Category: Christopher Troy

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #51 & Grayson #19

STL001391Batgirl #51

Brenden Fletcher, Elenora Carlini, Minkyu Jung, Roger Robinson, Serge Lapointe

DC $3.99

I applaud what Brenden Fletcher did with this 51st issue of Batgirl. With Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart off the title and more or less done with DC Comics for the foreseeable future, Fletcher has 2 issues of comic to write before the new creative team takes over this summer. It appears he’s using these issues to do a low key crossover, using a plot line from the third Batgirl Annual he worked on to bring together the worlds of Batgirl, Black Canary and Gotham Academy. Aside from the slight fan service, Fletcher also has Barbara Gordon dealing with her new status quo, something he helped set up, which is a fun inverse of the super hero who also has to deal with running a company trope.

Oddly enough, having 3 artists on this book didn’t take away from my enjoyment on this book as much as you’d assume it would. Elenora Carlini & Minkyu Jung’s styles blend well together, channeling the same energy Stewart and Tarr brought to the book’s visuals. Roger Robinson is the odd man out here, with a style that’s less exaggerated and more traditional in a sense. His art isn’t bad per say, but it’s comparatively plain once stacked up against the other artists on the book. Serge Lapointe‘s colors are great as per usual, continuing to do some fantastic stuff on the Bat-books his colors.

Batgirl #51 is a fun read and feels like a cool little mini-event. The lack of Tarr and Stewart is felt, but if you’re a fan of the books Brenden Fletcher worked on during his time at DC, you’ll enjoy this issue.

GRAY-Cv19-6d216-7296dGrayson #19

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

The highest praise I can pay Grayson #19 is that if you told me that former writers Tim Seeley and Tom King wrote this issue, I would have believed you. Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly do a superb job and matching the tone set up by those 2 writers, making for an extremely fun read that sees Dick Grayson deal with a massive betrayal. It’s something that’s all too common in spy fiction, but because the creators involved are so talented, it comes off as a complete surprise.

Like the writers, artist Roge Antonio’s really steps up this issue and attempts to pay homage to the creators who came before him, His Dick Grayson may not be the prettiest, but Antonio excels at drawing some really solid action pieces, as well as getting a little trippy with the layouts at times. Having regular Grayson colorist Jeromy Cox color his art definitely helps with the experience, as his contributions really help set the mood and bring the art to life.

With next issue being the last, Grayson #19 ends with an encounter fans have been expecting/dreading. It’s a shame we already know who’s on this new Birds of Prey roster, because it definitely takes some of the suspense away from this encounter. But that’s on editorial/marketing, not the creators, so it’s hard to fault them. Regardless of quasi-spoilers, Grayson #19 is an thrilling comic, one that hopefully will be serviced by a fantastic ending next month.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 & Saga #36

ofcqtec1mz6l9xiwi8lgThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 isn’t writer Ryan North’s first attempt at “Chose Your Own Adventure” fiction, but none the less it’s one of the most technical impressive comics of this year so far. North dabbed in the subgenre a few years back with his choose your own adventure take on Romeo and Juliet, and it hilarious, much to no one’s surprise. This month, he and artist Erica Henderson swap out Shakespeare for Squirrels and the Swarm, a move that I fully support and dare call brilliant.

Henderson and Rico Renzi deserve a lot of praise for this issue, as the choose the story narrative demands numerous panels that require a ton of variation. And while you can see the demand take it’s toll on the art towards the end of the issue, the bulk of this comic is drawn extremely well. Considering this team is also working on several projects, it’s perfectly fine to overlook them taking some shortcuts here and there.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 is a genius comic that experiments with how to tell a story in this medium. It’s the perfect done in one that showcases this creative teams talents, and should be read for (successfully) taking such a risk.

Saga_36-1Saga #36

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Ah Geez, Saga’s gone and made my all emotional in the face this month.

The conclusion of this current arc is an assault on readers and their emotions. Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan give readers a moment we’ve been waiting for months, as well as a development no one saw coming, and it is a massive game changer. In addition to all of that, we get to see my personal favorite Ghus leap into action for the first time, and the results are shocking to say the least. I wasn’t prepared for the mixture of brutality and cuteness from that particular fight, but that’s what I got and I LIKE IT!

Fiona Staples remains an incredibly artistic tour de force. Nothing new on that front, but the way she does so much with seemingly such little effort is absolutely mind blowing. There’s 2 panels involving Prince Robot in towards the end of this issue that show some incredible growth for the character, with none of the dialogue pointing it out, just letting the body language do all the work. Not only does it show how impressive of a story teller she issue, but it shows how much BKV trusts her to convey these emotions to the reader.

That being said, if you don’t tear up come page 12, something is wrong with you.

BKV is real good on putting word on paper, this is fact. But God, he’s on top of his game with this particular issue. As great as Staples art is, the dialogue and narration he provides for this issue really enhance the emotional beats, especially on pages 10 and 11. These two creators are fantastic, and Saga’s repeatedly excellence is due to the bound these two have.

Saga #36 is a fantastic finale to this volume. It manages to surprise readers by being incredibly upbeat, something we as readers aren’t use to, and takes the book in an absolutely fascinating direction. For once I’m glad for break, because I want to take some time to enjoy this comic, before Vaughan and Staples do something to get me mad and or sad again.

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Chris’ Comics: All-New Hawkeye #6 & Captain Marvel #4

2016-04-21-allnewhawkeyeAll-New Hawkeye #6

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Hey it’s the finale issue of All-New Hawkeye! Again!

This ending is FOR REAL though, as it’s apparently the last installment in this series by the team of Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring. And while I’ve found this run a little uneven at times, issue #6 (which is the 12th issue for this team, but you know, COMICS!) offers the reader a lot, and actually changes things up for Team Hawkeye in a major way.

While I haven’t been the biggest fan of the flashback material Lemire and Perez have been doing throughout this run, this issue completely justifies the use of that narration device. Exploring Kate Bishop’s past was a good call, and the events in this issue does something real fascinating with Kate that I dare not spoil. It clarifies some things that date back to Kate’s earliest appearances in Young Avengers, and  hopefully retcons something extremely outdated & problematic from those stories as well. This carries over to the present day stuff, which I imagine will be used to launch whatever the next incarnation of Hawkeye will be in the coming months.

If there’s been on constant thing about this team throughout the last 12 issues, it’s been Ramon Perez and Ian Herring’s work. The two artists have been great time and time again, and this finale really sees them come into their own as story tellers, mixing some cool silver age aesthetics in the flashback material with some lush and vibrant pages for the modern day sections of the book. Perez and Herring really had their work cut out for them coming into this book, and it’s been super enjoyable watching them grow and experiment over the last year.

We don’t know what lies in store for Team Hawkeye in the coming months, but All-New Hawkeye was a interesting exploration of the lives of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Lemire, Perez and Herring didn’t exactly have the critically acclaimed run their predecessors had, but it was a fun story none the less. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see the Hawkeyes in action again.

portrait_incredible (7)Captain Marvel #5

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Felipe Smith, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

It’s slightly ironic that we’re discussing Captain Marvel, and to a lesser extent Abigail Brand, on 4/26/16, aka Alien Day (#brands). Earlier issues of this arc definitely felt like a homage to the classic Sci-Fi property, and this issue has 2 female character very much getting their Elena Ripley on.

Captain Marvel #5 sees writers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters make Carol Danvers current scenario go from bad to worse, as Alpha Flight’s attempts to deal with this “new” alien threat don’t go so well. Oh and that pesky traitor is still in their ranks, mucking things up. What’s bad for Carol and company is great for readers, and we’re treated to 20 pages of high stakes actions, beautifully depicted by Kris Anka, Felipe Smith and Matthew Wilson. I don’t think I’ve seen two artist who manage to blend their respected styles as well as Anka and Smith, and Wilson’s colors are a sight to behold. I love how Wilson sets such vibrant characters against dark backgrounds, giving the book a refreshingly modern and sharp look.

The Elena Ripley comparison feels spot on with Carol and Abigail never say die attitudes. Both character, despite their VERY comic book genealogy, feel so human, but never weak. It’s inspiring in several ways, and makes for a pair of characters that are easy to root for. I particularly like a very Shonen Manga influenced scene, where Carol’s staff let their leader know they’re with her in this high risk scenario. It’s a nice upbeat moment that gives the reader something to rally behind as the crisis at hand gets worse.

Captain Marvel #5 is the type of penultimate chapter you want from a 6 issue arc. The stakes of raised to the point where it genuinely feels no one is safe. It’s an impressive feet, given how predictable cape comics and can often be, and it’s just another reason why Captain Marvel is one of the best super hero titles coming out from Marvel currently.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Howard the Duck #6 & Spider-Man/Deadpool #4

Hey, sorry for the delay in reviews, but I was out of town for the last few dues on account of PAX East, which was relatively light on comics content. But now I’m back, so let’s get on with the hot comic TAKES yes?

portrait_incredible (1)Howard the Duck #6

Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera, Marc Deering, Jordan Gibson

Marvel $3.99

Hey look, I’m reviewing a Howard the Duck comic again, this is somewhat comforting! Also, mine is a sad existence.

The 2nd part of the “Animal House” crossover sees Ryan North join the creative team of Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, and several inkers and colorists for an issue where our heroes and several guest stars deal with a villainess who’s into cosplay and hunting man-beasts. There’s also a squirrel with Wolverine’s M.O.,  because of course there is.

It’s a little jarring to see Squirrel Girl drawn by Joe Quinones at first, as his style is a little more realistic than SG’s regular artist Erica Henderson. But once you grow accustom to it, it’s real easy to get caught up in the books visuals. It’s just a little unfortunate that the 3 inkers working on the book, Joe Rivera, Marc Deering and Quinones himself don’t mesh up as well as say as Jordan Gibson helping Joe on the coloring. It’s a minor thing, which doesn’t really derail the comic that much, but it’s noticeable none the less, especially in some of the later panels.

That being said, the dialogue and jokes are really strong in this issue. North and Zdarsky manage to do some nice world building with both their books, while injecting a ton of humor into the story. It’s quite the romp, and it’s the type of fun I don’t get enough of in comics.

Howard The Duck #6 is a fun read that closes out the brief crossover with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl on a high note. Hopefully this is not the last time these creators collaborate again, because after reading the last 2 issues of both series, I’m left wanting more for all the right reasons.

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_4_TextlessSpider-Man/Deadpool #4

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

Here we have another Marvel book that’s a crossover sorts. The key difference is that maybe you keep this one from the kids (once again I apologize to the small child and his father who thought it would be fun to look over my shoulder while I was reading this on the 7 train this past Wednesday).

Spider-Man/Deadpool #4 is the comic that not only gives Ed McGuinness a chance to draw Thor, which he excels at. It also gives the artist a chance to draw Spider-Man and Deadpool reenacting Dirty Dancing in their underwear. There’s a solid reason for both, because Joe Kelly is a hell of a writer, who does some extremely strange and wonderful stuff in this issue, despite Deadpool being THE WORST.

Spider-Man/Deadpool is a comic with prides itself on being a high energy read that constantly surprises reader in the most heartbreaking ways possible. Issue 4 is a prime example of that, as this issue that’s high on laughs ends on the most dour note possible. But Kelly, MxGuiness and inker Mark Morales and colorist Jason Keith excel at making funny and super enjoyable comics with some real depth to them, so I’m sure issue #5 will be just as fun.

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #17

Gotham_Academy_Vol_1-17_Cover-1_TeaserGotham Academy #17

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Annie Wu, Michael Dialynas,, David Peterson, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

 

One of the best things about the Yearbook arc is the variety in tone and genre the stories in each issue are. I knew nothing about the creators contributing to Gotham Academy #19, originally thinking it was the conclusion of this storyline. This month I was pleasantly surprised to see the issue kick off with a story that more or less crosses over Black Canary for example, another title that Brenden Fletcher writes.

We get a lot of content from issue #19, which see the girls set out to get their scrapbook from returning guest star Robin (Damian Wanye). It acts as the bridge between the other 3 tales, and again, not a bad bit of storytelling, I just get a little irked everything artist Adam Archer draws Olivia and company’s heads too large or too lumpy. I’m also not a fan of 2how it looks like Damian’s costume is too big for him.

The Annie Wu drawn crossover story sees the GA kids run into Heathcliff, who first showed up in this book and then started showing up as a supporting character in Black Canary. This is probably my favorite story of the bunch, as it looks great, and I really like the way Fletcher handles the reunion between Heathcliff and Pomeline. Wu is colored by Serge Lapointe, who’s washed out and neon color palette is perfect for a story involving relationships and music.

From there we get Michael Dialynas, who’s worked on The Woods for Boom Studios, telling the story of that one time Maps and Olivia ran into a demon cat on campus. This 6 page story starts off with a cool horror vibe to it, but then gets a little cuter once we find out who’s responsible for said cat. It’s the story has a Batman: The Animated series vibe to it, and I love how Dialynas can manage to pull off horror and adorable with his art.

By assembling so many different on this title the last few months,Gotham Academy has exposed me to a variety of creators I occasionally have little to no prior experience with. That statement is especially true come the end of this comic, where Mouse Guard creator David Peterson tells a story set in Gotham Academy’s past. He creates a quartet of 4 new GOTHAC_17_3characters, and the story revolves around the oft-mentioned “Sorcery & Spells” game that Maps loves so much. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous to look at, I love how it’s inspired by the 1980s Dungeon and Dragons panic, in which the game was believed to have some sort of Satanic ties. Also, the way Peterson tackled the project is super impressive, and I encourage you all to go visit his site and read up on how he approached this story.

“Yearbook” has been a incredible arc for Gotham Academy, and no issue proves that more than this one. The range of talent involved in every issue is insane, and it’s impressive how much mileage each creator can get from a book that only had a dozen or so issues under it’s belt before this arc started. Brenden Fletcher, along with Karl Keschel and Becky Cloonan have created a fantastic playground for this guest creators, and seeing the character celebrated like this month after month has been great.

 

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Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #2

5148021-02X-men ’92 #2

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marel $3.99

As someone who’s read a ton of Chris Sims’ work over the years, I’m actually a little ashamed I didn’t see the final page of this comic coming. Way to make me feel like a real dumb-dumb sir.

X-Men ’92 #2 doesn’t just embrace the fact that they can now tell stories that are TOO HOT FOR (1992) TV this month. Oh no, writers Sims and Chad Bowers rub our faces in it, practically screaming “HEY LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS WE CAN DO NOW, LOOK LOOK, LOOK!”, but in a fun and excited sort of way. Which is fair, because while this book definitely hits some notes that are DARK AND EXTREMEEEEEEEEEEE, it remain a delightful read that’s a bit over the top in all the right ways. If you told me that we’d see a plot point taken from Marvel’s defunct Midnight Sons line in a comic in 2016, I would have called you a liar. In the writer’s defense, they successfully create a narrative in which this relic from the 90s works for the story. And speaking of weird story beats, Bowers and Sims decide to pay tribute to a more recent but weird as all hell X-men story, once again merging the past with a more recent weird X-men story. It’s the best kind of fan service for any devout X-men fan, especially if they dig the odder bits of continuity.

Also Rogue can’t stop hitting bears is a new running gag of sorts that I am 1000% okay with.

Artist Alti Firmansyah really comes into her own this month, cutting back on the references in the art and doing her own thing with the layouts. I’m more than fine with this, as is results in some dynamic storytelling, complete with some very expressive faces, and some extremely well “choreographed” fight scenes. There’s a scene that’s surprisingly violent in this issue, which Firmansyah handles by blacking out the characters involved for a panel, making it X-Men-92-2-4way less graphic, but still coherent enough for readers to figure out what’s going on. Also I love how timeless she can mast her characters look, even though several of them have some rather dated and peculiar character designs. My only real complaint with the art is that Maverick loses his eyes for several panes in this book, although I’m uncertain if that’s on Alti or colorist Matt Milla. That snafu aside,  I love how bright and dynamic the colors are in this book, especially come the final pages of the issue.

X-men ’92 remains a engaging and entertaining read. By being set in it’s own continuity, the creators can pull from so much, and completely surprise readers. Sims and Bowers’ dialogue is very whimsical, and helps to make the stakes feel high, even while being a tad silly. And Firmansyah and Milla do an exceptional job of invoking the styles of the 90s, and updating them in a way that just feels right. As I said time and time again, X-men ’92 is a great book that’s self contained and scratches so many itches while only being 20 pages. It’s the perfect read for someone who only wants to read 1 X-men title a month, and not have to worry about other events in the Marvel Universe interfering with the story.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #50

BG_Cv50Batgirl #50

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr, Roger Robinson, John Timms, Elonora Carlini, James Harvey, Serge Lapointe

DC $4.99

I’ll be blunt, Batgirl #50 is a little bit of a disappointment.

While it’s not entirely the creative team’s fault, this is a $5 comic that feels more like an annual. What was suppose to be the final issue for all 3 members of Team Batgirl (Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher & Babs Tarr,who are off to do creator owned stuff for Image), the comic actually features several additional guest artists, once again making the title feel more like a art jam project.  Babs Tarr does draw the bulk of these pages (20 aka the amount of your average DC/Marvel book), which is where the book really shines. If this was the springboard for the new Birds of Prey book, the additional pages by the guess artists would make a ton of sense. But seeing how none of those character except Batgirl & Black Canary are appearing in that title come this summer, it feels like an excuse to pad the book’s page count. I’m genuinely curious if the decision to make the comic double sized was editorial or the creative teams, because it feels incredibly disjointed.

To be fair to the guest artist, their work is certainly solid. Roger Robinson, John Timms, Elonora Carlini, and James Harvey have all pitched in on art duties before on the character, so they certainly feel familiar on the book. They all manage to ape Tarrs’ sBatgirl-50-11tyle quite well, so the book looks good all throughout the issue. And while I may complain about the presence of multiple guest artists, I really do dig the Street Fighter-influenced Vs. pages that break up the chapters. And it’s cool to see Babs working off of Cameron Stewart’s layouts again, as we can see how much she’s grown since she last worked off of them.

The book is at it’s best when it towards the ending, as you can really see where the team was trying to take Barbara. It’s where the real meat of the story is, and it does some really cool things with Babs and the cast of supporting characters the team has assembled. It’s a shame that there’s not more time spent on that sort of thing, versus the amount of time spent with the guest artists and guest stars dealing with other villains. The book ends up feeling back-loaded, which is a batgril-50-teamshame, because again, while I don’t dislike the artist, but there’s a lot of fat to chew through to get to the good stuff.

Batgirl #50 has some genuinely good moments in it, but this book will test your patience. A shame really, because the team had spent a considerable amount of time taking Babs into her this new and exciting direction. They do ultimately succeed in blazing some new paths with the character, and set things up for the next creative team to do some real interesting things with the character, but I just wish the execution could have been a little better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Fix #1

TheFix_01-1The Fix #1

Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill, Nic J Shaw

Image $3.99

I am grateful for Marvel’s The Superior Foes of Spider-Man for a number of reasons, some of the being the head of crime boss Silvermane in both KISS make up and on top of a remote control car. But the biggest reason I loved that book was seeing creators Steve Lieber and Nick Spencer work together and create a comedy comics with lead characters who are quite the jerks. With SUP FOES ending last year, the creative team has reunited and created The Fix, which is published through Image, and debuted this past week. While Superior Foes excelled while playing within the confines of the Marvel Universe, The Fix being creator owned allows Spencer and Lieber to do and say things that are VERY not main Marvel continuity approved.

The Fix’s premise is very at home for anyone who loved SUP FOES; only thing time around, instead of super villains, we get 2 small time criminals who are also cops. A pair of Boomerangs if you will (i.e. likable, but also the worst type of people), Roy and Mac are trying to make an easy buck in a number of illegal ways; robbing nursing home residents, pqeleyk6dqxzsbtu0walillegal robot fights, letting a “producer” off the hook after a bath salt induced rampage for a cut of his profits. Somehow, they’re super charismatic despite all of this, but I guess that’s because they’re surrounded by folk who are somehow worse. Come the end of the book, we’re finally introduced to a character who is actually morally upstanding, but there’s bit of bit of twist involved that’s super hilarious.

Nick Spencer is an excellent writer who does a lot of  genres quite well, but I find him the most enjoyable when he’s writing crime comedy. It’s a little off-putting at first to see him drop F-bombs and tell stories about accidentally swallowing things that I can’t mention here, but it’s so funny that you’ll get over it fast. Nick is definitely one of the smartest 002_thefix01dudes I currently follow on Twitter, so this script and the dialogue being as clever as it is comes as no shocker (no pun intended). Read the pages where we meet crime boss Josh and see what I mean.

Steve Lieber’s art is as equally inspiring. There’s a flashback involving a Bath Salt induced rampage, and there’s maybe all of 2 dudes in comic who could even come close to capturing this short of insanity/depravity as well as he does. His ability to convey comedy is spectacular, and I absolutely adore how Steve draws facial expressions. In short, Lieber’s art is absolutely terrific. Coloring Lieber’s art is  Ryan Hill, whom I’m not too familiar with, but absolutely kills in this first issue. He manages to nail the sleeze and grit you would expect from a crime drama extremely well, but keeps things bright enough to remind you that this whole shebang takes place in sunny California.

The Fix is incredible. I’ve loved a lot of Image #1s over the last few years. but it’s been a good while since I’ve been tickled by a book this much. If there’s any justice in the world, The Fix will be the next big thing at Image, so you should get on it NOW.

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked + The Divine #18

1The Wicked + The Divine #18

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

Hooray, The Wicked + The Divine is back! Quick, come grab a copy for yourselves immediately, shoving and or trampling anyone who dares get in your way!

DISCLAIMER: It is impossible to discuss this book without mentioning some spoilers, so if you aren’t caught up on WicDiv, skip this review.

The title for The Wicked + the Divine #18 is “Don’t Call it a Comeback”, which is WAY too appropriate. Series lead Laura Wilson returns, reborn as the Goddess Persephone, and she has a score to settle. Writer/co-creator Kieron Gillen made a joke that this arc was the WicDiv equivalent of Civil War (The Marvel version, not the historical one), and that’s a pretty fair description of the event of this issues. This issue also sees the return of Artist/Co-creator Jamie McKelvie, who will remain on art duties for the book until it ends. More details on that over the coming months. Both returns are welcomed, as the artist and colorist Matthew Wilson create one of the most action packed issues in quite some time. It’s McKelvie meets Shonen Manga in the best sort of ways, as Wilson’s bright, Wiced+Divine18_002energetic colors give the book a cool look that also reminds me of the action scenes in Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim adaption. The use of pinks, greens and blues are the types of colors usually not associated with action scenes is a nice touch, and really gives the book a distinct look.

Kieron Gillen also said that Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video serve as inspiration for this comic. That much is obvious, given Laura’s dialogue, and the way McKelvie draws her. Before her “death” Laura came off a naive, an excited fangirl walking amongst gods. Now she’s drawn with more confidence and swagger, obviously looking to settle the score with Ananke and her co-conspirators.  I love the way McKelvie handles body language, and the devil may care smile on Laura’s face is fantastic.  Also look how he arranges the panels on the 2 preview pages I posted; you can switch the first two on each page, and the comic still makes sense. And the range of emotions McKelvie can draw is some next level stuff, and I’m thrilled to see his return to this title being nothing short of spectacular.

Kieron Gillen seems oddly restrained in this issue. That’s not so much a critique as it is an observation, which makes sense, as this issue really feel like more of a celebration of the art team. That’s not to say that Gillen doesn’t make any worth contributions to the issue.There’s still plenty of good to be mined from the dialogue, especially the scenes Wiced+Divine18_003involving Baal and Baphomet. Seeing two lovers scorned go out it twice in this comic gives it some really emotional weight. Well more emotional weight, can’t forget Laura’s return and all that. The team also begins to shine some light on X, who’s probably the least developed of Parthenon, and it’s revealed that she’s in a really unique position due to her age.  There’s a lot to enjoy from this issue, which is no surprise, given how good this creative team can build worlds.

I really missed the lack of The Wicked + The Divine in my life, and am over the moon that is came back as strong as it did. It’s a title that’s gone from something I was really digging, to someone that gets read immediately once the newest issue drops. The way Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson choose to explore fandoms and icons makes for an fabulous read, and issue 18 is more proof that they’re one of the most consistent, creative,  and thought-provoking teams working in the industry today.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #35

First and foremost, a shameless plug!  I’m putting out a web comic that costs you all of zero dollars to read. It’s titled “In the Name of Thy Mother”, and I’m writing it with art by Ing. It’s exclusively on Tumblr for now, and if you like stuff in the vein of Sailor Moon but wish it was given a bit of a modern horror touch, you’re in luck. Thanks for reading that, let’s get to the review yes?

Saga_35-1Saga #35

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Come for the space hijinks, stay for BKV trying to figure out what to call Ghus fans ( Ghus-steppers is definitely a bad look man)! Also see Forbidden Planet NYC be called a “fine retailer”, which is 100% true, on the ad page for the Limited Edition TALKING Lying Cat plush, which you should totally pre-order right this minute.

Surprising no one, there’s a lot to like in Saga #35, the penultimate issue for this arc (something I was wrong about last month). My Ghus-feels aside, issue 35 offers the usual selection of wonder you would expect from this creative team: exotic locations with new characters (like a Lying Cat dressed as royalty!), sharp dialogue peppered with profanity, and stunning art by Fiona Staples. Which by the way, let’s talk about that cover for a minute. The composition is solid, really drawing you eyes towards the characters, and anyone who’s familiar with what the new tattoo symbolizes Saga35acan have themselves nice cry. Also the gray back ground is a nice choice to offset the more colorful characters.

Seeing these characters interact with each other. Here comes spoilers for anyone not caught up with volumes 4 & 5, but seeing Marko and Alanna bounce off of Prince Robot is hoot. Villains being forced to align with the heroes is nothing new to comics, but the Prince’s history with Marko and Alanna really sets it apart, especially once you consider he’s been in a situation similar to their’s.  It’s a nice bit of character growth, which makes him a little more likely, oppose to the Will, who’s definitely going down a dark path.

I’ve said it before, and I probably won’t stop saying it until the series is over, but I love all the various body types and characters that Fiona Staples creates. It really feels like no character is regulated to just a background role, not unlike the Simpsons. The facial Saga-35-i2-640x600expression she draws in this issue are also particularly striking, especially in the first few pages that involves the most stylish use of drugs I’ve ever seen. The fact that she colors and inks everything as well speaks of how extremely talented she is.

Saga #35 is another gorgeous issue in a series that rarely ever disappoints. Brian K Vaughan‘s dialogue is on point, as we ramp up to a battle that will probably make me feel really bad real quick. It’s business as usual, but in a way that I welcome, and rarely feels repetitive. It’s a another great issue of a great read, and I cannot wait to see how this arc ends next month.

 

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Chris Comics: X-Men ’92 #1

X-Men-92-1-2016X-men ’92 #1

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

I have not read an X-Men comic since Uncanny#600 dropped a few months back. Nothing against the current creative teams (especially the ones working on All New X-Men, who’s first volume I have pre-ordered), but the current direction of those titles is pretty dark. And after several years of bleak X-Men comics, I need something a little different to lighten the mood. Luckily, due to popular demand, the X-men ’92 Secret Wars mini has graduated into an on-going, meaning I can enjoy my favorite* mutants without having to stomach Inhuman related nonsense.

*My actual favorites won’t be showing up again until issue 5, but you get what I’m saying.

Chris Sims and Chad Bowers return to X-Men ’92, free to tell stories without having to worry about Battleword or Doctor Doom, which is something they embrace rather quickly. X-Men-92-9as the book brings in several Russian characters and locales. I applaud the duo for embracing some really obscure 90s X-men characters, although I’m not surprised to see the presence of one that possess a MUTANT DEATH FACTOR. The book continues to be a celebration of the 90s of course, and once again Sims and Bowers pay tribute to the Morrison 2001-era X-characters showing up in some fun cameos. It’s also nice to see the X-men in a proper school environment, something I haven’t seen since Wolverine and the X-men.

The art by Alti Firmansyah and Matt Milla couldn’t be any more different than the art team of the previous volume of this book, but it’s very fitting. Firmansyah’s style is very much softer and animated, similar to the infamous cartoon, but definitely not as dated. It’s very expressive, and he does some great stuff with the character’s body language. What he does do like former X-Men ’92 artist Scott Koblish is reimagining iconic X-men covers and imagery for panels, which is a nice inside joke that I adore. There’s also small several nods to the 90s in the art that really helps sells the setting of this book without overdoing it. Milla’s colors are superb, very bright, and perfectly XM922016001-int3-2-2b0c7capture the feel or the show just as well as the art. It’s the best possible look for a book like this, and I’m eager to see them draw familiar character over the coming months.

The dialogue in this book is also phenomenal. Aside from capturing the feel of these character perfectly, it also manages to invoke the era properly as well, without feeling dated or force. It’s a perfect blend of the Claremont meets Saturday morning characters, especially in the cases of Gambit, Wolverine and Rogue. It’s over the top and cheesey in all the right ways, making it a complete blast.

X-Men ’92 isn’t anything genre defining, but it’s an excellent alternative to the all-too-serious X-books that exist “in-continuity”. It continues to be a bonkers celebration of the X-men during one of their most popular periods in comics, but with a story that’s a little more coherent and free of crossovers with a dozen other X-books. This debut issue was a ton of fun, and I’m glad to have this sort of X-Men book back in my life

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

portrait_incredibleThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

Ryan North, Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, Joe Quinoes

Marvel $3.99

I’ve never thought I’d be excited to read a comic featuring Kraven the Hunter, yet here we are.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 sees our heroine reunited with the villain from her very first issue one, which crosses over with this month’s Howard a Duck. I have not been purchasing the current volume of Howard, because I refuse to pay $5 for Gwenpool, so having Howard, his writer Chip Zdarsky and van enthusiast Joe Quinoes pop up in this book is quite welcomed. Issue 6 is part one of two issue crossover, something BOTH creative teams wanted to do something fierce, making it the type of crossover I could get behind.

While Batman and Superman are doing battle for incredibly dumb reasons in the DC Movie Murderverse (shout out to Rob Bricken!), it’s nice to have a team up featuring 2 character who tolerate each other at best. The premise for this issue is simple enough: Howard is a cat racist, accidentally abducts Mew, Squirrel Girl intervenes, and somehow a dope Kraven the Hunter themed van and cosplay are also involved. This is very much the IMG_0121product of Canada writers/madmen Ryan North and (( insert the misspelling of Chip Zdarsky’s name here because that is clever and not at all overdone at all by now, nope)), and could not be any happier. The #JOKES are everywhere, including dual commentary on the bottom of the page, which makes for a very fun read.

The quips and one-liners are non-stop, and range everywhere to Howard’s “relationship” to Disney, Doombot Cosplay, and Squirrel Girl trying to explain similarities in different species to Howard (more on that later).

And while the barrage of jokes is non-stop, the dialogue is super sharp. Chip and Ryan play with the “heroes meets heroes, fight and then team up” trope in an incredibly neat way, and the dynamic between the two leads is fantastic. Howard’s more cynical and bitter outlook clashes perfectly with the Unbeatable one’s more chipper and upbeat personality, which the writers play up in the best possible ways. There’s also a genuine heartfelt IMG_0122moment or two between 2 characters, which is always appreciated and break ups the jokes a bit. What I’m saying is if you’re expecting a super serious hero team up, you’re wasting your time here, also do you not know how these characters work?

Aside from the debut of the best new vehicle in comics, not to mention a guest artist for a very special Deadpool card, the art for this issue is handled by Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi as per usual. And as per usual, it is GREAT! Henderson is a perfect fit for a character like Howard thanks to her very expressive and animated Style. I hope this doesn’t come across as me saying Henderson should only draw funny animal books, but her style definitely lends itself well to a character like Howard. Case in point, the page where Doreen is getting her science on, and Howard is getting more upset in every other panel. She’s also experimenting with layouts more, as seen in a page where it’s structure as SG kicking through panels. Henderson has been fantastic on this book since day one, and I appreciate her experimenting more with her layouts and use of white space. Rico Renzi’s colors remain just as great, and sets the tone for the light heartedness of this comic perfectly.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl  #6 is a hilarious and fun comic in ways so many other books aren’t. And it’s great to see creators actually come together and pitch a crossover like this, as their excitement really shines through. It’s the way crossovers should be done in my opinion, especially if wicked vans are involved.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #5 & Grayson #18

All-New-Hawkeye-5-2016-coverAll-New Hawkeye #5

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

It’s the penultimate issue of All-New Hawkeye! Which is a surprise to me, as I have no clue if this is the last time we’re going to see Clint and Kate in an on-going for a while or not. Yay Marvel Comics stealth cancellations!

All-New Hawkeye issue 5 sees Kate discovering the truth about her father in the past, while Clint makes an attempt to save the Project Communion kids in the present. Why this was solicited as Hawkeye vs Hawkeye (which the cover seems to imply as well) is beyond me. But we’re here to discuss the comic itself, not its marketing.

Ramon Perez & Ian Herring are SO GOOD on this book. As I said last review, I really like how Kate Bishop remains the only defined character in the flashbacks. But this issue sees Herring and Perez do something neat when Clint removes his hearing aid. The book goes from colored to black and white, symbolizing how isolated Hawkeye is without aid. It’s a nice way to show how deafness works, without stating the obvious. Sadly, I’m not feeling the flashback material all that much with issue 5. While the present day stuff definitely works for me, the Kate “origin” stuff seemed to dominate more of the issue, forcing the modern day material to be rushed.

All New Hawkeye #5 isn’t worst issue issue by this creative team, no, not by a long shot. But it’s best? Sadly no again. Wrapping up the series with the next issue may be for the best, and hopefully whoever inherits the Hawkeyes next will be able to tell some stories that don’t stall out as much.

Grayson_Vol_1-18_Cover-1_TeaserGrayson #18

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Geraldo Borges, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

So apparently 2 issues ago was the final issue of Grayson for the King/Seeley/Janin team. Which means this book is wrapping up with an entirely different creative team, because LOL DC COMICS. Granted Tim Seeley will be returning this summer to write Nightwing, it strikes me as odd to bring in an entirely new creative team to wrap us this book. I personally find it a bit insulting to readers who have become invested in the character because of the creative team, and it feels like DC Comics editorial thinks we as readers will buy the book because of the character/IP, not the talent behind it.

That being said, editors Rebecca Taylor & Mark Doyle usually does a solid enough job of finding guest creators for their books. Taking over writer duties from Seeley and King are  Jackon Lanzing &  Collin Kelly, who’s previous comics works I’m unfamiliar with. They definitely do a solid job of getting the tone of Grayson down, which is impressive given the fact that they have to juggle such a large cast. There’s not much done in terms of character development sadly, as this issue is heavy on the action and reveals. Still it could have been much worse, and the two writers manage to replicate the voices King and Seeley have established quite well.

Sadly, while the art by Roge Antonio & Geraldo Borges isn’t bad per say, it’s definitely not something to praise. I did enjoy the last few pages, which set up a cool new status quo for one of the supporting characters, but aside from that and a solid splash page, there lack of sexy and trippy we usually get from Mikel Janin is noticeable. Colorist Jeromy Cox does an admirable jobs with the colors, but he can only do so much with the art when it’s muddled and rush.

Grayson #18 is a comic that succeeds despite have the odds stacked against it. It’s just a shame I couldn’t go into this comic with the usual confidence I have when reading an issue of Grayson.

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Chris’ Comics: The Totally Awesome Hulk

Totally+Awesome+Hulk+CoverThe Totally Awesome Hulk #4

Greg Pak, Frank Cho, Sonia Oback, Cory Petit

Marvel $3.99

I’ll be honest. as much as I liked Greg Pak‘s past run on the Incredible Hulk/ Incredible Hercules, this new Hulk comic was something that wasn’t on my radar. Nor was it a book I was planning on buying anytime soon if I’m being completely honest, as the Hulk is rarely a character I have much interest in. The only reason why it’s in my possession is because a co-worker bought it strictly for the She-Hulk variant cover, then decided he didn’t want it anymore. I’m not one to say no to free comics, which leads us to this review.

Despite being chapter 4 of a arc which first 3 chapters I didn’t read, I found The Totally Awesome Hulk #4 super accessible. The recap page did a nice job bringing me up to speed, and this happens to be the issue where it’s explained how exactly Amadeus Cho ( whom Pak co-created) became the new Hulk. Why the reasoning behind it is a little hokey, it’s questionable in that fun silver age sort of way, and easy to ignore if you just chalk it to comic book science. There’s also hella monster punching, which is more of my thing.

While I’ve found some of his recent actions in the convention circle sort of immature, I have to admit that Frank Cho’s art in this comic is gorgeous. He’s at home here, as the TOTALLY+AWESOME+HULK+#4+pagescript calls for him to to draw attractive, muscular women thanks to a She-Hulk appearance, as well as a variety of Marvel monsters, something that Cho also excels. His line work is  very clean and iconic, and I love how detailed and expressive it is. There’s a certain bombastic & cinematic flair to Frank’s style, which really help sell the widespread destruction and chaos that one expects in a Hulk comic. Cho is masterfully colored by Sonia Oback, who colors really pop off the page. I can’t recall a Hulk book looking this good in awhile, and it’s a shame that Cho’s off the book after this issue.

Pak’s dialogue isn’t the deepest, but it’s fun as all hell. He manages to channel Hulk troupes such as the struggle between man and monster in fun and creative waves, and the book has a fun, bouncy vibe to it. His dialogue isn’t anything ground-breaking, but it’s certainly delightful, as I have a feeling Pak is holding back a bit to let Cho and Oback’s art take THE-TOTALLY-AWESOME-HULK-#4-4center stage. My only complaint is that Spider-Man Miles Morales’ presence is wasted here, as he hardly has any impact on the story at all. In the writer’s defense, I MAY has missed something that was touched upon in a past issue.

The Totally Awesome Hulk is a fun book with a lot of potential. Part of me wishes that Pak would make the book a little deeper like other legacy heroes such as Sam Wilson, Ms. Marvel or Thor, but I can definitely see the appeal of it being a fun, giant monster book. The cast is super likable, the dialogue is serviceable and the art is great. A pleasant surprise all in all, and while I have no strong desire to start pulling the title, I’ll definitely be checking it out once it’s on Marvel Unlimited.

 

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Chris’ Comics: G.I. Joe Deviations #1

GIJoe-Deviations-coverG.I. Joe: Deviations #1

Paul Allor, Corey Lewis, Gilberto Lazcano

IDW $4.99

2015 was the year that I took some time to read some comics about Transformers, specifically Windblade, who is the best. 2016 sees me purchasing G.I. Joe: Deviations #1, a one shot done in the what if style. I assume I’ll finally be given IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series a shot comes 2017.

G.I. Joe: Deviations probably wouldn’t have landed on my radar is it was mentioned on Comics Alliance few times, or if it wasn’t drawn by Corey Lewis, who’s Snark Knife I’ve enjoyed and upcoming Sun Bakery I’m very excited for. It also helps that the premise for this comic and its execution is right up my ally.

The plot for GIJ:D sounds pretty grimmdark at first as the few pages sees Cobra successfully conquer the world and lay waste to their enemy G.I. Joe. But then it flashes forward 5 years later, where we see Cobra Commander at odds with his role of leader of the world and his desire to be a cartoon super villain. Now that he and Cobra have succeeded, he has very little time for inane world conquering plots involving questionable gi_joe_deviations_preview_03technology. He has to focus now on being a bureaucrat, something he does not enjoy doing obviously. “Luckily” for him, 4 Joes remain, and are looking for revenge, which obviously leads to hijinks (who is NOT a existing G.I Joe character surprisingly).

Writer Paul Allor does an excellent job of telling a solid story while making sure there’s some laughs to be had. The original G.I. Joe animated series has not aged well, and Allor is well aware of what the internet has mined from this show for meme purposes. Case in point, this comic starts off with a PSA parody that goes pretty dark real fast, but is also funny in an incredibly cruel way.  This comic is very much an action comedy, as Cobra Commander’s inability to give up his love of causing a ruckus leads to some interesting decisions.

As stated above, Corey Lewis was a key reason why I bought this book, and he does not disappoint. His style is perfect for a book like this, as his stylized, Jim Mahfood-esque art successfully gives the book a animated feel. I love his character designs, which make all sorts of pop culture references, but only if you’re in on the joke, so they don’t really gi_joe_deviations_preview_05distract much. His art really shines when it comes to the book’s action scenes, as his kinetic, manga esque layouts really make for some fun visuals. I’m glad that Lewis inks and colors himself as well, because the finished art really pops, re-imagining the old animated series in the best way possible.

My only complaint is the price tag. Its 5 bucks for 36 pages, but a lot of those pages (14!) is dedicated space for extra content. Had I not been such a fan of the artist, chances are I would have skipped over it to be honest, and it may be a deal breaker for those of you who want a more serious story. That being said, I’m okay with my purchase, especially since it’s a done in one. G.I. Joe Deviations is a fun alternate universe one-shot that I can’t recommend enough if you want a different take on a beloved property. By not being the most serious of affairs, the books works for me in ways other G.I. Joe comics haven’t before. If you’re willing to drop the $5 on it, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

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