Category: Christopher Troy

Troy’s Toy, but with Comics: Afterlife Saga

LAST WEEK’S LATE REVIEW:

Secret-Avengers-2014-5Secret Avengers #5

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

First and foremost, that cover is dope. Tradd Moore’s covers for this series have pretty top-notch so far, but when you toss in ammo crate in goat form with a Wolverine-fish, you get points in my book.

That being said, this book isn’t as light in tone as the cover suggests. There’s a murder mystery aboard the Helicarrier, and one of the Secret Avengers may be guilty. Also one of them may be getting a new super power while another one of them may be suffering from PTSD. There’s a ton of mistrust amongst the team, and this may not end well for S.H.I.E.L.D. once everything is said and done.

Issue 5 is particularly dark, but also incredibly smart. There’s a conversation between Maria Hill and M.O.D.O.K. that shows that Ales Kot isn’t afraid to draw parallels to the current state of the US Military and some of the ugliness that they can be capable of. It puts some blood on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hand, making the organization a little more grey and grounded than it’s use to.

So yeah, this issue of Secret Avengers isn’t exactly a feel good issue, but it successfully builds tension and leads to interesting character interactions. Well worth the $4.

saga_21Saga #21

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

Team Saga won a number of Eisners again this past Friday, much to the surprise of no one. Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples have yet to disappoint with this title,  and all acclaim given has definitely been earn.

That being said, this new issue of Saga isn’t the most upbeat of issues. There’s a great moment with Hazel, and some sexy times, but for the most part, it’s all building up for some bad stuff. BKV and Staples have been carefully building to an event spoken on the final page of the first chapter of this arc, driving us, the readers insane. The first hints were given last issue, and here they’re expanded up further, making the turning of each page each more dramatic. There’s also a new element tossed in, which is definitely not going to end well for our lead couple.

But like a car wreck on a highway or NASCAR racing event, you can’t help  but watch. It’s done so well, and we already know how it ends, and it’s going to be terrible. But again, BKV and Staples are on top of their games and the end product is craft so well.

Ultimately Saga continues to be great but, but ultimately one that’s going to send me to my grave early, weeeeeeeee!

 

Sabrina02Afterlife with Archie #6

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa/Francesco Francavilla

Archie $2.99

Spoilers: This was not the happiest of weeks for comics

A lot of comics fall into the habit of being cliche and predictable. You can see the outcome early  in an arc, the status quo is maintained, no one ever stays dead, etc.

Afterlife with Archie is not that book. It is the book that plays a zombie outbreak in Riverdale straight and has lead to some amazing moments. This issue is a done in one focused on Sabrina, the teenage witch. Sabrina is partially responsible for this mess, has been exiled from our realm, and wakes up in a nice house with padded walls.

And the final 2 pages of this story is amazing. There’s a huge twist that’s definitely setting up something big down the road in AwA and Francesco Francavilla draws the hell out of it. And the twist itself is brilliant. You can kind of see it coming if you’re familiar with a partial horror writer, but  it doesn’t take away from the final reveal, especially with how good it looks.

There’s also a preview of a Sabrina solo book by Aguirre-Sacasa, which looks neat as well. It’s weird to see a spin off of a book that’s only six issues deep, but it makes sense once you read everything.

Afterlife with Archie continues to impress, and this is arguable the best looking comic of the year so far. Buy volume 1, and the pick up this issue immediately if you want to be caught up with one of the best horror books on the stands.

 

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Review: Seconds

51kMcl9F-rL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Seconds

Bryan Lee O’Malley

Ballantine Books, $25

 

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds is a difficult book to review. As a dude who gets paid to review comics, it’s sometimes hard to be critical and fair of the material from creators that you really dig. You have to separate the fan from the professional, and all that junk, or risk losing whatever credibility with have.

It’s also difficult to review Seconds because it’s really friggin good, and now I have to stretch that point out for 500 words without the end result sounding like an ad for the book.

Seconds is the Hayao Miyazaki movie for adults that I’ve always wanted. And note, I don’t mean it’s mature in the sense of violence, adult language and sexy time stuffs (although there is some of the cursing and sexy times). It’s very much a story that someone like myself who in his early 30s can appreciate and relate to.

secondsupdateThe story of Seconds is this, and I apologize in advance for some of the brief but potential light spoilers brought up ONLY in this paragraph. Our lead Kate Bish is a talented young chef on the cusp of 30. She has plans to open a new restaurant, but her world and plans are quickly rocked  by several different problems that spring up all at once. Kate’s offered a chance to fix these problems with access to time travel via a strange mushroom offered by a even stranger woman, but is given some rules to follow. Kate also immediately breaks these rules and that’s going to be a problem obviously.

10546680_488378454642240_696561942_nLet’s talk about O’Malley’s art first. Assisted by Jason Fischer and colored by Nathan Fairbairn, O’Malley’s style reminds me of a Super Nintendo era Japanese Role Playing game set in the world of Scott Pilgrim. That’s like several levels of references, I understand that, but honestly that’s the best way to describe it. That being said, the end results are beautiful, especially when O’Malley tries something different and goes full Miyazaki. There’s also some really strong horror manga moments to this book, which really work thanks to Fairbairn’s colors. This is my first time experiencing O’Malley’s interior work in color ( long side note: he’s done some Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie comic covers in color that I’m aware of, but I’m skipping over the colored versions of Scott Pilgrim because $$$) and I’m really digging it. There’s a lot of use of the color red in this book, which I think is intentional and may have some deeper meaning, but I’m still trying to figure that out. Luckily, Seconds is the type of book that encourages re-reads, despite the plot being relatively straight forward and easy to understand.

seconds-preview2In terms of plot and dialogue, Seconds is also pretty great. The story, according to O’Malley on a Nerdist podcast, is heavily influenced by the film Inception, but it definitely stands on it own. The dialogue is also very natural, not unlike Scott Pilgrim before it, and is incredibly charming. Watching Kate development relationships with her cast is as delightful as her time traveling/altering misadventures, and ultimately makes her a more relatable lead.

Seconds is arguably one of the most, if not the most important comics released in 2014, and it’s something you can’t afford to miss. Bryan Lee O’Malley is easily one of the most talented people working in the medium today, and Seconds a fantastic read. I cannot recommend you reading this book soon enough.

 

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: The Wicked + Doge

Before I start yakking about comics, I just wanted to say I also picked up Secret Avengers #5 this past week and dug it. But I’m saving the proper review for next week, as Saga’s the only book I’m picking up, and I would like to talk more than just one book.

 

detailMs. Marvel #6

G. Willow Wilson/Jacob Wyatt/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Behold, the first use of the Doge meme in a Marvel Comic.

Jacob Wyatt swings by to lend a hand with the art this arc, where Ms. Marvel takes the fight to her new arch nemesis The Inventor. We get some answers as to WHY the Inventor is exactly is the way he is, and I could not be happier with the answers. Over the top super villains are my jam, and this is VERY much an over the top super villain which an insane origin.

Kamala also has her first big-time team up with a major Marvel hero, and responds in the most adorable fan girlish way possibly. For hints as to who this character is, buy the comic, or IDK, google the cover for issue #7. And without spoiling much, I like the reasons why said hero is here, and the chemistry written between the two of them is perfect. As is the such of said Doge meme, which is the most Reddit comment I could make.

Wyatt and series regulars G. Willow Wilson and Ian Herring continue this book’s hot streak, perfectly blending our heroes’ personal life with PUNCHING EVIL ALLIGATORS. Wyatt’s art is a little different from what we’re used to, but it’s still very expressive, with detailed backgrounds and very animated characters. It’s very much another indie/alt comic vibe that Marvel has been excelling at for the last couple of years. Herring’s color pallet keeps the book looking good as per usual, and Wilson’s script hits all the right notes, being equal parts charming, sincere and action packed.

I’m once again finding myself at a lose of words when it comes to finding new ways to praise Ms. Marvel and it’s creative team. It may end up surpassing Hawkeye and Superior Foes of Spider-Man as the best book Marvel puts out if it can continue to maintain this level of quality.

comics-the-wicked-and-the-divine-2-coverThe Wicked + the Divine #2

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

WEEKLY CONFESSION: I was willing to wait for the first volume of Wic+Div to hit trade, as that’s what I did with Phonograms, but then Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals) went and did the variant covers for issue 2, so…..

And I’m glad I did! Issue 2 contains some AMAZING dialogue by Kieron Gillen that can’t help but make you fall in love with the cast. Luci (aka Lucifer) shines the brightest among the cast. There’s a scene in particular that takes place in a prison that contains some hilarious dialogue, and does a great job of fleshing out the character that’s justifies the $3.50. One of the reaosns it works so well is the fantastic art from Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, that’s up there with their Young Avengers stuff. There’s a few pages in the book where McKelive and Wlison experiment with colors and layout that are fresh and amazing looking, and I’m  glad to see them to continue to experiment and innovate with their styles.

But ultimately what wins me move over with this title is how refreshing and honest it is. It’s about people and gods in a terrible world doing things that they didn’t entirely think out, and will have to eventually answer for them. It’s fantastic, and the type of comics I’m not surprised is coming out from Image and this particular creative team.

uncx2013023-dc11-page-001-102321Uncanny X-men #23

Brian Michael Benid/Kris Anka

Marvel $3.99

This is going to sound harsh and a bit manchildish, but ugh, what a waste of Kris Anka.

Anyone who’s been reading this column for the last year can confirmed that I’m bee quite ‘BOUT Uncanny X-men as of late.  Brian Micahel Bendis and his art team have been  moving the story along quite nicely. But this issue man. Ugh.

And again, I place the blame entirely at Bendis’ feet. Anka’s art was great, especially the bit where Dazzler is having a mental breakdown in a bathroom. But this script is a mess. The cover implies that this is a Original Sin tie-in, and the solicit promises an earth shattering change to the X-men.

And despite Emma Frost actually appearing in the proper Original Sin book, there’s nothing that ties this is issue into it. And there’s no reveal of any sort regarding this will, except for a weak as hell cliffhanger. Instead we get the introduction of a new character complete with a cliche origin story, an extended She Hulk cameo and teasing some other mysteries without any resolve. It’s something that Bendis has been guilty of in the past and I find it quite irksome. I’m not saying the book has to be slavishly devoted to the solicitation, but c’mon, this was nearly a completely book than what we were promised.

So yeah, Uncanny looked better than it read. A shame, and hopefully something that will be fixed next issue.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys: Actually about Toys this time!

Hey look, I’m taking a break from screaming about comics books to scream about comic book toys! How fortunate for all of you, right?

1395362963_HAS23670Marvel Universe Infinite Figures

Wave 1 & 2

Hasbro, $11.99 each

I’d make a snarky comment that a infinite series of figures contains 5 reissues, but I’d like to think that I’m better than that. I’m not, but I enjoy lying to myself.

I’m not exactly sure why the MU  toyline has been rebranded, but I’m okay with this. Since the Legends line is hella expensive/focused on movie-related properties and character for the most part, I need a toy line decided to 616 stuffs. Which despite the numerous and outdated reissues ( Heroic Age Iron Man and  Steve Rogers haven’t appeared in those uniforms for over 2 years at this point in), the NEWER releases are really cool. The Marvel NOW! Hulk is arguably the best Hulk figure to be released in the 3.75″ scale, and it’s cool to see more female figures with good sculpts with the release of Red She Hulk and the Wasp. And if you want obscure comics-only character, Infinite Waves 1 and 2 give up Hyperion, Grim Reaper, Whirlwind and friggin Death’s Head! Kieron Gillen is a far more powerful mage than I thought. There’s also a  Eric Materson version of Thor, which is a cool little throwback to 80s/90s Marvel Comics.

marvel-avengers-universe-infinite-3-75-inch-action-figure-series-2-set-of-7-pre-order-ships-tbd-2014-6The reissues are as following: the aforementioned Cap and Iron Man, another classic Captain America, Beta Ray Bill, and Yellowjacket. 2 Caps being re-released makes sense in this, the year of the Winter Solider, but it’s nice to see Hasbro go a little more obscure with Bill and Yellowjacket. I’m also just happy that it’s just not another Wolverine figure. And most importantly we have Hank Pym and Janet available in the same scale for the first time in FOREVER.

In terms of quality, these 2 waves are really good looking and as possible as you’d expect MU figures to be. The important thing is that the female faces don’t look like total butt, because that’s what I care about when it comes to action figures apparently. And at least half of the figures come with an accessory of some sort, which is neat. Overall, I’m pleased with this selection, and eagerly await for wave 3, because Cyclops.

San-Diego-Comic-Con-2013-First-Look-DC-Comics-Greg-Capullo-Batman-Designer-Series-Action-Figures-Batman-Nightwing-TalonDC Comics Designer Figures Greg Capullo

Wave 1

DC Collectibles, $24.99

 

I’ll be honest, I could not even begin to tell you how many Batman figures are out there on the shelves today. DC, as well as Mattel, Square Enix, Lego and a few Japanese companies all have the rights to make Bat-merch. So as a result, I’ve lost count of what the fresh hell has been going on with these figures sometime back in early 2013.

That being said, I’m WELL aware of Greg Capullo‘s art on the ongoing Batman comic, and know that it is very much the business. So DC Collectibles making toys based on his work is a smart-ass move, because Capullo’s art translates into toy form quite well.

dc-comics-designer-series-1-greg-capullo-riddler-action-figure-pre-order-4The first wave (I believe 3 waves in total have been announced so far) consists of Batman, The Riddler, Talon and Nightwing. While the articulation is SLIGHTLY better than post DCC figures, they look a ton better than anything Mattel or Square’s released recently. Capullo’s a fantastic veteran artist, and this figures looked like they popped up from the pages of the comic. And I REALLY like the choice of packaging, as it looks super sharp and clean.

This is easily the best debut for a new line of DC Collectibles in some time. I’m eager to see more of the Capullo stuff get the plastic treatment, as well as other artists getting the spotlight. Hopefully it will expand past Batman titles at some point too.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: All New, Superior Review Spread (also something about Dick Grayson)

What I want to do this week: Dedicate 500 words on how rad that new Batgirl design is.

What I’m going to do this week: Dedicate those words to reviewing comics. Consider yourselves lucky. :/

tumblr_inline_n7pxrxoy321qbujoxGrayson #1

Time Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin

DC Comics $2.99

I’ll be honest, 2/3rd of that final issue of Nightwing really had me worried about Grayson. The last chapter of that comic was promising, and luckily, that quality carried over to the first issue of this new series, which was an excellent debut.

Dick Grayson’s got a new gig as a spy for Spyral, whom you may remember from Grant Morrison‘s Batman Incorporated run. And if you don’t hey no worries, the organization gets a good introduction, so you really don’t need to read that (which you should) or Forever Evil (Thank God) to get the full story. He’s partnered with Helena Bertinelli (she was the Huntress pre new 52 kids!) and is set to retrieve a Meta Human Bio Weapon from another shady organization because that’s the type of thing you do when you’re a super hero spy I guess.

Like I said above, it’s a great book. Tim Seeley and Tom King‘s script is fun and clever, which is the type of thing you want from a spy book. And Mikel Janin has come a long way from when I last saw him on Justice League Dark, providing some really good looking pencils and ink for the book (colored nicely by Jeromy Cox). It’s a bright, clean and colorful book, which seems to be the polar opposite of most DC titles and their Jim Lee-inspired house style. With my concerns put to bed, I’m quite pleased with this issue and am excited for a DC ongoing for the first time in forever.

3886216-all-new_x-men_29_coverAll New X-men #29

Brian Micahel Bendis/Stuart Immonen/ Wade Von Grawbadger/ Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

80% of this book is really good. It’s fun, good looking, and a nice little ending to this current arc of All New X-men. But man, there’s some things involving time travel and mind control that are a tad hazy, and I’m not sure if it’s on Bendis or Immonen. It’s unfortunate, because there are plenty of cool moments from this comic, and it’s rare to see this creative team not synch up 100% all of time. Overall a great, read, it’s a shame it stumbles a bit towards the end.

Spread-01-cover-kyle-strahm-felipe-sobriero-530x815Spread #1

Justin Jordan/Kyle Strahm/Felipe Sobeiro

Image $3.50

The first issue of Spread does not shy away from it’s influences. Writer Justin Jordan name drops Mad Max on the letter’s page, and you can tell the team also drew influence from the legendary manga Lone Wolf and Cub, fellow Image mega-hit the Walking Dead, and maybe not intentionally, Marvel’s last Cable solo series. That being said it’s a great read that proudly wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve.

Kyle Strahm reminds me a lot of mangaka Tsutomu Nihei (Blame! and the new Netflix anime Knight of Sidonia) in terms of style. The world of blame is disgusting and brutal, and Strahm’s art hammers that point across quite efficiently. The Spread monsters are made of pure nightmares, and there’s several panels/pages that really made me do a double take at what I was looking at.

The Spread isn’t the most original comic on the stands this week, but if you’re in the mood for something fun and horror-related, you could do a lot worst. That may sound like faint praise, but I assure you, I dug the hell out of the book, and this may end up being Justin Jordan’s equivalent to Fear Agent in a few issue.

SMFOES2013013-cov-8ab5aThe Superior Foes of Spider-Man #13

Nick Spencer/Steve Lieber/Rachelle Rosenberg

Marvel $3.99

So by now everyone knows that I like my super hero books to have some humor in them. Grimmdark too-serious comics are not my thing, which is why I favor things like Hawkeye to the bulk of the DC Comics library. So it should go without saying that I loved this issue of SUP FOES.

That’s not to say that Superior Foes of Spider-Man #13 doesn’t have some more serious moments to it. There’s a cool action piece featuring the Shocker, and this issue’s cliffhanger is fairly dramatic. But said action piece is also chocked full of little one liners, ans there’s a bull in chinashop bit earlier in the issue that’s also great.

So yeah, another funny and exceptionally well crafted  issue by Spencer, Lieber, Rosenberg. Also look at that cover, it’s super villains cosplaying other super villains. If that’s not your jam, I don’t even want to know you.

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Review: Wolverine & The X-Men Volume 8

300px-Wolverine_and_the_X-Men_Vol_1_38Wolverine and the X-Men vol 8
Jason Aaron w/ Nick Bradshaw, Pepe Larraz, Todd Nauck and more
Marvel $14.99

Ever since Days of Future Past dropped a few weeks back, I’ve been reading a lot of older X-Men comics these days. The Chris Claremont era is considered by many as  the golden age of X-Men, and up until this summer, I had only read the Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past, and a bunch of stuff involving Arcade, because I’m the type of dude who likes Arcade. So I fired up the ol’ Marvel Digital App and decided to do some summer reading.

I’m definitely digging what Claremont, David Cockrum, John Byrne and Paul Smith have done with the X-Men and all the drama and high stake action that ensued. But there’s a lot fun and light hearted characters moments in those issues as well, which I really like. Which is why I think is one of the reasons I’ve really dug what Jason Aaron’s done on Wolverine and the X-Men.  Aaron’s chose to channel the more fun and insane of Claremont’s X-Men run, and it makes for a much more different and off beat type of X-Men that what I’m used to.

xmenDon’t get me wrong. The Grant Morrison run of New X-Men is still my favorite era of X-books, but that book was pretty dark most of the time. Unless your idea of fun is psychic affairs, which is only excusable if your name is Emma Frost. Which if it is, please contact me, I have about a dozen or so questions.  Aaron’s WaTXM was a book that wasn’t afraid to take chances, be it bring back and semi-redeem some terrible villains (terrible in the sense of both morality and quality!) or turn Wolverine into a clown in Frankenstein’s monster’s MURDER CIRCUS!

Also if you’re not down with a monster owning a Murder Circus, we can never be friends.

wolverine_3The  final volume of Aaron’s run tells 2 tales: the A plot involving the students of the Jean Grey Academy befriending two new students who are secretly spies reporting to Mystique. The B plot involves Wolverine investing the idea of SHIELD producing mutant hunting Sentinels, which brings him face to face with Cyclops, whom he hasn’t been on the best of terms with in forever, despite the fact that CYCLOPS WAS RIGHT! #biased. In addition to those stories, Aaron wraps up a few other lingering plot lines of the junior X-Men graduate into full fledge X-Men, in a cute story that MORE IMPORTANTLY involves Doop vs Nazi Bees. Or and there’s an Infinity tie in annual starring Kid Gladiator drawn by Nick Bradshaw that a fun done in one that really showcases how in sync theses 2 creators are with each other. Plus Kid Glad has run ins with Bruce Banner and Thor, which goes as exactly as you would hope it would.

Aaron’s scripts are also blessed by some fantastic artists in this final volume. The aforementioned Nick Bradshaw and Chris Bachalo swing by to draw a few pages, as do other returning artists like Ramon Perez and Tim Townsend, but the bulk of this trade is drawn by Pepe Larraz. Larraz’s art reminds me a lot of Alan Davis, only a little more looser and raw. I’m excited to see what he’s capable of in the future with more experience.

wolverine_xmen_1Since Aaron’s departure, Wolverine and the X-men was relaunched under Jason Latour, who’s working with Aaron on “Southern Bastards” for Image. Aside from writing that book, Aaron is still working on Thor: God of Thunder, the Original Sin maxi-event, and recently wrapped up his time with the X-men with the first arc of Amazing X-Men. I haven’t read the new series yeah, but Aaron’s going to be a hard act to follow up on. His run on Wolverine and the X-men was strange and wonderful, and Volume 8 is really a celebration of that. I’m hoping we get to see this side of Jason Aaron again sometime down the road.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but With Comics: Rocket Reviews

 

000_4318.jpeg.square-true_maxheight-285_size-285 STK644226Legendary Star Lord/Rocket Raccoon #1

Sam Humphries/Paco Diaz (LSL)/ Skottie Young (RR)

Marvel $3.99 each

In case you somehow missed it, or are still in denial (which yo, I GET), Marvel/Disney has a Guardians of the Galaxy movie coming out next month. This usually results in a title reboot, but since the proper GOTG book is only 2 years old, Marvel has decided to go the always questionable spin off route, and give both Peter Quill & Rocket Raccoon books. And given the fact that Rocket Racoon’s preorder numbers were somewhere in the 300k range (100k from Loot Crate), that was an incredible smart move by Marvel.

And what’s the most surprisingly about these titles is how great they are while being so incredibly different. The Legendary Starlord is easily the best Han Solo comic on the market, (sorry not sorry Firefly) until Marvel puts out a proper Han Solo book next year, and Rocket is space adventure under a Chuck Jones filter, (if Daffy Duck was a raccoon that murdered people). Both are great debuts, which is no surprise given the talent involved.

Skottie Young, who’s finally on everyone’s radar thanks to those Young aka Baby Variants that Marvel’s been putting out over the last 2.5 years, is a fantastic fit for Rocket Raccoon. The script is fun, and it’s nice to see Young get a chance to flex his writing muscles for a chance, as the results are very much what I wanted. It’s a super-cartoony looking book, which only proves how diverse and wonderful Marvel’s current crop of artists are, as Rocket #1 ends up being a species swapped Scott Pilgrim of sorts. It’s very loosely tied into the current events of GOTG, making it perfect for new readers not reading Bendis’ book. As far as debuts go,  Rocket’s up there with Ms Marvel with Marvel’s most accessible and fun book launched in 2014.

The Legendary Starlord, by the talented team of Sam Humphries and Paco Diaz, is a little more  rooted in current Marvel continuity, and looks more like a traditional Marvel book, but isn’t any less enjoyable. Humphries’ dialogue is slick, and he balances action, humor and Quill’s tragic past quite nicely. Diaz’s art is slick and clean, making it look a gorgeous looking book. Hopefully Sam and Paco will stick around on this title for awhile, because this take on Starlord is off to a great start.

 

Both Rocket and Starlord are super fun books that are accessible and worth checking out if you’re looking for some fun books to add to your pull list.

 

Woods_003_coverA-620x400The Woods #3

James Tynion IV/ Michael Dialynas

Boom!, $3.99

If case you missed it, I really liked the second issue of the Woods, but found it heavy on the tropes. Luckily, that’s not the case for issue 2.

Issue 3 is very much more in the vein of the 1st issue, which makes for a happy Chris. There’s some horrifying visuals, one involving a weird growth that has more or less confirmed my belief that nature is evil. There’s more character growth that’s shown by actions and not spelled out for the reader which I appreciate. Oh and more Space Bears, which is VERY important to me.

It’s the type of horror comic I want to be reading at the moment, which is a credit to Tynion, Dialynas and BOOM!. The cast is likeable (well most of them at least), the hook is solid, and it looks and reads great. There’s some brutal stuff in it, but nothing that turns me off from reading it. And some really weird things that make sense, given how gonzo the premise is. The Woods is the type of book I expect from Image, but am glad to see a company like BOOM put out. More awesome creator owned books by different publishers is always good for comics.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics Belated Edition part 2

wicked-and-divine-620x400The Wicked + The Divine #1

 Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson

Image, $3.50

Despite not being familiar with half the bands mentioned in the comic, I REALLY dug Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s 2 installments of Phonograms. And now that they’re done with their 14 issue run of Kate Bishop an her cosplay friends ( aka Young Avengers),  the pair have returned to Creator Owned Comics with Wicked + The Divine.

 

W+ t D is the tale of reincarnated gods and pop stars. So yeah it’s A LOT like Phonograms in a way, at least in concept.  Hey even Gillen admits that’s in his letter at the end of the issue, but the actual execution of the material makes all the difference. Unlike the casters that cling to the shadows in Phonograms, these gods are out there in public, letting the world know that they’re out there and operating on another level.

 

Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson are arguably 2 of my favorite artist/colorists working in comics today, and they are absolutely divine (HAR HAR) in this kick off issue. McKelvie’s line work is fabulous, and his facial expressions and the emotion he can get his characters to convey are all top notch, as usual. But it’s Matt Wilson who’s really upped his game here. Between the results of what happens when Luci snaps her fingers and how the character’s makeup and eye liner looks, it’s hard to name a colorist as skilled as Wilson working in comics today.

 

As for writer Kieron Gillen, he’s nothing short than brilliant. His dialogue is sharp, giving each of the characters a distinct voice that makes them stand out a bit. And while the plot is fairly straight forward, it’s incredibly engaging and ends on a solid cliffhanger. This is Gillen at his strongest, and it’s something that readers benefit from.

 

Wicked + The Divine is a stellar debut by one of the best creative teams with a working relationship in comics today. Anyone who loved Phonograms & Young Avengers, or was stupid enough to skip over them, needs to read this book immediately.

 

3898273-sex+criminals+02Sex Criminals #6

 Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Image $3.50

Sex Crims is back, in what is arguably the most Matt Fraction issue to date. What the means is that there’s a lot of self depreciation,  paranoia and some bleakness to this issue. Not exactly what you’re expecting from a sex comedy, but something that only helps the narrative and help flesh (HAR HAR 2) out the characters.

 

On the joys of Sex Crims that while it’s an extremely lewd funny book, it’s also incredibly honest and smart. This issue really shows that, as Jon, our male lead steps into the spotlight. Despite being a man who poops in plotted plants and freezes time every time he climaxes, he’s also a man suffering from most realistic difficulties, that help make his easier to sympathize with.

 

This issue isn’t all doom and gloom tho. While Chip  Zdarsky can sell the more dramatic bits of comic with the greatest of ease, he’s also a gifted cartoonist who can hide a ton of jokes hidden in the panels. At this weekend at Heroescon, Fraction described the process as MAD magazine esque and there’s no better description of it.The letter column remains something crucial to one’s enjoyment of Sex Criminals. It’s a fascinating look at what kind of community has been built around this book, and is something genuinely enjoyable.

I’m glad to have Sex Criminals back, and I’m curious as to what direction the book is taking with this volume seemingly focusing on Jon.

 

300px-Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_22Uncanny X-Men #22

Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend

Marvel $3.99

 

Gah. This issue comes so close to be a perfect end to the X-Men Vs SHIELD arc, but it hampered by a guest colorist who’s style is lighter than what we usually get with Chris Bachalo. It clashes with Bachalo & Tim Townsend’s (and like 4 other dudes) heavy black style, and does not compliment it as well as it should.

 

It’s a real shame, because everything else about this issue is great. We finally get some answers to some long brewing questions, and 2 other characters get a nice return to form. It’s a rewarding book for long time readers, and it definitely sets up the potential for some cool stories for the future.

 

As for the reveal as to who has been sending Sentinels after Cyclops’ renegade X-Men, it works in terms of the actual identity. The execution is a bit lacking, as the motive for said villains is a tad lacking. Of course Brian Michael Bendis could be planning to touch upon that in a future issue, it’s just a little weak at this moment.

 

Overall the X-Men Vs SHIELD story arc was a fun little romp.  Nothing ground breaking, but a fun story that looked great and read well. A shame about the colors in that final issue, but overall a good time.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics Belated edition part 1

Hey gang, sorry for the late of updates since Year Zero, but between Special Edition NYC and Heroescon (and the best BBQ), I haven’t been near a keyboard in awhile. Hopefully I’ll be all caught up with things by Wednesday.

sa4Secret Avengers #4

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

This month: Hawkeye, Nick Fury Jr, and a bunch of disposal SHIELD agents hunt a “The Fury” in a lawless Chinese City that disappeared 20+ years ago. It’s an Alien parody of sorts that’s high concept comics at its finest. Also Fury hunting the Fury sounds like slash fic, no I am not sorry for that joke.

While Ales Kot & Michael Walsh cut back on the comedy for an issue that’s more action-sci-horror, this comic is still entertaining as hell. There’s some laughs thanks to  MODOK mad science team  and the Hawkguy, but for the most part this comic plays it straight to help sell the horror/action aspects of the books. And it succeeds because the final product results in a brutal fight scene that also raises the question of how much Maria Hill and MODOK are the same in some aspects.  In terms of methodology, not so much visually. There’s also some weird stuff in this issue that SHOULD be considered a joke, but is played completely straight, making Secret Avengers that much more of interesting read.

While Kot continues to deliver top notch dialogue and plot, Walsh & colorist Matt Wilson continue to shine on this title. Kot channels some Chris Samnee this issue, and while the action scenes aren’t as dynamic and unique as the previous issue, they’re still strong enough to sell how creepy the Fury is. Wilson’s dark color palate really helps set the ton for this issue, primarily using blue, purples and blacks. Again, Aliens homage y’all.

Tradd Moore supplies another excellent cover to another excellent issue of Secret Avengers. While not as quirky as the last one, the stakes are raised with issue #4, which is another solid comic by this creative team.

 

portrait_incredibleAll New X-Men #28

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99 

Nothing says father’s day like the X-Men of the past fighting the Son of Charles Xavier right?

Daddy Issues aside ( J/K, this comic has a ton of them), this chapter continues to give more much needed characterization to the future brotherhood that could have helped improve the overall quality of Battle of the Atom. The Future Brotherhood’s motivations are fleshed out more, and amongst the reveals is how certain characters are alive, and why they’ve been acting the way they are. It’s some really good stuff by Bendis, who really gotten this book back on track as of late.

And while Bendis regains his footing, Stuart Immonen continues to impress. While his art has never really faltered at any point in this run, there is two particular pages, a double spread and the final page reveal that are great, and shows how well this creative team works together. The colors especially, because despite this book primarily drowning in red, are super sharp.

TLDR: Business as usual with this title. Which is good, because business is good comics.

 

 

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Review: Batman Volume 4: Zero Year-Secret City

9781401245085_p0_v2_s260x420Batman Volume 4: Zero Year-Secret City

Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo/Danny Miki/FCO Plascencia

DC Comics/$24.99

Ah yes, the revamped origin story. :: adjusts monocle, clears throat :: A risky venture, especially when a character like Batman already has a good one in “Year One” and an extremely terrible one in “Earth One”. And dedicating an entire year to tell said origin risks decompression/being drawn out.

That being said, the homies Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo aren’t in the business of telling bad Batman stories. Arguably the best book to come out of the New 52, Snyder and Capullo have been on a hot streak with this title, telling new types of stories that appeal to old and new readers alike, which incredible visuals and spectacular set pieces. What Synder and Capullo set out to do is bold -revamp Batman for a new generation of readers, while celebrating the character’s rich history.

GalleryComics_1900x900_20140507_BM_v4-zero-yearCv_533ddde98ab981.56092043I’m not kidding when I say this book covers the characters 75 years of existence. There’s nods from everything from the Bill Finger and real life super villain (shout out to Chris Sims) Bob Kane golden age material, to things like Batman ’66, Batman ’89 and The Killing Joke. Some of the references are only visual Easter eggs, while some other elements are woven into the narrative. But it’s done insanely well, which is the important thing.

3106400-5The Secret City arc (aka Volume 1) covers young Bruce Wayne, fresh from his training all around the world/Liam Neelson, and his one man war with the Red Hood Gang. It’s a different Bruce we’re used to, as this Bruce is a brash jerk what yells at Alfred, and gets a John Cena-style haircut.  We’re also introduced to Bruce’s Uncle Philip and his assistant, who may or may not end up being a major Bat-Villain (spoilers: He totally does). And most importantly, this whole thing starts off which Batman with a crossbow on a dirt bike, which is easily in the top 5 coolest things I’ve seen in comics this year.

batman24_4By now you can probably tell I’m a fan of this story. Which in my defense, anyone who reads it should be, because it’s great. While it definitely pays some respect to the Chris Nolan “Batman Begins” film, it’s very much the opposite as well: loud, vibrant and explosive. With the aforementioned cameos, along with some incredibly well crafted action pieces, Synder, Capullo, inker Danny Miki and colorist FCO Plascencia take full advantage of the genre. The story fully embraces the fact that it’s a comic book and doesn’t have to worry about things like budget and what not.

bat-zero-yearAnd again, the coloring. I’ve been a fan of FCO Plascencia‘s work when I first discovered his work on Invincible and it’s nice to see him working on such a popular and beloved character like Batman. Unlike Year One, Year Zero uses brighter colors like yellow, orange, red and purple. The introduction pages use some really sharp green and blue for the environments and it’s really breathtaking.

It’s also worth noting that Greg Capullo and Scott Synder aren’t the only artist/writer team attached to this collection. Working with Synder, writer James Tynion IV and artist Rafael Albuquerque (Snyder’s collaborator on American Vampire) tell stories set in young Bruce’s training days, as well as the set up for the next arc. They’re all solid stories, and Albuquerque’s art is perfect for Batman.

climbAs someone’s who’s not the biggest Batman fan, I really liked this opening arc. It’s a fun over the top Batman story that actually does a lot of things different for a Batman Origin story. It’s not afraid to try something new, which is more or less the point of the New 52 (At least in my opinion). If you have any interest in Batman or DC Comics, I can’t recommend it enough.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, But with Comics: End O’ May edition

NTW-Cv30-01ba5Nightwing #30

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Javier Garron/Jorge Lucas/Mikel Janin

DC Comics/$3.99

Read this issue to learn the final fate of Dick Grayson (which was revealed like 2 months ago)! Stay for the debut of Helena Bertinelli’s questionable new costume design.

If there was anyone who’s suffered the most from Forever Evil (aside from the people who actually paid for it), it’s been Nightwing. The homie Dick Grayson got the bejesus beat out of him by an evil Justice League and his secret identity exposed to the world, much like Peter Parker did during Civil War several years ago. However, unlike Spidey, Dick has no wife to offer up to Satan to magically retcon away his problems, so now he has to deal with being outed. BUT WAIT, the world thinks he’s dead (well everyone but Batman, Cyborg and several villains), problem solved!

Nightwing 30 is the “final”issue of the series, setting up July’s new Grayson series. In that series’ defense, the regular creative team of Tom King, Tim Seeley and Mikel Janin get to tell a fun prelude in the final chapter of the book  that sets the upcoming series up nicely. What stinks is that it’s that the two other stories leading up to it are not so good.

The first story, featuring art by Javier Garron, shows Dr Leslie Thompson being attacked by a crazy cult of serial killers. Fear not, the good doctor is saved by Helena Bertinelli  in her new Skullgirls cosplay. While the writing in this chapter is relatively solid, the art is kinda ugly, and not in the stylish sort of way. We also get another stereotypical multi-color hair Japanese assassin cliche, which ughhh, tired troupe is tired. The 2nd story deals with Dick and Batman throwing down because of reasons? It’s an ugly and violent story drawn by Jorge Lucas that makes little to no sense with the rest of the book. Batman comes off as a jerk, it’s super-bloody for no apparent reason and there’s some swiped Chris Nolan dialogue which doesn’t fit the scene and is ultimately several shades of dumb. Needless to say, I am not a fan, despite there being a panel where Batman kicks a motorcycle in half.

That being said, that final chapter is great. Once the book is freed of Batman and Forever Evil nonsense, we get our first taste of what’s to come from the Grayson series. It looks greats and feels really fun, even if Dick Grayson is running around in Clint Barton’s hoodie for some reason. And the Helena Bertinelli we get here is a major  visual improvement, looking like a rad Jamie McKelvie redesign opposed to a titillating fighting game character.

It’s kinda hard to recommend Nightwing #30 given the overall quality of the book. Some readers may find some enjoyment in it, but honestly, you can wait for Grayson #1 and see the proper creative shine.

trees1Trees #1

Warren Ellis/Jason Howard

Image $2.99

Warren Ellis doing weird Warren Ellis things is a good way to get me to buy your comic most of the time. I’m generally a fan of Ellis and the bulk  of his creator owned work, and even with some really strong art from Jason Howard, the Trees debut issue didn’t do much for it.

Great visuals aside,  Ellis spends too much time jumping from location to location in this issue, giving us brief glimpses of the cast. I’d be fine with this if these characters were actually interesting, but since we spend so little time with them, it’s hard to actually get attached to any of them.

My issues aside, there’s a chance that this book may read better collected once more issues are out. There’s a ton of potential, and the argument that the world of Tree is a political allegory for modern America can definitely be made. I’m just a little disappointed with this debut issue.

ms-marvel-4Ms. Marvel #4

G Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Ms. Marvel is becoming a book that’s approaching Saga-levels of difficult to review. I say this, because much like the previous 3 issues, it’s comics done right.

Wilson and Alphona are approaching Lee/Dikto levels of perfection when it comes to writing Kamala’s adventures. There’s some action, boy drama, and issues with her family and to an extent, her faith. And it all works, looks great and ultimately makes for a delightful read. Adrian Alphona‘s art (masterfully colored by Ian Herring, who literally makes parts of this book shine) somehow manages to improve with every issue, cramming his pages full of fantastic levels of detail and even some Chip Zdarsky-level sight gags, be it background jokes, facial expressions or a villain wearing a shirt that straight up says his a bad guy.

G. Willow Wilson‘s dialogue, while always good, gives Brain K. Vaughn a run for his money with issue 4. Our new Ms Marvel’s interactions with her mother and BFF Bruno take up most of the book, and really capture what a modern teenager would sound like. It’s great stuff.

With all I mentioned above, as well as another striking cover by Jamie McKelvie, Ms. Marvel remains the break out Marvel comic of 2014. There’s no fear of this book getting cancelled early it seems, and you really owe it to yourself to read it if you’re not already.

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Better never than later

Think I may have messed up that intro title.

 

BELATED REVIEW:

Lumberjanes_002_coverALumberjanes #2

Noelle Stevenson/Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen

BOOM! BOX $3.99

Let me start off this review by congratulating team Lumberjanes, as the series has gone from being an 8 mini series to a on-going! Lumberjanes is a great and important book for a number of reasons, and I’m glad BOOM! is giving the book and it’s fan the support it deserves.

Last week’s second issue is a another stellar comic, this time involving the girls going on a canoeing trip. Obviously things do not go according to plan, and more animals with 3 eyes may or may not show up (spoilers, they do) and the girls stumble upon a good ol’ fashion spooky woods mystery. It’s a ton of fun, and the book looks gorgeous. A lot of the humor, as well as the character building is expressed in the art without much exposition, letting the Brooke Allen‘s pencils do the talking. I’m 100% okay with this, as Allen’s art is super expressive, capturing the girl’s personalities and actions perfectly. Maarta Laiho‘s color art is excellent, and really captures the nature and feel of nature. Noelle Stevenson  & Grace Ellis are fantastic as well, as the dialogue and spoken humor are a hoot.

The all female created, LBGT  and all aged friendly Lumberjanes is arguably one of the most important books out in the market, not to mention one of the strongest. I’m glad it’s found an audience, and I certain hope it grows with each and every issue.

Saga_19-1Saga #19

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

Yay, Saga‘s back. Boo, Saga’s last page is brutal.

Saga continues to be the textbook definition of perfection is comics. From cover to cover, Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan continue to do everything right. It looks greats, the dialogue is fresh and crisp (no one uses profanity like BKV folks, and the plot moves at an impressive rate. It’s mind blowing on how much BKV and Staples can cram into 20 pages, especially when they’re introducing new characters into the cast.

And the last 2 pages. Just….man. Without going into details, Vaughn and Staples change the game on the readers. They managed to completely changed the mood of the book with 10 words, and not by the traditional comics means of death of destruction. It hurts y’all, it’s hurt something fierce.

TLDR: Saga continues to be the best, although sometimes it can be a jerk while doing so.

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_21_TextlessUncanny X-men #21

Brian Micahel Bendis, Chris Bachaelo, Tim Townsend

Marvel, $3.99

The current arc of UXM is titled X-Men vs SHIELD. If’ you’re keeping up on the title, you’re probably expecting things to play out a certain way. 3 issues into this arc, I can safely say that they’re not going to, and the book is stronger for it.

Several plot lines are coming together and the results are interesting. That’s a compliment mind you, as the book has never been better, and a certain X-man needing some redemption in my eyes comes through, while another one makes his triumphant return. Brian Michael Bendis‘ handling of these characters is impressive, and his dialogue and script on this book has never been better.

I’ve spoken highly of Chris Bachalo before in the past, but it’s usually about his art. While it’s great here, his coloring is really impressive this issue. The various uses of reds, greys, and greens are fantastic, and what really won me over was the 3rd last place. The shade of blue Bachalo uses for the sky is beautiful  and it shows off how he’s grown as a colorist.

Uncanny X-men has been stellar for months, and the book is probably the strongest it’s ever been in years. Bendis and Bachalo are an excellent creative team, and I’m really digging the direction the book has taken during their run.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Of Puppycats and X-men

NOTE: In  addition to the books I’m taking a look at this week, I also picked up the second issue of Boom’s Lumberjanes. It’a  great book, but real life hasn’t given me much time to write comics this weekend. Expect a proper review next weekend.

 

portrait_incredibleSecret Avengers #3

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

 

A “True Detective” reference Secret Avengers? Oh you shouldn’t have (That is a lie, always cater towards my interests please.).

 

Now that our team is assembled, the Secret Avengers are free to begin saving the world (in secret obviously). Not exactly a ground breaking concept I know, but what that actually means is that the team can now make fun of Hawkeye (“The Troubled One” as described by Maria Hill), throw down with Lady Bullseye, and make friends with sentient bombs. Yes, I’m well aware that last part sounds a little crazy, but keep in mind, this is a book with MODOK in it, so it’s not that bizarre if you really think about it.

 

Michael Walsh’s art is an absolute delight in this issue, and one of the reason it works so well is thanks to Matthew Wilson coloring. There’s some panels where only one color is used (the first page of the comic, several panels during the Black Widow/ Lady Bullseye fight), and it’s really striking. Walsh is no slouch either mind you, and the pages inspired by old school video games and really really cool. The art works we’ll with Ales Kot script, which is equally clever and humorous. And Tradd Moore’s cover is perfect, really highlighting the madcap atmosphere of this comic.

 

Secret Avengers continues to be the perfect book for fans eager for books that similar to Hawkeye, as well as ones that maintain the charm of the cinematic Marvel Universe. More comics could benefit with having talking bombs in their cast.

 

 

Bee-and-PuppyCat-Cover-ABee and Puppycat #1

Natasha Allegri/Garret Jackson/Madeleine Flores

KaBoom, $3.99

I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m a little let down by Bee and Puppycat’s comic debut. The animated short from last year was a delight, and the announcement of this mini series had my hopes set high, especially with Natasha Allegri involvement. Allergi’s comics debut with last year’s Fionna and Cake mini-series was excellent, but I found the first issue of Bee and Puppycat suffered from some awkward pacing and a bit of the ol’ decompression.

That being said, the book looks great, and the humor is swell. Bee, our magical girl temp worker, is a hot awkward mess of an adult, and it’s something that Allegri manages to capture perfectly in the comic. Puppycat, her magical dog-cat, is as cute as it’s animated counterpart, but without the audio element of the show in this book (animated Puppycat is voiced by the Japanese Vocaloid synthesizer program, which is super cute), it loses some of its charm. And again why the humor and visuals are great, I found the plot kind of dragging, paling to the narrative of the back up story. The backup story, by Madeline Flores, is excellent, and is a cute follow up to the animated short. Flores’ art is very expressive, and her choice to keep Puppycat silent works well. I’m actually more excited to see how that story wraps up than I am with the main.

Bee and Puppycat isn’t a bad comic but it pales to the recent released Fionna and Cake themed Adventure Time annual, and this week’s issue of Lumberjanes. Fans will find some enjoyment in it, but there’s little to sell people on not familiar with the property aside from the art.

All-New_X-Men_Vol_1_27_TextlessAll New X-Men

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Wade Von Grawbager/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

An incredibly DENSE issue from Bendis and Immonen, this issue of All New X-Men does a lot right.  Two of the underused characters introduced in last year’s Battle of the Atom event are fleshed out in a flashback, there’s another mystery plot line touched upon and a ton of action as the X-men find them under attack. It’s a lot for 20 pages of content, but Bendis paces it well, letting Stuart Immonen’s pencils to the talking when need be, and saving the large chunks of dialogue he’s known for the break from the action. The colors from Marte Gracia, in conjunction with the heavy black inks from Wade Von Grawbadger mix well, and help Immonen’s art give the sense of urgency and chaos this issue needs.

All New X-Men has really found its footing after dragging its heels for a few months. I’m really glad to see it, and hope this kind of quality continues to be present in the series.

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Image X Einsers 3: Pretty Deadly

MARVELCoverTemp copy.indtPretty Deadly

Kelly Sue Deconnick/Emma Rios/Jordie Bellaire/Clayton Cowles

Image, $9.99

 

I’m the type of guy who traditionally does not enjoy westerns. I don’t hate them per say, but I don’t go out of my watch to read, watch, or in the case of Red Dead Redemption, play them. There’s not any one specific reason why, it’s just that they don’t traditionally grab me.

That being said, Kelly Sue Deconnick (Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble) is one of my favorite people working in comics today and Emma Rios is a tremendous artist that I feel no one but David Brothers has been talking about. So when Pretty Deadly was announced, I was more than willing to put my personal biases aside and drop the $3.50 to give it a shot. It kind of hard to pass up the opportunity to read about the story of the daughter of Death, as told by dead bunny to a butterfly (You can thank Kelly Sue’s son Henry Leo for that imagery by the way).

MARVELCoverTemp copy.indtPretty Deadly is a comic that the reader really benefits from when read collected in trade. KSD said it herself ( I think it may have been on a Nerdist’s podcast, or on Tumblr), and after several re-reads, I agree. The first two issues are….vague to say the least. It takes about 2 issues for the majority of the cast to be introduced, and a lot of the key plot elements aren’t brought up until the middle and end of the story. It’s far from a bad comic, especially when you factor in the amount of ass kicking that goes down (Issue 2 is the first example of what a fully unrated Emma Rios and Jordie Bellaire fight scene looks likes), but I felt a little more confused than I usually like when reading comics. As I said earlier, it’s a type of comic that benefits from multiple re-reads.

587488848While I had some issues with the narrative, I have to give praise where it’s due in the visual department. Emma Rios, expertly colored by the great Jordie Bellaire, comes out swinging in this series. Her art is nothing short of fantastic, and I encourage anyone who‘s reading this article to Google the cover gallery. The amount of detail in everything from animal’s fur, feathers and wings to the folds in the human characters clothes is breathtaking. The interior art is as equally impressive, with some very fluid and kinetic scenes set in non-traditional panel layouts. The ultra violent fight scenes mentioned earlier, are a great example of this, as they’re very well choreographed, and when an attacked lands/hits, it’s so intense that you can practically feel it. Bellaire’s colors are equally important, helping both sell the more realistic as well as fantasy elements in the book. Both the western landscapes and the spirits worlds seem to have their own special set of colors assigned to them, and the end result is some stunning looking art. And Clayton Cowles‘ lettering is great, and helps tells the tale without interfering with the penciled and colored art.

prettydeadly01_p5Despite it not being my favorite Kelly Sue Deconnick penned book, Pretty Deadly is the type of book worthy of the praise it’s received from other. Deconnick and Rios are not the first pair of creators with a solid supernatural western series to hit the market in recent years (the EXCELLENT Sixth Gun series from Oni comes to mind), but the combined talents of its creative team make it stand on its own and for fans to take notice. It’s always good to have more books out there with female leads by female creators, especially when they’re as good as this. Pretty Deadly is definitely worth your time, and Emma Rios, Kelly Sue Deconnick and Jordie Bellaire’s Eisner nominations are well deserved.

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Eisners X Image Part 2: Saga

Saga-8Saga Volumes 1-3

Brian K Vaughn, Fiona Staples

Image $9.99-$14.99

Saga is a book I’ve mentioned on this blog roughly a million times. You’d think I’d get tired of talking about it by now, but nope, it’s super great and I wuvs (spelled with the Earth “W”) it a ton. And now that’s it nominated for another bunch of Eisners (Best Continuing Series, Best Writer, and Best Painter and Cover Artist), I’m going to use that an excuse to talk about it again. Also it returns this month, so consider this a nice primer/HYPE piece.

Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples Saga, for those of you who continue to ignore my recommendations, is a book about relationships. Relationships that are formed and developed in a Stars Wars meets Romeo and Juliet  fantasy mash up. A mash up that has far more profanity and nudity than those previously mentioned work, #BLESSED.  Parenting is also a strong theme , something I have no proper experience with yet, and kind of terrifies me, as well as family. The set up is as this: star-crossed (literally) lovers Alan and Marko come from 2 warring factions, bump uglies and create Hazel, our narrator and the cutest comics baby to ever cute to cute. However, all of this is very unacceptable by their respected worlds, which results in TV-headed royalty and and assorted armies/bounty hunters to come after the pair. Also the Lying Cat, who is the best cat in comics, no one denies this. So our heroes have to avoid their captors and try to raise their child. It’s kind of amazing.

885246So let’s say you’re new to this book, and want to know why it gets all the hype/praise that it does (my summary of the plot is arguably not the best) . First off, this book is gorgeous. Fiona Staples‘ digital paints are second to no one in this business, and what she can convey with her art is fantastic. The world of Saga is home to a large variety of difference races and planets, and Staples draws out of all of them. Her facial expressions, environments and body language are all incredible, and it’s probably due to the fact that this book isn’t drawn like a traditional comic. Vaughn said early on in the series take visual cues more from children’s storybooks than comic book, and it shows in the page layouts, ultimately. In addition from the gorgeous line work, the colors are super sharp, and why I should be advocating you buying print comics, I recently acquired volumes 1 and 2 digitally, and my god. It looks incredible on my iPad, where you can really get a better understanding how of much the colors improve Staples’ work. The space set scenes are arguably the best examples as the bright colors of the cast’s various ships contrast beautifully with the darkness of space.

2727402-the_will_saga_4_lying1Speaking of Vaughn, BKV is arguably one of the best writers working in comics. Lord knows I missed him when he focused on writing for TV for awhile, and I’m glad he’s back working in comics. He has a gift for writing dialogue, which is probably the biggest non-visual reason this book is a good as it is. All of the characters sound so believable, dispute the vast majority, if not all of them not evening being human. Whatever scene Vaughn sets out to write,  be it romantic, humorous , tragic or action works and works well every single time, which is great for the reader (and terrible/intimating as hell  for someone who would like to break into the business one day).

Saga03 What’s arguably the best book on the market today, it comes as no surprise that Saga has been nominated and won a number of Eisners. If for some reason you’re STILL not reading it, now’s really the time to get caught. There’s 3 volumes out now, and like I said earlier, the series starts up again in 2 weeks, so yeah, get on that.

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