Category: Christopher Troy

Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Young and the Restless edition

This week’s unintentional theme for reviews is #Teens. It would have been #JamieMcKelviecovers, but Kris Anka did the cover to Ms Marvel, also, that hashtag would be crazy long.

STK655085Ms Marvel #10

G Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

After an unexpected hiatus, Ms. Marvel returns to deal with troubled teens and murderous robots via a mad scientist cockatiel. Also yes, I was giggling in delight as I typed those last 3 words, I am an adult.

With issue 9 revealing Ms Marvel’s roots (hint/spoiler: Inhuman), issue 10 is a return to form for the series, using the generational gap in America as a source of inspiration for the issue’s plot. It’s something I haven’t seen done as well since Brian K Vaughn and series artist Adrian Alphona were on Runaways,  mixing actual TEEN issues with comic book super villains. Is it a hoot.

G Willow Wilson was recently signed to an exclusive contract with Marvel, and the dialogue for this issue is all the proof why that was a smart movie. Everything that comes out of Kamala Khan’s mouth sounds genuine for a teenager in the Marvel universe, even when it’s calling for her teleporting pet doggie. Kamala as a  representation of the modern teenager works as well as Hawkeye as the 3o yr old uncomfortable in his own skin, cough cough me.

Alphona and colorist Ian Herring continue to be brilliant on this book. It’s trippy, colorful and so expressive, making it a unique looking book even in Marvel’s wonderfully diverse art styles. Each panel is crammed with details that contain fun little sight gags, Easter eggs or just some funny looking stuff.

Ms Marvel continues to be the best comics to debut from Marvel this year, with the most likable lead to be introduced into the MU in some time. Any and all the success and praise the title has received is warranted, and it’s well worth picking up, as per usual.

wickeddivine_06_2The Wicked + the Divine #6

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

It’s weird to have an Image book go on hiatus for only a month, but it’s certainly welcomed.

I believe in the concept of a multiverse. Somewhere, I’m sure artist Jamie McKelvie didn’t get into comics, but fashion instead, and is brilliant. Luckily we live in the universe where McKelvie draws pretty people who are insanely well-dressed.

The Wicked+The Divine #6 takes place one month after the events of issue 5, and sees our lead still in mourning. I reminds me a lot of the beginning of the recently conclude Legend of Korra season, only with less bending and more…British? Anywho, Laura’s a hot mess, we’re introduced into a rad new character, and the subject of fandoms and conventions are woven into the narrative.

It’s hard to picture a creative team more “With it” then Mckelvie and Kieron Gillen. Despite WickedDivine being urban fantasy, everything feels so realistic and modern, from the dialogue to the use of certain technology. Even Laura’s cracked iphone will make you take notice and give you a sense of familiarity.

Matthew Wilson is arguably my favorite colorist in comics at the moment, and reading his stuff digitally is the best way to experience his talents. His work really makes McKelvie’s art look as good as it does, as his choice in colors ultimately unit McKelvie’s pictures and Gillen words, making for a beautiful package, not to mention a terrific looking book.

This volume of The Wicked + The Divine is off to a smart start, and I’m super curious as to how the subject of fandoms will tie into the story. Their gods murder mystery book is somehow the most human book on the market, and a testament of how talented this team is.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Inside Baseball edition

In a year we’ve had a lot of great books drop, this may be the strongest week for comics all year. And no, I’m not just saying that because Sex Criminals dropped with an a incredible reference to another hit Image title. Spoilers, that joke is all sorts of wrong in the best sorts of ways. There’s also another pair of books that dropped that were rad, although one of them has some troublesome elements. Let’s discuss yes?

4264340-batgirl+01Batgirl #37

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

DC $2.99

If I could recommend this book based on it’s cover alone, I would. It’s sharp, clever and easily one of the best covers to drop in 2014.

Be warned though, I’m sad to say that the villain of Batgirl #37  issue is bit of a problematic trope. Which is unfortunate, because anyone should be able to enjoy this book, as it definitely one of the finest coming out from DC these days.

If you don’t mind that particular rough element though, you’re in for a visual treat. Babs Tarr‘s storytelling is incredible (also reminder that Cameron Stewart does the break downs) and Maris Wicks’ coloring is definitely on another level. There’s a lot of glizz and glam in this issue, and Wicks’ coloring makes it almost look 3-D, which is an super impressive feat in itself. There’s a panel in this issue that could have easily ruined the book for long time Batgirl fans, but it’s handled so well it got an audible “Holy Crap” from me when I read it on the subway.

Batgirl continues to be a fun revamp of a beloved character. And while all the Instagram/Uber references may date the book in a few years, it still feels like the most relevant and fresh book coming out of DC these days. Even with the problems this issue faced with the villain, it’s still a good issue early in it’s fan favorite run.

bitchplanet_01aBitch Planet #1

Kelly Sue DeConnick/Valentine De Landro/Cris Peters/Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

It’s been entirely too long since I’ve gotten to talk about Kelly Sue Deconnick book, so you may want to prepare yourself for some serious gushing soon.

Bitch Planet has been on my radar since it was announced earlier this year at the Image Expo in San Fran. The original pitch made it come off as campy sci-fi space drama, but the first issues reads more like “Oz” than “Orange is the New Black“, and I couldn’t be happier.

Kelly Sue Deconnick is one of most favorite people currently working in comics, and I couldn’t help but love how fresh and unapologetic it is. It’s a unique concept (women being tossed in a planet-sized prison for any number of reasons) that’s illustrated beautifully by the talents of Valentine De Landro and Cris Peter. Visually it reminds me a lot of Michael Walsh & Matthew Wilson‘s work on Secret Avengers, but  a little more cleaner line work and with a little more psychedelic color palette. Paired with KSD’s razor sharp dialogue, it’s amazing debut, with 2 pair of fantastic new characters that will get your attention immediately.

DeConnick, De Landro and their team have created a book that feels important, with it’s strong feminist message, characters with body times usually not associated with comics’ protagonists and it’s “our way or the high way” approach. The type of book comics needs, and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate creative team to deliver it. Bitch Planet may be Kelly Sue’s best work to date, and it’s worth your time.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Troys, but with Tiny Pink Books: Just the Tips

just_the_tips-cov1corJust the Tips

Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

Image, $12.99, RATED M/Mature

I grew up with an aunt who loved having small little humor books for her coffee table. A bunch of them contained content that I didn’t get at the time, nor should have been looking at to begin with, but the jokes I did get were pretty funny, I guess. So to see the guys behind Sex Criminals do something in that vein with their new book, Just the Tips, brings up some weird nostalgia in me. More importantly though, it makes me laugh quite hard, and I wish I phrased all of this better, hashtag yikes.

Just the Tips, for those of you not in the know, is a mix of new and older material from Sex Crimz, and on paper is a book in which Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky help you be better at sexy times. There’s nothing in this book that affects the narrative in the proper Sex Criminals comic, so if you’re expecting that sort of thing, you may be slightly disappointed. Speaking of disappointing, I was talking to your lady friend and-I’m sorry, I’ll stop.

Tips02That being said, if you’re just here for laughs and questionable imagery, you’re fine. Sure you’ll fine some letters and SEX TIPS from the generally excellent reader’s letters column reprinted here, but none of the smart  and thoughtful ones. It the gross and funny ones, don’t worry you won’t actually learn anything, which is all a part of the joke anyway.

Aside from the reprinted Sex Tips, positions and letters, Matt and Chip gifted the reader with a bunch of erotica, pick-up lines, dirty talk, and my personal favorite movie reviews of sex parody movies that they’ve created. Oh and the entire things kicks off with an introduction from the President himself of the Unite States himself, Barack Obama. Yeah, I’m surprised they got him for this book too, but Chip and Matt are pretty popular these days.

Chip Zdarsky and Matt Fraction telling terrible, dirty jokes, is the selling point of this book, and it’s the main reason it works out so well. Their personalities and humor have made them 2 of the most in-demand and beloved creators currently in comics, so them spending 92 pages making dick jokes is the type of book that would only work for them. Well them and Howard Chakyin, but that’s a difference talk for another day.

tips-panelDesign wise, Just The Tips is simplistic, but attractive, mostly consisting of float 2 color pages. A lot of black and pink, ensuring that this book looks like a sex toy, which I’m sure is intentional. Any of Zdarsky’s art that appears in here isn’t as refined as what appears in Sex Criminals proper, but it’s still charming in it own special way. Well  as charming as the topic can be. Be prepared to have the solar system ruined for you half way through this book.

Over the last year Sex Criminals has proven to be one of the most unconventional successes in comics, with it’s original premise, and it’s honest and hilarious look at sex. Just The Tips isn’t as thought provoking or insightful, but it isn’t meant to be. It’s 92 pages of adult humor and apologies, and the perfect thing to make for awkward conversation if read in public. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a Brimper, or know someone who’s down with Brimping.

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Lovable Rogues edition

Grayson_Vol_1-5_Cover-1_TeaserGrayson #5

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin/ Jeremy Cox

DC Comics  $2.99

Grayson #5 is arguably the most ambitious issue since the Future’s End one-shot. That being said, while issue 5 looks great, it’s arguably the weakest issue to date.

The premise of this issue is that a mission has gone off the rails, so Dick Grayson, Helena, the Midnighter and a new born child are forced to walk across 200 miles of desert to reach civilization. The purpose of this issue is to show the reader that Dick Grayson never gives up, is pretty much perfect, doesn’t afraid of anything, blah blah blah.

While I dig what Tim Seeley and Tom King are trying to do with this issue, it’s something that we’ve been seeing since issue 1: that Dick Grayson values life and will do whatever to protect it. This issue feels like it spinning it’s wheels a bit, instead of advancing the plot. Helena’s presence feels tacted on, and the ending is kind of a mess.

That being said, it’s still a gorgeous book. Mikel Janin does a excellent job of drawing sexy people in the desert, and I’m sure a ton of people are glad to see shirtless Dick Grayson run around with a 10 day year old beard. He also does a lot of interesting things with his story-telling with double page spreads and multiple panel work, And colorist Jeremy Cox really steps up this issue, showing how brutal the desert setting  is, and making the relatively simplistic backgrounds come to live.

Grayson #5 is a frustrating comic, that looks great but offers new in the narrative. It’s a rare misstep from a solid creative team.

Legendary_Star-Lord_Vol_1_6_TextlessLegendary Star-Lord #6

Sam Humphries/Paco Medina/Juan Vlasco/Davis Curiel/

$3.99 Marvel

WACKY DATE ISSUE, WACKY DATE ISSUE!

Legendary Star-Lord  #6 sees Kitty Pryde and Peter Quill go on their first date. Well sorta date, as Kitty is still on Earth, so it’s Kitty via hologram. Oh and there are still a bunch of people trying to kill Peter Quill, so that complicates things a bit, and ensures that this is a wacky date issue.

This is not the first comic that’s tried to do the date with a twist thing. It’s be done to death, and even by attempting it, risks being extremely troupey and cliche. That being said, the team of Sam Humphries and Paco Medina have made their run on Star-Lord incredibly fun, so it’s comes as no surprise that this issue is a hoot.

Humphries and Medina’s handling of Kitty Pryde in this series has been nothing short of excellent, so getting more screen time with her in this issue works in the book’s favor. She works well opposite of Star-Lord, and Humphries draws a lot of the character’s history to make her very compelling co-star. Also he and Paco and like the only dudes in comics that seem to remember Lockeheed exists, so seeing that little purple dragon pop up a bunch is a treat for me.

Speaking of treats, Paco Medina’s art is great. The details on his backgrounds are Jim Lee-esque, and his facial expressions and  character’s body language is superb. Star-Lord is a book that is very high energy and fun and is serviced well by Medina’s art, combined with excellent and clean inks from Juan Vlasco and bright & vivid colors by David Curiel.

Legendary Star-Lord continues to be a fun book with a ton of humor, romance, and action. It’s a nice homage to the space operas inspired by it, but not afraid to add some fun little twists to it. And with a cool mystery revealed and fun, exciting cliff hanger ended, I’m excited to see what the next issue brings.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17

My pull list last week consisted of 1 whole title. This week was much better, as several great comics dropped, making me happy and my wallet sad. One of those books was the final issue of The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, which I decided warrants an article/review all to itself. BE WARNED, WE’RE GOING TO GET DEEP INTO SPOILERS!

portrait_incredibleThe Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17

Nick Spencer/Steve Lieber/Rachel Rosenberg

Marvel $3.99

When I reviewed SUP FOES #16, I stated that if that was the final issue of the series, I would have been more than pleased. But now that I’ve read issue 17, I can proudly say that past me was wrong once again, and it was for all the right reasons.

SUP FOES #17 is the issue where Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber and Rachelle Rosenberg show their hand, and all the secrets and twists are revealed. The massive heist and gang wars are all just a distraction for Boomerang, who doesn’t want to the run the city as a crime boss, but as a star pitcher. For the New York Mehs, an excellent visual gag by Lieber that’s also a pretty accurate description of that team. Of course, the other 5 members of the Sinister “6″ weren’t in on that plan, so they’re kinda in a bind/in the middle of a 4 way betrayal, and the sudden appearance a certain gun toting vigilante.

But of course, Boomerang can’t (and shouldn’t) have nice things, and poop hits the fan shortly after his plan is explained. His final fate is purposely vague , a reference to the Sopranoes, which he names drops, and it features a character who’s appearance makes all the sense in the world. Also I called it last month, so it didn’t exactly come as a complete surprise. The other Sinister 5 member also get their just desserts, with 2 of them ending up in better positions that they were in when the book started, where as the other 2 are probably not. We also get an appearance from poor Mach-VII and a certain bar tender who apparently was more than she lead on to be.

 

The humor in Superior Foes is definitely a good reason as to  why this book so great. There’s a number of hilarious panels that really show up the genius of both Spencer and Steve with both visual and spoken jokes, not to mention some really odd and insane references, especially when it comes to a gag involving the Shocker. References can sometimes be really cheap when it comes to jokes (oh look it’s like that other thing I like, haha), but Spencer and Lieber call themselves out on it as well, and it works in their favor.

But it’s ultimately the message of Superior Foes, eulogized by former wrestler/upcoming Thor Annual writer CM Punk,  that explains  why this book is so great. Spencer, Lieber and Rosenberge ultimately told the tale of a bunch of people who had a dream, and went about the easiest and sometimes most illegal ways to achieve it. It’s not a GREAT moral, but it something we can all relate to on one way or another, sometimes even more so than the super-altruistic leads of these cape comics.

The Superior Foes of Spider-Man wasn’t a book that changed the Marvel Universe (for 6 months), sold incredibly well, or had a massive fanbase like the Carol Corp. What it was thought was Nick Spencer delivering some of the funniest and clever scripts in his Marvel career, Steve Lieber drawing the hell out of this book (this particular issue average 8 panels a page, if not more, without a drop in quality), and Rachelle Rosenberg’s coloring adding another dimensional to the the pencil art (see the Boomerang at the bar pages in this issue for some of her finest work), and giving the book a uniform look when there was a fill in artist.  SUP FOES was a book I almost missed out on when it first launched, and I’m glad I was there for the ride now that it’s over.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Trades!

Those invested in this blog’s continuity (WHY?!?) , you may have recalled that I only reviewed one single issue this past week.

That being said, Image, a publisher I have not shut up about at all this year, has released a number of super impressive hardcovers this past week (and a trade I’m tossing in there because I can). So I’m going to spotlight them here, because they’re all good reads that may or may not be under your radar, or you need some gift ideas for Black Friday.

CasanovaVol1HC_CoverFirst we have The Casanova Complete Edition Volume 1: Luxuria. Casanova is arguably the most Matt Fractiony Matt Fraction book and largely considered to be the book that made him stand out and be notice. It’s the third time this book’s been re-release and the 1st to be released by Image in color and in a fancy hardcover.

The easiest way to describe the book is a multidimensional spy thriller starring Secret Agent Mick Jagger who has some major daddy issues. That probably doesn’t clarify much, but such is the way in Casanova. It’s a book that requires you too devote your entire self to get comprehend, and if you do, you’ll be rewarded with an great read with gorgeous art work. Artists and brothers Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon channel a lot of Mike Mignola in their art, only trading in scares for trippy sci-fi tech and beautiful people. Having the art increased allows the reader to appreciate how much work they put into their art. While the $30 is a lot to ask for 4 comics, you’ll also get a ton of bonus content. It’s a must for Fraction fans, especially with the long await Volume 4 debuting in January.

 

51DjHOqStyL._SL500_AA300_The other massive re-release of collected material is Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples Saga. The deluxe hardcover collects the first 3 trades worth of material ( 18 issues to be precise) plus bonus material that was never put in the bare bones trades. Also a new cover, poking fun of some controversy the book faced by some people with dumb opinions. This Romeo and Juliet meets Star Wars comic is cheaper to buy in single trades ( $40 vs $50), but if you’re new to the book or want to double dip, I can’t recommend going with the hardcover enough. Staples art looks fantastic blown up in this oversized hardcover, and it’s probably the closet we’ll ever get to seeing Saga in the children’s book format that it draws its inspiration from. I know this isn’t much of a review, but I’ve talked about this book A LOT in the pass, so you should know my feelings towards it by now.

TheWickedAndDivine_vol1-1And while not in a snazzy hardcover, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine also gets its first trade paperback. This is the newest of the 3 Image collections to hit the stands, and tells of the tale of a fan obsessed with pop icons who are actually reincarnated gods, and looking super pretty while dealing with their moralities. Not exactly the cheeriest of books I know, but I’m a fan of Team Gillen/McKelvie/ Matthew Wilson, and cannot recommend the trade enough if you’ve dug any of their past works. The trade collects issues 1-5 of the hit series, but a cover gallery. Well worth the $10 price tag, especially given the level of quality in the book.

 

These three, along with the excellent delux edition of Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark are all excellent introductions to some of the best books available today. I recommend picking up all of them, or having someone do so for you as soon as possible.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Solo X-Men

It’s a rare week for me, one where more trades of note dropped than books I buy, thanks to scheduling and delays. So welcome to the article where I dedicate 500 words to a single issues of Uncanny X-men.

 

portrait_incredibleUncanny X-men #28

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka

Marvel $3.99

Recently, Newsarama blogger Jim Mclauchlin wrote an article on said site putting comics journalism on blast. One of the things he stated  was that reviewing single issues of comics was unfair to creators, as it’s only focusing on one chapter of a story, which is something you wouldn’t see in a literary review . While there were several points in that article I agreed with, Jim also writes for a site that does Top Ten lists daily, and it’s totally fair to review comics on a issue to issue basis, because that is how they are sold. If Marvel or DC want to do single story graphic novels only, I would be all about that, but since they don’t, Imma do me and review their books as they hit the stands.

 

Which brings us to this month’s installment of Uncanny X-men, which is the latest chapter of the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier retcon arc. It’s worth starting off that the cover credits Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend on the art side of thing for this issue (obviously Brian Michael Bendis is credited as the writer correctly) , which is incorrect because Kris Anka handles that. The cover also implies a Magneto Vs Cyclops thrown down (again), which is also incorrect because Mags appears for all of one page. What I’m saying is that trusting Marvel is risky business.

Jokes aside, Uncanny X-men 28 is a solid issue. The quick recap is  that Scott Summers, the least pursued #1 terrorist in the Marvel Universe, is  trying to get walking macguffin Matthew Malloy to join his revolution. You know, the revolution that’s really not taken off after 30 issues. It’s a dialgoue heavy issue that sees 3 X-men’s faith in Charles Xavier’s teaching tested, and how differently they react to it. Oh and a lot of close ups of people’s faces, explosions and teleporting.

While the dialogue is pretty much by the numbers, with some cool callbacks to the X-men’s history, Kris Anka’s art work continues to wow me. Thanks to Bendis’ callbacks, we get to see Anka’s interpretations of the X-Men throughout time, ranging from the silver age to the modern age, and most importantly including the beloved Jim Lee designed 1990s roster. Marvel, if you do not publish a X-men’92 book with at least covers by Anka you are leaving money on the table.

Another thing that impressed me is a sequence in which Anka apes several different artists’ styles in a flashback of sorts. It’s not the first time I’ve read a comic where an artist changes his style in reference to another story arc, but it’s still really neat to see Anka channel a wide variety of artists like John Byrne, Joe Madureira, the Kubert bros and Oliver Copiel, among others.

Combine this with Anka’s flat, yet still bold, color pallet, and Uncanny X-men is a beautiful looking book. It’s not the type of book I would recommend to anyone not interested in X-Men comics to, but for those of you already fans of Marvel’s mutants, it’s a good read.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Purple is the new Black

MISSING: Intro. Last scene: When I didn’t have a lot of words about comics to vomit upon my computer.

Hawkeye_vs._Deadpool_Vol_1_2_TextlessHawkeye/Deadpool #2

Gerry Duggan/Matteo Lolli/Jacopo Camangi

Marvel $3.99

With the Fraction/Aja’s Hawkeye series continuously hit with delays, I’ve had to turn to the wonderful Secret Avengers and this mini series for my Clint Barton and Kate Bishop fix. As luck would have it, I couldn’t have chosen 2 better books to do so, and oddly enough, book both has a healthy amount of Deadpool in them.

Not that I’ve pointed out Marvel’s lack of original content (KIDDING), I should talk about this comic that I have purchased.  This issue, tying into recent events in both  Deadpool and Amazing Spider-Man,  sees our team try to set a trap for the baddies, and it goes as well as one would an except a Hawkguy conceived plan to go. Also the Hawkeyes learn just exactly how weird and complex Deadpool’s life can get, and video games are played. Other things goes down too, but those are spoilers, so it’s probably bess that I don’t discuss them.

Gerry Duggan, who co-writes Deadpool’s monthly series, draws upon both characters histories, bringing up some more obscure elements of their careers for hilarious results. I was not expecting a reference to the beloved Joe Kelly era Deadpool book, nor a discussion about the fate of Hawkeye’s Sky-Cycle. The book also continues to reference a few visual gags from the Hawkeye on-going, and they continue to remain fun little nods to that book.

Matteo Lolli gets some help from Jacopo Camagni on the art side of things, and it’s certainly something I welcomed. I was a fan of Camangi’s work on last year’s Longshot mini series, and he fits the book well. His Kate Bishop looks like a young woman, and his softer, round faces and exaggerated body language help sell a lot of the book’s humor. The two artists’ styles are similar enough to tell a cohesive story, but you can also appreciate what each brings to the book as well without preferring one to another. And the colors complete the package, making this title long for a Hawkeye/Deadpool animated series that we’ll never get.

For a mini I was willing to write off as a cash grab, I’ve been having a blast reading Hawkeye Vs Deadpool. It’s a fun hero team up/fight book that looks great, is good for a few laughs, and helps fans realize how much growth these two popular characters have gone through thanks to their respected creative teams.

 

Batgirl-36Batgirl #36

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

Dc $2.99

Batgirl’s 2014 soft relaunch continues to impress, with a strong follow up issue to the current creative team’s debut. In this issue, Barbara Gordon’s supporting cast continues to grow, with several new characters introduced, as well as a throw down with a pair of cosplayers turn contract killers on stolen high-tech motorcycles. As someone who loves Barbara Gordon as a character, having her throw down with murderous cosplayers isn’t needed for me to buy your comics, but I appreciate you targeting my tastes.

Judging from what I just wrote, it’s safe to assume that I liked this comic. And I don’t mean to take away from writer Brenden Fletcher, who’s contributions to this book are crucial, but a lot of this book worked for me thanks to the talents of  artists Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and colorist Maris Wicks. While Burnside is very much a new part of Gotham, the artists really did an excellent job of fleshing out the city and it’s various locales, making it a very believable place. Tarr using a number of fashion blogs for her character designs also helps sell the city, which definitely looks like part of Brooklyn I’ve been to recently.

Maris Wicks’ colors are fantastic. The book definitely pops out thanks to his bright palette and blends well with Tarr’s kinetic pencils, especially when it comes to the book’s climatic fight scenes. I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s the best looking book on the market, but it definitely sticks out on the shelf, and yes,  looks great. And Fletcher’s dialogue is sharp, smart, and manages to tug at the hear at times. It’s a creative team that meshes together well, giving the reader one hell of comics experience

Batgirl continues to be a title I didn’t know I wanted, but glad I now have. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this invested in Barbara Gordon’s life, and this creative team is already batting (not a pun, I swear) .1000 after 2 strong issues. Batgirl is giving my pull list a run for being my current favorite title, which says a lot given how strong comics have been as whole in 2014.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Smells and Sagas

harley-quinn-vol-2-annual-1-cover-1-teaser-107613Harley Quinn Annual 1

Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmotti/John Timms/ Paul Mounts/Others

DC $5.99

This comic stinks….literally!

::: Pats himself on the back and calls it a day for being the best. :::

Now that the premature congratulations are over, DC has revived (?) scratch and sniff comics for the $6(!) Harley Quinn Annual! This is the first issue of Harley’s series I’ve read, and at $6 I probably could have chose a better and cheaper jumping on point, but a poly-bagged comics with scratch and sniff pages is the stupidest of gimmick, which I am very weak against.

 

In my impulse purchasing defense, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are a pair of creators who are fully capable of pulling this gimmick off. I loved their work on their fan-favorite Power Girl series from a few years back, so I figured if anyone could do this weird cash-grab gimmick justice, it would be them. Turns out for the most part, I was right.

The comic revolves are Harley trying to break out her BFF Posion Ivy from Arkham Aslyum, not knowing there’s more going down than expected. My problem with this book is that for a lack of better words is that its “try-hardish”. Connor & JP makes several ham fisted attempts to offend, amuse and educate throughout the comic, and at times it’s groan worthy and bloated. I appreciate the effort, but it’s as graceful & subtle as a bad Deadpool comic. It could use about a less 1/4th dialogue, and about 95% less social commentary.

That being said, the book excels when it aims to offend. The scratch and sniff panels work more than miss, and the art is fantastic. This is my first exposure to John Timm’s work, but he’s easily one of the best artists to work on Harley, and all of the guest artists all deliver on their short contributions.

The Harley Quinn Annual sounds a little weird on paper, but the execution is phenomenal. It’s a fun done in one with some great art and some fantastic character moments. As a guy who finds Harley hella problematic in general, I couldn’t recommend this book enough as an entry point into the book, but  will understand if you prefer to grab that first volume hardcover instead.

 

 STK652827Saga #24

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

 ::: Insert Chris’ Quarterly Saga Hiatus Withdrawal rant here:::

I really want to end the review there and go back to playing video games. But I don’t think I hit 500 words yet so I guess I should do some explaining.

 

Saga #24 in a single word, is incredible, not unlike the last 23 issues. 18 of the 20 pages focuses on characters we haven’t seen since volume 3, and its compelling as hell. 3 characters who was previously a 1 panel gag gets a ton of fleshing out , and we get caught up with several slightly more familiar  and it’s completely delightful. And of course the final 2 pages hit like a ton of bricks, but in the best ways possibles. BKV and Fiona Staples do some things NO ONE was expecting, and man it only makes the build up for chapter 5 more incredible/painful.

It’s business as usual for Saga, which is great, because Saga’s business is the best.

 

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Crashing through the night comes a fearful cry – Copra!

Copra_RoundOneCover_LargeCOPRA Round 1

Michel Fiffe

Bergen Street Press $19.99

Every so often a book hits the stands and comics internet blows up. It’s impossible to find in print, so you usually have to either hit up Comixology or wait for the trade and get it that way. See Saga, Sex Criminals, the Walking Dead, basically any “IT” Marvel, DC or Image book that’s dropped over the last 2 years. It’s convient and helps put the book in people’s hands.

copraprev04But that’s not the case today. Not every book has that sort of corporate backing. Some dudes are so DYI you can only buy it at one retailer, or in this case, one retailer and Etsy, because everything from the writing to the actual assembling of the book is handled by one dude.

That book is Copra, by Michel Fiffe. You may remember Fiffe’s name from Marvel’s crazy good All New Ultimates title, but Copra is the book that got everything started for the creator. It’s a parody/homage of the John Ostrander-era Suicide Squad book from DC, where no character was safe and anything could happen. It’s a “Super Hero Revenge” story that was nearly impossible to get your hands on over the last few years, unless you were willing to drop $36 dollars on reprinted compendiums from Bergen Street Comic‘s website, Fiffe’s Etsy store, and if you here on the right day, Forbidden Planet NYC.

At first, Copra may not sound like anything special. The elevator pitch makes the book sound like a cross between the Andy Diggle/Jock reimagining of The Losers and the aforementioned Suicide Squad. And while yes, it does feel very similar to those books (intentionally) as well as several other Marvel and DC characters both popular and obscure, it’s still a VERY good story, and arguably one of the best comics to come out in recent history.

copra01 While the plot is very by the numbers (team of government sponsored bad guys are betrayed by one of their own, now they’re wanted and seek revenge), the execution is everything but not. Fiffe channels some very early Frank Miller with his art, which is impressive considering Miller had some very talented people backing him up. Again, Fiffe handles everything by himself, and does some really neat things with layouts, coloring and inks, resulting is some cool 3d effects and ink-washed explosions. Copra has a very cool old school vibe to it, and it a very impressive tribute to the 80s comic scene.

copra-1-action-sequenceAnd because it’s a dedicated letter to one of the best runs of a DC comics, there’s plenty of cool nods that fans of the Suicide Squad will pick up on. There’s some obvious homages to big-name characters like Deadshot and Amanda Waller,  but then you have some more obscure ones like Dr. Light and Duchess. And in true Suicide Squad fashion, the lot of them get murdered within the 6 issues collected here, so don’t get too attached to any of them.

As someone who’s loved both the classic Suicide Squad run, as well as it’s spiritual sequel in the form of Gail Simone‘s Secret Six, I can’t recommend Copra enough to anyone who digs ultra violent action comics. It’s so indie it hurts, but in a good way. Everything from the binding to the paper choice is charming, and it’s really something special, and completely trippy. It’s easily the best 20 bucks you can spend at the store, assuming you can find a copy.

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: ALL HAIL THE HYPNO SLOTH!

Hey FPNYC faithful, before we go into this week’s round of reviews, I just wanted to point out that The Wicked + The Divine #5 also dropped this past Wednesday and it is super great. I’ll probably go back a look at the first five issues as a whole once the trade drops next month, so y’all can look forward to that I guess.

 

portrait_incredibleSecret Avengers #9

Ales Kot, Micahel Walsh, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

This issue has Hawkeye and Deadpool fight an Eco-Terrorist version of the Ultimate Warrior and an All Star Superman parody featuring MODOK. It’s a Nextwave appearance short of being everything I want from a Marvel comic.

 

Secret Avengers continues to be a weird sci-fi spy comic who’s jokes aren’t afraid to punch up. It takes some weird chances, not giving the reader a dumbed down product, and it’s all the better for it. Weird things happen for a reason, and while the answers to certain questions always doesn’t come immediately, when they are addressed it’s a win for readers. Ales Kot is a smart dude who balances a ton of different type of storytelling elements well, & Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson continue to amaze on visuals, especially with the last few pages, mixing some serious strangeness with some great character work and expressions. Not to mention doing some cool David Aja-esque panel breakdowns revolving around Hawkeye shooting off some arrows.

There’s also no less than 3 pin up pages in this book, something unusual for Secret Avengers. As someone who’s read comics in the 90s, it’s really hard for me to be impressed by that sort of thing, but seeing how they’ve been used so sparingly before in SA, the get the desired effect in issue #9. They’re all bold, mostly dialogue free, and contain really striking imagery. Props to the creative team for doing that sort of thing right.

Secret Avengers is basically more of the same. The same being a smart, engaging, weird and hilarious book that has Tradd Moore  and Wilson  some fantastic work on the covers every month. It’s also worth nothing that the first 6 issues are now available in trade, so if you wanted to jump on the book, now’s the time to do so.

 

 memetic1Memetic #1

James Tynion IV/Eryk Donovan

BOOM! Studios/ $4.99

A few months back, (possibly around San Diego Comic Con time) Boom send out an image of the Good Times Sloth, with little to no context. I remember being excited to find out what the deal was with said GT sloth, and then promptly forgot about it because that is how I roll.

 

However, a recent interview with the creative team on Comics Alliance reminded me of said sloth and learned me good of it’s origins (bad grammar was intentional BTW), and I was instantly hook on it’s origins and the book it would be appearing it. The book is called Memetic, and holy hell, is the a really good horror book.

 

For all of you not in the know, Memetic’s plot is as such: The Good Time Sloth image goes viral on the internet, setting all sorts of records and becomes a global phenomenon. Oh and then drives anyone who looks at it insane, and brings about the apocalypse. The book starts off 3 days into the end of times, and then jumps back to the beginning of the outbreak, just as the meme go viral and shit goes down.

It’s the type of high concept horror that made me a fan of James Tylon IV’s work earlier this year. His work on The Woods, Tylon’s OTHER BOOM horror book, was my proper introduction to his creator owned work, and Memetic’s double sized review is as good, if not better than that book. The concept is unique and fresh, the world building and character development is believable, and the social commentary is smart, but not pandering.

In addition to the a great script, Memetic looks fantastic. Erik Donovan style is sketchy and exaggerated, but considering the story revolves around a meme bringing about the end of the world, it makes sense. It actually reminds me a lot of Axe Cop’s creator Ethan Nicolle’sstyle, just a little bit looser. Adam Guzowski‘s colors are also great, as they can shift from dark to bright with no problem.

This 3 issue mini series does look like it’s going to end well, and I’m thrilled to be able to read it. Between this and Wytches, it’s been a great month for horror comics from non big-2 publishers.

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Of Foes and X-Men

The_Superior_Foes_of_Spider-Man_Vol_1_16_TextlessSuperior Foes Of Spider-Man #16

Nick Spencer/Steve Lieber/Rachelle Rosenberg

Marvel $3.99

It’s funny. I’ve been lamenting over the fact that SUP FOES is ending for months, but if this issue was the last one, I’ld be strangely okay with that.

It’s certainly not something I’m saying based on the book’s quality. Oh no, this issue is great, successfully capturing everything I love about this book in 20 pages. It’s more the fact that one of the Foes gets a win, and Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber have made this character so likable, you  cant help but be happy for them. Is this was the final issue Id be 1000% okay with that, despite the fact that said character has done some truly terrible things over the course of the series and would get getting away with a lot.

 

Of course, there’s an issue left and there’s still plenty of things that can go wrong. Spencer, Lieber and colorist Racelle Rosenberg introduce a number of elements that can still come back and bite this character in the ass. 2 of them justified, 1 of them a surprise of sorts, but great and welcomed none the less. Also given the fact that we’ve yet to see a proper appearance from Spider-Man himself in this book, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were too show up in the final issue.

 

But enough with speculation. This issue, much like every other issue of this series is great. The humor is second to none, and the return of a gag from a previous issue is just as funny this time around. The action piece when the poop the hands is surprisingly brutal, but successfully maintains the tone of the book. And then there’s ending. Smart, kinda cruel, but perfectly in line with the character’s actions. And you may find yourself wanting said character to get away with it, but we all know he won’t. It’s bittersweet in a way, but also something he’ll deserve.

 

There’s no question in my mind that this book will stick it’s landing. The real question is HOW it’s going to all go down, and if any of the Sinister Five are going to get away with it. I’m very excited to see it all plays out, and welcome this book’s end.

 

 

background (2)Uncanny X-Men #27

 Brian Michael Bendis/Chris Bachalo/ Tim Townsend

Marvel $3.99

Between the change in colorists that goes down halfway through this book and the most cliché of bad things to happen to S.H.I.E.L.D., I should by all means dislike this issue of Uncanny X-Men. However, even with those 2 massive flaws, this comic is really solid, continuing the book’s hot streak for nearly an entire year.

 

While Kris Anka has done great things with this book recently, Chris Bachalo is a perfect for Brian Michael Bendis’ script. Bendis writes a big action piece for this issue and crams a ton of characters into it, catering to Bachalo’s strengths. The end result shows just how in sync these 2 creators are, which works out in the reader’s favor.

 

Given the fact that he’s heavily featured on the beautiful illustrated cover, it comes as no surprise that Cyclops plays a big role in this issue (in addition to another X-man who definitely deserves more screen time) Bendis continues to handle the character well, although his intention at the end raise some questions. It’s the sort of drama the X-men became famous for in the 80s, with a hint of modern flair. It’s something I’m all about.

 

While Im less than thrilled that this arc proably stil has another chapter or two left before it’s over, I’m enjoying the ride. Uncanny X-men is far from perfect, but it’s definitely a fun read.

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Late, yet again.

Belated post once again, this time due to NYCC. Con was great, and I saw many a fine folk. Last week was also a really great week for comics too, but I’m only going to highlight 2 of them today, because they are arguably the most important. I’m sure Sex Criminals will be fine.

 

586cfd30a87203654de3e206e1093d7dBatgirl #36

Brenden Fletcher/Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr

DC $2.99

::: Cut and pastes last week’s Gotham Academy review, changes a few names, call it a day :::

So yeah, despite there being no shortage of dope comics released this year, THIS is the book I wanted more than anything after it was announced. Barbara Gordon is my number 1 with a bullet favorite DC character, and I haven’t been excited for the character in quite some time. No offense Gail Simone, you’re still rad.

But man, that Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr new costume effect. Stewart’s drawn many a fine comic in his career, and Tarr has been one of my favorite people since I met her at Heroescon this PAST summer. And that new costume is all sorts of dope, which btw if you’re paying attention DC Collectibles, new Babs figure ASAP. A statue is fine as well.

So yeah, I went into this book a little excited. And much like Gotham Academy before it, it exceeded my expectations. Tarr, Stewart and Brenden Fletcher crafted a comic that felt like the sort of book the new 52 should have been in the first place. It’s refreshingly modern, in both tone and style. Burnisde may be a Gotham-stand in for Portland or North Brooklyn but its the plot that really make this book stand out. Not too many mainstream comics are willing to tackle revenge porn and privacy invasion, but team Batgirl 2k14 do so, and kick it straight in the face.

Batgirl is another example of DC actually getting it. Gotham Academy is a great book, but Batgirl is an A list character that non-comics people are familiar. This is the type of book that should be an entry gate to DC Comics/Comics in general, and it’s off to a damn good start.

 

WYTCHES_webWytches #1

Scott Sndyer/Jock

Image $2.99

(Somehow) it is October, which means SPOOKY comics are a plenty this month. Oh and hilariously named donuts like “Boston Screme”. Both are things that I like, but only the former involves the talents of creators Scott Snyder & Jockat least as far as I know.

The pair released Wytches last week, and the hype for that book was nearly comparable to Barbara Gordon’a new look. Snyder may be sitting on top of the comics world due to Batman ( rightfully so mind you), but Wytches serves as a reminder on how well this dude does horror. The first few pages of this book are horrific, which is something I imagine one would want from a spooky-scary comic.

And then there’s Jock. Easily one of the most interesting and talented artists working in comics today, Jock’s art is phenomenal in this debut. Paired with colorist extraordinar Matt Hollingsworth, the pair set the tone of the book perfectly. The book looks great when the characters are suffering the most, which I know makes me sound like a sociopath, but it’s true. It’s a great looking book featuring terrible things happening to questionable people.

I also really like the hook for Wytches. Said Witches are far from the black hat/cat cauldron troupe, and are hardly the worst thing in the book. I refuse to say more due to fear of spoilers, but Snyder/Jock/Hollingsworth have something special going on in this book. Wytches does for witches what The Wake did for mermaids.

Wytches is off to an impressive start, and has me rethinking my pull list in order for me to buy it monthly. It’s a stellar debut, something Image has become notorious for, and it’s great to see one of the industry’s biggest name flex his horror muscles again with a fantastic art team.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Of Spies and School

It’s a DC heavy week you guys, the first time since…well I think ever. Making history y’all.

STK652755Gotham Academy #1

Becky Cloonan/ Brenden Fletcher/Karl Kerschl/Geyser/Dave McCaig

DC $2.99

Holy cats, that’s a lot of creators.

The minute Gotham Academy was announced a few month ago, I was instantly BOUT this book. As someone who enjoys quirky books about TEENS in weird schools somehow related to Superheroes (see Wolverine and the X-men), G-Academy sounded like the type of book that I needed from DC. It’s a fun and well crafted all-ages book by a bunch of underrated talents telling the types of stories usually not associated with Batman. I went into this book with high expectations (Expect to read this description again next week when Batgirl #35 drops by the way), which were met in some of the best ways possible.

 

First and foremost, this book is gorgeous. I’ve never seen art by Karl Kerschl that I didn’t like, so the good looking visuals didn’t exactly come as a surprise. But the colors by Geyser and Dave McCaig really complete the visual experience. I’m not used to seeing this side of Gotham, given how bright and colorful this book is, but it somehow fits into the larger Batman Universe without any problems. The visuals remind me a of very stylized hand drawn Disney film, with very bright and expressive characters against detailed and gorgeous background. There’s an brief action piece at the end of the book that looks gorgeous, quickly shifting from a tight dark environment to a bright, colorful environment. I can’t even begin to describe how refreshing this book is on a artistic level.

And while I can’t desrcibe how pretty the pictures in this funny book are, I can sing the praises of the writers Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher! I’ve been a fan of Cloonan for years, and really enjoyed a number of her past works, so seeing her and Fletcher (whom I only know from Twitter sadly) launch a new book in the proper DCU got me excited. And they cam through, introducing a bunch of awesome new characters, dropping some interesting mysterious and carving out a nice littler corner for themselves in Gotham.

With  female-written books like Lumberjanes and Ms Marvel becoming break out hits, it’s nice to see DC do something to appeal to the female audience and succeed for all the right reasons. Gotham Academy is a delight, and it’s the type of comic that makes me appreciate what the medium is capable of.

 

GRAY_Cv3_53bd7c6b2566a1.03372938Grayson #3

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC Comics $2.99

 Now that we’re done with crossovers and gimmick covers month, we’re back on track to addressing the fact that the former Nightwing is now a spy. Which means a member of the Bat-family has to get familiar with a gun, something very un-Batman like. Needless to say, drama ensues in Grayson #3.

In less capable hands, this book would have been a hot mess. Justifying gun violence in today’s society isn’t exactly the easiest job in the world, but writers Tim Seeley and  Tom King deliver a script that addresses that problem head on, and the results are great for the reader and bad for our hero.

 

This month’s “monster of the week” is also insane in the best sort of way. Grayson tends to riff/channel some Grant Morrison-type weirdness, but in the best sorts of way. I’m not sure if the insanity revolving around the villiain’s gimmick was intentionally over the top, but I certain think it is and enjoyed it. In addition to that, we actually get to see some other Spyral agent, expanding Dick’s cast a bit. Artist Mikel Janin’s art is perfect for this book, as he can adept at capturing both the sexier and weirder sides of this book incredibly well. Much like the writers, his in an important part of this comic, and the book is all the better because of his presence.

 

Grayson is a surprisingly smart and deep book that does a lot of different things right. It’s a little bit of high-octaine action mixed with some intrigue, with a dash of sexiness met with genuine human interactions. There’s even some room for debate that Dick’s constant flirting and making kissy faces with the ladies makes up for the void in his life formerly occupied by his Bat-family. Regardless if you buy into that or not, at the end of the day Grayson is an incredibly well crafted comic that shows just how well the comics coming out of the Bat-offices are these days.

 

 

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Daily Remender Part 1: Deadly Class volume 1

deadlyDeadly Class Volume 1

Rick Remender/Wes Craig/ Lee Loughridge

Image $9.99

For my birthday this year, my wife (he said in a dated Borat voice) ordered me a bunch of trades off of my Amazon wish list. My TPBs backlog is already about several comics deep and includes an X-men omnibus I should probably get around to reading, but the gifts were welcomed none the less, because comics are GREAT. I had a flight to Atlanta recently, so grabbing a few birthday  trades to read on the flight sounded like a great plan. It was by the way, go team me.

8263bf56731f11c8f22dcbd7a86add62One of the trades was the first volume of Deadly Class by Rick Remender and Wes Craig. I’m a fan of Remender, who’s personally sold me a bunch of creator own series that I really dug in the past. I somehow missed Deadly Class when it dropped initially, probably due to like 500 Image #1s dropping with a ton of hype surrounding them this year alone. All I know was that the early buzz for this series was good, so it ended up on my Amazon wish list.

 

 

 

deadly-class-cliquesAnd now that I’ve read it, I can see why Deadly Class got all that comics internet hype, and can agree that it deserves it. While the concept reminds me a lot of Jimmie Robinson’s Five Weapons ( Both heavily feature schools for assassins ), Deadly Class is a more mature & “realistic” take on the concept,  and one that uses the 1980s as a backdrop. It’a a period piece of sorts, “steeped in the music and pop culture of that time” according to David Lapham in the foreword. The quickest way to summarize the plot is that in 1987 our homeless lead Marcus Lopez is invited to join the Kings Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts (takes a breath). It’s a high school that bunch of bad people around the world send their childrens to in order to train them to become assassins. Which is fine for Marcus, as he has his mind set on revenge for the man responsible for the death  of his parents. Oh and his past is coming for him, as he was kinda a dick prior to the beginning of the series and now it’s  back to haunt him. Luckily for Marcus, he makes a bunch of new friends all representing various 80s cliches and stereotypes. I kid, having a multi-racial cast is nice, especially with a lead who’s not another sad white kid.

Deadly-Class-1-Two-PageThe first thing I want to point out about this book is how great it looks. This is (probably) the first time I’ve exposed to Wes Craig‘s art and it reminds me a lot of what David Aja‘s work over on Hawkeye (with shades of Frank Miller and Paul Pope as well) . That probably has something to with colorist Lee Loughridge’s flat colors plaette being so similar to Matt Hollingsworth’s work. Which I’m 1000% okay with. The final product is incredible, thanks to Craig’s non- traditional layouts and simplistic but stylized characters. And the colors do end up adding a lot to it, especially when it comes to a few fights scenes, a flashback and most importantly an acid trip. The choice to use flat colors was wise, and I’m glad to see it being used so well in this book.

Deadly-Class-04-01I also really like how dedicated Remender and Craig are to ensure this book looks and feels era appropriate. From everything from sports and political references, as well as the fashion, the book really captures the looks and sound of the 80s well, without out it being to over the top or cheesey.

And what ultimately sold me on this trade was the type of emotion Remender poured into it. The book definitely has elements of his upbringing in it, but not in an autobiographical sort of way, unless Remender is an assassin with the oddest day job. The book feels more genuine, despite it’s ultra violent premise, and the characters feel incredible fleshed out. It’s like Kick Ass in a way, where it’s the type of thing that could happen, but without being a terrible and offensive comic.

I may be bit biased towards Deadly Class, since I’m genuinely a big fan of Remender’s work. But I had zero exceptions of this book going into it and I ended up loving it. It’s arguably he’s strongest creator owned work since Fear Agent, and I wish I read more of Wes Craig’s work prior to this trade. If you don’t mind some ultra violence and adult language, it’s definitely a book worth your time.

 

 

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