Category: Christopher Troy

Chris’ Comics: Invincible Iron Man #1

New York Comic Con is a thing that happened, and a thing that made me grateful I have PTO at my day job, as I did not get out of bed until 10am this morning. It was a massive show that was super fun, I got to see a bunch of great folks, talk comics, and attend some neat panels. Now let us never speak of it again, unless it’s relevant to a comic book I’m discussing.

unnamed-138879Invincible Iron Man #1

Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Justin Ponder

Marvel $3.99


Marvel’s made it no secret that they’re out to make Iron Man their flagship character these days, undoubtedly inspired by the success of the character on the big screen. A move I’m sure that will work, much like the Inhumans replacing the X-men-oh.

Snark and Bleeding Cool rumors aside, Marvel Comics has enlisted a team of top notch creators to make Iron Man their premiere super hero title; Brian Michael Bendis, who’s written the character numerous times in the past, David Marquez, a top talent who’s been a very good artist  for the last few years, and Justin Ponder, and excellent colorist in his own right. No disrespect to the previous creative teams, but this is by far the strongest group of creators Tony Stark has had since Matt Fraction was attached to the book several years ago.

IIM-Preview01-58c53Assigning David Marquez and Justin Ponder to this book was a brilliant move. Aside from already having a solid working relationship with Bendis, the pair of artists create a gorgeous looking book that says “This is an Iron Man comic for 2015″. Marquez’s style is perfect for a character like Tony Stark, blending Robert Downey Jr’s good looks with a new suit of armor that feels new and refreshing. I dug how detailed, not to mention how cool, his armoring up sequences where in this book, as well seeing the new suit flying around. Sadly most of the action scenes were limited to another long time Iron Man villainess who also gets a slight redesign, but I’m sure Bendis will give Marquez a chance to blow our minds somewhere down the line.  Justin Ponder’s colors are incredibly strong in the comic. Bendis and Marquez give Ponder a number of locations and characters to work with in this issue, and he absolutely nails the environments and lightening perfectly. These two creators have given us a great looking book, and I’m excited to see more from them on this title.

Invincible_Iron_Man_1_Preview_3I believe this comic marks the first time long time Marvel comics Brian Michael Bendis has tackled Tony Stark in a solo capacity, only writing him as a part of team or in crossovers. Bendis’ take on Stark is very much influenced by RDJ as well, which is good, because this book is suppose to be super accessible to new readers. That being said, his take on the character is still pretty faithful to the core of the character, so long time fans won’t be put off by it. Bendis does an excellent job creating a new status quo for Iron Man, and manages to craft a post-Secret Wars comic that doesn’t spoil the event much, if at all. The much hyped final page is cool, and definitely lets reader know that this is VERY much a Marvel Universe with Iron Man at the center of things. And I REALLY like the 2 new female characters introduced in this issue, and hope they stick around for the long haul My only compliant is that the book feels brief, which is more of a nitpick I guess, because it definitely has me wanting to read more.

Invincible Iron Man certainly has the potential to be one of the biggest Marvel books of the year in terms of sales and excitement. Will it dethrone Star Wars or the surprisingly wonderful new Amazing Spider-Man is yet to be seen, but also not a concern of mine. It’s a good comic that I dug, with a fantastic creative team who can hopefully give us the best run of solo Iron Man stories since the last incarnation of an Invincible Iron Man book.


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Chris’ Comics: X-Men ’92 #4

SHILL ALERT:  New York Comic Con is this week, and I’ll be there all 4 days as an attendee, which is the first time in forever. As usual, you can follow my nonsense on Twitter and Instagram, at @theanarchris. WARNING: I GET KINDA NSFW/ CURSE HAPPY WHEN I START DRINKING/GETT ANNOYED, SO HEAD’S UP THERE. Anywho on to #content

backgroundX-men ’92 #4 (of 4)

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Scott Koblish, Matt Milla

Marvel $4.99

For the record, if X-men ’92 wasn’t already confirmed for a returning on-going next year, I would have probably spent half this article pleading for people to go buy X-men ’92, because it was an incredibly fun book. Fun and X-men rarely go hand to hand these days (see the OTHER X-Men Secret Wars tie-ins, and the upcoming solicits for the All New Marvel Now stuff), making X-men ’92 a bit of a  rarity. A welcomed one at that, taking one of the most recognizable incarnations of the X-men, and setting them up in a world that loves and adores them for a change, all while injecting with a ton of humor and fan service into the story.


X-Men_92_4_2The final issue of the mini-series sees the X-men and their various allies fight the dreaded X-Sentinel, while Professor Xavier battles the Shadow King. Artist Scott Koblish does an incredible job drawing the massive fight scenes, having to draw and impressive amount of characters several times throughout the book, and never once dialing down the detail or the acting. The sense of scale and action he manages to portray is fantastic, and it’s cool to see him be able to switch up between action, comedy, and drama without skipping a beat. His character work is super expressive, and he manages to sneak in his fair amount of inside jokes and reference just as well as his writers, while perfecting capturing the excess of the nineties without going overboard.  Matt Milla, the book’s colorist is also as impressive, managing to set the scenes perfect with some excellent lighting and palette choices. While the books character designs are very much stuck in the 90s (because again, X-men 92), the coloring looks like a book from today.

Writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers, do a fantastic job wrapping up this mini on a high note. The writing is superb in this issue, making sure every core character gets their moment to shine, and having some fun while doing so. The dialogue is especially strong XMEN92-004-01this issue, be it Gambit and Rogue being….well Gambit & Rogue (something 90s X-fans will get says Buzzfeed), an insanely hilarious scene featuring Wolverine, and a touching end bit with Storm and Cyclops being the personal highlights of this issue. As I’ve said in the past I love how the use some of the obscure and insane elements of X-men history, and play it straight. The final fight has not one, but 2 bonkers bits that had my cackling like a mad man as I read this book, and am I grateful for them.


X-men ’92 was a mini that was welcomed for a number of reasons; one of them being one of the few Secret Wars tie ins that shipped on time for the most part. It was also a legitimately fun read that looked great and celebrated the X-men at the peak of the popularity, while poking some fun at it without coming off as mean spirited. I encourage anyone who grew up on the 90s animated series and found the comics too daunting to give this book a shot, especially since it basically laid the groundwork for the new ongoing next year.

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Chris’ Comics: Zodiac Starforce 1 & 2

28942Zodiac Starforce 1 & 2

Kevina Panetta, Paulina Ganucheau, Savanna Ganucheau

Dark Horse $3.99

I’ll be honest; I initially wrote off Zodiac Starforce, mostly because it really didn’t seem like my thing. I have a passing familiarity with Sailor Moon, and gave it a go plenty of times while growing up, but it was something that never caught my interest the way Dragon Ball Z or Gundam Wing did. I recognize it as an important work that obviously connected with a ton of people globally, but ultimately not my thing, especially when it’s called Sailor Moon Crystal.

My wife on the other hand, is very much a fan of the one they call Sailor Moon. So when she passed the Zodic Starforce banner at the Dark Horse booth during Rose City Comic Con, she made it a point to pick up the first issue. Issue 2 dropped this week, and since my pull list was light, I figured I would read issues 1 and 2 give it a shot.

zodsf1p5Zodiac Starforce has a cool enough concept. The premise is that a bunch of Zodiac related teenage magical girls have been retired for the last 2 years, and have grown slightly apart. However the threats they thought they vanquished have apparently returned, and one of their own life is now endangered. Writer Kevin Panetta masterfully injects a healthy dose of drama and mystery surrounding the plot, casually dropping hints as to what events cause the group to slip apart, all while fleshing out the characters. Sadly some of the dialogue feels stiff and forced sometimes, but never to the point where the book is unreadable. But I REALLY dig the premise, and I hope Panetta continues to flesh out the world and it’s inhabitants more as the mini series continues.

The one area where Zodiac Starforce does suffer sadly is in the visuals. While the colors by Savanna Ganucheau are bright, clean and occasionally psychedelic in cool way, the art by Paulina Ganucheau is more stiff and uneven. I don’t generally mind manga-influence art, I mean have you’ve seen my reviews for Babs Tarr works for crying out loud, but Paulina’s stuff looks more like faux-Anime influence (think Totally Spies, or other mid 2000s cartoon trying to ape anime), with some awkward posing and facial expressions. It improves a bit in issue 2, especially towards the end of the book, so hopefully that trend will ydq1bp7zlbfrrneuqggrcontinue as the book moves forward. But having talented artists like Kevin Wada and Marguerite Sauvage contribute wonderful covers doesn’t help the interior art out at all. It’s also important to recognize that this is her first big comics work, so maybe I could ease up on it a bit.

Zodiace Starforce is a book that my wife really digs and I’m warm towards, but would have probably waited for a trade to read. Then again, I’m not exactly the targeted demographic, so your mileage may vary, especially if you’re into Sailor Moon or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But as someone who really digs comparable and excellent works like Lumberjanes, Fresh Romance, and Batgirl, Zodiac Starforce didn’t do much for me, even with some really cool and fun stuff scattered about the first 2 issues.



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Chris’ Comics: Grayson Annual #2

Hey FPNYC Faithful! Today we’re going to look at Grayson Annual #2, also known as the comic that lead to a review that will definitely get me accused of being on DC’s payroll at some point in the near future.

c605f48685e9ad51a71938ba3f74ee18Grayson Annual #2

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandex, Jeromy Cox

DC, $4.99

It hard to think of a comic that’s been unintentionally directed solely at me and my interests in recent history.  Directly following up to the recent events in Grayson (as well as some recent shenanigans and revelations over in the Superman titles), this comic sees Dick Grayson encountering Superman for the first time since his “death”, and defining what their relationship is like in the current DC Universe. When this book was first solicited, the cover implied some fun team up times, which I’m about. But what I wasn’t expecting was a sly shout out to the Chuck Dixon/Scott McDaniel Nightwing run of the 90s, which was my first real exposure to the character. Schilling alert: This is where I start gushing about this comic.

329f976b4ebe90282f0b04c8bb8f7c22Last week’s Grayson was light on the punching and heavy on emotional assault (the Feels, if you will). This time around, writers Tim Seeley and Tom King flip the script around a bit, giving us some pretty happy emotional beats, and ton of high octane action. There’s definitely a sense this book was written shortly after the writers saw the recent Mad Max movie, which is fine with me, as Fury Road is on my short list of things I’ve loved about this past year. And much like said week old comic, the pair of writers manage to establish a half-decade long history in the span of a single issue with ease. The book starts off with a fun flashback showing that Dick Grayson (as Robin) thinking Superman is the coolest thing, and Superman is definitely down with Batman’s little buddy. King and Seeley also put their spin on the whole “Nightwing got his handle from Kryptonian  lore”, which is a fun little bit of comics history that I’m a fan of. Once again the writers incorporate a bunch of material established before the reboot 4 years again, and once again I am loving it. The dialogue is also fantastic, as King & Seeley give our heroes some fun back and forth banter, and absolutely nail the voice of the OTHER book’s guest star, who’s identity I won’t spoil here.

I’ve done a pretty crappy job of not mentioning the book’s art yet, so let’s change that.  Mikel Janin, Grayson’s regular artist, only handles the cover on this book, which is a tad creepy dude to Clark and Dick suffering from same face syndrome. The interior art is actually handled by Alvaro Martinez, whose’s previous work I’m unfamiliar with, but has done a Comics093015-Graysonnumber of one shots and single issues for DC over the last 2 years. Martinez reminds me a lot of legendary artist Alan Davis, given how clean and straight forward his art is. Having to follow up to an artist like Janin who’s art reeks of sexy isn’t an easy task, but he does a serviceable job on putting his own spin on the characters. Ultimately, Martinez’s work is perfectly serviceable, although I wish he made Superman look a little older than Robin, and some of his poses weren’t as stiff as they were. But overall, it’s good stuff, especially with Raul Fernandez‘s inks being so clean and Jeromy Cox‘s colors being on point.

Grayson Annual #2 is the best issue of the Brave and the Bold we’ve gotten in years. It’s a fun book that ties nicely into the current on-going of the proper title, but it’s something you need to caught up on to enjoy. It’s old school execution, but feels fresh and fun. It’s a must read if you’ve been enjoying Grayson, Action Comics, or Superman, or just enjoy fun DC comics.


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Chris Comics: Batgirl #44

4815993-bg_cv44_dsBatgirl #44

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Bengal, Serge Lapointe

DC, $2.99

I’m not entirely sure if it’s a coincidence or the work of Bat-Group editor Mark Doyle, but I can help but notice that the 3 DC books I read every month have really great alternative artist to fill in for their respect books. Bengal, previoulys seen on the Batgirl: Endgame one shot and the lead story in this year’s often-mentioned-by-me-Batgirl Annual, fills in for the first time on Batgirl proper, and delivers some fantastic visuals. While he’s not as experimental or fashion savvy as regular series artist Babs Tarr, Bengal’s more traditional lay outs and strong body language make for a good looking comic none the less. Bengal’s style is comparable to Tarr’s in that they’re obviously from a generation of artist raised on anime and manga, but where as Babs is Shoujo Manga/Anime, Bengal is very much shonen. This is evident in the big fight scene in the issue, which is the bulk of Bengal’s best art is present thanks to incredibly well choreographed panels. And even though some of the character heads are a little too lumpy or round at times,  my biggest fault with the art doesn’t lie with Bengal. I felt the pale colors provided by usual on point colorist Serge Lapointe take a bit away from the visuals. Batgirl has been a book which has been visually define by being kinetic and bright, but the muted colors take things back a notch this time around.


4815995-bg_44_2Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart (as well as previous series writer Gail Simone) deserve a decent amount of praise for giving Babs a wonderfully diverse cast of supporting characters. Despite living in the fictional area Burnside, based on super gentrified real life areas like Portland and Brooklyn, Fletcher and Stewart have surrounded Babs with some wonderful characters from various walks of life, and quickly made them stand out in a number of fascinating ways. It’s a shame the same can’t be said about this month’s villain, who felt rather disposable and a bit of an afterthought. I understand it’s hard to build upon on of the strongest collection of villains in comics when you’re NOT Grant Morrison, and that the team is channeling Batman 66 as well as Batman The Animated Series, but it would be nice to see Batgirl face a more formidable foe instead of another throw away villain who wears an absurd amount of eye shadow. My issues with the Velvet Tiger aside, the writing in this comic is still pretty great. Barbara’s various relationships with her friends all fell genuine thanks to the superb dialogue, and while there’s plenty of talk, it never feels like too overbearing. Fletcher and Stewart also know when to dial back and let Bengal and letterer Steve Wands handing all the heavy lifting with the fight scenes, leaving the slick action sequences relatively uncluttered.

CQAMp_kUcAA1KmPDespite my various critiques/nit-picks with the comic, Batgirl #44 is ultimately another fun issue of this great run. Bengal’s art is quite solid, and the writing is on par as usual, and I really felt like I got my $3 bucks worth with all the content crammed into 20 pages. Between this and the previously reviewed stellar Grayson installment, it was a good week for Bat-Family fans.


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Chris’ Comics: Ms Marvel #18

Just a head’s up everyone: After this review, expect some radio science for a week or two. You’re truly and his wife are taking a trip to the Pacific Northwest, and won’t be back until the last week of the month. We’ll be hitting up Rose City Comic Comic in Portland, and be taking in the sights in Seattle. You can follow my nonsense on Twitter and Instagram ( @theanarchris), and if you’re at RCC or a native or either city, let me know, I’m always up for saying hi and giving out fresh high fives!


4791321-18Ms Marvel #18

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

I want to hug this comic.

Ms Marvel #17 is a surprisingly upbeat comic that takes place at the end of the world. We get to see the young Ms Marvel continue to work alongside her idol Carol Danvers (who is THE BEST in this issue) as the final Incursion (remember, SECRET WARS) draws near, all while dealing with the fact that she may not be the only Inhuman in her family. The creative team throws a lot of content at readers, but all of it is so good, it’s hard to mind so much info and drama to process.

This creative team has displayed the fact that their very talented a number of times throughout the book’s lifespan, but it’s the little things in that issue that really shined through to me. For example, there’s some fantastic facial expressions drawn by  Adrian Alphona in this issue. The slightly exaggerated look of frustration when Kamala is talked down to twice is hilarious to look at, which I included in this review (Source: Tumblr) And there’s a scene dealing with super powers (sort of) that’s a twist on Kamala’s origin story, but plays out in a completely different manner. Writer G Willow Wilson gives the scene some really intense and smart ms-marvel-18-2-carol-danversdialogue that fleshes out a supporting cast member in fascinating way, making the character all the more likable than they’ve been portrayed in the past. It give the chance to relate to Kamala and see this character in a whole new light, which I appreciate.  The bombshell cliffhanger ending, something the series has done a lot with this arc, is also pretty great, hitting a major emotional note and will definitely change how Kamala interacts with an important cast member in the future. And colorist’s Ian Herring muted colors give the book an nice dark look, reminding us that this whole thing is going down in the middle of the night. There’s really not much to complain about in this issue, aside from Alphona’s sort of lanky Captain Marvel. I like my Carol Danver looking she can lay out dinosaurs with a single bunch, sorry dude.

tumblr_nufpnxW26C1ufs2h7o1_r1_1280The next issue should wrap up this volume of Ms Marvel before a 1 month break that will see the book get a new number one and bump in price. I have zero problem with having to pay $4 for this book in the future, because issues like this are common for Wilson, Alphona and Herring. They’re arguably one of the most consistent teams in comics, let alone at Marvel, and they’ve make this new character super endearing and ultra-relatable in less than 2 years. Ms Marvel #18 may not be my favorite issue of the series to date, but it damn may be the best one.



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Chris’ Comics: Diesel #1

4741654-diesel_001_main_hesseDiesel #1

Tyson Hesse

Boom/Boom! Box, $3.99

Writer/Artist Tyson Hesse is a creator I’m familiar with from his late webcomic Boxer Hockey, but I was sold on this new mini series, Diesel, the minute the preview art hit the internet. Completely missing out on his run on The Amazing World of Gumball, it’s nice to see Hesse’s art improve so much since the last installment of Boxer Hockey. Diesel #1 is a gorgeous book, just one that’s a little light on content.

Diesel tells the tale of Dee Diesel, who’s apparently the heir to a awesome airship that also doubles as a small mobile community. The book reads like a Miyazaki movie, only less whimsical and more sarcastic and comical. The majority of the book introduces us to the cast of the book, and a hint of backstory, but mostly focuses on Dee. Dee is a fun lead, and a lot of the humor associated with her is solid, but she also reads a lot like the cliche bratty lead who’s got a gift but is also kind of a pain due to her over confidence. Diesel wears a lot of it’s influences on it’s sleeves, and while the premise is near and a lot of the jokes land, it also feels very familiar.

That being said, the book looks great. Tyson Hesse, with help from Mariel Cartwight, create a fun world with characters who are very expressive and animated. The character’s “acting” go a long well to help sell the jokes, and the visuals are very clean and fluid. The art really does a lot for this book, making it an entertaining read.

I understand that first issues are difficult to nail, so I hope this promising start improves with it’s next issue. Diesel is a great looking and funny book, it’s just a little light on the story. With the cast now introduced, I expect great things from future installment. It’s a cool all ages book with some charm, and fan of The Legend of Korra and Japanese role playing video games ought to check it out.

Phonogram_vol3_02-1Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #3

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image, $3.99

Jamie McKelvie y’all.

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #2 is the comic Jamie McKelvie drew “for real” this past week and my god, it’s gorgeous. Given arguably the MOST Kieron Gillen script in some time, McKelvie not only draws fantastic looking characters with gorgeous outfits, but also pays homages to 2 iconic music videos in this issue and completely nails it. His character’s acting is flawless, perfectly capturing the look and energy the 2 videos he pays homage to, but also puts his own feels to it. It’s incredibly good looking, and impressive how he can change his style mid book and then go back to his default setting with no problem. And as someone who’s read the previous installment of Phonograns, I’m amused of how we get to see David Kohl aged and become more Gillen-esque in appearance with every passing volume.

Helping Jamie set the mood as per usual is colorist Matthew Wilson, who’s also having an amazing week. If killing it on WicDiv wasn’t enough for Mr Wilson, he also changes up his palettes multiple times in this comic, and it all looks terrific in the end. Same with letter Clayton Cowles, who swaps up the fonts to help differentiate the narrators. This may be Kieron Gillen’s semi-autobiographical story about critics, but the artists are clearly having a blast telling this story, having the freedom to experiment with their styles as they see fit.

Phonograms: TIG isn’t any more accessible than the first issue, but you don’t have to be in the loop to appreciate how good this book it. It’s brilliant even if you don’t get the references without the help of glossary, which I am grateful for. Plus the gorgeous back up illustrated by Jamaica Dyer is worth your time and money. It’s certainly not a book for everyone, the the 2nd issue of The Immaterial Girl is a terrific experience for the target audience.

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and the Divine #14

tumblr_inline_nueywojFWZ1r77eon_540The Wicked and the Divine #14

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson

Image, $3.99

If team WicDiv were dinosaurs, they would all be Raptors, because this team is all a bunch of clever girls.

…somewhere out there, a version of this joke that actually works exists, and I really wish I had access to it.

 The Wicked and the Divine #14 is part TV clip show, part remix album, all Saga-levels of shock, heartbeat and revelations. Using the Tron/Daft Punk inspired demigod Woden as a lead, we finally learn who set up Lucifer back at the end of the 1st issue, and that this particular dem-god is a bit of a scumbag. He’s aware of that fact by the way, but Woden does not particularly care of what others think of him.

The-Wicked-and-The-Divine-14-2-940x1442WicDiv artist and co-creator Jamie McKelvie is the credited penciler for this issue, and while that’s technically correct, it’s also a tad misleading. While every page of this book is in fact drawn by McKelvie, the vast majority of the content is recycled. A lot of it is actually old art from previous issues remixed by colorist Matthew Wilson, with some retouches by him and McKelvie. It sounds lazy, but seeing it in action will make you realize that it’s actually really freaking clever, as the new colors and words by Kieron Gillen give these scenes entirely new meanings. It’s actually brilliant, and explained how McKelvie managed to work on WicDiv and a new issue of Phonograms Volume 3 in the same month. And while McKevlie isn’t exactly the first artist to attempt this, he’s the first one to pull it off in quite some time.

The definitive proof of this issue comes from another comic that had some fun at this comic expense, and completely reworking it to Wid Div #14’s advantage. For all of you not reading Sex Criminals, there was a bit in the 2nd volume which poked fun at 2 of the WicDiv characters in that special Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky way. Kieron, Jamie and Matt fire back at the SexCrimz team buy making that joke canon, taking Chip’s art and reworking it, stripping away any relation it had to the event in Sex Criminals, and giving it a completely haunting narrative delivered by Woden. In a way the team is taking the hide road with it’s use, but it’s also a testament to the team that they managed to rework a joke a like that.

tumblr_nufxm5M9v71qhppfvo1_1280Speaking of haunting, Kieron Gillen’s voice for Woden is down right creepy. While his ambitions are relatively low key, he’s written as SUCH a scumbag you’ll love to hate him real quick. Gillen had some impressive work on super villains over at Marvel, so what he does with Woden isn’t exactly the biggest surprise, but with Woden we have a different type of villain. His goals and motives are very realistic, so while there’s some degree of reliability with the character, he’s also a massive scum lord when it comes to his actions and logic. It makes for an incredibly  compelling character to read, even if you’re rooting for him to fail.

Wicked and the Divine #14 will have fans talking feverishly for the next 30 days. Between the big reveal and the experimental story telling, there’s a lot to take in with this very satisfying installment.

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Chris’ Comics: NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. Ultimate collection

51mCJ6NnvVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E., The Ultimate Collection

Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger,  Dave McCraig

Marvel $34.99

It’s rare for me to cover a re-release of material that isn’t too hard to track down, but NEXTWAVE is a rare exception. Originally released in 2005, this 12 issue maxi-series was part parody part…..well okay it was all parody, but even so, it managed to be one of the best super hero books Marvel published around that time, and probably ranks in the top 20 off all time. For a book that Marvel tried sweeping under the rug continuity for a number of reasons, it certainly had it share of influences, as seen as recent as both Secret & Mighty Avengers and helped launched the career of the already talented but underrated at the time Stuart Immonen. Nextwave is arguably my favorite work of writer Warren Ellis, which says a lot, give my love of his massive library of comics material, but there’s some so fun and simple about the book that makes it very appealing to me.

For those of you who sicken me and have not yet read NEXTWAVE, allow me to sell you on the book. NEXTWAVE is the tale of 4 D-list super heroes and the Captain, who was created just for this series, who find out their employers H.A.T.E, is also funded by the same company backing the terrorist group S.I.L.E.N.T. . Our heroes, consisting of Elsa Bloodstone, Machine Man Aaron Stack, Boom-Boom and one time Avengers leader Monica Rambeau, decide to go rogue and put and end to the Beyond corporations doing, only to face some of the weirder elements of the Marvel Universe, both old and original. Their chief antagonist is one Dirk Anger, who’s as you can tell from the name is a Nick Fury stand in with a couple dozen screws loose. He’s kind of the best, but I won’t post any panels featuring him, as I would like any potential new readers to go into this book blind and witness his glory unspoilied.

next-wave-11-001Drawing Nextwave is Stuart Immonen, who would go one to replace Mark Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man after this, and is now drawing Star Wars. This isn’t Immonen’s finest work, as he’s constantly improving as an artist,  but its the first instance of him getting a little more looser and animated with his style. Immonen’s art is none the less perfect for this book, as he captures the insanity that Ellis’ script demands perfectly, giving us everything from Sentiment Broccoli men to X-men dinosaurs. Nextwave’s semi-cartoony look is perfect for the type of story being told, and still holds up after a decade. Inking Immonen is long time his someone who’s inked most of his work over the last few years, Wade Von Grawbadger, who kept the book looking bold and clean, and managing to keep all tiny  details From Immonen’s pencils in. The book was colored by Dave McCraig, who keeps the book looking bright and fun, despite the horror his collaborators induce..

Nextwave-1Warren Ellis’ writing is unmistakable on this title. Everything from the humor, to the violence to the insanity of some of the concepts are SO Warren, that it’s amazing that Marvel let him get away with what he did. The script and dialogue is a nonstop assault on you eyes, tossing out jokes in nearly every other panel or letting the art’s amazing visuals blow your mind. There’s also some genuinely DARK moments towards the end of the run that will catch you off guard, and are resolved in way that would feel lazy with any other writer, but works given what Ellis has established over the previous issues. While NEXTWAVE isn’t as complex as some of Ellis’ creator owned works, allowing him to play with Marvel’s toys for only 12 issues with some set rules also results in some of his finest work.

Before there was a Hawkeye or even an Immortal Iron Fist, NEXTWAVE was proof that some of Marvel’s best material is a result of just letting creators do their own thing. It’s a book that feels a lot like that fantastic Bruce Timm Justice League animated series, only with no name characters and slightly more mature content. If you’ve never read it, I can’t recommend it enough, as you can go with without knowing nothing about the characters, and still enjoy the whole thing. It’s a fantastic read that’s aged, quite well, and definitely one of my favorite comics. #RIPSpecialbear

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #11

JUN150255Grayson #11

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

While never being a bad read, the last few issues of Grayson were not exactly up to par with the level of quality we were getting back during the pre-break. That being said, issue 11, the conclusion of the Nemesis arc, is arguably the strongest installment of the book in awhile. Writers Tom King and Tim Seeley put all their cards on the table and the revelations that ensue shake the book to it’s core.

It’s worth mentioning that while the plotting/writing in Grayson has been a bit uneven up to this issue (Too many butt jokes believe it or not!), Mikel Janin‘s art & Jeromy Cox‘s colors never saw a dip in quality. Grayson’s always looked incredible, and this issue is no exception. It’s an exceptionally brutal issue with a fair amount of blood, but also gorgeous in it’s owned twisted way. The “acting” in Janin’s fight scene is flawless, and perfectly emphasizes how raw and intense this battle is. Janin also experiments with layouts, playing up the book’s weird spy stuff and getting some fantastic results, as if J.H Williams was channeling Jack Kirby. And Cox’s colors really enhance the whole experience, and his ability to switch from black/blues to bright reds on the fly is worth commemorating. The backgrounds in this book are also fantastic, continuing the excellent use of locations in the title. Grayson is a book I’ve never regretted buying thanks to the art alone.

4759300-4-gray_11_4-5King and Seeley also deserve their fair share of praise for this issue. Aside from the aforementioned slick revelations and possibly shaking up the statue quo for the title character for awhile (which may help set up this fall’s Batman and Robin Eternal maxi-series), the dialogue in this issue is flawless. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a comic hero banter as well as Dick does in issue 11 (see the image to the left), and it’s genuinely hilarious. Dick Grayson is a character know for being a little goofy and light hearted, and this page/rant (which continues for another page or so) is a nice breath of fresh air in a relatively dark and serious arc. And I really like how quickly that little rant is soon turned on its head and turned into a character examination of Mister Grayson, all whle dropping hints to the identity of the Faux Dick ( hehehehe) running around. This arc may be a little back loaded in terms of quality, but it makes for all the more satisfying conclusion

It’s ridiculous how good Grayson #11 is. In a week where DC needs some good news, it’s great to see a book of Grayson’s caliber hit the stands. It’s a title that really feels like anything can change in an issue, which for a heavy espionage comic, is great. This book is flying without a safety net, which I imagine is how Dick Grayson would want it. While it’s not at all accessible for anyone who hasn’t been reading the series, fans of the title are definitely going to dig it once their hearts stop breaking.

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #10 & X-men ’92 #3

Spider-Woman_Vol_5_10Spider-Woman #10

Dennis Hopeless/ Natasha Bustos/Vero Gandini

Marvel $3.99

Going into this issue knowing regular series artist Javier Rodriguez would not be drawing it, I was expecting myself to enjoying this issue of Spider-Woman a little less than usual. Nothing against guest artist Natacha Bustos, but the shadow Rodriguez casts on this book is MASSIVE, and it’s a hard to follow.

However, most of my issues with #10 aren’t with Bustos. She kills it with this issue, channeling Rodriguez while giving the book a softer, more manga-influenced look. Natacha never gives us any crazy, hyperactive layouts we’ve gotten in the past, but she does a fine enough job with the issue. It’s a shame that Vero Gandinis color pallet is so pale, otherwise I would have zero complaints with the art. Sadly, aside from his beautiful night skies,  his use of light colors irk me, making the final product look cheaper. I was willing to chalk it up to a printing error, but after looking at the digital copy, it’s definitely the shade. The day scenes are well lite enough, but it takes away from the night time scene.

CNWcZSSW8AAR1_CMy other issue with this comic was it being forced into being a Secret Wars: Last Days tie-in. 1/4 of the book is spent setting up Jessica’s appearance in Secret War #1, and it feels so forced, with an overly aggressive Black Widow that’s incredibly unlikable. It’s rare to see writer Dennis Hopeless slip up like this, but given how poor the Spider-Verse stuff was handled, it doesn’t come as a surprise. The book is at it’s best when it’s dealing with the A plot, which involves such greatness as HULK CATTLE and the Porcupine going full O.M.A.C. (Happy birthday Jack Kirby!), and could have used five more pages of that then lining up the events of a 4 month old comic.

Spider-Woman #10 is the uneven conclusion to a pretty great run of Spider-Woman comics. The book will be back in November with the Javier Rodriguez, and Natcha Bustos will be off drawing the All New Devil Dinosaur series. I’m excited for both titles, and I hope this next volume of Spider-Woman will be free of crossovers. Hopeless and Jessica are best when they’re left to their own devices, despite the chance of boosted sales thanks to being a major event tie in

X-Men_'92_Vol_1_3_TextlessX-men ’92 #3

Chad Bowers/Chris Sims/ Scott Koblish 

Marvel $4.99

Nothing says 90s X-men like X-Force. The New Mutants went from being the 2nd X-men book to being a sales juggernauts, launching the careers of both Rob Liefield and Greg Capullo, and introducing Marvel icons like Cable and Deadpool. It comes as no surprise that Sims and Bowers decided to use these characters for this title, and the results of pretty great.

X-Men ’92 #3 collects the 5th and 6th installments of the digital version of X-Men ’92, which are both the best and worst chapters of this series so far. The first half of this book sees X-Force off to save the captive X-men, all while Casanova Nova finds herself struggling against the combined might of Cyclops and Jean Grey. The 2nd of the half explains Casanova’s end game, ties the book back to Secret Wars, and is kind of all over the place. You can tell writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims are having a blast with this book when their focusing on the characters, which is where is when the book really shines. It’s an extremely fun fiction of sorts, and I wish these two could continue to have their fun instead of having to wrap this thing up so the 616 X-men can pal around with the Inhumans or whatever.

004085411ce2dfd3afbf59c707e7fe85Sadly the artist Scott Koblish‘s art isn’t as solid this time around. While he manages to draw some ridiculous guns and pouches this issue, some of the pages feel rush, and the art feels less parody and more cheap 90s licensed merchandise at times.

The good more than out weight the bad in X-men ’92 #3. Its an incredibly fun and exciting read that hits a few snags, but is worth the cover price. It’s been a while since we’ve had a light-hearted X-men book on the stands, and hopefully these creators will have a chance to work their magic again after Secret Wars.


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Chris Comics: Welcome Back #1

STK678250Welcome Back #1

Christopher Sebela, Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, Carlos Zamudio

Boom $3.99

Sorry for the delay gang, someone had a birthday this week (it was me, I berfed), and a busted modem (also me), so interneting was hard.

Last week was an odd week for me  when it came to buying comics, as none of my usual pulls dropped, and the mountain of trades I have to get through are quite dated (no longer the case by the way, again, due to berf). Not wanting to leave Forbidden Planet NYC stranded on hashtag content, or drop $5 on a Marvel book, I decided to see what the indies had to offer. As luck would have it, the fine folks at Boom! Studios released Welcome Back, the first of 4 issue mini series with some slick twists I will attempt to not spoil in this review.


WelcomeBack_001_PRESS-8Welcome Back is written by Christopher Sebela, who’s work I’m not too familiar with outside of co-writing some comics with Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue Deconnick, but his High Crime series from Monkeybrain/Dark Horse is supposed to be really good. I have zero familiarity with artist Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, but man, his stuff is great. He’s a nice blend of artists like Chris Bachalo, Becky Cloonan and Sean Murphy. His line work is sharp and jagged, and fully of energy like Murphy, with his character designs and layouts very much in the graffiti and manga-influenced styles we get from Chris and Becky. And if Sawyer’s Murray in this scenario, then colorist Carlos Zamudio would be the next generation Matt Hollingsworth. The choices of colors in Welcome Back remind me a lot of Hollingsworth works on books like The Wake and Hawkeye, only not as muted. Welcome Back is easily one of the best looking books I’ve seen from a relatively new creative team in some time.

On the words side of things, I get why Sebela’s gotten a ton of praise for his indie comics. Welcome Back is wordy, but never overcrowded. It’s heavy on the dialogue and narration, but flows effortlessly, with everything coming across relatively natural sounding. Some of the stuff WelcomeBack_001_Interiors-1spoken during the action scene is a little clique and hokey, but aside from that, it’s relatively solid. My only real complaint other than that is the use of block, flat fonts for the sound effect by letter  Shawn Aldridge. It really clashes with the art, and it’s weird to see that sort of thing when the narration boxes and dialgoue balloons are position correctly. But those are only some small things that I’m sure that will improve in time, and don’t take much away from the rest of the book.

Welcome Back was a surprisingly great debut that I wish I could go into more but won’t, because again, there are some great twists that work if you go in blind. That’s what I did for the most part, and I enjoyed the book all the more. If you’re looking for something fresh and different, or just tired of one of your favorite being held up by delays, I can’t recommend giving Welcome Back enough. It’s a cool melting pot of ideas with an relatable lead character, and I’m excited to see how this all plays out.

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

4741279-09Gotham Academy #9

Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe, Msassyk

DC $2.99

For the most part, Gotham Academy has been a delightful romp with some teen angst and a bunch of neat little shout outs to obscure Batman characters. Issue #9 is the first issue where I genuinely felt overwhelmed by a continuously growing cast, to the point where I wasn’t able to follow the plot. In this issue alone there’s our 5 members of the mystery team, 2 faculty members, a man-bat-boy, and at least 3-4 newer characters making cameos. That’s A LOT for a reader to follow, especially when there’s at least several different subplots going down in a 20 page book.

One thing the writers (Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan) managed to keep a good handle on up to this issue was making the teenage characters sound like teenagers. This isn’t the case for this issue sadly, as some really dated pop culture references make the Gotham Academy kids sounds like tiny adults instead of #TEENS. I’m sure it was more of a fluke than anything else, as any creator is capable of making a misstep every so often.That being said, Gotham Academy continues to look superb, thanks to Karl Keschl‘s excellent art, and Sergio Lapointe & Msassyk’s equally excellent colors. Keschel’’s line work is always clean and dynamic, but the coloring really brings it to the next level, especially when it comes to effects such as fire, flashlight lighting and fog. The art makes up for the subpar writing, elevating the book to a decent read instead of something skippable.

While I applaud the writers for attempting to cram as much content into Gotham Academy as possible, issue nine ultimately feels bloated, while looking great. I’m sure it won’t happen again, it’s just disappointing to see it happen in a book I’ve been enjoying a lot as of late.


portrait_incredible (4)The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Once again, Secret Wars ends another book that was launched this calendar year. And much like the also concluded for now Howard the Duck, the 2nd arc of The Unbeatable Squirrel girl is absolutely wonderful. The book opens on arguably THE BEST note, involving a long mention running gag that actually ends up being incorporated into the plot in a major way. It’s absolutely ridiculous by the way, but Ryan North and Erica Henderson are so smart and talented make it work so well.

One of the things that I really like about USG is that it’s a book that seems like it wouldn’t fit in with the rest of Marvel’s publishing catalog, but North and Henderson skate along the thin line of ridiculous and high stakes so well, the character, her presence and her actions make perfect sense. North’s sense of humor and clever dialogue makes him a perfect fit for handling mythological characters from the Thor side of the tracks, and Erica Henderson’s art fares better with these characters than more traditional spandex folk like spider-Man. Rico Renzi‘s colors are back on track after last issue, giving me literally nothing to complain about.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8 is the perfect ending for this chapter. The wait for October for this book’s return is going to be rough, but I’m fairly certain it will worth it.



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Chris’ Comics: Howard the Duck #5

4730614-howard2015005_dc11-page-001Howard the Duck #5

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Joe and Paolo Rivera, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Oh Howard A Duck, you are a gift.

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones and Rico Renzi’s first arc/volume (NEW HAT THOUGH!) wraps up with a massive super hero fight in Manhattan for the fate of the world, a concept Chip and Joe claim they were the first to come up with. In case you don’t know how #JOKES work, that is one and an example the A+ comedy one gets from a Chip Zdarsky penned comics.

tumblr_nt0y86mP6j1qeeerco2_1280There’s a lot to like in Howard the Duck #5. First and foremost is Joe Quinones drawing a massive amount of of Marvel’s NYC-based heroes, and them looking fantastic/amazing/marvelous/other puns. Quinones’ style is clean and detailed, and his takes on all these characters comes across as looking quite iconic. His commitment to to his craft results in some fine looking lay outs, mashing up some of Marvel most beloved, as well as some of their newer, heroes up against the ridiculous threats he and Chip Zdarsky have conceived. I like what Joe does with facial expressions, as several maskless character perfectly express the absurdity of the whole scenario, especially on the final page with has arguably the best drawing of the Human Torch and Spider-Man in some time. Assisting Quinones on art duties is the brilliant father and son inking team of Paolo & Joe Rivera, giving Quinones’ work the clean, thin lines it deserves. Rico Renzi’s colors pop off the page, completing the art package, and giving Howard a high quality look you wouldn’t expect coming from a comedic book.

Earlier this year writer Chip Zdarsky joked that he was cramming in a lot of content and guest appearances in Howard the Duck as he was expecting to be fire after every issue came out. Howard #5 won’t be Chip’s last ride with the character, but you’ll definitely get you 4 dollars worth from it. This issue wraps up the arch, reveals a supporting character’s secret, and makes several intriguing hints regarding the future of the this book. Oh and is absolutely hilarious as well. We get more “Inconsolable Spider-Man” jokes, editor notes for hilariously titled comics that never existed, several deep cut Marvel jokes and a subplot involving a rather obscure Marvel book that results in Howard freaking out. It’s not all jokes either, as Chip and Joe do some cool stuff with the Howard and Tracy relationship, injecting some heart warming material into the book. Again, a lot of stuff goes down in this book, but it never feels over crowded or bloated.

tumblr_nsznomBLdn1sajkn0o1_400Howard the Duck #5 is a great ending for a fantastic first arc. Howard is easily up there with Superior Foes of Spider-Man and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl in terms of being some of the best modern Marvel humor books, and the star power behind it should hopefully ensure that it sticks around for quite awhile. You can tell Zdarsky & Quinones definitely love or at least heavily appreciate the classic Steve Gerber era Howard, and embrace it while pushing the character forward. Howard the Duck is book I’ll continue to buy when it returns later this year, especially if the creative teams continues to put out this level of quality comic month after month.


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Chris Comics: Ms Marvel #17

Last-Days-of-Ms.-MarvelMs Marvel #17

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona & Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

On the left we have cover artist Kris Anka , who cover may qualify as the best thing. But while this gives us everything we ever wanted from Ms Marvel, it worth noting the content are not as happy.

Given who’s on the cover, and that this book is tied into Secret Wars, Ms. Marvel #17 can be best described as an issue that’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Captain Marvel’s presence is something the fans have been demanding since the book dropped, and Wilson, Alphona and Herring deliver when it comes to this team in spades. But it’s not exactly  the feel good issue I was hoping for, given the whole end of the world thing, but it is an incredibly smart comics that has some really good emotional moments as well.

3577e735844c9f972469b12814ecd674What  I like about this issue is that we get to see that Kamala has come a long way since issue once, but a lot of key characteristics are still intact for the character. Writer G Willow Wilson has Ms Marvel freak out when she meets Carol Danvers, which as a super fan, is something that makes a ton of sense, not to mention completely adorable. I enjoyed watching the two Marvels bounce off of each other, and I REALLY dug the brief mention of Kamala’s faith when Captain Marvel gives her a pep talk early in the book,( as well as Carol’s advice for our you lead when faced with a difficult kitten-related matter). I also dug Wilson’s take on Carol Danvers, who’s a lovable & playful badass who manages to also be a solid mentor to Ms. Khan when she’s not busting her chops. There’s also several moments that will tug at your heart, giving the book a sense of sadness and desperation. There’s plenty of high, lows and even a few laughs, which says a lot given the fact that this is only 20 pages of content.

On the art side of things, gosh I love Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring. Jersey City may be facing the apocalypse, but Alphona crazy detailed  panels manage to maintain this book’s excellent sense of humor. His backgrounds are chock full of MAD magazine-esque hidden jokes, and not to mention some bizarre and hilarious looking characters. His Kamala will have her facial expression exaggerated for humor’s sake, and he’s capable of drawing some extremely derpy looking animals, ramping up the book’s cute factor. That being said, he also manages to capture the more serious and emotional moments with the gravitas needed to sell the scene, and his Captain Marvel has just the right amount of swagger worthy of Carol Danvers. Colorists Ian Herring’s colors are perfect for every scene, giving the day scenes the proper sense of end of the world times, and using some interesting colors choices for the scene heavy on the super hero-type effects.

As someone who gave up on reading Secret Wars proper and already has a sense on how this will end thanks to upcoming solicits, it’s worth noting how good this creative teams on making this Incursion feel like a real threat. The sense of danger and emotional strain of Last Days is there and feels real, even though we’re due for a new Ms Marvel #1 come this fall. Ms Marvel continues to be the best thing coming out of Marvel these days, even when it’s tied into a massive crossover. This book is definitely worth your time if you’re a regular reader scared who’s not reading Secret Wars, or a Secret Wars fan looking for an amazing tie in.




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