #21 aka, Rio Bravo part 1, begins the battle of Bed Stuy. Clint, Barney and their neighbors battle the Tracksuit Draculas for their apartment building, something that was brewing since issue one. And while it doesn’t sound like the highest of stakes in a Marvel Comic, that doesn’t matter. Hell, if you remember that ol’ Hawkguy is Avenger, you may ask yourself why he just doesn’t call in Iron Man or Thor to help save the day. But that’s all part of the charm of the book. This is suppose to be showing what Hawkeye does on his days off, and bringing in such high-profile characters would do more damage to the book, despite being the more logical choice. Like Clint says, you gotta make your stuff work, and that means not calling in for help ( Luckily for Clint, not everyone believes in that).

4360108-hawkeye2012021_int2-0After 21 issues, what else is there to say about the team of Matt Fraction, David Aja (with assistance from  Raul Allen),  Matt Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos, he types, realizing that’s super cliche of him to say. But it’s true, this team has banged out some amazing work over the course of 20 issues (with some help), and 21 is another fantastic issue. Fraction’s dialogue is so natural, making nods to past events and in-jokes from the series. He doesn’t go crazy with the dialogue with this issue, taking the back seat to the talents that are David Aja and Raul Allen. With Allen helping out with background, Aja is given more time to focus on cramming a year’s worth of art on 20 pages, each with an insane amount of panels with page. Combine that with Hollingsworth limiting his patent for dramatic effect (which works mind you), we get some fantastic art from creators on top of their game.

This team of artists have nothing to prove that this point, given how excellent this series has been.  They just need to end this story, which if word on the street is true, will be done by end of the month. Which means the chance of my being over emotionally in a comics shop this month is good. Hawkeye may have taken it’s sweet time wrapping up, but as it comes closer to the finishing line, it’s hard to sing it praises over the constant delays.

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

I would read a book called Secret Criminals FYI.

SECAVN2014012CVR-659x1000Secret Avengers #12

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel/$3.99

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

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

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

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

SEXCRIMINALS_10Sex Criminals #10

Matt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky #10

Image $3.50

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Toys Toys But With Comics: Teen Hi-jinks Edition.

Hey look at that, some reviews, but on time! We live such a brave new world!  Also this is totally not me trying to get as much writing done before the Super Bowl as possible, no no no.

 

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_30_TextlessUncanny X-men #30

Brian Michael Bendis/Chris Bachalo/An army of inkers

Marvel $3.99

 So here’s the thing. I know it’s in fashion to be a pretty pretty internet hate machine and smack talking big 2 comics to show your indie cred is a trend. But even with that being the case, I’ve tried avoiding going that route, and praise Cape Comics  when they do things right.

But man, it’s hard to stay positive when a comic is all kinds of bad, especially when a comics is disappointing enough to make me consider dropping the series.

I applaud  Brian Michael Bendis for taking some risks with Uncanny X-men with this current arc, despite it being drawn out like no one’s business. Last month’s cliffhangers were crazy, and there’s some follow up to it this time that would be really neat if they actually stuck. But between upcoming solicits, Bendis himself putting future covers online, and the decompression mentioned earlier, a lot of the impact of these events is lost. Also quick side note: this book was solicited as a book that deals with the repercussions of AXIS. This arc began during Original Sin, and is still going on. There’s zero crossover with AXIS (or OS come to think of it), and feels more like an issue of Doctor Who with all the timey whimey nonsense. I know Chris Claremont was a master of the long game and was also guilty of time travel shenanigans, but he did it early enough in the X-men history where it was still fresh. It feels cliche and tired here, nearly 30 years later.

 

This mostly talking heads issues wastes Chris Bachalo’s talents. Bachalo is a skilled and kinetic artist that gets to stretch his muscles a bit with some brief action scenes but it’s the kind of dialogue heavy issue that’s better served by a Kris Anka (who did a dope job on the cover). That being said, the book still looks good, but not good enough for me to recommend on visauls alone, especially with the inking and the coloring being all over the place.

Ultimately this book is the worst type of bad by just being boring. Bendis’ mutli-MccGuffin balancing act isn’t working out for my tastes, and if this ship doesn’t steer itself right with the next issue, I’m afraid my time with Uncanny X-men is done for the foreseeable future.

 

GalleryComics_1920x1080_20150121_GOTHAC_Cv4_5490db710bf4f8.47907702Gotham Academy #4

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

 DC $2.99

Man that last review was kinda rough. Let’s focus on a good comic now, yes?

Gotham Academy #4 is a hoot. A hoot that involves one of the leads painting D&D monsters in art class, which I adore, and  I don’t even play Dungeons and or Dragons.

What I like about this book is aside from looking AMAZING month after month, is that is operates far enough outside of the DCU where it’s not affect by whatever crossover or event is going on that month, but is close enough to remind you that it’s still a Batman-related book. This month does that by giving 2 REALLY cool shout outs to the classic Batman: The Animated Series, as well as the monthly Bruce Wayne cameo.

Fun easter eggs aside, the book also effortless blends TEEN romance, school, and spooky mysteries, which are my favorite type of mysteries. It’s reminds me a lot of what Marvel was going for in the mid 2000s with The Runaways, which is a good look.  Combined with the gorgeous visuals, it reminds me more of a Japanese Role playing game than a Batman comic. It may not be for everyone, but it’s nice to see DC make an attempt to go after the same market who would also be reading something like Ms Marvel (aka people with great tastes).

 

Gotham Academy is a fantastic read month after month, and it really deserves more of an audience. Word on the street (Twitter street that is) is that sales for this book aren’t so hot, which is a shame because it’s a great little book that’s truly all ages. If you want something that’s fun and a visual delight, I can’t recommend this book enough.

 

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

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

portrait_uncannyLegendary_Star-Lord_Vol_1_8_TextlessLegendary Star-Lord 7&8

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

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

wickeddivine_07The Wicked and the Divine #7

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelive and Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

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

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

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

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

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Lo, there shall be an ANT-MAN REVIEW

So hey, I was wrong and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl wasn’t the only major Marvel debut last Wednesday. Apparently the dude no-long-directed-by-Edgar-Wright has an all new on-going, written by a guy who’s recent Marvel work I really like. So I dropped the $5 (ugh) on Scott Lang’s solo debut, as he’s a character I really came to like under Matt Fraction & The Allred‘s run on FF!

ant-man-1-cover-mark-brooks-109067jpg-d18f1dAnt-Man #1

Nick Spencer/ Ramon Rosanas/Jordan Boyd

Marvel $4.99

As a dude who’s spoken out against $5 comics plenty of times in the past, I struggled with buying this book a lot. On one hand, it’s a double sized issue with a cool creative team, but on the other, it’s a $5 book that exists solely because a movie is dropping in 7 months. and Marvel wants to cash in on that. Also I had a gift card, so it was free in a way.

Nick Spencer is the given the uneasy task of creating a new reader book in a post AXIS world that succeeds for the most part. Much like Hawkeye before him,  Spencer’s Scott Lang is a lovable every man Avenger who sometime makes poor life choices. Anyone familiar with Spencer’s work on The Superior Foes of Spider-Man  knows he can do humor well, and Ant-Man is proof of that. The difference being it’s not as slapstick-y as SUP FOES was, and that Scott Lang is a pretty likable dude, more so than say Boomerang.

gnny1vxbknhirjh4mo7gQuick side note, a familiar face from SUP FOES makes an appearance in this book, and is just as delightful here as they were in said book.

My problem with the book is that in making it new reader accessible, it strips away a LOT of character development Scott went through in FF!/Fantastic Four. His “lovable loser” shtick is a tad bit out of place with the way he’s been written as of late, and given what’s gone down with Cassie as of late (see Avengers World), having her comes off as his normal teenage daughter is incredibly odd. Not to mention Tony Stark’s behavior is slightly more aggro due to what’s been going down in AXIS/ Superior Iron Man, but there’s not even a footnote explaining it. I understand that this has to appeal to people who are getting into the character because of the movie hype, I just wish it didn’t ignore past continuity so much.  Also where in the hell is Darla Deering (Miss Thing if you’re nasty)?!?

ant-man-1-interiorContinuity beef aside,  Ramon Rosanas & Jordan Boyd kill on the art side of things. The team remind me a lot of Chris Samnee and Javier Rodriguez‘s work on Daredevil, only not as refined as those veteran creators. That being said, Samnee and Rodriguez are also doing some career defining work on that book, so the fact that Rosanes and Boyd are even comparable to begin with says a lot. It’s an incredibly clean looks book that hits all the right emotions notes when it needs to.

All in all, Ant-Man #1 has a lot to offer to new readers. It’s a good comic,  possibly a great one if you’re not as hung up as recent Marvel continuity as I am. It’s a nice introduction to Scott Lang to wider audience, even with the absence of Paul Rudd aka America’s Best Friend.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Here Comes the Squirrel Girl!

Hey remember earlier in the week when I said I was excited to be reading a Squirrel Girl comic in 2015? No? Oh you didn’t read the article? That’s rude. You could have at least lied to me and said yes. R U D E!

Unbeatable-Squirrel-Girl-c9f8dThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

I tend to give Marvel some guff when they drop $5 books and shun the X-books due to movie deal beef, but it’s hard for me to hate them when they green-light a book like this. You know, the type of book that ISN’T tied into an upcoming Marvel movie? The type of book that’s powered by a pair of indie comics darling? The type of book that has a girl that has the proportionate strength of a squirrel. Okay that’s less impressive I guess.

I really haven’t read much Squirrel Girl prior to that one time she yelled at Deadpool a million years ago ( I think 2005? A GLA/Deadpool one shot I believe.), but Ryan North? I love that dude’s run on Adventure Time, as well as the excellent Dinosaurs Comics web comic he’s been doing since forever! Erica Henderson?! I really dug her art on  Monkey Brain’s Subatomic Party Girls, not to mention her Tumblr stuff! Rico Reniz?! I….. ::: googles Rico Renzi:::…okay first time being exposed to his work, but it’s great!

As someone who like funny super hero books, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl gives me everything I want from a humorous spandex book, which sees the title character check into her dorm, thrown down with a classic Marvel villain AND set things up for an insane throw down in the coming issues.  It doesn’t redefine super heroes like Ms Marvel did in 2014, but I wasn’t expecting it to. I wanted a book where Doreen Green dresses up as a squirrel, punches bad bad guys and makes me laugh, and that’s exactly what North, Henderson and Reniz gave me, and them some (see: Doreen’s rad and possibly crazy roommate).

SG-Excuse-meAll the creators involved in this book are in top form with this debut. The script is genuinely hilarious, and features the bottom of the page text North has become famous for (A play on the alt txt gags from his web comic), and Henderon and Reniz’s art is a perfect fit for this book. It’s bright, fluid & expressive, the type of style one who want if this was a Cartoon Network/Disney Channel animated series. It looks great, and is a blast to look at, and Henderson draws some might fine squirrels which is obviously very important for this book. Also shot out to Henderson for a Squirrel Girl that looks like an average person and not another super model. Representation is important y’all.

With the excellent She Hulk and Elektra wrapping up in 2015, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is the perfect book to replace those books. It couldn’t be any more different in terms of tone and style, but it’s still great for all the reasons I just listed above and more.

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Star Wars Day at the Planet – Wednesday January 14th 2015

The eagerly anticipated Star Wars #1, written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by John Cassaday, published by Marvel, releases this Wednesday and to celebrate we’re offering 20% off EVERY SINGLE Star Wars item in stock!

Star Wars Forbidden Planet Sale Marvel Comics #1

That includes the new issue AND all available variant covers.

May the Force be with you!

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Spies like Us Edition

First and foremost, happy 2015 Forbidden Planet faithful! There were all of 7 comics released this past week,  none of which I pull,  so we’re going to take a look at 2 books that dropped last week instead. Then I’ll finish my “What I like dug” over the next few days, just in time for the first New Comics Wednesday of 2015. Aren’t schedules fun?

GRAYANN_Cv1_540f47df5c1c08.60705222Grayson Annual #1

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Stephen Mooney/Jeremy Cox

DC $4.99

I want to like this comic more than I do.

I’m doing my best to not be an old man and start ranting about how Annuals should be saved for big stories like were in my day. Hell this annual was originally solicited as such, promising us the New 52 origin of Helena Bertinelli. Which we get, sort of, for all of a page.

The rest of the book is dedicated to several new characters, one who’s supposedly really good at what he does, and we get a lot more focus on said new character than we do on Helena, as well as a Irish Folktale. Which is different, but not exactly the most compelling stuff in the world.

While the book isn’t bad ( Tom King and Tim Seeley‘s script is okay, Stephen Mooney‘s art is serviceable, and Jeremy Cox‘s colors remain excellent), it’s not exactly required reading at $5. It does nothing for the over all narrative of the series, even  thought there’s some cool stuff sprinkled throughout the issue.

December was not the best month for Grayson in my option. Between the annual and issue 5, the book feels like it’s stuck in neutral. Hopefully January will see a proper return to form for this book and it’s creative team.

background (1)Secret Avengers #11

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

And once again, Secret Avengers is espionage comics done right.

The final arc of Secret Avengers begins with this issue, and properly raises the stakes. The mysterious world of TLON has began to appear in “our” world, the secret mastermind behind the whole ordeal begins to make his presence known and now it’s up to MODOK and his allies to save to the day. It’s Cosmic Horror meets Archer (wordplay?) at it’s finest.

And speaking of F-I-N-E (#segue) Michael Walsh & Matthew Wilson continue to be at the top of their respected games with this book. Between the storm in Venezuela and the various action pieces on the Hellicarrier, Walsh and Wilson continue to do some interesting and beautiful things with format, design and panel layouts. They do Ales Kot’s script the justice it deserves, being able to convey the emotion needed for the Hawkeye/Coulson confrontation, as well as providing some awesome fight scenes.

Kot also deserves some praise for the way he’s been handling Agent Coulson and his PTSD in this book. Hawkeye, Maria Hill, and Black Widow may be normal human comfortable with some of insanity that goes down on the reg in the 616, Phil Coulson is not, and is affected by it. It’s something that could be handled poorly in the wrong hangs, but Ales Kot writes Phil and his condition properly, which makes for a compelling and a emotionally invested read.

Secret Avengers continues to be one of the strongest offerings from Marvel month after moth. It’s weird, violent and funny, and every so often, it has something smart and endearing to say.

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What I dug into 2014: Marvel Edition

Today I’m going to take a look at what Marvel made me happy with over the past year. The company did an excellent job of maintaining a diverse catalog of super hero books (Although they could work on diversifying their creators), while pushing out a bunch of $5 books I didn’t read.

portrait_incredible (1)First and foremost, 2014 gave us Ms. Marvel, arguably the MOST important cape book on the stands today. A wonderful comic by G Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Ian Herring,  Khamala Khan is as relevant to readers and their world as Spider-Man was in the 1960s. It’s a gorgeous book with a message that’s an absolute delight to read. Marvel did a lot with their female characters in 2014 (2015 isn’t looking too shabby either for the record), and Ms Marvel is ultimately the best of the bunch, if not the company’s entire catalog.

 

 

backgroundIn 2014, we saw one of Marvel’s best books end. No not Hawkeye. 2015 for that, maybe. The Superior Foes of Spider-Man ended this year, which saw Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber and Rachelle Rosenberg tell some ridiculous and hilarious stories starring some of Spider-Man more’s C & D list villains. If Khamala Khan wasn’t so  damn compelling, Boomerang would had easily been my Marvel character of the year, which speaks volume on how good this creative team is. Also this book had a Corgi as a reoccurring character, which is how you get the Chris Troy vote.

hawkeye17cvr300px-Secret_Avengers_Vol_3_1So this is the part where I talk about Hawkeye. We all saw this coming. Hawkeye by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth and Annie Wu didn’t ship on time at all throughout the year, but when it did, it was amazing. 2014 saw a Christmas Special, Kate Bishop’s California adventure wrap up, and the amazing Sign Language issue, because apparently the Pizza Dog issue wasn’t ground breaking enough. The Hawkeyes had a another great year, between this, the Gerry Duggan penned Hawkeye Vs Deadpool mini series, and Clint’s roll in Secret Avengers.

Secret Avengers (by Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, & Matthew Wilson) is also an amazing book. Incredibly weird, and sometimes morbidly dark, but amazing none the less. Also see the brief but rad Moon Knight run by Warren Ellis, Declan Shevaley &  Jordie Bellaire.Weird? Yes. Violent as hell? Also yes? Incredible visuals and some solid story telling. YUP. This is the best Ellis Marvel book since NEXTWAVE, and Shevaley’s art is incredible. A shame it was so short, because I could have read a year’s worth of stories by this team.

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_20Captain_Marvel_Vol_8_1_TextlessTruth be told, Marvel had a bunch of great books by amazing creative teams drop throughout out the year. Storm, Daredevil, Captain Marvel, Uncanny X-men,  Thor, Captain America, The Mighty Avengers, Magneto, She Hulk and Black Widow spring to mind immediately, and I’m sure I missed a few. Like Legendary Star-Lord for example.

While Marvel event titles were expensive and kind of a mess, the company provided a incredible amount of quality books in 2014. The company took a lot of risks, and a lot of them paid off. I’m eager to see what the company has to offer in 2015, all while avoiding Secret Wars or whatever.

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Seeing Purple Edition

Happy Whatever you’re celebrating Forbidden Planet Faithful! Let it be known that I’m writing this article instead of playing several Blizzard video games because I love you (and money).

Hawkeye_vs._Deadpool_Vol_1_3_TextlessHawkeye Vs Deadpool #3

Gerry Duggan/Matteo Lolli/Jacopo Camangni/Cristiane Peter

Marvel $3.99

If you’ve been reading this blog at any point over the last 2 years, you’ll know that I’m VERY protective of reading the Hawkeyes when not penned by Matt Fraction. Luckily for me, Hawkguy Clint Barton has been handled incredibly well over in the various Avengers books, and Hawkeye Kate Bishop has only appeared in Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie‘s excellent Young Avengers run.

Kate is also our narrator in this issue of Hawkeye Vs Deadpool and series writer Gerry Duggan absolutely nails her voice. Duggan balances Kate’s youth plus her relationship with Clint exceptionally well, with some nods to “recent” events over in the Fraction/Aja series. Her interactions with Deadpool are hilarious, and it’s fun to see Katie-Kate interact with the greater Marvel universe.  Duggan’s Deadpool is still a blast to read, and bouncing him off of Hawkeye Kate keeps the book fresh.

Art wise, the duo of Matteo Lolli & Jacopo Camagni remain a great fit for this title. Aside from the amount of teeth in Deadpool’s mouth being inconsistent, their expressive and clean art is perfect for this book’s kooky antics. They also capture modern NYC well, doing the city justice and making the some of the more modern reference work. They’re also great at capturing the humor in Duggan’s script, especially as seen on the final page of the book. Apparently Queen jokes are in fashion in comics this year.

Deadpool Vs Hawkeye continues to show what sort of fun one can have with a Marvel team up. Great visuals, solid jokes and good character work justify this book’s existence, and I would recommend it to anyone with any investment in the Hawkeyes and or Deadpool. AKA me.

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_29_TextlessUncanny X-men #29

Brian Michael Bendis/Chris Bachalo/ 5 inkers/2 colorists

Marvel $3.99

Ambitious best describes this incredibly dense issue of Uncanny X-men. Brian Michael Bendis is already balancing several plot lines with this current arc, and the addition of a few last minute Macguffins may take this book into a new direction. It’s a bold decision, especially when Bendis is balancing a number of plotlines with a large cast as is, but hopefully he can pull it off. Time will only tell.

Art wise, this book isn’t a mess per say, but having 2 different colorists work on the same penciler is jarring. Chris Bachalo usually looks best when he’s coloring his own work, so Antonio Fabela and Jose Villarrubia aren’t doing his much justice. One of their pallets are too light, maker the book look paler and more retro than it needs to be, while the other is much brighter, but does some weird inkless coloring with several characters hairs and fur. To be fair, that almost may be on one of the several inkers, it’s hard to place blame.

While the art is a bit inconstant, the stakes are certainly raised in the penultimate (I think) chapter of The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier. Hopefully the story will stick it’s landing, because while the creative team has done some good work on this book, there’s still a chance that it’s gotten too bloated for it’s own good.

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