Category: Daily Planet

Troy’s Toys, But With Comics: Rapid Fire Edition

Here lies Chris Troy, what died of emotions related to Parks and Rec ending.

Aside from the best show wrapping up, hella fine comics dropped this week, including an issue of Secret Avengers I refused to review because it would just be me gushing about how self-aware and insane the issue is. So instead, I’ll talk about these 2 non-Marvel book, in an effort to to distract myself from this Johnny Karate-less future.

WickedDivine_08_300_462The Wicked + The Divine #8

Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

This may be hyperbole, but this is probably the best use of color in comics I’ve seen in the last 5 years.  Matthew Wilson absolutely delivers the good in Wicked and the Divine #8, in which our lead character attends what can be best described as a “God Rave”.  It’s as psychedelic as one would imagine, and Jamie McKelvie’s simple yet expressive layouts are enhanced tenfold thanks to Wilson’s brilliant colors. This is Wilson’s “Pizza Dog issue” moment, which I mean that he deserves an Eisner for it, and that I’ve made my weekly Matt Fraction reference.

And it’s not like the other contributors are slacking in any capacity. McKelvie is incapable of drawing a bad comic as far as I’m concerned, giving us some really interesting layout and panel placement and Kieron Gillen‘s script and dialogue is wonderful as per usual. But Matthew Wilson really flexes his creative muscles and busts out a Tron meets Andy Warhol color palette, and we the reader are richer for it. The book not only embraces the fact that comics are a strictly visually medium, but it grabs you by the throat and screams it in your face with it high intensity use of color. Of course, you can make an argument that Gillen and McKelvie set up Wilson to deliver such a performance, but I feel his colors make the issue.

Long story short: The Wicked + The Divine #8 is an $3.50 tab of acid that’s well worth the trip. As someone who’s never done acid, I hope that analogy works, because I don’t know any better way to describe this comic.

GOTHAC_Cv5_545d116f223cc7.03502535 Gotham Academy #5

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

DC $2.99

If you’re a fan of quirky (And excellent) comics, Gotham Academy #5 is a book you need to read. Aside from always gorgeous visuals from Karl Kerschl and his talented team of colorists (Msassyk and Serge Lapointe ), this month’s installment involves a man bat, a lizard man, hidden tunnels, a school dance, intrigue AND a shout out to one of the best moments of Batman: The Animated Series. Dense doesn’t even begin to cover it, and it’s impressive how much this creative team crams into a single issue month after month.

Gotham Academy continues to use elements of Bat-Lore in interesting and unique ways, and it’s hard not to compare it to Harry Potter or Wolverine and the X-men. But like those works, it’s a fun as hell read, and you can tell Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher are really having a blast working with Kerschl and company. And their fun means a slick looking book with some great character moments, which is all I want from my #TEEN romance, spookums and mystery comics. Granted this month’s issue is heavier in Bat-stuff, literally, than past issue, it’s uses those elements to it’s advantage, so it seem natural, not forced.With the Batline being so good over the last 6 months, it’s hard to claim that Gotham Academy is the best book coming out from DC these days. But man, it’s a discussion worth having.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Troys, But with Comics: Back, with my friend Gwen edition

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK! No for real, don’t, I’ve only been gone for about a week, also I may have used this joke before.

Sorry for the sudden disappearance, but I had a move on my hands, which meant, me, my wife, our dumb cat went from Brooklyn to Queens, care of the Tracksuit Bros from Hawkeye. The snow did not make things easier by the by. But I’m back, chock full of new comics to talk about, and I’ll eventually get back to Toy Fair coverage. Give me a week and we should be good*.

 

*Citation needed.

Spider-Gwen-1-Cover-Robbi-Rodriguez-720x1112Spider-Gwen #1

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodriguez/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Verse is old, busted and bloated, Spider-Gwen is the new hotness.

When Spider-Gwen made her debut back in the Edge of Spider-Verse mini, I thought it was too much of a  (great looking) tease that played it a bit too safe, which sucked for me at the time. Then that particular issue went through several reprintings, giving Gwen that Babs Tarr Batgirl hype, so here we are 4 months later, looking at the relatively Spider-Verse free debut of Spider-Gwen’s ongoing. Editor Nick Lowe credits the fans excitement for the character for  the birth of the book in the debut issue’s letter section, and it’s a good to Marvel to see listening and giving the fandom what they want with this book.

spider_gwen_1_1Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi do some amazing work with this issue. Rodriguez’s layouts and energy put a fresh paint of on this familiar yet different Marvel Universe. His style is the child of the exaggerated expressions you see from Erica Henderson‘s work combined with the sharp lines and “dirt” you see from Sean Murphy.  His line work is loose, and when paired with Rico Renzi’s bright color palette, it makes for a superb visual experience. Between Renzi’s Gwen and Jordie Bellaire’s Moon Knight, Marvel’s making an impressive case for characters to have more white in their costumes. Also, I hope that doesn’t read as a Klan reference. Gwen’s costume grabs your eyes when it’s on the page, and its demands you attention, making it the focus of the panel, despite her positioning within. And the graffiti element leads to some really fascinating use of colors, which looks fantastic in digital. It’s Spider-Man meets Jet Grind/Set Radio, which is my jam, and makes the book worth it for the visuals alone.

Jason Latour‘s script is great too. Now free to tell his own story that’s not limited to a single issue tie in, Latour is free to flesh out Gwen’s world and cast more. His Gwen has her share of bad luck, but it’s way different than the type Peter Parker’s dealt with in his various incarnations. Which is great, because powers aside, Spider-Gwen really feels different from Spider-Man on every level. Additionally, Latour does a nice job of adding several established Marvel characters to the world with some neat twists, obviously planting the seeds for future story. And the situation Gwen’s dad is now faced with is really interesting, not to mention what’s going on with her band mates. It’s a surprisingly dense read for a 20 page comic, even with a cliffhanger ending. The pacing is great, and Latour has really stepped it up from the EoSV one shot.

Spider-Gwen #1 is another great debut from a company that’s been on fire with female lead books as of late. Latour, Rodriguez and Renzi come out swinging with this debut, and I mean that with fists, not webs, ugh, never mind, just buy it, this review has died via wordplay overdose.

 

 

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Petrie @ The Planet: Wonder Woman and Women in Comics

wonderwomanbolland

Wonder Woman saved my life. When I was young (I was not little, weighing in, at my lightest, about 30 pounds heavier than I am now) I was an adopted, multi-racial, overweight child. I was also, not to be politically incorrect, really gay. I thought there was something terribly wrong with me that I didn’t want to play sports or go fishing, but instead wanted to hang out with the girls, play with dolls and read.

Then along came a metal spinner rack at our local convenience store. There was a woman in a red, white, blue and yellow costume holding back a lightning bolt with a rope (“Hera help me stop this lighting before it splits this building in two!”).

I have no idea what drew me to her but, there she was, right in front of me. Back then comics cost .25 cents (Yes, .25 cents!! I’m showing my age, but no more than the crows feet) and fortunately she was there on Saturday mornings with her friends. Her Super Friends.

Then came Lynda Carter. I’ve made no secret of my love affair with Stephen Amell and the passion he and I share, but Lynda was my first crush. I had her poster. I had her puzzle. I had her doll. More importantly as I got a bit older and began to realize why there was a gulf between myself and other boys my age, I also began to realize that Wonder Woman was different as well.

Wonder Woman was a woman in a field of men. She wasn’t a girlfriend or a damsel in dstress. She did the rescuing. She wasn’t the same as me, but she knew what it was like to be different and I always got the feeling she was okay with it. I knew she’d say to me, “It’s okay to be different and I like you BECAUSE of that.”

Unlike Superman or Batman or, even, Captain America who I thought would like me “even though” I was different. To my six or seven year old self, the space between ‘because of’ and ‘in spite of’ meant the world to me. It meant I would have a friend who would help me through the teasing and bad times.

Now, not to be more maudlin, I say none of this to make anyone feel sorry for me. I say this as a lead in to why I love women in comics. From Wonder Woman (I call her Diana. Yeah, we’re on a first name basis. I’m that cool now.) I was lead to Batgirl, Hawkgirl, Wonder Girl, The Wasp, Scarlet Witch (She and Diana and I had coffee the other day. She’s not crazy about how she’s been written recently, but mostly, she’s NOT CRAZY.)

I love that comic book women are more than one trait.  I know in my heart of hearts that Natasha is the toughest Avenger out there, but she’s dying for human connection. Black Canary could take down Batman if needed but she loves life so much she’ll never be a dark knight. Helena Bertinelli is an angry, vengeful creation, but she never gives up trying to make Gotham and herself better. The Wasp is silly, and flighty and the best field leader the Avengers ever had, keeping an arrogant Hercules in check and giving orders to Thor and Iron Man.

I love that comic book women are bad-ass. Diana will give you her hand in peace, but she’ll make it a fist and take you out if you want to cause trouble. I cannot overstate how much you should read the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang Wonder Woman. It’s an epic masterpiece, blessedly free of continuity. Azzarello makes Diana powerful and compassionate, two qualities which people seem to forget are NOT mutually exclusive. (Editor’s note: the Greg Rucka run is worth a look, too, if you can get your hands on it.)

I love that comic book women teach me how to have fun. Paul Dini’s BLACK CANARY/ZATANNA: BLOODSPORT graphic novel came out early last year and it’s fantastic! Two women who wear fishnets better than anyone on the planet (except our co-worker, Dany) and are friends. It’s a comic full of joy. And fisticuffs.

I love that comic book women teach me about the world. G. Willow Wilson’s MS. MARVEL is a revelation. This book is an addictive read. A teenage, Muslim fan-girl gets superpowers and succeeds in becoming like her idols. I look forward to this book every month. It’s fun and touching and beautifully written. It will make the hurt of losing SHE-HULK slightly less. I’m not sure how Charles Soule pitched SHe-Hulk. “She’s a big, green, super hero lawyer! We’ll make her as awesome as Gina Torres in ‘SUITS!’ And we’ll throw in Patsy Walker and a monkey named Hei Hei!!”  There is no way this book should work, but I fell in love with it. As has everyone else. Shulkie, we hope to see you soon.

You should know how awesome Kelly Sue DeConnick is, but in case you haven’t read her books yet, she’s simply an amazing writer who deserves the heaps of praise she’s gotten. If you want trippy, read PRETTY DEADLY. It’s drawn by Emma Rios and despite what some people say it’s not over-hyped. It’s Death’s Daughter as John Wayne in ROOSTER COGBURN written by H.P. Lovecraft. I’ll let that sink in. If you want a more super-hero piece, you’ve got CAPTAIN MARVEL. Whatever she’s writing, Kelly Sue hits it out of the park. If you haven’t read BITCH PLANET, please do. (Editor’s Note: Her run on GHOST is a solid, oft unsung winner, too.)

If I could have dinner with any working comic creators, I think it’d be Gail Simone and Nicola Scott. If you haven’t read EARTH 2, you should. James Robinson builds a world, and Nicola brings it to life. She not only draws beautiful pictures, she tells a story. and when she and Gail did the SECRET SIX? Well, it’s magic. Twisted, creepy, sick magic. And I loved every last second of it.

Babs Tarr on BATGIRL is genius. She does amazing things with this book, not the least of which she manages to dress a super heroine in casual clothes that a woman would actually wear. Gather around and listen to your new gay best friend, straight guys: when picking out clothes for your girlfriend as a present, stay away from using comics as a guideline; I guarantee, you’ll be wrong.

Marguerite Bennett is another writer that you should take notice of. If you didn’t read her recent spy series BUTTERFLY, then run back to the store and get the few autographed copies we have left. She’s about to start co-writing A-FORCE, an all female Avengers squad and the rumors are true, I did a little dance when I heard about this series.

There are a lot of books I want to tell you about with women who are strong and powerful and sexy and all those things in between, but mostly I want to tell you about women who are written as fully fleshed out characters. Grab Mark Waid’s SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT and you’ll know in an instant why Supes fell in love with Lois Lane. Pick up some Marv Wolfman/George Perez NEW TEEN TITANS and you get the fiery Starfire, the reserved Raven and the glorious Donna Troy, or, as I call her, Julia’s wife and eternal love. Get Kurt Busiek’s ASTRO CITY: VICTORY to have the best comic book study of feminism and heroism, where Winged Victory fights to remain the inspiration she is. Grab some BIRDS OF PREY (honesty time: read any pre-New 52 BOP, but post-New 52, stop after the first trade. The first collection is an awesome take on modern-day paranoia in the information age, after that the book gets, well, not as great.)

Read HAWKEYE for Kate Bishop’s attitude. Read HARK A VAGRANT! for Kate Beaton’s humor. Read anything by Greg Rucka for a male writer who simply writes great characters regardless of gender. Read Ed Brubaker’s CATWOMAN for some moral ambiguity.

More than anything else though, I beg and implore and plead with modern dance for you to read some WONDER WOMAN. She’s a multitude of things but, more important than whether she’s a warrior or a diplomat or anything else, she’s the personification of love. And, more than anything else in the world, don’t we need more love? And that’s why I read comics by and about women. Love.

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Sacrifice

LGBT VD (that’s, uh… Valentine’s Day) Picks and More!

It’s February. The month of love, l’amour, passion, romance and sweet kisses. (Editor’s note: and whips and handcuffs and bondage rope and…)

I love Valentine’s Day. Well, actually I love the day after when all the candy goes to 50% off. Valentine’s Day itself I could take or leave, but being single, it gives me a chance to get a little tipsy in public without judgement.

Now, when one thinks of comics, there are epic love stories that span the years. Clark and Lois. Bruce and Selina. Reed and Sue. Scott and Jean and/or Emma.  Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. Dick Grayson and Starfire. Dick Grayson and Helena Bertinelli. Dick Grayson and, well, pretty much everyone of a certain age in the DCU.

Of course the most true and everlasting of love stories is myself and Stephen Amell, star of the tv show ARROW, but since those details are private, I’ll get back to my point. Love abounds in all corners of the world and while Nick is covering one half of those love stories I’ll be giving you some LBGT recommendations. We here at FP have you covered for all the Valentine’s Day gifts you’ll need for the geeks in your life!!

YOUNG AVENGERS has young love with all its angst and trauma and the great ups and downs. There is a hardcover omnibus with all of the recent Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie run and the overarching storyline revolves around WICCAN making a huge magical mistake in order to make his boyfriend, HULKLING, happy. Ah, the things we stupidly do for love when we’re young. It’s a sweet story about love against a cosmic background and if you’ve never read Young Avengers, it’ll make you want more.

Paige Braddock’s JANE’S WORLD and Alison Bechdel’s ESSENTIAL DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR are must haves for, well, everyone. The absurdities of love and the pitfalls of lust are made universal. I guarantee you will find yourself identifying with more than one character in these amazing (indie) books.

Love doesn’t get more tragic than when I broke up with Christian Bale after he finished up with playing BATMAN and refused to even give me a prop batarang. He cried and cried  when I left and, I assume, eventually moved on, but I digress.

Tragic love in the comics doesn’t get more beautifully rendered than when GREG RUCKA writes about RENEE MONTOYA. If you haven’t read GOTHAM CENTRAL, please do so immediately! There is no way for me to recommend this book enough. It’s everything you love about comics with amazing characterization, gripping stories, stunning art and when combined with BATWOMAN:ELEGY (which, for the record, is flawless!!) shows both sides of a love story that never fails to touch my soul. Also, I’ve gotten to meet Greg Rucka at a bunch of cons and he couldn’t be a kinder, more lovely person.

Now, NORTHSTAR’s wedding always gets props in the Marvel Universe and, don’t get me wrong, as annoying as he is, it’s actually quite nice to see a human side of Jean Paul and how he interacts with Kyle is beautiful. Plus it’s written by MARJORIE LIU and she’s awesome!

That being said, I think ALPHA FLIGHT by GREG PAK and FRED VAN LENTE might be even better. It’s the very beginning of NORTHSTAR and Kyle’s relationship and it’s more than worth the read.

STRANGERS IN PARADISE has Katchoo and Francine in the longest love story in comics on record, and, I won’t tell you if it ends well or not, but I will say that it’s worth the ride.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we all have those characters that we crush on. Julia has Donna Troy. Justin has Hobgoblin (don’t ask, we all think it’s weird) and I have Catman (Editor’s note: Yes, because that’s the height of normalcy).

Now, since the first two mini-series of the SECRET SIX are collected in one volume and here today, I’m going to recommend this. I think once you read it, you’ll understand why I have actually read Catman fan-fiction. This book has great storytelling, fantastic art and a Parademon who has a crush on a clown, so it’s safe to say you’ve never read anything like it. I want you all to pick up this book and buy it. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s an actual love story you won’t see coming. In addition to loving Greg Rucka, I freely admit to loving GAIL SIMONE as well. I can honestly say I’ve never read a book of hers that hasn’t made me laugh, made me think and made me gasp, often all at the same time. Yes, I have a little crush on Gail, too.

If straight up romance for the LGBT community isn’t your thing then let’s think outside of the box for all your Valentine needs and gifts. This week, we have Wally Wood’s TORRID ROMANCE on sale today. I have been known to spend a lot of time at cons pouring over the back issues of romance comics, so I enjoy a little camp with my romance. It doesn’t get much campier than Wally Wood.

Now, if your significant other is a fan of toys, then BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA Pops are on their way and they’re adorable. Also, we have MALEFICENT (the Hot Toy, not the real one) and if you get it for your lady friend, take a hint from your new gay best friend, guys. Don’t tell your girlfriend that she reminds you of Maleficent. Big mistake. Trust me on this.

Matt D. has a Valentine’s blu-ray for your romantic evening in. It’s FRANKENHOOKER and, yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. When a man loses his lady love, well, he’ll do anything to bring her back. It’s, perhaps, not as torrid as Torrid Romance, but it certainly involves more body parts and needle and thread.

Alec will be picking up the LIVING DEAD DOLL Kiss of Death Kissing Booth for his lady love. There’s a morbid joke in there somewhere, but I’m just going to assume that his Valentine’s Day will be totally un-romantic and creepy. I’m not judging, just saying.

We have your gift needs covered here at the Planet, no matter the holiday or who you’re buying for. And remember, psychologists agree that the best way to avoid the stress of gift buying is to buy yourself a little treat at the same time.

And if you’re here on Valentine’s Day, wish our Valentine a happy birthday. Bonus points if you can guess where his name came from.

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tonypepper

Finally, romance for straight people. Nick’s Valentine’s Day Picks

Comics may be known for the BIFF! POW! ZAP! sort of dire situations our heroes face most of the time. But this week, let’s talk about the other place where heroes get hit–their hearts. (Editor’s note: Except for Vision, who is heart-free in ’93)

The obvious choice of a love story on the shelves right now is Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staple’s SAGA. If your biggest problem with ROMEO & JULIET when you read it in high school was that it wasn’t set in outer space and with way more nudity/violence/spaceship battles, I have extremely good news for you. Marko and Alana’s story will break your heart and make you laugh, often in the same panel. And there’s not one, not two, not even three, but a whopping four trades worth of story already out there to read.

Meanwhile, Jaime Hernandez put one more milestone in the life of his protagonist, Maggie the erstwhile Mechanic, with his graphic novel THE LOVE BUNGLERS. Following Maggie from her earliest heartbreaks through midlife compromises into a middle age of peace, The Love Bunglers feels like the moment that Jaime has been building to for the last thirty years with his LOVE & ROCKETS tales, and it’s truly a book to treasure.

If you’re looking for something futuristic without all manner of alien life forms, check out Jeff Lemire’s latest mindbender. TRILLIUM is a love story where one of the heroes is a scientist in the 30th century trying to save mankind, and the other is a young man who’s just returned from World War I. A true experiment in narrative, form, and a surge forward in Lemire’s artistic style, this book will keep you chewing on it for days.

For more of a flight of fancy, pick up Bill Willingham’s FABLES. Currently wrapping up it’s 130+ issue run, Fables features many bitter romances (e.g. Bluebear + Rose Red, Prince Charming + Everyone), but it also tells the story of Bigby Wolf and Snow White, two unlikely lovers who find a nobility in each other that the rest of Fabletown seems to lack. Fair warning: If you pick up the first trade of Fables, you might just have to come in and get the next 19.

There are plenty of manga out there specifically focusing on romantic plots, some zany (I DON’T LIKE YOU AT ALL BIG BROTHER!), some very down to earth (WHAT DID YOU EAT YESTERDAY?), but my personal favorite is the major subplot in AKIRA of cycle-gang-leader Kaneda winning over the affections of revolutionary Kei.

BLANKETS by Craig Thompson is one of the all-time greats of comic book memoir, telling the story of young Craig and his discovery of love with Raina among harsh winters and harsh losses with his brother Phil. The entire book is done in a stark black and white, with intricate splashes that will take you by surprise. It’ll be sure to bring a tear to your eye, but fear not: you’ll be smiling through it all. (Editor’s note: This makes me miss my teeth…)

Of course, there’s the indie darling of the last year, Matt Fraction and Chips Zdarsky’s SEX CRIMINALS. I don’t know what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said; it’s the funniest book on the shelves and it touches on issues of sex positivity, heinous corporate assholes who want to close down the library, poopin’ at work, and the awkward magic that is a sexual relationship. It’s a cool 10 bucks for the first trade.

Last but not least, my own personal favorite relationship in superhero comics (sorry, Reed and Sue): Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. In my opinion, this relationship hit its stride in Fraction’s INVINCIBLE IRON MAN run. It was here that Tony and Pepper admitted they had feelings for each other, Tony made Pepper her R.E.S.C.U.E. suit, and they weathered a lot of personal and professional storms. It was a relationship that felt real, and not as dreamlike as it tends to be for a relationship in comics.

Like the man says, Love is All Around, you just have to know where to look.

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Squirrels and Seals Edition

saga-25-wraparound-cover-b8d91Saga #25

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

Yay, Saga‘s back, time for another comic to destroy me emotionally yet again!

I kid, because as far as Saga goes, Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples produce an entertaining comic that doesn’t make everything hurt this time around. If anything, it sets up the 5th volume of the series quite nicely, and uses the 3 month vacation to age the book in real time.

While I could point out how BKV & Staples continue to produce the best comic on the market with the greatest of ease, I much rather point out that tiny seal person Ghüs has joined the cast on the regular, and I’m clearly thrilled about that. Also I’m saying this now guys, if something bad happens to him I will drop this book and cry myself to death. Tiny seals with accents are one of my jams, and I need a Lucky the Pizza Dog type pledge that this little fellow won’t be killed off.

Seal deals ( kill me) aside, issue 25 is pretty great on ever level. Fiona Staples art is incredible, and it’s cool to see her experiment with colors at the beginning of the book, as well as later one when there’s a need for much yellow. We’re also treated to more wonderfully bizarre characters designs, a thing that I am a fan of.

BKV makes great use of the large cast in new surroundings, fleshing them out in tiny, clever ways. Vaughan has a way of making even the evilest of his characters sympathetic, as if you need more proof of his talents. He also teases several things that will be happening in the nearest future, so I may have to go ahead and take that nothing hurts statement back soon.

A quieter return than what we’re use too, Saga #25 is a delight start for the story’s next chapter. I’m excited to have my heart broken again and again over the next few months.

portrait_incredibleThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Note: While there is some Iron Man related shenanigans in this issue, there is zero surfing in this comic. The cover is full of LIES.

But that’s okay. After a super delightful debut issue, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2 continues to impress. Doreen attempts to join some college clubs, talk to a meghunk, oh and break into Stark Tower to stea  borrow an Iron Man suit so she can go to the moon and punch Galactus. Aka cementing it’s legacy as the best new Marvel comic of 2016.

Erica Henderson continues to impress me with every page of this comic. Her facial expressions  and body language really add an extra shot of comedic value to Ryan North‘s hilarious dialogue,  showing off how in sync these two creators are. It’s a dialogue heavy issue that lives and dies by it’s jokes, and luckily for us the reader, North and Henderson nails each and every one of them. Rico Renzi completes the package, making Henderson’s art crisp and bold, like a fine animation-esque quality salad. That’s a valid comparison yes?

Failed analogies aside, Squirrel Girl is rad and you should buy it to support fun and good looking comics. It’s a great read that super self contained, and the chances of a purple planet eater getting punched in the face remain high.

 

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Five Questions with Forbidden Planet: Dan Slott!

One of the nice things about comics is that the people who write and draw ‘em are just as likely to show up at Forbidden Planet on a Wednesday to pick up their stack as anyone else.

And that’s when we strike!

For our inaugural Five Questions, John Petrie thwipped Spidey writer, Dan Slott to the wall and made him talk. Then there was some awkward, upside-down makey-outies, but that’s neither here nor there, except to say, “We’re all very sorry, Dan.”

On to the questions!

Forbidden Planet: Who would win in a creepy laugh contest: Green Goblin, Hobgoblin or the Joker?

Dan Slott: Now that Norman Osborn’s had the Goblin Serum removed from his system? Sadly, no contest. Joker.

FP: Since we all love cosplayers, what’s the one character you’ve never personally seen cosplayed that would make you smile?

DS: Spider-UK. I’m going to a show in London this summer, so fingers crossed.

Spi11

FP: So, chaos magic, does it exist or not?

DS: Totally exists. We confirmed that during my run of MIGHTY AVENGERS.

FP: Would you rather live in a world without any flavor ice cream or a world without movie popcorn?

DS: Without movie popcorn. Couldn’t live in a world without ice cream.

FP: If you could have dinner with any comic book character (they’re paying), who would it be and why?

DS: Spider-Man. And I’d pay. Would just want to apologize for the hell I’ve put him through in the past… and… will be putting him through in the future.

FP: If you could write a series with any character (or characters) who don’t currently appear in a Marvel book, who would they be?

DS: Indiana Jones, Doctor Who, and Batman.

Thanks again, Dan! And keep an eye out — there will be more FIVE QUESTIONS WITH FORBIDDEN PLANET featuring your favorite comic creators coming soon!

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Arrow’d

54c2825aaaa9dHawkeye #21

Matt Fraction/David Aja/Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel $3.99

I wanted Marvel‘s Hawkeye ongoing back more than anything.  As good as Secret Avengers and Hawkeye vs Deadpool were, what Matt Fraction and David Aja ground breaking series has been doing with Clint Barton and comics in general is hard to replicate. So when the 21st issue of this series was solicited with a 100% guaranteed to ship date, I was excited. I thought I was ready to handle part one of what will be the end of the oft-delayed Fraction/Aja/Matt Hollingsworth run.

3 pages into this issue and those creators made a liar out of me. I was not ready. I was a hot mess of emotions by the time we got the the brutal 19th page of comic, and then I hit page 20 and nearly lost my composure at the shop. It would have been an messy bout of ugly crying, but one that was warranted given everything that goes down.

4360109-hawkeye2012021_int2-1Hawkeye #21 aka, Rio Bravo part 1, begins the battle of Bed Stuy. Clint, Barney and their neighbors battle the Tracksuit Draculas for their apartment building, something that was brewing since issue one. And while it doesn’t sound like the highest of stakes in a Marvel Comic, that doesn’t matter. Hell, if you remember that ol’ Hawkguy is Avenger, you may ask yourself why he just doesn’t call in Iron Man or Thor to help save the day. But that’s all part of the charm of the book. This is suppose to be showing what Hawkeye does on his days off, and bringing in such high-profile characters would do more damage to the book, despite being the more logical choice. Like Clint says, you gotta make your stuff work, and that means not calling in for help ( Luckily for Clint, not everyone believes in that).

4360108-hawkeye2012021_int2-0After 21 issues, what else is there to say about the team of Matt Fraction, David Aja (with assistance from  Raul Allen),  Matt Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos, he types, realizing that’s super cliche of him to say. But it’s true, this team has banged out some amazing work over the course of 20 issues (with some help), and 21 is another fantastic issue. Fraction’s dialogue is so natural, making nods to past events and in-jokes from the series. He doesn’t go crazy with the dialogue with this issue, taking the back seat to the talents that are David Aja and Raul Allen. With Allen helping out with background, Aja is given more time to focus on cramming a year’s worth of art on 20 pages, each with an insane amount of panels with page. Combine that with Hollingsworth limiting his patent for dramatic effect (which works mind you), we get some fantastic art from creators on top of their game.

This team of artists have nothing to prove that this point, given how excellent this series has been.  They just need to end this story, which if word on the street is true, will be done by end of the month. Which means the chance of my being over emotionally in a comics shop this month is good. Hawkeye may have taken it’s sweet time wrapping up, but as it comes closer to the finishing line, it’s hard to sing it praises over the constant delays.

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Secret Criminals Edition? Yeah I guess that works

I would read a book called Secret Criminals FYI.

SECAVN2014012CVR-659x1000Secret Avengers #12

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel/$3.99

Secret Avengers #12 can be best described as “Nextwave meets True Detective“, which is the best description for any comic, and I don’t care if you disagree with me.

I love it when Marvel has a book that features fairly iconic characters and allows it to operate under the radar. Like MODOK drunk texting Deadpool (complete with the use of the word “Bae”), or Hawkeye dropping the phrase “Resident Terrorist Sex Horror Advisor”, which is something we’ll probably not be hearing in a movie anytime soon. There’s also a killer gag involving ring tones, which only proves that I’m a big fan of phone-based jokes apparently. It makes for a fun read, and it’s nice that not everything has be average Disney XD viewer friendly.

But this book isn’t all jokes mind you. Spider-Woman and Maria Hill find themselves in a bit of a pickle, and their interactions ring true to their characters. Ales Kot‘s Maria Hill is a no-excuses workaholic, and she bounces off his equally determined but more sarcastic Spider-Woman quite nicely. We also have Kot writing Black Widow and Lady Bullseye in a cosmic horror setting, which is something I didn’t know I wanted, but glad I’m now have. These character interactions are a key part of which I enjoy this title so much, as Kot has a gift for dialogue. His jokes hit hard, and there’s so much subtext in some throw away lines that it warrants multiple re-readings. It’s a smart book wrapped in some crazy circumstances, beautifully illustrated by Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson.

Secret Avengers remains one of the craziest and surreal books Marvel’s been putting out for the last year. If this is the final incarnation of this book, I’ll be glad, because it will be an hard act to follow up on.

SEXCRIMINALS_10Sex Criminals #10

Matt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky #10

Image $3.50

Chip Zdarsky draws hella genitals in this issue, be warned if you’re squeamish. Also if you’re squeamish, what’s wrong with you, Sex Crimz is not for you.

A Tinder’s worth of crotch pics (or Grinder I suppose) aside, this is another brilliant installment of Sex Criminals. Writer Matt Fraction has never shyed away from discussing the importance of mental help, and he’s handling of Jon seeing a therapist is nothing short of inspiring. Sex Criminals has always managed to channel genuine human emotion despite it’s lewd premise, and this issue is proof of how good it can be.

Chip Zdarsky is a funny dude, no one is surprised by this statement. But ol’ Zdarkseid manages to use sound effects in a particular way this issue that had my dying as I read it. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but if it is, it’s fantastic. His timing and structure couldn’t be any better for setting up these little sound effect gags, and the use of all lowercase letter had me dawing as well as loling. And yeah, I just used “Daw” and “Lol” as actions, what of it?

There’s also  a bit in this issue that is very Scott Pilgrim esque, only with a lot more genital talk. I didn’t think I could love this series anymore than I have bee, but(t) here we are. Also is you think the last 200 words were mastubatory, let me make you aware of the fact that Hawkeye drops next week and it will get worse.

 

 

 

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Toys Toys But With Comics: Teen Hi-jinks Edition.

Hey look at that, some reviews, but on time! We live such a brave new world!  Also this is totally not me trying to get as much writing done before the Super Bowl as possible, no no no.

 

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_30_TextlessUncanny X-men #30

Brian Michael Bendis/Chris Bachalo/An army of inkers

Marvel $3.99

 So here’s the thing. I know it’s in fashion to be a pretty pretty internet hate machine and smack talking big 2 comics to show your indie cred is a trend. But even with that being the case, I’ve tried avoiding going that route, and praise Cape Comics  when they do things right.

But man, it’s hard to stay positive when a comic is all kinds of bad, especially when a comics is disappointing enough to make me consider dropping the series.

I applaud  Brian Michael Bendis for taking some risks with Uncanny X-men with this current arc, despite it being drawn out like no one’s business. Last month’s cliffhangers were crazy, and there’s some follow up to it this time that would be really neat if they actually stuck. But between upcoming solicits, Bendis himself putting future covers online, and the decompression mentioned earlier, a lot of the impact of these events is lost. Also quick side note: this book was solicited as a book that deals with the repercussions of AXIS. This arc began during Original Sin, and is still going on. There’s zero crossover with AXIS (or OS come to think of it), and feels more like an issue of Doctor Who with all the timey whimey nonsense. I know Chris Claremont was a master of the long game and was also guilty of time travel shenanigans, but he did it early enough in the X-men history where it was still fresh. It feels cliche and tired here, nearly 30 years later.

 

This mostly talking heads issues wastes Chris Bachalo’s talents. Bachalo is a skilled and kinetic artist that gets to stretch his muscles a bit with some brief action scenes but it’s the kind of dialogue heavy issue that’s better served by a Kris Anka (who did a dope job on the cover). That being said, the book still looks good, but not good enough for me to recommend on visauls alone, especially with the inking and the coloring being all over the place.

Ultimately this book is the worst type of bad by just being boring. Bendis’ mutli-MccGuffin balancing act isn’t working out for my tastes, and if this ship doesn’t steer itself right with the next issue, I’m afraid my time with Uncanny X-men is done for the foreseeable future.

 

GalleryComics_1920x1080_20150121_GOTHAC_Cv4_5490db710bf4f8.47907702Gotham Academy #4

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

 DC $2.99

Man that last review was kinda rough. Let’s focus on a good comic now, yes?

Gotham Academy #4 is a hoot. A hoot that involves one of the leads painting D&D monsters in art class, which I adore, and  I don’t even play Dungeons and or Dragons.

What I like about this book is aside from looking AMAZING month after month, is that is operates far enough outside of the DCU where it’s not affect by whatever crossover or event is going on that month, but is close enough to remind you that it’s still a Batman-related book. This month does that by giving 2 REALLY cool shout outs to the classic Batman: The Animated Series, as well as the monthly Bruce Wayne cameo.

Fun easter eggs aside, the book also effortless blends TEEN romance, school, and spooky mysteries, which are my favorite type of mysteries. It’s reminds me a lot of what Marvel was going for in the mid 2000s with The Runaways, which is a good look.  Combined with the gorgeous visuals, it reminds me more of a Japanese Role playing game than a Batman comic. It may not be for everyone, but it’s nice to see DC make an attempt to go after the same market who would also be reading something like Ms Marvel (aka people with great tastes).

 

Gotham Academy is a fantastic read month after month, and it really deserves more of an audience. Word on the street (Twitter street that is) is that sales for this book aren’t so hot, which is a shame because it’s a great little book that’s truly all ages. If you want something that’s fun and a visual delight, I can’t recommend this book enough.

 

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Everything is OKAY edition

PREVIOUSLY ON TTBwC: You may remember some of my recent reviews for DC’s Grayson and Batgirl have been either slightly negative, or concern about some of the content. This month, said books are released on the same week, and man I am no longer concerned about either title’s quality.

GRAY_Cv6_543db3662f95c5.33622396Grayson #6

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

After 6 issues, 1 Annual and one Editorial Mandatory Tie in Issue, Grayson gets an issues that isn’t a done in one. And man, the cliffhanger is everything I love about this book.

Grayson #6 is a return to form for the creative team, as Dick and the Midnighter final get to throwing down mano y spanish word for hand. Well technically this is like the 3rd time they’ve fought in this series, but this one takes up the bulk of the issue for a change. We also get some new insight on the SPYRAL organization and the people who run it, and the reveal of a new big bad, as well as some jokes. Great jokes at that, including at least 2 laugh out loud bits of dialogue.

There are a few deep cuts to both Pre and New 52 comics continuity in this issue, as Tom King and Tim Seeley really come through with this issue. It’s a smart fight book, that perfectly blends weird sciences with a great fight scene, complete with some superb dialogue. And artists Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox continue to amaze, which some really kinetic line work and some outstanding coloring. This book looks as good as it reads, if not better, especially with some of color choice’s Cox uses to really make the fight scenes pop. Especially with the throwdown’s location, the almost psychedelic color pallet has this book almost out Jim Sterankos your average issue of Secret Avengers.

Grayson #6 comes damn close to being a perfect comic. The creative team starts 2015 off on the right foot, and I’m eager to see what a full year of Grayson will bring us.

tumblr_ne60quQzFV1qfd9cso1_1280Batgirl #38

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

DC $2.99

Speaking of A+ plus coloring, Maris Wicks does some really neat stuff with this month’s issue of Batgirl. Wicks has been doing some dynamite work since this creative team took over the title, but the color in this issue really stands out. There’s several scenes, ranging from a confrontation in a alley way to a high speed motorcycle race that really pop thanks to Wicks’ skills.

Great coloring aside, Batgirl #38 finally raises the stakes with the plot, and moves the story in an interesting direction. Batgirl’s new boyfriend doesn’t approve of the vigilante in town, Black Canary doesn’t approve of her heavy social media presence or her behavior, and there’s still a large helping of jerk-ass white boys making Burnside not so great at times. Granted some of these elements may not seem like the boldest and most original, they’re blended together well enough to seem fresh and entertaining, especially given how well Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher write dialogue. Batgirl is very much a book that reads like it takes place in 2015.

Babs Tarr (with Cameron Stewart on breakdowns) is a beast with this issue. She crams pages with a numerous amount of panels (her average is about 7 in this book, where your usual comics is 5-6 at most), which a frightening amount of detail and expression. It’s impressive to see her talents grow with every issue, especially when she’s this new to the medium.

Batgirl #38 is another delightful issue from the creative team, with a cool mystery, fantastic character interaction and slicks visuals. It’s exactly what this book needed after some of the more controversial material from the previous issue.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Lo, there shall be an ANT-MAN REVIEW

So hey, I was wrong and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl wasn’t the only major Marvel debut last Wednesday. Apparently the dude no-long-directed-by-Edgar-Wright has an all new on-going, written by a guy who’s recent Marvel work I really like. So I dropped the $5 (ugh) on Scott Lang’s solo debut, as he’s a character I really came to like under Matt Fraction & The Allred‘s run on FF!

ant-man-1-cover-mark-brooks-109067jpg-d18f1dAnt-Man #1

Nick Spencer/ Ramon Rosanas/Jordan Boyd

Marvel $4.99

As a dude who’s spoken out against $5 comics plenty of times in the past, I struggled with buying this book a lot. On one hand, it’s a double sized issue with a cool creative team, but on the other, it’s a $5 book that exists solely because a movie is dropping in 7 months. and Marvel wants to cash in on that. Also I had a gift card, so it was free in a way.

Nick Spencer is the given the uneasy task of creating a new reader book in a post AXIS world that succeeds for the most part. Much like Hawkeye before him,  Spencer’s Scott Lang is a lovable every man Avenger who sometime makes poor life choices. Anyone familiar with Spencer’s work on The Superior Foes of Spider-Man  knows he can do humor well, and Ant-Man is proof of that. The difference being it’s not as slapstick-y as SUP FOES was, and that Scott Lang is a pretty likable dude, more so than say Boomerang.

gnny1vxbknhirjh4mo7gQuick side note, a familiar face from SUP FOES makes an appearance in this book, and is just as delightful here as they were in said book.

My problem with the book is that in making it new reader accessible, it strips away a LOT of character development Scott went through in FF!/Fantastic Four. His “lovable loser” shtick is a tad bit out of place with the way he’s been written as of late, and given what’s gone down with Cassie as of late (see Avengers World), having her comes off as his normal teenage daughter is incredibly odd. Not to mention Tony Stark’s behavior is slightly more aggro due to what’s been going down in AXIS/ Superior Iron Man, but there’s not even a footnote explaining it. I understand that this has to appeal to people who are getting into the character because of the movie hype, I just wish it didn’t ignore past continuity so much.  Also where in the hell is Darla Deering (Miss Thing if you’re nasty)?!?

ant-man-1-interiorContinuity beef aside,  Ramon Rosanas & Jordan Boyd kill on the art side of things. The team remind me a lot of Chris Samnee and Javier Rodriguez‘s work on Daredevil, only not as refined as those veteran creators. That being said, Samnee and Rodriguez are also doing some career defining work on that book, so the fact that Rosanes and Boyd are even comparable to begin with says a lot. It’s an incredibly clean looks book that hits all the right emotions notes when it needs to.

All in all, Ant-Man #1 has a lot to offer to new readers. It’s a good comic,  possibly a great one if you’re not as hung up as recent Marvel continuity as I am. It’s a nice introduction to Scott Lang to wider audience, even with the absence of Paul Rudd aka America’s Best Friend.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Here Comes the Squirrel Girl!

Hey remember earlier in the week when I said I was excited to be reading a Squirrel Girl comic in 2015? No? Oh you didn’t read the article? That’s rude. You could have at least lied to me and said yes. R U D E!

Unbeatable-Squirrel-Girl-c9f8dThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

I tend to give Marvel some guff when they drop $5 books and shun the X-books due to movie deal beef, but it’s hard for me to hate them when they green-light a book like this. You know, the type of book that ISN’T tied into an upcoming Marvel movie? The type of book that’s powered by a pair of indie comics darling? The type of book that has a girl that has the proportionate strength of a squirrel. Okay that’s less impressive I guess.

I really haven’t read much Squirrel Girl prior to that one time she yelled at Deadpool a million years ago ( I think 2005? A GLA/Deadpool one shot I believe.), but Ryan North? I love that dude’s run on Adventure Time, as well as the excellent Dinosaurs Comics web comic he’s been doing since forever! Erica Henderson?! I really dug her art on  Monkey Brain’s Subatomic Party Girls, not to mention her Tumblr stuff! Rico Reniz?! I….. ::: googles Rico Renzi:::…okay first time being exposed to his work, but it’s great!

As someone who like funny super hero books, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl gives me everything I want from a humorous spandex book, which sees the title character check into her dorm, thrown down with a classic Marvel villain AND set things up for an insane throw down in the coming issues.  It doesn’t redefine super heroes like Ms Marvel did in 2014, but I wasn’t expecting it to. I wanted a book where Doreen Green dresses up as a squirrel, punches bad bad guys and makes me laugh, and that’s exactly what North, Henderson and Reniz gave me, and them some (see: Doreen’s rad and possibly crazy roommate).

SG-Excuse-meAll the creators involved in this book are in top form with this debut. The script is genuinely hilarious, and features the bottom of the page text North has become famous for (A play on the alt txt gags from his web comic), and Henderon and Reniz’s art is a perfect fit for this book. It’s bright, fluid & expressive, the type of style one who want if this was a Cartoon Network/Disney Channel animated series. It looks great, and is a blast to look at, and Henderson draws some might fine squirrels which is obviously very important for this book. Also shot out to Henderson for a Squirrel Girl that looks like an average person and not another super model. Representation is important y’all.

With the excellent She Hulk and Elektra wrapping up in 2015, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is the perfect book to replace those books. It couldn’t be any more different in terms of tone and style, but it’s still great for all the reasons I just listed above and more.

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What I dug in 2014 finale: Creator Owned Comics

This is me saving the best for last. While both Marvel and DC had solid years creatively (and sales wise I imagine, but I don’t have those numbers at my hands), the number of quality creator owned comics that dropped this past year was astonishing. Today will be the day I focus on those quality books, which is why I’ve titled this article as such.

comics-the-wicked-and-the-divine-2-coverImage Comics had arguably it’s bet year to date in 2014. Aside from “older” on-goings like The Walking Dead, Saga, Invincible, Umbral, Rat Queens, and Sex Criminals (as well as the end of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Fatale), we saw the debut of  a number of excellent new comics. Such books like the often discussed The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, Fuse ( Antony Johnston, Justin Greenwood) Shutter ( Joe Keatinge, Leila Del Duca, Owen Gieni, Ed Brisson), Bitch Planet ( Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine Del Landro) among a dozen others all debuted within the last 12 months, which is impressive to say the least. Image continues to be the premiere comics company for creator owned books, luring some of the top creators from Marvel and DC (see Scott Snyder, Mark Millar, Rick Remender) to put out some of their best work of their careers without having to use corporate owned IPs. Image put out some of my favorite comics of the past year, all without having to resort to crossovers and $5 gimmick books.

boombox_lumberjanes_002_aBut Image wasn’t the only comic company to have a good year with creator owned comics. BOOM Studios produced some top notched horror comics with James Tylion IV with The Woods and Memetic. Their BOOM BOX! imprint also had the debut of the excellent Lumberjanes comics, arguably one of the best all ages comics on the stands The book by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen and Maarta Laiho was originally announced as a 8 issue mini series, but it’s well deserved popularity got it bumped up to an on-going and is constantly delightful and visually stunning. Oni Press published Charles Soule & Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque’s sci-fi drama Letter 44, a book that deserves more hype and discussion, and the books Charles Bunn’s put out through the company has been nothing short of great.  And while not exactly creator owned, Valiant Comics continues to impress, with some best under the radar super hero/action books being put out on a monthly basis.

51kMcl9F-rL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_And finally, two of 2014’s biggest releases, creator owned or otherwise, weren’t even from traditional comics publishers. Seconds, by Scott Pilgrim‘s Bryan Lee O Malley, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll saw print this year, and both are must reads in my opinion. While Seconds may  not be made into a movie by Edgar Wright any time soon, it’s a phenomenal comic that feels like a Miyazaki movie meant for the Scott Pilgrim crowd. Through the Woods is by far the creepiest comic I’ve read in years, as Emily Carroll delivers some genuine terror with her work, which blends horror with folk tales. I can’t recommend either enough.

2014 was a terrific year for comic. There may have been some dumb stuff that went down with some professionals and publishers, but the amount of good that came from the industry easily triumphs the bad. I’m eager to see what 2015 offers, what with us being a few short days from Image Expo, the release of Squirrel Girl, and whatever DC has up their sleeves once the company is united in California.

 

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