Category: Marvel

Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #4 & Spider-Woman #8

XM922016004-DC11-4baa6X-men ’92 #5

Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

X-men ’92 #5 is a comic that had me cackling early in the issue, only to audible gasp come the book’s final pages. To say it’s a good comic is an understatement.

There’s been some online chatter than this book is too jokey at times. Granted there’s been an abundant amount of humor in this series, writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers are definitely not afraid to get serious at times, which is shown in this issue. And it’s a nice throwback of sorts, as the nature of Storm (phrasing) and Beast’s conflict is something that’s been explored before in Fall of the Mutants/Inferno era of the X-men, and as recent as various X-Force revivals titles. The creative team have done nods like this before, but this is the first time it’s had so much depth to it, and I’m feeling it.

Art wise, Alti Firmansyah is super expressive and animated, and letterer Travis Lanham does something really neat with their choice of fonts during on extended scene. The book has relied on nostalgia for jokes before, and in this particular instance, the lettering really helps sell the humor here. It’s a neat bit that I appreciated a bunch. Matt Milla’s colors are solid, especially when dealing with the Cyberspace craziness.

The second arc of X-men ’92 is a massive improvement over the mini series it followed, and I dug the hell out of that mini. Bower, Sims and the entire art team are given more room to breathe, and don’t have to worry about adhering to the rules of a crossover event. Free to tell their own stories, they turn the extreme up to 11, and gave us an arc that’s absolutely bonkers, yet incredibly enjoyable.

Spider-Woman_Vol_6_8_TextlessSpider-Woman #8

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel. $3.99

Hey look, Spider-Woman’s back. Well technically she never left, I just took a break due to Spider-Women crossover times.

Spider-Woman #8 is a done in one that sees Jessica Drew back in action, taking on Tigershark, while the Porcupine watches her son. It’s not unlike issue 5 actually, one this issue is super heavy on the action.

Much like myself, Javier Rodriguez returns to Spider-Woman this month, and absolutely kills it. His colors are gorgeous, giving the book a radiant glow that’s also stunning as the pencil art. Which, by the way, is incredible. The way Rodriguez draws sprawling fight scenes is incredibly, never skimping out on the details. This may be the single best looking Marvel comic I’ll read this year, as no one does layouts and motion like Rodriguez. And props to Alvardo Lopez, who manages to ink this thing with some incredibly thin lines, keeping the line clean and crisp.

Dennis Hopeless is superb. He wonderfully mixes humor with some emotion. His Jessica Drew is so three dimensional, being both a loving mother and a adrenaline junkie who loves help people.  And what he’s done with the Porcupine, changing him from a Z-list villain into someone quite endearing is spectacular.

Spider-Woman #8 is a comic that’s big on hear and big on action. It’s a gorgeous book that’s balances character development and super heroics perfectly. And even with Civil War II around the corner, I’m excited to pick up the next issue, just because of what the creators have done with Carol Danvers in this title. Buy on sight.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

IMG_0124The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Welcome to the issue of Squirrel Girl where our heroine tackles her most difficult foe yet: ONLINE DATING.

The team of Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi kick off a new arc with issue 8, that starts of with Squirrel Girl teaming up with her New Avenger chums and ends with a super hero truther & dealing with the Mole Man. This is pretty on brand for this title, and much like every previous issue, and absolute hoot.

What I love about this creative team is that Ryan North and Erica Henderson will always go out of their way to educate you while reading this book. I had no idea Tree Lobsters were a thing, and not only does this issue start off with the Avengers dealing with a giant one, but the creative team makes sure to give reader an history lesson about said insects that helps push the story along in a natural way. It’s not anything new for this book, but it’s something that pops up from time to time that I’ve genuinely enjoyed about the title. A little less high brow is a double spread of Squirrel Girl attempting to date, which has a bunch of sights gags and funny dialogue that’s pretty great in my opinion.

Also Erica Henderson draws the best outfits in comics, and getting to see how fashionable Doreen and her friends are in this issue is a personal highlight.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Gil #8 is another excellent issue by a creative team that’s never failed to amazed. Romance plotlines can make or break a comic, and North, Henderson and Renzi succeed, while making the title feel like one of the most fresh and relevant books on the stands

STL004332Spider-Man/Deadpool #5

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

One of the reasons I enjoy Spider-Man/Deadpool so much is that it feel like Joe Kelly returning to Deadpool again, telling stories that mash up the work he did with the character while building upon all the great stories Gerry Duggan wrote. Also these stories co-star Spider-Man, arguably the best super hero, which is something I am also all about.

Issue five of this series sees Deadpool dealing with the aftermath of murdering Peter Parker, which apparently wasn’t a fake out. Aside from being out of a co-star, it turns out he was mistaken about Peter Parker, and that means Deadpool’s got fix the mess he’s made.

It also means artist Ed McGuinness gets to draw some characters associated with the supernatural side of Marvel, which is welcomed, as he rarely gets to do spooky stuff. There’s some stuff, wonderfully inked and colored by Mark Morales and Jason Keith that’s genuinely terrifying , including a re-imagining of a Spider-foe who’s usually pretty goofy looking. It’s also see the team reference an infamous Spider-Man story,  which is one of several things that I can’t quite tell are just little nods, or if Kelly and McGuinness are planting the seeds for future stories.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #5 puts a nice little bow on the first arc, while setting up the next one quiet nicely. I’m glad the team is only off the book of 2 months, because the type of comics they’ve been making are the type of comics I adore.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics Special Edition: Making sense of Civil War II and DC Rebirth

This past week saw Civil War II #0 drop, and this upcoming Wednesday sees the release of DC Rebirth #1. Both comics are being marketed as huge event comics with massive repressions, but neither of them are particularly new reader friendly. Also both these event were spoiled on Reddit, because this is 2016, and this is how things work in this day and age.

So let’s pretend you dear reader would like to read one or both of these comics, but haven’t been paying close attention to Marvel or DC as of late. Which given the numerous reboots/relaunches/crossovers, is understandable.

DC Rebirth #1 is the result on the constant slumping sales of DC Comics over the past DC-Comics-Rebirth-Coveryear. As creatively successful the DC You initiative was, the who movement was crippled by the poor selling Convergence event (remember that). And after Superman V Batman: Dawn of Justice under-performing, DC needs a hit. DC Rebirth #1 is the comic that will kick off a company wide series of relaunches and reboots, and is a pretty good value at $2.99 for 80 pages. It’s written by Geoff Johns, one of DC’s top dogs, who’s written such comics as Green Lantern Rebirth, Flash Rebirth, and the Batman Earth One books. Drawing this comic is the team of Gary Frank, Phil Jimenez, & Ethan Van Sciver. As I said earlier, reddit, and then Bleeding Cool, spoiled the hell of this comic, with IGN and Newsarama following suit. It sounds pretty bonkers, but if you’re lapsed DC reader, this may not be you thing. Johns and co pull from Pre New 52 era DC comics, obviously the new 52, and make a BOLD decision to bring in some characters who never really fit into DC Continuity. I applaud DC for trying something, but this also reeks of desperation to a certain extent.

Despite the first issue not dropping until June, there are already 2 chapters of Civil War 2 out. There was a prelude by writer Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Cheung that civil-war-II-cover-96a7edropped on Free Comic Day a few weeks ago, and then this past week saw the release of Chapter 0. Written by Bendis and drawn by Oliver Coipel, this comic takes place before the Free Comic Book Day story, and focuses on She-Hulk and War Machine, both whom had really bad days in that free prelude comic.

The plot for Civil War 2 is strikingly similar to the movie Minority Report, something I’m sure Marvel and Bendis are tired of hearing. Newly hatched Inhuman (ugh) Ulysses apparently has the ability to predict the future.  Captain Marvel wants to use this Inhuman to prevent FUTURE CRIME, whereas Iron Man rather have disasters come about the natural way, despite once being all about the US Government having access to all super hero’s secret identity. And of course since this is cape comics, this debate can only be resolved via PUNCHING. David Marquez will be drawing this book, so at the very least, this will be a GREAT looking comic event.

There’s some cynicism surrounding the whole event, as Marvel hasn’t exactly been gun shy about massive crossovers involving heroes punching each other since the O.G. Civil War. We’re also only a few months removed from Secret Wars, which was well received, and generally agreed upon being the best Marvel crossover event in recent history. It is doesn’t help that it appears to be a bit of a cash grab, as there is that whole Captain America: Civil War movie in theaters as we speaking, making Marvel and Disney “Sick cash”.

So there you have it. 2 different events coming real soon, designed to “CHANGE THINGS FOREVER” and drain your bank accounts. That being said, if you’re up for big name creators taking some chances and throwing some insane ideas at readers, Rebirth and Civil War II are definitely going to do that. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key to be your entryway into Marvel or DC, you’re probably better off with a Squirrel Girl, Batgirl, Ms. Marvel or Gotham Academy.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: All-New X-men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops

61lj1+9Td9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_All-New X-Men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops

Dennis Hopeless, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy, Nolan Woodard

Marvel $15.99

With the exception of the superb and insanely fun X-Men ’92, I’ve more or less stopped buying X-Men comics on a monthly basis. Between the decidedly darker tones of the current books and creative teams that don’t do much for me, not to mention the absence of several character I really like, I thought issue #600 of the previous volume of Uncanny X-Men would be a fine jumping off point.

With that being said, it seems Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley have made a liar out of me,

All-New X-men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops collects the first 6 issues of the Hopeless/Bagley run, which sees the 4 of the 5 time displaced original X-men join forces with the new Wolverine (formerly X-23),  Genesis (aka Kid Apocalypse) and Oya. Traveling around the world in a T.A.R.D.I.S. inspired Winnebago, this trade sees the team reuniting to deal with the threat of a Cyclops-inspired gang of upstart mutants, as well as the classic X-Villain the Blob. These 6 issues also deal with the young Scott Summers dealing with his legacy, as his older, supposedly deceased, counterpart has done something unforgivable. It’s a wonderful blend of action and drama that the X-men are AllNewXMen2Image2known for, which makes it very appealing for someone who has been reading Uncanny X-men for quite some time now.

Dennis Hopeless being the writer for this title definitely got me to come around on this series. Hopeless wrote the excellent X-Men Season One a few years back, and according to an appearance on the X-men focused podcast Jay and Miles X-plain the X-men, this series is a spiritual sequel to that graphic novel. Hopeless is excellent here. Be it making the Blob a complete badass, or having Bobby Drake struggling with coming out with his sexuality, everything Hopeless puts on the page is great. Granted I’m not the biggest fan of Pickels the Bamf, Hopeless does a good job of giving each and every cast member their own narrative. It’s classic Claremont done in 2016, perfectly balancing the melodramatics with action.

Journeyman artist Mark Bagley wouldn’t have been my first pick to draw a book that features teenagers and X-men, but then again I’m an idiot. Bags years on Ultimate Spider-Man serve him well on this title, as he draws an impressive amount of teens punching, snikting and dialoguing at each other. Bagley on this book remind me a lot of like Alan Davis on early Excalibur- not necessarily the flashiest artist in comics, but a strong story telling you can tell a clean and compelling story with his pencils. Inking Bagely is Andrew Hennessy, with Nolan Woodward on colors. I’m none too familiar with 18301925these creators, but they do great things with Bagley’s pencils. It’s a dynamic art duo that keeps the book looking clean, fresh and vibrant,  and the book looks timeless, which is important given the past meets present premise of this book.

All New X-Men is a surprisingly fun book, even with the baggage from it’s sister books and the Inhumans-related nonsense.. Hopeless has proven his ability to write younger characters again and again over the years, and Mark Bagley is a legendary talent. Their run on All New X-Men is a great start, and I highly recommend this book if you want an X-Men title that’s not too dark, but serious enough to make it incredibly compelling.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Black Widow #3

portrait_incredible (9)Black Widow #3

Chris Samnee, Mark Waid, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

With the excellent Black Widow #3, I recommend anyone who hasn’t read the comic yet to flip directly to the final page. Yes I know that sounds odd,  not to mention super spoilery, but trust me. I’ll wait.

 

RIGHT?!

 

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about this run so far is how minimalist it feels in terms of the amount of dialogue spoken by the character. Writer Mark Waid is a favorite of mine, and he’s usually a dude who fills his books with a plethora of pleasant words. Here on Black 5176762-3+bwidow2016003_int3-2Widow, it feels like Waid has scaled back on dialogue, letting the art of Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson tell the story, which is an incredibly smart creative choice by the team. Half the issue is without dialogue, and it’s all the better for it, as readers get to enjoy Samnee and Wilson’s art without being covered up by words balloons. And it works in Waid’s favor as well, as he makes the dialogue that is spoken feel all the more important.

Issue 3 sees Natasha return to Russia to retrieve data for the dude blackmailing her. While doing so, it revisits parts of her origin, but doesn’t let it bog down the narrative. I love the decision by Waid and Samnee to NOT do an updated origin story in this title so far, assuming the reader knows the deal with Natasha is. Thanks to the Marvel movies, the lot of us know Nat’s deals, so not going down that route is truly appreciated.

In terms of visuals, there’s so much to like about this issue. My personal favorite comes at the close of the second act, where Natashan takes down an enemy in hand to hand combat. In a single page, Samnee draws Natasha’s take down, while referencing her background in BWIDOW2016003-int3-4-36210ballet. Not only is the composure of the page brilliant, but the choreography is beautiful as well, as Matthew Wilson does the lords works on the colors. There’s some really good mixture of purples, blues and blacks on this page, with red being used to focus on 3 key images. The color red plays a huge role in this issue, which makes a sense give the character’s history and iconic hair, and I love how Wilson and Samnee use it in so many ways. Black Widow may only be three issues deep, but man it’s definitely one of the most visually interesting books on the market.

I feel bad that I don’t get to talk about Mark Waid more on this book, but given how Samnee and is credited as both as a writer and an artist, it’s hard to tell exactly what he brings to the table specifically. But the book is excellent, which is a trademark of most of Waid’s work.

Black Widow manages to be way darker than their previous collaboration on Daredevil, but never in a way that feels depressing. It’s a more serious and action heavy read, with zero time for jokes and quips. That being said, the quality of this book is the real reason it’s so enjoyable, and after that brutal cliffhanger,I’m eager for more.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #3

portrait_incredible (8)X-Men ’92 #3

Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

X-Men ’92 #3 starts off with a gathering of Draculas (the actual Dracula, not that gag where you refer to all Vampires as Dracula) from different realities. If a league of multi-dimensional Draculas is not your thing, chances are X-men ’92 isn’t for you.

Last month I said it was amusing to see Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, and Alti Firmansyah pay tribute to “Curse of the Mutants”, which is decidedly not a 90s X-story arc, and one that isn’t exactly a fan favorite. This month the creative team goes one step further with the idea, tying that arc into their Alpha Red plotline, and the results are AMAZING. Well amazing as you can get without the presence of a Holy Water Enhanced Iceman.

I love the energy Alti Fimransyah’s style brings to this title. It feels very Disney influences, and it lends itself well to a comic defined by an animated series first and foremost. It really works when dealing with the younger characters, not to mention more off beat characters like Artie (of Artie and Leech fame) and Dracula himself. She also excels at clearly XM922016003-int2-5-ffdc7portraying the reference to past X-men stories, a running gag that I’ve enjoyed over the course of the mini series and this ongoing. Matt Milla’s colors are once again perfect for Fimransyah’s art, once again giving the book a clean and bright look.

Sims and Bowers continue to impress as much as their art team as well. The dialogue continues to walk that lines between ridiculous and class X-Men, never reading as parody, but never getting too serious. The interactions between Storm and Dracula this issue are a great read, and the two writers do a fantastic job of giving the two characters a history, despite the fact that this is the “first” time they’ve met. Their love for the source materail really comes across in this comic, but never ever getting too deep in the nostalgia/fan service.

One of the best things about this title is how the creators get to cherry pick from one of the most unique eras of X-men comics, without the baggage and excess (X-cess?) or the 90s and early 00s of the X-line. Seeing the kids of Generation X and TEEN version of X-Force/X-Statix dealing with vampires is something that sounds absolutely insane, yet goddess-2totally works for this universe.  It also helps that that Bowers, Sims and Firmansyah get to use one of the most iconic line up of X-men, and get to use them in their own separate corner of the Marvel Universe.

X-Men ’92 #3 is a hoot. Despite the over the top nature of this book, the creators do an excellent* job of raising the stakes**, and making the vampire threat feel genuine. Which by the way, if you would have told me this was a vampire story after the first issue, I would thought you were crazy. But here we are 2 issue later, and again, CROSS DIMENSIONAL CONCIL OF DRACULAS. God I love this book.

 

Post to Twitter

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

ofcqtec1mz6l9xiwi8lgThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

Saga_36-1Saga #36

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: All-New Hawkeye #6 & Captain Marvel #4

2016-04-21-allnewhawkeyeAll-New Hawkeye #6

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Hey it’s the finale issue of All-New Hawkeye! Again!

This ending is FOR REAL though, as it’s apparently the last installment in this series by the team of Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring. And while I’ve found this run a little uneven at times, issue #6 (which is the 12th issue for this team, but you know, COMICS!) offers the reader a lot, and actually changes things up for Team Hawkeye in a major way.

While I haven’t been the biggest fan of the flashback material Lemire and Perez have been doing throughout this run, this issue completely justifies the use of that narration device. Exploring Kate Bishop’s past was a good call, and the events in this issue does something real fascinating with Kate that I dare not spoil. It clarifies some things that date back to Kate’s earliest appearances in Young Avengers, and  hopefully retcons something extremely outdated & problematic from those stories as well. This carries over to the present day stuff, which I imagine will be used to launch whatever the next incarnation of Hawkeye will be in the coming months.

If there’s been on constant thing about this team throughout the last 12 issues, it’s been Ramon Perez and Ian Herring’s work. The two artists have been great time and time again, and this finale really sees them come into their own as story tellers, mixing some cool silver age aesthetics in the flashback material with some lush and vibrant pages for the modern day sections of the book. Perez and Herring really had their work cut out for them coming into this book, and it’s been super enjoyable watching them grow and experiment over the last year.

We don’t know what lies in store for Team Hawkeye in the coming months, but All-New Hawkeye was a interesting exploration of the lives of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Lemire, Perez and Herring didn’t exactly have the critically acclaimed run their predecessors had, but it was a fun story none the less. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see the Hawkeyes in action again.

portrait_incredible (7)Captain Marvel #5

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Felipe Smith, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

It’s slightly ironic that we’re discussing Captain Marvel, and to a lesser extent Abigail Brand, on 4/26/16, aka Alien Day (#brands). Earlier issues of this arc definitely felt like a homage to the classic Sci-Fi property, and this issue has 2 female character very much getting their Elena Ripley on.

Captain Marvel #5 sees writers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters make Carol Danvers current scenario go from bad to worse, as Alpha Flight’s attempts to deal with this “new” alien threat don’t go so well. Oh and that pesky traitor is still in their ranks, mucking things up. What’s bad for Carol and company is great for readers, and we’re treated to 20 pages of high stakes actions, beautifully depicted by Kris Anka, Felipe Smith and Matthew Wilson. I don’t think I’ve seen two artist who manage to blend their respected styles as well as Anka and Smith, and Wilson’s colors are a sight to behold. I love how Wilson sets such vibrant characters against dark backgrounds, giving the book a refreshingly modern and sharp look.

The Elena Ripley comparison feels spot on with Carol and Abigail never say die attitudes. Both character, despite their VERY comic book genealogy, feel so human, but never weak. It’s inspiring in several ways, and makes for a pair of characters that are easy to root for. I particularly like a very Shonen Manga influenced scene, where Carol’s staff let their leader know they’re with her in this high risk scenario. It’s a nice upbeat moment that gives the reader something to rally behind as the crisis at hand gets worse.

Captain Marvel #5 is the type of penultimate chapter you want from a 6 issue arc. The stakes of raised to the point where it genuinely feels no one is safe. It’s an impressive feet, given how predictable cape comics and can often be, and it’s just another reason why Captain Marvel is one of the best super hero titles coming out from Marvel currently.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Howard the Duck #6 & Spider-Man/Deadpool #4

Hey, sorry for the delay in reviews, but I was out of town for the last few dues on account of PAX East, which was relatively light on comics content. But now I’m back, so let’s get on with the hot comic TAKES yes?

portrait_incredible (1)Howard the Duck #6

Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera, Marc Deering, Jordan Gibson

Marvel $3.99

Hey look, I’m reviewing a Howard the Duck comic again, this is somewhat comforting! Also, mine is a sad existence.

The 2nd part of the “Animal House” crossover sees Ryan North join the creative team of Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, and several inkers and colorists for an issue where our heroes and several guest stars deal with a villainess who’s into cosplay and hunting man-beasts. There’s also a squirrel with Wolverine’s M.O.,  because of course there is.

It’s a little jarring to see Squirrel Girl drawn by Joe Quinones at first, as his style is a little more realistic than SG’s regular artist Erica Henderson. But once you grow accustom to it, it’s real easy to get caught up in the books visuals. It’s just a little unfortunate that the 3 inkers working on the book, Joe Rivera, Marc Deering and Quinones himself don’t mesh up as well as say as Jordan Gibson helping Joe on the coloring. It’s a minor thing, which doesn’t really derail the comic that much, but it’s noticeable none the less, especially in some of the later panels.

That being said, the dialogue and jokes are really strong in this issue. North and Zdarsky manage to do some nice world building with both their books, while injecting a ton of humor into the story. It’s quite the romp, and it’s the type of fun I don’t get enough of in comics.

Howard The Duck #6 is a fun read that closes out the brief crossover with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl on a high note. Hopefully this is not the last time these creators collaborate again, because after reading the last 2 issues of both series, I’m left wanting more for all the right reasons.

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_4_TextlessSpider-Man/Deadpool #4

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

Here we have another Marvel book that’s a crossover sorts. The key difference is that maybe you keep this one from the kids (once again I apologize to the small child and his father who thought it would be fun to look over my shoulder while I was reading this on the 7 train this past Wednesday).

Spider-Man/Deadpool #4 is the comic that not only gives Ed McGuinness a chance to draw Thor, which he excels at. It also gives the artist a chance to draw Spider-Man and Deadpool reenacting Dirty Dancing in their underwear. There’s a solid reason for both, because Joe Kelly is a hell of a writer, who does some extremely strange and wonderful stuff in this issue, despite Deadpool being THE WORST.

Spider-Man/Deadpool is a comic with prides itself on being a high energy read that constantly surprises reader in the most heartbreaking ways possible. Issue 4 is a prime example of that, as this issue that’s high on laughs ends on the most dour note possible. But Kelly, MxGuiness and inker Mark Morales and colorist Jason Keith excel at making funny and super enjoyable comics with some real depth to them, so I’m sure issue #5 will be just as fun.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #2

5148021-02X-men ’92 #2

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marel $3.99

As someone who’s read a ton of Chris Sims’ work over the years, I’m actually a little ashamed I didn’t see the final page of this comic coming. Way to make me feel like a real dumb-dumb sir.

X-Men ’92 #2 doesn’t just embrace the fact that they can now tell stories that are TOO HOT FOR (1992) TV this month. Oh no, writers Sims and Chad Bowers rub our faces in it, practically screaming “HEY LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS WE CAN DO NOW, LOOK LOOK, LOOK!”, but in a fun and excited sort of way. Which is fair, because while this book definitely hits some notes that are DARK AND EXTREMEEEEEEEEEEE, it remain a delightful read that’s a bit over the top in all the right ways. If you told me that we’d see a plot point taken from Marvel’s defunct Midnight Sons line in a comic in 2016, I would have called you a liar. In the writer’s defense, they successfully create a narrative in which this relic from the 90s works for the story. And speaking of weird story beats, Bowers and Sims decide to pay tribute to a more recent but weird as all hell X-men story, once again merging the past with a more recent weird X-men story. It’s the best kind of fan service for any devout X-men fan, especially if they dig the odder bits of continuity.

Also Rogue can’t stop hitting bears is a new running gag of sorts that I am 1000% okay with.

Artist Alti Firmansyah really comes into her own this month, cutting back on the references in the art and doing her own thing with the layouts. I’m more than fine with this, as is results in some dynamic storytelling, complete with some very expressive faces, and some extremely well “choreographed” fight scenes. There’s a scene that’s surprisingly violent in this issue, which Firmansyah handles by blacking out the characters involved for a panel, making it X-Men-92-2-4way less graphic, but still coherent enough for readers to figure out what’s going on. Also I love how timeless she can mast her characters look, even though several of them have some rather dated and peculiar character designs. My only real complaint with the art is that Maverick loses his eyes for several panes in this book, although I’m uncertain if that’s on Alti or colorist Matt Milla. That snafu aside,  I love how bright and dynamic the colors are in this book, especially come the final pages of the issue.

X-men ’92 remains a engaging and entertaining read. By being set in it’s own continuity, the creators can pull from so much, and completely surprise readers. Sims and Bowers’ dialogue is very whimsical, and helps to make the stakes feel high, even while being a tad silly. And Firmansyah and Milla do an exceptional job of invoking the styles of the 90s, and updating them in a way that just feels right. As I said time and time again, X-men ’92 is a great book that’s self contained and scratches so many itches while only being 20 pages. It’s the perfect read for someone who only wants to read 1 X-men title a month, and not have to worry about other events in the Marvel Universe interfering with the story.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris Comics: X-Men ’92 #1

X-Men-92-1-2016X-men ’92 #1

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

I have not read an X-Men comic since Uncanny#600 dropped a few months back. Nothing against the current creative teams (especially the ones working on All New X-Men, who’s first volume I have pre-ordered), but the current direction of those titles is pretty dark. And after several years of bleak X-Men comics, I need something a little different to lighten the mood. Luckily, due to popular demand, the X-men ’92 Secret Wars mini has graduated into an on-going, meaning I can enjoy my favorite* mutants without having to stomach Inhuman related nonsense.

*My actual favorites won’t be showing up again until issue 5, but you get what I’m saying.

Chris Sims and Chad Bowers return to X-Men ’92, free to tell stories without having to worry about Battleword or Doctor Doom, which is something they embrace rather quickly. X-Men-92-9as the book brings in several Russian characters and locales. I applaud the duo for embracing some really obscure 90s X-men characters, although I’m not surprised to see the presence of one that possess a MUTANT DEATH FACTOR. The book continues to be a celebration of the 90s of course, and once again Sims and Bowers pay tribute to the Morrison 2001-era X-characters showing up in some fun cameos. It’s also nice to see the X-men in a proper school environment, something I haven’t seen since Wolverine and the X-men.

The art by Alti Firmansyah and Matt Milla couldn’t be any more different than the art team of the previous volume of this book, but it’s very fitting. Firmansyah’s style is very much softer and animated, similar to the infamous cartoon, but definitely not as dated. It’s very expressive, and he does some great stuff with the character’s body language. What he does do like former X-Men ’92 artist Scott Koblish is reimagining iconic X-men covers and imagery for panels, which is a nice inside joke that I adore. There’s also small several nods to the 90s in the art that really helps sells the setting of this book without overdoing it. Milla’s colors are superb, very bright, and perfectly XM922016001-int3-2-2b0c7capture the feel or the show just as well as the art. It’s the best possible look for a book like this, and I’m eager to see them draw familiar character over the coming months.

The dialogue in this book is also phenomenal. Aside from capturing the feel of these character perfectly, it also manages to invoke the era properly as well, without feeling dated or force. It’s a perfect blend of the Claremont meets Saturday morning characters, especially in the cases of Gambit, Wolverine and Rogue. It’s over the top and cheesey in all the right ways, making it a complete blast.

X-Men ’92 isn’t anything genre defining, but it’s an excellent alternative to the all-too-serious X-books that exist “in-continuity”. It continues to be a bonkers celebration of the X-men during one of their most popular periods in comics, but with a story that’s a little more coherent and free of crossovers with a dozen other X-books. This debut issue was a ton of fun, and I’m glad to have this sort of X-Men book back in my life

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

portrait_incredibleThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

Ryan North, Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, Joe Quinoes

Marvel $3.99

I’ve never thought I’d be excited to read a comic featuring Kraven the Hunter, yet here we are.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 sees our heroine reunited with the villain from her very first issue one, which crosses over with this month’s Howard a Duck. I have not been purchasing the current volume of Howard, because I refuse to pay $5 for Gwenpool, so having Howard, his writer Chip Zdarsky and van enthusiast Joe Quinoes pop up in this book is quite welcomed. Issue 6 is part one of two issue crossover, something BOTH creative teams wanted to do something fierce, making it the type of crossover I could get behind.

While Batman and Superman are doing battle for incredibly dumb reasons in the DC Movie Murderverse (shout out to Rob Bricken!), it’s nice to have a team up featuring 2 character who tolerate each other at best. The premise for this issue is simple enough: Howard is a cat racist, accidentally abducts Mew, Squirrel Girl intervenes, and somehow a dope Kraven the Hunter themed van and cosplay are also involved. This is very much the IMG_0121product of Canada writers/madmen Ryan North and (( insert the misspelling of Chip Zdarsky’s name here because that is clever and not at all overdone at all by now, nope)), and could not be any happier. The #JOKES are everywhere, including dual commentary on the bottom of the page, which makes for a very fun read.

The quips and one-liners are non-stop, and range everywhere to Howard’s “relationship” to Disney, Doombot Cosplay, and Squirrel Girl trying to explain similarities in different species to Howard (more on that later).

And while the barrage of jokes is non-stop, the dialogue is super sharp. Chip and Ryan play with the “heroes meets heroes, fight and then team up” trope in an incredibly neat way, and the dynamic between the two leads is fantastic. Howard’s more cynical and bitter outlook clashes perfectly with the Unbeatable one’s more chipper and upbeat personality, which the writers play up in the best possible ways. There’s also a genuine heartfelt IMG_0122moment or two between 2 characters, which is always appreciated and break ups the jokes a bit. What I’m saying is if you’re expecting a super serious hero team up, you’re wasting your time here, also do you not know how these characters work?

Aside from the debut of the best new vehicle in comics, not to mention a guest artist for a very special Deadpool card, the art for this issue is handled by Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi as per usual. And as per usual, it is GREAT! Henderson is a perfect fit for a character like Howard thanks to her very expressive and animated Style. I hope this doesn’t come across as me saying Henderson should only draw funny animal books, but her style definitely lends itself well to a character like Howard. Case in point, the page where Doreen is getting her science on, and Howard is getting more upset in every other panel. She’s also experimenting with layouts more, as seen in a page where it’s structure as SG kicking through panels. Henderson has been fantastic on this book since day one, and I appreciate her experimenting more with her layouts and use of white space. Rico Renzi’s colors remain just as great, and sets the tone for the light heartedness of this comic perfectly.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl  #6 is a hilarious and fun comic in ways so many other books aren’t. And it’s great to see creators actually come together and pitch a crossover like this, as their excitement really shines through. It’s the way crossovers should be done in my opinion, especially if wicked vans are involved.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #5 & Grayson #18

All-New-Hawkeye-5-2016-coverAll-New Hawkeye #5

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

It’s the penultimate issue of All-New Hawkeye! Which is a surprise to me, as I have no clue if this is the last time we’re going to see Clint and Kate in an on-going for a while or not. Yay Marvel Comics stealth cancellations!

All-New Hawkeye issue 5 sees Kate discovering the truth about her father in the past, while Clint makes an attempt to save the Project Communion kids in the present. Why this was solicited as Hawkeye vs Hawkeye (which the cover seems to imply as well) is beyond me. But we’re here to discuss the comic itself, not its marketing.

Ramon Perez & Ian Herring are SO GOOD on this book. As I said last review, I really like how Kate Bishop remains the only defined character in the flashbacks. But this issue sees Herring and Perez do something neat when Clint removes his hearing aid. The book goes from colored to black and white, symbolizing how isolated Hawkeye is without aid. It’s a nice way to show how deafness works, without stating the obvious. Sadly, I’m not feeling the flashback material all that much with issue 5. While the present day stuff definitely works for me, the Kate “origin” stuff seemed to dominate more of the issue, forcing the modern day material to be rushed.

All New Hawkeye #5 isn’t worst issue issue by this creative team, no, not by a long shot. But it’s best? Sadly no again. Wrapping up the series with the next issue may be for the best, and hopefully whoever inherits the Hawkeyes next will be able to tell some stories that don’t stall out as much.

Grayson_Vol_1-18_Cover-1_TeaserGrayson #18

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Geraldo Borges, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

So apparently 2 issues ago was the final issue of Grayson for the King/Seeley/Janin team. Which means this book is wrapping up with an entirely different creative team, because LOL DC COMICS. Granted Tim Seeley will be returning this summer to write Nightwing, it strikes me as odd to bring in an entirely new creative team to wrap us this book. I personally find it a bit insulting to readers who have become invested in the character because of the creative team, and it feels like DC Comics editorial thinks we as readers will buy the book because of the character/IP, not the talent behind it.

That being said, editors Rebecca Taylor & Mark Doyle usually does a solid enough job of finding guest creators for their books. Taking over writer duties from Seeley and King are  Jackon Lanzing &  Collin Kelly, who’s previous comics works I’m unfamiliar with. They definitely do a solid job of getting the tone of Grayson down, which is impressive given the fact that they have to juggle such a large cast. There’s not much done in terms of character development sadly, as this issue is heavy on the action and reveals. Still it could have been much worse, and the two writers manage to replicate the voices King and Seeley have established quite well.

Sadly, while the art by Roge Antonio & Geraldo Borges isn’t bad per say, it’s definitely not something to praise. I did enjoy the last few pages, which set up a cool new status quo for one of the supporting characters, but aside from that and a solid splash page, there lack of sexy and trippy we usually get from Mikel Janin is noticeable. Colorist Jeromy Cox does an admirable jobs with the colors, but he can only do so much with the art when it’s muddled and rush.

Grayson #18 is a comic that succeeds despite have the odds stacked against it. It’s just a shame I couldn’t go into this comic with the usual confidence I have when reading an issue of Grayson.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Totally Awesome Hulk

Totally+Awesome+Hulk+CoverThe Totally Awesome Hulk #4

Greg Pak, Frank Cho, Sonia Oback, Cory Petit

Marvel $3.99

I’ll be honest. as much as I liked Greg Pak‘s past run on the Incredible Hulk/ Incredible Hercules, this new Hulk comic was something that wasn’t on my radar. Nor was it a book I was planning on buying anytime soon if I’m being completely honest, as the Hulk is rarely a character I have much interest in. The only reason why it’s in my possession is because a co-worker bought it strictly for the She-Hulk variant cover, then decided he didn’t want it anymore. I’m not one to say no to free comics, which leads us to this review.

Despite being chapter 4 of a arc which first 3 chapters I didn’t read, I found The Totally Awesome Hulk #4 super accessible. The recap page did a nice job bringing me up to speed, and this happens to be the issue where it’s explained how exactly Amadeus Cho ( whom Pak co-created) became the new Hulk. Why the reasoning behind it is a little hokey, it’s questionable in that fun silver age sort of way, and easy to ignore if you just chalk it to comic book science. There’s also hella monster punching, which is more of my thing.

While I’ve found some of his recent actions in the convention circle sort of immature, I have to admit that Frank Cho’s art in this comic is gorgeous. He’s at home here, as the TOTALLY+AWESOME+HULK+#4+pagescript calls for him to to draw attractive, muscular women thanks to a She-Hulk appearance, as well as a variety of Marvel monsters, something that Cho also excels. His line work is  very clean and iconic, and I love how detailed and expressive it is. There’s a certain bombastic & cinematic flair to Frank’s style, which really help sell the widespread destruction and chaos that one expects in a Hulk comic. Cho is masterfully colored by Sonia Oback, who colors really pop off the page. I can’t recall a Hulk book looking this good in awhile, and it’s a shame that Cho’s off the book after this issue.

Pak’s dialogue isn’t the deepest, but it’s fun as all hell. He manages to channel Hulk troupes such as the struggle between man and monster in fun and creative waves, and the book has a fun, bouncy vibe to it. His dialogue isn’t anything ground-breaking, but it’s certainly delightful, as I have a feeling Pak is holding back a bit to let Cho and Oback’s art take THE-TOTALLY-AWESOME-HULK-#4-4center stage. My only complaint is that Spider-Man Miles Morales’ presence is wasted here, as he hardly has any impact on the story at all. In the writer’s defense, I MAY has missed something that was touched upon in a past issue.

The Totally Awesome Hulk is a fun book with a lot of potential. Part of me wishes that Pak would make the book a little deeper like other legacy heroes such as Sam Wilson, Ms. Marvel or Thor, but I can definitely see the appeal of it being a fun, giant monster book. The cast is super likable, the dialogue is serviceable and the art is great. A pleasant surprise all in all, and while I have no strong desire to start pulling the title, I’ll definitely be checking it out once it’s on Marvel Unlimited.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel 3

portrait_incredible (6)Captain Marvel #3

Michele Fazeka, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Felipe Smith, Matthew Wilson, Joe Caramagna

Marvel $3.99

This volume of Captain Marvel never ceases to impress me in different ways with every new issue. This month, Kris Anka is joined by Felipe Smith (Ghost Rider) on art duties, and it was something I didn’t notice until re-reading the credits. I’ve seen Smith’s art before, and it’s amazing how much he changes his style for this issue to look like Anka’s.  I have no clue which pages he drew and which ones Kris did, as there’s art in this comic that looks more like Jamie McKelvie‘s than it does either of them. Of course that may be due to the fact that McKelvie’s usual colorist Matthew Wilson gets a little experimental with the colors in this issue, which is giving me some The Wicked & The Divine flashbacks. And props to letter Joe Caramagna for doing the same with his fonts, really tying the whole package together.

f916ecd5d21b90a9a98f67f314e85417._SX640_QL80_TTD_Wilson, by the way, is the MVP of this issue. Anka and Smith are all sorts of great, but Wilson’s colors do a fantastic job of bringing their art and wonderful designs to life. His choices in background colors are choice, giving the book the proper space/science fiction vibe it deserves, and I really like what he does with the “Flasback” segments of the issue. How Matt Wilson manages to be so inventive when he’s coloring so many books so well is beyond me, but I appreciate his contributions, and will not question that.

If the Kelly Sue Deconnick era was Carol’s Star War phase, the Fazekas/Butters is her Mass Effect era: Large supporting cast, light political intrigue, and some hardcore science fiction. It’s a change that really hasn’t explored Carol’s psyche or drive, but it’s something we don’t necessarily need. Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters have done an excellent job developing Carol’s supporting cast, stripping Carol down to her core self. Which is fine, because I don’t need to know why Carol is a hot headed badass who’s set out to do the right thing. We all know why by now, so just seeing her do it is all I need and want.

In addition to ramping up the mystery surrounding the weird alien ship and dealing with a possible traitor on Alpha Flight, the writers Screen-Shot-2016-03-17-at-1.44.41-PMfocus a little more on Abigail Brand in issue 3. You’ll hear no complaints from me, as these two handle the character as well as such creators like Joss Whedon and Kieron Gillen have in the past. I’m a fan of Brand, and having her be the straight woman to Carol is a genius idea.

Captain Marvel #3 is another exceptional issue from this creative team, one that manages to excel even with some help from a guest creator. From an intriguing plot, to some fun character designs, engaging dialogue and cool action set pieces, Captain Marvel has never been better. It’s definitely worth your time, and a great recommendation for anyone jonesing for the Agent Peggy Carter fix. We’ve entered a new Golden Age for comics featuring Carol Danvers, and Captain Marvel is leading the way by being constantly excellent.

 

Post to Twitter