Category: Daily Planet

DC Rebirth’s Ticking Clock Starts As “The Button” Begins In Batman #21

DC’s two greatest detectives come together in Batman #21 as the mystery of “The Button” begins!

A good slow build is something we comic book readers don’t always appreciate nowadays. We’re becoming a culture of bingers who want the whole story on demand. It has to be on our time and oftentimes that means publishers rush through the journey. With “The Button” storyline that will take place across Batman and Flash over the next four weeks, DC Comics is looking to prove that sometimes the best things are ones we can endure waiting for.

At last, the next major step forward from the revelations of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 about the iconic smiley face button that appears in the Batcave will be explored! Will it bring the DCU that much closer to confronting the world of Alan Moore’s Watchmen? Well, we’ve been marching there all along haven’t we?

Rooted from last FCBD’s DC Rebirth story, then continuing with continuity-threatening revelations from DC Universe: Rebirth #1, this story has been building across several titles in DC for a year. Think about it, Mr. Oz and the events of the recent Superman Reborn storyline, the implications about Eobawd Thawne and Flashpoint-Batman, Thomas Wayne in Flash #19, the importance of Psycho-Pirate’s ability to remember all previous DC continuities throughout Tom King’s current run on Batman, it’s all building to this next major turning point.

Thawne, Thomas Wayne, and Psycho Pirate will be part of the mystery that Batman and Flash will be investigating. Time altering implications have been promised. This is the next major step forward in the two year epic that DC’s said will carry on across their entire publishing line. It’s no secret that after this story, Batman will realize that war is imminent. But war with who or what?

A kudos to DC, it’s not easy anymore to make us wait for all the answers but based on the quality of the breadcrumbs they’ve been leaving us, it definitely feels like the answers we’re about to get could be very satisfying. Of course, everything won’t be revealed over the next four weeks. After all, where’s the fun in that? Hey, maybe I’m wrong though, maybe what a Comedian once said is true, “This is a joke. This is all a joke.” If it is, will we be laughing or cringing when it’s done?

We’ll begin to find out in Batman #21.

 

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Creative Conversation: Brandon Montclare

Welcome to a Creative Conversation with comics scribe Brandon Montclare. Today we’ll dish on currently captivating run on Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, his controversial essential reads for newbies to comics, and some of his insane journey from intern, to editor, to writer. Along the way we’ll make pit stops at Tokyo Pop, DC Comics, Vertigo, and discuss some tips for new writers wanting to break into the comic book industry. And of course, we’ll get Brandon’s take on whose faces would be on his personal Mt. Rushmore of comics. Agree? Disagree? Let’s start the process…

MK: I am ready to have our next Creative Conversation with the current co-scribe of Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, THE Brandon Montclare. Thanks for joining me today, sir. Kind of just to ease in, get a little bit of background, do you remember the first comic you purchased, or the first one that stuck with you?

BM: Yeah, no, I never have and people ask me all the time. I’ve thought about it and I’ve thought, okay let me try to reconstruct that “what was my first comic” and truth be told it was Savage Sword of Conan. And I was a little kid, and we had the direct market but about a million stuff you would see on the newsstand and Savage Sword of Conan being magazine size either just by luck of where I lived or because of the actual distribution I couldn’t tell you. It was a little more common.

MK: Do you miss the magazine format?

BM: Yes, very much so. And they were kind of old, kind of before my time even though Savage Sword of Conan lasted for a million years and I was reading it all throughout. But it would  have been “Savage Sword somewhere in the early hundreds and I actually, okay, so I had this one and this was earliest, and you go online to find it. And then I said, “Okay, I know Spider-Man with the black costume was around that time” and Daredevil, I know the covers. Was Marvel Team-Up, I was joking earlier about Starfox before but there was this Marvel Star Fox, this Marvel Team-Up was a book I had and I can’t find anything online about it.

MK: But you know it existed because you owned that comic.

BM: Well yes, because I said I had that and I saw that cover a hundred times. You know what that means? So, and then I should remember what the numbers are and everything else but I don’t. So…

MK: I’m terrible with remembering numbers. I’m like you, I can remember the cover, I can remember the story, but the actual issue number, I’m just not wired that way.

BM: Yeah but I have brothers who are four years older than me. Two of them, they’re twins of each other and there were comic books around and my grandfather, he was a big reader of magazines in general but also comic books and everything else. Because he spent many years at sea. He worked on, for Exxon, he worked on ships, he was an engineer. So it was kind of part of his personality where he would, even though he at that point working was up at Albert Einstein Hospital up in the Bronx, but he kind of still had that mentality where it was, “You’re in port so go buy a bunch of stuff and then take it back to your little room on the ship” so to speak. So he would buy comics and magazines and everything else like that. And the comics at least would filter down.

MK: That’s incredible. The generational passing of the stories. I mean, it’s one of those really special things about comics though.

BM: Yeah, and I don’t know that he even grew up on comics. It was just something where he would, you’d be at sea for a couple of months so he would go and he would just take Time magazine and he would take all the comics, too. And like I said he was a big reader. So there were always piles around. What the first one is I don’t know. But Savage Sword of Conan was a favorite.

MK: Were there any other series growing up that stick with you?

BM: Yeah, you know it was probably a year or two after my, quote-unquote, “first comic” that I was into collecting. I was in grade school, right, so it’s not like you have money to be a real collector but it starts with maybe the issues that you missed that you want to have. I think you’re influenced back then in the 80’s, mid-80’s, with all the advertisements in the books were for back issues. You know what I mean? And collectors are all, “Oh, I want this, that and the other thing.” Oddly enough I don’t know if it was because of Conan or not but Groo was one of my favorite books. That was probably the first run of comics I had. But then there was a lot of Marvel stuff. I liked Spider-Man, all the titles they had like, three titles, right? Web of Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, and Amazing Spider-Man. I was in full swing when all that pre-Image stuff came out. When like McFarlane Spider-Man and Jim Lee’s X-Men and everything else. But, yeah, so I was a big fan, Mostly Marvel. Some DC also, I liked Green Lantern along with Batman.

MK: So you’re collecting comics as a kid. And you’ve had probably one of the most unique journeys that I can think of, as far as how many different boxes in the comics world you can check off having done. Can you tell people a little bit about your journey.

BM: I mean, I guess I’ve done it all. I was in junior high, so, I don’t know-seventh grade, and selling at local conventions. I grew up near enough to New York City. My father grew up in Manhattan and, uh, but my parents were divorced so, I shouldn’t say that, my father lived in Manhattan. I grew up in Westchester. But even Westchester had a bunch of comic stores. New York had a monthly comic convention. So, since I was eleven or twelve, I was selling every month at the Grady Stern conventions. You know, buying and selling. Making a little bit of money. Then, at nineteen, I opened up a comic book shop. And this would have been in the crash of the early-mid 90’s. So…

MK: So you’re timing was perfect.

BM: Well, I don’t think as a nineteen year-old I could have opened, I did open a shop. I should say there was a shop going out of business and I took over half of it. Which was Alternate Realities up in Scarsdale. Which I always proudly said, “still going strong” but not anymore. They closed up about a year ago.

MK: But it’s a legendary comic shop. If you know comic book stores, you know about Alternate Realities. And they had that documentary on it and everything.

BM: Yeah, yeah yeah! So I was a former employee but, so, yeah, worked at cons, worked at retail, at nineteen it was very cool to be a comic shop owner. In my mid-20’s, I personally didn’t feel it was that cool anymore (laughs). And it was a lot of work, you know. I mean you’re working more than eighty hours a week.

MK: People don’t realize the hours that goes into running a comic book shop.

BM: Yeah, definitely. So, I was married, well I still am married, my wife at the time, and still my wife (laughs) so I have no idea why I’m phrasing it that way.

MK: Congratulations (laughs).

BM: Yeah, there you go. She was relocating for school, she has a Ph. D in chemistry. We’re basically fire and ice on the formal education scale. But she was doing a post-doctorate in California, Cal Tech. It was supposed to be eighteen months, wound up being two and a half years. I’d sold most of my interest in the store. I went back to school. And as part of that I got an internship working at Tokyo Pop. In editorial. Tokyo Pop, infamous, maybe more than famous. They did translations of manga. That was kind of their bread and butter. They had a lot of money coming in and always trying to expand the business. People would literally call up the office or contact the office and say, “Oh, we want to do a cartoon of Fruits Basketor “We want to take Sailor Moon and put her on a lunch box.” Tokyo Pop only had a license to do reprints, right? They didn’t have any merchandising rights. So, the Powers That Be, who were a bunch of lunatics, said “We should start creating comics in the manga style, with creators, and that way we have properties that we can license off.” And they had a bit of a controversy with some of the deals that they gave to creators and I’m not saying that stuff was weird over at Tokyo Pop. A lot of good people worked there, too.

MK: How long were you at Tokyo Pop?

BM: I was there probably a little bit more than a year. It seems like a long time because you’re young. But I was an intern and then they hired me as like a freelance editor. Which only meant that [I] kind of had reduced hours which was fine because, as I said, I’d gone back to school.

MK: So you were editing manga for Tokyo Pop while you were also going to school.

BM: Yes.

MK: That’s the best side gig ever.

BM: (Laughs) It’s, well, it’s complicated because you don’t know what you’re going to do with life. You know, my wife has a Ph. D in chemistry so her kind of goal and the plan always was to find an academic position. Tenure track someplace. Which luckily wound up being back in New York, she’s at NYU. But it could have been anywhere. So it’s like, “Oh, I’ll go back to school, I’ll do something, and we’ll see.” I was a terrible student in high school. And my first phase of college. But when I went back I became a very good student. So we had no idea though [whether] we would wind up in College Station, Texas A&M or you might wind up at Syracuse, right, not necessarily the biggest cities in the world. And I had done some writing also for Tokyo Pop. But I wasn’t really thinking of that. So, like I said, I was doing my thing at Tokyo Pop and a lot of these type of businesses have a structure. You know interns would become a freelance editor like me then maybe they would offer you a staff position. And I got offered a staff position right when things were looking like they were about to get bad. So I was one of the, I hate to say rats leaving a sinking ship BUT ended up locating back to New York anyway.

MK: When you got back to New York where did you land?

BM: At DC Comics. I was lucky, I got, well I should say I was offered from Marvel and at DC Comics to be an assistant editor and maybe because I was overqualified more than I was just super brilliant. But both those places were getting hundreds of applications. But I worked for Bob Schreck over at DC Comics. And the reason I took DC, even though I was reading more Marvel stuff growing up was the opportunity to work with Schrek on All-Star Superman and All-Star Batman, with Paul Pope on Batman: Year 100

MK: Just, little known titles that probably no one’s ever heard of (laughs).

BM: And that was stuff and for a short time, when I knew that I was coming in and Bob was transitioning out of it just the regular Bat-office. I didn’t want to miss out on that opportunity. Because I loved editing. I had done some freelance writing, and a lot of people have a goal of becoming a freelance writer. It wasn’t my goal. I loved editing. A lot of me wishes I could still do it.

MK: What was one of the most rewarding aspects about editing and what was one of the most challenging aspects?

BM: The reward was completely, it’s like, when you’re a kid you want to be an artist, you want to be a writer, whatever you want to do, you want to be the creator. But when you think about it, [being an editor] it’s the ultimate fan position. I mean, I’m a writer, if I’m working on two or three books, which would be a lot for me, but even if you’re the most prolific writer working on four books-

MK: Oh, you mean Jeff Lemire? (Chuckles)

BM: Yeah, there you go (laughs). Maybe more than four, I worked with Jeff, I was the first editor on Sweet Tooth. And that came later. So, you get to work with all these guys, you get to work with a bunch of, you know what I mean, you get to work with artists and writers. And by that point I was into a lot of new people. I mean I gave Shane Davis some of his first jobs, Amy Reeder her first job, Sean Murphy, I kind of worked on his early stuff. Also got to work with Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, Michael Kaluta.

MK: You get to work with your heroes and help maybe create some new heroes in the process.

BM: Yeah, so it was like amazing to be an editor. What are the challenges? Generally it’s a nine to five job. Given the opportunity to work freelance there’s that, you don’t have to go to the office everyday. But the challenge at DC was, and it wasn’t unfair, but it’s just kind of the reality of that work, is you’re low man on the totem pole. You’ve got to wait your turn. I had gotten a few books that had gotten approved that I had a hundred percent put together myself. There’s a China Mieville Swamp Thing that never came out…That’s not a secret, it got absorbed back into DC and this was later, towards the end of me being there, it was New 52 spinning out where it was, “Oh, we’re going to bring him downstairs.” And that was a Scott Snyder book. So China had written, I think, it might have been the full scripts on the first ten issues. They certainly had the outlines so they made good by him for his work.

MK: That’s one of those situations I’m always amazed by. It’s learning how many scripts have been written for characters by major creators that’ll never see the light of day. And you’re wondering how it just stays in a drawer.

BM: Yeah, there’s an issue eleven of All-Star Batman that was never drawn. And it was kind of like a standalone Joker story. So there’s a Frank Miller script that was never drawn. And I think part of the reason was, and with good intentions, that Frank and Jim Lee would come back one day, maybe condense it to give it an ending. You know what I mean? That thing was paced for four hundred million issues

MK: If Marvel finally got out Captain America: White and David Lapham finished the initial run on Stray Bullets, I still can have hope for All-Star Batman & Robin.

BM: Yeah, but thinking about that script, if Jim Lee’s only got time to draw one issue then every six issues you’d have to restructure it so that’s something but there’s stuff like that. So at the end of DC I was doing too many books, uh, more than they would let me as an Associate Editor. And at that time Paul [Levitz] had stepped down and there was kind of an interim, they didn’t name the Dan DiDio, Jim Lee double-headed publisher so, it was time to go. So I said, “Okay, I’m not going to give away books that I singlehandedly put together just because I have too many books.”

MK: How did you find the transition from being an editor to being a writer? Did you feel more prepared?

BM: Well, I had done some writing before. At one point you’re mystified by it where you don’t even know how this comes together. It’s probably a lot easier now than it was ten or so years ago because of the internet. I mean obviously the internet was around ten years ago but maybe it’s easier to get scripts and talk with creators with social media kind of demystifying it. So I think a lot of it is that. [As an editor] you’re familiar with scripts, you’re familiar with artists. You know more what does work, what doesn’t work. And if you have a good head on the shoulders coming out of editorial maybe even if you’re not the best writer – And I’m not saying I’m the best writer or the worst or anything else – but I did the stupidest thing imaginable. I left on very good terms, everybody loves me over at DC. I didn’t want to be the guy, because I’d taken so much pride in editing, and a lot of people use that as a stepping stone and are upfront about it, and that’s totally cool. But I loved editing so much, I didn’t want to be the guy that was even perceived as using editing to take a stepping stone to writing. That was half of it. The other half says, “Hey, since I’m going freelance writing, why don’t you give me a couple of books?” I didn’t want to make other people feel like they had to humor me. So my first gig was kind of a cold gig at Marvel. I mean nothing’s cold because everybody knows everybody. But my first gig was at Marvel having no connection to them as a publisher. Like anybody else I had a couple of short things that nobody remembers. The first thing I did wasn’t the first thing that got printed. The first was an eight page back up, it was in Hulk, it was with Korg, who was The Thing, Ben Grimm looking alien from Journey into Mystery #83, the first appearance of Thor. Which Greg [Pak] had been hocking and then brought into continuity. And it’s funny because, in comics, people think, “Oh, I’m going to pitch Hawkman. And it’s going to be such a good idea that they’re going to give me my gig and it’s going to be Hawkman.” Or, “I’ve got the best pitch for Spider-Man and Black Cat, I’m gonna pitch that and they’re going to give me that book.” What happens often, and it’s probably the first half dozen gigs you’re going to get is that an editor likes your stuff and they groom it for you. So they say, “Hey, Brandon, we’re doing eight page back ups for all the supporting characters in Hulk. Do you want to do Korg? Because nobody’s doing Korg.” My answer was literally, “Korg, that’s fantastic! A hundred percent. That’s my favorite.” I had to go look up for Korg was (laughs).

MK: When someone offers you a job, you take the job.

BM: Yeah!

MK: It’s like, “yes, sir, I can build that submarine for you! When’s that check in the mail?”

BM: Absolutely. And I got Simon Bisley to do it since I worked with him when he was on Hellblazer. I was the guy that said let’s put him on covers. Which isn’t a brilliant move. Right? I mean Simon certainly had done covers before he’d done any for me. But-

MK: Still a good get.

BM: Yeah. What came out first but that I wrote second was, there was a crossover called Chaos War, which was with Hercules and there was a bad guy in that called the Chaos King. And I got to do the Chaos King one-shot and it wound up being over-sized…They wanted to feature the bad guy who had to speak in haiku? In all appearances. And I said, “Well that’s fine if he’s like the mysterious guy,” cause he had this God-like power cosmic level. So I said, “Well, that’s fine if he’s the guy behind the star that Hercules hears, he can hear it in haiku. But if you want to have an actual story with him, how often does he have to talk in haiku?” I sent that letter in. And it’s technically my second gig so I’m trying to be very nice saying, “What if I, I’ll give him a voice obviously that fits a cosmic entity but maybe I can just punctuate it with haiku. Like maybe he’ll start in a different voice and then when makes a big point he’ll do it in haiku.” I wondered if we could get away with that and I got a response that said, “No, he always speaks in haiku.” So I had to make a thirty page story with a guy speaking in haiku. Luckily, he’s a cosmic entity so I broke it up so that it was different people bouncing it off of him. But, when the actual, if Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak are reading, they should cover their eyes right now, because when Chaos War came out, Chaos King, he wasn’t talking in haiku in every scene. So it’s like, “Thanks, thanks a lot.” (laughs) They tried that for a day and decided “not.”

MK: And it was your day.

BM: Exactly.

MK: When you were an editor and you were getting a pitch, were there certain things you looked for fundamentally? In terms of formatting or the types of pitches? What advice would you give to someone writing their first pitch?

BM: Unfortunately, editors are different…You want to tailor something to an editor and you want to tailor it to your strengths. I always try to not get hung up on format. I always thought it was crazy, you’d say, “Give me a pitch in the form you think is strongest” but the editor wants it a certain way. So, some editors will give out, if not an outline, “Here’s the pitch that I got that’s the perfect form, use this.” And sometimes that’s the demands of the publisher they’re at because it has to cycle through certain things. But, obviously you want to keep it short. Because these things happen in stages. A lot of places can’t take unsolicited pitches anyway. So you have to have a relationship. A lot of the gigs are going to come in. I did have to give a pitch on the story of what Korg was going to do (laughs). I mean it was eight pages so it probably didn’t take me too long. This is the least sexy answer. You’re probably going to be in a relationship with them if you’re pitching anything now. And they’ll tell you what they need. But personally, shorter is always better. Because things will change so much anyway. And if you have something you believe in, think of it this way, your editor believes in you but if you got the assistant, like I was, he’s got to convince a lot of people above him. You almost don’t want to have too much information in it because that generates more questions.

MK: The more information you give, the more opportunities you’re giving someone to poke holes in it and you’re not necessarily in the room to talk it through.

BM: Exactly. So you don’t want to get too married to your pitch. The process of rewriting and going through the team it’s going to be so different anyway. To me, you want to sell yourself. Because the editor’s going to have an easier time selling the talent than the pitch.

MK: See, that’s brilliant. That’s, brilliant. I don’t know what you mean that’s not a sexy answer.

BM: Well people want a formula. And that, you’ll be forgiven for being a little bit overenthusiastic, you hope (laughs). Because everyone’s excited and everyone in comics was the person who at one point wanted to be in comics. So hopefully they’re forgiving.

MK: Also, if you catch them on a bad day…

BM: It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. And some people will be jerks, that’s going to happen, to0. But you know, you have to make it happen.

MK: Switching gears a bit, and thank you again for very generously taking the time to do this. Your Mount. Rushmore of comics, who would go on there?

BM: I read the first installment and I was thinking about this question. So, for me, all I could think about was who should be on the actual Mount Rushmore of comics. And then I realized, well, I have to also make this somewhat controversial. Alright. So that I thought of and then I forgot everyone. Well, first you got to put Stan Lee. Because Stan Lee doesn’t get enough credit. Well, okay he gets a lot of credit, but people ask, “Oh, does he deserve so much credit?” I’m a big fan of Stan Lee. I don’t know about his business dealings. I don’t know about his personal dealings…I’m sure he’s taken credit from a lot o people. But he’s kind of the guy that made comics what it is, I think. And not by his writing and maybe not by his editorial acumen, maybe it is, I don’t know, but just by being the hawker. Neal Adams has to be on there. Frank Miller has to be on there. Neal Adams because just such an influential artist but also did more for creators rights which I also think translates to in a lot of ways creative freedom and people being able to do their best work, which I think more than everybody else combined. Frank Miller because he did everything in my mind. He was a writer, he was an artist, jumped into Hollywood and was able to sell himself there. Well, if you put Stan Lee on there I guess you have to put Jack Kirby on. And then I think about wanting to create controversy and then people are going to think I hate Jack Kirby, I love Jack Kirby. I do a Kirby book! So I’d almost throw Todd McFarlane on there just to drive people crazy. And I say that completely seriously though.

MK: McFarlane revolutionized the business. You can’t argue that. Whether you think it was for the better or worse, or what you think of what he’s become now and what he was then. But you can’t deny his contribution.

BM: He was a popular artist and people [still] dig his stuff. And not for an artist but for his contribution to the business. So my personal Mount Rushmore is, I’ll give you four guys I like and it’ll change down the road. I’m a big Sergio Aragones fan, and these are just guys who influenced me and I like. I’m a big Larry Stroman fan because Alien Legion was the first book I really liked. And that stuff totally holds up now…Amy Reeder and Frank Quitely on there, too. I worked with them, too.

MK: I might put Amy Reeder in the top five of everything. And I hope she’s going to read this.

BM: She is a world class artist that I’ve gotten to work with a lot. Having sat next to her at dozens of conventions, the list of people that seek her out to tell her, “How do you do that, you’re amazing?” From Bill Sienkiewicz, to Frank Quitely, to Adam Hughes or lots of artists in between. I mean, she’s that good.

MK: And you guys have worked together, on Madame Xanadu you were an editor, you selected her for a competition at Tokyo Pop-

BM: That’s true.

MK: And then you’ve got Rocket Girl that you created together. And now you’ve got Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. What makes you the yin to each other’s yang?

BM: It’s just cause it works. Friendship and working with friends, I think, is underrated. I hired Amy, I gave her her first gig at Tokyo Pop. It was a contest. And she won it fair and square, I was the judge on one of them. We would take the top ten entries and make a little anthology out of them. I thought she was really talented. I was then leaving Tokyo Pop si I never got to stick around and work with her directly. I always wanted to work with her so I got her the Madame Xanadu gig at Vertigo. Which was a lot of fun to work on. And you know, as an editor you take a lot of credit for hiring somebody but they’ve got to make you look good. If I put her in the batter’s box, she’s got to hit out of the park or at least try to get on base and she hit it out of the park again and again and again. We had a really good relationship And when she was a little bit burnt out after Batwoman and leaving DC it was, let’s just do a quick project I don’t even want to think about it. Which became the Halloween Even one-shot which was very successful. And then we said, “Hey, we should do more of this.” So we tried something longer which was Rocket Girl. We decided we’d do five issues and see how it does. Who knew ten issues would take four years. In a way it hasn’t been a tremendous amount of pages but some of that is it takes a lot of time for Amy to do what she does.

MK: Sure, comics can take a long time to make.

BM: So Rocket Girl was a lot of fun. Rocket Girl opened the door to Moon Girl literarlly when Marvel said, “We want you to do something at Marvel like you guys do with Rocket Girl.” Amy wasn’t sure if she’d be able to draw that but she’s a great writer. And really doesn’t get enough credit for it.

MK: You had already seen her chops as a writer.

BM: Yeah, so we’ve co-written for Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, this is not a secret, she’s leaving with issue nineteen. And she did her part, she also did covers and designs. Amy can pick up the phone and call ten different publishers and get twenty different offers for covers. It was for her because Rocket Girl wasn’t coming out on the shelf as often so if she was going to do a cover, she should do one on something she was writing. Then it became a comfort level, her not growing up on the Marvel and DC stuff, working with me.

MK: Okay, now for the few people reading this that haven’t read Moon Girl yet, how would you describe the title?

BM: Well, it’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Devil Dinosaur is an old Kirby dinsoaur that went out eating other dinosaurs and sometimes some cave men. Marvel came to us and said, “Hey, give us some ideas of what you can do.” And we wanted some obscure characters so it started with Devil Dinosaur but when it went to Moon Girl, she gave us something creatively to get excited for. So if you look at my files on computer it went from Devil Dinosaur, to Devil Dinosaur and Moon Girl, to Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Whereas it is really, with all due to respect to Devil Dinosaur it’s really a book about Moon Girl. She is a nine year-old super smart engineer, inventor, scientist, who doesn’t get any recognition. She’s still in public school and doesn’t get why the world around her isn’t respecting how smart she is. Over the course of now eighteen issues going strong, Marvel, and this is an idea we pitched to them that they picked up on, Marvel has named her the smartest person in the Marvel Universe. But she’s still a kid, she still has challenges of getting along in the world. And Devil Dinosaur has become a buddy comedy, where maybe it’s her with the least smartest person in the Marvel Universe. But it’s a person who doesn’t judge her, that’s very faithful, that she can rely in, and in her entire life she hasn’t had that. And they form a bond.

MK: Right now, in recognition of her new status, she’s in the midst of the story arc, “The Smartest There Is” that’s getting ready to wrap up. She’s rubbed shoulders with X-Men, Hulk, Doctor Strange, can you give our readers a tease of what to expect from the final chapter of this epic adventure?

BM: Yeah, sure. What’s coming up is, this was really a coming out party for Moon Girl. It’s one thing to say she’s the smartest person, it’s another thing to show it. So how do you show it? With someone that’s always been isolated let’s show her meet all the heavy hitters. It was Hulk and then Thing, and then Iron Heart, and Dr. Strange, and most recently the X-Men. Issue eighteen is called, “Full Moon” and it’s a battle royale versus a mysterious Doctor Doom that doesn’t seem to match any of the other Doctor Dooms in Marvel right now. It will also have a pretty big reveal of Moon Girl’s powers, that she switches brains with Devil Dinosaur and some other cool stuff coming up. It’s been kind of the opening trilogy, I mean it is the third arc. But issues one through eighteen is in a lot of ways the first arc. And it’s going to kind of leave her, where she started as a nobody, now she’ll have a defined place in the Marvel Universe. The next arc after that will actually take a step back and just focuses on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. I don’t want to spoil it too much but there’s a secret mission they have to do.

MK: No spoilers, I hate spoilers. If people want the secrets revealed they should come down to Forbidden Planet and pick up what is, I say unabashedly, one of the best books from the House of Ideas.

BM: That’s right.

MK: Okay, last questions. For someone who maybe has never read a comic book before. If you were running a store today and somebody walked in, what five stories would you tell them to read?

BM: Okay, I worked in a store and all my reads are wrong! I say, don’t read Watchmen, that’s something people should read later, it’s too confusing but people read Watchmen and love it. I say, “Sandman’s great but start with the second trade.” Which they actually used to do (laughs). But people seem to just want it all. And it’s funny having worked on both All-Star Superman and All-Star Batman & Robin, another fire and ice, All-Star Superman is great, and it won all the awards, but All-Star Batman & Robin might be a little more, accessible? I don’t know, do you have to love and be familiar with comics to read All-Star Superman? I do not know. But, Saga, you can pick it up and read it right away. So that’s number one. I think, Dark Knight Returns doesn’t get enough credit, because people always want to try to get cute and say, “Oh, you should do Year One instead.” Year One’s a perfectly good story but I’m going to put that classic on there. See I got to be contrary and do all weird stuff.

MK: Do it! You got three more.

BM: Daytripper, which I edited. I worked on a lot of great books, some of which I was just lucky enough to be sitting there when Bob Schreck landed them or Karen Burger landed them. Daytripper might be the best thing I ever worked on. And I think everyone can read it. It’s got an interesting form, it shows you what comics can do.

MK: I agree.

BM: I teach a class, too, so I should be a little bit more up on this stuff. You know, keeping it new also, Ms. Marvel, I think is as good as advertised and it’s a great book. And for the last one, because it’s obscure but great, Dial H For Hero by China Mieville and that’ll bring us full circle. I don’t know if those are essential but those are five oddball ones. Ask me again in five minutes, I’ll give you five new ones.  

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- DC Icons and More

This week’s new toy releases focus on several major characters from DC’s pantheon. Included are DC’s premier heroine, a Milestone mainstay, one of the Titans’ greatest foes, a former Titan turned Justice Leaguer and the protector of the green.

DC Icons makes a huge splash this week with four new single-packed figures and one deluxe figure pack. Wonder Woman as seen in the Justice League: The Amazo Virus, Static, Deathstroke the Terminator from The Judas Contract, Cyborg from Forever Evil and Swamp Thing from Dark Genesis are the latest characters to receive a DC Icons figure. Each figure comes with dedicated accessories such as an Un-Man for Swamp Thing, interchangeable arms and a generator for Cyborg, a lasso, sword and shield for Wonder Woman, electrical effects for Static and an arsenal of weapons for Deathstroke. This is in addition to the usual interchangeable hands that come with the figures.

Everyone’s favorite vampire hunter- Blade is joining the POP vinyl family this week with the release of the Previews Exclusive Marvel Heroes Blade POP Vinyl. Blade features the character with his teeth bared clad in black leather and brandishing a sword. Blade should be a popular one so get him while you can. Significant recent POP vinyl releases include Mr. Poopy Butthole from Rick and Morty, Cat in the Hat and Dr. Seuss POPs and Herry Monster from Sesame Street.

The latest wave of Power Rangers Legacy figures should be hitting our shelves this week. This new wave features the last figure to build the classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Megazord with the release of that series’ Yellow Ranger, other figures in the set include the White Ranger from MMPR, plus the Black, Blue and Pink Rangers from Power Rangers in Space. Along those lines, we should be getting another small shipment of the Voltron Legendary Defenders line. Specifically the Red, Blue, Yellow and Green Lions.

We got in a small restock on older and some new Bandai items this week including Bruce Lee figures, The Joker from Suicide Squad, some Dragon Ball Z, Ranma 1/2 and Sailor Moon characters. I don’t know how long these figures will last as some of these haven’t been in the store in ages. Part of this Bandai shipment included new Tamashii Buddies of the Pink and Red Ranger and Lord Zedd from MMPR and a new line of Star Wars model kits.

Briefly:

Legends of Tomorrow’s season finale aired this week, while Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl are all on hiatus til the end of the month. Will the Legends defeat the Legion of Doom and destroy the Spear of Destiny? We’ll know the answer to this by the time this article sees print.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year and I will do a brief retrospective on the toys and the show in the next column.

Spider-Man Legends are back again with Shocker, Spidey 2099, Ms. Marvel, Black Costume Spidey, Green Goblin, The Jackal and Spidey-UK all gracing our store shelves once more.

That’s all for me this week- catch you all next time!

 

 

 

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Two Cats, A Riddler and an Instant Team…

DC Collectibles is back at it this week with two brand new pieces in their Batman: The Animated Series line. This time around, the characters hail from the Kids WB iteration of The New Batman Adventures.  Catwoman comes in her sleek all-black outfit, complete with her blue-green makeup, interchangeable hands, her cat, a whip and a figure base. Selina comes with the usual points of articulation you’ve come to expect by now from a DC Collectibles Batman Animated figure. Ms. Kyle isn’t the only Bat-Rogue to arrive this week, as Edward Nygma himself- The Riddler also makes his appearance in this line.  Dressed in his lime green jumpsuit complete with matching bowler hat, the Riddler features multiple points of articulation, a question mark cane, interchangeable hands and a figure base.

That’s not all arriving this week from DC Collectibles either. DC’s Icons series may have slowed down a bit, but here’s a chance to get a full team for a fairly decent price. Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Cyborg all appear in this Rebirth Justice League box set with each figure standing about 6″ tall.  If past DC Collectibles box sets are any indication, this one will be popular.

In other toy news- Black Panther is imminent- fans of Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of the Wakandan Prince T’Challa in last summer’s Captain America: Civil War will love this new addition to the ever popular Hot Toys line. I anticipate that he will be in store either by the time you read this article or shortly after. Black Panther will feature a highly articulated 1/6 scale body, authentically detailed costuming, interchangeable hands and a character base. With everyone asking about this figure, I anticipate this one will fly out of here.

I don’t typically post about prop replicas in this column, but there is a really sweet inexpensive piece coming to us via Sideshow from QMX. I first saw this piece at Toy Fair and was blown away by the look and the pricing. Based on the prop’s appearance in the recent DC Cinematic Universe films, the iconic Batarang sits atop a magnetic display base and is made from a zinc alloy. It is also a 1:1, so it is life-sized. I think you’ll probably like this one, once you see it.

Funko POPs are still going strong and we have one new addition that I think you’ll be excited for. Fans of the Netflix series, Daredevil can now add the titular hero to their POP collection as he appeared in the second season of his hit show. Joining him is the famed assassin herself, Elektra. No word on the Punisher yet, but it should be soon.

Briefly:

DC’s Multiverse line from Mattel is dropping in limited numbers this week, this assortment will feature Batman Jim Gordon, The Batgirl of Burnside, Dark Knight Returns Joker, The false Jay Garrick from The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow’s Hawkman and a collect and connect figure of King Shark. More cases should arrive soon.

Make it So with Titans’ Star Trek: The Next Generation blind box series. Each blind box features one of the classic characters from the nearly 30 year old series. Picard, Beverly and Wesley, Tasha Yar, Geordi, Data, Worf, Riker and Troi are all here as well as some of their most memorable foes. You know I’ll be collecting this one hard.

I am expecting a pretty massive restock on Funko items in the store, so if you are in the mood for a POP or Dorbz or even Mystery Minis you might have missed, come check us out, we may have what you need.

That’s all for me folks- catch you next week!

 

 

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

This week’s print issue of the Weekly Planet has another Who’s Who entry to commemorate the release of DC Collectibles’ brand new Hawkgirl/Kendra Saunders action figure from the CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. For the previous entry, go here.

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

Layout: Justin Bacolo

Text: Valentine Chhann

Note: Height and Weight info was researched online for both this entry and the previous one.

HGWhosWho

 

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Women of the DC Universe and More

This week’s new toy releases provides us with a bevy of beauties. DC Comics’ beauties that is. All 5 of the newest DC Collectibles are the heroines and villainesses of the DC Universe. Which ones? Glad you asked!

Ant Lucia has been behind the DC Bombshells line for the past few years now and the statues have proven to be very popular. For those seeking a cheaper Bombshells line to collect, DC has you covered now. Part of their ongoing Designer series which have featured artists like Darwyn Cooke, Greg Capullo and Terry Dodson, the new Bombshells line kicks off with four brand new figures based on Lucia’s artwork. Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn feature the 40’s retro pin-up styling and are fully articulated and accessorized.  If you are a fan of the DC Bombshells, I think this line will be a hit.

If 40’s cheesecake isn’t quite your style, we’ve also got the brand new DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Hawkgirl action figure coming in.  Hawkgirl is based on actress Ciara Renee’s portrayal of the character from last season’s Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow episodes. Though Hawkgirl hasn’t been around this season, she can join your collection of CW DC heroes forever with this release. Kendra features several points of articulation(including her wings), interchangeable hands and a mace weapon. Collect the rest of her teammates(so far) with the recently released Firestorm and last year’s Heat Wave figure.

Other things of note this week:

Mezco’s 1:12 line may be the hottest new toyline of the year and we have restocks on Daredevil and Green Arrow scheduled to arrive, as well as the Flash making his debut in the line.

Power Rangers Legacy Assortments 1 and 2 are back this week as well. If you need any of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, particularly the Green and Red ones, this may be your last chance to get these guys. Series 3 should be hitting in a matter of weeks too.

Star Wars Black are also coming back in with limited numbers of Leia, Obi-Wan, Sabine Wren, Darth Revan, The Empire Strikes Back Snowtrooper and the AT-AT Driver back in store. Leia and Obi-Wan are both scheduled to be in the forthcoming 40th Anniversary vintage collection, but this particular Leia sculpt has been changed for the new line, so if you want this version, the time is now.

Hot Toys’ Chewbacca is in from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and he is pretty cool looking. Fully poseable with a generous amount of fur, Chewie comes with his trademark bandolier and bowcaster as well as interchangeable hands and a base to stand on. If you love the character, this Wookiee is for you!

Anyway that’s all for me this week. Catch you all next time with more toy news.

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Graphic Spotlight: THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON VOL. 2: POW. POW. POW.

sob2

Deals with the devil rarely go right. See how the web of terror and intrigue ends in one of 2016’s best received series.

Chris came to Iraq after the 2003 American invasion to recruit and train a new generation of post-Saddam police. The murder of a recruit forced the Florida cop turned military consultant into an investigation that tangled the old government, new government, the jihadist network, the criminal underground, and American military machine together in a surefire suicide mission. Fortunately, Chris wasn’t alone chasing down the killer amidst the layers of lies and hidden agendas.

Aided by a Baghdad cop, Nassir, and the politically savvy Sofia, Chris thought he’d found the people responsible for the crime. Now, with Nassir captured, the stakes are ramping up as one man’s murder has dug Chris and everyone around him into a much deeper hole. In the violence’s aftermath, everybody’s lost something and now a debt must be paid even if it’s in blood. They say never trust a deal with the devil. In Baghdad, those kinds of deals can be explosive.

Written by one of 2016’s breakout comics writers and CIA veteran Tom King (Batman, The Vision, Omega Men) and gorgeously illustrated by Mitch Gerads (Batman, The Punisher) THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON VOL. 2: POW. POW. POW. brings one of the decade’s most critically acclaimed series to its stunning conclusion. Collects issues #7-12.

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BULLSEYE #1 Hits The Mark!

bullseye_2017_1.sized

This New Comic Book Day we take aim at Marvel’s most unpredictable assassin.

He’s baaaaaack! Daredevil? Beat him. Elektra? Killed her. Hawkeye? Psh! Avenger? Did it, done it, owned it (okay, so technically he was a Dark Avenger but nobody told him that). And those were the paid jobs.What’s next for Marvel’s most unpredictable assassin? Writer Ed Brisson (The Violent, Batman & Robin Eternal, Secret Wars: Battleworld) and artist Guillermo Sanna (Deadpool, Straightjacket, Daredevil) are ready to unleash the villain in South America where he crosses path with a drug cartel that, to quote Brisson from an interview on Marvel.com, “…makes Pablo Escobar look like Mr. Rogers.” Ever wonder what a master marksman and methodical madman does with his free time? One guess? Not cat videos on YouTube.

BULLSEYE #1 marks the return of the most feared assassin in the Marvel Universe. With a gritty crime writer penning the direction for this crazy man’s insane new adventures and a Spanish artist who revels in frenetic action handling the images, the pages promise to be intense. If you’ve been looking for your next action fix with a morally absent centerpiece then congratulations this is going to be the comic for you!

Plus, Bulleye’s co-creator and legendary comic scribe Marv Wolfman writes a special back up story with artist Alec Morgan! What does Bullseye want with the mafia’s most sensitive information? How far will he go to get what he wants?

This is a first issue that can be classified as: Can’t Miss! Yeah, I did…

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Chris’ Comics: The Top 4 (and a Hawkguy) Finale

At last, it’s time for my final article for the Daily Planet. Instead of reviews, I’m going to recommend 4 series to you (plus Hawkeye, because we all know that’s coming) that are some of my favorite comics. There’s a few “well duh” choices on the list, but hopefully someone will find a new favorite on this list, or at least think I have excellent tastes in comics.

DCD5297571) Batgirl: Year One (Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Marcos Martin) The only way you can buy Batgirl: Year One these days is in a trade packaged with the also great Robin: Year One. But Batgirl: Year One is arguably my favorite story featuring my favorite DC character. It’s a nice re-imagining of her origin from pre New 52 times, from a writer who wrote a good portion of the best Babs Gordon stories in the 90s. Marcos Martin later blew up on books like Spider-Man and Dr. Strange: The Oath, but this is where the Martin hype train officially began. A gorgeous story that does wonders for one of the most iconic superheroes out there, Batgirl: Year One is the one DC story I can’t recommend enough.

DCD4061942) Phonogram: The Singles Club  (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson). While I absolutely adore this team’s work on The Wicked + The Divine and Young Avengers, P:TSC is my next pick, which was the first time Wilson joined Gillen and McKelvie on a creator owned joint. Set over the course of a single night, each issue in this trade tells a different story, focusing on a different character, and occasionally crossing over. My personal favorite of the various stories is the finale, a relatively silent story that focuses on Kid-With-a-Knife, one of the more simplistic but exciting characters in the series. While it’s technically the second part of the Phonogram trilogy, it’s by far the most accessible, and an excellent entry point for Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson’s indie work.

15958246263) The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, Becky Cloonan). I really wanted to throw a Grant Morrison penned story on this list, but honestly, there’s enough best of/recommendation lists out there featuring his work on All Star Superman, JLA, Doom Patrol, etc. Instead I’ve opted for a comic featuring a character played by Morrison in the My Chemical Romance music videos this comic series is based on/a sequel to. While being familiar with said music videos/album helps. Killjoys is good enough to enjoy on it’s own, thanks to Cloonan’s gorgeous art, and Way’s sensational and kinda out there scripts. While you can make an argument that both creators have stronger work on the market, this is a favorite of mine, and it’s definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of either creators.

07851983934) NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. (Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen) Also known as my favorite comic series before Hawkguy was a thing. Warren Ellis’ funniest book to date, in which his team of super hero pirates fight an evil corporation profiting from a war they’ve created. A cult favorite that’s influenced so many books, NEXTWAVE was at one point the weirdest but also one of the best looking books Marvel had ever published thanks to Stuart Immonen’s art. Assuming you haven’t read it, you should, unless you hate nuclear puppies, flesh eating koalas and dragons that wear shorts.

 

 

0785192190Hawkguy) Hawkeye (Matt Fraction, David Aja, Annie Wu, Matt Hollingsworth, and various) And here it is, my obvious favorite that I’ve never shut up while writing for Forbidden Planet NYC. Hawkeye was a game changer for Marvel, and is easily the best for-hire work Fraction and Aja have done, possibly ever. The creative team makes walking dumpster fire Clint Barton one of the most relatable characters in comics, while making Hawkeye Kate Bishop a break out star. From the Pizza Dog issue to the Sandy relief issue, there’s some many amazing, genre defining comics that show that you can do big 2 comics with an indie comics sensibility. No comic series has affected as much as this book has, and there’s never going to be a time where I won’t recommend it.

And with that, I take my leave. I’d like to thank everyone who’s read my work, my fellow contributors, and the fine folk at Forbidden Planet for giving me a stage over these last years to talk about comics, and toys. I’ve had a blast, and if you care to see what I’m doing post Forbidden Planet, give me a follow on twitter (@theanarchris). Thanks for the memories FPNYC faithful!

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11

Got some bad news for you, the Forbidden Planet Faithful (or good if you’re a jerk!). This article is the one of the last three I’ll be writing for the ol Daily Planet, as the day job has The-Unbeatable-Squirrel-Girl-11-2016offered me a ton of a money for a new gig that’s going to eat up a lot of my time. I’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading my cra  content over the years, and I hope whoever replaces me is a bias towards Matt Fraction comics as I am.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11

Ryan North, Jacob Chabot, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

This month, regular series artist Erica Henderson is off due to working on the upcoming graphic novel “Squirrel Girl Vs. The Marvel Universe”.  Artist Jacob Chabot joins Ryan North and Rico Renzi for an issue is about Doreen Green facing off against Nightmare. Oh and a TON of computer science, which is par for the course for a book written by Ryan North. But hey, how many other 1pdopysuper hero book can actually claim they’ll teach you something educational?

Squirrel Girl fighting a bad guy in her sleep while using computer sciences facts is a weird premise, but Squirrel Girl is a book that’s always played by it own rules. Seeing SQ teach Count Nefari, (“Who?” in her own words) how to 31 on one hand is arguably one of the funniest moments in comics this year, thanks to North’s comedic timing and Chabot excellence body language. Having to fill in for Erica Henderson can’t be an easy job, but Chabot is absolutely wonderful on this issue. His style is as expressive as Henderson’s but with tighter pencils, and a better handling of more traditional looking super heroes. His art is also detailed back, putting some great visuals gags in panels that are already pretty humorous on their own ( see the page with KRAVEN THE COLLEGE ADMINISTRATOR for example). He also draws the most metal looking comics page featuring Venom and squirrels to date, so if that’s a selling point for you, be excited.

Even without his usual partner in crime, Ryan North is fantastic on this book. Hell I might go ahead and say this is his best single issue to date, excluding the wonderful choose your 182867_1000013_8own adventure issues. Not too many creators can balance humor, action and still make a comic educational, but North manages to do so with little effort. It’s a comic that’s very smart, but never in a way that’s overwhelming. And his dialogue is always hilarious, be it Squirrel Girl wishing she was throwing down with Puppy Man, or peppering up the bottom of his pages with great alt text.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11 is another fantastic done in one that will delight and educate you.  As someone who finds himself pulling less and less Marvel book each much due to a variety of reasons (mostly due to Civil War 2 though), this title remains a must read due to it being such a quality comic. Easily one of the smartest comics I’ve read in my life, this issue of Squirrel Girl should be taught in classrooms, let alone belong in your pullbox.

 

 

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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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