Category: Christopher Troy

Chris’ Comics: Grayson #11

JUN150255Grayson #11

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

While never being a bad read, the last few issues of Grayson were not exactly up to par with the level of quality we were getting back during the pre-break. That being said, issue 11, the conclusion of the Nemesis arc, is arguably the strongest installment of the book in awhile. Writers Tom King and Tim Seeley put all their cards on the table and the revelations that ensue shake the book to it’s core.

It’s worth mentioning that while the plotting/writing in Grayson has been a bit uneven up to this issue (Too many butt jokes believe it or not!), Mikel Janin‘s art & Jeromy Cox‘s colors never saw a dip in quality. Grayson’s always looked incredible, and this issue is no exception. It’s an exceptionally brutal issue with a fair amount of blood, but also gorgeous in it’s owned twisted way. The “acting” in Janin’s fight scene is flawless, and perfectly emphasizes how raw and intense this battle is. Janin also experiments with layouts, playing up the book’s weird spy stuff and getting some fantastic results, as if J.H Williams was channeling Jack Kirby. And Cox’s colors really enhance the whole experience, and his ability to switch from black/blues to bright reds on the fly is worth commemorating. The backgrounds in this book are also fantastic, continuing the excellent use of locations in the title. Grayson is a book I’ve never regretted buying thanks to the art alone.

4759300-4-gray_11_4-5King and Seeley also deserve their fair share of praise for this issue. Aside from the aforementioned slick revelations and possibly shaking up the statue quo for the title character for awhile (which may help set up this fall’s Batman and Robin Eternal maxi-series), the dialogue in this issue is flawless. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a comic hero banter as well as Dick does in issue 11 (see the image to the left), and it’s genuinely hilarious. Dick Grayson is a character know for being a little goofy and light hearted, and this page/rant (which continues for another page or so) is a nice breath of fresh air in a relatively dark and serious arc. And I really like how quickly that little rant is soon turned on its head and turned into a character examination of Mister Grayson, all whle dropping hints to the identity of the Faux Dick ( hehehehe) running around. This arc may be a little back loaded in terms of quality, but it makes for all the more satisfying conclusion

It’s ridiculous how good Grayson #11 is. In a week where DC needs some good news, it’s great to see a book of Grayson’s caliber hit the stands. It’s a title that really feels like anything can change in an issue, which for a heavy espionage comic, is great. This book is flying without a safety net, which I imagine is how Dick Grayson would want it. While it’s not at all accessible for anyone who hasn’t been reading the series, fans of the title are definitely going to dig it once their hearts stop breaking.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #10 & X-men ’92 #3

Spider-Woman_Vol_5_10Spider-Woman #10

Dennis Hopeless/ Natasha Bustos/Vero Gandini

Marvel $3.99

Going into this issue knowing regular series artist Javier Rodriguez would not be drawing it, I was expecting myself to enjoying this issue of Spider-Woman a little less than usual. Nothing against guest artist Natacha Bustos, but the shadow Rodriguez casts on this book is MASSIVE, and it’s a hard to follow.

However, most of my issues with #10 aren’t with Bustos. She kills it with this issue, channeling Rodriguez while giving the book a softer, more manga-influenced look. Natacha never gives us any crazy, hyperactive layouts we’ve gotten in the past, but she does a fine enough job with the issue. It’s a shame that Vero Gandinis color pallet is so pale, otherwise I would have zero complaints with the art. Sadly, aside from his beautiful night skies,  his use of light colors irk me, making the final product look cheaper. I was willing to chalk it up to a printing error, but after looking at the digital copy, it’s definitely the shade. The day scenes are well lite enough, but it takes away from the night time scene.

CNWcZSSW8AAR1_CMy other issue with this comic was it being forced into being a Secret Wars: Last Days tie-in. 1/4 of the book is spent setting up Jessica’s appearance in Secret War #1, and it feels so forced, with an overly aggressive Black Widow that’s incredibly unlikable. It’s rare to see writer Dennis Hopeless slip up like this, but given how poor the Spider-Verse stuff was handled, it doesn’t come as a surprise. The book is at it’s best when it’s dealing with the A plot, which involves such greatness as HULK CATTLE and the Porcupine going full O.M.A.C. (Happy birthday Jack Kirby!), and could have used five more pages of that then lining up the events of a 4 month old comic.

Spider-Woman #10 is the uneven conclusion to a pretty great run of Spider-Woman comics. The book will be back in November with the Javier Rodriguez, and Natcha Bustos will be off drawing the All New Devil Dinosaur series. I’m excited for both titles, and I hope this next volume of Spider-Woman will be free of crossovers. Hopeless and Jessica are best when they’re left to their own devices, despite the chance of boosted sales thanks to being a major event tie in

X-Men_'92_Vol_1_3_TextlessX-men ’92 #3

Chad Bowers/Chris Sims/ Scott Koblish 

Marvel $4.99

Nothing says 90s X-men like X-Force. The New Mutants went from being the 2nd X-men book to being a sales juggernauts, launching the careers of both Rob Liefield and Greg Capullo, and introducing Marvel icons like Cable and Deadpool. It comes as no surprise that Sims and Bowers decided to use these characters for this title, and the results of pretty great.

X-Men ’92 #3 collects the 5th and 6th installments of the digital version of X-Men ’92, which are both the best and worst chapters of this series so far. The first half of this book sees X-Force off to save the captive X-men, all while Casanova Nova finds herself struggling against the combined might of Cyclops and Jean Grey. The 2nd of the half explains Casanova’s end game, ties the book back to Secret Wars, and is kind of all over the place. You can tell writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims are having a blast with this book when their focusing on the characters, which is where is when the book really shines. It’s an extremely fun fiction of sorts, and I wish these two could continue to have their fun instead of having to wrap this thing up so the 616 X-men can pal around with the Inhumans or whatever.

004085411ce2dfd3afbf59c707e7fe85Sadly the artist Scott Koblish‘s art isn’t as solid this time around. While he manages to draw some ridiculous guns and pouches this issue, some of the pages feel rush, and the art feels less parody and more cheap 90s licensed merchandise at times.

The good more than out weight the bad in X-men ’92 #3. Its an incredibly fun and exciting read that hits a few snags, but is worth the cover price. It’s been a while since we’ve had a light-hearted X-men book on the stands, and hopefully these creators will have a chance to work their magic again after Secret Wars.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris Comics: Welcome Back #1

STK678250Welcome Back #1

Christopher Sebela, Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, Carlos Zamudio

Boom $3.99

Sorry for the delay gang, someone had a birthday this week (it was me, I berfed), and a busted modem (also me), so interneting was hard.

Last week was an odd week for me  when it came to buying comics, as none of my usual pulls dropped, and the mountain of trades I have to get through are quite dated (no longer the case by the way, again, due to berf). Not wanting to leave Forbidden Planet NYC stranded on hashtag content, or drop $5 on a Marvel book, I decided to see what the indies had to offer. As luck would have it, the fine folks at Boom! Studios released Welcome Back, the first of 4 issue mini series with some slick twists I will attempt to not spoil in this review.

 

WelcomeBack_001_PRESS-8Welcome Back is written by Christopher Sebela, who’s work I’m not too familiar with outside of co-writing some comics with Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue Deconnick, but his High Crime series from Monkeybrain/Dark Horse is supposed to be really good. I have zero familiarity with artist Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, but man, his stuff is great. He’s a nice blend of artists like Chris Bachalo, Becky Cloonan and Sean Murphy. His line work is sharp and jagged, and fully of energy like Murphy, with his character designs and layouts very much in the graffiti and manga-influenced styles we get from Chris and Becky. And if Sawyer’s Murray in this scenario, then colorist Carlos Zamudio would be the next generation Matt Hollingsworth. The choices of colors in Welcome Back remind me a lot of Hollingsworth works on books like The Wake and Hawkeye, only not as muted. Welcome Back is easily one of the best looking books I’ve seen from a relatively new creative team in some time.

On the words side of things, I get why Sebela’s gotten a ton of praise for his indie comics. Welcome Back is wordy, but never overcrowded. It’s heavy on the dialogue and narration, but flows effortlessly, with everything coming across relatively natural sounding. Some of the stuff WelcomeBack_001_Interiors-1spoken during the action scene is a little clique and hokey, but aside from that, it’s relatively solid. My only real complaint other than that is the use of block, flat fonts for the sound effect by letter  Shawn Aldridge. It really clashes with the art, and it’s weird to see that sort of thing when the narration boxes and dialgoue balloons are position correctly. But those are only some small things that I’m sure that will improve in time, and don’t take much away from the rest of the book.

Welcome Back was a surprisingly great debut that I wish I could go into more but won’t, because again, there are some great twists that work if you go in blind. That’s what I did for the most part, and I enjoyed the book all the more. If you’re looking for something fresh and different, or just tired of one of your favorite being held up by delays, I can’t recommend giving Welcome Back enough. It’s a cool melting pot of ideas with an relatable lead character, and I’m excited to see how this all plays out.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

4741279-09Gotham Academy #9

Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe, Msassyk

DC $2.99

For the most part, Gotham Academy has been a delightful romp with some teen angst and a bunch of neat little shout outs to obscure Batman characters. Issue #9 is the first issue where I genuinely felt overwhelmed by a continuously growing cast, to the point where I wasn’t able to follow the plot. In this issue alone there’s our 5 members of the mystery team, 2 faculty members, a man-bat-boy, and at least 3-4 newer characters making cameos. That’s A LOT for a reader to follow, especially when there’s at least several different subplots going down in a 20 page book.

One thing the writers (Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan) managed to keep a good handle on up to this issue was making the teenage characters sound like teenagers. This isn’t the case for this issue sadly, as some really dated pop culture references make the Gotham Academy kids sounds like tiny adults instead of #TEENS. I’m sure it was more of a fluke than anything else, as any creator is capable of making a misstep every so often.That being said, Gotham Academy continues to look superb, thanks to Karl Keschl‘s excellent art, and Sergio Lapointe & Msassyk’s equally excellent colors. Keschel’’s line work is always clean and dynamic, but the coloring really brings it to the next level, especially when it comes to effects such as fire, flashlight lighting and fog. The art makes up for the subpar writing, elevating the book to a decent read instead of something skippable.

While I applaud the writers for attempting to cram as much content into Gotham Academy as possible, issue nine ultimately feels bloated, while looking great. I’m sure it won’t happen again, it’s just disappointing to see it happen in a book I’ve been enjoying a lot as of late.

 

portrait_incredible (4)The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Once again, Secret Wars ends another book that was launched this calendar year. And much like the also concluded for now Howard the Duck, the 2nd arc of The Unbeatable Squirrel girl is absolutely wonderful. The book opens on arguably THE BEST note, involving a long mention running gag that actually ends up being incorporated into the plot in a major way. It’s absolutely ridiculous by the way, but Ryan North and Erica Henderson are so smart and talented make it work so well.

One of the things that I really like about USG is that it’s a book that seems like it wouldn’t fit in with the rest of Marvel’s publishing catalog, but North and Henderson skate along the thin line of ridiculous and high stakes so well, the character, her presence and her actions make perfect sense. North’s sense of humor and clever dialogue makes him a perfect fit for handling mythological characters from the Thor side of the tracks, and Erica Henderson’s art fares better with these characters than more traditional spandex folk like spider-Man. Rico Renzi‘s colors are back on track after last issue, giving me literally nothing to complain about.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8 is the perfect ending for this chapter. The wait for October for this book’s return is going to be rough, but I’m fairly certain it will worth it.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Howard the Duck #5

4730614-howard2015005_dc11-page-001Howard the Duck #5

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Joe and Paolo Rivera, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Oh Howard A Duck, you are a gift.

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones and Rico Renzi’s first arc/volume (NEW HAT THOUGH!) wraps up with a massive super hero fight in Manhattan for the fate of the world, a concept Chip and Joe claim they were the first to come up with. In case you don’t know how #JOKES work, that is one and an example the A+ comedy one gets from a Chip Zdarsky penned comics.

tumblr_nt0y86mP6j1qeeerco2_1280There’s a lot to like in Howard the Duck #5. First and foremost is Joe Quinones drawing a massive amount of of Marvel’s NYC-based heroes, and them looking fantastic/amazing/marvelous/other puns. Quinones’ style is clean and detailed, and his takes on all these characters comes across as looking quite iconic. His commitment to to his craft results in some fine looking lay outs, mashing up some of Marvel most beloved, as well as some of their newer, heroes up against the ridiculous threats he and Chip Zdarsky have conceived. I like what Joe does with facial expressions, as several maskless character perfectly express the absurdity of the whole scenario, especially on the final page with has arguably the best drawing of the Human Torch and Spider-Man in some time. Assisting Quinones on art duties is the brilliant father and son inking team of Paolo & Joe Rivera, giving Quinones’ work the clean, thin lines it deserves. Rico Renzi’s colors pop off the page, completing the art package, and giving Howard a high quality look you wouldn’t expect coming from a comedic book.

Earlier this year writer Chip Zdarsky joked that he was cramming in a lot of content and guest appearances in Howard the Duck as he was expecting to be fire after every issue came out. Howard #5 won’t be Chip’s last ride with the character, but you’ll definitely get you 4 dollars worth from it. This issue wraps up the arch, reveals a supporting character’s secret, and makes several intriguing hints regarding the future of the this book. Oh and is absolutely hilarious as well. We get more “Inconsolable Spider-Man” jokes, editor notes for hilariously titled comics that never existed, several deep cut Marvel jokes and a subplot involving a rather obscure Marvel book that results in Howard freaking out. It’s not all jokes either, as Chip and Joe do some cool stuff with the Howard and Tracy relationship, injecting some heart warming material into the book. Again, a lot of stuff goes down in this book, but it never feels over crowded or bloated.

tumblr_nsznomBLdn1sajkn0o1_400Howard the Duck #5 is a great ending for a fantastic first arc. Howard is easily up there with Superior Foes of Spider-Man and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl in terms of being some of the best modern Marvel humor books, and the star power behind it should hopefully ensure that it sticks around for quite awhile. You can tell Zdarsky & Quinones definitely love or at least heavily appreciate the classic Steve Gerber era Howard, and embrace it while pushing the character forward. Howard the Duck is book I’ll continue to buy when it returns later this year, especially if the creative teams continues to put out this level of quality comic month after month.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris Comics: Ms Marvel #17

Last-Days-of-Ms.-MarvelMs Marvel #17

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona & Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

On the left we have cover artist Kris Anka , who cover may qualify as the best thing. But while this gives us everything we ever wanted from Ms Marvel, it worth noting the content are not as happy.

Given who’s on the cover, and that this book is tied into Secret Wars, Ms. Marvel #17 can be best described as an issue that’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Captain Marvel’s presence is something the fans have been demanding since the book dropped, and Wilson, Alphona and Herring deliver when it comes to this team in spades. But it’s not exactly  the feel good issue I was hoping for, given the whole end of the world thing, but it is an incredibly smart comics that has some really good emotional moments as well.

3577e735844c9f972469b12814ecd674What  I like about this issue is that we get to see that Kamala has come a long way since issue once, but a lot of key characteristics are still intact for the character. Writer G Willow Wilson has Ms Marvel freak out when she meets Carol Danvers, which as a super fan, is something that makes a ton of sense, not to mention completely adorable. I enjoyed watching the two Marvels bounce off of each other, and I REALLY dug the brief mention of Kamala’s faith when Captain Marvel gives her a pep talk early in the book,( as well as Carol’s advice for our you lead when faced with a difficult kitten-related matter). I also dug Wilson’s take on Carol Danvers, who’s a lovable & playful badass who manages to also be a solid mentor to Ms. Khan when she’s not busting her chops. There’s also several moments that will tug at your heart, giving the book a sense of sadness and desperation. There’s plenty of high, lows and even a few laughs, which says a lot given the fact that this is only 20 pages of content.

On the art side of things, gosh I love Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring. Jersey City may be facing the apocalypse, but Alphona crazy detailed  panels manage to maintain this book’s excellent sense of humor. His backgrounds are chock full of MAD magazine-esque hidden jokes, and not to mention some bizarre and hilarious looking characters. His Kamala will have her facial expression exaggerated for humor’s sake, and he’s capable of drawing some extremely derpy looking animals, ramping up the book’s cute factor. That being said, he also manages to capture the more serious and emotional moments with the gravitas needed to sell the scene, and his Captain Marvel has just the right amount of swagger worthy of Carol Danvers. Colorists Ian Herring’s colors are perfect for every scene, giving the day scenes the proper sense of end of the world times, and using some interesting colors choices for the scene heavy on the super hero-type effects.

As someone who gave up on reading Secret Wars proper and already has a sense on how this will end thanks to upcoming solicits, it’s worth noting how good this creative teams on making this Incursion feel like a real threat. The sense of danger and emotional strain of Last Days is there and feels real, even though we’re due for a new Ms Marvel #1 come this fall. Ms Marvel continues to be the best thing coming out of Marvel these days, even when it’s tied into a massive crossover. This book is definitely worth your time if you’re a regular reader scared who’s not reading Secret Wars, or a Secret Wars fan looking for an amazing tie in.

 

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and the Divine #13

tumblr_noly220GkL1tuoa2wo1_500The Wicked + The Divine #13

Kieron Gillen, Tula Lotay, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

Here Kieron Gillen returns to bad bad devil 666 man status.

Wick Div #13, drawn by the wonderful Tula Lotay, is a harsh reminder that this book is a tragedy. When the premise for this issue was first announced, I thought to myself “Oh cool, we’re going to have something fun and fanservice-ly, because the F%#$ing Tara running gag will get explained”. NOPE, turns out I was wrong about my initial theory and apparently forget that Gillen is capable of making me feel things that hurt so good.

WicDiv13_Preview_PagePeople who are triggered by harassment, bullying  and behavior related to those things should be warned going into this issue.  Tara, the never seen before goddess, is a beautiful woman who has been sexually harassed since the age of 11, and continues to catch guff from awful people even today. Seeing her face in person will make you adores her, but she’s feels it’s a bit of a cheat, and the love she gets isn’t truly deserved. She’s tired of skating by on looks alone, but any attempt to cover up her face only ends poorly for the character. Tara’s tale is a sad one, and  Gillen/McKelive/Wilson add insult to injury by ending this issue a pretty grim joke. Needless to say, I loved this issue, but it’s a bit of a bummer.

Lotay’s art is gorgeous, and is drawn in a style completely different than anything that comes before her on this book. She’s more traditional comics, channeling Michael Gaydos and Alex Maleev in her art, but also giving us a bright color palette which we’re used to from usual series colorist Matthew Wilson. The art feels dirtier and sketchier than what we’re used to, but it works for this issue, serving as a reflection of the brutality we witness in this issue.

WD13_guitarThere’s 2 things that Kieron Gillen does in this issue that I absolutely adore, despite it also being the worst. First and foremost is the narration style. The issue is narrated by Tara via a letter, and I thought it was a really cool way of telling a story. Kieron’s dialogue is very fresh and natural, and this narration technique made me really sympathetic towards the character. The other thing that I like that’s quite terrible is the use from Twitter harassment in this issue. As someone who witnessed Twitter being awful first hand when Gamergame went live (in before a parade of UM actually), the stuff Kieron writes in this issue is the worst, but rings true. And that stuff of authenticity does wonders for me, even though, again, it’s terrible.

The Wicked + The Divine highlights the tragedy of fame while deepening the mystery surrounding one of the character’s actions. It pulls no punches, and it’s a harsh reminder that fame doesn’t solve all problems. Kieron Gillen and Tula Lotay managed to tell a heart breaking tale for a character we just met, and made it hurt me like she was around the previous 12 issues. It’s a testament to both these creators talents, and it really made me thing on how to interact with people on the internet in the future.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl Annual 3

IMG_0099Batgirl Annual 3

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Bengal, David Lafuente, Ming Doyle, Mingjue Helen Chen

DC $4.99

Originally, I wanted to talk about Batgirl Annual 3 in the same review as Batgirl 42, BUTTTTT when your double sized issue has 4 artists attached to it, maybe you give it a separate review.

Batgirl Annual 3 is part art jam issue, part team up comic. Over in Batgirl proper, we’ve rarely seen her interact with anyone in the Bat-family outside of her dad. Here, Babs runs into the newly revived Spoiler, the recently cancelled Batwoman, the adorable leads from Gotham Academy AND as the cover shows, her former…something, Dick Grayson and his boss Helena Bertinelli. Drawing this issue is a murder row’s of artists; Bengal, fresh from the Batgirl Endgame one shot, Gotham Academy alternate artist Mingjue Helen Chen, and making their Bat family debuts, David Lafuente and Ming Doyle, who handle the Spoiler and Batwoman chapters respectively. The annual is written by series regulars Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, who don’t produce the deepest of plots, but a fun one none the less, invoking silver age team up books like the Brave and the Bold and Marvel Two in One. For five bucks, you can do a lot worst out there, especially when you factor in how good this book looks.

BatgirlBengal’s Grayson chapter starts the book off, and Stewart and Fletcher NAIL the voices of Dick and Helena perfectly. It’s a amusing story where our 3 heroes have to stop a group of terrorists in Gotham, and Dick has to avoid being seen by Babs at all costs. Bengal’s manga meets David Lapham art style is perfect for this high action story, and the writers perfectly capture the tone and style of Grayson, including incorporating the series’ key running gag.  As someone who really likes the Dick and Barbara relationship, this story work for me on a number of levels.

From there it’s Spoiler and David Lafuente. As someone who wasn’t a fan of Lafuente’s Ultimate Spider-Man run, I can honestly say that his work on this story is incredible. Lafuente’s style has grown since his Marvel days, channeling some Todd Nauck and the late and great  Mike Wieringo in his pages. It’s some very kinetic and expressive stuff, and if I have any complaints, it’s that I wanted another 15 pages, or at least for Lafuente to draw theses characters again in the future. After that it’s tumblr_ns99dbFSik1rrp531o1_250Ming Doyle’s Batwoman story, which has a cool pulp vibe to it, and reminds me a lot of the good ol Greg Rucka and JH Williams era for Kate Kane. Also, there’s a pretty sweet Wicker Man reference in the story, and I for one always appreciate shout outs to movies remade by Nicholas Cage.

Finally the books ends on Batgirl teaming up with Olivia and Maps from Gotham Academy. While it feels like pure fluff (Fletcher co-writes GA, so their appearance make sense to a degree), Mingjue Helen Chen draws the hell out of this story. It’s so charming that you can forgive it, especially when you get to the final page of the story But this story, like every other one except the Batwoman story, all have the same problem. The villains are pretty forgettable and kind of generic. Like I have no idea if they’re an established threat in the DCU, something brought back for their first New 52/DC You appearance, or created for this book. And ultimately, I don’t care.

Batgirl-Annual-5-600x923Batgirl Annual 3 is something you don’t need to pick up if you think it’s going to tie into the current Batgirl on-going someway. BUT, if you want to see a bunch of great Bat family character interact with Babs while being drawn by some fantastic artists, then yeah, you should buy it.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #2

bwxmen922

 

BROTIP Forbidden Planet Faithful: Don’t get bedbugs. It is the worst thing. Also why yes, my apartment building does have them, however did you figure that out?

 

X-Men ’92 #2

Scott Koblish, Chris Sims, Chad Bowers

Marvel $4.99

It’s a good thing I’m not allowed to talk about books strictly with gifs and images (also known as the Tumblr method), otherwise my entire review for this comic would consist of the following image:

 

achewood-beef-hee-hee

 

 

 

 

 

(( BONUS BROTIP:  If you’ve never read  Chris Onstad’s Achewood, you probably should go do so now))

X-Men ’92 #2 is a delight. Collecting the 3rd and 4th digital installment of the X-Men 92 Infinity Comics, the X-men find themselves at the mercy of Cassandra Nova, who’s been revised for this tie-in with a completely new origin that involves several classic characters. With the team at her mercy. Nova sets out to make the X-men more “Kids TV friendly”, which means making Wolverine hug it out, cleaning up Gambit and Rogue’s sexual tension and dealing with the likes of Storm and Beast as well, all while Jubilee and a few un-X-pected allies try to save them all. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s all played straight, which only makes the book all the funnier. Cassanova Nova as a literal stand in for US BS & P (That’s TV talk for Broadcast Standards and Practices) is a wonderful gag that’s effortlessly woven into the plot, not requiring the reader to know what sort of ridiculous TV rules the actual X-men 1992 animated series had to adhere to.

8dcc696bce064f1ebf5705823c76ca99Artist Scott Koblish is continues to mesh quite well with writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims, but you definitely get the sense Koblish is trying to out X-geek Chad and Chris at times. While Bowers and Sims make all sort of obscure X-Men reference, Scott’s channeling some iconic moments from X-history, as well as the people behind those books. That being said, it’s also the book’s biggest flaw. Sometimes the book is a little too inside baseball for it’s own good, and casual readers are properly going to be slightly lost at some of the references. BUT, if you’ve been reading the X-books from 1991-roughly 2012, you’re going to be fine. If you’re hoping that this is the issue that ties the story closer to Secret Wars, you’re out of luck, as it only mentions the Thors in passing, and nothing else related to the mega-event.

4704979-xm922015002_int2-3Even with the book deep in in jokes and nostalgia, casual X-fans will find something to enjoy with this issue. Sims and Bowers Wolverine feels like the more iconic version of the character, which makes his fate all the most amusing. Their Storm is over the top, Beasts is a fun genius, Rogue smoldering in generic southern angst, and like I said last time, their Gambit is PEAK scumbag. If whoever is responsible for “It not you it Gambit” doesn’t win some sort of aware in 2016, comics award ceremonies have failed me. Koblish is equally as impressive, telling a fantastic story while sneaking in all sorts of in-jokes and visuals gags.

 

This book is tie in comics at it’s finest: creators who are fans of their source material celebrating it’s rich history, even the more ridiculous stuff. X-Men ’92 continues to be everything I wanted from this sort of book, if not more.

 

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #4 & Grayson #10

portrait_incredible (3)All New Hawkeye #4

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Following in Hawkeye volume one’s footprints, All New Hawkeye is back after a slight delay. #BURN A reverse of the previous issue sees the bulk of the issue being dedicated to the drawn out Clint and Barney origins, with the final panel of the page being dedicated to the present, with Clint and Kate dealing with the three spooky children the Hawkeyes liberated from Hydra. Much like the previous issue, those panels are mostly dialogue free, and I find them the most interesting, as it feels more in the same vein as the previous volume, and Ramon Perez more simplistic style looks gorgeous. Ian Herring‘s colors perfectly capture the style used by Matt Hollingsworth for these scenes, yet his best stuff is saved for the flashback material. Here we see a lot of interesting uses of purples and blues clashing against a brighter color which clash nicely with the muted art work.

HawkeyeBWith the origin-story stuff taking the point again for this issue, I find myself slightly less invested with this issue. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great and genuinely do like what Jeff Lemire has set up with the brothers Barton. But ultimately it’s not a story I want to read. Clint’s origin is arguably one of the least interesting aspects of the character, because who wants to read about the circus in 2015 right? I applaud Lemiere and Perez doing something different, but I much prefer Clint and Kate arrowing it up in Brooklyn than I do Hawkeye babies.  Especially after 4 issues, or in Lemire’s case, a hunk of his career. Also it really clashes with the promise of more Kate Bishop, who’s barely in this issue.

All New Hawkeye #4 takes some neat artistic risks, but I’m tired of this origin story. The modern stuff is far more compelling, and hopefully there’s more of that after this arc.

 

Grayson-10Grayson #10

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

Grayson continues to be a god send to the character of Richard “Booty Booty Booty” Grayson. Ol’ Dick (heheheh) has been on bit of quality decline ever since the new 52 started, but his role as a spy has given him a much needed shot in the arm that Dick hasn’t seen since Grant Morrison and friends made him Batman. Grayson #10 is the second installment of the “Nemesis” arc, which finds that boy Grayson amiss of a murder mystery where he is the main suspect. Oh and Lex Luthor shows up, which is big, because Lex is one of the reasons Dick had to fake his death to begin with. It’s compelling stuff, with some really engaging dialogue from Tim Seeley and Tom King and the cliffhanger ending is spectacular.

Grayson-10-ViewOne of the advantages of turning Dick Grayson into a globe spanning hero is Mikel Janin being able to draw the hell out of a number of exotic locations in a single issue. Two moments that stand out to me visually were the scene in Madrid early in the book, and later when Lex and Dick meet in Corscia. Aside from drawing the prettiest of people, Janin draws some gorgeous scenery, beautifully colored by Jeremy Cox. Cox is also another fantastic artist, managing to mix channel travel brochure quality colors as well as Jim Steranko SHIELD era stuff. Coz is easily one of the most underrated colorists in the business and pairing him with Mikel Janin has produced some incredible looking art. Meanwhile, Seeley and King continue to provide a solid and entertaining script with some really smart and fun dialogue.

Grayson #10 is another fine installment of a book that got me back into DC Comics. It’s spy drama and super heroics at it’s best, and I’m glad to see the team’s first multi-issue storyline going so well.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #9

SWOMAN2015009-Cov-c2f18Spider-Woman #9

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel $3.99

Javier Rodriguez is a beast y’all.

I’ve been a fan of both Spider-Woman and Javier for awhile. Jessica Drew is my wife’s favorite Avenger, and Rodriguez won me over back when he was coloring Daredevil. Putting him on Spider-Woman with that slick Kris Anka designed costume was a gift, and this issue may arguably be his most impressive work to date.  It also helps that he and writer Dennis Hopeless are channeling other quirky creator driven books like Superior Foes of Spider-Man, the aforementioned Daredevil and Hawkeye with this incarnation of Spider-Woman.

4691358-2+swoman2014009_int2-1Issue 9 kicks off the 2nd arc of this team’s run, which sees J-Drew, reporter Phil Urich, and reformed Z-list villain the Porcupine hit the road to help folk across the country deal with the various weirdness one would face as a denizen in the Marvel Universe. This results in the Porcupine not being the most obscure villain to show up in this book, which says a lot. It alsot means Rodriguez is able to draw a number of insane fight scenes, all of which are gorgeous and highly detailed. I also like how he also frames his pages, using photos as panels, and doing a lot of interesting things with the sense motion by drawing multiple Jessicas in a single panel. The book seems excessive to the untrained eye, but once you start reading it, the proper flow of events becomes apparent and it’s all very wonderful. And since he doubles as colorist, he uses lighting to his advantage throughout the book. I’m not saying he uses it for some easy outs, no, his pages are crammed full of content, the coloring just helps to guide the reader’s eyes as to where they should be focusing on. And the quality of the colors are worth mentioning, as it’s the first time the digital editions looks as good as the paper version. A lot of books look a lot crisper on a tablet then on paper (ie any DC book I buy) , but Rodriguez someone manages to avoid it. Inker Alavardo Lopez is as equally talented, providing the art with thin clean lines, showcasing just how detailed the art is. The finish product looks like it’s popping off of the page in several instances, making it one of the more eye catching books coming from Marvel.

tumblr_nryvwpapM11qlmthpo1_1280Dennis Hopeless’ Jessica Drew is a fantastic take on the character. She’s flawed – impatient, short tempered, slightly aggressive, but her heroic nature is never in question. It’s nice to see a veteran like Jessica not fall into the model of the good, but boring, role model, as it makes her a tad more relatable then some of her newer peers. She reads more like a more competent Clint Barton (or and adult Kate Bishop if you will) than a sexy Peter Parker, which makes her stands out a ton from the other Spider-female characters. Hopeless also give Porcupine some character, making the newest addition of the cast slightly more lovable. It will be interesting to see if the character will catch on like the Superior Foes of Spider-Man era Sinister Six Five have, but the potential is certainly there.

Spider-Woman #9 is another fantastic issue by a creative team that’s clearly firing on all cylinders. Jessica Drew is a delightful lead, her supporting cast is fun, and the book’s direction is interesting, until it’s interrupted by Secret Wars and relaunched. I can’t recommend it enough, as it’s arguably one of the best super hero books currently available.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Uncanny X-men 35

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_35_TextlessUncanny X-men 35

Brian Michael Bendis, Valerio Schiti, Richard Isanove

Marvel $3.99

Okay real talk (about fictional characters) time: This is a dumb comic.

I realize that there has to be some suspension of belief when dealing with super hero books. It’s fantasy, so things that don’t work in the real world may fly in comics, and cool, I’m down with that. But man, that is not the case with this issue, where I had to turn my brain off to get past a huge plot point.

UNCX2013035_int2_00006Uncanny X-men 35 sees the kids of the former New Xavier Institute go out on their own and try the whole super hero team thing. As a result, the hilariously terrible named Goldballs goes viral and becomes a minor celebrity (because you know, super heroes are a rarity on Marvel Earth 616), until SPOILERS, it’s revealed that he’s a mutant and everyone fears and hates him again. Which I think we’ve seen before with Dazzler in the 80s, but whatever. It’s a fun little cautionary tale and that doesn’t bug me. What does is the whole “Wait he’s a mutant” reveal. I mean the dude runs around with a giant X-belt buckle and with 2 dudes who are rocking big X jackets. Not to mention paling the 3 girls who are clones of wanted terrorist Emma Frost in broad daylight. How did no one know he was an X-man of sorts prior to this reveal, especially when this was hanging out with the literal face of the mutant revolution for months? Did they miss the giant X-plane as well? This book also suffers a number of bad Brian Michael Bendis troupes, such as Avengers-level threats jobbing to Bendis’ new wunderkind, Middle age dad dialogue for teens, a cool cover that has nothing to do with the interior, and jokes that miss that mark by roughly a mile. I’ve generally been a fan of Bendis’ work on this book, but the script for this issue is sadly quite rough.

That being said, there’s a gag involving Emma Frost and her past that really works for me, and appreciate it when Bendis makes little nods to X-godfather Chris Claremont’s numerous contributions to this franchise. And the book starts off and ends well, but 80% of this book’s script and direction really doesn’t work for me.

Comics-072215-UncannyHOWEVER, this issue certainly looks great. Valerio Schiti comes over from Guardians of the Galaxy to fill in for cover artist Kris Anka, and he’s a perfect fit for this book. Valerio’s style is comparable to Anka, although there’s also some hints of Joe Quesada as well, resulting is some softer, yet clean looking takes on the casts. It’s impressive how well these characters look under Valerio, as I’m certain this is the first time he’s drawn them, not to mention he was probably under a deadline crunch as well. I particular;y dig the final few pages of this book, where Schiti draws a scene involving an angry mob quite well, perfectly portraying some real anger and violence and hitting all the proper emotional beats to make the scene really work. Schiti inks himself as well, leaving veteran colorist Richard Isanove to finish the art with a crisp and bright pallet. It’s a fantastic looking book that would have been a buy on sight if the script was a little tighter.

I hate to sound nit picky and aggressive towards this comic, but I’ve re-read it a number of times and remain disappointed with it. I think it’s more so due to the fact the Bendis has been really good on Uncanny X-men for quite a while, so a dud issue hurts more, especially if this is the penultimate issue in his run. It’s really a surprise that the book reads so poorly, as Bendis’ past X-done in one’s have been some of the best issues of this run. Luckily Scitit’s art cushions the blow, making for a great looking coming that just read poorly. This issue is far from a must read sadly, and while I feel bad trashing a creative team I like, it’s something I can’t recommend to anyone at $4.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Hawkeye #22

4677223-hawkeye2012022_dc11-0Hawkeye #22

Matt Fraction/David Aja/Matt Hollingsworth/Chris Eliopoulos

Marvel, $4.99

::: Inspiring quote and or song lyrics tangentially related to Hawkeye’s ending goes here :::

 

RIGHT?!?! HOW RELEVANT IS THAT?

After various delays, 2014’s hottest comic has finally made it into my hands, with the 2015 hot Marvel price of $4.99. To be fair, it’s double sized, AND ALSO FANTASTIC. It’s also (probably) the last time I’ll be spending $5 on a Marvel comic anytime soon I imagine, but that’s a different rant for a different day.

4633438-h2David Aja, Matt Fraction, Matt Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos’ final issue of Hawkeye sees all the key players reunited in Bed Stuy for the last time. It’s the freshly united Hawkeyes, Clint’s neighbors, and Lucky the Pizza Dog vs the Tracksuit Draculas and the Clown for a brutal, but never too graphic, final throw down. This issue is gorgeous, as David Aja goes to town on the visuals, incorporating so many cool nods to past issues without it being too overboard with the references. We get Aja showing off his full range of talents, making this one of the most impressive issues in the series on a technical level. Re-reading these pages invokes memories of modern awesome ultra-violent action flicks like John Wick, Nightcrawler and Drive, all while maintaining the originality and style Aja is known for. I cringed a few times reading this due to the cast taking some nasty hits, but Aja’s excellent framing and some great use of colors from Hollingsworth never made things too graphic. Eliopoulos’ masterful position of work balloons and font choices really ties the whole package together, as it moves the narrative along without interrupting the art. Marvel deserves a lot of credit for letting this team tell it’s story relatively uninterrupted, despite massive shipping delays. I imagine the collected version of this book are going to look amazing over the coming months.

4633437-h1Hawkeye #22 gives us a relatively quiet Matt Fraction. Oh sure, it’s difficult to tell who contributed what with this issue given both Fraction and Aja being listed as Storytellers instead of writer/artist. But it feels Fraction held back on some dialogue to let Aja go nuts on the action. Which is great, because at this point, exposition and banter would only take away from the experience. Hawkeye was always a low stakes book compared to the rest of the Marvel offerings, but thanks to the talent involved in this book, it feel like the most important thing. Fraction still manages to sneak if a few running gags/reoccurring narrative tricks into this script, but this ultimately feels more like David Aja’s show than Fractions. And another upside to this is that when someone speaks, it feels important. Clint drops 2 Die Hard-esque zingers that work way better thanks to Fraction dialogue restrictions, making less ultimately more.

Hawkeye #22 ends arguably one of the most important runs in comics in some time. This book redefined Marvel (see Marvel Now and it’s various incarnations), gave Matt Fraction’s career a well-deserved shot in the arm, and reminded everyone just how good of an artist David Aja is. It in brought people who usually didn’t read Marvel to the company, and gave people interested in comics thansk to the 2012 Avengers film the perfect entry way. It’s a damn fine comic, arguably my favorite, and I hate to see it over. But I’m glad to have an ending on a high note, and am eager for more content from Fraction and Aja and friends in the future.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #8

STK675909Gotham Academy #8

Becky Cloonan. Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe ,Michele Assarasakorn

DC $2.99

I’ve been trying to make a “The Black Parade” joke for the last five minutes and nothing has materialized. NO WAIT WRONG GERALD WAY PROJECT, CLEARLY THIS CALLS FOR AN UMBRELLA ACAMEDY JOKE? YOU SEE, CAUSE IT’S CALLED GOTHAM ACADEMY, BUT THERE’S UMBREL-I’ll stop now. Also apologies for talking about this book a week after it dropped, I have internet problems which made posting a tad difficult.

Gotham Academy #8 is out, and it feels like a proper beginning for the 2nd arc for this series. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adored last month’s issue, but that felt more like a fun done in one than a proper beginning for the next arc. This issue sees a lot more of the cast return to the book, as well as regular series artist Karl Kerschl. Which, surprising no one, means another great look issue from one of most beautiful DC book currently being put out.

Olive-at-Funeral-e1436861340318Head’s up by the way, this issue a little bit of a bummer compared to last month’s  Maps and Damian Wayne fun timez ©.  For the first time in the series, our lead is Map’s older bro/Prince of Tennis protagonist Kyle, who’s still sweet on Olivia, who really doesn’t want much to do with the boy. On top on dealing with a funeral, our boy Kyle begins to look into the campus’ residential Man Bat, as well and a the new teacher who knows a thing or two about Men who are also Bats.

Writers Becky Cloonan and  Brenden Fletcher goes full CW teen angst and drama which this issue, which has me wondering why a live action Gotham Academy adaption isn’t being actively developed at the moment. It doesn’t get too overbearing, but it’s something unique to this book, and gives it a weird shoujo manga esque edge. We also get a Kyle and Maps team up, which brightens the atmosphere a bit, as Maps is a tiny delightful angel. Olivia also faces a major new development, and it appears that there’s a new g-g-g-host/monster running around the Academy. Again all this, plus #TEENDRAMA crammed into 20 pages is impressive, as the book never feels too crowded. There’s a HUGE advancement with the overall plot for this book, and I’m really curious how it’s going to play out over the next few month.

image9Karl Keschl’s return is also worth celebrating. Granted this book apparently has problem keeping to a single colorist (Michele Assarasakorn would be the 3rd), it still looks incredible. No one draws these characters as well as Keschel, who’s does some fantastic stuff with Maps once she realizes there’s a Man Bat on the campus. Not to dismiss the work done by alternate GA artist Mingjue Helen Chen , but Stewart helped design and define the world of Gotham Academy, and perfectly manages to balance the school stuff with the spooky stuff perfectly. Assarasakorn and senior series colorist Serge Lapointe give Kerschl art a cool, animation cell-esque look and work together so well you can’t tell the two’s styles apart.

Gotham Academy #8 isn’t exactly the happiest comic this creative team has produced, but it’s another solid entry in the series none the less. There’s a new bunch of mysteries to be delve into, and new personal struggles for the kids to overcome, making it equally charming and compelling.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Saga #30

Saga_30-1_300_462Saga #30

Fiona Staples/Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Hope y’all are ready for another 500 words of praise for Saga. It’s gotten to the point where it’s pointless to praise how good Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan is again, because we all know how excellent they are by now. Talking about their talents seems redundant in a way, so I rather talk about what worked for me in this issue, in great detail. Also spoilers. Heavy, heavy spoilers.

Saga volume 5 has been a high stake concept that started off relatively slow. Volume 4 saw Alanna, her mother in law and daughter abducted by a baby-kidnapping terrorist, forcing her husband Marko to forge an alliance with their enemy Prince Robot IV, and adorable seal man Ghus. MEANWHILE. Marko’s ex Gwendolyn, The Brand, Sophie, and the Lying cat have searching for a cure to get lovable scum bag bounty hunter the Will out of a coma, which lead to an incredibly lewd but dangerous adventure. Issue 30 wraps up both of these arcs, but not in the ways anyone was expecting. Or at ways I wasn’t expecting.

Screen-Shot-2015-07-08-at-12.05.44-PMStaples and BKV get a lot done in this issue, but not all of it is quite the happy ending I was hoping for. Issue 29 was insanely brutal, so while issue 30 isn’t as soul crushing, it’s definitely not an uplifting one in the traditional sense either. There’s several reunions, but not all of them are happy ones, and the one we want the most doesn’t happen. But that’s part of the beauty of this book. Nothing is gratuitous or feel cheap, and character moments are earned, not handed to us. It makes the loss all the more painful sure, but when we get a victory here and there, it feels more important.

This is where things are going to get super spoilery, so head’s up. But I want to talk about 3 moments that stood out to me. First, is the return of the Will. On one hand, the moment should be considered a victory as our squad of awesome lady bounty hunters and their pets manage to succeed on their, but not without losing the Will’s sister. Who’s DEFINITELY DEAD, as she was rip into two and partially eaten.  The Will is less than thrilled by this, and refers to one of characters by a nasty four letter word. In the hands of a lesser creative team, this would come off as hacky at best, offensive at worst. But this team still manages to make the Will feel sympathetic. It’s a rough scene to read, but something crafted flawless. It’s hard to see the fan favorite Lying Cat slink away upset, but it helps set the sense of regret and sorrow that these characters are feeling. It’s powerful scene, and the fact that BKV used such a negative word to make it some emotional only speaks of his talents.

 

img_20150710_000550On the lighter side of things, Marko and Alanna are finally reunited. It’s been 7 issues (which factoring the hiatus, nearly a year) since the two have been in the same setting and it’s a bittersweet reunion. Hazel’s still not back with her parents by the time  this issue ends, but the Marko/Alanna is fine enough without it. Staples’ nails the body language and framing perfectly, while BKV’s narration is perfect. It’s a highlight for the series, which says a lot given the overall quality of the past issues.

And then we have the final page. Which sees Hazel in Kindergarten. This absolutely adorable, hilarious given it’s drawn, and raises a bunch of questions since it’s clear some time has passed  between the final scene with the Will and this scene. This is where Saga is at it’s best. You get an insane amount of pay off, and then a great end of chapter cliffhanger that makes the hiatus less painful. It’s something you can appreciate a bunch as someone who reads the book monthly or in trade.

Issue 30 is a powerful read that’s nothing new for this book. But man, the fact that Saga has been this astonishing for this long is why it’s just won a another bunch of Eisners this back weekend at San Diego.

Post to Twitter