Category: Christopher Troy

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

STK671573Saga #28

Fiona Staples/ Brian K Vaughan

Image, $2.99

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

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

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

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

 

 

STK670957Ms Marvel #15

G Willlow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

DIG057129_1Howard the Duck #3

Chip Zdarsky/Joe Quinones/Joe Rivera/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Spider-Gwen_Vol_1_4_TextlessSpider-Gwen #4

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodriquez/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

SWOMAN2014007_CovSpider-Woman  #7

Dennis Hopeless/ Javier Rodriguez/Alvardo Lopez/Muntsa Vicente

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Batman #40

Happy May Forbidden Planet Faithful! Hopefully you had a fine Free Comic Book Day, and found Avengers: Age of Ultron enjoyable as I did. I’m going to do something different this week, as 2 stories that I’ve dug wrapped up, and I’m dedicating an article each to them. First off, let’s take a look at arguably the biggest release of the week, DC Comics’ Batman #40!

Batman_Vol_2_40_ComboBatman #40

Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo/Danny Miki/FCO Plascencia

DC, $4.99

Here we have me being made in to a liar. The type of liar who was willing to drop $5 on a comic, which I’m sure also makes me a double liar of sorts.

As stated here and here, I am not a dude who reads Batman monthly. I am a dude who trade waits it, because it’s very good and reads extremely well collected. HOWEVER, the hype for this issue was insane, the leaks/spoilers for the next arc are as equally crazy, and it was a slow release week. Also I’m bad with money, so I figured why not spend 5 bucks on a comic that is the ending to an arc I’ve only read 1 chapter and two tie in.

Even with putting myself at a disadvantage, I still found myself really loving Batman #40. Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia are in the middle of a legendary run, and this final issue is a brutal emotional experience that really rewards those who’ve been with the book for a while. The Endgame arc has been building up since issue one of the series, with the creative team revealing their hand , showing exactly what from what arcs lead to these events.

For those out of the loop, here’s the general premise of Endgame (also, here be spoilers): The Joker did not take the events of 2012’s Death of the Family too well and has decided to end his beef with Batman once and for all. What this means is turning his infamous laughing gas into a biological weapon, Jokerizing most of Gotham, and the Justice League. Batman managed to stop the JLA, taking them off the playing field for a week, but now has to face a city turned against him while looking into the revelation that the Joker may be some sort of immortal boogeyman. With the odds stacked against him, Batman #40 see the Dark Knight being  forced to make several strange alliances while working with some of his more traditional allies, or risk losing everything.

Scott Snyder holds nothing back with this issue, dropping bombshell after bombshell without giving the reader a chance to recover from any of them. There’s several callbacks his own work on the characters, as those who became before him, including a delightful twist that had me quite pleased. It’s smart and engaging script, which is nothing new for Snyder, but is appreciated none the less, as he does “dark” comics right. They feel important with the stakes raised, but never soul crushing (at least without a good reason).

But ultimately, this comic is Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascenica’s finest hour, as their combined efforts make for an incredible visual experience. Capullo’s panels pack a real punch to them, as his brutal, chaotic and stylized pencils will make you cringe from the violence, yet respect the talent and skill involved. And the way he draws character’s body language and expression helps conveys the emotions so well, it’s like he reading Snyder’s script to you in person.  Danny Miki‘s inks are equally impressive, with his use of heavy black ink giving this book a creepy, yet slick look. And Plascenica really brings everything together, with his palette giving this book an emotional weight it needs to convey the story it’s telling properly.

With 30 something issues under their belts (there’s been a few guests artists and writers), it’s impressive how good this creative team has been on this title. There’s a reason why Batman is the flagship DC book, and it’s nice to see this team tell the type of stories they want to tell with little to no editorial interference. Endgame is yet another triumph for Snyder, Capullo and friends, and it’s exciting to see what they’ll do next come June.

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Troy’s Toys, But with Comics: Yet more Image debut editions

Kaptara-coverKaptara #1

Chip Zdarsky/Kagan McLeod

Image $3.50

KAPTARA: The comic where you come for Chip Zdarsky’s action figure fan fiction but stay for the gorgeous art by Infinite Kung Fu’s Kagan McLeod….as well as for the insanity of Churp’s action figure fan fiction.

“When Kaptara was first announced, I didn’t know what to make of it except for GAY SAGA will read many a comic journalist review of this book. I may be paraphrasing, but it did honestly feel like Zdarsky and McLeod were relatively tight lipped about the book until its release. Which I’m fine with, I don’t need the damn thing spoiled and dissected before it comes out (see: Avengers: Age of Ultron).

That being said, Kaptara isn’t as strong script wise as Howard the Duck was. Our main lead isn’t exactly the most likable, which I’m fine with, as I dig flawed main characters. That being said, not much of the supporting cast has much to going on either, so it’s kind of a drag in that department. It does pick up once things are planet-side, and once the series’ premise is explained a bit more, Kaptara’s cast and narrative  get FAR more interesting. It also helps that McLeod gets to flex his artistic muscles a bit more as the book progresses, giving us the goods and forests made of MURDER!

Kagan McLeod’s art is the reason you should buy this book. While Zdarsky may not be at his strongest in the premiere, Kagan certainly is, and it shows in the art. It’s equal parts Ryan Ottley and Sean Murphy, but with a European-esque vibe to it, making it entirely trippy, but unique. This is especially true once the book is set on Kaptara, where we’re treated to some really well executed action scenes and wonderfully odd character designs.

Kaptara is a fun comic oozing with potential. Now that Chip is done with introductions, I’m sure the script side of things will only improve, all while Kagan’s art will continue to impress and amaze.

STK666093Beyond Belief #1

Ben Acker/Ben Blacker/Phil Hester/Eric Gapstur/Mauricio Wallace/Marshall Dillon

Image, $3.50

CLINK!

Let’s be honest for a section: comics adaptions of other mediums tend to have a spotty track record. Not everything can be Mark Waid and the Dodsons on a Star Wars book, because not every property is Star Wars, and not every comics writer can be Waid. HOWEVER, some mediums lend themselves better to comics, which is exactly the case with The Thrilling Adventure Hour’s Beyond Belief Image comic debut.

Translating the popular podcast done in an old timey radio to a comic is something THA creator’s Ben Acker and Ben Blacker have done before with Arcadia Press to much success. Now with Image, they get to tell episode length stories in comics, enlisting veteran artist Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur and Ande Parks to tell the tale of Frank and Sadie Doyle. For those not in the know, the Doyles are an upper class couple who deal with spooky ghosts and their ilk, usually highly intoxicated. That is literally my #SQUADGOAL FYI.

With the Bens on board, the book sounds like an extended episode of the podcast, which is great for a fan like myself. Phil Hester’s art is also welcomed, as his work is clean is smooth and crisp, capturing both the humor and horror elements of Beyond Belief perfectly. It’s enhanced greatly by Gapstur and Parks inks, which are heavy on the shadowing but not to the point of saturation, but on a comfortable enough level that it blends perfectly with Marshall Dillion’s colors.

Beyond Belief #1 does an excellent job of introducing people not familiar with the Doyles to the TAH hour with a nice back up explaining how Frank and Sadie met. It’s incredibly new reader friendly, and fans of Beyond Belief should dig it as well. It’s a fun horror comic that isn’t too spooky, but not silly enough not to be compelling. It’s highly welcomed if your looking for something a little more off beat.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: C2lateagain

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

portrait_incredibleAll New X-Men #40

Brian Michael Bendis/Mahmud Asrar/Rain Beredo

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Date Night Edition

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_33Uncanny X-men #33

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka/ Antonio Fabela

Marvel $3.99

Note: Despite Kitty Pryde and Magik being the focus of the issues, there is zero actual dates in this issue.

This particular issue works on a number of levels. Brain Micahel Bendis uses Marvel continuity to his advantage. Uncanny X-men #33 focuses on Kitty Pryde and Illayana Rasputin’s friendship, while setting the issue on MONSTER ISLAND, which is the best island location in the Marvel Universe. Bendis expertly draws upon both the character’s pasts to tell a compelling story that’s been done a million times before in X-men comics, but everything’s so good the reader doesn’t notice. His voices for these characters ring true and natural, to the point that this may be the best done in one he’s done on Uncanny.

Art wise, the book couldn’t look better. Kris Anka returns to draw this issue, and he’s the perfect fit for it. His Kitty and Magik look great, thanks to Anka’s clean line work and Antonio Fabela‘s flawless colors. Anka’s super expressive faces also help with the emotional beats of Bendis’ scripts, making the whole thing feel so genuine and Chris Claremont-esque. MOST IMPORTANTLY, he channels some serious Wally Wood/Jack Kirby when it comes to drawing the massive residents of Monster Island. He’s a great enough talent that he can mix those gold and silver age era character designs with the modern age looks of Kitty and Magik  and have it look natural. Well as natural as you can get in an X-men comic.

This particular issue of Uncanny X-men rewards you based on how long you’ve been with the franchise. There’s some calls back to the book’s earlier days, and it definitely has that nice, Claremont era vibe to it, without feeling too much like fan fiction. It’s fun read that now only showcases some great art, but shows how good Bendis is when he focuses on a dense done in one issue.

Ms.-Marvel-14-CoverMs Marvel #14

G Willow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

NOTE: This issue very much has dates and emotions, justifying the title of this article.

It’s been a few months since I’ve wrote about Ms Marvel, but it’s not like I stopped reading the book. It’s been consistently excellent, but much like Saga, it was getting to the point I was running out of ways to praise it. This month’s issue isn’t any less excellent that those non-reviewed issues, but there’s a particular scene I want to talk about.

Said scene is between Khamala’s older brother Aamir, and her bff/boy with a secret crush Bruno. SPOILERS, said moment involves both males discussing Bruno’s crush on Khamala, her new male friend who she’s clearly sweet on, and why it would never work between Ms Khan and her bestie. It’s scene we’ve seen before in all sorts of media, but writer G Willow Wilson brings a cultural spin on it that makes for a really compelling 2 pages. It gives a good reason for it to not happened, which in turn makes it all the most fascinating.

That is not to say Khamala is a no factor in this comic. Our spunky lead is dealing with her first crush, and it results in her being dragged closer to the shared Marvel Universe. Fill in artist Takeshi Miyazawa  (who ironically was also the back up artist on regular series artist Adrian Alphona’s run on Runways) line work is great, slightly more focused and manga-esque than Alphona’s but beautiful none the less. Ian Herring‘s superb colors helps Miyazawa’s art stay in constant with how the title looks normally, without taking away from his particular spin on Ms Marvel and her cast.

Ms Marvel #14 is another delightful issue from one of the best comics on the stand today. It’s a wonderful series that never disappoints and constantly entertains, and it will be interesting to see if this issue’s cliffhanger will play out next month.

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Childhood Flashbacks editions

There are currently 12 unwatched episodes of Daredevil in my Netflix queue right now, please note that I took time to write this article instead of ODing on DD.

Saga_27-1_300_462Saga #27

Fiona Staples/Biran K Vaughan

Image Comics $2.99

I’ve been running out of ways to complement Saga. Each issue is a 20 page celebration of comics, with the creators doing their damnedest to show exactly  why they’re the best what this medium is capable of. This month’s issue is no exception, as Fiona Staples and Brain K Vaughan show off their full range of talents.

Issue 27 has Fiona Staples drawing everything from odd/unusual erotica, to grotesque violence, to absolutely adorable thanks to tiny sealman/my favorite character Ghus. Ghus in particular is an fine example of Staples’ artistic skills, as she manages to convey a lot of character and emotion in a character with a comparatively simplistic design. There’s also some really powerful emotional beats that Staples hit without the assistance of BKV’s words. While she’s never been anything less than impressive, this particular arc of Saga may be Staples finest work to date. I couldn’t think of a better artist to see their name listed before the writer’s name in the credits page.

Brain K Vaughan continues to be the very best at what he does when it comes to dialogue and the script, snikt. We get to take another glimpse of Marko’s past in this issue, and the stuff revealed in the flashbacks is brutal, but compelling none the less. He also injects some much needed humor in places that helps ease the tension, as well as remind us how delightful these characters are. Vaughan’s words are overshadowed by the art at times, but it never feels like he’s coasting on Staples talents.

Saga is still very much the best book on the market, and this issue is just further proof of that.

portrait_incredible (1)All New Hawkeye #2

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

AWWW, Fact: This is the 2nd Hawkeye #2 in which a/the Swordsman is a crucial element to the plot!

This 2nd issue of All New Hawkeye is a slight improvement over the previous issue, but I’m still a tad confused over the direction of the title. The book continues to be split between the past and present, but the present sections continue to feel like an after though. Ramon Perez and Ian Herring certainly do some cool stuff with this book’s visuals, but it genuinely does feel like writer Jeff Lemire prefers re-telling Clint’s origin than moving his Hydra/creepy-ass children plot forward.

To be fair, the Circus flashback segments are fairly enjoyable, even with the art being a little uneven in places. The sketchy art looks a tad incomplete at times, but Ian Herring’s colors really help enhance it a ton. The modern segments look slightly better, as Perez channeling David Aja suits his style better. Lemire is still struggling with the Hawkeyes banter, but it’s improving.

All New Hawkeye #2 is a much needed step in the right direction, although it’s not quite there yet. Hopefully the next issue will continue to improve in quality, and this book will be on par with the previous creative team’s efforts.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Wicked Academy

WickedDivine_09The Wicked & The Divine #9

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

KIERON GILLEN IS A JERK!

He’s not really. I’ve met him several time, if anything he’s the complete opposite. But man, this issue of The Wicked and the Divine ends on a bummer of a cliffhanger.

Gillen’s pacing has been incredible throughout the series. The previous issue of #WicDiv ended on saucy note, and this issue lead up to believe sexy times were instore for everyone. That couldn’t be any farther than the truth, as we’re instead treated to a few reveals, some heartbreak, and some choice dialogue by KG once again.

Surprising no one, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson are still in top form with the art for this book.  McKelvie reminds us just how good he is by giving a trio of familiar supporting characters a new look, and it’s gorgeous. McKelvie excels at designing and redesigning character, so I shouldn’t be surprised the end results are as good as they are, but I’m impressed time after time.  Wilson remains equally important, as his choice in colors for these character really give them a visual style that helps win the reader over.

Wicked and Divine volume 2 continues to be a consistent and stellar read. The WicDiv fandom has come to expect certain things from a Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson project, and they deliver in usual  fashion again with this is, despite its being quite brutal at times.

 

 

 

STK666956Gotham Academy #6

Brenden Fletcher/Becky Cloonan/Karl Kerschl/Mingue Helen Chen/Msassyk/Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

Guys, I’m not sure if I get this message across in my reviews, but this is the BEST time to be reading comics.

Gotham Academy wraps up its first arc, and it’s delightful. It’s funny that arguably the most light hearted of the Bat-titles, this is the book that has Batman come off as a villian. Obviously he and Croc has a history that says otherwise, but a teenager with mom issues may see the Bat in a different light. Batman’s extended appearance doesn’t detract from the feel and tone of the book though, as it shakes things up a bit and takes the book in some interesting directions. The most  shocking being the tease of the addition of a established Bat-character who’s presence is welcomed and makes a ton of sense.

Karl Keschl gets some help on the art end of things from Mingue Helen Chen and style wise it couldn’t be better. While it’s not as bright & colorful as Keschl’s art, it’s definitely beautiful in its own way, channels the same animation vibe, and fits the narrative quite well. Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher are in top form, writing very believable kids & a very rich and interesting world. In the span of 6 issues, these  5 kids have been given an impressive amount of depth in such a short period of time, and it kills me I’m going to have to wait until June before we re-visit this world again.

Gotham Academy #6 is another great installment of the best Batman book no one’s reading. Hopefully the new addition to the cast will get the book some new readers, because I would hate to see it end after the next arc.

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Mark & Eve & Alex & Scott & Emma Edition

Invincible_118Invincible #118

Robert Kirkman/Ryan Ottley/Jason Howard/Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Image $.25

CHRIS FACT: If you offer a comic that I have the SLIGHTEST interest in for under $1, I will buy it.

Invincible is a book I’ve read for a long time. Like 104 consecutive issues long. It was also a book that got a little too gross for my liking and jumped ship. But for a quarter, I was willing to pick it up and see what Mark and the gang were up to these days. For the record, Invincible 118 is definitely NOT the perfect jumping on point for new readers. There’s a 6 page recap of the series, and that’s HELLA intimidating if your new to the series. But if you’re a lapse reader like myself, it’s pretty good issue to jump back in on and not be too lost.

Robert Kirkman is still going strong on this book, mixing drama with some much needed but slightly juvenile humor, which is needed because this book gets GRIM in the last few pages. TRIGGER WARNING/SPOILERS: There’s a sexual violence discussion that while handled well, kind of comes out of nowhere if you’re not caught up on the book. I applaud Kirkman for taking some story telling risks and actually pulling it off, but I’m not sure if that’s going to win him any new readers.

Ryan Ottley, one of my favorite artists today and one of the things I miss most about the book, has started inking himself, and it’s a bit jarring. His art looks a little looser, and more Erik Larsen-esque. It’s not bad mind you, it’s just took me by surprise. On colors we have  Jean-Francois Beaulieu who uses a brighter palette than John Raunch did, but still isn’t on FC Plascencia level. In his and Raunch’s defense, it could be a printing issue, but without a digital copy of the book, it’s hard to say.

 

Invincible ends on a solid cliffhanger, hoping to keep anyone new to the series on. For me, it’s not enough to get to start buying the title again, but it was a nice to revisit the book. I applaud Invincible for being a super hero book where there’s some consequences for the cast’s actions because there’s no status quo, I just have no desire to stick around.

 

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_32_TextlessUncanny X-men 32

Brian Michael Bendis/ Chris Bachalo/Tim Townsend

Marvel $3.99

I’m sure Brian Michael Bendis isn’t the type of dude who googles his own name and reads reviews of his comics. Dude has better to do with his time. But man, it really does feel like Uncanny X-men 32 addresses all of my complaints with the book in a single done in one.

The end of AXIS is finally addressed in this book as Cyclops’ brother Havok joins the cast. Bendis’ take on Alex is fun, although you’ve have to be caught up on Rick Remender‘s runs on Uncanny Avengers and AXIS to understand why he’s currently the way he is. Alex acts as the stand in for the reader, and helps us get caught up on what went down at the end of the last issue and the beginning of this one. There’s a bit with Scott and Emma that made me MAD as of fan of those readers, but speaks of Bendis’ talents. He managed to get some strong emotions out of me with this comic, something he hasn’t done with this book in some time. Bendis has a pretty good track record with done and ones on this title, but this is easily one of his stronger issues on this run.

Chris Bachalo and his army of inkers provide to supply this book with some fine art (that cover is especially good), although the 2 different colors and some odd photoshopping when it comes to the background hurts it in places. It doesn’t ruin the book in any way, but it certainly pulled me out of the experience a few times. But when it’s good, it’s good, especially when it comes to that Scott and Emma confrontation. Again, a great scene that hurt me oh so much.

As we approach the end of Bendis’ Uncanny X-men run, it’s nice to see the writer continue to take the X-men in some interesting directions while writing some excellent comics. His run on Uncanny has been a little uneven in place, but issues like these overshadow the weaker issues. Uncanny X-men 32 may be the best yet, setting the up the end of  this volume of  UXM on a interesting foot.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: SEXCASTLE

SexCastleCoverSEXCASTLE

Kyle Starks

Image $15.99

Reviewed by Chris Troy 

“Nurse, this baby was born mean!”

Comics Alliance contributor/upcoming X-men ’92 writer Chris Sims first brought Kyle Starks‘ brilliant SEXCASTLE to my attention via a an article/Kickstartr plug on CA. The panel that sold me on the book is below, edited because language, but the important thing about this page remains unaltered:

Sexcastle03-393x630

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last panel is arguably the best line of comics dialogue in 2015/the last 10 years/since Ben Grimm declared it was “Clobberin’ Time” for the first time.

Once SEXCASTLE was fully funded, Image Comics, who has also given us comics with sex in the title such as SEX and SEX CRIMINALS, picked up the publishing rights, and unleashed Kyle Starks insanely rad comic on the masses last week. It’s a tribute/parody of classic ’80s/90s action films, which is nothing new to comics, but so over the top it feels fresh. Sexcastle definitely pays homage to the works that inspired it, but it also laughs at them, and encourages others to do so as well.

fistburger006SEXCASTLE is the tale of Shane Sexcastle, once the world’s greatest assassin, now an ex-con who ready to start life over in a small town. Of course that sort of plot doesn’t make for the most action packed action comic, so Shane’s vow to give up violence is short lived, and his legacy of brutality* catches up to him once he messes up some locale. This ends in hella punching several characters that bear resemblance to a lot of action film icons, and all of them dying terrible and hilarious deaths. Oh and an actual bear. Sexcastle isn’t exactly the most serious of comics folks.

What Sexcastle is however, is arguably the most quotable comic in some time. The dialogue is a blend of action movies and Chris Onstad‘s Achewood, meaning a lot of dumb things are said in clever and hilarious ways. There’s jokes everywhere in this book, and all of them stick their landing mostly because they’re played straight, and rarely acknowledged. I’m honestly surprised the book isn’t labeled as an action-comedy, but then again I suppose there’s nothing funny about violence. No, that’s a lie, comics violence can be hilarious, especially when GUNCHUCKS are involved.

Sexcastle01Starks’ artwork is simplistic, and honestly that’s for the best. Like I just said, there’s a ton of graphic violence in this book, and this book would probably turn me off to it a bit if it looked too realistic. The cartoony style works in the comic’s favor, as does having the book being printed in black and white with some gray-scaling. Even the hand penned lettering is often hilarious, featuring sound sound effects like ONG-BAK’D, PANTIED, and a bunch of others words I can’t post here.

SEXCASTLE, while chock full of good morals, is definitely not for the children. BUT it’s arguably the best comic release of the year. Yeah, I know, Scott McCloud released something not too long along, and technically this was first released in 2014, BUT MCCLOUD’S FOR NERDS** AND SEXCASTLE DOESN’T ACKNOWLEDGE SUCH LAME CONCEPTS AS TIME! To paraphrase The Simpsons, BUY SEXCASTLE OR GO TO HELL!

 

 

 

*Shout of to the Misfits!

** Not personal Scott McCloud, but this book owns harder than both The Raids and Dredd combined.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: #BatgirlofBurnside Edition

So in case haven’t sold a large  small portion of your humanity to the internet like I have, you may have missed this week’s Batgirl controversy. The Outhouse has a good summary of the insanity if you care to catch up on it, and I agree with DC‘s  decision to recall the cover. Sadly, there’s a loud internet minority that doesn’t agree with me, but I really don’t give a toss about their whacks opinions.

As fate would have it (“or maybe it’s a CONSPIRACY?!” says that one guy on Facebook no one really likes), not only did this month’s issue of Batgirl drop this week, but the Batgirl: Endgame tie-in issue dropped as well. Since Barbara is once again in the spotlight, I’d figured I’d cover both issues in the column, because it makes or better narrative or something.

batgirlendgame1BG40cover-copy_5488f03771edf2.26063680Batgirl: Endgame #1

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Bengal

Batgirl #40

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks 

DC $2.99

Batgirl Endgame wasn’t what I expecting, but delightful none the less. Taking place before the events of Batman #40, but after Batgirl #40, the one shot sees Babs helping out with some evacuating while dealing with the ( HERE LIES SPOILERS) The Joker plague that infected Gotham.

The comic is impressive on 2 major levels. It’s a silent issue of sorts, which ever since G.I. Joe #21, is nothing new, but still an hard feet to pull off. What separate this silent issue from past ones is the clear use of Emojis, thus making it the MOST 2015 of comics. The other things that wow me was the art of Bengal, who has the not easy task of being the first artist to draw something related the series since Babs Tarr. This France-based artist delivers some gorgeous and really expressive art, and successfully manages to tell a emotional story without the use of any dialogue.

The story, by series regulars Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, itself is fairly straight forward, and a tad on the fluff side, but let’s be real, there’s only so much you can do with a editorial mandated tie in. Upside, it’s a simple one-shot (unlike the Death of the Story arc from a few years back), the gets to see Batgirl be a creative and triumphant hero, which is nice when dealing with Joker related stuff. It’s a solid alternative to the pretty grim stuff that’s been going with Batman proper, and shows that Barbara can be triumphant and stay true to her character even in the darkest of situations.

With Batgirl #40 we have a story in a very modern setting with a some retro plot elements. The previous issue gave us the reveal of the first arc’s big bad, and we get it’s origin with this issue. It’s a bit disappointing in my opinion, as SPOILERS a rogue AI based on Batgirl’s brain patterns is something  straight out of Wargames. I do appreciate it being  an analogy for the Batgirl’s ongoing struggle with her identity, but I thought it was a little ham fisted. That being said, I REALLY dug the last few pages of the issue, and I’m hyped to see what June will bring for this title and the upcoming Black Canary title.

 

Even though I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of the book’s plot, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Marius Wicks’ visuals are still gorgeous. Tarr’s facial expressions, beautiful character designs & outfits and brutal yet clean fights scenes combined with Wicks’ crisp colors palette are still the main reason to buy this book. And while Stewart and Brenden Fletcher’s script wasn’t as strong as i’ts been in the past, they do drop some interesting hints about the possible future of some of the cast members.

 

Batgirl #40 is a bit uneven, and Batgirl Endgame is a bit of light read, but I wouldn’t call either comics bad. They’re fun books, with visuals that aren’t afraid to try new things. They both feel fresh, which is appreciated and welcomed, as I rather see comic try and fail then stick to  a proven but tired formula. Batgirl is a book that embraces the changing comic book medium, and that makes it a must read.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Duck Puns Edition

howard_the_duck_1_coverHoward The Duck #1

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

I love the fact that we now live in a world where the box office success of Guardians of the Galaxy means Chip Zdarsky gets to write a Howard the Duck book drawn by Joe Quinones.

Howard the Duck is the latest off-beat Marvel book that’s unsurprisingly amazing. Joe Quinones has been drawing a number of beautiful covers for years, so this book looking as good as it does is expected. And Zdarkseid (Mandatory misspelling of Chip’s pen name=GET) has been one of the funniest dudes in comics as of late, so Howard being a laugh riot also isn’t shocking.

What I wasn’t expecting was this creative team to build a narrative that spans from the original Howard the Duck #1 all the way to the GOTG post credit scene. It’s the opposite of the recently relaunched Ant-Man, embracing Howard’s weird history, not to mention the recently concluded She- Hulk series, yet presenting in a way that easy for new reader to pick up. I would say it’s the best Howard I’ve read since creator Steve Gerber’s last run, but I’m sure there was also a mini series where Howard turned into a MODOK, which is also pretty great.

I can’t ever recall wanting a Howard the Duck series, but now that I have one by this specific creative team I kind of love it. It looks great, it’s funny as hell and there’s enough content in the first issue that warrants a re-read. Howard the Duck #1 is not unlike Squirrel girl#1 where Marvel has given us super hero humor book by some top-self creators. Also if anyone at Marvel is reading this, a Zdarsky-penned “Self-loathing Spider-Man” series is something I want now.

 

portrait_incredibleSpider-Gwen #2

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodrigues/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

I’ll be honest, I was willing to trade wait Spider-Gwen even with the first issue being quite superb. But then Scumbag Matt Murdock made an appearance, and suddenly I was $4 poorer.

Spider-Gwen continues the trend of excellent talking animal comics by Marvel this week, as Spider-Ham plays a unexpected, but none the less important role in this issue, which sees both Stacys deal with their respected Spider-Gwen related problems. Having both Stacys take point this issue gives it a unique perspective, as Father/Daughter relationships are rarely explored in super hero comics. We also get to see more of this reimagined Marvel universe characters, and a background Easter egg promising an interesting take on one Felicia Hardy. In a way it hits a lot of the same beats the first issue did, while continuing to develop the characters and move the story forward. This continues to be Jason Latour‘s finest Marvel work to date, especially with the dialogue sounding and flowing as well as it does.

Visually, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi continue to provide stellar art for this book. Each character is boiled down to a specific characteristic (Murdock’s always sleazy, Frank Castle always looks determined, Spider-Ham is VERY much a pig) under Rodriguez’s skillful line work, and the heavy use of pink and green against the darker backgrounds of this book still make it look slick as hell.

Spider-Gwen #2 is pretty much more of the same of what we got from issue 1, which is fine. The first issue was rad, as was this one. Between this and the newly relaunched Spider-Woman, we have two awesome alternatives to Amazing Spider-Man, with each book offering something fresh and fun.

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Sassy Spies Editions

Yes, yes, I’m well aware Spider-Woman isn’t a spy anymore, but she’s still in Secret Avengers for the next 2 months so it works.

 

635544611181339292-SpiderWoman-coverSpider-Woman #5

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez

Marvel $3.99

NEW STATUS QUO! NEW COSTUME! NEW ARTIST! 5TH ISSUE IN!

Spider-Woman, not unlike Spider-Gwen, is done with Spider-Verse nonsense, done with the Avengers, done with Greg Land, and is hitting the streets with a new mission and a new slick look courtesy of Kris Anka. Writer Dennis Hopeless is now free to tell stories without having to worry about tying into Amazing Spider-Man, and the book’s all the better for it.

 

Land is replaced by former Daredevil colorist/Fill in Artist Javier Rodriguez, who reminds everyone that he can draw and color the hell out of a comic 5 pages into this issue. Rodriquez definitely picked up some tricks coloring Chris Samnee over the years, which explains why is layouts are so good. And of course, the coloring on this book is surreal. The way Rodriquez colors the rain almost make those panels feel 3-D. And man, that new costume looks amazing on Jessica. Inking him is Alvaro Lopez, who knows where to thicken his black lines and where to keep them thin. He’s a fine match for Javier.

 

Hopeless staying aboard on the title is A-O-K with me, as he’s a smart writer with a knack of coming up with unique premises on corporate comic characters. Jessica struggling with going solo is an interesting predicament for a super hero, and it’s a cool challenge for her to overcome. And the addition of Daily Bugle mainstay Phil Urich is neat, and gives Jessica a great character to interact with. Also Hopeless appeals to my loves of the recently completed Superior Foes of Spider-Man and brings in several Z-list Marvel villains for Jessica to harass.

 

Spider-Woman #5 is not unlike the Bab Tarring of Batgirl, which is fine because that was a smart move, and it’s certainly now working for J-Drew.   Between this, Silk and Spider-Gwen, you’d think the comics world would be sick of female Spider-ladies, but not that’s far from the case. Each one of these titles brings something to new to medium, and all of them are good comics.  Spider-Woman #5 is a VERY good comic that should have been a #1. I know the book got a nice sales boost launching and tying into Spider-Verse, but THIS is the debut issue the creators and characters deserve.

 

stk665635Grayson #8

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

This issue sees the end of season 1 wrapping up, as the book goes on hiatus for 2 months due to DC moving to the west coast and not replacing them with robots like I did (Hence I spell all good like always). In terms of endings, I don’t think this could have been any better.

Issue 8’s cover is pretty spot on, as SPYRAL finds a traitor in it’s ranks, and it’s up to Agent Grayson to save the day. It brings the cast of mostly new characters together in a fun and creative way, and ends on a brutal note. It’s spy comics done right, which has been this creative team’s MO since day 1, so this issue being as great as it is doesn’t come at that much of a surprise. Tom King and Tim Seeley deliver another fine script with some choice dialogue and neat twists, and Mike Janin and Jeromy Cox make the whole thing looks so pretty. Even when things get dark and violent, which says a lot about how I judge beauty.

Issue 8 is an issue that wraps up some plot-lines, starts new ones, and sees one of Dick Grayson’s student name each of his butt cheeks. It’s another great installment of comic that has been a crazy fun ride, and this slight break will make me miss it a ton.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Jeff Lemire Debut edition

Welcome to the article where I know I’m going to spell Lemire as “Lemiere” at least twice and not notice it until it’s pointed out in the comments section/Twitter.

Jeff Lemire, who’s had a big week, is a writer who’s stuff I haven’t touched in awhile, but I definitely liked is work in the past. His run on Animal Man was quite good, he did a pre-Flaspoint/New 52 Superboy book that was equally bizarre as it was charming, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of his creator owned stuff. This week, Lemire launches his new Indie book under Image, and relaunches my favorite Marvel comic (that’s yet to be completed).

Descender-01-6b1c3Descender #1

Jeff Lemire/Dustin Nguyen

Image $2.99

Ever since Saga took over comics, Image has had no shortage of comics involving space, children, crime or a combination of all three. Most of those book has also been amazing, so no one complains about it because otherwise the alternative is going back to Spawn or Witchblade.

As every review of Descender will tell you, Sony Pictures ponied up a ton of money to secure the films right to the comic, despite the fact it was still a month away from hitting the stands. Created by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, it is a GORGEOUS looking book, and  it reads like Chris Nolan directing a Pixar movie. If that’s now something you want in your life, I wouldn’t hold you breathe, also welcome to the nightmare that is being me. But yeah, Nguyen’s water colors look great, and Lemire’s writing is spot on. Despite this being another comic about a young boy by Lemire (see Blankets, Superboy, parts of his new Hawwkeye series,  Sweet Tooth), he introduces a weird  cast that’s helps suck you into this world that he’s co-created. It’s a surprisingly charming book, despite some really dark plot points and themes.

I went into Descender with a good feeling, and I ended up liking it a lot more than I was expecting. Robots and space are often my jams when it comes to media, and Descender uses them to tell an exciting new story I’m eager to read more of.

 

All-New_Hawkeye_Vol_1_1_TextlessAll-New Hawkeye #1

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Here we have the other great looking Jeff Lemire comic to debut this week. Sadly, I am not as happy with it as I was with Descender.

All-New Hawkeye is not a bad comic, but it just didn’t wow me like the yet to be completed Matt Fraction/David Aja book did. That book had a mission statement from day one (Show what Hawkeye does on his day off). This one starts off mostly set in the past, and cuts to the Hawkeyes doing some avenging in the present. While I appreciate Lemire taking the book in a new direction, it still needs a hook. All I got from it was “Hey, the previous Hawkeye series got Marvel a ton of buzz and acclaim, let’s keep this book going.” Hawkeye volume 1 issue 1 felt like a cool new indie book, where as ANH feels like more like a really good cover band messing up my favorite song. Lemire’s attempt to capture Clint and Kate’s banter is appreciated, but it’s something he needs to work on. It felt colder and nagging than it did humorous and playful.

Visually, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring couldn’t be better replacements for David Aja & Matt Hollingsworth. Perez’s art is the best thing about this book, and his painted illustrations for the flashback material are gorgeous. And when paired with Herring for the modern stuff, we get some solid action scenes, with Herring doing his best to ape Matt Hollingsworth flat color pallet. It works for the most part, because while Perez isn’t as strong as the veteran Aja, Herring’s bold colors help complete the visual experience. All New Hawkeye is a great looking book, and I’m glad Perez and Herring are able to deliver on the art end of things like Aja, Annie Wu and the other Hawkeye volume 1 artists before them.

In the new creative team’s defense, it was an almost impossible task to make me fall in love with this book like I did with the previous volume. Following up to that creative team is a huge  challenge, and they definitely tried to do their best with this issue. I have faith that Lemire can escape Fraction’s shadow sooner rather than later, but I’ll admit, it felt weird to read a Hawkeye comic that I didn’t fall in love with immediately. I hope that’s something that doesn’t happen again.

 

 

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