Category: Christopher Troy

Chris’ Comics: The Top 4 (and a Hawkguy) Finale

At last, it’s time for my final article for the Daily Planet. Instead of reviews, I’m going to recommend 4 series to you (plus Hawkeye, because we all know that’s coming) that are some of my favorite comics. There’s a few “well duh” choices on the list, but hopefully someone will find a new favorite on this list, or at least think I have excellent tastes in comics.

DCD5297571) Batgirl: Year One (Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Marcos Martin) The only way you can buy Batgirl: Year One these days is in a trade packaged with the also great Robin: Year One. But Batgirl: Year One is arguably my favorite story featuring my favorite DC character. It’s a nice re-imagining of her origin from pre New 52 times, from a writer who wrote a good portion of the best Babs Gordon stories in the 90s. Marcos Martin later blew up on books like Spider-Man and Dr. Strange: The Oath, but this is where the Martin hype train officially began. A gorgeous story that does wonders for one of the most iconic superheroes out there, Batgirl: Year One is the one DC story I can’t recommend enough.

DCD4061942) Phonogram: The Singles Club  (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson). While I absolutely adore this team’s work on The Wicked + The Divine and Young Avengers, P:TSC is my next pick, which was the first time Wilson joined Gillen and McKelvie on a creator owned joint. Set over the course of a single night, each issue in this trade tells a different story, focusing on a different character, and occasionally crossing over. My personal favorite of the various stories is the finale, a relatively silent story that focuses on Kid-With-a-Knife, one of the more simplistic but exciting characters in the series. While it’s technically the second part of the Phonogram trilogy, it’s by far the most accessible, and an excellent entry point for Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson’s indie work.

15958246263) The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, Becky Cloonan). I really wanted to throw a Grant Morrison penned story on this list, but honestly, there’s enough best of/recommendation lists out there featuring his work on All Star Superman, JLA, Doom Patrol, etc. Instead I’ve opted for a comic featuring a character played by Morrison in the My Chemical Romance music videos this comic series is based on/a sequel to. While being familiar with said music videos/album helps. Killjoys is good enough to enjoy on it’s own, thanks to Cloonan’s gorgeous art, and Way’s sensational and kinda out there scripts. While you can make an argument that both creators have stronger work on the market, this is a favorite of mine, and it’s definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of either creators.

07851983934) NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. (Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen) Also known as my favorite comic series before Hawkguy was a thing. Warren Ellis’ funniest book to date, in which his team of super hero pirates fight an evil corporation profiting from a war they’ve created. A cult favorite that’s influenced so many books, NEXTWAVE was at one point the weirdest but also one of the best looking books Marvel had ever published thanks to Stuart Immonen’s art. Assuming you haven’t read it, you should, unless you hate nuclear puppies, flesh eating koalas and dragons that wear shorts.

 

 

0785192190Hawkguy) Hawkeye (Matt Fraction, David Aja, Annie Wu, Matt Hollingsworth, and various) And here it is, my obvious favorite that I’ve never shut up while writing for Forbidden Planet NYC. Hawkeye was a game changer for Marvel, and is easily the best for-hire work Fraction and Aja have done, possibly ever. The creative team makes walking dumpster fire Clint Barton one of the most relatable characters in comics, while making Hawkeye Kate Bishop a break out star. From the Pizza Dog issue to the Sandy relief issue, there’s some many amazing, genre defining comics that show that you can do big 2 comics with an indie comics sensibility. No comic series has affected as much as this book has, and there’s never going to be a time where I won’t recommend it.

And with that, I take my leave. I’d like to thank everyone who’s read my work, my fellow contributors, and the fine folk at Forbidden Planet for giving me a stage over these last years to talk about comics, and toys. I’ve had a blast, and if you care to see what I’m doing post Forbidden Planet, give me a follow on twitter (@theanarchris). Thanks for the memories FPNYC faithful!

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #2 & Snotgirl #2

Batgirl_002_2016_2_covers_Digital_Zone_EmBatgirl #2

Hope Larson, Rafael Albuquerque, Dave McCraig

DC, $2.99 

Batgirl #2 takes Babs to Singapore this month, where she attempts to up her hero game by learning mixed martial arts, while also trying to discover what kind of secrets her friend Kai is keeping, plus a dabbing of some romance. It’s a dense, but fun issue that offers very little time for Batgirl in costume, but a ton of focus on Barbara Gordon.

Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque‘s 2nd issue is a delight, as their take on Batgirl is a lot of fun. Larson’s voice for Barbara reads like someone in their early 20s, and captures the intelligence and spunk you’d expect from the character. She’s also genuinely funny in a way that she hasn’t before, almost in a classic Peter Parker way. And I like how the plot manages to weaves between multiples threads, without ever getting too overwhelming.  It’s a nice blend of romance, mystery and action that should appeal to old and new fans of the character.

While Rafael Albuquerque doesn’t have a breakout scene this month, is art is gorgeous none the less. I love, LOVE his facial expressions, and how he draws Babs’ MMA sequences. She looks like a legit brawler, never too sexy or frail, and the composition of the pages with the fight scenes are insanely good. Dave McCaig‘s colors are stunning as well, as he plays some bright colors off of white space.

Batgirl #2 is a another good comic from a team who’s doing some great work. It’s been awhile since I’m seen new creators excel so much after following a fan favorite run, and I’m glad to see Larson, Albuquerque and company hit the floor running.

Snotgirl_02-1Snotgirl #2

Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung

Image Comics, $2.99

The cool thing about Snotgirl so far is that it’s the type of book that will keep you guessing. From the solicits and early previews, it was safe to assume Snotgirl was a comic about a fashion blogger with a nasty allergy, while also being a discussion about identity on the internet. Then the ending hit, and well, the only thing that was safe to say there’s more going on then I had initially imagined.

Issue two deals with the fall out of the previous issue’s ending, while raising a few more questions. We’re also introduced to a pair of intriguing new characters, and reminded that our lead and her friends are still some of the most shallow characters in comics.

Despite some more intentional confusion and leads that are hard to rally behind, Snotgirl remains one of the best new books on the stands. Bryan O’ Malley‘s script and dialogue ooze of the type of creativity that he can only bring to a comic. Oh sure you may not like Lottie, but you’ll be drawn into her world all too easily. As for the art by Leslie Hung, the best way to describe it is like a Korean drama with L.A. sensibilities. It’s bright, gorgeous, loose and expressive, perfect for a book that in some ways is about fashion and a vapid existence.

Snotgirl #2 is a treat for anyone who enjoys the comic medium and isn’t afraid of trying new things. Buy on sight.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11

Got some bad news for you, the Forbidden Planet Faithful (or good if you’re a jerk!). This article is the one of the last three I’ll be writing for the ol Daily Planet, as the day job has The-Unbeatable-Squirrel-Girl-11-2016offered me a ton of a money for a new gig that’s going to eat up a lot of my time. I’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading my cra  content over the years, and I hope whoever replaces me is a bias towards Matt Fraction comics as I am.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11

Ryan North, Jacob Chabot, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

This month, regular series artist Erica Henderson is off due to working on the upcoming graphic novel “Squirrel Girl Vs. The Marvel Universe”.  Artist Jacob Chabot joins Ryan North and Rico Renzi for an issue is about Doreen Green facing off against Nightmare. Oh and a TON of computer science, which is par for the course for a book written by Ryan North. But hey, how many other 1pdopysuper hero book can actually claim they’ll teach you something educational?

Squirrel Girl fighting a bad guy in her sleep while using computer sciences facts is a weird premise, but Squirrel Girl is a book that’s always played by it own rules. Seeing SQ teach Count Nefari, (“Who?” in her own words) how to 31 on one hand is arguably one of the funniest moments in comics this year, thanks to North’s comedic timing and Chabot excellence body language. Having to fill in for Erica Henderson can’t be an easy job, but Chabot is absolutely wonderful on this issue. His style is as expressive as Henderson’s but with tighter pencils, and a better handling of more traditional looking super heroes. His art is also detailed back, putting some great visuals gags in panels that are already pretty humorous on their own ( see the page with KRAVEN THE COLLEGE ADMINISTRATOR for example). He also draws the most metal looking comics page featuring Venom and squirrels to date, so if that’s a selling point for you, be excited.

Even without his usual partner in crime, Ryan North is fantastic on this book. Hell I might go ahead and say this is his best single issue to date, excluding the wonderful choose your 182867_1000013_8own adventure issues. Not too many creators can balance humor, action and still make a comic educational, but North manages to do so with little effort. It’s a comic that’s very smart, but never in a way that’s overwhelming. And his dialogue is always hilarious, be it Squirrel Girl wishing she was throwing down with Puppy Man, or peppering up the bottom of his pages with great alt text.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11 is another fantastic done in one that will delight and educate you.  As someone who finds himself pulling less and less Marvel book each much due to a variety of reasons (mostly due to Civil War 2 though), this title remains a must read due to it being such a quality comic. Easily one of the smartest comics I’ve read in my life, this issue of Squirrel Girl should be taught in classrooms, let alone belong in your pullbox.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl & The Birds of Prey #1

Nightwing #3 also shipped this week, and it’s a pretty good comic that features Barbara Gordon. However, so did B&BOP #1, which offers me MUCH more to talk about.

B013-Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-Cover-214dcBatgirl & the Birds of Prey #1

Julie and Shawna Benson, Claire Row, Allen Passalaqua, Steven Wands

DC $2.99

It’s rare that I get to say that I have a guilty pleasure comic. Most of the comics I pull are critical darlings, or massive fan favorites. Then we have Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, which not only has a trio of character I like, but also a trio of female creators attached to the book. Should be a slam dunk for me right? No, the art is often ugly, and the dialogue is still WAY too over dramatic. Yet I can’t stop reading this book.

Birds of Prey #1 is the every cliche first meeting turn fight turn team up we’ve all come to expect from super hero books (Nightwing even chimes in on in, turning it into a running gag). Batgirl and Black Canary don’t trust Huntress, who Babs finally pieces together is Dick Grayson’s old spy partner/boss, but they come to terms with her so they can figure out who this new Oracle is. Unfortunately for our heroes, this new Oracle has a Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-3plan, and this plan is SNAKE THEMED VILLAINS. Between this and the aforementioned Nightwing, it seems DC Rebirth is actually editorial ways of forcing BIG SNAKE onto the populace, and  I am okay with this.

I don’t want to crap on Claire Row‘s art, but there are some really questionable panels in this book. Barbara Gordon looks fine without her cowl on, but once it’s on, the shape of her head can only be described as “potato-esque”. Also there’s several instances where it looks like character’s teeth are trying to escape their mouths. With Roe as the inker and the pencilier, it leaves very little room for colorists Allen Passalaqua to make any improvements in this book. Their contributions are excellent, and its a shame that the line art he’s coloring isn’t better.

And like I said above, a lot of the dialogue from is bad, Julie and Shawna Benson as there’s a few instances where the characters argue with each other via screaming their motivations. Black Canary is often the voice of reasons and the only character who sounds remotely human. They do a fine job of showing that this new Oracle has gotten under Bab’s skin, so her acting slightly out of character at times is fine. But their Huntress spits Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-7out cliche tough guy line after line to the point where it’s hilarious more than anything.

But that being said, I can’t stop buying and reading this book. It’s heavily flawed, but also crazy fun. While the art isn’t so hot in some areas, it’s more than serviceable in others, especially when it comes to the Babs and Canary versus Helena fight. And while the dialogue is so bad it’s good, the script itself and plot are pretty solid. So while there’s arguable better cape books on the stands, this is THE MOST CW DC book on the market, which means I MUST READ IT, despite my constant avoidance of Arrow.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Supergirl Rebirth

supergirlrebirthSupergirl Rebirth

Steve Orlando, Emanuela Lupaccino, Ray Mccarthy, Michael Atiyeh

DC $2.99

Supergirl is one of those DC characters I’m a fan of in theory, but rarely actually read any of the comics she appears in. While I’m a fan of how she’s been handled when it comes to animation and live action incarnations (the current CBS/CW Supergirl series, not the movie mind you), the comics Supergirl starred a character that was either too angry or sexed up, or in the case of the Peter David penned series, too weird. As fate would have it, DC editorial got their stuff together for Rebirth/the CW re-airing of the first season of Supergirl to make a comic that’s the perfect gateway book.

Supergirl Rebirth sees Kara Zor-El get shot into the sun, fight a Kryptonian werewolf,  and start high school. On paper that may sound weird (and also awesome), but keep in mind this book is written by Steve Orlando, who’s run on Midnighter was anything but conventional. Much like Supergirl, Orlando is a someone I wish I was more familiar with, as a PDF of his acclaimed graphic novel Virgil remains unread on my iPad. Orlando is great on his Supergirl debut, making his Supergirl a powerful and skilled fighter, but also Supergirl-Rebirth-Preview-Page-2-1-420x300someone who’s very compassionate. Marvel has done a excellent job of producing comics where the heroes want to see their villains rehabilitated, rather than just punched and punished, and it’s nice to see Orlando bring that sort of thing to DC, and make it feel natural. Speaking of feeling natural, I’m unsure how much of the elements popularized by the live action show were influenced by the comics and vice versa, but Orlando manages to make a book that incorporates elements like the Danvers and the D.E.O. work without ignoring work done by previous creators.

On the art side of things, we get the team of Emanuela Lupaccino, Ray McCarthy, & Michael Atiyeh, fresh from their run on the recently concluded Starfire series. I can’t think of a better trio of artists for a Supergirl book, as Lupancchino’s pencils inject the type of life and energy you’d expect when you think of a Superman comic. There’s a double 5384914-sgreb_1_5spread of Kara flying out of the sun that just screams iconic, and it’s nice to see a  Supergirl comic where she’s smiling again. McCarthy’s inks are clean, ensuring everything that Lupacciono puts down on paper ends up in the final art, and Atiyeh’s colors are gorgeous.

Supergirl Rebirth is probably not a book I’ll be reviewing every month, but it’s definitely good enough for me to catch up via trade. That being said, if you have more of an investment in the title character or any element of the creative team, it’s an extremely fun book with a ton of promise. It’s the type of start you want from a new creative team, and something DC needed to do with the IP. If Orlando, Lupacchino and co can continue the moment they established here, we should be in store for a pretty good run for a character who needs more of them.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked & The Divine #22

 

TheWickedAndTheDivine_22-1The Wicked & The Divine #22

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelive, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

The timing of this issue of The Wicked + The Divine couldn’t be better, given the current drama surrounding the Steve Universe fandom.  Toxic Fandoms are something that affect comics on the regular, i.e. anytime a creator gets death threats for taking a book in an unpopular direction, and it’s cool to see WicDiv attempting to have another discussion about that while pushing it’s narrative forward.

The Wicked & The Divine #22 wraps up the current arc, with an ending that can be best described as “THIS IS FINE!” While I won’t be spoiling the ending here, I’m glad to say the finale of this arc isn’t as much as of endgame for the series as I previously imagined. Yes it definitely wraps up this action heavy arc, but how this book ends sets up a few more arcs nicely. The downside is that the potential for disaster for these gods remains YoUChildrenat an all-time high, as someone may have bitten off a little more then they can chew.

Matt Wilson and Jamie McKelvie’s art for this arc has been nothing short of career defining, and this issue is no different. We get the artistic duo’s most graphically violent scene to date, and I say that well aware that this is a book where heads and people explode on a semi-regular basis. There’s also an amazing double spread (accompanied by some choice Kieron Gillen dialogue) and a nice visual callback to another character at the end that will have long time readers worried about the remaining cast members. McKelvie’s lay out and facial expression are top notch as always, but Wilson really takes things to the next level. “Neon ultra violence” is the best way to describe the colorist’s contributions to this book, with blood reds playing off of bright greens, blues, pinks and whites.  Issue 22 is another gorgeous issue, and it’s hard to imagine a better artist/colorist duo working in comics than McKelvie and Wilson.

Writer Kieron Gillen is also doing some amazing stuff with this book’s dialogue. The humor in this book is great, being perfectly self-aware when it needs to be and completely devastating for maximum effect. There’s a bit where a character does something absolutely savage, but the reasoning behind it is all too sound. It’s shades of gray characterization like that make Gillen such a fantastic writer, and makes the book all the more compelling. There’s also a bit of running gag between Amaterasu and the Norns this issue that’s simultaneously funny, but also manages to show wickedandivine26 (1)how immature and naive Ammy is. Again, I adore how complex and layered this cast is, and am fully expecting to feel all sorts of awful once the creative team starts killing them off.

The Wicked + The Divine is a rare book that somehow gets better with every arc. While this issue ends one threat, it unintentionally sets up so many other potential problems, which is both exciting and terrifying to me as a reader. It’s a book that continues to be a fantastic read every issue as well as incredibly topical in an era where some fans have problems accepting actors/actresses based solely on their skin color or sex.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter@TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. Please don’t @ him with your scorching hot film TAKES.

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Man/Deadpool #8

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_8_TextlessSpider-Man/Deadpool #8

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Livesay, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

After a 2 month break, the team of Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness return to Spider-Man/Deadpool to wrap up their first arc. Truth be told I had no idea that the “Bromance” arc had another chapter left in it, but I’m not complaining. This issue sees our dynamic duo going after the person who put a hit on Peter Parker, something Spidey hasn’t gotten over yet. To be fair, Deadpool did kill him twice.

10000 years ago when Joe Kelly was writing Deadpool, the usually comedic book had the tendency to dip into some dark territory, which made sense given the fact that Wade Wilson killed people for money. This issue of Spidey/Deadpool is very much like those comics, only with a darker, angrier Spider-Man playing the role of the brooding lead. At first glance that MAY sound terrible, but Kelly does enough to with the concept to make it work, via suggesting that a high-end villian may be messing with our boys. Also angry-pants Spidey makes the usually sassy spideydp-8-3-193708and violent Deadpool the straight man in this pairing (well as straight as a pansexual character can get), which is humorous for it’s own set of reasons. Joe Kelly makes sure that Spider-Man’s morals are never compromised, so he doesn’t stray too far from the character’s M.O..  So while it’s a darker issue than what we’ve been use to, but not to the point where it’s ever too overbearing.

Ed McGuiness is once again incredible on this book. Not only does he design a slick new suit for Spider-Man, but he does some fantastic work designing a trio of grotesque monsters for the issues. There’s also a bitty Wolverine, which is somehow cuter than it sounds. I love what the new suit does for McGuiness’ Spidey, who looks more menacing and sleeker during the book extended fight scene. A lot of it is done via his body language, and which paired with the more sinister colors by Jason Keith help make Spidey look more aggressive and blood thirsty. Those are words usually not associated with the web-help, but it works because it’s so off model, not to mention just looks cool. I also dig that the monsters McGuinness cooks up definitely pay homage to video games and horror manga, but still end up looking unique that you can’t quite place where you’ve seen these beasts before. spideydp-8-5-193710Inking Mcguinness this month are Mark Morales and Livesay, who do a bang up job of keeping this book clean looking.

Spider-Man/Deadpool remains a title that reads as great as it looks. Allowing the creative team to take a break between arcs was a good call, and I’m glad they’re rested and back producing a great looking book. Issue #8 is comic that will definitely surprise readers, possibly shock them, but not in a way that will alienate them. I’m really curious as to what the next arc will bring, and what the relationship our heroes have with the mysterious Patient Zero. Super Hero Team up books are RARELY this good, so I cannot recommend this title enough.

 

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Chris’ Comics: All-Star Batman #1

asbatman1cvrAll-Star Batman #1

Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr, Danny Miki, Dean White, Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire

DC, $4.99

Bruce Wayne is having one of those days. You know the ones, where everything is #$%ed and everybody sucks. The type of days that have you packing a chainsaw, to skin some dudes raw. And if Bruce’s day keeps going this wa- okay I’ll stop.

All-Star Batman #1 is the double sized return of Scott Snyder to Batman, paring one of the most acclaimed Batman writers of our time with modern legend John Romita Jr, and current artistic tour-de-force Declan Shalvey. While I’ve stated that I REALLY REALLY REALLY don’t like paying $5 for single issues, it’s hard to say no to a creative team like this, also my ability to not spend money is questionable at best.

The debut of this new, villain focused All-Star Batman sees Batman and ol Harvey Dent taking a little road trip to try solve Harvey’s Two-Face problem. Two-Face, reimagined as All-Star-Batman-1-pagesome sort of crime boss Snowden, has put quite the bounty on the Bat which means everyone from Firefly to common folk are gunning for Batman. The Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire colored back up has Batman working with former We Are Robin lead/Snyder created character Duke Thomas to investigate a murder that appear to be unrelated to the Two-Face arc. Both tales have some incredible twists to them, ensuring that readers/suckers like me come back to spend $5 again next month.

John Romita Jr is an artist whose work I’ve been exposed to a lot, as I grew up reading hella Spider-Man comics. It does feel odd to see him draw Batman, but that does not at all mean his work on this book is bad, far from it. He’s an excellent fit for the title and this universe, bringing the right amount of bombastic action to a story that’s heavy on fight scenes. His take on Two-Face is terrific, and the last page of his story is possibly the greatest collection of panels assembled in 2016. Inking JRJR is Danny Miki, who is superb, with Dean White providing the book with some gorgeous colors. The Declan All-Star-Batman-1-DC-Comics-Rebirth-Spoilers-1Shalvey & Jordi Bellaire story is a little more contained, slower paced and something you’d expect from a Scott Snyder Batman comic. It’s gorgeous in its own right, offering sleek visuals to a more psycho-analytical story.

I’ve dug a number of past Scott Snyder-penned Batman stories, and All-Star Batman is no different. But this larger page count and multiple artist project allows Snyder to flex his creative muscles and tell the type of cerebral detective story we’re use to with the back-up, with the main story being an over the top action story.  Year Zero certainly hinted at that sort of thing with crossbow wielding dirt bike Batman, but here we get the next level of that with CHAINSAW TRUCKER Batman. It’s a nice counter offer to the more traditional super heroics seen in the Tom King Batman series, as well the more X-Men influenced Detective Comics.

All Star Batman is my favorite thing to come out of Rebirth so far. Given a murder’s row of artists and his own little corner of the Bat universe to play in, Snyder is now allowed to tell his own stories, free of worry of the current status quo, and with some of the most iconic villains in the industry. As much as I’m against five dollars comics, this is definitely the rare exception that is worth every penny.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing #2

NTW_Cv2_57326865387b69.18795802Nightwing #2

Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual

DC $2.99

 

When we last left that Dick Grayson (all of a week ago, double shipping!), he was currently getting his well chiseled butt handed to him by his new Court of Owls appointed chum Raptor. Nightwing #2 deals with the fallout of that issue, as the duo go on their first mission together, and is a pretty solid improvement over last week’s (in my opinion) slightly disappointing installment.

Writer Tim Seeley doesn’t mess around this issue, which drops the flashbacks and focuses solely on Dick and Raptor’s new relationship. This issue does wonders for the new character, who’s very much being developed as a broken mirror image of Dick. Considering Grayson is in desperate need of a rogue gallery of his own, he’s a welcomed addition, and I like how the character manages to be fun, but also a violent murder-man NTW-2-2-b05d0with some bad intentions. Raptor’s interactions with Dick are not unlike the Wally West  and Grayson friendship, with Dick in the straight man role, something we rarely see him in.  In addition to fun times with Raptor and his bird bros, we get more Dick and Barbara interactions, and any appearance of Kobra. I’m a full believer that any comic can be improved with the appearance of Batgirl and or Death Cults that dress as giant snakes.

Last review I voiced my concerns about Nightwing re-trending ground already covered by Seeley in Grayson. Issue 2 does away with that, but ramping things up to 11, and raising the question of who’s playing who. Unlike Spyral, Seeley lets us know that Dick’s in over his head in no time, constantly keeping him off of his game and having both the character and the reader questioning his methods and motives. So yes there’s definitely some familiarity if you’ve read Grayson, but there’s also a lot of new elements to ensure that the comic feels fresh. Also Seeley manages to end this book on several gut punches that hurt, but that are also very very good.

Javier’s Fernandez’s art is much tights this much. Granted he’s still struggling with mask/emblem thickness, he gets to channel Sean Murphy and get some action-horror stuff this issue, and it looks great. His art really shines when it comes to scenery chewing action scenes, as well as the spooky snake-monsters he creates, and I’m glad to see the book’s 15visuals improved this dramatically. I do wish Fernandez did has someone else inking him though, because there’s a panel or two that feel a bit rushed. Chris Sotomayor’s colors are still superb, and I really like how his choice in blue and orange ensure that our eyes are drawn to Raptor and Nightwing immediately. It’s proof that a good colorist is extremely important to the creative process.

The Second Chapter of Better than Batman is a step in the right direction. I have a few qualms with the art, but the coloring and the writing do an excellent job of making this book a compelling read. It’s a fun and weird blend of genres, despite it’s initial super hero appearance. But most importantly it makes Dick Grayson feel like a unique character, not just an interchangeable member of the Bat-Family. We’re just a slight art improvement away from this book being a great title, not just a good one.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter@TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. He’s also not really a fan of Death Cults, aside from the several he leads.

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CHris’ Cinema: Suicide Squad

Suicide_Squad_(film)_PosterSuicide Squad (2016)

Will Smith, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Jared Leto

Warner Bros, PG-13

Hey there FPNYC Faithful! I’m going to switch things up this week and review an actual movie you can go out and see in theaters RIGHT NOW, instead of some comics. If you don’t care for that, don’t worry, I have a pair of reviews dropping in a few days as well (Nightwing and Paper Girls), so you can look forward to that. Additionally, if your jonesing for some fresh new Suicide Squad comics, both Suicide Squad Rebirth and Harley Quinn #1 dropped this past week. SS Rebirth is very much a Rebirth comic made for people who just saw the new movie, and Harley Quinn is a nice jumping on point for the bestselling run commandeered by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. And with that, here comes some #SQUADTAKES.

I had a chance to see Suicide Squad last week at press screening in Manhattan. As nice as it was to see a comic book movie before the internet ruined it for me with spoilers and takes, and I wish the product I watched was better. I went into the film excited to see David Ayer’s spin on one of my favorite, lesser known DC properties, but walked away a little disappointed. That’s not to say there’s not some fun to be had with Suicide Squad, but the film is not a proper response to Marvel Comics-based offerings like Civil War or Deadpool.

First and foremost, much like the rest of the critics/internet at large, I was not impressed by Jared Leto’s Joker. I’m not a fan of the character in general, but Leto fails to do the ceba46ed7c7cd79ac9d8670ea86cb41b6644604b95aac7927cde7e2655f97c19clown any justice, especially when compared to other live action Joker performance. While the Joker/Harley relationship in this movie isn’t the problematic mess it has been in animation and comics, Leto’s Joker is so underwhelming it lessens Robbie Margot’s performance like some sort of talent black hole. Also the plot is a bit of a mess, which can be blamed on the alleged claims of reshoots and alternate cuts. And while I see what they were trying for with the soundtrack of this film, it was more of a deterrent than helpful. Filmdrunk Editor in Chief Vince Mancini made several comparisons of the movie to early 2000s rap-metal, which is a fairly accurate claims, for better or worse.  Said claims is ironic, because the actors tried so hard and got so far with the material they were given, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter looking at the numbers on Rotten Tomatoes. Also please give me a fake internet award for that last sentence.

That being said, there is some fun to be had with Suicide Squad. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is a sight to see, as she’s most spot on live action incarnation of the Wall to date. Will Smith’s Deadshot is fun in his own way, but it was a little off putting for me to hear Big Willie Style drop profanity throughout the film. Despite Killer Croc and El Diabo maxresdefault (1)falling victim to some slightly racist clichés, both Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jay Hernandez have some great characters moments. Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang steals every scene he’s in, Joel Kinnaman‘s Rick Flagg is fine enough, and the Justice Leaguers that show up are pretty neat as well. Sadly not every character is given a chance to shine, and honestly the less said about their various portrayals, the better.

Suicide Squad is a mediocre film that at the very least takes a step in the right direction for the DC Cinematic Universe. With any luck, Wonder Woman will be the first GOOD DC movie in some time come 2017, and this movie will do well enough that it’s cast can be redeemed in a sequel or the heavily rumored Harley Quinn spin-off film.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter @TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. His favorite Linkin Park song is none of your business.

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #1

BG_Cv1_57082d25dc1793.92171144Batgirl #1

Hope Larson, Rafeal Albuquerque, Dave McCaig

DC $2.99

I’ll be honest; going into Batgirl #1, I was worried about the character and the direction they were taking her post Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, & Babs Tarr. There were multiple quotes from writer Hope Larson saying how this run was going to be darker, and while I like Rafeal Albuquerque‘s art, the last time he drew this incarnation of Batgirl there was bit of a thing. Also the white person walking around Asia to learn kung-fu is a trope that at best is cliche, and at worst a bit racist. That being said, reading this first issue has vanquished my fear and we instead get a pretty solid comic that’s mindful of my concerns.

The new Rebirth debut issue sees Babs Gordon in Japan, in search of an old-timey Japanese super hero named Fruit Bat, in order to up her own heroic game. While doing so, batgirl-1-preview-675x1024she runs across her never previously mentioned but apparently old friend Kai, as well as a Fuku-wearing assassin. While long-lost friends and school girl looking assassins were something covered extensively in the previous run, Hope Larson and Rafeal Albuquerque are talented enough creators to make this whole thing seem fresh.

Larson’s voice for Barbara Gordon is sharp enough to keep left over readers from the previous run pleased, but also comforting for lapsed reader who are coming back. Her Batgirl reads a little more focused and mature, but also fun and playful. It’s the best sort of compromise. While not all of the jokes in this issue land, Larson does a great job of building a new setting and status quo for Barbara, setting up the future of this title quite nicely. And granted Kai nor the nameless assassin we get in this issue do very little for me, the introduction of the Fruit Bat definitely makes for fun stuff.

Artist Rafael Albuquerque is definitely a more traditional super hero comics artist than Babs Tarr is, but with that being said, the book still maintains a youthful and fun visual tone. He does some excellent work with the body language and facial expressions in this book, and I love the energy he puts into his fight scenes. I also love the way Albuquerque portrays motion in a medium full of static imagery, as he’s  not afraid to experiment with BG01_03panel layouts and it leads to some great results. Dave McCaig’s colors are also a great fit for this book, as he sticks with bright colors that play off of Barbara’s costume and hair quite well.

Batgirl #1 is a fun first issue that doesn’t change the title character too much, and does a find job to appealing to several different types of audiences. It does an excellent job of showing the fun side of super heroics, with some dialogue that a little more polish and way less dramatic than the Babs we saw in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. Old and new readers have plenty to like with this new creative team, making it arguably one of the more accessibly DC super hero comics to come out of Rebirth so far.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing #1

Nightwing-1Nightwing #1

Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual

DC $2.99

Nightwing is back this week, as we see writer Tim Seeley and artists Javier Fernandez and Chris Sotomayor start the “Better than Batman” arc. This arc appears to be a nice blend of the espionage elements introduced by Seeley in Grayson, mixed with some super heroics. It’s not as strong as the Rebirth one-shot, but there’s some enjoyable stuff in this issue.

Where this book really shines is in the writing. After barely allowing Dick to interact with the Bat-family for 2 years in Grayson, Seeley fully embraces it here, using characters like Damian and Batgirl for Dick to bounce off of. As someone who loves both those relationships, and is a known Dick X Barbara shipper, I dig it, as Seeley does a great job writing these characters talking to each other. And I really like Dick’s open defiance while working with the Court of Owls, keeping him a heroic character while working with/for the NTW_1_1enemy. As for Raptor, Dick’s new partner/ “mentor”, the potential for some cool stuff to be done with the character is there. But the writing is not without its share of flaws. The pacing feels off with this issue, as Seeley trips up a bit during the constant switching scenes between Gotham and Europe/Russia. And while Seeley uses Batgirl to voice that there are some weird similarities between Spyral and the Court of Owls, I hope he can steer clear of re-trending the same ground with the whole double agent thing as the book progresses.

With the twice shipping schedule Javier Fernandez, who isn’t bad, but isn’t as strong of an illustrator as Yanick Paquette was in the previous one-shot. While there’s nothing wrong with the bulk of his work (especially when it comes to drawing establishing shots and backgrounds), he seems to struggle with the title character. There were too many instances where Dick’s mask or Nightwing emblem on the costume is drawn too thin or small. It’s an odd complaint sure, but seeing it vary in size and thickness from page to page really took  me out of the story. Also Dick ends up with a Peyton Manning forehead way too many times in this issue. A shame, because Chris Sotomayor’s color are great in image-82this issue, and I love the design that letterer  Carlos M. Mangual has come up with for the Nightwing narration box.

Nightwing #1 isn’t a bad comic, but it’s disappointing, especially when compared to the Rebirth one shot that leads into it. That being said, there’s plenty of potential and time for the team to step up their game and tell a solid story. Seeley already has worked on a dozen or so GREAT Dick Grayson stories, and now that we’ve been introduced to the main players, he can go forth and tell a good story. And all Fernandez has to do is tweak his Nightwing and we’re good on the art. Again it’s a bit of a bummer that this comic isn’t the best, but it does enough things to be a interesting read and give readers hope for the future.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 & X-Men ’92 #5

RCO001_1469630922The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Tom Fowler, Rico Renzi, Kyle Starks

Marvel $3.99

Readers, please take note of the wonderful cover that graces this month’s issue of Squirrel Girl, as I’m sure it will be winning whatever fake internet award I’ll be handing out come December.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a book that has never fails to impress me in some manner, and this issue continues that streak. Our lead has to deal with a love-stricken Mole Man, who’s abducted key landmarks around the world in order to get Doreen to go on a date with him. Squirrel Girl dealing with toxic masculinity may not some like a good premise for a comic, haha that is a joke, it totally is, and the execution is nothing short of genius. I saw this as the ending for this issues sees our hero do the unthinkable, yet manages to not undo all the effort done by this team to make her an unstoppable and incredibly well rounded force for good. Also there’s another scene involving squirrels in Iron Man armor, which is something I’ll never grow tire of.

SQGIRL2015B010_int2_2-932x1414Ryan North. Erica Henderson, & Rico Renzi are a creative team I adore & adding Tow Fowler as an inker was fantastic move. This month we see Kyle Starks of Sexcastle (aka the greatest comic) swing by for a 3/4th page cameo, continuing the trend of a guest contributor knocking it out of the park. As per usual, the writing and art are impeccable, as North and Henderson continue to offer dialogue and art that are beyond unique.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 is another fabulous issue that once again says something important while being an incredibly fun read. This may very well be my favorite arc to date, and even as a dude in my early 30s, I’m glad this book exist for the lessons it attempts to teach it’s young audience.

 

 

 

portrait_incredibleX-Men ’92 #5

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Cory Hamscher, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of surprises, this issue of X-Men ’92 ends by bring back some characters who haven’t been seen since the 90s. Chris Sims and Chad Bowers continue to do a bang-up job of making references to some of the most obscure corners of the 1990s X-universe, including a X-men board game I remember begin advertised like crazy in the back of Marvel comics when I was a wee millennial.

Issue 5 checks in with Cyclops and Jean Grey, whom haven’t been seen in the title since the Secret Wars mini-series. The couple are quasi-retired, but that makes for a boring super hero comic, so they find themselves dragged to the future by Rachel Grey. For long time X-fans, Scott + Jean + Future usually means one or two other character showing up, and they do. But Sims and Bower embrace the hell out of it, making for a strange but be873c68c1f206db75af43465f803c1b._SX640_QL80_TTD_wonderful read that riffs on a few different 90s X-stories.

Cory Hamscher is on art duties this month, and his style is a great fit for this tyle. He riffs on the Kuberts/Whilce Portacio look that was so famous in the 90s, while being a competen story teller in his own right. It’s good stuff.

X-men ’92 is another fun installment a series that’s been a constant delight. It’s the type of book that both satisfies readers looking for a less complicate super hero book, while giving long time X-fans plenty to enjoy.

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow #3

GA_Cv3_dsGreen Arrow #3

Benjamin Percy, Juan Ferreyra, Nate Piekos

DC $2.99

As excited as I’ve been for the DC Rebirth titles, I’ve also been extremely wary of the fact that some of the titles ship twice a month. Green Arrow is one of those books, and it’s the first of these double shipping titles to fall victim to the various problems of a comic series coming out twice a month.

Juan Ferreyra joins writer Benjamin Percy for this arc, which sees Green Arrow go on the offensive after being betrayed and left for dead. Meanwhile, Black Canary and John Diggle begin their own separate quests for revenge, unaware that Oliver Queen is still alive. It’s not a bad comic per say, but feels very light, and uninspired. Uninspired as in I’ve definitely read this story before.

Ferreyra’s art is very good in some areas, but it feels like he can’t maintain a consistent style throughout the comic. The book is at its best early on, when Ollie breaks into his own building, which allows Ferreyra to do some cool things with the layouts. And his fight IMG_0130scenes are solid enough, though lacking the dynamic feeling that Otto Schmidt brought to the title. But his female characters look like something you see airbrushed on the side of a van at a KISS concert in Jersey. Yes, I’m aware that is a very specific example.  Also, why this isn’t something that’s only ever been done by this artist, I generally dislike the pencils to color choice, as the lack of ink here makes the art feel rough and unfinished. It also doesn’t help that the colors and lighting are all over the place, making the book glow in some really weird areas.

On the writing sides of thing, Percy isn’t much better this issue. Some of these panels suffer from way too much dialogue, covering up entirely too much of the art. And some of the stuff that comes from the characters mouths is painfully bad. Also a criminal organization called the Ninth Gate lead by a man name Dante isn’t exactly the strongest story-telling. And like I said, above, you’ve read this comic before. The similarities between this story arc and very recent Batman comics like “The Court Of Owls” and “Year Zero” are beginning to pile up. IMG_0131I’m sure they’re not intentional, but it definitely feels repetitive are certain points. And while there’s a chance that it’s just some serious misdirection, setting up Black Canary for the damsel role is someone that irks me intensely.

Green Arrow #3 is a comic that is the very definition of mediocre. There’s some good bits sprinkled about, but also a ton of stiff artwork, just plan bad dialogue and numerous moments of uninspired writing. It’s not enough to drive me away from the title, but it’s disheartening to say the least. Also as someone who plans on supporting the also twice a month shipping Nightwing, it has me worried about how double shipping will affect that book as well.

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Chris’ Comics: Snotgirl #1

STL011624Snotgirl #1

Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung, Mickey Quinn, Mare Odomo

Image $2.99

Snotgirl #1 is not only the first time Scott Pilgrim/Seconds creator Bryan Lee O’ Malley has delved into a monthly comic, but it also marks the first time someone else is drawing his work. Making her comics debut is Leslie Hung, who teams with O’Malley to tell the story of one Lottie Person. Lottie is 25 year old Fashion blogger who lives in L.A., and is crazy popular on the internet. Her personal life is a bit of a mess though as her friends are constantly flaking out on her, her love life is  a mess, suffering from serious allergies. Also she’s not exactly the nicest person, as O’Malley and Hung have made her a very shallow and self absorbent lead who at times deserves the hand she’s dealt. Having a unlikable character as your lead is a risky move, but it works, thanks to the talent involved.

If there’s anything that you can compare Snotgirl to, it’s shoujo-manga (I.E. manga that’s aim specifically at women). Both the dialogue and manga feel very breezy and flowery, which Snotgirl03I’m sure is intentional; after all given o’ Malley love of manga. It’s also an incredibly smart comic, hidden behind a paper-thin lead. Aside from Lottie dealing with her problems, this book serves as both  commentary and a critique on social media careers while examining the duality of having a online and offline personality.

I absolutely adore the art team of Leslie Hung and Micky Quinn. Hung’s art is gorgeous, well except for the parts where our lead is dripping excessive snot from her nose. It’s manga with a touch of Babs Tarr, meaning it looks VERY 2016. My only nitpick is that there’s a pair of panels at the end of the comic that’s very vague, and I can’t tell if that’s intentional or not. Quinn’s colors are fantastic; very bright and clean, capturing the LA feel of the book exceptional well. Bryan Lee O’ Malley comics always look good, and Snotgirl is no exception to that. I also don’t want to over look Mare Odomo, who handles the letters. Odomo isn’t the first letterer who’s had to work emojis/text messages into a comic book’s narration, but this comic is some of the best use of it I’ve seen in awhile.

Speaking of O’ Malley, I love what he’s down with this debut. He manages to make Lottie snotgirl01-review05really polarizing, but also someone you’ll want to read about. Every time the character has a moment that makes her the least bit tolerable, O’ Malley makes sure there’s a moment that completely undoes that. That’s not to say that there’s nothing endearing about the book’s cat, but O’ Malley throws out a last minute twist that puts and end to that.

Snotgirl is book unlike anything else out. It’s hard to explain why it’s such a amazing read without spoilers, but given the fact that it’s Bryan Lee O’ Malley’s first attempt at a 20 page comic, that’s all you need. But the book doesn’t succeed due to his talents alone,  as Hung, Quinn and Odomo all excel at their respected roles. Snotgirl #1 is fantastic comic with a unique premise, and it’s something you should be reading now versus waiting for the trade.

 

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