Category: Contributors

Val’s Toy Chest- A Legendary Week /SDCC Preview

As I write this column, we have already burned through most of our newly received Spider-Man Marvel Legends action figures. Spider-Man Peter Parker, Spider-Girl Ashley Barton, Hobgoblin and Electro are all that remain from the wave as of today. Each figure in the wave has a piece to build Space Venom and the two sold-out figures were Silk and Spider-Man Miles Morales. We should hopefully get more of these in the future. Arriving this week will be the heavily anticipated X-Men Legends wave and these will definitely not last very long either. X-Men merchandise isn’t as heavily marketed as it was during the 90s and 00s, so there’s definitely a collector’s void that needs to be filled. The previous wave of X-Men Legends ended up being a shared Toys R Us/Diamond exclusive and command some pretty impressive after-market prices. (I still need you Mohawk Storm!) So my advice on this wave is- if you want it, jump on it fast. Seven of the figures in this series have a piece of the Juggernaut so you can build your own Cain Marko. The seven figures needed are: Brown Costume Wolverine, Cable, Phoenix, Rogue, Havok, Kitty Pryde and Iceman. The final figure in the wave is Deadpool, hot off his movie star turn earlier this year. I rarely buy complete Marvel Legends waves and this wave is definitely calling to me. My personal must haves are Rogue, Phoenix, Kitty, Iceman and Juggernaut. Wolverine is rumored to be the best action figure version of him yet, so proceed with this information as you will. We’ve also gotten restocks on Taskmaster, Mockingbird, Agent 13 and Captain America with the Wolf Head.

San Diego Comic Con is this week and although I won’t be there in person, you bet I will be following all of the latest toy reveals and news. As has been tradition the past few years, DC Collectibles has started showing off their new product before the show. Earlier in the year, I lamented that the DC TV line didn’t have a strong enough presence at Toy Fair. This was a mere few weeks before I disowned Arrow as a show, though there are still characters I would want in a DC TV line, particularly from Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, and Supergirl. DC Collectibles is about to give us a good portion of the DC TV verse in action figure form in a big way. From the worst season of Arrow, we will see figures of Matt Ryan’s Constantine and Megalyn E.K.’s Vixen, both awesome guest stars and welcome additions to my live-action DC heroes shelf. Flash sees Zoom, while the inaugural Supergirl season gives us figures of Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl and David Harewood’s Martian Manhunter. Legends of Tomorrow‘s first three offerings are Ciara Renee’s Hawkgirl, Brandon Routh’s Atom and Franz Drameh’s Firestorm. Though I quit the one TV series, I am down for all of these figures, particularly since I enjoyed Vixen and Constantine so much in their guest roles. All I need now are for Speedy, Black Siren and White Canary figures to be announced. These newly announced figures are scheduled to start appearing on store shelves sometime in 2017.

Sideshow Collectibles has been announcing new figures and statues in the lead-up to SDCC and this includes some cool new items including a beautiful Premium Format statue of this author’s favorite super-heroine, everBlack Canary. Fellow FP employee and Kaijuly author, Pablo is thrilled to see that the Main Man, Lobo is getting his first 1:6 scale poseable action figure. Sideshow’s retail partner Hot Toys has also teased Back to the Future 2 toys, including Doc Brown, Marty and a new movie-accurate Delorean car, plus a teaser for the older Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

NECA is sure to have some interesting figures on display at SDCC this year, including horror based action figures such as Freddy and Jason, stuff from their Aliens and Predator lines and more. One surprising announcement made prior to the start of the convention is a very interesting action figure two-pack. Based on the treasury-sized special released in 1978 is a two pack of Muhammad Ali and Superman. Each figure is fully articulated and is done in a stylized manner to evoke the art of Neal Adams as seen on the famous cover. NECA doesn’t usually have the license to make DC figures in this scale, but they must have found a similar loophole as they’ve used in the past to make their Toys R Us exclusive DC figures.

That’s all for me this week- next week- we’ll take a gander at what was announced at San Diego Comic Con! Catch you next time!

 

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The Wicked + The Divine #21

TheWickedAndTheDivine_21-1The Wicked + The Divine #21

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

While The Wicked + the Divine has definitely had its share of fight scenes in the past, I can’t recall there being an arc that has been this heavy on action. That’s not a critique mind you, as artist/co-creator Jamie McKelvie’s ability to draw pretty people hurting each other, with breathtaking colors from Matt Wilson, is something I enjoy immensely.

WicDiv #21 sees bitty demi-goddess Minerva returned to Ananke and Woden, which is less than great for her, as the duo has some less than great plans for the wee deity. Obviously this does not sit well with Laura/Persephone and her allies, which means fighty time, fighty time, blood blood blood! This is not exactly the deepest issue of WicDiv, but again, McKelvie and Wilson excel at drawing fight scenes, and writer Kieron Gillen does a Wicked+Divine21_01damn fine job with the dialogue that it’s still a super fun read.

“Fun” may be the wrong word to use. Two minor characters meet their untimely fates in this issue, but since they weren’t exactly the most fleshed out nor beloved, their deaths seem to serve no purpose other than a reminder that Ananke isn’t a nice lady. But this more restrained Kieron Gillen thrives with his abrupt, straight to the point, dialogue, Baphomet and Baal have been bitter opponents throughout this arc, but their beef may finally be squashed when Baphomet drops 16 words that completely changes his opponent’s views. Dionysus finally has a break out moment, and it’s a less than 20 word affair. And my personal favorite is an exchange between Ananke and Woden, in which she #micdrops him in 10 words. It’s quick brutal and and a fine example how good Kieron Gillen’s dialogue is. Clayton Cowles also deserves props for his lettering contributions, especially when it comes to font choices and word balloon placement. Letterer’s are often the unsung heroes of the medium, and considering what Cowles brings to this book, creators like him deserve more recognition.

That being said, McKelvie and Wilson’s art is the real selling point of this issue. McKelvie once against manages to draw some brutal fight scenes, mixing what he did with Young Avengers with a heavy manga influence. And Wilson is incredible this issue, from his ability to set scenes with his palette choices, to incorporate some many effects into the art. Wicked+Divine21_03As well choreographed as Dionysus’ scenes are by McKelvie, Wilson’s colors bring those pages to a different level, injecting a level of energy very few colorists are able to. Woden and Dionysus alone are proof of that, but when you factor in the other 4 characters with their own signatures palette and visual effects, it speaks volume about Wilsons talents. Also best nicks and bruises in the business.

The Wicked + The Divine #21 is a VERY good fight comic which some fantastic visuals. It’s the type of comic that really takes advantage of the medium, overloading the reader’s eyes with fantastic and colorful visuals. It also feels like working towards an endgame of sorts, which is odd, because the end of the book hasn’t been announced. It’s the type of comic that will leave you both satisfied with what you got, but will leaving you dying for more.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing Rebirth

NTWREB_Cv1-1Nightwing Rebirth

Tim Seeley, Yanick Paquette, Nathan Fairbairn

DC $2.99

 

Nightwing Rebirth is not only the return of Dick Grayson to spandex, but it also reunites writer Tim Seeley with the title character after a brief absence. Seeley, who has spent the last 2+ years co-writing Grayson with Tom King, has done some wonderful things with the character, and wastes no time in saying goodbye to one cast of supporting characters while having Dick returning to the familiar streets of Gotham & the Batman family. Joining Seeley for this one-shot are artists Yanick Paquette and Nathan Farbairn, who are as suited to drawing costumed fisticuffs as Mikel Janin was to drawing sexy spy stuff.

While the bulk of this comic is spent closing one door while opening another, Nightwing Rebirth makes for a terrific read due to relying some great emotional beats Dick Grayson has with the characters he encounters. Longtime fans will enjoy Dick shooting the breeze with Damian, his former Robin, and Bruce Wayne, their mutual father figure. Those who Nightwing-Rebirth-1-spoilers-preview-dc-3know the character from the previous Grayson status quo get to see Dick wrap up his relationship with Spyral, with a hint of things to come with Helena Bertinelli and the Midnighter. And the mega-fans who’ve read everything from Batman and Robin Eternal to We Are Robin finally get some follow up to the Robin Wars crossover, with some Court of Owls related content. It’s a comic that can be easily enjoyed by new fans, but the longer you’ve been following the character, the more you’ll get from it. For me, it’s rewarding to see a light-hearted and “fun” character interact with grumps like Batman and Damian, who lighten up solely due to Grayson’s presence. Also, as someone who’s HYPED for the upcoming Batgirl and the Birds of Prey series, this comic does a fantastic job of setting up the new Huntress. It’s also crazy impressive that the creative team manages to do so much in the span of 20 pages.

Like I said above, Yanick Paquette was the perfect guy to draw this comic. Given his experience from working with Grant Morrison on various Batman comics, and his ability to draw beefcake exceptionally well makes him an all too ideal fit to draw the exploits of Richard Grayson. His backgrounds are stunning as well, and it’s impressive to see him nail the constant change of locations so effortlessly. My only real issue with the art is that Nathan Fairbairn water color-esque coloring feels muted on this book. To be fair though, that could Nightwing-Rebirth-1-spoilers-DC-Comics-Rebirth-4be a result of the book’s printing, and not on the colorist himself. But between the dynamic body langue use to convey emotion during the talking head scenes, to the sprawling layouts of the fight scenes, it’s very hard to speak ill of this book’s art.

As for Tim Seeley,  I think I’ve run out of ways to praise the dude. His take on Nightwing is stellar, as he continues to nail how complex and fascinating the character is. It’s the ideal blend of humor, action and drama that he refined on Grayson and has perfected for this comic.

As a big fan of the character, Nightwing Rebirth justifies the return from spy to spandex. For the first time in awhile, it’s justifies the existence of the Nightwing role, in a way we haven’t seen in years. While I’ll certainly miss Dick’s time as a spy, I’m more than ready to read about him as Nightwing once again.

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Chris’ Comics: Paper Girls #7 & The Fix #4

PaperGirls_07-1Paper Girls #7

Brian K Vaughan,  Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher

Image $2.99

What I like about this current arc of Paper Girls is that it’s taking a lot of time travel cliches and having fun with them. So many stories involving time traveling embrace a certain set of rules (Don’t interact with your past/future self, don’t tell people things that haven’t happen yet) that it feels like there’s a certain checklist you have to embrace to tell they type of story. Luckily the team of Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson and Jared K. Fletcher play by their own rules, and it makes for a fascinating read.

As anyone who’s read Saga or anything else BKV has written, you know that he’s quite capable of doing emotional moments well. There’s two in this issue that are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, but they’re both written so incredible well. Of course the credit due is split between Vaughan and artists Chiang and Wilson who excel at body language and mode coloring. Their pacing is great, as one scene goes from super cute to pretty funny in a blink of an eye, while the other drags out just the right amount of time for maximum devastation.

While I was pretty hit or miss on the initial arc, Paper Girls #7 is a great read by a creative team that can’t seem to do any wrong this time around. Everything from the art to the dialogue to the placement of the word balloons seems perfect and significant, and it’s proof that these creators are onto something truly special with this title.

TheFix_04-1The Fix #4

Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber,Ryan Hill, Nic J Shaw

Image $3.99

Sadly, the events on that rad as all hell cover do not take place in this issue.

Mac Brundo is the lead for this issue, a nice change of pace from the last few Roy-centric issues. While he’s no angel, Mac is a little more likable then Roy, and this issue does a good job of making the reader emphasize with him. We also get introduced a character who may or may not have something to do with the events of the last issue, as well as checking in with character find of the year, Pretzels.

Also it’s the first comic I’ve read in recent history where FAP is used as a sound effect, and yes, if you know what that refers to, it’s for those exact reasons. Props to Nic J Shaw for making those fonts large enough for extra comedic effect.

Steve Lieber‘s art thiis month is a little more exaggerated than usual, and it works well for this issue. It never clashes with Lieber’s more realistic style, and when paired with some great sights gags and razor sharp dialogue from Nick Spencer, it results in laughs.

The Fix #4 is another hilarious read from a team of creators who excel at the ridiculous. Between genital based humor, pets, and several threats of violence, it’s hard for me to not love this comic.

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Heroes and Villains Day 2/New Arrivals

There’s toy news this week as well as the second part of my Heroes and Villains experience- let’s dive right in!

The second day at Heroes and Villains was as awesome as the first, this time I had subscription goddess, Julia, as well as our friend/FP regular, Tony and the three of us walked around the floor, while deciding which actors we were going to meet that day. Julia got a photo with Hawkgirl, Ciara Renee, while I opted for a photo with Colin Donnell, who played Tommy Merlyn during the first season of Arrow. Super nice guy and not bad to look at either. He was very into talking with fans and was all around pleasant.

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Next up was the gorgeous Katrina Law aka Arrow‘s Nyssa Al Ghul, Tony had met her the day before and was definitely won over by how friendly she was. She was definitely into making the fans feel loved and tried to have as much interaction with us as we could during a setting like this. She also decided to let those getting a photo at her table get two- one serious, the other funny. Julia got to meet her too and was as enamored with her as it seems every fan there was. I congratulated her on her new CBS series and then was off, trying to figure out what I would do next. IMG_0644

I decided that I would go and get an autograph from Katie Cassidy this time, since I had gotten a photo with her the day before-then while I was waiting in line, I decided I’d rather just get a second photo with my live-action “Pretty Bird,” so that is what I did instead. I spoke with Katie briefly and went on my way with Julia and Tony. IMG_0647

All in all, Heroes and Villains was a positive experience and reaffirmed for me that even though I hate what Arrow has become as a TV show, especially for mistreating my all time favorite character, I still LOVE and support the majority of the actors that brought these characters to life- I would definitely return for a second NY/NJ Heroes and Villains Fan Fest if the lineup of talent is as solid as this year’s was. My next convention stop, if all goes as planned will be August’s Monster Mania, featuring guests from my favorite A Nightmare on Elm Street movie, The Dream Master!

Now on to the toys for the week- It’s been a while since I mentioned Hot Toys, but we’ve got some new ones in the store- last summer’s blockbuster- Avengers: Age of Ultron still has product in the pipeline, and one of those has finally reached our shelves with the release of the main villain of the film- Ultron. Ultron has a newly designed android body and features multiple points of articulation as well as LED lighting. Coming soon from the same film will be the new Iron Man Mark 45, which should be here within the next week or so. If DC films are more your speed- we’ve also received the first piece from the Batman V Superman film, Superman! This figure features the likeness of actor Henry Cavill as seen in this film, as well as a fully detailed costume and accurate body type for the character as seen on the silver screen.

Fans of Marvel Legends will be pleased to know that we have received the new Civil War box set, featuring Captain America, Iron Man and Spider-Man, all with movie accurate costuming. Both Steve and Tony have battle damage, while Spidey has Cap’s shield. I think these will be hot, especially considering how well received Tom Holland was in the movie.  Speaking of Cap, Gentle Giant’s line of oversized action figures recreating the toys of the 80’s and ’90’s has branched into the Marvel and DC universes. Five releases will hit our store shelves this week- Captain America from Secret Wars, The Flash and Wonder Woman from Super Powers and The Joker and Robin from Batman: The Animated Series.

Finally- Star Trek: Beyond POPs have started making their way in. Our initial shipment features Chris Pine’s Kirk, Karl Urban’s Dr Bones McCoy, Simon Pegg’s Scotty and John Cho’s Sulu. This will mark the first Star Trek line that Funko has done that will have all seven bridge crew members as Uhura, Spock, and Chekov will be released as well.

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Chris’ Comics: Kim & Kim #1, Future Quest #2

STL009948Kim & Kim #1

Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aguirre

Black Mask, $3.99

When it comes to reviewing books, I try to keep my personal beliefs/politics from affecting the review….is a lie that I won’t tell you. Comics has a history of doing certain things wrong and treating certain under-served audiences poorly, so when a book does something RIGHT, I want to sing its praises. Which brings us to this review

NOTE: The copy of Kim and Kim #1 I used for this review was purchased straight from the creator in June at Heroescon, and I’ve played no role in the upcoming signing happening in the store.

Kim and Kim #1 is a wonderful comic that reminds me a lot of the criminally underappreciated Dirty Pair comics by Adam Warren. Written by Mags Visaggio, with art by Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre, the book tells the story of two bounty hunters, obviously both named Kim. They’re young, broke, queer, and full of piss and vinegar, making them 2 of the most relatable lead characters in quite some time. I absolutely love Visaggo’s dialogue, which is incredibly over the top at times, but then completely natural sounding in that Brain K Vaughan way at others. But the 2 styles never clash, making for an enjoyable reading experience that ultimately reminds me a lot of Edgar Wright’s work.

As for the visuals, a lot of folk will call Eva Cabrera’s art manga-influence, which it definitely is, but I definitely get more of a Steven Universe vibe from it. Not that either answer is incorrect mind you, as its excellent. Expressive, clean and brightly colored by Aguirre, its looks great, and gives the book a ton of character.

Kim & Kim #1 is another brilliant comic from new kids on the scene Black Mask . I’m glad to see a lot more quality creator owned comics coming from non-Image publishers, especially ones with Queer leads. Buy on sight, it’s a fun read that has me jonesing for more.

FutQue_Cv2_56fc234731d577.65151099Future Quest #2

Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, Roc Rhandall, Jonathan Case, Jordie Bellaire

DC $3.99 

It’s been a hot minute since Future Quest #1 dropped, but this past week saw the debut of issue #2. This time Doc Shaner is joined by Jonathan Case and Roc Rhandall on art duties, who manage to channel so well I couldn’t tell where one artist begins and the next ends. Jeff Parker is still on scripting duties, which means this series continues to read as good as it looks. And Jordie Bellaire‘s color, especially with what she does with Space Ghost’s translucence cape, are stellar.

Future Quest #2 starts off by explaining why Space Ghost was threatening to DESTROY at the end of issue one. From there we get a great chase scene, a lot of action, and hints towards the arrival of several new characters. This book run entirely is all action, which is fine, as the trio of artist assigned to it couldn’t be more suited for the script.

Also that cover does not lie and does indeed give us a panel in which the various pet sidekicks all interact. Glorious it ain’t but it’s certainly good for a laugh.

Future Quest continues to be the action packed crossover event it was marketed as. You don’t need to completely familiar with all these characters to love this book, as it’s amazing creative team give you plenty of other reasons to. As much as DC Rebirth has been solid, Future Quest may just be the most exciting and innovative title coming out from the publisher.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #9 & Green Arrow #2

Spider-Woman_Vol_6_9_TextlessSpider-Woman #9

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel $3.99

MOTHER #$@#$%^& WENDIGO!

As I said last week in my Captain Marvel review, Civil War the second is upon us, which means tie-ins issues. And since Carol Danvers has been a supporting character in this title for awhile now, Spider-Woman is getting dragged into this mega-event, like it or not. I feel you J-Drew, lord knows that I feel you.

And while the (gorgeous and simplistic) cover implies hella Civil War action, this issue of Spider-Woman feels like like a tie-in and more like an issue of that delightful Jason Aaron run of Wolverine and the X-men from back in the day. While there’s definitely some Civil War: The Two related stuff in this issue, the bulk of this sees Jessica and friends IMG_0127in Canada dealing with Wendigos! Wendigo is one of my favorite C-list Marvel villains, and I love the way it’s used in this comic, especially when the grizzly twist drops.  As this all goes down, Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman bond, and by bond I mean yell at and insult each other. Good times.

The team of Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, and Alvardo Lopez continue their hot streak on this title, with some hilarious dialogue, paired with gorgeous art. The arguing between Jessica and Carol is super entertaining, and readers new and old can feel the history between the two characters. Rodriguez’s facial expressions, acting and page composition are spectacular. I love how we’re guaranteed at least one impressive double page fight scene per issue Lopez’s inks are out of the world, as he and letterer Travis Lanham continue to excel on this book.

Spider-Woman #9 is a very smart tie-in, one that brings Carol into the larger Marvel universe without betraying its mission statement. It’s nothing new for this great creative team, but you still can’t help but get excited reading this sort of comic.

 

GA_Cv2_ds-e1467817721597Green Arrow #2

Benjamin Percy, Otto Scmidt, Nate Piekos

DC $2.99

This series continues to be great for Oliver Queen, who’s just been betrayed, arrowed, tossed into the ocean and left for dead. Hey wait.

Green Arrow #2 resolves the cliffhanger ending of issue 1 by making things MUCH worse for our lead believe it or not. We also get a name for the creepy, homeless-stealing Draculas, and the reintroduction of a character who originated on the Arrow TV show. And while she gets less screen time this month, Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt gives some rad as hell Black Canary moments, complete with narration boxes with fishnets. Nate Piekos is the secret MVP of this book for that move.

There’s a lot to like in this issue of GA, which is heavy on the action. Schmidt’s art is gorgeous, and I love the splash pages where a boat is positioning, and the imagery he creates on another page that shows Ollie descending into hell (figuratively) is spectacular.  IMG_0129The book is pretty light on the action sadly, but it makes up for it with a tone of gorgeous visuals.

In terms of the dialogue. Percy’s stuff is “like a Michael Bay movie, but smart and good.”. So the opposite of a Michael Bay movie really. But it’s solid none the less, as he does some clever stuff that reference’s Dante’s Inferno, which is super symbolic of what Ollie’s going through.  The Dinah stuff is great, but I love how he basically manages to remix several older GA stories and do something new with this book. It’s compelling as hell, even though it’s a real bad day for Oliver Queen.

I know a lot of folk like/liked Oliver Queen in Arrow, but this is the first time I’ve really been able to get behind the character and enjoy him in a starring role. Green Arrow #2 is a RAD comic, and it’s arguably one of the biggest successes coming out of Rebirth so far.

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9

5283868-sqgirl2015b009_dc11-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, David Malki, Tom Fowler, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is that it’s a book that always keeps the readers on their toes. Issue 9 is no exception, as an arc that started off about DATES has turned into a story about a love smitten Mole Man who may have goes full “Nice Guy”. It’s something you wouldn’t see in any other Marvel book (well okay maybe Howard the Duck or Gwenpool, but no where else!), yet it makes sense in the pages of Squirrel Girl.

Joining the Unbeatable team of Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi this month is inker Tom Fowler, who’ s a great fit for this title. With Henderson working on this book, finishing up her run on Jughead, and working on the upcoming Squirrel Girl graphic novel, it makes sense that she get’s some help with something on this title. Fowler is great, covering Henderson’s pencil in nice crisp inks, and giving the pages a more finished and 5283872-sqgirl2015b009_int2-2less rushed look. Fowler compliments Henderson well, and I hope he sticks around on the title for awhile. In addition to Fowler, David Malki comes by to draw a page to explain why Mole Man is mad this month. The best way to describe that page is “Old Timey” and it’s something that you need to understand WHY it’s so great.

Speaking of great, Ryan North and Erica Henderson continue to be pair of amazing creators. North, who already has written the best Kraven the Hunter story since the classic “Kraven’s Last Hunt” story, does the same for Mole Man. His ability to turn the Fantastic Four’s first villain into a sympathetic character is crazy impressive, and it’s a very clever interpretation of the character. I thoroughly enjoyed Mole Man talking like someone from the silver age, and North commenting on it via Doreen Green, and the alt text on the bottom of the page. We also get more of Brad, the Super Hero truther, who’s my new problematic fave. Henderson’s art is fabulous as always, and it’s great to see her work her magic on some old Kirby monsters.  And it’s neat to see how expressive she can get with a character who’s’ eyes and 5283874-sqgirl2015b009_int2-3constantly blocked off by glasses. With Inks by Fowler and great colors as per usual by Rico Renzi, Squirrel Girls continues to read as good as it looks.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9 continues to be the most unique comic on the stand. Romance in super hero books usually plays out in the most clichéd ways, but here North and company provide some solid commentary on how NOT to treat someone, while casually mentioning a sad mutant killing robot. Given how young some of the book’s readers are (see the genuinely wonderful letter section), it’s an important lesson to be taught. Also, for an issue that’s smack dab in the middle of an arc, it’s impressive how accessible the comic is! The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl continues to be the golden standard of Marvel comics, and by far the company’s most constantly amazing title as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Heroes and Villains Day One

Way back in January, I was excited to go to the inaugural NY/NJ Heroes and Villains Fan Fest held at the Meadowlands Convention Center. I had purchased my ticket to the show on Black Friday the year before- and was anticipating two days of meeting and greeting the stars of my then favorite show. Then- Arrow Season 4, Episode 18 happened and I was DONE. I had been spoiled about the events of that episode prior to them unfolding, but I was hoping that the producers were putting out false spoilers to hide someone else’s fate. Regular readers of this column know how upset I was(and still am) about the unnecessary death of Dinah Laurel Lance/The Black Canary on Arrow earlier this year, so going to Heroes and Villains after breaking up with the show was going to be an interesting experience for me. Of course, since Arrow is part of the CW DC TV Universe, actors from that show, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow were going to be in attendance at the con. I still like the latter two shows, though LoT has me a little upset with the decision to can Hawkgirl and Hawkman. And speaking of Hawkgirl- actress Ciara Renee was one of the biggest draws for me at this convention as I’ve enjoyed her portayal of Kendra Saunders throughout the three series. I headed on over to New Jersey on Saturday with my friend Kim and we met Ciara first thing that day. She was very lovely as we chatted briefly and I told her that I was going to miss seeing her as Kendra on a regular basis. She also loved Kim’s shirt. I got an autographed 8×10 from her(which ended up being the only one I got the entire weekend), as well as a picture at her table with me and Kim in the shot.

hawkgirl2

We spent a lot of Saturday walking around as everyone I wanted to meet had massive lines. I managed to luck out and get on Caity Lotz‘s line during one of the rare times where she wasn’t bombarded with a long queue of people. Caity, for those of you who aren’t fans of the different shows, plays an original character named Sara Lance, sister of Laurel Lance, and in the show continuity, was the inspiration for the Black Canary. Sara portrayed the Canary, a League of Assassins member during season 2 of Arrow, before she was killed off to launch Laurel towards her Black Canary destiny. Sara returned to life via the Lazarus Pit and joined LoT as the White Canary, who is a rather enjoyable character. I decided just to get a picture since I owned one of Caity’s autographed Arrow season 2 trading cards already. She was a doll during our brief meeting and I definitely want to meet her again. IMG_0633

Much like her TV sister, Katie Cassidy had a huge line all weekend. Now I’ve met Katie before, but she’s one that I could meet over and over again, especially since she was the live action version of my favorite comic book character. Since I’ve met her before and got an autograph in person and on a trading card, I opted for the photo- a little blurry, but you can tell its us.

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After the picture was taken, I mentioned to Katie that I was annoyed about Laurel’s death and that I wasn’t going to watch Arrow anymore. Katie told me that I still should, but I told her that I wouldn’t until they announce that she’s coming back. She thought that was sweet of me. Great experience with her as always.

My final picture for Saturday was with Willa Holland, whom I will miss seeing as Speedy/Thea Queen, unless she is in a crossover episode. Very brief encounter with her as well, but she seemed really into her fans, which was nice to see, I definitely wouldn’t mind meeting her again either. She also had a massive line all weekend.IMG_0639

Briefly- new Star Wars: The Force Awakens POPs are in, including Maz Kanata, General Leia, FN-2199, Kylo Ren Unmasked, Snap Wexley, ME-809 and the Guavian. Luke is almost gone, though we should be getting more and Rey and Hux haven’t arrived as of this writing. New Marvel Comic-based POPs are also here including Dr. Strange, Doc Ock, Spider-Gwen and the Falcon. These join the previously released She-Hulk and Captain Marvel. Next time: Part 2 of my Heroes and Villains Con experience! See you next week!

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Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel #6

Captain-Marvel-6Captain Marvel #6

Ruth Fletcher Gage, Christos Gage, Kris Anka, Mat Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Civil War II is upon us, which means the bulks of Marvel’s books are now tying into the event for that sweet tie-in sales bump. As I’ve stated in the past, I have zero interest in the event, and there’s a chance books that rely too heavy on CW2 are properly getting dropped for the time being. Luckily for both Marvel and myself, Captain Marvel, who’s a prominent figure in this crossover, manages to tie into the mega-event without ruining the excellent narrative set up during the first arc.

Joining regular series artists Kris Anka, and Matt Wilson is a dude who has plenty of experience writing tie-in titles, Christos Gage, and his writing partner/wife Ruth Fletcher Gage, who has experience writing Marvel character in the excellent Netflix Daredevil series. Even after doing some research, I couldn’t tell you if the Gages are replacing the team of Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters permanently, or just for this arc. But fear 626351feaa7a3459b3c7caa99cde2dd4not, if you’re a fan of what Fazekas and Butters have done with the character, expect more of the same with this issue (although there’s quite the drop in Abigail Brand snark, which I miss).

Captain Marvel #6 takes place sometime between Civil War II #1 and #0 (I think), and sees Carol getting some much needed alone time with her boyfriend Jim Rhodes (War Machine), and dealing with the fallout of the events of the first arc. I LOVE the Gages manage to tie two different stories together so well, to the point where it leads like they were writing the title all along. Christos and Ruth bring in several new and obscure characters to the title, while tying the book into a story arc Christos co-wrote with Dan Slott on Amazing Spider-Man a few years back. While that may sound like a lot of prerequisite reading, the writers manage to present the material in a way new readers can enjoy without having the read several comics before this one.

On the art side of things, this is the first issue Kris Anka draws without any assistance in a few months, and it’s pretty swell! You get everything you expect from Anka in this issues, abs, fantastic facial expressions, dynamic fight scenes, and a pretty horrific page that’s not too grotesque, but still manages to do an excellent job of raising the stakes. Matt Wilson’s colors are 1ucsyigorgeous, as he manages to handle the setting changing several times in this book without missing a beat. I really wish I had more to say about these creators, but it feels redundant. as I’ve been singing their praises for months now, and they’ve yet to fail to impress on this book.

Captain Marvel #6 is a tie-in title done right. I doubt the events on this book will have much effect on Civil War II proper, but also I don’t care. The comics tells a good story while tying into the events, which is all I care about. Captain Marvel #6 is another fantastic issue in a great run, and I can’t recall a time I’ve been this excited to read about the character.

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson Annual #3

STL008068.jpg.square-true_maxheight-285_size-285Grayson Annual #3

Jackson Lanzing, Colin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox, Natasha Alterici, Christian Duce, Mat Lopes, Flaviano, ,Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor

DC $4.99

Hey look your chum Chris is back! Hello pretend internet friends, I missed playing Overwatch you too!

Also back this week is Richard Grayson, as his time as a spy finally comes to an end with Grayson Annual #3. Set in an unspecific time in Grayson’s publication history, this annual sees the likes of John Constantine, Harley Quinn, Azarel, Green Lantern Simon Baz, and Jim Corgan gather to figure out who the mysterious Agent 37 is. Spoilers, it’s Grayson-Annual-3-3-600x462Dick Grayson.

Not unlike the Gotham Academy Yearbook arc and Batgirl #50 , Grayson Annual 3 is an anthology comic that has regular replacement series writers  Jackson Lanzing and Colin Kelly and replacement artist Roge Antonio joined by an array of newer talent that focuses on a specific character. Natasha Alterici draws and colors the John Constantine tale, which sees the duo deals with Vampires with far more sexy imagery than I was excepting. Christian Duce and Mat Lopes handle art duty the Azarel story, which fits nicely into the events of Batman and Robin eternal. Flavario draws and colors the Harley Quinn portion, and Javier Fernandez & Chris Sotomayor  closes things out with the Simon Baz portion of the book. Jeromy Cox, who I believe colored all of Grayson, returns as well, and for the most part is solid, but makes a relatively big mistake by miscoloring Harley Quinn.

Kelly and Lanzing did an excellent job of mimicking the tone of Tim Seeley and Tom King established in the regular series, but were tasked with getting a lot done in the span of 3 issues. Here they’re given some more room to breathe, and tell an extremely fun done and one that does the series justice. With Alterici, they’re allowed to get sexy with the undead CmILJ2dWkAgpAEvand John Constantine. As someone who generally dislikes it when John interacts with the spandex side of DCU, I had a blast with him and Dick trading quips, and John getting hot and bothered. With the Azarel story, the writers remind us that Grayson is good dude even as a spy, and they handle the more stoic aspects of Azarel quite well. The Harley Quinn section is my favorite, as Flavario reminds me a lot of Babs Tarr’s style, which lends itself well to a story co-starring Harley, who steals nearly every scene she’s in. The Baz story is solid, as Fernandez does a good job blending cosmic elements with the more street level aspects you get from a Bat book.

Grayson #3 doesn’t do anything to improve the relatively rushed ending of Grayson, but it allows the writers and Roge Antonio to give themselves a proper send off.  It’s an extremely clever script that does the many aspects of the character justice, and ends on a super sweet note. I wished it would have dropped before the DC Rebirth one-shot, but that doesn’t take away from the experience. Grayson 3# is a GREAT celebration of Dick Grayson, and is an impressive comic for a team that was brought in relatively last minute.  Anyone who enjoyed Grayson and needs a Dick fix (phrasing) before that Nightwing Rebirth one shot needs to pick up this comic sooner rather than later.

 

 

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Model Hunger DVD Release Party July 13th

Wednesday July 13th from 6:30 – 8:30 come celebrate the DVD release of Model Hunger at Forbidden Planet NYC!

Model Hunger Forbidden Planet NYC signing Debbie Rochon

One of our favorite companies, Wild Eye Releasing is putting out the feature film directorial debut of Debbie Rochon, one of our most favorite people in the world, and we’re gonna have a release party of epic proportions to celebrate!  Just look at this guest list…

Debbie Rochon – Director
James Morgart – Writer, Executive Producer
Mary Bogle – Star
Voltaire – Star
Kaylee Williams – Star
David Marancik – Star
Michael Thurber – Star
Carmine Capobianco – Star
Suzi Lorraine – Star

You probably know Debbie from at least one of her two hundred plus roles (you read that right… TWO HUNDRED PLUS – that means more than two hundred). In fact IMDB currently boasts 246 acting credits. She’s been directed by a countless number of independent auteurs, so it’s about time she got behind the camera to give us her visceral vision. I’m sure anyone who has been directed by the likes of Lloyd Kaufman or Chris Seaver has said to themselves… “I can do that!” and we here at FP are glad that Debbie did.

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Former model and actress Ginny (Lynn Lowry) had been cast aside by the modeling industry when she was a young woman due to her body type – and she didn’t take the rejection well. When new neighbors Debbie and Sal move in, they begin to notice strange things happening, as the list of missing young women begins to grow. What has Ginny been doing in her basement all these years, and can she be stopped’

So come down to Forbidden Planet to celebrate the release of Model Hunger and get your copy signed by a whole slew of people! Wait… what’s that you say? You can’t make the event but you really want to support  independent cinema and grab an autographed copy of Model Hunger. Well don’t you worry your pretty little head. Forbidden Planet is now taking pre-orders for signed copies! All you gotta do is order your copy now and we will make sure that director Debbie Rochon as well as all cast and crew members in attendance sign your copy at the event before we ship it out to you. This way you can reap all the benefits of attending this killer event without even putting your shoes on.

What: Model Hunger DVD release party and signing.
Who: Debbie Rochon, James Morgart, Mary Bogle, Voltaire, Kaylee Williams, David Marancik, Michael Thurber, Carmine Capobianco, and Suzi Lorraine
When: July 13th 6:30 – 8:30
Where: Forbidden Planet NYC 832 Broadway NYC
Why: Support independent cinema!

Click right HERE to pre-order signed copies.

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Val’s Toy Chest- Saga/DC Collectibles/Funko POP and More

Saga fans have a lot to look forward to and a lot to be upset about all in one fell swoop this week.  First off- the long-awaited Lying Cat plush doll is finally in stock. I haven’t had a chance to test the talking feature of the plush out yet, but I do love the Image comic series it is based on. On that note- Lying Cat seems to have come out at the perfect time, especially if you only read Saga in trade. I love reading single issues , but I got into Saga long after the first arc was done and made a conscious decision to wait for the trades to release. It makes waiting for each arc to play out in single issue form before being collected GRUELING, but I also manage to avoid spoilers for Saga– thank goodness. That being said, a brand new volume of Saga is out this week with the release of volume 6 of the Brian K. Vaughan/Fiona Staples series. I cannot wait to see what Marko, Alana, and Hazel are up to now. Speaking of Marko and Alana, I am sure if you are a fan of the series, you are drooling over the San Diego Comic Con Exclusive Action Figure Two-Pack from McFarlane Toys of the star-crossed couple. I hope individually packed figures make their way to comic shops at some point, because these figures are gorgeous and this two pack will almost certainly be hard to find.

Shifting gears to DC Comics and their stable of characters, DC Collectibles is finally starting to get some of their long-awaited figures out into the world. From the CW TV series I don’t watch anymore,  comes the Malcolm Merlyn action figure. Based on the character as he appears in the 3rd season of the show, this figure also features the likeness of actor John Barrowman, also known as Captain Jack Harkness for you Doctor Who fans.  From the Flash TV series, we get a figure of Heat Wave, now also a cast member on Legends of Tomorrow. Heat Wave features the likeness of Dominic Purcell and can hang with the previous Captain Cold figure. Future CW figures include Ollie in his season 3 outfit, the long-awaited Laurel Lance Black Canary figure and the Reverse Flash. If the current CW based figures aren’t your thing(and if they aren’t I can’t blame you, especially after the debacle on that show…), we are also receiving the Batman The Animated Series Mad Love 2-pack featuring Harley Quinn and the Joker. The figures are both fully articulated and Harley is an exclusive Nightgown version. Each set also comes packaged with a full color trade paperback of Mad Love and other stories, featuring plenty of Joker and Harley Quinn tales. Finally, fans of Supergirl and of late artist Darwyn Cooke have a sweet release to look forward to this week as the first in DC’s new Designer Series is released. Supergirl is based on Cooke’s retro-style artwork and will come packaged with a couple of her super pets. Future figures include Batman, Harley, Flash, John Stewart and Wonder Woman.

New Funko product just keeps on coming. This week we have received The Green Arrow and Speedy(Thea) POPs, Suicide Squad DORBZ and Mopeez, as well as a handful of Scooby-Doo and Game of Thrones DORBZ. We also got Zoom, the BFG, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk and some others in recent weeks. The Game of Thrones 3 3/4″ figures have also arrived including Jon Snow and Ghost. For those of you with a more political bent, we have received a limited supply of the three presidential candidate POPs, including Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. I will say no more.

I’ve spoken at length in previous columns about the new set of DC Superhero Girls figures and dolls that Mattel is introducing to capture the younger female audience. We are finally getting a couple of cases of these action figures in and having seen these before, these are nice poseable, inexpensive figures that should appeal to little girls and boys as well as female action figure collectors. Each character may not be wearing the traditional versions of their iconic outfits, but they are all still highly recognizable. Figures that have been introduced into the line thus far are Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Bumblebee.

Briefly: a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre 8″ figure has arrived depicting Leatherface as he appeared in the 2nd film and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is back in stock as a ReAction figure. That’s all for me this week- next week, I’ll give you my impressions of Heroes and Villains Fan Fest as I venture to meet the fabulous women of the live-action DC TV universe, including Katie Cassidy, Caity Lotz, Katrina Law, Willa Holland and Ciara Renee. Can’t wait!

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Val’s Toy Chest- Toy Biz 5″ Marvel Flashback

While at EternalCon two weekends ago, Justin and I walked around and saw many vendors with old toys, including some with figures from the old 5″ Toy Biz lines. Toy Biz was one of the upstart toy companies that came out of nowhere during my youth and lasted until I was an adult. Toy Biz’s first foray into action figures came with the release of Tim Burton’s Batman movie in 1989. Interestingly enough, even though Toy Biz started off making toys of DC characters, they would eventually hold the master toy license for the Marvel Universe for a little over a decade. The Marvel line originally started in 1990 in a 5″ scale compatible with the DC Superheroes line, which was also one of the few times back in the day that one company held both the DC and Marvel licenses simultaneously. These days, DC and Marvel have many license holders in common, but back in the day it was a rare occurrence.

My first real Marvel line was the 1991 X-Men line which came out before the hit Fox cartoon came on the air. I had the entire first series including the notorious pegwarmer, Storm. In fact, I loved Storm because at the time, she was a  new female superhero to add to my collection other than Wonder Woman. The 1991 Storm figure was outdated by the time she came out, wearing a costume she was no longer using in the comics. Storm also suffered from a weak sculpt with pencil thin arms and legs and no curves whatsoever. Her face sculpt was decent though. Storm’s weak performance in the toy aisles nearly spelled doom for any further female characters in any of the Marvel lines, although Invisible Woman would make it out in extremely limited numbers, due to a faulty action feature, the following year. The X-Men Animated Series changed all of that, as Fox and Toy Biz discovered that not only were boys watching the show, so were girls- and they wanted the female heroes from the series in plastic form. At this point, it was roughly two years since Toy Biz had released a female action figure, so they gave one of the breakout characters from the cartoon an action figure that proved to be extremely popular with collectors and kids. That character was Rogue, who had an action feature that delivered a power punch. I  remember seeing the pictures of Rogue from the 1994 Toy Fair in Tomart’s Action Figure Digest as well as Lee’s Action Figure News and Toy Review, Hero Magazine, and Wizard and couldn’t wait to add her to my collection. I still love that figure. The ensuing years included more female figures as well as more diverse lineups including Fantastic Four and Iron Man series based on the syndicated cartoons, the Spider-Man animated line based on the Fox show and many more. As the lines got larger, the sculpting got better and that eventually paved the way for the 6″ scale Marvel Legends line, but that’s a discussion for another time.

One of the things I miss about the old toy lines is the dedicated character artwork on the packaging. Action figure packaging is very generic these days, but Super Powers, TMNT, G.I. Joe,  and the initial years of the Toy Biz Marvel lines had some beautiful artwork gracing the fronts of their blister cards. This doesn’t include the Star Wars line, which back in the day had gorgeous stills from the movies as card art. Some of my favorite packaging art from the Toy Biz lines include Rogue, Phoenix, Venom, Spider-Man, Iceman and Gambit.

As far as a top 5 figures from Toy Biz’s 5″ lines, I’ll have to go with the following from the initial years of the Toy Biz Marvel lines:

5. Iceman (X-Men 1992)- one of my favorite Marvel characters when I was growing up since he was one of the stars of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Was a notoriously hard to find figure back in the day because of the color changing paint.

4. Iron Man(Marvel Super Heroes 1991)- a decent sculpt with removeable armor and mask to switch between Iron Man and Tony Stark modes, the Iron Man armor made him look nice and bulky, which I liked.

3. Venom(Marvel Super Heroes 1991)- another decently sculpted figure, Venom came with a spider-shaped tube filled with black slime. This was the first ever Venom figure(if you don’t count Black Costume Spider-Man from Secret Wars…).

2. Rogue(X-Men 1994)- still one of my favorite Rogue figures, great sculpt, great action feature and the beginning of a new era of female action figures from Toy Biz.

1. Phoenix (X-Men 1995)- An even better sculpted female action figure, this was definitely one of the turning points for the Marvel line and how much better the figures got after her wave, her action feature also made sense for the character with light up eyes and hair. Originally cast in Phoenix green, this same sculpt would be repainted as Dark Phoenix later on with a gorgeous shade of red.

Briefly: New Dragon Ball POP vinyls are in, but some are already sold out. Star Wars Tin Toys have come in and includes Force Awakens characters. Our shipment of Star Wars TFA figures from Hasbro came in recently and includes General Hux, Asty, and a variant of Rey, who now comes packed with a blue lightsaber. We’ve also gotten in the Takodana Encounter 3 3/4″ Action Figure set which features the first ever Maz Kanata action figure.

That’s all for me this week! Catch you next time!

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow #1

GA-Cv1_56fc1133c2db86.88017993Green Arrow #1

Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt

DC $2.99

 

 

 

 

IMG_8643 Hey there Forbidden Planet Faithful! Before I start talking about Green Arrow #1 ( It feels weird to write that instead of Hawkeye), I just want to give a shout out to everyone I ran into and saw at Hereoscon 2016 this past weekend. I got to shoot the breeze with a number of great creators, including 1 of my favorites as you can see on the left. I highly recommend that anyone who loves comics check out Heroescon in the near future, especially in this post NYC Special Edition world. Unrelated, I’m taking a week off, after this article due to life demands, so expect this blog to be Chris-free for a week.

Green Arrow #1 is a extremely fun follow up to a promising Rebirth debut issue. While I’m not sure how this whole twice a month shipping thing is going to play out in the long run, I’m not going to get ahead of myself, especially when there’s some stuff I want to address now.

IMG_0125Given how prominent of a character Batman is, not to mention the numerous similarities, creators who write Green Arrow have a difficult hurdle to clear when it comes to making the two characters distinct. In less skillful hands, this arc of Green Arrow could have ended up feeling a lot like the modern classic Batman story “Court of Owl”. Even with the cliche”one of the guys within Queen’s company is secretly totes evil and plotting against him ” reveal, writer Benjamin Percy does a fine job of steering clear of said birb story  by embracing the difference between the two title characters. Percy’s more proactive, society conscious Oliver Queen who isn’t afraid to bend the rules a bit is a smart narrative choice, and something you don’t see when it comes to Big 2 super heroes.

As for Benjamin Perry’s script, it’s not as tight as the last issue. There’s a REALLY solid cliffhanger ending to this comic, but it doesn’t hit as hard if you’ve just joined the book like I have. Also while I know not every super hero archer comic can read like Hawkeye, some of the dialogue in this particular issue is cheesy in a an eye-rolling way. Where this comic IMG_0126really shines is when it focuses on Oliver Queen and the various relationship he has with this supporting cast, Black Canary especially. Ultimately it’s a pretty solid script, just a little tarnished with some disappointing dialogue.

With an opportunity to draw some quitter moments this time around, Otto Schmidt’s art remains a just cause for buying this comic. The quieter, more intimate scenes are really strong, and it’s a nice showcase of the type of art Schmidt was can produce. That being said, the fight scenes are also quite dope, making for a complete package, especially when you factor in he inks and colors the book as well.

Green Arrow #1 is a good comic that continues to shine with a solid creative team. The good more than out weights the bad for this issue, making it a flawed, but enjoyable read.

 

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