Category: Daily Planet

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

Nightwing #3 also shipped this week, and it’s a pretty good comic that features Barbara Gordon. However, so did B&BOP #1, which offers me MUCH more to talk about.

B013-Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-Cover-214dcBatgirl & the Birds of Prey #1

Julie and Shawna Benson, Claire Row, Allen Passalaqua, Steven Wands

DC $2.99

It’s rare that I get to say that I have a guilty pleasure comic. Most of the comics I pull are critical darlings, or massive fan favorites. Then we have Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, which not only has a trio of character I like, but also a trio of female creators attached to the book. Should be a slam dunk for me right? No, the art is often ugly, and the dialogue is still WAY too over dramatic. Yet I can’t stop reading this book.

Birds of Prey #1 is the every cliche first meeting turn fight turn team up we’ve all come to expect from super hero books (Nightwing even chimes in on in, turning it into a running gag). Batgirl and Black Canary don’t trust Huntress, who Babs finally pieces together is Dick Grayson’s old spy partner/boss, but they come to terms with her so they can figure out who this new Oracle is. Unfortunately for our heroes, this new Oracle has a Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-3plan, and this plan is SNAKE THEMED VILLAINS. Between this and the aforementioned Nightwing, it seems DC Rebirth is actually editorial ways of forcing BIG SNAKE onto the populace, and  I am okay with this.

I don’t want to crap on Claire Row‘s art, but there are some really questionable panels in this book. Barbara Gordon looks fine without her cowl on, but once it’s on, the shape of her head can only be described as “potato-esque”. Also there’s several instances where it looks like character’s teeth are trying to escape their mouths. With Roe as the inker and the pencilier, it leaves very little room for colorists Allen Passalaqua to make any improvements in this book. Their contributions are excellent, and its a shame that the line art he’s coloring isn’t better.

And like I said above, a lot of the dialogue from is bad, Julie and Shawna Benson as there’s a few instances where the characters argue with each other via screaming their motivations. Black Canary is often the voice of reasons and the only character who sounds remotely human. They do a fine job of showing that this new Oracle has gotten under Bab’s skin, so her acting slightly out of character at times is fine. But their Huntress spits Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-7out cliche tough guy line after line to the point where it’s hilarious more than anything.

But that being said, I can’t stop buying and reading this book. It’s heavily flawed, but also crazy fun. While the art isn’t so hot in some areas, it’s more than serviceable in others, especially when it comes to the Babs and Canary versus Helena fight. And while the dialogue is so bad it’s good, the script itself and plot are pretty solid. So while there’s arguable better cape books on the stands, this is THE MOST CW DC book on the market, which means I MUST READ IT, despite my constant avoidance of Arrow.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Supergirl Rebirth

supergirlrebirthSupergirl Rebirth

Steve Orlando, Emanuela Lupaccino, Ray Mccarthy, Michael Atiyeh

DC $2.99

Supergirl is one of those DC characters I’m a fan of in theory, but rarely actually read any of the comics she appears in. While I’m a fan of how she’s been handled when it comes to animation and live action incarnations (the current CBS/CW Supergirl series, not the movie mind you), the comics Supergirl starred a character that was either too angry or sexed up, or in the case of the Peter David penned series, too weird. As fate would have it, DC editorial got their stuff together for Rebirth/the CW re-airing of the first season of Supergirl to make a comic that’s the perfect gateway book.

Supergirl Rebirth sees Kara Zor-El get shot into the sun, fight a Kryptonian werewolf,  and start high school. On paper that may sound weird (and also awesome), but keep in mind this book is written by Steve Orlando, who’s run on Midnighter was anything but conventional. Much like Supergirl, Orlando is a someone I wish I was more familiar with, as a PDF of his acclaimed graphic novel Virgil remains unread on my iPad. Orlando is great on his Supergirl debut, making his Supergirl a powerful and skilled fighter, but also Supergirl-Rebirth-Preview-Page-2-1-420x300someone who’s very compassionate. Marvel has done a excellent job of producing comics where the heroes want to see their villains rehabilitated, rather than just punched and punished, and it’s nice to see Orlando bring that sort of thing to DC, and make it feel natural. Speaking of feeling natural, I’m unsure how much of the elements popularized by the live action show were influenced by the comics and vice versa, but Orlando manages to make a book that incorporates elements like the Danvers and the D.E.O. work without ignoring work done by previous creators.

On the art side of things, we get the team of Emanuela Lupaccino, Ray McCarthy, & Michael Atiyeh, fresh from their run on the recently concluded Starfire series. I can’t think of a better trio of artists for a Supergirl book, as Lupancchino’s pencils inject the type of life and energy you’d expect when you think of a Superman comic. There’s a double 5384914-sgreb_1_5spread of Kara flying out of the sun that just screams iconic, and it’s nice to see a  Supergirl comic where she’s smiling again. McCarthy’s inks are clean, ensuring everything that Lupacciono puts down on paper ends up in the final art, and Atiyeh’s colors are gorgeous.

Supergirl Rebirth is probably not a book I’ll be reviewing every month, but it’s definitely good enough for me to catch up via trade. That being said, if you have more of an investment in the title character or any element of the creative team, it’s an extremely fun book with a ton of promise. It’s the type of start you want from a new creative team, and something DC needed to do with the IP. If Orlando, Lupacchino and co can continue the moment they established here, we should be in store for a pretty good run for a character who needs more of them.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked & The Divine #22

 

TheWickedAndTheDivine_22-1The Wicked & The Divine #22

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelive, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

The timing of this issue of The Wicked + The Divine couldn’t be better, given the current drama surrounding the Steve Universe fandom.  Toxic Fandoms are something that affect comics on the regular, i.e. anytime a creator gets death threats for taking a book in an unpopular direction, and it’s cool to see WicDiv attempting to have another discussion about that while pushing it’s narrative forward.

The Wicked & The Divine #22 wraps up the current arc, with an ending that can be best described as “THIS IS FINE!” While I won’t be spoiling the ending here, I’m glad to say the finale of this arc isn’t as much as of endgame for the series as I previously imagined. Yes it definitely wraps up this action heavy arc, but how this book ends sets up a few more arcs nicely. The downside is that the potential for disaster for these gods remains YoUChildrenat an all-time high, as someone may have bitten off a little more then they can chew.

Matt Wilson and Jamie McKelvie’s art for this arc has been nothing short of career defining, and this issue is no different. We get the artistic duo’s most graphically violent scene to date, and I say that well aware that this is a book where heads and people explode on a semi-regular basis. There’s also an amazing double spread (accompanied by some choice Kieron Gillen dialogue) and a nice visual callback to another character at the end that will have long time readers worried about the remaining cast members. McKelvie’s lay out and facial expression are top notch as always, but Wilson really takes things to the next level. “Neon ultra violence” is the best way to describe the colorist’s contributions to this book, with blood reds playing off of bright greens, blues, pinks and whites.  Issue 22 is another gorgeous issue, and it’s hard to imagine a better artist/colorist duo working in comics than McKelvie and Wilson.

Writer Kieron Gillen is also doing some amazing stuff with this book’s dialogue. The humor in this book is great, being perfectly self-aware when it needs to be and completely devastating for maximum effect. There’s a bit where a character does something absolutely savage, but the reasoning behind it is all too sound. It’s shades of gray characterization like that make Gillen such a fantastic writer, and makes the book all the more compelling. There’s also a bit of running gag between Amaterasu and the Norns this issue that’s simultaneously funny, but also manages to show wickedandivine26 (1)how immature and naive Ammy is. Again, I adore how complex and layered this cast is, and am fully expecting to feel all sorts of awful once the creative team starts killing them off.

The Wicked + The Divine is a rare book that somehow gets better with every arc. While this issue ends one threat, it unintentionally sets up so many other potential problems, which is both exciting and terrifying to me as a reader. It’s a book that continues to be a fantastic read every issue as well as incredibly topical in an era where some fans have problems accepting actors/actresses based solely on their skin color or sex.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter@TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. Please don’t @ him with your scorching hot film TAKES.

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Val’s Toy Chest- Elm Street Denizens

I couldn’t make it out to Monster Mania in New Jersey this past weekend, so I ended up missing the mini- A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master Reunion. The fourth Elm Street is widely considered to be the film that firmly placed Freddy Krueger in the cultural zeitgeist, particularly since it was the highest grossing of the Elm Street films until the release of Freddy Vs Jason. I chose ANOES 4 as my top Elm Street film during my Halloween countdown last year, so this time out I thought I’d delve into my 10 favorite non-Freddy characters from across the franchise.008215714354

10. Kristen Parker-(A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master) Kristen had her moments of strength but in the long run was no match for Freddy as he incinerated her in 4, though not before she passed her abilities to Alice. Played by Oscar winner Patricia Arquette in 3 and singer/actress Tuesday Knight in 4.

9. Dan Jordan– (ANOES 4 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child) Heroine Alice’s love interest, Dan was one of the few to believe and try to help her during the events of 4. Dan was dispatched in 5 when Freddy merged his body to a motorcycle with bloody and painful results, especially in the uncut version as seen on VHS and laserdisc. Dan’s appeal is mostly due to his chemistry with Alice and he broke the mold of the stereotypical jock you’d see in an 80s film. Played by Danny Hassel.

8.  Lt. Donald Thompson– (A Nightmare on Elm Street, ANOES 3 and briefly in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare) Nancy’s father was one of the original mob to take vigilante justice out on Fred Krueger, creating a monster in the process. He refused to believe his daughter when she started seeing Freddy in her dreams due to his own guilt and endangered her in the process. After being forced to reveal Freddy’s resting place, Thompson had a fatal encounter with Freddy’s skeleton a la Ray Harryhausen and was impaled on the back of a Cadillac in part 3. Played by legendary actor John Saxon.

7. Roland Kincaid– (ANOES3 and ANOES 4)  A no nonsense character, Kincaid had a heart of gold and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind- Kincaid survived part 3 with Kristen and Joey but was stabbed in the gut by Freddy in part 4. Played by Ken Sagoes.

6. Lisa Webber– (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) Lisa makes it on the list as she faced her fears and confronted Freddy at a power plant in an effort to free Jesse Walsh’s body from Krueger’s possession. It is unknown what happened to Lisa as she is never mentioned again in the series. Played by Kim Myers.

5. Tina Grey/Kris Fowles– (ANOES 1984/ANOES 2010)  The two characters are essentially the same, Tina was Nancy’s best friend and had some great scenes with her during the first film. Kris was an acquaintance of her Nancy and when she started having bad dreams, she tried to get to the bottom of the Fred Krueger mystery, to no avail. Tina and Kris were killed in the same manner with Freddy dragging her across the ceiling and slashing her to death. Tina also gets bonus points for her bloody body bag scene in the original. Tina was played by Amanda Wyss and Kris by Katie Cassidy.

4. Taryn White– (ANOES 3) Fighting her drug-addicted past, this teenager envisioned herself as a punk goddess in her dreams. Being beautiful and bad couldn’t save her as Freddy injected her with a lethal dose of drugs thru his syringed hands. Portrayed by Jennifer Rubin.

3. Debbie Stevens– (ANOES 4) The rare female jock, Debbie was all about improving her body. She also didn’t believe in Freddy but he went all Kafka on her and crushed her like a bug. One of only two characters on this list to have an action figure, the Debbie Stevens figure wasn’t a good seller, but it remains one of my favorite Elm St collectibles. Played by Brooke Theiss.

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2. Alice Johnson-(ANOES 4 and ANOES 5) Alice started off as a shy introvert but once her friends started dying off, she used their strength, as well as her own confidence to help defeat Freddy twice- surviving both encounters. Alice was played by genre actress Lisa Wilcox.

1. Nancy Thompson-(ANOES, ANOES 3 and WCNN) Nancy is the original Elm Street heroine and nothing compares to her pluck and courage taking on Freddy in the first film particularly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Nancy running into Freddy’s arms in an attempt to pull him out of her dreams solidifies her place as most badass horror heroine ever. Nancy is killed off in 3 after Freddy tricks her with a vision of her father then stabs her to death. Nancy is the only other character on this list to have a figurine (though she deserves a better one, NECA). Nancy was portrayed by Heather Langenkamp, who now does special effects for plenty of genre shows and movies.

Briefly: Play Arts Kai is releasing an Armored Batman for their Batman V Superman line this week and we should be getting a shipment of Hot Toys The Force Awakens Captain Phasma soon. Just in are two new POP vinyls of Alex from A Clockwork Orange and Willa Holland’s Speedy(now with sword!) from Arrow. 889698100847

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Man/Deadpool #8

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_8_TextlessSpider-Man/Deadpool #8

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Livesay, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

After a 2 month break, the team of Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness return to Spider-Man/Deadpool to wrap up their first arc. Truth be told I had no idea that the “Bromance” arc had another chapter left in it, but I’m not complaining. This issue sees our dynamic duo going after the person who put a hit on Peter Parker, something Spidey hasn’t gotten over yet. To be fair, Deadpool did kill him twice.

10000 years ago when Joe Kelly was writing Deadpool, the usually comedic book had the tendency to dip into some dark territory, which made sense given the fact that Wade Wilson killed people for money. This issue of Spidey/Deadpool is very much like those comics, only with a darker, angrier Spider-Man playing the role of the brooding lead. At first glance that MAY sound terrible, but Kelly does enough to with the concept to make it work, via suggesting that a high-end villian may be messing with our boys. Also angry-pants Spidey makes the usually sassy spideydp-8-3-193708and violent Deadpool the straight man in this pairing (well as straight as a pansexual character can get), which is humorous for it’s own set of reasons. Joe Kelly makes sure that Spider-Man’s morals are never compromised, so he doesn’t stray too far from the character’s M.O..  So while it’s a darker issue than what we’ve been use to, but not to the point where it’s ever too overbearing.

Ed McGuiness is once again incredible on this book. Not only does he design a slick new suit for Spider-Man, but he does some fantastic work designing a trio of grotesque monsters for the issues. There’s also a bitty Wolverine, which is somehow cuter than it sounds. I love what the new suit does for McGuiness’ Spidey, who looks more menacing and sleeker during the book extended fight scene. A lot of it is done via his body language, and which paired with the more sinister colors by Jason Keith help make Spidey look more aggressive and blood thirsty. Those are words usually not associated with the web-help, but it works because it’s so off model, not to mention just looks cool. I also dig that the monsters McGuinness cooks up definitely pay homage to video games and horror manga, but still end up looking unique that you can’t quite place where you’ve seen these beasts before. spideydp-8-5-193710Inking Mcguinness this month are Mark Morales and Livesay, who do a bang up job of keeping this book clean looking.

Spider-Man/Deadpool remains a title that reads as great as it looks. Allowing the creative team to take a break between arcs was a good call, and I’m glad they’re rested and back producing a great looking book. Issue #8 is comic that will definitely surprise readers, possibly shock them, but not in a way that will alienate them. I’m really curious as to what the next arc will bring, and what the relationship our heroes have with the mysterious Patient Zero. Super Hero Team up books are RARELY this good, so I cannot recommend this title enough.

 

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Val’s Toy Chest Extra- Who’s Who in the DC Universe- Black Canary

Just a fun spread found in this week’s print issue of the Weekly Planet to commemorate the release of DC Collectibles’ Black Canary/Laurel Lance action figure. I wanted to share it here as well.

Template based on the 1985 DC Comics series: Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe.

Layout: Justin Bacolo

Text: Valentine Chhann

BC (1)

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing #2

NTW_Cv2_57326865387b69.18795802Nightwing #2

Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual

DC $2.99

 

When we last left that Dick Grayson (all of a week ago, double shipping!), he was currently getting his well chiseled butt handed to him by his new Court of Owls appointed chum Raptor. Nightwing #2 deals with the fallout of that issue, as the duo go on their first mission together, and is a pretty solid improvement over last week’s (in my opinion) slightly disappointing installment.

Writer Tim Seeley doesn’t mess around this issue, which drops the flashbacks and focuses solely on Dick and Raptor’s new relationship. This issue does wonders for the new character, who’s very much being developed as a broken mirror image of Dick. Considering Grayson is in desperate need of a rogue gallery of his own, he’s a welcomed addition, and I like how the character manages to be fun, but also a violent murder-man NTW-2-2-b05d0with some bad intentions. Raptor’s interactions with Dick are not unlike the Wally West  and Grayson friendship, with Dick in the straight man role, something we rarely see him in.  In addition to fun times with Raptor and his bird bros, we get more Dick and Barbara interactions, and any appearance of Kobra. I’m a full believer that any comic can be improved with the appearance of Batgirl and or Death Cults that dress as giant snakes.

Last review I voiced my concerns about Nightwing re-trending ground already covered by Seeley in Grayson. Issue 2 does away with that, but ramping things up to 11, and raising the question of who’s playing who. Unlike Spyral, Seeley lets us know that Dick’s in over his head in no time, constantly keeping him off of his game and having both the character and the reader questioning his methods and motives. So yes there’s definitely some familiarity if you’ve read Grayson, but there’s also a lot of new elements to ensure that the comic feels fresh. Also Seeley manages to end this book on several gut punches that hurt, but that are also very very good.

Javier’s Fernandez’s art is much tights this much. Granted he’s still struggling with mask/emblem thickness, he gets to channel Sean Murphy and get some action-horror stuff this issue, and it looks great. His art really shines when it comes to scenery chewing action scenes, as well as the spooky snake-monsters he creates, and I’m glad to see the book’s 15visuals improved this dramatically. I do wish Fernandez did has someone else inking him though, because there’s a panel or two that feel a bit rushed. Chris Sotomayor’s colors are still superb, and I really like how his choice in blue and orange ensure that our eyes are drawn to Raptor and Nightwing immediately. It’s proof that a good colorist is extremely important to the creative process.

The Second Chapter of Better than Batman is a step in the right direction. I have a few qualms with the art, but the coloring and the writing do an excellent job of making this book a compelling read. It’s a fun and weird blend of genres, despite it’s initial super hero appearance. But most importantly it makes Dick Grayson feel like a unique character, not just an interchangeable member of the Bat-Family. We’re just a slight art improvement away from this book being a great title, not just a good one.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter@TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. He’s also not really a fan of Death Cults, aside from the several he leads.

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CHris’ Cinema: Suicide Squad

Suicide_Squad_(film)_PosterSuicide Squad (2016)

Will Smith, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Jared Leto

Warner Bros, PG-13

Hey there FPNYC Faithful! I’m going to switch things up this week and review an actual movie you can go out and see in theaters RIGHT NOW, instead of some comics. If you don’t care for that, don’t worry, I have a pair of reviews dropping in a few days as well (Nightwing and Paper Girls), so you can look forward to that. Additionally, if your jonesing for some fresh new Suicide Squad comics, both Suicide Squad Rebirth and Harley Quinn #1 dropped this past week. SS Rebirth is very much a Rebirth comic made for people who just saw the new movie, and Harley Quinn is a nice jumping on point for the bestselling run commandeered by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. And with that, here comes some #SQUADTAKES.

I had a chance to see Suicide Squad last week at press screening in Manhattan. As nice as it was to see a comic book movie before the internet ruined it for me with spoilers and takes, and I wish the product I watched was better. I went into the film excited to see David Ayer’s spin on one of my favorite, lesser known DC properties, but walked away a little disappointed. That’s not to say there’s not some fun to be had with Suicide Squad, but the film is not a proper response to Marvel Comics-based offerings like Civil War or Deadpool.

First and foremost, much like the rest of the critics/internet at large, I was not impressed by Jared Leto’s Joker. I’m not a fan of the character in general, but Leto fails to do the ceba46ed7c7cd79ac9d8670ea86cb41b6644604b95aac7927cde7e2655f97c19clown any justice, especially when compared to other live action Joker performance. While the Joker/Harley relationship in this movie isn’t the problematic mess it has been in animation and comics, Leto’s Joker is so underwhelming it lessens Robbie Margot’s performance like some sort of talent black hole. Also the plot is a bit of a mess, which can be blamed on the alleged claims of reshoots and alternate cuts. And while I see what they were trying for with the soundtrack of this film, it was more of a deterrent than helpful. Filmdrunk Editor in Chief Vince Mancini made several comparisons of the movie to early 2000s rap-metal, which is a fairly accurate claims, for better or worse.  Said claims is ironic, because the actors tried so hard and got so far with the material they were given, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter looking at the numbers on Rotten Tomatoes. Also please give me a fake internet award for that last sentence.

That being said, there is some fun to be had with Suicide Squad. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is a sight to see, as she’s most spot on live action incarnation of the Wall to date. Will Smith’s Deadshot is fun in his own way, but it was a little off putting for me to hear Big Willie Style drop profanity throughout the film. Despite Killer Croc and El Diabo maxresdefault (1)falling victim to some slightly racist clichés, both Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jay Hernandez have some great characters moments. Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang steals every scene he’s in, Joel Kinnaman‘s Rick Flagg is fine enough, and the Justice Leaguers that show up are pretty neat as well. Sadly not every character is given a chance to shine, and honestly the less said about their various portrayals, the better.

Suicide Squad is a mediocre film that at the very least takes a step in the right direction for the DC Cinematic Universe. With any luck, Wonder Woman will be the first GOOD DC movie in some time come 2017, and this movie will do well enough that it’s cast can be redeemed in a sequel or the heavily rumored Harley Quinn spin-off film.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter @TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. His favorite Linkin Park song is none of your business.

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #1

BG_Cv1_57082d25dc1793.92171144Batgirl #1

Hope Larson, Rafeal Albuquerque, Dave McCaig

DC $2.99

I’ll be honest; going into Batgirl #1, I was worried about the character and the direction they were taking her post Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, & Babs Tarr. There were multiple quotes from writer Hope Larson saying how this run was going to be darker, and while I like Rafeal Albuquerque‘s art, the last time he drew this incarnation of Batgirl there was bit of a thing. Also the white person walking around Asia to learn kung-fu is a trope that at best is cliche, and at worst a bit racist. That being said, reading this first issue has vanquished my fear and we instead get a pretty solid comic that’s mindful of my concerns.

The new Rebirth debut issue sees Babs Gordon in Japan, in search of an old-timey Japanese super hero named Fruit Bat, in order to up her own heroic game. While doing so, batgirl-1-preview-675x1024she runs across her never previously mentioned but apparently old friend Kai, as well as a Fuku-wearing assassin. While long-lost friends and school girl looking assassins were something covered extensively in the previous run, Hope Larson and Rafeal Albuquerque are talented enough creators to make this whole thing seem fresh.

Larson’s voice for Barbara Gordon is sharp enough to keep left over readers from the previous run pleased, but also comforting for lapsed reader who are coming back. Her Batgirl reads a little more focused and mature, but also fun and playful. It’s the best sort of compromise. While not all of the jokes in this issue land, Larson does a great job of building a new setting and status quo for Barbara, setting up the future of this title quite nicely. And granted Kai nor the nameless assassin we get in this issue do very little for me, the introduction of the Fruit Bat definitely makes for fun stuff.

Artist Rafael Albuquerque is definitely a more traditional super hero comics artist than Babs Tarr is, but with that being said, the book still maintains a youthful and fun visual tone. He does some excellent work with the body language and facial expressions in this book, and I love the energy he puts into his fight scenes. I also love the way Albuquerque portrays motion in a medium full of static imagery, as he’s  not afraid to experiment with BG01_03panel layouts and it leads to some great results. Dave McCaig’s colors are also a great fit for this book, as he sticks with bright colors that play off of Barbara’s costume and hair quite well.

Batgirl #1 is a fun first issue that doesn’t change the title character too much, and does a find job to appealing to several different types of audiences. It does an excellent job of showing the fun side of super heroics, with some dialogue that a little more polish and way less dramatic than the Babs we saw in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. Old and new readers have plenty to like with this new creative team, making it arguably one of the more accessibly DC super hero comics to come out of Rebirth so far.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing #1

Nightwing-1Nightwing #1

Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual

DC $2.99

Nightwing is back this week, as we see writer Tim Seeley and artists Javier Fernandez and Chris Sotomayor start the “Better than Batman” arc. This arc appears to be a nice blend of the espionage elements introduced by Seeley in Grayson, mixed with some super heroics. It’s not as strong as the Rebirth one-shot, but there’s some enjoyable stuff in this issue.

Where this book really shines is in the writing. After barely allowing Dick to interact with the Bat-family for 2 years in Grayson, Seeley fully embraces it here, using characters like Damian and Batgirl for Dick to bounce off of. As someone who loves both those relationships, and is a known Dick X Barbara shipper, I dig it, as Seeley does a great job writing these characters talking to each other. And I really like Dick’s open defiance while working with the Court of Owls, keeping him a heroic character while working with/for the NTW_1_1enemy. As for Raptor, Dick’s new partner/ “mentor”, the potential for some cool stuff to be done with the character is there. But the writing is not without its share of flaws. The pacing feels off with this issue, as Seeley trips up a bit during the constant switching scenes between Gotham and Europe/Russia. And while Seeley uses Batgirl to voice that there are some weird similarities between Spyral and the Court of Owls, I hope he can steer clear of re-trending the same ground with the whole double agent thing as the book progresses.

With the twice shipping schedule Javier Fernandez, who isn’t bad, but isn’t as strong of an illustrator as Yanick Paquette was in the previous one-shot. While there’s nothing wrong with the bulk of his work (especially when it comes to drawing establishing shots and backgrounds), he seems to struggle with the title character. There were too many instances where Dick’s mask or Nightwing emblem on the costume is drawn too thin or small. It’s an odd complaint sure, but seeing it vary in size and thickness from page to page really took  me out of the story. Also Dick ends up with a Peyton Manning forehead way too many times in this issue. A shame, because Chris Sotomayor’s color are great in image-82this issue, and I love the design that letterer  Carlos M. Mangual has come up with for the Nightwing narration box.

Nightwing #1 isn’t a bad comic, but it’s disappointing, especially when compared to the Rebirth one shot that leads into it. That being said, there’s plenty of potential and time for the team to step up their game and tell a solid story. Seeley already has worked on a dozen or so GREAT Dick Grayson stories, and now that we’ve been introduced to the main players, he can go forth and tell a good story. And all Fernandez has to do is tweak his Nightwing and we’re good on the art. Again it’s a bit of a bummer that this comic isn’t the best, but it does enough things to be a interesting read and give readers hope for the future.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 & X-Men ’92 #5

RCO001_1469630922The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Tom Fowler, Rico Renzi, Kyle Starks

Marvel $3.99

Readers, please take note of the wonderful cover that graces this month’s issue of Squirrel Girl, as I’m sure it will be winning whatever fake internet award I’ll be handing out come December.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a book that has never fails to impress me in some manner, and this issue continues that streak. Our lead has to deal with a love-stricken Mole Man, who’s abducted key landmarks around the world in order to get Doreen to go on a date with him. Squirrel Girl dealing with toxic masculinity may not some like a good premise for a comic, haha that is a joke, it totally is, and the execution is nothing short of genius. I saw this as the ending for this issues sees our hero do the unthinkable, yet manages to not undo all the effort done by this team to make her an unstoppable and incredibly well rounded force for good. Also there’s another scene involving squirrels in Iron Man armor, which is something I’ll never grow tire of.

SQGIRL2015B010_int2_2-932x1414Ryan North. Erica Henderson, & Rico Renzi are a creative team I adore & adding Tow Fowler as an inker was fantastic move. This month we see Kyle Starks of Sexcastle (aka the greatest comic) swing by for a 3/4th page cameo, continuing the trend of a guest contributor knocking it out of the park. As per usual, the writing and art are impeccable, as North and Henderson continue to offer dialogue and art that are beyond unique.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 is another fabulous issue that once again says something important while being an incredibly fun read. This may very well be my favorite arc to date, and even as a dude in my early 30s, I’m glad this book exist for the lessons it attempts to teach it’s young audience.

 

 

 

portrait_incredibleX-Men ’92 #5

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Cory Hamscher, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of surprises, this issue of X-Men ’92 ends by bring back some characters who haven’t been seen since the 90s. Chris Sims and Chad Bowers continue to do a bang-up job of making references to some of the most obscure corners of the 1990s X-universe, including a X-men board game I remember begin advertised like crazy in the back of Marvel comics when I was a wee millennial.

Issue 5 checks in with Cyclops and Jean Grey, whom haven’t been seen in the title since the Secret Wars mini-series. The couple are quasi-retired, but that makes for a boring super hero comic, so they find themselves dragged to the future by Rachel Grey. For long time X-fans, Scott + Jean + Future usually means one or two other character showing up, and they do. But Sims and Bower embrace the hell out of it, making for a strange but be873c68c1f206db75af43465f803c1b._SX640_QL80_TTD_wonderful read that riffs on a few different 90s X-stories.

Cory Hamscher is on art duties this month, and his style is a great fit for this tyle. He riffs on the Kuberts/Whilce Portacio look that was so famous in the 90s, while being a competen story teller in his own right. It’s good stuff.

X-men ’92 is another fun installment a series that’s been a constant delight. It’s the type of book that both satisfies readers looking for a less complicate super hero book, while giving long time X-fans plenty to enjoy.

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow #3

GA_Cv3_dsGreen Arrow #3

Benjamin Percy, Juan Ferreyra, Nate Piekos

DC $2.99

As excited as I’ve been for the DC Rebirth titles, I’ve also been extremely wary of the fact that some of the titles ship twice a month. Green Arrow is one of those books, and it’s the first of these double shipping titles to fall victim to the various problems of a comic series coming out twice a month.

Juan Ferreyra joins writer Benjamin Percy for this arc, which sees Green Arrow go on the offensive after being betrayed and left for dead. Meanwhile, Black Canary and John Diggle begin their own separate quests for revenge, unaware that Oliver Queen is still alive. It’s not a bad comic per say, but feels very light, and uninspired. Uninspired as in I’ve definitely read this story before.

Ferreyra’s art is very good in some areas, but it feels like he can’t maintain a consistent style throughout the comic. The book is at its best early on, when Ollie breaks into his own building, which allows Ferreyra to do some cool things with the layouts. And his fight IMG_0130scenes are solid enough, though lacking the dynamic feeling that Otto Schmidt brought to the title. But his female characters look like something you see airbrushed on the side of a van at a KISS concert in Jersey. Yes, I’m aware that is a very specific example.  Also, why this isn’t something that’s only ever been done by this artist, I generally dislike the pencils to color choice, as the lack of ink here makes the art feel rough and unfinished. It also doesn’t help that the colors and lighting are all over the place, making the book glow in some really weird areas.

On the writing sides of thing, Percy isn’t much better this issue. Some of these panels suffer from way too much dialogue, covering up entirely too much of the art. And some of the stuff that comes from the characters mouths is painfully bad. Also a criminal organization called the Ninth Gate lead by a man name Dante isn’t exactly the strongest story-telling. And like I said, above, you’ve read this comic before. The similarities between this story arc and very recent Batman comics like “The Court Of Owls” and “Year Zero” are beginning to pile up. IMG_0131I’m sure they’re not intentional, but it definitely feels repetitive are certain points. And while there’s a chance that it’s just some serious misdirection, setting up Black Canary for the damsel role is someone that irks me intensely.

Green Arrow #3 is a comic that is the very definition of mediocre. There’s some good bits sprinkled about, but also a ton of stiff artwork, just plan bad dialogue and numerous moments of uninspired writing. It’s not enough to drive me away from the title, but it’s disheartening to say the least. Also as someone who plans on supporting the also twice a month shipping Nightwing, it has me worried about how double shipping will affect that book as well.

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Chris’ Comics: Snotgirl #1

STL011624Snotgirl #1

Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung, Mickey Quinn, Mare Odomo

Image $2.99

Snotgirl #1 is not only the first time Scott Pilgrim/Seconds creator Bryan Lee O’ Malley has delved into a monthly comic, but it also marks the first time someone else is drawing his work. Making her comics debut is Leslie Hung, who teams with O’Malley to tell the story of one Lottie Person. Lottie is 25 year old Fashion blogger who lives in L.A., and is crazy popular on the internet. Her personal life is a bit of a mess though as her friends are constantly flaking out on her, her love life is  a mess, suffering from serious allergies. Also she’s not exactly the nicest person, as O’Malley and Hung have made her a very shallow and self absorbent lead who at times deserves the hand she’s dealt. Having a unlikable character as your lead is a risky move, but it works, thanks to the talent involved.

If there’s anything that you can compare Snotgirl to, it’s shoujo-manga (I.E. manga that’s aim specifically at women). Both the dialogue and manga feel very breezy and flowery, which Snotgirl03I’m sure is intentional; after all given o’ Malley love of manga. It’s also an incredibly smart comic, hidden behind a paper-thin lead. Aside from Lottie dealing with her problems, this book serves as both  commentary and a critique on social media careers while examining the duality of having a online and offline personality.

I absolutely adore the art team of Leslie Hung and Micky Quinn. Hung’s art is gorgeous, well except for the parts where our lead is dripping excessive snot from her nose. It’s manga with a touch of Babs Tarr, meaning it looks VERY 2016. My only nitpick is that there’s a pair of panels at the end of the comic that’s very vague, and I can’t tell if that’s intentional or not. Quinn’s colors are fantastic; very bright and clean, capturing the LA feel of the book exceptional well. Bryan Lee O’ Malley comics always look good, and Snotgirl is no exception to that. I also don’t want to over look Mare Odomo, who handles the letters. Odomo isn’t the first letterer who’s had to work emojis/text messages into a comic book’s narration, but this comic is some of the best use of it I’ve seen in awhile.

Speaking of O’ Malley, I love what he’s down with this debut. He manages to make Lottie snotgirl01-review05really polarizing, but also someone you’ll want to read about. Every time the character has a moment that makes her the least bit tolerable, O’ Malley makes sure there’s a moment that completely undoes that. That’s not to say that there’s nothing endearing about the book’s cat, but O’ Malley throws out a last minute twist that puts and end to that.

Snotgirl is book unlike anything else out. It’s hard to explain why it’s such a amazing read without spoilers, but given the fact that it’s Bryan Lee O’ Malley’s first attempt at a 20 page comic, that’s all you need. But the book doesn’t succeed due to his talents alone,  as Hung, Quinn and Odomo all excel at their respected roles. Snotgirl #1 is fantastic comic with a unique premise, and it’s something you should be reading now versus waiting for the trade.

 

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

tumblr_o4ysvnCGRp1rm4afao1_1280Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth

Julie and Shawna Benson, Claire Roe, Allen Passalaqua

DC $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Wicked + The Divine #21

TheWickedAndTheDivine_21-1The Wicked + The Divine #21

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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