Category: Marvel

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #5

Spider-Woman_Vol_6_5_TextlessSpider-Woman #5

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, Rachelle Rosenberg

Marvel $3.99

The Business. At the Bomb dot Tumblr dot com. Several profanities strung together, typed out with CAPS LOCK on.

Above is list of ways I would describe this issue of Spider-Woman. Marvel, feel free to us any and all of those for the trades pull quote, it’s cool, I grant you permission to do so. Also in case you can’t tell by now dear reader, I dug the hell out of this fifth issue of a series that has been excellent since this team was assembled.].

The last 3 issues of Spider-Woman were home to one of the DOPEST story arcs to grace a Marvel comic in some time (DIE HARD IN SPACE, BUT JOHN MCCLANE IS PREGANT!), and while issue 5 is a little more grounded, it’s an excellent celebration of Jessica Drew, who is now officially a single mother. While exploring this major change in Jessica’s life, creators Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez reunite Jess with her IMG_7517old supporting cast, and a few guest stars, including her ex who is my favorite Avenger. Oh and some villains from another Marvel book I adored show up for a brief cameo, making this comic the most on-brand Chris Troy comic of 2016 (so far).

Fan service aside, I REALLY enjoyed what the creative team does with Jessica in this issue. The first few pages give a Kill Your Boyfriend/Sex Criminals vibe via Jessica talking directly to the reader, until it’s revealed that she’s talking to a pair of friends and not us. While it’s not exactly the first book to use that narration trick, it’s an excellent way to let the reader’s into Jessica’s head, all while Rodriguez gets to use his artistic skills to once again convey motion.

My favorite scene in this book involves the entire creative team fully in sync, resulting in 3 pages that don’t use emojis & imagery oppose to dialogue to tell the story. Aside from the usual brilliance from Hopless and Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez use of black inks to make some fantastic imagery. Playing off the strong preference of a dark color is colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, who uses flat yeah bright colors to counter the black. It’s an excellent example IMG_7516of how well this team works together to produce one of the best super hero books on the shelves.

I also love Jessica’s journey in this issue, and how she deals with the idea of being both a mother and super hero. Granted while it plays out as you would expect given this being a super hero book, the journey is so spot on, and really making Jessica read and feel like such a full and fleshed out character. It’s hard not to smile when reading those final pages, as the book ends on series of feel good moments.

Next month begins the Spider-Women crossover, which means I’m taking a break from the title until it’s over. I love the character, but I’m not about to add 2 more titles to my pull, especially when the usual art team is on a well-deserved break. That being said, this book was a phenomenal comic, and an excellent portrayal of the title character. Spider-Woman #5 is an excellent done of one which shows how talent this creative team is, and I cannot recommend it enough.

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Man/Deadpool #3

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_3_TextlessSpider-Man/Deadpool #3

Joe Kelly,Ed McGuinnes, Mark Morales, Jason Keith, Joe Sabino

Marvel $3.99

I’ve been reading Deadpool comics since Fabian Niceza and Joe Madureira were working on them, and it’s interesting to see how the character has developed over the last few decades. Wade Wilson has gone from a one note character to one that could support several books, one in particular that’s chock full of queer subtext, and both geopolitical and white privilege commentary. Fandom is a weird, yet wonderful thing at times, and it really feels like Deadpool as a character under editor Jordan D White is aware of what Tumblr users think of Wade, and have incorporated those elements into the character. It also helps that Joe Kelly, a man who helped make Deadpool a more three dimensional character all those years ago is the one doing this, mixing his take on the character with the incarnation that Gerry Duggan has been writing over the last 4 years.

d18b1878-cbf9-4908-9605-8df72c1ca522Spider-Man/Deadpool #3 is a comic that sounds simple enough (Spider-Man agrees to hang out with Deadpool for a day) but turns out to be a lot deeper read than one would expect. Oh sure there’s a lengthy fight scene involving a ton of forgotten 90s Marvel characters, but there’s also a shocking amount of emotion involved. Also jokes. The humor in this issue is fantastic, ranging from Looney Tune-esque violence you would expect from these characters, to some more mature and smart stuff. Kelly manages to do a lot in this 20 pages, never overloading readers with dialogue, and knowing when to let the art do the heavy lifting. He’s the perfect writer for this book, and nothing against Dan Slott or Duggan, but he’s probably the guy best sorted for these characters, given his history with them both.

I have never not loved Ed McGuiness’ art, and obviously this issue of Spider-Man/Deadpool isn’t going to change that fact. Spidey, Deadpool and his team of mercenaries head overseas for a job in this issue, and McGuiness, along w/ inker Mark Morales and Jason Keith, 54yk9bwproduce some fantastic art. We get to see Ed get to draw a plethora of characters featuring different body times, and it’s just so kinetic and fun. The whole thing looks like highlights from a top tier fighting game tournament, which is referenced at the end of the fight in those most Scott Pilgrim of manners. Which by, props to letterer Joe Sabino, who has to deal with a ton of dialogue due to who’s starring in this book. Also the inker and colorist are a big reason while the final big scene in this comic works, perfectly playing light off of the darkness to help make the emotional impact of Spider-Man meeting a very important person in Pool’s life work as well as it does.

A book like Spider-Man/Deadpool could be a success just by the popularity of the title characters alone. But editors Jordan D White and Nick Lowe really went above & beyond, getting Joe Kelly and Ed McGuiness to come back to their most famous collaboration, which is resulting is a phenomenal comic. There’s a layer of depth and emotions one wouldn’t expect from a book starring two of Marvel’s biggest IPs that surprisingly, but not in a way that clashes with the appeal of the characters. It also happens to be a fun super hero book, thanks to Kelly’s wonderful quips and McGuiness’ larger than life art. Spider-Man/Deadpool #3 is a terrific comic, and something Marvel should be extremely proud to be publishing.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Black Widow #1

Black_Widow_1_CoverBlack Widow #1

Chris Samnee, Mark Waid, Matthew Wilson, Joe Caramagna

Marvel $3.99

FACT: Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, & Matthew Wilson have done some great work for Marvel, both individually and as together a creative team.

FACT: In my opinion, Marvel has been pretty good at putting out female lead books over the last few years.

FACT: Black Widow, arguably Marvel’s most recognizable female character currently, needed an A list creative team (no offense Phil Noto) assigned to her series ASAP.

Someone at Marvel has agreed with me on that last fact, because the team who did a GREAT job on Daredevil are now on Black Widow. And the debut is, as I quote a friend texted me about the comic, “UGH, such a good!”

Often when a new creative team is assigned a character, the first issue is stripping down of what works for the character and the establishment of a new status quo. Not with Black Widow, as the team assumes that the reader knows what Natasha Romanov’s deal is. This debut issue for the Samnee, Waid, Wilson team is a 20 page chase scene, in which Natasha BW4has taken a thing from SHIELD, and SHIELD wants the thing back.

I love how quickly things escalate in this comic. The book starts off establishing that Widow is at odds with SHIELD, as she takes out a bunch of agents without much effort.  The scene quickly reminds the reader that Natasha is an unbelievable bad ass, from there, she’s fighting dudes twice her size, jumping out of a Hellicarrier, dodging agents in flying cars; all sorts of crazy action stuff. It’s the comics version of Crank, which is compliment by the way.

I like how Waid keeps the dialogue to the minimum, resulting in Samnee’s art carrying the bulk of the story. Chris Samnee is easily one of the BEST artist’s working in comics todays, and which a few changes, this probably could have worked as a wordless story. I’m grateful it’s not, as  Joe Caramagna does some really good sound effects work, and his choices of tumblr_o3jvjoYypd1uiitobo1_1280font give the book a cool pulp magazine vibe to it. And I love what Matt Wilson brings to the book, drowning the book in reds, which could be read (heh) as something symbolic, given who are lead it. And as I’ve stated, Samnee’s work is amazing, be it drawing an 14 panel single page fight scene, the aforementioned Hellicarrier scene which is gorgeous, or a intense motorcycle chase through the streets of Manhattan. This issue is another chapter in the gospel that is “Chris Samnee is real good at comics”.

Black Widow #1 isn’t a comic who wanted an in-depth look instead the mind of Natasha Romanov. It’s a 20 page action move that celebrates the character and re-establishes how great this creative team is. Fans who enjoyed this team’s run on Daredevil will love this comic, and anyone who wanted a new Black Widow series will surely be pleased. I fall in both categories, and am still blown away at how good this comic was. It’s another must read series from Marvel, which I’m glad to see is becoming more of a thing this year.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #4 & The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

 

STK696446Saga #34

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image #34

Ohoho, what is this? A very cute Ghus cover?! 10/10! Next review!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

Alright, alright I’ll talk more about Saga. For the most part this arc has been pretty low key and lacking on the soul crushing, the later which I don’t mind at all. But with one more issue left in this arc, the pieces are now being moved to either set the cast up for several victories, or a ton of heartbreak.

Aside from Fiona Staples’ always amazing visuals, I really like how the book jumps around a checks on the vast majority of the big players in this story. Juggling nearly a dozen characters is no easy task for any writer, but Brian K Vaughan manages to do so with minimal effort. At 22 pages of content, the pacing for this book is fantastic, and manages to move the plot in several interesting directions. It’s a nice rebound after an issue that really didn’t work for me, and it’s nice to see the book back being as good as it has been in the past. Plus I really like any time that Fiona gets to draw animal people, even when they’re not named Ghus.

Saga #34 is the penultimate issue of this arc that could go either way for the cast. There’s even chance that we also may not any resolution at all, and that all the good stuff will go down in the next arc. Either way this comics is an enjoyable read, chock full of great and dialogue that’s also too clever, but never goes overboard.

Unbeatable_Squirrel_Girl_Vol_2_5_TextlessThe Unbeatable Squrrel Girl(s) #5

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Reniz

Marvel $3.99

Prepare for a weird complaint with this review.

While The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5 definitely sticks the landing of this 4 issue arc, it’s not exactly the cleanest of landings. This book is a bit overwhelming, as Ryan North doesn’t just go full Grant Morrison, but he manages to make me feel dumber in the process.

While I don’t mind comics trying to make me up my game, or hell being chock full of #content, I feel like this arc could of used another issue. A LOT goes down in this issue, and while it puts a nice little bow on this arc, I couldn’t finish this issue in a single sitting. And it’s only 20 pages. That being said while it’s a bit intimidating, there’s some REALLY good bits of dialogue and jokes that make for fun reading experience.

Visually, I have no complaints as per usual. Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi are a fantastic creative team, and they really go all out this issue. Henderson does some amazing things with her, cramming her pages with multiple panels and not cutting any corners. How she manages to draw this book and Jughead without taking any time off speaks volumes about her talent and dedication towards her craft. Also that cover is striking as hell.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5 may be a tricky read, but it’s a great one none the less. North, Henderson and Renzi craft a fun comic that shows off their talents in a multiple of ways. And considering the book is crossing over with Howard A Duck next month, the future is bright for Doreen Green.

 

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CHRIS’ COMICS: Spider-Woman #4

Spider-Woman_Vol_6_4_TextlessSpider-Woman #4

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, Rachelle Rosenberg

Marvel $3.99

When it was first announced that Spider-Woman post Secret Wars would feature a pregnant Jessica Drew, there was some skepticism from the comics fandom. Even though Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez had been doing some wonderful work on the title, I can’t blame people for being a little concerned, as child birth and super heroes do not often mix well.

However, now  that we’re 4 issues into the Mama Spider-Woman era, it’s safe to say we have nothing to worry about from this creative team. Spider-Woman #4 is arguably a perfect comic, as Rodriguez and company come together to end their (second) first arc on a massive high note.

Dealing with Skrulls while going into labor is a inventive way of seeing Jessica trying to escape her old life while trying to give her child a normal life. It’s a nice way for the creative team to embrace the roots of the character while trying to do something incredibly tumblr_o2x9uhNDfH1taspq0o4_1280new with the character. And this is the issue that shows that Jessica hasn’t lost a step despite giving birth in this issue, in the most brutal and gorgeous fashion possible thanks to Rodriguez, inker Alvaro Lopez and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg.

I’ve sung Rodriguez’s praises on ton ever since he’s stepped aboard this book, and this issue is another visually impressive on. Aside from the aforementioned brutal double spread, there’s just as impressive 8 panel one, and an incredibly tense 16 panel one that shows that’s there’s NOTHING Javier can’t do. This issue also proves how important it is to have an great inker and colorist attached to book, with a 9 panel Captain Marvel page that REALLY works thanks to the bold clean inks and fantastic colors. If the art team takes off next issue (I know they’re off for the upcoming Spider-Women arc), I have zero complaints, because it’s a rightfully deserved break.

Meanwhile Dennis Hopeless is the Wolverine of writers, because he’s the best at what he does. There’s something to be said about how he GETS Jessica and how he manages to do hell of a job of writing a mother to be while being a heterosexual male. And I cannot get enough of his Captain Marvel, who’s such a badass while being such a heartfelt character. tumblr_o2x9uhNDfH1taspq0o1_1280And the new Skrull prince Dirk is fun, despite being a bit of a a macguffin. Trope aside, Hopeless does so much good in this issue, be it the pacing to the dialogue, it’s easy to overlook a thing or two.

Spider-Woman #4 more than just nails the landing to a character defining arc. It’s a wonderful celebration of a character that really didn’t have too many great solo stories, and could have been easily lost in a sea of Spider-ladies. But this creative team goes above and beyond, crafting a tale that’s ridiculously good and some of the best super heroics being put out by anyone today. It’s a concept that may have stumbled a bit with a less experience creative team, but Hopeless, Rodriguz, Lopez and Rosenberg take an idea that we have all seen before and turn it into a high concept action comic.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Man/Deadpool #2

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_2_TextlessSpider-Man/Deadpool #2

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuiness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

With the new Deadpool movie currently breaking all sorts of box offices records, it would make sense for me to capitalize on that and talk about a Deadpool comic. As fate would have it, Spider-Man/Deadpool #2 dropped this past week, and is an exceptional comics.

The premise for the “Bromance” arc isn’t exactly high concept, but it is a ton of fun. Someone’s put a hit out on Peter Parker, and Deadpool is  the guy they want to do the job. While Wade doesn’t know that Spider-Man is Peter Parker, he’s still torn on the matter as he’s sort of a an Avenger now, and his idol Spider-Man “works” for Peter. Spidey has no idea this is all going down, and his focused on the launch of his new Apple Watch-like device. Obviously this is an issue where a lot of shenanigans go down, especially when you add Miles Morales and a Green Goblin Army to the mix.

As I said in the last review, it’s been a hot minute since we’ve seen the likes of Joe Kelly spider-man-deadpool-2-shirt-ruinedand Ed McGuiness work on a project together for Marvel. But 2 issues into this series and it’s like they never left the characters. Joe Kelly manages to keep on top of the status quo of 2 of Marvel biggest characters and manages to tell a story that is a ridiculous amount  of fun. His Deadpool isn’t as pop culture obsessed or 4th Wall breaking as one would expect, but he’s hilarious none the less. This issue isn’t as dick joke heavy as the last one, but there is one gag I’m amazed Marvel let slide into a comic where Spider-Man shows up. He also manages to put some real depth into the character, which isn’t exactly a surprise as it’s something he’s famous for, but it’s also something incredibly welcomed. While I’m hoping his Spider-Man lightens up soon, I definitely enjoyed the dark turn the book takes in it’s final pages.

Ed McGuinness is so so good on this book. Every character he draws in this comics looks so iconic and timeless, be it the classic silver age villains that show up, to some of the OvLASVunewer characters who’ve only been around for a few years. His Miles Morales is particularity striking, and way more sleek and agile looking than his Peter Parker, which is a nice contrast and visual. I’m constantly impressed with how much detail and expression McGuiness can pack into his panels. Additionally Mark Morales and Jason Keith do a bang up job with the inks and colors, making it one of the few Marvel books that looks are good in print as it does in digital.

Even though we’re only two issues in, it’s easy for me to say that Spider-Man/Deadpool is my favorite book coming out from Marvel. While it may not be as deep or medium defying as some of other books coming out from the publisher, it is hilarious and a ton of fun, which means it goes on top of my pull list. Kelly and McGuinness prove that you can go home again, and the results are fantastic for the fans.

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