Category: Daily Planet

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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Weapon Brown Touching Down

Weapon-BrownJason Yungbluth will be at FP to sign super special edition hardcover (and soft cover) copies of this fan favorite mishmash comic about a nuclear Charlie Brown. If you don’t know about this book do yourself a favor and come down on August 13th and get a copy and then at 5 get it sign by Jason. It’s post apocalyptic world meets Peanuts, do I really need to sell this anymore?

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Reilly Brown at FP on August 6th

deadpoolArtist Reilly Brown will be with us at Forbidden Planet on August 6th at 6pm to sign copies of his new book Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet. All you Deadpoo fans out there are losing your Deadpoo right now, we know, so make sure to get down here or “insert quippy Deadpool joke about him doing something hyper violent to you if you are not in attendance.” You’re welcome.

 

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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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The Eisners X Image Finale: The Manhattan Projects

The Manhattan Projects Volume 1

15736709Johnathan Hickman/Nick Pitarra/Rachelle Rosenberg

Image $9.99

OH CRAP, I NEVER FINISHED THIS THING UP!

Truth be told, the reason why the final was delayed (aside from “life” happening) was because originally I was going to attempt to write about East of West. The problem with that plan is that I’ve re-read volume 1 of said comic like twice and I couldn’t even begin to tell you  what happened there as from “Wild West Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. That’s kinda hard to stretch into 500 words y’all.

64cc8f7583f840a85f0a9306d11aa13f It’s not that Johnathan Hickman writes incoherent comics. Oh no, it’s more like the fact that A) I’m an idiot B) Hickman’s a big picture guy C) Sometimes I don’t get the big picture until the entire thing is available to read and then I can Google the things I don’t understand. But despite Hickman usually painting with broads strokes, I totally dig his OTHER award nominated Image book, The Manhattan Projects, with art by the mega-talented duo of . It’s an alternative history book where the Manhattan Project isn’t just to build an atomic weapon to end World War II. Instead, some of the brightest minds in SCIENCE ™ are brought together by the US government to do all sorts of weird science things, like create A.I. based on dead president, or talk to aliens. One would think this would be awesome, but actually it’s quite terrifying, because some of these famous scientists are EVIL BASTARDS…which admittedly is awesome in it’s own way! “But how Chris, that makes no sense!” you may ask, which is weird, because this is an article and I cannot respond in real time. SO I GUESS YOU’LL JUST HAVE TO READ THE BOOK AND FIND OUT.

The-Manhattan-Projects_vol1_panel2And those answers by the way are insane. Hickman and Pitarra throw many a curve ball when it comes to the plot, especially when it comes to the origins and lives to such important historical figures like Einstein, Oppenheimer, FDR and Truman. In less capable hands, these twists would look offensive and hacky, but these creators certainly make it work. Some of the really, far out and violent (spoilers, this book is hella violent) are played for laughs, because it’s so insane, which is why this book is so compelling.

Also by far out, I MEAN far out. Since this is alternate history, there’s Japanese Psychic Warriors Monks, Aliens, Robots, Alternate Dimensions, Evil Twins, all that good stuff. I’m just scratching the surface.

The-Manhattan-Projects_vol1_panelI’ve also waited entirely too long to talk about the art. This is my first time being exposed to Nick Pitarra‘s art, and it’s like the 2nd coming of Geoff Darrow. Pitarra’s characters are pretty, but then again they shouldn’t be. They’re a bunch of middle age white dudes doing science and secretly plotting against each others. It’s a really unique art style that’s beautiful as is it ugly. And it’s crazy detailed, hence the Darrow comparison, craming the panels with an insane amount of content. And Jordie Belaire‘s colors are super slick, especially when it comes to some of the tech, special effects and the use of red and blue for flash backs.

manhattan_projects_1000Much like East of West, The Manhattan Projects is the type of book that expects more from the reader and actually changes you a bit. It’s just a little easier to get into than some of Hickman’s other creator owned work. But it’s a hilarious,  violent and clever read, worth the praise it’s earn. Image has been promoting itself as one of the more innovative comic companies of the last decade, and it’s books like TMP that back that claim up.

 

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We Gotta keep moving

We’ve got no time to waste with silly introductions about how I rule and you drool, because there are WAY too many things to enjoy this week. My reading pile is about to join the mile high club; a blessing and a curse.

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley- Let’s start with a big kahuna: the first original graphic novel from O’Malley since Scott Pilgrim, Seconds! He may have been sheltering himself from Hollywood in his LA fortress since his greatly deserved success with the empire Scott Pilgrim built, but he’s been far from lazy working on his new (I’ll go ahead and say it) masterpiece. Seconds follows Katie as she’s offered a mysterious second chance at fixing what she thinks were past mistakes. With themes similar to his other great work, Lost at Sea, we get a look at those adult self-doubts of life and love, where we’ve been, and just where the f we’re going. What makes his work so great is that it makes a statement, without being overstated.

Cap’n Dinosaur One-Shot by Kek-W and Shaky Kane- Strange with a side of weird. Get all your 3-D glasses, sea-horses, and ray-guns together because Kek-W and Shaky Kane are taking you on an adventure through the classic back page ads of mid century comics, and leaving all reality behind. Follow Cap’n Dinosaur and Honey Moon to a deserted amusement park, with your master tour guides of surreal. And you don’t have to wait 5-7 weeks for the mailman to delivery these good times.

 

She-Hulk #6- If you’re inclined to read She-Hulk, you’re probably already reading it. But I picked up my first issue last week because Ron Wimberly was doing art, and I fell in love. This book is so cool. I have no history with this character, felt no loyalty to keeping up with long-held story lines, just picked it up, read it, loved it. My hope is that I can convince you that if a superhero book is done really well, you don’t need to have a 1200 single issue library of Hulk books to feel like this is accessible. You can be reading it RIGHT NOW! Which I recommend you start doing.

 

Lady Zorro #1- I’ve been supremely entertained by Alex Di Campi’s work on Dark Horse’s Grindhouse series. Bloody, violent, and powerful characters and stories that are consistently told in new ways, even if the stories have classic vibes. Nothing is more classic that Zorro, lady or otherwise. As a weirdo, I grew up watching reruns of the old black and white Zorro TV show, and the silliness of the premise was not lost on me. So I’m excited to see someone with a champion level grasp on the classics, spin a tale of a bad-ass heroine.

The Devilers #1- Joshua Hale Fialkov is on a god damn role this year. The Bunker, The Ultimates, and his latest greatest, The Life After, have been dominating the critics lists, and this creator-owned batch of work coming from Dynamite has a lot of talent behind it. For all you cult-obsessed readers, we meet a group of exorcists fighting against satan’s army, and presumably fighting for our souls. The first issue gives a lot of exposition because there’s a huge cast to meet, but it’s dark from the get go. All of this is supported by the juicy noir art of Matt Triano that looks like a classic Prince Valiant with less castles and more demons. Fialkov must be on “great beyond” streak between this and The Life After, but it’s working for him! (And Jock is doing covers)

 

Black Market #1-Because I will sing the eternal praises of Frank Barbiere, I can’t miss an opportunity to talk about his new Boom! series, Black Market. Handling superheroes with organic beauty and simplicity, we’re introduced to a genius that toils and wastes his day among the dead. But he’s given the chance to save lives by curing all diseases…with the DNA of superheroes. Sticking his writer nose further into the science/super genre, Barbiere is really exploring the evil for a greater good premise with unexpected consequences. Victor Santos, who did that amaaaaazing book, Polar, is providing shadowy relief artwork to compliment the literal shadows in which this new story exists.

The Auteur #5Now that you’ve bought all these other fantastic comics, you can burn them, and pee on their ashes, because you now have a new issue of the Auteur.

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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: On time for a change

8435Outcast #1

Robert Kirkman/ Paul Azaceta

Image $2.99

Severe lack of Andre 3000 & Big Boi, despite being set in the dirty south. -11/10.

 

Now that my mandatory Outkast joke is made, I’ll attempt to be serious about Outcast, aka that new Robert Kirkman joint. I’ll be honest, despite KIRKMAN being arguably one, if not THE, most powerful man in comics, his books have done nothing for me as of late. The Walking Dead is misery porn, and Invincible, despite looking great, has hit Mark Millar levels of misogyny. That being said, artist Paul Azaceta is the dude who drew one of my favorite modern Spider-Man stories, $2.99 for 48 pages is a mega bargain, and worst comes to worse I can probably sell this book for double or triple digits once/if the TV adaption hits Showtime.

That being said, I dug Outcast #1. Despite it feeling KIRKMAN wrote this book straight for  a TV  adaption ( again, not unlike Millar), it’s a solid first issue. The script is fairly straight forward (our lead Kyle is an accidental exorcist, but there’s a twist!), and Azaceta draws the hell out of it. Paul, with Elizabeth Bretweiser‘s amazing colors, really do a great job setting up the book realistic yet creepy scenes well, doing  West Virginia proud. And when this book needs to be spooky and brutal, they really get the job done. There’s a bunch of stuff that may make more squeamish readers cringe,  pushing that Mature Only rating. It’s a gorgeous book, and I’m glad Kirkman’s level of success is giving another great artist some major exposure.

While Outcast is not my type of comic, it’s one that may appeal to you. And again, $3 for 48 pages is definitely worth it ( Oppose to Marvel’s bullshit $5 20 page comics). Hopefully the quality of the scripts match the quality of the art sooner than later.

 

download Saga #20

Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

 

Vaughn and Staples continues to twist that dagger they planted in their readers hearts after that last issue reveal. The book adds another tragedy to the current arc, and man, it’s bad times for everyone.

 

That being said, it’s misery handled well. Much like Sex Criminals #6 there’s some humor and general cuteness sprinkled throughout the book, which kinda cushions the blow when the bad times happen. And the half of dozen new characters BKV & Staples introduced last issue continue to get fleshed out, even though most of them are gonna lead to more BAD TIMES.christears in the near future.

So yeah, Saga continues to be a modern masterpiece despite destroying the emotions of its’ readers. Good job team Saga :(

 

portrait_incredible (3)Ms Marvel #5

G Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring

Marvel, $2.99

 

There’s a bit of dialogue in this issue that reminds me that Hurricane Sandy issue of Hawkeye. Since it was delivered by Kate Bishop, I now desperately want Lady Hawkguy & Ms Marvel to be BFFs and have awesome ward adventures.

 

Now that I’ve pitched my fan fiction, let me talk the actual issue. First off, holy crap, the final page of this issue may have just introduced my new favorite ridiculous Marvel villain. And I think this is the first Marvel comic of the last 5-10 years that actually had a training montage. Wilson, Alphonsa and Herring haven’t deliver a mediocre issue of Ms Marvel yet, and the streak Continues with issue 6. It’s a solid ending for the first major arc and it sets up the future of the book quite nicely.

And man, this book continues to look amazing. It’s bright, crazy expressive and just a fun comic. It’s perfect for both new readers and jaded Marvel readers looking for a lighter fun read. It’s literally the perfect all ages Marvel book that takes place in the main 616.

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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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