Category: Marvel

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

portrait_incredible (3)All New Hawkeye #4

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

 

Grayson-10Grayson #10

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

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

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

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

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #9

SWOMAN2015009-Cov-c2f18Spider-Woman #9

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel $3.99

Javier Rodriguez is a beast y’all.

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Uncanny X-men 35

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_35_TextlessUncanny X-men 35

Brian Michael Bendis, Valerio Schiti, Richard Isanove

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: Hawkeye #22

4677223-hawkeye2012022_dc11-0Hawkeye #22

Matt Fraction/David Aja/Matt Hollingsworth/Chris Eliopoulos

Marvel, $4.99

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

 

RIGHT?!?! HOW RELEVANT IS THAT?

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

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

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

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

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Chris’ Comics: Nuts about Squirrel Girl edition

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

 

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

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Chris’ Comics: X-Men ’92 edition

XM92_HIRES.0X-Men ’92 #1

Chad Bowers/ Chris Sims/ Scott Koblish/Matt Milla

Marvel $4.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ms-marel-124127Ms. Marvel #16

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

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

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

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

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

 

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

Brenden Fletcher/Annie Wu/Lee Loughridge

DC $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

IMG_5060

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

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

 

4590451-sqgirl2015006_dc11-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

Ryan North/Erica Henderson/Rico Renzi

Marvel, $3.99

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

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

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

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

 

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

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez/Muntsa Vicente

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: All New All Shameless Edition

So hey, before I start my weekly Hawkeye discussion/Comics Review, I wanted to make the FP Faithful aware of a few things

1)The DC Sneak Peeks from this week are pretty great, and if you don’t want to spend your money on Convergence tie ins, are available on Comixology and several other websites. My personal picks are We Are Robins Black Canary and Batgirl, but you should definitely track down the Starfire, Grayson and Gotham Academy ones as well.

2) Speaking of digital offerings, Fresh Romance is available on Comixology too. I kickstarted it, and man, I am glad that I did. It’s a cool return to romance comics featuring some fantastic stories by several rad up and coming creators. It’s 5 bucks for 30 pages, which I know is steep, but it’s a rare occasion where the price is justified by the quality of the content.

3)  June kicks off Summer Convention time, which means if you’re on the East Coast, you get to see me dressed up as a super hero in a crowded environment. I’ll be at Special Edition NYC, FLAMECON and Heroescon next month, and if you want to say hi or track my nonsense on social media, I’m on twitter & instagram @TheAnarCHris .

 

Alright, shameless plug theater is over, Hawk-talk begins now

All-New_Hawkeye_Vol_1_3_TextlessAll-New Hawkeye #3

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

When writing one Crapsack Tire Fire (aka Clint Barton), one way to keep my interest in the character is to have equal amounts of one Kate Bishop and one Lucky, the Eisner award winning pizza dog. It took Team Hawkguy 2.0 three issues to realize that, which makes issue 3 the best issue of All-New Hawkeye to date.

This time around, writer Jeff Lemire limits the Flashback/Origin-y stuff to one panel per page. It’s a neat storytelling technique, as most of these story allows artist Ramon Perez tell the story in mostly dialogue free scenes. It also allows the reader to see how these circus bits relate to the story that takes place in the present, which is treated as the A-side story this issue. Clint and Katie Kate has to deal with the fallout of their mission, and end up getting into more trouble as a Hawkeye tends to do.

With a few issues under their belts, Lemire and Perez read and look more comfortable on this title. Lemire’s dialogue flows better, and the Kate and Clint banter is great. Lemire’s Kate Bishop has noticeably improved with every issue, as his Clint. Perez’s art has also improved ten fold with the modern setting, and we’re treated to a double page multi-panel fight scene that is delightful as it is brutal.  Perez’s more traditional art style is a little more loose and animated than it has been in the past, and the book is all the better for it. It’s still relatively minimalist, but so expressive and energetic. And Ian Herring‘s wonderful colors give the book a nice since of depth despite being so flat like Matt Hollingsworth before him. There’s a sense of fun to this comic, something missing from the previous issues

With the rocky start  hopefully behind it, it appears All New Hawkeye has finally found it’s footing and is becoming a solid title.  I imagine those who are trade waiting it may not be as harsh as I have been as they get read the story in a single chunk. But as someone who reads it monthly, it’s nice to see this creative team improved steadily with every issue, and hope the team keeps it up.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Memorial Day Lateness

4339743-uxm34Uncanny X-men #34

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

As I’ve said plenty of times in the past, the strongest issues of Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-men run have been the done in ones. UXM #34  is another done in one, so it’s safe to say you can another positive review from me for this title.

One of the things Bendis did early in his run was set up a cool Mystique Vs Dazzler feud. It’s something I’ve enjoyed because they’re 2 of my favorite mutants, and it’s lead to a cool Kris Anka (who draws this issue) redesign for Dazzler. With the Bendis run coming to an end soon October,  he uses this issue to wrap up that plot up in a satisfying way.

One of the reasons why this issue worked for me was it gave Dazzler some much needed focus and characterization. She joined the team shortly before the Charles Xavier retcon a go-go arc, but was quickly delegated to a background character role. She’s a lead character here, and Bendis gets a lot out of her in 20 pages. It also helps that Bendis get to bounce her off of Maria Hill, a character he co-created and has a massive amount of experience writing. His take on Mystique is also rad, as he handles her with a certain degree of sympathy that makes the character relatable even though she’s a bit of a monster. Aside from the Dazzler & friends related business, we get to  check in on the new students who are currently without a school. Bendis drops some hints that he has some plans for them to be revealed soon, and I’m curious to see what they are. It’s been a bit of a challenge to get new mutants to stick around for an extended period of time, and I’m curious to see if Bendis has any ideas on how to change that with his generation of  “X-kids”.

Kris Anka was the best choice to draw this issue, as he is great at drawing female characters and can convey the proper emotions needed for this story. His body language is really strong, and it shows in this issue, especially since there’s a lot of scenes involving 2 or more character standing/sitting around chatting. Anka’s work is exceptionally clean, and Marte Gracia‘s coloring keep the book looking fresh, giving Anka’s minimalist style a much needed sense of dimension.

Uncanny X-men 34 is another fine single issue that tell a story within 20 pages and will warrant an immediate re-read. It’s not the best this run has seen, but it’s definitely worth the price of admission if you’ve been enjoying this incarnation of X-men

Kaptara_02Kapatara #2

Chip Zdarsky/Kagan McLeod

Image, $3.50

Kaptara #2 is a fine comic, but I’ll be honest: the art is wasted on the monthly format. Artist Kagan McLeod‘s work is so good, it begs to be put in one of those oversize albums (Hardcovers as their known as in the States) the European market gets because they appreciate the medium better. This  absolutely bizarre but incredible looking take on the Masters of the Universe universe deserves an over-sized hardcover at the very least. McLeod’s art, especially his character designs, are hard to describe properly. They’re extremely odd, but are flowing with creativity that it’s worth admiring. Everything from the body language, to the layouts to the environments are so unique, and have just the right amount of comedy to remind you that this is not exactly the most serious book. The best way to describe it would be those old  Sunday morning newspaper strips with a modern Adult Swim twist.

Writer Chip Zdarsky‘s second efforts on this book are a improvement from the previous issue. The main character Keith is given some much needed drive, and the characters from the previous issue also get their fair share of development. Chip and Kagan also introduce several new characters that are also as equally amusing and well designed, expanding the cast quite a bit. Now that the general premise is explained, Chip gets a little more room to breath, and the book benefits greatly from it.

Kaptara #2 is insanity on paper, but also gorgeous. It’s unpredictable, hilarious and something genuinely unique, which something both the readers and the industry benefits from.

 

 

 

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

STK671573Saga #28

Fiona Staples/ Brian K Vaughan

Image, $2.99

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

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

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

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

 

 

STK670957Ms Marvel #15

G Willlow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

DIG057129_1Howard the Duck #3

Chip Zdarsky/Joe Quinones/Joe Rivera/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Spider-Gwen_Vol_1_4_TextlessSpider-Gwen #4

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodriquez/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

SWOMAN2014007_CovSpider-Woman  #7

Dennis Hopeless/ Javier Rodriguez/Alvardo Lopez/Muntsa Vicente

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

backgroundSecret Avengers #15

Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: C2lateagain

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

portrait_incredibleAll New X-Men #40

Brian Michael Bendis/Mahmud Asrar/Rain Beredo

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

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