Category: Christopher Troy

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

tumblr_o4ysvnCGRp1rm4afao1_1280Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth

Julie and Shawna Benson, Claire Roe, Allen Passalaqua

DC $2.99

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve enjoyed a Birds of Prey comic. The Chuck Dixon and 1st Gail Simone runs on the title are some of my favorite DC comics, starring a bunch of my favorites like Barbara Gordon and the Huntress. The less said about the live action TV series it’s inspired however, the better.

DC Rebirth has lead to the revival of the title, re-teaming Batgirl & Black Canary with Huntress, again, for the first time. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen DC flirt with BoP as a title since the new 52 debut, but it is the first time we’ve seen the iconic line up together since 2011.

Speaking of the CW and BoP, while I didn’t bother reading the New 52 incarnation of BoP, I have been watching The 100 over the last few years. Julie and Shawna Benson are writers on that show, and are now writing this title. There I have explained the segue, let’s continue with this . Their dialogue tends to lend on the dramatic side, but it’s still solid enough. They do a good job of tying together events from the past and upcoming Batgirl run, Black Canary’s recent series, and the events the unfolded during Grayson/Nightwing Rebirth. They also give Babs an New 52/Rebirth origin for Oracle, which sadly undoes the 5330745-bgbopreb_1_4attempts to write out The Killing Joke. The Bensons do a good job of setting up their arc in 20 pages,  with this book working at break neck speed. Hopefully the can tone down the dramatic dialogue in future installments, as I found myself saying “No one speaks like that” several times.

On the art we have Claire Roe and Allen Passalaqua. Clare Roe isn’t a bad artist, and the potential for her to be a great fit for this title is there. Her body language and layouts are pretty strong, it’s that she struggles a bit with the faces. Batgirl is the biggest victim of this, as occasionally her eyes or teeth are too big for my liking. Allen Passalaqua’s colors are good, especially in the scene introducing Huntress in this issue. Also I’m not sure who designed Hunteress’ new gear, but man it looks great. It’s a good art team, and I’m sure the more familiar Roe gets with this cast, the better it will be.

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey is your all purpose set up issue, and it’s a perfectly fine one at that. The Bensons do a fine job of introducing these characters to new, lapse or returning readers, and do fine job of giving each Bird their own distinctive voice and motive. Impressive work for their comics debut. And again, while Roe’s art didn’t really do much for me with this debut, the potential for improvement is definitely there. I do think that it it’s pretty cool that we have an all-female writer and artist team on this book, which is the first time it’s happen since the Simone/Nicola Scott days. Batgirl and the BoP is off to a good enough start, and the book is interesting enough to have me coming back next month.

 

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The Wicked + The Divine #21

TheWickedAndTheDivine_21-1The Wicked + The Divine #21

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

While The Wicked + the Divine has definitely had its share of fight scenes in the past, I can’t recall there being an arc that has been this heavy on action. That’s not a critique mind you, as artist/co-creator Jamie McKelvie’s ability to draw pretty people hurting each other, with breathtaking colors from Matt Wilson, is something I enjoy immensely.

WicDiv #21 sees bitty demi-goddess Minerva returned to Ananke and Woden, which is less than great for her, as the duo has some less than great plans for the wee deity. Obviously this does not sit well with Laura/Persephone and her allies, which means fighty time, fighty time, blood blood blood! This is not exactly the deepest issue of WicDiv, but again, McKelvie and Wilson excel at drawing fight scenes, and writer Kieron Gillen does a Wicked+Divine21_01damn fine job with the dialogue that it’s still a super fun read.

“Fun” may be the wrong word to use. Two minor characters meet their untimely fates in this issue, but since they weren’t exactly the most fleshed out nor beloved, their deaths seem to serve no purpose other than a reminder that Ananke isn’t a nice lady. But this more restrained Kieron Gillen thrives with his abrupt, straight to the point, dialogue, Baphomet and Baal have been bitter opponents throughout this arc, but their beef may finally be squashed when Baphomet drops 16 words that completely changes his opponent’s views. Dionysus finally has a break out moment, and it’s a less than 20 word affair. And my personal favorite is an exchange between Ananke and Woden, in which she #micdrops him in 10 words. It’s quick brutal and and a fine example how good Kieron Gillen’s dialogue is. Clayton Cowles also deserves props for his lettering contributions, especially when it comes to font choices and word balloon placement. Letterer’s are often the unsung heroes of the medium, and considering what Cowles brings to this book, creators like him deserve more recognition.

That being said, McKelvie and Wilson’s art is the real selling point of this issue. McKelvie once against manages to draw some brutal fight scenes, mixing what he did with Young Avengers with a heavy manga influence. And Wilson is incredible this issue, from his ability to set scenes with his palette choices, to incorporate some many effects into the art. Wicked+Divine21_03As well choreographed as Dionysus’ scenes are by McKelvie, Wilson’s colors bring those pages to a different level, injecting a level of energy very few colorists are able to. Woden and Dionysus alone are proof of that, but when you factor in the other 4 characters with their own signatures palette and visual effects, it speaks volume about Wilsons talents. Also best nicks and bruises in the business.

The Wicked + The Divine #21 is a VERY good fight comic which some fantastic visuals. It’s the type of comic that really takes advantage of the medium, overloading the reader’s eyes with fantastic and colorful visuals. It also feels like working towards an endgame of sorts, which is odd, because the end of the book hasn’t been announced. It’s the type of comic that will leave you both satisfied with what you got, but will leaving you dying for more.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing Rebirth

NTWREB_Cv1-1Nightwing Rebirth

Tim Seeley, Yanick Paquette, Nathan Fairbairn

DC $2.99

 

Nightwing Rebirth is not only the return of Dick Grayson to spandex, but it also reunites writer Tim Seeley with the title character after a brief absence. Seeley, who has spent the last 2+ years co-writing Grayson with Tom King, has done some wonderful things with the character, and wastes no time in saying goodbye to one cast of supporting characters while having Dick returning to the familiar streets of Gotham & the Batman family. Joining Seeley for this one-shot are artists Yanick Paquette and Nathan Farbairn, who are as suited to drawing costumed fisticuffs as Mikel Janin was to drawing sexy spy stuff.

While the bulk of this comic is spent closing one door while opening another, Nightwing Rebirth makes for a terrific read due to relying some great emotional beats Dick Grayson has with the characters he encounters. Longtime fans will enjoy Dick shooting the breeze with Damian, his former Robin, and Bruce Wayne, their mutual father figure. Those who Nightwing-Rebirth-1-spoilers-preview-dc-3know the character from the previous Grayson status quo get to see Dick wrap up his relationship with Spyral, with a hint of things to come with Helena Bertinelli and the Midnighter. And the mega-fans who’ve read everything from Batman and Robin Eternal to We Are Robin finally get some follow up to the Robin Wars crossover, with some Court of Owls related content. It’s a comic that can be easily enjoyed by new fans, but the longer you’ve been following the character, the more you’ll get from it. For me, it’s rewarding to see a light-hearted and “fun” character interact with grumps like Batman and Damian, who lighten up solely due to Grayson’s presence. Also, as someone who’s HYPED for the upcoming Batgirl and the Birds of Prey series, this comic does a fantastic job of setting up the new Huntress. It’s also crazy impressive that the creative team manages to do so much in the span of 20 pages.

Like I said above, Yanick Paquette was the perfect guy to draw this comic. Given his experience from working with Grant Morrison on various Batman comics, and his ability to draw beefcake exceptionally well makes him an all too ideal fit to draw the exploits of Richard Grayson. His backgrounds are stunning as well, and it’s impressive to see him nail the constant change of locations so effortlessly. My only real issue with the art is that Nathan Fairbairn water color-esque coloring feels muted on this book. To be fair though, that could Nightwing-Rebirth-1-spoilers-DC-Comics-Rebirth-4be a result of the book’s printing, and not on the colorist himself. But between the dynamic body langue use to convey emotion during the talking head scenes, to the sprawling layouts of the fight scenes, it’s very hard to speak ill of this book’s art.

As for Tim Seeley,  I think I’ve run out of ways to praise the dude. His take on Nightwing is stellar, as he continues to nail how complex and fascinating the character is. It’s the ideal blend of humor, action and drama that he refined on Grayson and has perfected for this comic.

As a big fan of the character, Nightwing Rebirth justifies the return from spy to spandex. For the first time in awhile, it’s justifies the existence of the Nightwing role, in a way we haven’t seen in years. While I’ll certainly miss Dick’s time as a spy, I’m more than ready to read about him as Nightwing once again.

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Chris’ Comics: Paper Girls #7 & The Fix #4

PaperGirls_07-1Paper Girls #7

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

Image $2.99

What I like about this current arc of Paper Girls is that it’s taking a lot of time travel cliches and having fun with them. So many stories involving time traveling embrace a certain set of rules (Don’t interact with your past/future self, don’t tell people things that haven’t happen yet) that it feels like there’s a certain checklist you have to embrace to tell they type of story. Luckily the team of Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson and Jared K. Fletcher play by their own rules, and it makes for a fascinating read.

As anyone who’s read Saga or anything else BKV has written, you know that he’s quite capable of doing emotional moments well. There’s two in this issue that are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, but they’re both written so incredible well. Of course the credit due is split between Vaughan and artists Chiang and Wilson who excel at body language and mode coloring. Their pacing is great, as one scene goes from super cute to pretty funny in a blink of an eye, while the other drags out just the right amount of time for maximum devastation.

While I was pretty hit or miss on the initial arc, Paper Girls #7 is a great read by a creative team that can’t seem to do any wrong this time around. Everything from the art to the dialogue to the placement of the word balloons seems perfect and significant, and it’s proof that these creators are onto something truly special with this title.

TheFix_04-1The Fix #4

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

Image $3.99

Sadly, the events on that rad as all hell cover do not take place in this issue.

Mac Brundo is the lead for this issue, a nice change of pace from the last few Roy-centric issues. While he’s no angel, Mac is a little more likable then Roy, and this issue does a good job of making the reader emphasize with him. We also get introduced a character who may or may not have something to do with the events of the last issue, as well as checking in with character find of the year, Pretzels.

Also it’s the first comic I’ve read in recent history where FAP is used as a sound effect, and yes, if you know what that refers to, it’s for those exact reasons. Props to Nic J Shaw for making those fonts large enough for extra comedic effect.

Steve Lieber‘s art thiis month is a little more exaggerated than usual, and it works well for this issue. It never clashes with Lieber’s more realistic style, and when paired with some great sights gags and razor sharp dialogue from Nick Spencer, it results in laughs.

The Fix #4 is another hilarious read from a team of creators who excel at the ridiculous. Between genital based humor, pets, and several threats of violence, it’s hard for me to not love this comic.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Kim & Kim #1, Future Quest #2

STL009948Kim & Kim #1

Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aguirre

Black Mask, $3.99

When it comes to reviewing books, I try to keep my personal beliefs/politics from affecting the review….is a lie that I won’t tell you. Comics has a history of doing certain things wrong and treating certain under-served audiences poorly, so when a book does something RIGHT, I want to sing its praises. Which brings us to this review

NOTE: The copy of Kim and Kim #1 I used for this review was purchased straight from the creator in June at Heroescon, and I’ve played no role in the upcoming signing happening in the store.

Kim and Kim #1 is a wonderful comic that reminds me a lot of the criminally underappreciated Dirty Pair comics by Adam Warren. Written by Mags Visaggio, with art by Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre, the book tells the story of two bounty hunters, obviously both named Kim. They’re young, broke, queer, and full of piss and vinegar, making them 2 of the most relatable lead characters in quite some time. I absolutely love Visaggo’s dialogue, which is incredibly over the top at times, but then completely natural sounding in that Brain K Vaughan way at others. But the 2 styles never clash, making for an enjoyable reading experience that ultimately reminds me a lot of Edgar Wright’s work.

As for the visuals, a lot of folk will call Eva Cabrera’s art manga-influence, which it definitely is, but I definitely get more of a Steven Universe vibe from it. Not that either answer is incorrect mind you, as its excellent. Expressive, clean and brightly colored by Aguirre, its looks great, and gives the book a ton of character.

Kim & Kim #1 is another brilliant comic from new kids on the scene Black Mask . I’m glad to see a lot more quality creator owned comics coming from non-Image publishers, especially ones with Queer leads. Buy on sight, it’s a fun read that has me jonesing for more.

FutQue_Cv2_56fc234731d577.65151099Future Quest #2

Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, Roc Rhandall, Jonathan Case, Jordie Bellaire

DC $3.99 

It’s been a hot minute since Future Quest #1 dropped, but this past week saw the debut of issue #2. This time Doc Shaner is joined by Jonathan Case and Roc Rhandall on art duties, who manage to channel so well I couldn’t tell where one artist begins and the next ends. Jeff Parker is still on scripting duties, which means this series continues to read as good as it looks. And Jordie Bellaire‘s color, especially with what she does with Space Ghost’s translucence cape, are stellar.

Future Quest #2 starts off by explaining why Space Ghost was threatening to DESTROY at the end of issue one. From there we get a great chase scene, a lot of action, and hints towards the arrival of several new characters. This book run entirely is all action, which is fine, as the trio of artist assigned to it couldn’t be more suited for the script.

Also that cover does not lie and does indeed give us a panel in which the various pet sidekicks all interact. Glorious it ain’t but it’s certainly good for a laugh.

Future Quest continues to be the action packed crossover event it was marketed as. You don’t need to completely familiar with all these characters to love this book, as it’s amazing creative team give you plenty of other reasons to. As much as DC Rebirth has been solid, Future Quest may just be the most exciting and innovative title coming out from the publisher.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #9 & Green Arrow #2

Spider-Woman_Vol_6_9_TextlessSpider-Woman #9

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel $3.99

MOTHER #$@#$%^& WENDIGO!

As I said last week in my Captain Marvel review, Civil War the second is upon us, which means tie-ins issues. And since Carol Danvers has been a supporting character in this title for awhile now, Spider-Woman is getting dragged into this mega-event, like it or not. I feel you J-Drew, lord knows that I feel you.

And while the (gorgeous and simplistic) cover implies hella Civil War action, this issue of Spider-Woman feels like like a tie-in and more like an issue of that delightful Jason Aaron run of Wolverine and the X-men from back in the day. While there’s definitely some Civil War: The Two related stuff in this issue, the bulk of this sees Jessica and friends IMG_0127in Canada dealing with Wendigos! Wendigo is one of my favorite C-list Marvel villains, and I love the way it’s used in this comic, especially when the grizzly twist drops.  As this all goes down, Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman bond, and by bond I mean yell at and insult each other. Good times.

The team of Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, and Alvardo Lopez continue their hot streak on this title, with some hilarious dialogue, paired with gorgeous art. The arguing between Jessica and Carol is super entertaining, and readers new and old can feel the history between the two characters. Rodriguez’s facial expressions, acting and page composition are spectacular. I love how we’re guaranteed at least one impressive double page fight scene per issue Lopez’s inks are out of the world, as he and letterer Travis Lanham continue to excel on this book.

Spider-Woman #9 is a very smart tie-in, one that brings Carol into the larger Marvel universe without betraying its mission statement. It’s nothing new for this great creative team, but you still can’t help but get excited reading this sort of comic.

 

GA_Cv2_ds-e1467817721597Green Arrow #2

Benjamin Percy, Otto Scmidt, Nate Piekos

DC $2.99

This series continues to be great for Oliver Queen, who’s just been betrayed, arrowed, tossed into the ocean and left for dead. Hey wait.

Green Arrow #2 resolves the cliffhanger ending of issue 1 by making things MUCH worse for our lead believe it or not. We also get a name for the creepy, homeless-stealing Draculas, and the reintroduction of a character who originated on the Arrow TV show. And while she gets less screen time this month, Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt gives some rad as hell Black Canary moments, complete with narration boxes with fishnets. Nate Piekos is the secret MVP of this book for that move.

There’s a lot to like in this issue of GA, which is heavy on the action. Schmidt’s art is gorgeous, and I love the splash pages where a boat is positioning, and the imagery he creates on another page that shows Ollie descending into hell (figuratively) is spectacular.  IMG_0129The book is pretty light on the action sadly, but it makes up for it with a tone of gorgeous visuals.

In terms of the dialogue. Percy’s stuff is “like a Michael Bay movie, but smart and good.”. So the opposite of a Michael Bay movie really. But it’s solid none the less, as he does some clever stuff that reference’s Dante’s Inferno, which is super symbolic of what Ollie’s going through.  The Dinah stuff is great, but I love how he basically manages to remix several older GA stories and do something new with this book. It’s compelling as hell, even though it’s a real bad day for Oliver Queen.

I know a lot of folk like/liked Oliver Queen in Arrow, but this is the first time I’ve really been able to get behind the character and enjoy him in a starring role. Green Arrow #2 is a RAD comic, and it’s arguably one of the biggest successes coming out of Rebirth so far.

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9

5283868-sqgirl2015b009_dc11-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, David Malki, Tom Fowler, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is that it’s a book that always keeps the readers on their toes. Issue 9 is no exception, as an arc that started off about DATES has turned into a story about a love smitten Mole Man who may have goes full “Nice Guy”. It’s something you wouldn’t see in any other Marvel book (well okay maybe Howard the Duck or Gwenpool, but no where else!), yet it makes sense in the pages of Squirrel Girl.

Joining the Unbeatable team of Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi this month is inker Tom Fowler, who’ s a great fit for this title. With Henderson working on this book, finishing up her run on Jughead, and working on the upcoming Squirrel Girl graphic novel, it makes sense that she get’s some help with something on this title. Fowler is great, covering Henderson’s pencil in nice crisp inks, and giving the pages a more finished and 5283872-sqgirl2015b009_int2-2less rushed look. Fowler compliments Henderson well, and I hope he sticks around on the title for awhile. In addition to Fowler, David Malki comes by to draw a page to explain why Mole Man is mad this month. The best way to describe that page is “Old Timey” and it’s something that you need to understand WHY it’s so great.

Speaking of great, Ryan North and Erica Henderson continue to be pair of amazing creators. North, who already has written the best Kraven the Hunter story since the classic “Kraven’s Last Hunt” story, does the same for Mole Man. His ability to turn the Fantastic Four’s first villain into a sympathetic character is crazy impressive, and it’s a very clever interpretation of the character. I thoroughly enjoyed Mole Man talking like someone from the silver age, and North commenting on it via Doreen Green, and the alt text on the bottom of the page. We also get more of Brad, the Super Hero truther, who’s my new problematic fave. Henderson’s art is fabulous as always, and it’s great to see her work her magic on some old Kirby monsters.  And it’s neat to see how expressive she can get with a character who’s’ eyes and 5283874-sqgirl2015b009_int2-3constantly blocked off by glasses. With Inks by Fowler and great colors as per usual by Rico Renzi, Squirrel Girls continues to read as good as it looks.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9 continues to be the most unique comic on the stand. Romance in super hero books usually plays out in the most clichéd ways, but here North and company provide some solid commentary on how NOT to treat someone, while casually mentioning a sad mutant killing robot. Given how young some of the book’s readers are (see the genuinely wonderful letter section), it’s an important lesson to be taught. Also, for an issue that’s smack dab in the middle of an arc, it’s impressive how accessible the comic is! The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl continues to be the golden standard of Marvel comics, and by far the company’s most constantly amazing title as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel #6

Captain-Marvel-6Captain Marvel #6

Ruth Fletcher Gage, Christos Gage, Kris Anka, Mat Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Civil War II is upon us, which means the bulks of Marvel’s books are now tying into the event for that sweet tie-in sales bump. As I’ve stated in the past, I have zero interest in the event, and there’s a chance books that rely too heavy on CW2 are properly getting dropped for the time being. Luckily for both Marvel and myself, Captain Marvel, who’s a prominent figure in this crossover, manages to tie into the mega-event without ruining the excellent narrative set up during the first arc.

Joining regular series artists Kris Anka, and Matt Wilson is a dude who has plenty of experience writing tie-in titles, Christos Gage, and his writing partner/wife Ruth Fletcher Gage, who has experience writing Marvel character in the excellent Netflix Daredevil series. Even after doing some research, I couldn’t tell you if the Gages are replacing the team of Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters permanently, or just for this arc. But fear 626351feaa7a3459b3c7caa99cde2dd4not, if you’re a fan of what Fazekas and Butters have done with the character, expect more of the same with this issue (although there’s quite the drop in Abigail Brand snark, which I miss).

Captain Marvel #6 takes place sometime between Civil War II #1 and #0 (I think), and sees Carol getting some much needed alone time with her boyfriend Jim Rhodes (War Machine), and dealing with the fallout of the events of the first arc. I LOVE the Gages manage to tie two different stories together so well, to the point where it leads like they were writing the title all along. Christos and Ruth bring in several new and obscure characters to the title, while tying the book into a story arc Christos co-wrote with Dan Slott on Amazing Spider-Man a few years back. While that may sound like a lot of prerequisite reading, the writers manage to present the material in a way new readers can enjoy without having the read several comics before this one.

On the art side of things, this is the first issue Kris Anka draws without any assistance in a few months, and it’s pretty swell! You get everything you expect from Anka in this issues, abs, fantastic facial expressions, dynamic fight scenes, and a pretty horrific page that’s not too grotesque, but still manages to do an excellent job of raising the stakes. Matt Wilson’s colors are 1ucsyigorgeous, as he manages to handle the setting changing several times in this book without missing a beat. I really wish I had more to say about these creators, but it feels redundant. as I’ve been singing their praises for months now, and they’ve yet to fail to impress on this book.

Captain Marvel #6 is a tie-in title done right. I doubt the events on this book will have much effect on Civil War II proper, but also I don’t care. The comics tells a good story while tying into the events, which is all I care about. Captain Marvel #6 is another fantastic issue in a great run, and I can’t recall a time I’ve been this excited to read about the character.

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson Annual #3

STL008068.jpg.square-true_maxheight-285_size-285Grayson Annual #3

Jackson Lanzing, Colin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox, Natasha Alterici, Christian Duce, Mat Lopes, Flaviano, ,Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor

DC $4.99

Hey look your chum Chris is back! Hello pretend internet friends, I missed playing Overwatch you too!

Also back this week is Richard Grayson, as his time as a spy finally comes to an end with Grayson Annual #3. Set in an unspecific time in Grayson’s publication history, this annual sees the likes of John Constantine, Harley Quinn, Azarel, Green Lantern Simon Baz, and Jim Corgan gather to figure out who the mysterious Agent 37 is. Spoilers, it’s Grayson-Annual-3-3-600x462Dick Grayson.

Not unlike the Gotham Academy Yearbook arc and Batgirl #50 , Grayson Annual 3 is an anthology comic that has regular replacement series writers  Jackson Lanzing and Colin Kelly and replacement artist Roge Antonio joined by an array of newer talent that focuses on a specific character. Natasha Alterici draws and colors the John Constantine tale, which sees the duo deals with Vampires with far more sexy imagery than I was excepting. Christian Duce and Mat Lopes handle art duty the Azarel story, which fits nicely into the events of Batman and Robin eternal. Flavario draws and colors the Harley Quinn portion, and Javier Fernandez & Chris Sotomayor  closes things out with the Simon Baz portion of the book. Jeromy Cox, who I believe colored all of Grayson, returns as well, and for the most part is solid, but makes a relatively big mistake by miscoloring Harley Quinn.

Kelly and Lanzing did an excellent job of mimicking the tone of Tim Seeley and Tom King established in the regular series, but were tasked with getting a lot done in the span of 3 issues. Here they’re given some more room to breathe, and tell an extremely fun done and one that does the series justice. With Alterici, they’re allowed to get sexy with the undead CmILJ2dWkAgpAEvand John Constantine. As someone who generally dislikes it when John interacts with the spandex side of DCU, I had a blast with him and Dick trading quips, and John getting hot and bothered. With the Azarel story, the writers remind us that Grayson is good dude even as a spy, and they handle the more stoic aspects of Azarel quite well. The Harley Quinn section is my favorite, as Flavario reminds me a lot of Babs Tarr’s style, which lends itself well to a story co-starring Harley, who steals nearly every scene she’s in. The Baz story is solid, as Fernandez does a good job blending cosmic elements with the more street level aspects you get from a Bat book.

Grayson #3 doesn’t do anything to improve the relatively rushed ending of Grayson, but it allows the writers and Roge Antonio to give themselves a proper send off.  It’s an extremely clever script that does the many aspects of the character justice, and ends on a super sweet note. I wished it would have dropped before the DC Rebirth one-shot, but that doesn’t take away from the experience. Grayson 3# is a GREAT celebration of Dick Grayson, and is an impressive comic for a team that was brought in relatively last minute.  Anyone who enjoyed Grayson and needs a Dick fix (phrasing) before that Nightwing Rebirth one shot needs to pick up this comic sooner rather than later.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow #1

GA-Cv1_56fc1133c2db86.88017993Green Arrow #1

Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt

DC $2.99

 

 

 

 

IMG_8643 Hey there Forbidden Planet Faithful! Before I start talking about Green Arrow #1 ( It feels weird to write that instead of Hawkeye), I just want to give a shout out to everyone I ran into and saw at Hereoscon 2016 this past weekend. I got to shoot the breeze with a number of great creators, including 1 of my favorites as you can see on the left. I highly recommend that anyone who loves comics check out Heroescon in the near future, especially in this post NYC Special Edition world. Unrelated, I’m taking a week off, after this article due to life demands, so expect this blog to be Chris-free for a week.

Green Arrow #1 is a extremely fun follow up to a promising Rebirth debut issue. While I’m not sure how this whole twice a month shipping thing is going to play out in the long run, I’m not going to get ahead of myself, especially when there’s some stuff I want to address now.

IMG_0125Given how prominent of a character Batman is, not to mention the numerous similarities, creators who write Green Arrow have a difficult hurdle to clear when it comes to making the two characters distinct. In less skillful hands, this arc of Green Arrow could have ended up feeling a lot like the modern classic Batman story “Court of Owl”. Even with the cliche”one of the guys within Queen’s company is secretly totes evil and plotting against him ” reveal, writer Benjamin Percy does a fine job of steering clear of said birb story  by embracing the difference between the two title characters. Percy’s more proactive, society conscious Oliver Queen who isn’t afraid to bend the rules a bit is a smart narrative choice, and something you don’t see when it comes to Big 2 super heroes.

As for Benjamin Perry’s script, it’s not as tight as the last issue. There’s a REALLY solid cliffhanger ending to this comic, but it doesn’t hit as hard if you’ve just joined the book like I have. Also while I know not every super hero archer comic can read like Hawkeye, some of the dialogue in this particular issue is cheesy in a an eye-rolling way. Where this comic IMG_0126really shines is when it focuses on Oliver Queen and the various relationship he has with this supporting cast, Black Canary especially. Ultimately it’s a pretty solid script, just a little tarnished with some disappointing dialogue.

With an opportunity to draw some quitter moments this time around, Otto Schmidt’s art remains a just cause for buying this comic. The quieter, more intimate scenes are really strong, and it’s a nice showcase of the type of art Schmidt was can produce. That being said, the fight scenes are also quite dope, making for a complete package, especially when you factor in he inks and colors the book as well.

Green Arrow #1 is a good comic that continues to shine with a solid creative team. The good more than out weights the bad for this issue, making it a flawed, but enjoyable read.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Titans Rebirth

Titans-Rebirth-1-456x700Titans Rebirth

Dan Abnett, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse

DC $2.99

While Green Arrow is a character/franchise I’ve never given a damn about, Teen Titans/Titans is something I’ve flirted with for most of my comics reading life. Having characters like Dick Grayson, Wally West, and Donna Troy associated with the franchise helps a lot, but for whatever reason helps, but ultimately I’m out after an arc. I doubt I’m the only one who’s had this problem, as it seems like DC has a problem with the franchise post Geoff Johns departure from the title in the mid 2000s. With Rebirth, the brand is split into two books, one with a fairly iconic roster of Teen Titans debuting later this year, and an older lineup of Titans dropping this past week.

Titans Rebirth isn’t a bad comic, but it’s very much the definition of a zero issue. With Wally West back in action, he seeks out to reunite himself with his former sidekicks, who’ve recently reunited in the Dan Abnett penned Titan Hunt mini-series. While that mini-series isn’t mandatory reading for this issue, I imagine it will help reader recognize the less iconic characters in this story. Abnett’s script is very by the numbers, chock of cliche dialogue and by the numbers moments, including the mandatory hero on hero fight due to misunderstanding. It’s not particularly bad, but nothing worth celebrating.

TNSREB_1_5_5Drawing this comic and I believe the series going forward is Brett Booth, who is the very definition of Jim Lee 90s style art, for better and for worse. Booth excels at layout, going with some very dynamic layouts that ooze with the type of energy you want from a super hero comics. He also get creative with his panel layouts towards the end of the comic, something that I enjoyed very much, and does a really great job with language and facial expressions. Where Booth falters is his inability to draw teenagers early on in the issue, and his design for Roy Harper aka Red Arrow, aka Arsenal. I know he’s not the guy who gave him an “iconic” backwards Baseball cap, but that plus goggles is a dated look that makes very little sense. Also I question how Wally’s costume continues to shine, even in the dark

Assisting Booth on the art are  Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse, who ink and Image-71-600x633color the book respectively. Rapmud tends to do heavy on the cross stitching at time throughout the comic, but that aside his work is really quite excellent. His linework is clean and thin, and looks gorgeous when paired with Dalhouse’s bright and playful colors. Even if Booth’s art isn’t your thing, it’s hard not to like it thanks to the contributions by Rapmund and Dalhouse

Titans Rebirth is a comic book-ass comic book. The heroes have a misunderstanding, fight and resolve everything within 20 pages. Abnett tries to stir emotions with some fun flashbacks, but given this DC Universe is only 5 years old, it feels cheap, and unoriginal (I think this is the third time a writer has tried doing a Kid Flash/Robin stealing the Batmobile story in the last decade). But imperfections aside, Titans looks to be in capable hands, and there’s definitely some promise.

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Chris’ Comics: The Fix #3

TheFix_03-1The Fix #3

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

Image $3.99

I’ll be honest; for a hot minute, I almost didn’t review this comic. Given what went down in Orlando this past weekend,  the events in The Fix #3 made my reading experience uncomfortable. That is not the fault of Nick Spencer, Stever Lieber, Ryan Hill or Nic J Shaw in ANY shape or from mind you, as there was no way they could predict was would offer a few days after the book’s release. I will point everyone to this tweet, and encourage anyone who can afford to give to do so.

The Fix #3 sees our lead Roy putting in some overtime, which he scored in the most horrible of ways, poor Pete. Body-guarding musician Elaina seems like a sweet gig for him at first, but things quickly spiral out of control, leading is an ending you won’t see coming.

Nick Spencer is currently know by the majority of comics readers as the guy who did some bad things to Captain America (The Steve Rogers flavor). In this comic though, Spencer is providing some commentary on what fame and the music industry can do to a person. The character of Elaina can be easily called a stand in for a Lindsey or a Brittany,  and what they endured once becoming household names. Spencer may be taking some of the plot points straight from the headlines, but he manages to stay away from becoming too preachy at any given point, which is appreciated.

Steve Lieber’s art is impressive as per usual on this third issue. His work is so expressive, and it definitely helps set up several gags in this issue. Lieber knows exactly when to exaggerate character’s faces for maximum comedic effect, and his body language is just as fantastic. He knows how the switch up the tone on the fly, which really helps keep readers on the edge of their seats. Ryan Hill’s colors are superb, giving this book the proper Shane 3074774-007_fix03Black feeling this book deserves. The constant presence of orange/red colors helps create an environment that appears to be welcoming, but there’s that feeling of tension bubbling underneath. Nic J Shaw, just feels like the right guy to be lettering this book, especially come the finally pages of the book where multiple types of fonts are required. Despite being only 3 issues in, it’s scary how good this art team is, and how well the collaborate.

Further proof of this creative team’s brilliance comes early in the issue, where Roy and his pal Donovan are having a conversation about Elaina. Not only is it a nice bit of exposition, but there’s an amazing gag towards the end that works due to the pacing of the dialogue, Lieber’s page layout, and a killer line at the very end. It’s definitely a tad crude, as is the conversation leading up to it, but given the type of people involved in this scene, it’s completely in character, and serves as a reminder that they’re not exactly the best of folk. It’s something Lieber and Spencer did in SUP FOES a lot, and it’s good to see it return, turned up to 11, here.

The Fix #3 may have be a victim of unfortunate timing, but I can still recognize how excellent this comic is.  It’s a a perfect blend of action, comedy and drama that’s really unlike any comic out there, and by an writer/artist team that’s a proven commodity.

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked + The Divine #20

TheWickedAndTheDivine_20-1The Wicked + The Divine #20

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

Oooh, WicDiv and The Fix both dropped this week. Good job this week, that’s some fine comic booking!

So The Wicked + The Divine #20 is a comic book that explains how Laura/Persephone isn’t a headless corpse who is burnt and dead after the events way back in issue 11.  It involves  a heroic sacrifice, sexy times, and a lovely bit of character exploration that reveals that one of the demigod’s true identity. “But Chris, isn’t that just the character’s names?” is something you may be asking, in which I reply HOW DARE YOU, IT TURNS OUR THAT ONE OF THE GODS IS A BIT OF FIBBER, NOW WHO FEELS DUMB!

But yeah, the bulk of this issue focuses on how Persephone isn’t dead, and what she was up to during the previous arc. It’s a well-crafted comic, that masterfully weaves itself between the events of the Commercial Suicide arc, while tying into the end of issue 18 quite nicely. A lot of this issue is told in flashbacks, in which Matt Wilson and Jamie McKelvie do a fine job of making visually interesting. Instead of coloring the book in a traditional method, Wilson Persephone-c0d75pulls from the dedicated color pallet he uses exclusively for coloring Persephone for the flashback sections. It’s such a cool idea, and when you factor in he does it twice for the different time periods, it serves as testament as to exactly how talented of an colorist he is. As for his pal/the book’s artist Jamie McKelvie, it’s great work as usual. There’s a page in which resident goth badboy Baphomet is posed like a 90s Lobo cover, which I adore, for the simple fact that it’s super ridiculous, but played straight. Not to talk down on Jamie, but this is an issue with some great art, and some REALLY inventive coloring practices that’s super impressive.

As someone who appreciated how meta/”inside baseball” Kieron Gillen got in Phonogram, there’s a page in this issue that channels that feeling while explaining one of the character’s roots. It’s not the deepest cut in any way, especially given the subject matter and the medium, but it’s still an incredibly endearing scene, and shows how much charm he can inject into his scripts when he wants to. I’m not saying that it’s a weakness of Gillen’s mind you, it just seems that the noted devil-man rather twist in tumblr_o8cx2zatBJ1tuoa2wo2_1280the knife in his reader’s then make us say “d’awww”. No, I’m still not bitter over Tara, why do you ask?

Once again, The Wicked + The Divine is a satisfying read, with a creative team that never fails to impress. Issue 20 is an well crafted comic that’s spectacular from both a narrative & craftsmanship stand point, not to mention rewarding from a fan perspective. A perfect blend of action, suspense, comedy and intrigue, The Wicked + The Divine #20 is a perfect example of how great the Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson and Cowles team is, while being a comic that rewards long time readers.

 

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