Category: Contributors

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #48

BG_CV48Batgirl #48

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr, Rob Haynes, Serge Lapointe, Lee Loughridge

DC $2.99

BABS TARR!! BLACK CANARY!! CO-O-ah dang, I almost had enough things that started with “B”to warrant a “BACKGIRL” gag. ::: is fired immediately for even suggesting that. :::

 

Batgirl #48 sees Babs Tarr return to art duties, which means the book is back to firing on all cylinders. Her pencils (with Rob Haynes helping with breakdowns) are great, and her artistic vision and style help Batgirl bounce back after an issue where I wasn’t really feeling the art. Tarr is the life blood of this book, and it’s nice to see the book look as good and it reads. Also Tarr finally gets to draw Batgirl as a Luchador, which is obviously great, and long overdue in my opinion.

batgirl-48-vid-gamesBabs’ art and holographic pro wrestling aside (again, GREAT!), Batgirl #48 offer readers a lot for their $3. We finally get some answers regarding what’s going on with Babs’ (Gordon) brain,  see her team up with Batwing against the video game themed villains Co-op, said Black Canary team up, and some other things that I don’t want to spoil. My only complaint is that one reveal in this issue was something we all saw coming a mile away, which is a bit anti-climactic, unless there’s a last minute swerve next issue, which would be welcomed.

Also that fight with Co-op had some many terrible puns it felt like I was reading Kieron Gillen’s Twitter feed. Painful if you’re not down with that sort of thing, but also wonderful in a Batman ’66 sort of way.

My beef aside, I also like how the book manages to have 2 colorists work on it and come out relatively fine. Serge Lapointe is joined by Rob Haynes, and while you can tell the differences in style from first glance, the book doesn’t suffer as a result from it. Bab Tarr’s demands colors that pop and are energetic, and both colorists manage to nail that without any issue. I dug how Haynes used darker, bolder colors for his segments, stressing the action/dramatic vibe the book took, where as Lapointe’s palette was lighter. Batgirl uses color extremely well, and it’s great to see colorists not named Matt Wilson kill it in comics.

While there was some fun at their expense earlier, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart really do a superb job on the script. Cringe worthy jokes aside, there’s a healthy mix of batgirl-48-vid-games-2action and drama, resulting in a fun super hero soap opera. In addition to forwarding the plot and character relationship, the book manages to bring reader up to speed as to what Black Canary’s been up in a fun scene that doesn’t read like an forced ad for her book.

Batgirl #48 ends on a great cliffhanger,  really raising up the stakes for this arc. It’s a great read, and proves how important Babs Tarr role in this title is. If there rumored DC relaunch does go through, hopefully this creative team stay intact. They’re created an incarnation of Batgirl that’s delightful, and it’s the most fun I’ve had with the character in years.

 

 

 

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Val’s Toy Chest

It’s a brand new week here at the Planet and I definitely have some cool toys to discuss in this column. The majority of our toy news has to do with DC Comics and their world of characters and there are some neat pieces from Funko due within the next few weeks. Let’s see what’s coming out.

DC Comics’ staple of characters have been active on the small screen since the debut of the 1950’s TV series: The Adventures of Superman all the way through to the newest series: Legends of Tomorrow. This latest CW show is all about time travel, so let’s travel back in time ourselves to late 1967/early 1968. That was the year of the third and final season of the legendary Batman TV series starring Adam West. Though Batmania was waning by this point in the 60’s, people never forgot the original Batman series and when the 1989 Batman film by Tim Burton came out, the reruns of the 60’s shows started airing again and turned me into a fan at the tender age of 10 years old.

I bring up the classic Batman TV show because there was no screen accurate merchandise for the series back in the day. That all changed back in 2012 when Warner Brothers and DC announced a new program that would allow actor likenesses from the old 60’s show to be used for toys and other merchandise. One of the last actors to agree to offer her likeness in this program was the late Yvonne Craig which is why you are only now starting to see Batgirl product using her likeness. This week we will be receiving an awesome three-pack featuring TV’s Terrific Trio as made by Mattel. Each figure comes housed in their own separate slot in a cool window package with colorful graphics designed to evoke the feeling of the old TV show. Batman, Robin and Batgirl each come with a character stand and are fully poseable. In addition to the three-pack, we will also receive an accessory heavy set called “To The Batcave” which will include a bunch of the iconic props seen on the show including the Batphone, Shakespeare’s Bust and more. Batman is featured in this set along with an interchangeable Adam West as Bruce Wayne head.

Moving forward in time to the current era of live-action DC Comics brings us to the current CW trinity of Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. The former two series have plenty of merchandise available including two new figures shipping this week. Mattel’s DC Multiverse series will bring together the comics, TV, movie and video-game iterations of many DC favorites. The Flash and Arrow are part of the Justice Buster Collect and Connect series stand about 6″ tall, are fully articulated and come with pieces to build the aforementioned figure. Shipping with this set will be a figure of The Joker as he appears in the recent Batman storyline, “Endgame”. Future figures in the series include the TV version of the Reverse Flash,  the Superman of Earth-23 and more.

Speaking of DC Media, there’s a new Batman and Superman movie coming out and the DC Multiverse series will also be issuing figures from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Figures set to arrive this week are Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and an Armored Batman. All four of these figures are based on their appearance in the new film and feature the likenesses of actors Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot, respectively. Each action figure is fully articulated and come with accessories and a piece to build Batman’s Grapple Gun.

Turning our attention to Funko, Funko POPs that should be arriving soon include POPs from Shrek, Netflix’s Daredevil, Call of Duty, Supernatural and more. On the DC front, we’ve gotten in the Aquaman POP from Batman V Superman and we’ve received a restock on Arrow’s Felicity. Funko Wacky Wobblers from the Batman V Superman movie are also here and feature Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

That’s pretty much it for me this week! See you in the store!

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #33 & The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4

Saga_33-1Saga #33

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Finally, a issue of Saga that isn’t a ground breaking reinvention of the medium, but one that’s simply good! Granted it’s a little disappointing as a reader, it makes my job as a critic slightly more easier!

Issue 33 sees the return of the reporter and photographer duo of Upsher and Doff (Upsher reminds us that the “Writer gets the first byline”), in a story that acts a bit like a series recap for the first 11 pages. It’s a neat way to get people caught up, but also not exactly the most exciting thing to read. The rest of the book DOES see the return of fan favorite character, which helps pick things up, and end the issue on the high note. I applaud Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples trying something new with the recap, as both the dialogue and art are solid, but it does feel like the first half of the book is spinning it’s wheels. It was nice to check in on a few minor supporting characters, and even get to witness a little sexy time, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen this creative team do before and it’s not even that great of a recap to be honest.

With the potential for more intriguing things to come, Saga #33 was a good issue from a series that usually gives us great issues. It sounds like a nitpick sure, but when your exceptions are set so high for series, anything less does feel a little off. It’s still worth your time as regular reader, but you should lower your expectations a bit going into it.

5013574-sqgirl2015b004_dc11_lr-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girt #4

Ryan North, Erica Henderon, Rico Renzi, Clayton Cowles

Marvel $3.99

Dear Erica Henderson, I appreciate the hell out of the Katamari Darmancy homage on the cover, great job, your pal Chris.

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is that the creative team does a fine job of making the threats Squirrel Girl face quite creditable. Granted she’s Unbeatable, Ryan North has constantly forced the characters to overcome their problems mostly through non-punching means, which helps build tension and makes for a more interesting read.

Issue 4 is unique because it’s technically a fight that Squirrel Girl has already lost. Time travel shenanigans has old timey Doctor Doom already triumphant in the present, so Ms. Doreen Green and her pals got to figure out how to stop him the past. The problem is this incarnation of Doctor Doom may be too much for SG in direct combat, so the sophomore CS students got to figure out a way past him.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4 gives the reader everything they would expect from this proven creative team. Ryan North gives us smart, engaging dialogue that’s hilarious and reads unlike anything else coming out from Marvel. If Erica Henderson’s art isn’t isn’t you thing, it’s your loss, because her energetic lines and super expressive characters on detail backgrounds are fantastic. Rico Renzi‘s coloring is fantastic as usual, especially  when it comes to portraying energy and heat.

I have zero complaints about the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl once again, because this book is entertaining as hell. North, Henderson and Renzi manage to impress me in new ways with every issue, and I’m glad to see this book survive as long as it has in today’s market.

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson 16

 

Grayson01Grayson #16

Tim Seeley,  Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

This week, Grayson reaches new heights of awesome, some of which resulted in me almost losing my composure in public several times. Please note that I am a adult (legally), and that I will still sometimes react physically to comics when they’re THIS good.

Those of you who have reading this blog for the last year and a half or so know that I’m quite fond of the title. Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox (as well as the occasionally guest artist) have been kicking all sort of butt on this comic since day one, making it one of the best books coming out of DC, let alone the market in my opinion. While I wasn’t that big of a fan of the book being forced into to a crossover event last month, issue 16 more than makes up for, delivering one hell of an experience.

 

WARNING FROM HERE ON OUT, THERE BE SPOILERS YO!

Team Grayson has done an excellent job of taking obscure Wildstorm  and DCU characters and reintroducing them to the new 52 universe fully fleshed out. We’ve seen them work wonders on the Midnighter, who’s gone on to start in his own wonderful spin-off comic. This issue sees the similar discarded Grifter show up, amongst several other character being introduced for the first time/were starring in a book that got cancelled. As someone who got into WildCATS as a kid and gave his quickly cancelled on-going series a shot, I’m excited to see this team give ol Cole the treatment he deserves. Oh the once-before teased 5021674-gray_16_2Maxwell Lord shows up, which I’m sure won’t result in heartbreak, betrayal or any Blue Beetles getting shot.

This is also the issue where the creative team decided to go full Bond with the references. What does that mean exactly? Well first and foremost, it means Dick taking out a James Bond homage in front of several Bond lady tributes. It also means a montage designed as tribute to the Bond intro, complete with it’s own theme song as perform by Dick Grayson himself. Aside from it being one of the BEST running gags in the book, it looks amazing, as Janin draws Dick and his fellow deflected agent Tiger fighting spies in a variety of exotic locales. Jeromy Cox really shines in this section, giving the 2 double page spread outs some really trippy colors, giving it a 60s mod vibe. The combination of word class colors and line art continue to make Grayson a gorgeous book, well worth the $4 cover price.

And man, I love the banter Tiger and Dick have between themselves in this issue. Seeley and King have been really solid with the humor these last few issues, but the jokes in this particular issue, including said song, are really strong. They’ve done an excellent job of tumblr_o1mh53FBTc1sqep2mo2_1280poking fun of some of the more sexist troupes spy-fiction, and they continue to do so twice in this issue, while balancing a pretty serious plot that advances in an interesting direction. I absolutely adore the direction this book is going, especially when you tease me with a upcoming story called SPY WARS!

Grayson continues to be a delightful read, and this issue is ridiculously good. The creative team gives the reader a comic that delivers a generous amount of action, laughs and fantastic visuals, and it’s something I look forward to reading every month. Grayson #16 isn’t the BEST issue this team has done so far in this fun, but between the humor and what’s to come, it’s damn enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #47

4999675-0+bg_cv47_dsBatgirl #47

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Eleonora Carlini, Moritat, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

 I’m a reasonable critic, or I’ve lied to myself enough times to fully believe that I am. I understand that fill in artists are a thing that needs to happen when it comes to super hero comics. Babs Tarr is still relatively new to the business, and it’s hard for most artists, old and new, to hit that 12 issues a year mark. It’s something I’ve grown accustom to, and don’t mind when guys artists like Bengal swing by a draw an issue.

Batgirl #47 has 2 artists assigned to this comic, and while they’re both similar in style, neither Eleonora Carlini or Moritate really give the readers much to talk about. Carilini’s out of costume stuff looks fine enough, almost hitting those Babs Tarr level of 4999685-3+bg_47_3energy to the book, but it falls apart when character in costume show up. Moritat’s backgrounds are nice and detailed but his characters, especially the faces, are weak, and the art looks more like a children’s book than a comic at times. It’s a shame, because Serge Lapointe does some great stuff with the coloring, which does save the art work in some portions of the book, but certainly not others.

I do dig what Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher are doing on the narrative end of the title. We get to see Barbara Gordon pal around with the Spoiler, who I adore, and Bluebird, someone I not as familiar with, but dig none the less. It’s a fun team up that sees the trio working with Bab’s roommate Frankie, who also has gotten herself a code name that starts with an O, but isn’t the one that you want. It does makes for a solid running gag, hopefully editorial will let Frankie take up the name we want her to have sooner rather than later. Regardless, it’s fun to see Babs pal around with other female super heroines who are not Black Canary, and I hope to see them stick around.

The 2 writers also manage to balance a number of subplots in the span of 20 issues without things getting out of hand. I like how they manage to keep this book in line with the events of two other Bat books while having Barbara deal with her own set of problems 5010044-bg_47_5with each plot line have enough space to breathe. It’s a shame the art for this title isn’t on par with this writing, because the dialogue is a ton of fun, and the narrative is incredibly strong.

I hate to trash a book, but ultimately Batgirl #47 disappointed me. Again it’s a shame, but I really like what the writers bring to the table, and I enjoyed Batgirl running around with some of the less prominent members of the Bat-Family. On paper it sounds like a fun team up book, but the execution suffers from not so great art. A shame, as the book turns out to be a textbook example of how a weak art can ruin a good comic. It’s super unfortunate, as this issue sets up some important things up for the upcoming 50th issue, so it’s a bit a crucial issue, despite not being the most enjoyable comic.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel #1

Captain_Marvel_Vol_9_1_TextlessCaptain Marvel #1

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

The record (aka this blog shows that I am a fan of the following things: Carol Danvers, Kris Anka, Matthew Wilson, and the Agent Peggy Carter TV series. Prior to the announcement of this creative team on Cap Marvel, these 4 things did not overlap, but thanks to Marvel editor Sana Amanat, they do now, and the results are good and great.

Captain Marvel #1 is arguably the BEST Captain Marvel debut issue we’ve gotten since Carol got her sweet new costume. Not to speak ill of the previous runs by the wonderful Carol Corps Queen Kelly Sue Deconnick and her artist pals, but pairing Kris Anka with colorist Matthew Wilson makes for some gorgeous visuals that are hard to compete with. This is the first time Anka has been put on book from the beginning, and he does his damnedest to make one hell of a first impression. Kris goes all out all, tweaking Carol’s costume, gives her a dope new air cut, and gives several fan favorite characters some overdue make overs, results in a fantastic looking debut issue. I love how toned and tumblr_o19bwo2f2j1sqep2mo2_1280muscular his Carol is, as she now looks like a powerhouse who’s really into punching things and/or people. I’ve been a fan of Anka’s style for awhile but pairing him with Matthew Wilson’s colors is brilliant move, giving Kris’ art a Mike Allerd-esque style that I really dig. I love how Wilson colors space, and gives the tech in the Alpha Flight Space Station a cool glow, giving the book a cool science fiction vibe. Together, the issue looks very bright, colorful and expressive, giving Captain Marvel a visually style the character’s never had before!

Writers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters do a wonderful job on their debut issue. Their experience show-running Peggy Carter definitely carries over here, as their Carol is also a no-nonsense bad ass that enjoys her work. Those afraid it would be a different beast from what Kelly Sue established have nothing to fear, as their characterization is very much in that style. That being said, they definitely have a different direction for the tumblr_o19bb0C6tg1sqep2mo1_500narrative, giving her a new supporting cast from the get go (with some cameos from a few old pals), a new M.O. and a new gig. All of it is pretty refreshing, as it attempts to do a lot of new things with the character without alienating readers who’ve stuck with Carol for awhile. And I love Fazekas and Butter dialogue, which is quirky, and gets to the point quick. Which is fine, as less is sometimes more, and frees up more space for the gorgeous artwork.

Captain Marvel #1 was a superb debut issue for this creative team, and I’m eager to read more from them. Everything was on point from the visuals to the pacing, and I’m glad too see Carol in such capable hands. With any luck, this creative team will be free to tell the type of stories they want to, and I’m really digging the new heavy on the sci-fi  status quo. Also more Brand please and thank you.

 

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Val’s Toy Chest

Hi Readers! As you know and probably lived through, we had a horrendous winter storm in NYC this past weekend and thus my planned column on the Heroes and Villains Fan Fest that took place over the weekend will have to be rescheduled as I couldn’t make it over to the show on Sunday. The show itself was truncated, both in amount of days and with the celebrities that were able to appear. For those just joining me, I’m Val and this is my column where I talk about toys and whatever else strikes my fancy- this week marks the first time that Val’s Toy Chest is available online and I will work on archiving past columns for your reading enjoyment.

So, with the Heroes and Villains convention discussion off the table for now, let’s take a look at the cool toys that are due to arrive in the near future. From DC Collectibles this week we have three new figures from the Batman: Arkham Knight videogame. Using the designs from the game, DC Collectibles brings us Azrael, an intensely creepy Man-Bat, and an unsettling Professor Pyg. Each figure is fully articulated and most come with character dedicated accessories. If you are a Star Wars action figure fan and of the Black Series in particular, we’ve gotten in the massive First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter with accompanying TIE Fighter Pilot. These are the 6″ Scale figures so you know the packaging alone is huge. The figure has the standard Hasbro articulation scheme and fits inside the impressive vehicle.

Funko always seems to have a new product mention in this column and this week is no different as I have several pieces on their way or newly arrived to the store. Just in as I was writing this article is the Batman V Superman POP Vinyl of Wonder Woman to join her cohorts Batman and Superman. We will also have the Wacky Wobblers of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman within a few days, as well as a POP of the Jason Momoa Aquaman. Other Funko product on the way include POPs from Fairy Tail, a new Deadpool POP and more.

Sure to excite the Marvel Legends fans out there is the eagerly anticipated arrival of a brand-new series for 2016. We’ve received our shipping notice for the Captain America Marvel Legends wave which, if everything releases in a timely manner should hopefully be here by the end of this week or by early next week. In case you’ve forgotten which characters are scheduled to be in this wave, I will refresh your memory. The series consists of several first time 6″ figures including Mockingbird, Cottonmouth, Whirlwind and one of my co-worker’s most wanted figures ever: Scourge. Rounding out the wave will be figures of Captain America with an interchangeable Cap Wolf head, Sharon Carter/Agent 13 and the Taskmaster. Collect all seven figures and you can build the Red Onslaught figure.

That’s about it for me this week- catch you guys in the store! Be sure to come back here next week for toy news, TV news and whatever else I can report on. And because Winter Storm Jonas killed my plans to see Arrow‘s Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy again, I leave you with this image, from a previous convention:

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Oath of the Gatewatch is Now Available. Win FREE boosters from Forbidden Planet NYC

Magic the Gathering Oath of the Gatewwatch is now available at Forbidden Planet and we’re offering you two ways to win FREE booster packs via our Facebook and Twitter pages!

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Chris’ Comics: Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #6

tumblr_o199gy2Mcg1uxdbsko1_1280Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #6

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles, Tom Humberstone

Image $3.99

The final issue of The Immaterial Girl, which is also the final issue of Phonogram in general, is an extremely satisfying read. Creators Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles and Tom Humberstone come together not only to deliver a fantastical final issue, but to eulogize and pay tribute to a part of Kieron Gillen’s life. It’s an extremely personal story, and that’s part of the appeal of it to me, as we rarely get comics that discuss what it’s like to be in your 30s as in-depth as P:TIM girl does (especially with that B-side drawn by Tom Humberstone).

In past reviews of this mini series, I’ve stated multiple times that this is Gillen at his most Grant Morrison-y here, only instead of weird magics and silver age comics, Kieron pays tribute to pop music from over the last couple of decades. Also there is magic, hence the Morrison comparison. However this final issue, the various references to bands and song lyrics, and very distinct Kieron Gillen dialogue reminds me of another favorite comic creator of mine: Chris Onstead of Achewood fame. At first glance, Achewood and tumblr_inline_o1byuiTjOz1qa75wn_540Phonogram couldn’t any more different (if anything WicDiv and Achewood make the better comparison, given the fact that both properties have cats who don’t wear much clothing in them) , but when you blow off your day job responsibility to really think about it, there’s a lot more in common between then one. More than just that fact that one could easily see Kid-With-A-Knife screaming “BONE! BONE! BONE!, making lewd gestures while David Kohl looks on in disgust/embarrassment.

First and foremost is that both Phonogram and Achewood make some deep music cuts (as well as ones that aren’t as deep, i.e. Emily referencing both Brittany Spears and Lady Gaga in this final issue), without much care if you’re on their level in terms of recognition. But what comics force to do is to learn their specific languages to ensure you fully appreciate them. Morrison does this sort of referencing too, but you can still enjoy a lot of his comics without fully being clued in on what he’s talking to. Not so much with Phonogram and Achewood, which REALLY force their audiences to almost re-learn how the English language works in a way. But once you do, it pays off immediately. Also both Gillen and Onstead do a superb job of creating a wide range of characters with their own distinct personalities. By doing so, it’s really easy for the readers to connect with the casts, even if the represent some less than desirable traits.

Screen-Shot-2016-01-19-at-10.32.07-PMI feel bad spending so much time talking about Kieron Gillen and noted-owner of Airwolf, Ray Smuckles, and not mentioning the art in this issue. Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson are so damn good, as per usual, and always find new ways to blow your mind. They do stuff with blood in this issue that’s so good you’ll want to quit drawing/coloring immediately. And that’s only the tip of the iceburg, as there’s some fantastic page layouts, panel composition, pallet choices…the first 10 pages of this comic are some of the best and inventive use of art I’ve seen since the pair’s work on Young Avengers. Even the quieter stuff towards the end of the issue is great, as you can see what the years of magic-related drama have done to these characters. Also it’s nice to see Jamie draw characters who aren’t model gorgeous all the time, and I feel better about that slight winter gut I got now.

Phonogram will probably never be the breakout hit The Wicked and the Divine is, which is a shame, because I love it just as much. It’s the “3 Cheers for Revenge” and “Killjoys” to WicDic’s “Black Parade”, which makes me love it all the more, because I’m a bit of a snob and prefer the works that don’t get as much love. The Immaterial Girl is a perfect ending to pair of mini series I’ve read dozens of times over the year, and I cannot thank the creators involved enough for this journey.

 

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January 24th – COMIC BOOK SALE at FPNYC

Forbidden Planet sale
ONE DAY ONLY!!!
ALL in-stock single issue comic books on sale at 30% OFF… Come by today, Sunday January 24th, and save a bundle on floppy comic book fun. Make today the day you pick up your subscription or take a chance on a new title or pick up that variant you’ve had your eye on.

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Val’s Toy Chest

As we get further and further away from the beginning of the year the toy releases are starting to trickle in slowly. I’ve got some intel on what Hot Toys we should be getting within the next few weeks(should release schedules hold up), as well as details on what will be here this week. Lastly- CW shows are back on this week and I am heading to Heroes and Villains Fan Fest this weekend to meet a bunch of the actors from these very shows.

First we’ll talk about the new releases schedule to come out this week. The latest figure in the Marvel Play Arts Kai series is due and it just happens to be my favorite Marvel character- Natasha Romanov- the Black Widow. Black Widow will come with an array of accessories including weapons and blast effects and is fully articulated. Another of my favorite characters makes her dazzling debut in the high-end Robert Tonner doll collection with the release of the Classic Batman TV Series Batgirl. Batgirl will be 16″ tall and dressed in her glittery purple bodysuit with gold emblem, a purple and gold cape, a belt and will feature the likeness of the original live-action Batgirl, Yvonne Craig. The doll will have a removeable brown wig to simulate Barbara Gordon’s look on the show as well as a mask with attached red hair to complete the Batgirl ensemble. Elsewhere in the DC Universe- the Mattel figures I mentioned in last week’s column should start to hit this week. The first Mattel product will be the basic Batman V Superman movie line which will showcase Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. There will be three versions of the Caped Crusader, two of the Man of Steel and one of the Amazing Amazon in this initial shipment. All figures will feature limited points of articulation as well as kid-friendly gear and weaponry.

Now as far as Hot Toys go- we’ve gotten notices for two very exciting figures to be released within the next few weeks. First among these is the long-awaited Guardians of the Galaxy Thanos 1:6 scale action figure. Thanos will come with a newly developed muscular body sculpt with body armor and a light-up throne for him to rule the galaxy. The other even more exciting release in this author’s humble opinion is our first non-Stormtrooper Hot Toy from the recent box-office smash Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’m speaking of the villainous Kylo Ren. Kylo will come dressed as he appears in the film and will come with his lightsaber and the usual Hot Toys articulation and interchangeable parts. Another Star Wars Hot Toy that should be here soon is the First Order TIE Fighter Pilot featuring the character as it appears in the new movie.

The Flash returned with a new episode last night and tonight sees the return of Arrow. Will Oliver Queen find his quarry Damien Darhk after the attack on his –groan– fiancee Felicity Smoak? Will Felicity become a low-rent Oracle in everything but name? Will Diggle, Thea and especially Laurel ever get a meaningful storyline for the rest of this season? We shall see. The long-awaited debut of Legends of Tomorrow will bethis Thursday and I am excited about it. The show follows the adventures of a ragtag team that includes fan-favorites like The Atom and ex-Canary Sara Lance (now going by the name White Canary) alongside new heroes Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Firestorm and Flash rogues Captain Cold and Heat Wave gathered by a time-traveler named Rip Hunter. Their goal: stop Vandal Savage from becoming a threat in the far future.

Speaking of the Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow– this weekend at the Meadowlands will be the inaugural Heroes and Villains Fan Fest put on by the same people that run Walker Stalker Con. This particular show is also co-organized by one Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow) which explains the high volume of his fellow castmates attending the show this weekend. If you’re a fan of Arrow, Stephen will be there along with Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance/Black Canary), David Ramsey (Diggle), Willa Holland (Thea Queen/Speedy), Paul Blackthorne(Detective Lance) John Barrowman (Malcolm Merlyn), Colin Donnell (Tommy Merlyn) and Katrina Law (Nyssa Al Ghul). Flash fans have Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow), Robbie Amell (Ronnie Raymond/Firestorm) and Teddy Sears (Jay Garrick) to look forward to. Legends of Tomorrow fans will get to meet the two lovely ladies of the series with Caity Lotz(Sara Lance/White Canary) and Ciara Renee (Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl) scheduled to make an appearance at the show. Fans of Gotham will also have a couple of castmembers present and Doctor Who fans can look forward to Karen Gillan(Amy Pond) in addition to the aforementioned Barrowman. I will be in attendance both days and I will try to have my con experience for all of you in my next column.

On that note- catch you guys next time!

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #14

GOTHAC_Cv14_PREVIEWS_R1_5616b1b7728111.33337671

Gotham Academy #14

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Steve Wands, Katie Cook, Dustin Nguygen, Derek Fridolfs, Hope Larson, Kris Mukai

DC $2.99 

So yeah, I’m still worried about the fate of this title. Karl Kerschl left 2 issues ago, and Becky Cloonan has been M.I.A. since issue that issue. Hopefully this month’s round of solicitations will answer some questions, but I’m assuming the worse for this title but the time is said and done.

That depressing intro now out of the way, let’s focus on the fact that Gotham Academy #14 is wonderful. Here, the original creator standing Brenden Fletcher and the possibly new creative team of  Adam Archer and Sandra Hope are joined by a insanely talent roster for the first part of the “Yearbook” arc. This story seems to be a guest creator jam session, which I’m very cool with, if this issue is any indication of what we’ll be getting.

GOTHAC_14_3The framing sequence by Fletcher, Archer and Hope is solid enough, but Archer is still struggling a bit with character faces. The team is limited to 4 pages, which is good, because the real meat of the story comes from the guest creators. Leading things off is Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen, 2 creators I didn’t know I wanted to tell a Gotham Academy story, but now am glad I  got one. Prank enthusiast and general troublemaker Colton Rivera is the focus of this story, which has our lead deal with one of Kirk Langstrom’s bizarre subjects. It’s fun little chase story that looks amazing thanks to Nguyen’s gorgeous water-colored art. The humor these creator inject into this story is great, really capturing the tone you would expect from Gotham Academy. The final page of this story is AMAZING, and I would definitely assault a hobo with a wiffleball bat to see Nguyen draw these characters again.

From there it’s Katie Cook drawing a Maps and Olive story, which is by far the cutest incarnation of these characters to date. Cook’s style is perfect for a tale that involves mid control via Glee Club, and I believe it’s the first we get a DC Comics story revolving around cat tumblr_o0x790kQfg1rj45a8o1_1280videos.  Cook’s style is absolutely adorable, her sense of humor is fantastic, and this story was an absolutely treat.

Wrapping up the issue is Hope Larson and Kris Mukai focusing on Gotham Academy professor Isla Macherson in her teen years. If you want to see what the 1980s looks liked because you’re a stinking youth or some such, this is the comic to look at. It’s arguably the most well rounded tale of the bunch, mixing fantastic visuals with a really sweet story. It manages to avoid teen drama cliches by embracing the fact that it takes place in a city where Batman is a thing.

An jam issue with multiple creators sounds more like a special or an annual then a proper arc, but it’s hard to hate when the creators involved are this good. Gotham Academy #14 could be accused of staling, but frankly I don’t care. It’s a fun issue that allows a number of talent folk to play in one of the best new sandboxes in the DC Universe. If this is a proper taste of what to expect from this arc, consider me excited.

 

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Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #3

STK693569All New Hawkeye #3

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

I believe it’s safe to say that I can stop worrying about the future of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Both figuratively and literally, thanks to how this comic plays out.

 All New Hawkeye #3 wraps up the creative team of Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring’s 2nd arc, which sounds weird, but try to remember exactly how relaunch-happy Marvel is these days. It’s a great issue that shows how important the Clint and Kate are to each other, even though they’re not on speaking terms with each other for most of the issue. It also wraps up the future Hawkeye story, which was fun alternate future thing filled with a ton of cool ideas and designs.

At first glance, you could accuse Lemire at rehashing a lot of what Matt Fraction had done: ie, broke up and reunite Kate and Clint. It’s a fair complaint, but in Lemire’s defense, he handles it differently, and resolves it quicker. He also shows how much Kate needs Clint, HAWKEYE2015B003-int-LR2-3-4c025which is nice, even though he flat out stats that Clint needs Kate to be a proper Hawkeye. Which is true, as we probably wouldn’t have had nearly 30 issues of Hawkeye comics over the last 4 years if it wasn’t for the inclusion of Kate Bishop. It’s good to see Lemire finally getting more comfortable with the Clint and Kate dynamic, and finally establishing his own take on their relationship. He also does some wonderful things with Clint’s brother Barney, who makes a welcomed return to these pages. It’s a wonderful series of pages, which really works for me more than the Barney/Clint stiff from volume 0. Part of me wants more Barney and Clint bro times from Lemire, but given the character’s current status quo, I’d also be okay with him being left alone with his happy ending for him for the time being.

Ramon Perez has always been great on this book, and I’m impressed that he also manages to improve in some small way with every issue. In issue 3 for example, he draws more sound effects into his panels, and their pretty great. “Bro Hug” was a sound effect that sounds like something that would have shown up in Adventure Time, and its presence is tumblr_o0y1e7HNyt1sqep2mo1_1280welcomed. It’s such a minor thing, but the tiny words give the art an element of comedy that I appreciate. Aside from sound effect, I love his character designs for the future cast of characters, and how Perez composes some of his pages, especially the  Miss America Chavez and Kate Bishop page in which the panels act as mirror images.. All of this, in addition to the fact that he switches up his art style 3 different times in this issue, make him one of the most under appreciated artists at Marvel. Any issue of ANH that take primary in the present is better for it, and issue 3 is proof of that, thanks to Ramon Perez’s visuals, enhanced by Ian Herring’s brilliant choice of colors.

All New Hawkeye #3 puts my fears to rest and helps make this book one of my favorites again. I’m glad the team got their stuff together for this arc, and I’m now genuinely excited for this book in a way I haven’t been for months.

 

 

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Val’s Toy Chest

Hello Readers! It is another new week at the Planet and though there isn’t a lot scheduled to come in this week- there’s still product that we’ve either gotten or are getting in within the next few weeks. Some of the new product scheduled to arrive will include Funko POPs as well as some of the new Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice action figures courtesy of Mattel. We’ve also finally gotten in the long-awaited NECA Predator series which feature figures from another Vs. film: Alien Vs. Predator.

The newest NECA wave features the following types of Predators: Celtic, Scar and Chopper. Each figure features more than 30 points of articulation and come with various accessories. This is the 14th series of Predator with more series on the way from NECA. I should be live on the Toy Fair floor in about a month so I will be writing about what’s new from as many of the manufacturers (including NECA) as I can. I will let you know when that gets closer.

Funko has some exciting products in the pipeline including things we should be getting in this week. Our first Funko POP from the Batman V Superman movie will be the Man of Steel himself, Superman. Hopefully the rest of the lineup will be here before too long. Another POP vinyl scheduled to hit is the popular but polarizing Felicity Smoak straight out of the CW’s Arrow TV Series. We will also be getting four of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens POPs which will include Sidon Ithano, Leia OrganaAckbar and Nien Nunb. No ETA on the other figures in this wave, including Han Solo as of yet.

Speaking of Batman V Superman– Mattel who has had the DC master toy license for the past decade or so will be issuing figures from the forthcoming movie in many different styles and sizes. There will be at least two 6″ lines coming out for the film. One will be a basic five points of articulation series akin to the recent Total Heroes series while the other will fall in line with the articulation scheme of the now defunct DC Universe Classics and Movie Masters lines and is called the Multiverse series. We should be getting both styles of figures in by the end of the month if our shipment comes on time but these lines should include the Ben Affleck Batman, Henry Cavill’s Superman and the Gal Gadot Wonder Woman. I have personally seen the new Multiverse Wonder Woman figure and she is pretty awesome. She is definitely one to watch out for and was on my list of figures I was looking forward to. Future figures in this series will include comic and TV versions of all of your favorite DC characters including Flash and Arrow.

That’s all for me this week- I will be back next week with more toy news and assorted miscellany. Have a great week!

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