Category: Christopher Troy

Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel #2 & Paper Girls #5

portrait_incredible (5)Captain Marvel #2

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Matt Wilson, Joe Caramagna

Marvel $3.99

Come for the Captain Marvel meets Aliens premise! Stick around for Sasquatch-related romance drama!

Captain Marvel #2 sees the good Captain and her Alpha Flight pals investigate a seemingly abandon spaceship that bears an all too familiar emblem on it. Meanwhile, Abigal Brand finds herself back in a familiar role of dealing with alien tomfoolery. If you’re a fan of space politics and gross alien stuff, this is a comic for you.

As noted several times in the past,  Kris Anka is really good at drawing pretty people with huge muscles. While that is certainly a thing he does in issue 2, he also tosses some stuff at the reader that can be best described as  “fairly disgusting” and “slimy”. He does it quite well, which is a testament to his skills, but some of the imagery that Anaka and Matthew Wilson manage to create I could have gone without seeing in life. Also props to Wilson, who’s colors help give the early pages of the book a sense of Claustrophobia, really selling the how unnerving the alien ship is.

Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters do a great job of fleshing out some of the supporting cast this issue. Shifting the focus on Alpha Flight as Carol narrates shows just show strong of story tellers these writers are, letting the dialogue explain the character’s motives. They also excel in the Brand related subplot, which sees a few new twists and forces the readers to question some character’s motives. Captain Marvel’s new supporting cast grows on you real fast, and helps the book establish it’s own voice.

Captain Marvel #2 is an immensely enjoyable sci-fi super hero comic. Carol Danvers as a leader is an extremely fun reading experience, especially when the creative team is as good as this. It sits nicely next to Ms Marvel, The Ultimates, Spider-Woman and A-Force, letting readers know the character is in good hands without the guidance of Kelly Sue Deconnick.

PaperGirls_05-1Paper Girls #5

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

Image $2.99

Paper Girl #5 is a lot like Captain Marvel #2 in a lot of ways: Great art. Matthew Wilson on coloring and some grossness that I could have lived without seeing. That being said, this issue didn’t work for me as CM #2 did.

Paper Girls certainly get points for getting a lot of stuff done in a single issue. The creators dump a lot of info and potential new plot beats in this issue, not giving the readers much time to breathe. I applaud the decision by writer Brian K Vaughan and artist Cliff Chiang to make the book a dense read, but it’s definitely a little more than I was ready to handle in a single sitting.

Paper Girls art though, that never fails to please.. Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson both come through on the visuals, supplying the book with gorgeous art and fantastic colors. Chiang is an inventive story teller, so watching him tell this story with his illustrations choices is super fascinating, He’s so good at blending the period accurate material with the sci-fi stuff, giving the reader a lot to marvel at. And I love Wilson’s choices of colors, which feel retro in a way, but also perfect for the tone of this book.

A good, but not great issue of Paper Girls is still an solid read none the less. The visuals are the selling point this month, and hopefully the break will do the book some wonders.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #48

BG_CV48Batgirl #48

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

DC $2.99

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Saga_33-1Saga #33

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

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

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

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

5013574-sqgirl2015b004_dc11_lr-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girt #4

Ryan North, Erica Henderon, Rico Renzi, Clayton Cowles

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson 16

 

Grayson01Grayson #16

Tim Seeley,  Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

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

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

 

WARNING FROM HERE ON OUT, THERE BE SPOILERS YO!

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #47

4999675-0+bg_cv47_dsBatgirl #47

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

DC $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel #1

Captain_Marvel_Vol_9_1_TextlessCaptain Marvel #1

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #6

tumblr_o199gy2Mcg1uxdbsko1_1280Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #6

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

Image $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #14

GOTHAC_Cv14_PREVIEWS_R1_5616b1b7728111.33337671

Gotham Academy #14

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

DC $2.99 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #3

STK693569All New Hawkeye #3

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Paper Girls #4

PaperGirls_04-1Paper Girls #4

Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chang, Matt Wilson, Jared K Fletcher

Image $2.99

One of these days I want to read and Image book and be disappointed with it. For starters, a review fueled by rage and HOT TAKES would be easier and possibly some fun than thinking of new ways to praise books that deliver month after month. But no, Image gotta Image and release quality comic after quality comic, forcing me to up my game and find new ways to praise their books. Unlike Marvel and DC, who throw me a bone every so often and do something dumb, helping me find new ways for me to toss shade at them.

This month’s issue of Paper Girls is another solid one, as team creative team produces a ton of cool visual and narrative moments once again. Yeah I know, another great comic by Cliff Chang, Brian K Vaughan, Matt Wilson and Jared K Fletcher, big shocker there. But at least they give me plenty to talk about, which I’m grateful for.

First and foremost, and slight spoiler,  I’m intrigued by the decision to make one of the girl slightly homophobic. While their words aren’t as harsh as they were back in issue 1, it’s still not great, just slightly less offensive. To have a lead character act like that is bold cb3c481590c0d42e112bf54a45b914ff._SX640_QL80_TTD_decision, as it could result in some readers dropping the book, despite this sort of behavior not being entirely unheard of in the 80s. And in the creators defense, they make sure that she’s called out on it by the other leads, so it’s not like her actions are condoned, and she’s certainly young enough to change her stances as the book progresses. It’s something worth keeping an eye out, but given Chang and BKV’s track record, it’s safe to say they’ll handle this correctly.

Something less controversial to touch upon is Chang’s art for this issue. There’s a bit where a character has a flashback of sorts, and I how Chang and Wilson go with the 9 panel layouts with black borders for 4 wordless pages, and that those pages are printed horizontally. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a book printed out like that, and it’s jarring in all the right ways, giving the chaotic nature of the scene. Chang is stellar as usual on this issue, giving us more bizarre characters and creatures, but this sort of story telling through visuals only is really something else. Vaughan has shown a tone of restrain in this series, and the results have work in the book’s favor, letting the gorgeous art tell the story instead of going with a ton of scene-chewing exposition.

All joking earlier aside, Paper girls #4 continues to be a quality read, deserving your attention along with BKV’s excellent Saga. It’s a fun sci-fi book with some really clever nods to it’s late 80s setting, and the gorgeous visuals and design make it unlike anything else on the market. The first arc will wrap up next month, and it’s hard to predicate how this whole thing will end, which is exciting in it’s own right. Visually stunning, Paper Girls is a shining example of how good Image Comics is right now, and is worth your attention and money.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Bitch Planet #6

STK674615.jpg.square-true_maxheight-285_size-285Bitch Planet #6

Kelly Sue Deconnick, Taki Soma, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

The Feel Good Book of 2015 returns, with all the smiles, jokes, and sexiness you’ve come to expect from Bitch Planet. No wait, that’s all lies. Bitch Planet #6 is a bit of a downer, and an exceptional comic that covers a variety of topics rarely covered by comics. That’s the Bitch Planet we’ve come to know and appreciate.

Comics with parental advisory ratings slapped on them is nothing new to the medium Bitch Planet #6 however, is the first comic from a major publisher I’m aware of with a trigger warning for sexual assault, which is something I appreciate, even as a Cis White Dude. NOTHING in Bitch Planet is ever glorified, and writer Kelly Sue Deconnick and guest artist Taki Soma definitely put in some thought and consideration before doing what they did in this issue. Which, in case you didn’t pick up on the sarcasm above, makes for a depressing read, especially when you consider how issue 5 ended.

Bitch Planet #6 tells of how and why Meiko Maki landed was incarcerated.  It’s a tale of family, blackmail, casual racism, and revenge, making for a powerful comic that will make you feel 91b79f76075ba039b72f8e44051f9ad9._SX640_QL80_TTD_AWFUL once you’re done with it. Oh sure, Kelly Sue does toss in a few jokes to lighten up the mood, but it’s far from a fun read. Artist Taki Soma’s style is perfect for a flashback comic, as her styles gives off a nostalgic, Mad Men vibe. Her more simplistic, grounded style is perfect, for establishing the tone, and I love clean and minimalistic it is. There’s some excellent use of negative space, and Soma absolutely slays KSD’s violin metaphor. And most important all of her characters are super expressive, which really enhances the dialogue. New series colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick is a perfect fit for Taki, as her retro style color palette really gives the book a cool, exploitation era vibe, and the yellow, ageing look for the pages are a clever way to remind readers this a flashback. Clayton Cowles’ choice of fonts are all too fitting, as you would expect from a master-class Letterer like him. I’m impressed on how good Bitch Planet continues to look with rotating artists, and I hope to see this continue.

Bitch Planet continues to be some of the best work of Deconnick’s career, as she puts so much into every script. What we get in 24 pages of comics is so good, intelligent and fresh it really makes it hard to want to talk about other comics. Even when we get an issue like that that’s super depressing, you can really appreciate the level of craftsmanship involved in it.  And to sweeten the pot, we get some great back matter, including a nice pair of essays and a really important response to a well-meaning but ultimately insulting letter from a reader. For $4, you can do a lot worst.

Bitch Planet has always been one of the more rewarding and thought-provoking comics released in recent history, and issue six is no exception. The creators set out to tell a horrifying story, but make it so if you risk being triggered by it, you can skip over for it and wait for assault-free recap when issue 7 drops. It’s that sort of dedication to the reader/inclusion that I really appreciate, but am not surprised by given how thoughtful of a person Kelly Sue is.

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Man & Deadpool #1

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_1_TextlessSpider-Man & Deadpool #1

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuiness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

Coming into this review, you dear reader may expect some annoyance and snark from me regarding Marvel putting out yet another Deadpool title.  That’s fair assumption, given the books I like can make me come across as a bit of a comic snob. But it’s also totally wrong in this instance, haha, way to blow it nerd . Now let me tell you about why Phonogram is amazing…

No wait, let me actually get back on topic. CHRIS FACT: Joe Kelly and Ed McGuiness’ Deadpool book from the late 90s kept me in cape comics. It’s a run that I really enjoyed, was my favorite book for a long time, and having them reunite on a Deadpool book warrants an instabuy from me. The fact that Spider-Man is involved too is nice, as I really enjoyed Joe Kelly’s all too brief run on Amazing Spider-Man, especially since it result in  THE BEST Spider-Man/Deadpool interaction of all time. That is not an opinion by the way, that is fact, how dare you imply otherwise.

spider-man-deadpool-1-interior-590x900Spider-Man and Deadpool #1 is a fantastic read. It’s also the gayest Marvel comic I’ve read since Angela, and that’s something I mean in the best way. Marvel has been not so great with LGBT representation in leading roles as of late, and giving a pan-sexual character like Deadpool another amazing creative team is nice to see, especially when it results in some of the most creative genital jokes I’ve seen in a Marvel comic. It’s also really funny, which is important given these two characters personalities, and looks stunning, thanks to the team of McGuiness, Mark Morales and Jason Keith. It also does a nice job of fitting into the status quo of both these heroes, which props to Joe Kelly and the editorial team, without having to sacrifice much of the charm Kelly brought to Deadpool and Spider-Man way back when.

The visuals created by Ed McGuiness and Mark Morales are top notch, even though I wish Ed would draw Spidey not as jacked as he does. I prefer my Spider-Man/Men drawn sleek, not like he’s dropping passing for the Jets. But that’s a minor nitpick, as his stylistic, Capcom fighting games meets John Romita Sr. style looks fantastic overall, especially in the case of Deadpool. He gets a lot of emotion from these character’s body language, which is very impressive, and his action scenes look great. Mark Morales’ inks are bold and clean, resulting in some crisp art that is colored superbly by Jason Keith. The art team comes together to create beautiful art that really captures the fun tone you would expect from a Spider-Man & Deadpool book.

GreyPouponIt’s been quite some time since Joe Kelly and McGuiness have collaborated on a Marvel book, although you couldn’t tell from Spider-Man and Deadpool #1. Both creators create a comic that feels like they’ve never stopped working together since the mid-90s, making for a great read for old and new readers alike. It’s a super accessible book that looks great and has a number of quality jokes, making it another fine addition to the relatively solid catalog of action/humor titles Marvel has been putting out as of late. The book may not convert any haters into fans, but anyone longing for more Deadpool in the style of one of his greatest runs is in for a real treat, with no fear of sudden cancellation.

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Chris’ Comics: Obi-Wan & Anankin and Jughead

I would read that comic!

Obi-Wan_and_Anakin_1_cover_CBRStar Wars: Obi-5Wan and Anakin #1

Charles Soule, Marco Checchetto, Andres Mossa

Marvel $3.99

Hey look, another Star Wars comic drawn by Marco Checchetto, hope this one works out better than last time.

Coming out earlier than expected is the debut of the new Obi-Wan and Anakin mini-series, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Checchetto. Star Wars hype remain high in the Troy household, and I like the idea of mini-series set between installments of the prequel, so I figured I’d give this debut a shot. While I’m pretty cold towards Soule’s Marvel work (his creator owned stuff is great), I found a lot to enjoy with his contributions to this issue. His dialogue is solid, particularly in a scene set during Anakin’s training in the presence of Senator Palpatine, and his premise for the inaugural issue is fun, with some cool moments. Charles does a lot of things right with the tone and “directing” of this mini, succeeding in telling a captivating story with Obi-Wan and young Anakin where George Lucas has failed.

Like his work on Shattered Empire, Marco Checchetto does a great job of capturing the proper looks for the established characters in this mini, and really shines when it comes to creating new characters and ships. His art perfectly captures the swashing buckling spirit of Soule’s script, making this book a perfect blend of drama and action. I also like some of the smaller, subtle things he adds to the art, like having Anankin’s hair indicate with way the winds are blowing Also man, colorist Andres Mossa really give the book a sweeping, cinematic feel, and making the setting climate feel more harsh and dangerous, while giving the book a cool glow. His contributions to this book are crucial, as the final product would not look as good as it does thanks to what Mossa brings to the table.

Obi-Wan and Anakin is a solid comic set in a time period that made for some pretty awful Star War movies. It seems the creative team has a better handle on this scenario and it’s players, not to mention the hindsight as to what to avoid. Assuming the writing stay the same over the next four issues and Checchetto can stick the deadlines, we should be in for a fun little mini.

jughead2015_03-coverJughead #3

Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson

Archie $3.99

In non-Star Wars news, Jughead remains wonderful. No one is surprised, as I’ve been praising this book since day 1, what with it’s fantastic creative team, which makes reviewing it a bit of a pain. You can only praise a book so many times before sounding like a broken record, so thanks for being good at your jobs Chip and Erica.

Erica Henderson draws the hell out of this issue, which introduces Jughead’s parents and gives us some spy action as Jughead deals with his expulsion from high school. I love the outfits she throws the cast into throughout the book, as Henderson’s fashion sense is better than most creators, and makes the cast all the more believable. Her art is treat for anyone who can appreciate a more animated style for their comics, and for people who like their character wearing age appropriate clothing.

As for writer/noted Canadian Chip Zdarsky, surprise, he’s great too. Asking Zdarsky to writer jokes is like asking me to make grammatical errors, and it’s also frustrating to see him deliver so effortlessly. Part of the fun of this book is seeing what he pulls from when it comes to the dream sequences for this book, and bringing back the Man from A.R.C.H.I.E. is a cool bit of Archie history, not to mention gives the chance to have the writer to have some fun with acronyms.

Jughead joins Saga as one of those books you know you’re bound to get your money’s worth with. It’s 2 very talented people who are doing some career defining work across the medium coming together to create a super enjoyable comic.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Star Wars: Shattered Empire TPB

Shattered_Empire_1_CoverStar Wars: Shattered Empire

Greg Rucka, Marco Checchetto,Emilio Laiso, Angel Unzueta, Andres Mossa

Marvel $16.99

I’m sure I’m not the only person who watched The Force Awakens was thought to themselves to check out the Star Wars comics Marvel has been putting out over the past year afterwards. It’s the type of thought process all comics marketing folk hope readers have, which is why there’s always some sort of post-blockbuster movie tie in comic on the shelves.

Marvel has been really good with the Star Wars licenses, putting a murder’s row of talent on the various books. Assigning Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto to a Star Wars comic that bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens continues that trend, and the collaboration results in a tie-in comic that’s pretty good, not great.

148jd2I say pretty good only because it’s a bit of a bait and switch on Marvel’s end. This mini is marketed as being drawn by Checchetto, but in reality, he’s assisted by Angel Unzueta and Emili Laiso, 2 artists who are serviceable, but not as experienced as Marco. Their styles are in the same vein as Checcheto’s but lack the same amount of detail, energy and experimental panel angles that Checchetto brings to this. Luckily colorist Andres Mossa manages to make the artist switch ups not too jarring thanks to his excellent choice in colors.

The pages that Marco draw are fairly dope, as he excels at capturing the established characters actor’s licenses without coming off looking too photo realistic/light boxed. And I adore the way Checchetto draws that various ships and tech in this comic, giving the story as fantastic imagery. I think I would have enjoyed the book more had he drawn the entire mini.

dfdjg-2Greg Rucka handling the writing duties for the mini makes a ton of sense. Rucka is a great talent, and he already has experience writing Star Wars material thanks to the Smuggler’s Run Han Solo novel that dropped this past September. It’s a shame that this book is only 4 issues, because Rucka introduces at least 5 new characters in this mini that I would love to learn more about. 2 of which include the parents of new fan favorite character Poe Dameron, who Rucka handles like a very PG and less complicated versions of Marko and Alana from Saga. He also does a terrific job of writing the original, established and much beloved characters from episodes 4-6 as well, including a fantastic Princess Leia, much to the surprise of no one thanks to the incredible work he did writing badass females characters like Batwoman and Renee Montoya for DC.

In addition to the 4 issues of the Shattered Empire mini series, we get a copy of Mark Waid and the DodsonsPrincess Leia #1, and a recolored version of the original Star Wars #1 Marvel put out in 1977. I’m obviously not a fan of the new modern colors on the book, but it’s interesting to see how Marvel started with this license. The Waid/Dodsons Leia comic is very rad, and I can’t recommend picking up that mini-series enough.

Overall Shattered Empire is a fun read, but sadly suffers from some inconsistent art, and being a little too brief, thanks rush to get the trade out by the time The Force Awakens in theaters. I would love to see these creators revisit these characters again in the near future, and would recommend this trade for someone who wanted to dip their toes in Star Wars comics, but didn’t want to commit to an ongoing book like Darth Vader or Star Wars proper.

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Chris’ Comics: What I loved about Comics in 2015

It’s been awhile FPNYC Faithful! Both my wife’s and my parents are divorced and remarried, so that means 4 families in 3 different states over the course of 3-5 days, depending on the year. The upside to that is that I got to see “The Force Awakens” twice, which I enjoyed a bunch. Downside is that my portable keyboard’s “N” and “B” keys don’t working, making writing while traveling virtually impossible, at least if I wanted proper spelling.

2015 was kind of a mix bag for Comics. Between Convergence and Secret Wars, there were WEEKS where I didn’t pull any big 2 comics. Which was fine really, as Dark Horse, Image and Boom put out some fantastic books this year. Which means I’m going to spend today talking about what I loved about comics this year.

Kaptara-coverTHE RISE OF CHIP ZDARSKY: The homie Matt Fraction is probably my favorite dude working in comics, but in terms of books released in 2015, I think I’ve read all of 6 books written by Fraction in 2015. HOWEVER, his chum/Sex Criminals co-creator Chip Zdarsky had a fantastic year as far as I’m concerned. 2015 saw Chip teamed up with Infinite Kung-Fu creator Kagan McLeod and put out the excellent Kaptara for Image, Joe Quinones on Marvel’s absolutely hilarious Howard the Duck series, and in a move no one saw coming, Archie hired him and Erica Henderson for a Jughead series. Zdarsky and his army of artists released some gorgeous comics packed with sharp and brilliant humor. I’m excited to see what Chip and his friends can do come 2016, which will hopefully include Sex Criminals coming out on a regular schedule.

KIERON GILLEN, JAMIE MCKELVIE AND MATT WILSON PUT OUT PHONOGRAM VOLUME 3, OH AND THE WICKED AND THE DIVINE REMAINS AN EXCELLENT TITLE. 

PhonogramIG_04-1 Warning, this is where things get a little Image heavy for a bit.

For months, WicDiv has been battling it out with Saga for the crown of “Most Emotionally Damaging Image title”. 2015 saw that book hit all sorts of new creative highs, making for a fantastic read.

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT PHONOGRAM CAME BACK!

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl isn’t the trio’s most accessible work, something I’ve stated several times,  but I don’t care. The music + magic plot point with it’s fascinating cast resonates with me in ways most comics don’t. I’m glad to see it come back, especially with these creators as good as they are now, and it deliver on levels I couldn’t predict. Between this and WicDiv, it’s hard to argue any creative team have had such a banner year more than these two.

PaperGirls_02-1BRIAN K VAUGHAN RELEASES A 2ND ON-GOING, IMAGE GETS ME TO GIVE THEM MORE MONEY. 

I might as well just get the rest of the Image stuff out in a single, dedicated section. In addition to books I was already reading like Rat Queens, Deadly Class, Saga, Sex Crimz, WicDiv & Pretty Deadly, Image decided to let a bunch of talented folk to put out more great books, which is both great for me as reader, and terrible for my savings account. Bitch Planet, Paper Girls, The Goddamned, Island, Montress,  and Tokyo Ghosts are just a few of the incredible offerings coming out from Image, who has had an banner year in 2015. And with creators like Bryan Lee O’ Malley preparing books for Image in 2016, I can’t see the publisher slowing down anytime soon.

SECRET WARS ISN’T TERRIBLE, A TON OF MARVEL BOOKS ARE FUN, THE STAR WARS BOOKS ARE GREAT, AND ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT MARVEL Silk Marvel #1NOW HAS A TON OF POTENTIAL HITS ON THE WAY*!

I have plenty of issues with Marvel 2015, but I can’t deny the company has put out some amazing books over the past 12 months. Secret Wars, even with the delays, may be the new standard of excellent for event books. Marvel added wonderful books like The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Spider-Gwen, and Silk to their catalog. Hawkeye, Uncanny X-men and Secret Avengers all ended on high notes, as the Star Wars line kick several types of ass in ways Star Wars comics never had before. 2015 has been another great year for the House of Ideas, and 2016 looks to continue that trend with the new Black Panther, X-Men ’92, Black Widow, Luke Cage/Iron Fist and Captain Marvel titles dropping over the new few months.

*Anything Inhuman related being the exception, unless we count the wonderful Ms. Marvel.

DC….WELL DC TRIED REAL HARD AND THEY DESERVE SOME PROPS FOR AT LEAST MAKING AN ATTEMPT!

DC did not have a banner year, which is a shame. Convergence was a massive flop and it Batgirl_45_coverdid a ton of damage towards the DC You launch this past summer, which was pretty great for the most part. Black Canary, Starfire are excellent companion books to the already established (and wonderful) Batgirl and Harley Quinn titles, and Tom King is doing the Lord’s work over in Omega Men. The creative teams over on the Superman and Bat books are taking some neat risks, and the Justice League books have been pretty solid as a whole. Sadly, the sales haven’t been there, so who knows what’s to become of books like Gotham Academy and Prez come 2015. But with such cutting edge and diverse titles like John Constantine: Hellblazer, Cyborg, Grayson, and Midnighter coming out, hopefully DC’s 2016 will be better without having to sacrifice much.

And that concludes the annual wall of text. A weird but good year for comics IMO, which plenty to look forward next year! Thanks for reading, hope to see you again come 2016!

 

 

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