Category: Image Comics

Chris’ Comics: Diesel #1

4741654-diesel_001_main_hesseDiesel #1

Tyson Hesse

Boom/Boom! Box, $3.99

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

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

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

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

Phonogram_vol3_02-1Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #3

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image, $3.99

Jamie McKelvie y’all.

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

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

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

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and the Divine #14

tumblr_inline_nueywojFWZ1r77eon_540The Wicked and the Divine #14

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson

Image, $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang Paper Girls Signing at Forbidden Planet NYC

Brian K Vaughan Cliff Chiang Image Comics Signing Forbidden Planet NYC

FPNYC is pleased to announce that writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Cliff Chiang will be stopping by the shop on Thursday, October 8th from 8-10pm for a special signing for their new comic PAPER GIRLS.

SAGA writer BRIAN K. VAUGHAN launches a brand-new ONGOING SERIES with superstar Wonder Woman artist CLIFF CHIANG! In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Stand By Me meets War of the Worlds in this mysterious young adult adventure, starting with a spectacular DOUBLE-SIZED FIRST ISSUE for the regular price of just $2.99! 
Gonna be another special night at The Planet!

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Chris’ Comics: Wytches Volume 1

wytchesvol1_hirescoverWytches Volume 1

Scott Snyder/ Jock/ Matt Hollingsworth/ Clem Robins

Image $9.99


For those who’ve been reading my material for awhile, you may recall me writing about Wytches last year when the first issue debuted. It was a great read, but something I could ultimately wait on to be collected, since my comics budget only allows for a set amount of comics per month. I’m glad I did, because aside from reading as one big story, I’m sure the wait between months would have drove me insane.

Wytches is a Stephen King-esque tale by the acclaimed team of Scott Snyder and Jock, whom I know from the excellent Batman: The Black Mirror. Joining them is acclaimed colorist Matt Hollingsworth and letter Clem Robins. This collaboration leads to an comic that’s absolutely horrifying, but also genuinely amazing. The story takes place in a small remote town in New Hampshire, with a family of 3 with their share of secrets.Not to be outdone, the town of Litchfield also has it’s own secret, in the form of the Wytches, an ancient evil which can make your dreams come true for a price. Needless to say, the two cross paths and a number of bad things happen. Yes I know that’s not exactly the most detailed description, but I want to keep this thing light on spoilers.

Wytches_04-1As someone who was introduced to Jock’s work on the excellent Losers, I’m not entirely sure if this is his first journey into the horror genre. If it indeed is, whoever decided to put him on a horror book is a genius. His art is perfect for this time of story, mixing realistic looking characters with some horrifying designs for the Wytches. The book has a tight, claustrophobic feel to it, and it’s more than appropriate. And the build up to actually seeing what the wytches look like is handled so well, making it all the more scarier when you finally get to see them in up close. There’s some brutal stuff in here, which a lot of sick moments involving things twisting and contorting themselves in ways they shouldn’t. What I’m saying is that if you don’t like ultra violence and grotesque moments, maybe stay away from this book.  It also has a dark, slickly look thanks to Hollingsworth colors. I’m not sure exactly how to describe the filter he used for Wytches, but it makes the book look diseased, making me really unclean and kind of uneasy while reading it. You know, the sort of thing absolutely perfect for this type of book. These two give us some brutal and wicked imagery, making this book a frightening, yet strangely good looking head. I also like the choice of Robin’s jagged fonts, give the book a sense of urgency, keeping the reader on their toes at all times. In addition to that, the more bombastic sound effects uses for the Wytches themselves will send a chill down you spine.

wytches1bSnyder himself is no stranger to horror, weaving all sorts of supernatural elements into his current Batman run, not to mention his previous Image mini-series Severed. Here he’s channeling Stephen King to the fullest, giving the readers a brutal read, with some clever twists both in the narrative and on familiar horror tropes. The dialogue in Wytches is perfect, and the horror feels all too real. Scott makes his leads very likable, so every twist and secret revealed feels like a massive betrayal to the reader. The pacing is spot on as well, building moment to the explosive conclusion, which would either be a solid ending for this story, or be a really good set up for a sequel of sorts.


Wytches is a horror comic overflowing with concepts and lore. Snyder, Jock and Hollingsworth drop a lot on the reader, warranting multiple re-reads, and even include all the back end material from the single issues. For those not in the know, those sort of extras are usually dropped from the $10 trades, so it only makes the complete package all the more attracted. For $10, Wytches is a hard book to resist. It’s gripping complete story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and will haunt you for day. The book  channels a lot of horror movie troupes, yet gives you a fresh and original terror in the end. Buy on sight if you’re into scary comics, because I imagine it’s going to be hard to find once Halloween grows closer. It’s a horror book that embraces the medium to the fullest, something I have seen since Locke and Key.



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Chris’ Comics: Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1

STK680389Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

Phonograms has a special place in my heart. I bought both previous collected volumes of the series directly from creators Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson several years ago, and I’ve made it a point to re-read the 2nd volume at least once a year ever since. I’ve been asking Gillen about the long teased 3rd volume at conventions as far back as 2012, and I’m beyond thrilled that it’s finally here.

That being said, if you’ve never read Phonogram before, this is not the book to jump on with. Gillen has said the series is always been a mixture of self-indulgence and autobiographical, and that’s very much the case with the first issue of The Immaterial Girl. Gillen points out that this issue is probably the most read single issue of Phonograms to date, which is ironic to me, because I honestly think you need to read The Singles Club (volume 2) at the very least to get a basic idea what’s going on with this book.

759ad8c5-f0a0-4de9-812b-189563614783-bestSizeAvailableAs someone who’s read both volumes, I was very pleased with what I got, despite it feeling weird to be reading this book in a single issue format. The Immaterial Girl’s lead is Emily (or possibly Claire, it’s complicated to explain without getting into spoiler territory), who got obsessed with music videos at an early age, and struck some sort of deal with a magical deity. In case you’re not in the know, music is a type of literal magic in the world of Phonograms, and mucking with it tends to lead to bad times.

Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson skills have come a long way since the last installment of Phonograms, so this book looking as good as it does doesn’t come as surprise at all. While it’s been cool to see McKelvie delve into super heroes over the last few year, seeing him draw an urban fantasy book like this just feels right to me. Wilson has always killed on whatever he’s colored, but him working with Jamie usually results in the best things from the both of them. What I found interesting about this collaboration is that for the most part it’s actually pretty straight forward & traditional story telling, versus some of the more experimental stuff that we’ve seen from the pair on Young Avengers and The Wicked + The Divine. That is until we hit the final 2 pages of this book, where McKelvie completely changes his style to channel a iconic music video. It’s incredible, caught me completely off guard, despite it being something set up early in the book.

tumblr_nsxedorfil1qav783o1_1280As for the words, as I said earlier, this is Kieron Gillen at his most Grant Morrison. He assumes everyone is operating on the same level as he is, with little disregard for those who aren’t. I love it when creators expect readers to get on their level, as the comics that result from those expectations are generally excellent. In Gillen’s defense, he does include a glossary at the end of the issue to explain some locations and bands he name drops in this comic, BUT it doesnt cover everything and everyone. BUT if you’re caught up to Phonograms at this point, you should be able to enjoy this book well enough, even with it being VERY much part autobiography. Letterer Clayton Cowles is put to task this issue, but he absolutely delivers, and does some cool things with the narration boxes that falls together nicely towards the end of the book. Cowles, along with Kelly Fitzpatrick and Sarah Gordon contribute to some fun and brief B-stories at the end of the issue, which are cool little additions to this comic.

The first issue of The Immaterial Girl is a incredibly well crafted comics that’s for serious Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson/Cowles fans only. I adored it, but I imagine not everyone is going to spend some time of Spotify researching the bands name dropped in this game. But if you’ve read Rue Britannia and The Singles Club, get on it ASAP, unless you’re waiting for the trade or some junk.




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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and the Divine #13

tumblr_noly220GkL1tuoa2wo1_500The Wicked + The Divine #13

Kieron Gillen, Tula Lotay, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

Here Kieron Gillen returns to bad bad devil 666 man status.

Wick Div #13, drawn by the wonderful Tula Lotay, is a harsh reminder that this book is a tragedy. When the premise for this issue was first announced, I thought to myself “Oh cool, we’re going to have something fun and fanservice-ly, because the F%#$ing Tara running gag will get explained”. NOPE, turns out I was wrong about my initial theory and apparently forget that Gillen is capable of making me feel things that hurt so good.

WicDiv13_Preview_PagePeople who are triggered by harassment, bullying  and behavior related to those things should be warned going into this issue.  Tara, the never seen before goddess, is a beautiful woman who has been sexually harassed since the age of 11, and continues to catch guff from awful people even today. Seeing her face in person will make you adores her, but she’s feels it’s a bit of a cheat, and the love she gets isn’t truly deserved. She’s tired of skating by on looks alone, but any attempt to cover up her face only ends poorly for the character. Tara’s tale is a sad one, and  Gillen/McKelive/Wilson add insult to injury by ending this issue a pretty grim joke. Needless to say, I loved this issue, but it’s a bit of a bummer.

Lotay’s art is gorgeous, and is drawn in a style completely different than anything that comes before her on this book. She’s more traditional comics, channeling Michael Gaydos and Alex Maleev in her art, but also giving us a bright color palette which we’re used to from usual series colorist Matthew Wilson. The art feels dirtier and sketchier than what we’re used to, but it works for this issue, serving as a reflection of the brutality we witness in this issue.

WD13_guitarThere’s 2 things that Kieron Gillen does in this issue that I absolutely adore, despite it also being the worst. First and foremost is the narration style. The issue is narrated by Tara via a letter, and I thought it was a really cool way of telling a story. Kieron’s dialogue is very fresh and natural, and this narration technique made me really sympathetic towards the character. The other thing that I like that’s quite terrible is the use from Twitter harassment in this issue. As someone who witnessed Twitter being awful first hand when Gamergame went live (in before a parade of UM actually), the stuff Kieron writes in this issue is the worst, but rings true. And that stuff of authenticity does wonders for me, even though, again, it’s terrible.

The Wicked + The Divine highlights the tragedy of fame while deepening the mystery surrounding one of the character’s actions. It pulls no punches, and it’s a harsh reminder that fame doesn’t solve all problems. Kieron Gillen and Tula Lotay managed to tell a heart breaking tale for a character we just met, and made it hurt me like she was around the previous 12 issues. It’s a testament to both these creators talents, and it really made me thing on how to interact with people on the internet in the future.



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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #42 & Sex Criminals #11

STK674518Sex Criminals #11

Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

Image, $3.99 (or $4.69 for the XXX variant, which you should not open in public or your place of work.)


After a number of crazy delays, Sex Criminals returns to the stands, and we are richer for the experience. Fraction and Zdarsky give us a new character in this issue, and said character seem like a nice new person who loves their mother a bunch. Oh and they also have freaky sex powers, what a world. Issue 11 also changes the location for the book, which is revealed in a hilarious montage one would expect from the genius of Chip Zdarsky. And while we’ve seen plenty of quality Chippage as a late from both Kaptara and Howard the Duck during the Sex Crimz hiatus, having a comic he drew just feels right. Mostly because he’s co-created some incredible endurable characters I’ve missed, but also because NO ONE does sight gags and easter eggs as well as him. It’s incredible how much humor he can pack into the background of these books, never overcrowding them and distracting readers from what we’re suppose to be focusing on with the narrative.

As someone who’s met and talked to Chip and writer Matt Fraction a number of times over the past year and a half ( no restraining order yet, whooo), it’s freaky how much this books feels like an extension of their friendship. There’s a bit where Fraction breaks the forth wall and explains why there text there instead of dialogue (due to Chip’s talents ironically), and it feels like something he would be screaming about during a panel. It’s hilarious and it shows how confident and comfortable these two creators are with each other. Fraction’s words as still sharp as ever, blending pop culture jabs and jokes with engaging dialogue. His characters read very realistic, despite you know, the whole freezing time thing.

Sex Criminals‘ return is a mostly talking heads issue which pushes the plot forward a bit. The biggest reveal is hilarious, and it’s nice to see the book return hitting the floor running. This book being as good as it is surprises no one, and I’m glad to have it back.

BG_Cv42 Batgirl #42

Babs Tarr/Brenden Fletcher/Cameron Stewart/Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

 Batgirl #42 sees artists Jake Wyatt & Michel LaCombe helping Babs Tarr with breakdowns. On one hand this is good, because Wyatt’s style is a little tighter than Tarr’s giving the book a look similar to when Cameron Stewart was assisting Babs. However, it loses some of the energy she brought to the book last issue with her dynamic layouts. Oh sure, we only got an issue with her working alone on the book, but I really like the results, and was hoping for more. The book still looks great though, so don’t expect any sort of dip in quality on the art end. There’s still a lot of energy to these pages, and Serge Lapointe‘s bright colors are fantastic. And Tarr’s Burnside is great, full of energy and sexy and confident Batgirl dealing with a new Batman and the new 52 incarnation of Livewire.

Batgirl #42 is a comic I dug a lot. The premise is neat: An experiencde Batgirl teaming up with a inexperienced Batman who’s also her dad is something new, and a fun exploration of the daughter/father superhero dynamic. Writers Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher having Babs take point in their battle against Livewire makes a ton of sense given how she’s slightly more experience with dealing with super-crazies directly than her dad it, and it does so without making the Jim Gordon Batman look inept. The pacing is great, and the balance between time spend on Barbara as a grad student and as Batgirl is appreciated. Plus the team brings back a great supporting character from the Gail Simone run of this book, and ends the book on happy little cliffhanger. Batgirl remains a refreshing and fun book, with great visuals and a pleasant blend of drama and action.



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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and the Divine #12

TheWickedAndDivine_12-1_300_462The Wicked + The Divine #12

Kieron Gillen/ Kate Brown/ Jamie McKelvie/ Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50 

If you recall my past reviews for Wic + Div, I referred to Kieron Gillen as a “Bad bad devil man” or some such. I took this claim to Twitter, when Kieron was “kind” enough to confirm that statement via a fave, which in 2015, is just as good as a 1000 word confessional in my opinion.

And while he’s a devil, he’s a also a clever and talented one. The proof of that claim lies in The Wicked & The Divine #11, which once again sees a mortal investigate the murder of a god. The twist is that instead of our lead Laura, we’re now following Beth, the former intern of series regular Cassandra. It’s a cool twist, as we’re now following a character who was almost a god, versus a girl who wants to become a god. It freshens up the narrative a bit without changing to book too much, and I really can’t much else without spoiling several events from the 2nd volume of bad times. ALSO: I kept this review light on images as this issue is full of spoilers and naughty words.

The change in lead isn’t the only difference. With co-creator Jamie McKelvie off working on the 3rd volume of Phonograms, the book is now drawn and colored by artist Kate Brown. Accordingly to Gillen in the letter pages of this issue, volume 3 will be showing several different artists, letting other creators that the team is a fan of play with their toys. I think it’s quite cool that Gillen and McKelvie are using their book as a showcase for budding creators, and I’m eager to see how this all plays out. It’s also not the first time she’s worked with Kieron, as they’ve also collaborated on the 6th issues of the 3rd volume of Young Avengers over at Marvel.

safe_imageWith Kate Brown having to lead off, she’s stuck with the unfortunate task of having to be the first artist to follow McKelvie on this title. I’m not implying that Brown is a bad artist, she’s not, she’s just a newer talent than Jamie, with a style that’s completely different than his. Her art is way more animated, and her talking head pages aren’t as strong as the ones we’ve gotten from McKelvie. Not to mention some of her faces look a little lumpy.  That being said, when it comes to the action pieces for this issue, her skills shine. It’s like a Dragon Ball Z page set in London, and you can see there’s some real weight behind the punches thrown. The reason why she’s drawing this book is made abundantly clear as the book progresses. In addition to drawing some great action sequences, Brown’s colors are fantastic. Having to follow up to Matt Wilson in addition to McKelvie is an Herculean task, but Brown delivers, with a softer palette that really works for the “recorded scenes”. Brown does some really neat things with color for backgrounds and “special effects”, much like Wilson before her, but in a completely different manner. Wick + Div continues to be a book where color is constantly played/experimented with, which is another reason why this book stand outs from a lot of the other books on the shelf.

“Commercial Suicide” (What the 3rd volume of The Wicked and the Divine is being called) is off to a great start, despite the absence of two of it’s  original creators. The team was wise to start off with Kate Brown, who’s unique style helps kick this arc off with a proper bang. If Brown contributions are any indication what we’re  getting with this next storyline, the book is in fine artistic hands until McKelvie and Wilson’s proper return.

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Troy’s Toys, But with Comics: Called it Edition


STK674294Saga #29

Fiona Staples/Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99











So yeah, this issue of Saga is rough. Really rough actually, to the point where I have to think issue 30 HAS to end on good note for balanced karma. I mean he really owes us that after these last two issues being actual emotional war fare on the readers.

It’s not all violence and tears in this issue by the way. BKV and Fiona Staples, who is not at fault for this issue, inject this comic with some needed drama, action and comedy. There’s an amazing panel that leads into a better double page spread gag that will probably get this book banned from Comixology (again). When this book isn’t destroying me, it’s fantastic, especially when Vaughan’s dialogue is so natural, with a flawless flow.

And yes, Fiona Staples is on point once again. No one is shocked, as she’s always excellent. But her she’s given a lot to do in this in this particular issue, and she flexes her creative muscles and crushes it. Yes I just said crushes it, I’m wearing 3 polo shirts and drinking jaeger and pre-ordering the new Call of Duty as we speak. But it’s completely true, as a lesser artist may have failed at delivering the type of comic Staples has produced. ESPECIALLY  when it comes to the violence, which is not the most graphic thing, but the composition and character placement hits you like a freight train.

It’s been a while since an issue of Saga has been this devastating. Vaughan and Staples have created a comic that always creates Water-Cooler discussion moments, and they always feel earned, rather than relying on shock value. It’s a fantastic read, although an absolutely gut wrenching one. I expect no less from team Saga.

STK672338Gotham Academy #7

Becky Cloonan/Brenden Fletcher/Mingjue Helen Chen/Steve Wands

DC $2.99

Oh look, Gotham Academy is back, I can know what happiness is once again.

Issue 7 kicks off a few days after issue 6 wraps up, and focuses on my personal favorite character Maps. Maps, unlike the usual lead/narrator Olivia, offers a younger perspective, and is all hype and excitement, making for different yet equally enjoyable reading experience. Guest star Damian Wayne wasn’t a character this book necessarily needed to improve, but he’s a welcome sight none the less. The youngest Robin couldn’t be any more different than Maps, which results in some A+ hi-jinks, and some very funny gags.

Mingjue Helen Chen is the artist for this issue, marking the first time she gets to draw an entire issue by herself. Her style is plenty different than series regular artist Karl Keschel, but not any less great. It’s super expressive and whimsical, looking like a Pixar take on Gotham Academy, which makes sense given Chen’s day job working as an Disney animator. It’s looks unlike any other Bat-title out there, and nice to see DC giving such wonderful talent like this a shot on a book that supports such diversity.

Narrative wise, it’s back to business for Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher. They masterfully mix mystery with comedy, throwing little hints of romance in there resulting a fun, modern day Scooby Doo-esque script. My only complaints is that the art and the narration are at odds early in the book, which makes the big mystery reveal a tad confusing at the end. Luckily, it doesn’t take away from the rest of the comic, which is pretty perfect.

Gotham Academy #7 is a delightful done in one for all ages. The creative team is hella charming, thanks to visuals that make the $3 price tag a steal.



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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Memorial Day Lateness

4339743-uxm34Uncanny X-men #34

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

As I’ve said plenty of times in the past, the strongest issues of Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-men run have been the done in ones. UXM #34  is another done in one, so it’s safe to say you can another positive review from me for this title.

One of the things Bendis did early in his run was set up a cool Mystique Vs Dazzler feud. It’s something I’ve enjoyed because they’re 2 of my favorite mutants, and it’s lead to a cool Kris Anka (who draws this issue) redesign for Dazzler. With the Bendis run coming to an end soon October,  he uses this issue to wrap up that plot up in a satisfying way.

One of the reasons why this issue worked for me was it gave Dazzler some much needed focus and characterization. She joined the team shortly before the Charles Xavier retcon a go-go arc, but was quickly delegated to a background character role. She’s a lead character here, and Bendis gets a lot out of her in 20 pages. It also helps that Bendis get to bounce her off of Maria Hill, a character he co-created and has a massive amount of experience writing. His take on Mystique is also rad, as he handles her with a certain degree of sympathy that makes the character relatable even though she’s a bit of a monster. Aside from the Dazzler & friends related business, we get to  check in on the new students who are currently without a school. Bendis drops some hints that he has some plans for them to be revealed soon, and I’m curious to see what they are. It’s been a bit of a challenge to get new mutants to stick around for an extended period of time, and I’m curious to see if Bendis has any ideas on how to change that with his generation of  “X-kids”.

Kris Anka was the best choice to draw this issue, as he is great at drawing female characters and can convey the proper emotions needed for this story. His body language is really strong, and it shows in this issue, especially since there’s a lot of scenes involving 2 or more character standing/sitting around chatting. Anka’s work is exceptionally clean, and Marte Gracia‘s coloring keep the book looking fresh, giving Anka’s minimalist style a much needed sense of dimension.

Uncanny X-men 34 is another fine single issue that tell a story within 20 pages and will warrant an immediate re-read. It’s not the best this run has seen, but it’s definitely worth the price of admission if you’ve been enjoying this incarnation of X-men

Kaptara_02Kapatara #2

Chip Zdarsky/Kagan McLeod

Image, $3.50

Kaptara #2 is a fine comic, but I’ll be honest: the art is wasted on the monthly format. Artist Kagan McLeod‘s work is so good, it begs to be put in one of those oversize albums (Hardcovers as their known as in the States) the European market gets because they appreciate the medium better. This  absolutely bizarre but incredible looking take on the Masters of the Universe universe deserves an over-sized hardcover at the very least. McLeod’s art, especially his character designs, are hard to describe properly. They’re extremely odd, but are flowing with creativity that it’s worth admiring. Everything from the body language, to the layouts to the environments are so unique, and have just the right amount of comedy to remind you that this is not exactly the most serious book. The best way to describe it would be those old  Sunday morning newspaper strips with a modern Adult Swim twist.

Writer Chip Zdarsky‘s second efforts on this book are a improvement from the previous issue. The main character Keith is given some much needed drive, and the characters from the previous issue also get their fair share of development. Chip and Kagan also introduce several new characters that are also as equally amusing and well designed, expanding the cast quite a bit. Now that the general premise is explained, Chip gets a little more room to breath, and the book benefits greatly from it.

Kaptara #2 is insanity on paper, but also gorgeous. It’s unpredictable, hilarious and something genuinely unique, which something both the readers and the industry benefits from.




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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Star Wars References edition

STK671573Saga #28

Fiona Staples/ Brian K Vaughan

Image, $2.99

It’s been awhile since Saga’s crippled me emotionally. But we’re 4 issues deep into this current arc, so I guess it was due, and  yes, that is my spoiler warning for this review.

Issue 28 sees another cast member die.  Granted there’s a very small chance it’s a fake out, it seems very final, given  how it plays out. Oddly enough, the scene is actually pretty hilarious, especially with the final words being what they are (I will not reprint them here due to not wanting to spoil the death, and also because a naughty word is featured prominently). But that’s the thing about Saga; Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples are great storytellers, so getting a range of emotions from me out of a single scene isn’t exactly a shocker. I am curious if the 3 final word of this issue were drawn by Staples, or was the work of Saga’s letter Fonografiks, but either way the fonts nicely match the illustration.

In addition to a funny yet still tragic death, Saga #28 has the poop hitting the fan for our cast. The majority of the lead characters find themselves in various types of trouble, and those who aren’t will be soon enough. What has started as a simple Romeo and Juliet in Star Wars story has expanded into so much more, without being too bloated or confusing, and having plenty of character defining moments.

After a relatively slow and safe start, Saga is back to being the monthly tear jerker I’ll gladly drop $3 on. It’s another fine issue that I’m sure is going to play out great, as it has time and time again. Also that is sarcasm.



STK670957Ms Marvel #15

G Willlow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

My friend Ashley recently described Ms Marvel as being cuter than several baby snow owls . She’s not wrong mind you, but this issue is equally parts adorable in some areas as it is a ::: channels his inner Stan Lee ::: action packed thrilling adventure in the Mighty Marvel Manner. Also Jack Kirby did nothing when we we-okay, that’s enough Stan the Man channeling.

Ms Marvel #15 wraps up the “Crushed” arc, a three part saga which saw Ms Marvel fall for a boy and get dragged into whatever the heck has been happening in those Inhuman comics I don’t read. Khamala has to deal with a betrayal and some crushed emotions, while her BFF Bruno attempts to save the day.

Writer G Willow Wilson‘s dialogue continues to be as fresh at it is clever. Some of the jokes may feel dated in a few years, but for the time being they work and feel relevant. Also Ms Marvel does some growing in this issue (both literally and figuratively), and when she learns her lesson, it feels genuine, without every coming across too hokey after school special. Also much like Captain Marvel this week, Wilson sneaks in a very cute Star Wars reference, as one that’s bound to lead to some major repercussions soon.

On the visuals, fill-in artist Takeshi Miyazawa pencils and inks are really something. Miyazawa style is very much more looser and detailed oriented this time around, making it look like the book’s regular art style, but more expressive and Manga-liked. It’s great, and Ian Herring‘s colors keep it looking fresh.

Ms Marvel is an absolute delight of a comic, which is nothing new for this series. Things are getting pretty serious for our lead, but the book remains faithful to it’s youthful and fun vibe. Secret Wars tie in time is around the corner though, so I’m curious to see if this will keep up, and more importantly, to see Ms Marvel FINALLY meet her idol.


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Troy’s Toys, But with Comics: Yet more Image debut editions

Kaptara-coverKaptara #1

Chip Zdarsky/Kagan McLeod

Image $3.50

KAPTARA: The comic where you come for Chip Zdarsky’s action figure fan fiction but stay for the gorgeous art by Infinite Kung Fu’s Kagan McLeod….as well as for the insanity of Churp’s action figure fan fiction.

“When Kaptara was first announced, I didn’t know what to make of it except for GAY SAGA will read many a comic journalist review of this book. I may be paraphrasing, but it did honestly feel like Zdarsky and McLeod were relatively tight lipped about the book until its release. Which I’m fine with, I don’t need the damn thing spoiled and dissected before it comes out (see: Avengers: Age of Ultron).

That being said, Kaptara isn’t as strong script wise as Howard the Duck was. Our main lead isn’t exactly the most likable, which I’m fine with, as I dig flawed main characters. That being said, not much of the supporting cast has much to going on either, so it’s kind of a drag in that department. It does pick up once things are planet-side, and once the series’ premise is explained a bit more, Kaptara’s cast and narrative  get FAR more interesting. It also helps that McLeod gets to flex his artistic muscles a bit more as the book progresses, giving us the goods and forests made of MURDER!

Kagan McLeod’s art is the reason you should buy this book. While Zdarsky may not be at his strongest in the premiere, Kagan certainly is, and it shows in the art. It’s equal parts Ryan Ottley and Sean Murphy, but with a European-esque vibe to it, making it entirely trippy, but unique. This is especially true once the book is set on Kaptara, where we’re treated to some really well executed action scenes and wonderfully odd character designs.

Kaptara is a fun comic oozing with potential. Now that Chip is done with introductions, I’m sure the script side of things will only improve, all while Kagan’s art will continue to impress and amaze.

STK666093Beyond Belief #1

Ben Acker/Ben Blacker/Phil Hester/Eric Gapstur/Mauricio Wallace/Marshall Dillon

Image, $3.50


Let’s be honest for a section: comics adaptions of other mediums tend to have a spotty track record. Not everything can be Mark Waid and the Dodsons on a Star Wars book, because not every property is Star Wars, and not every comics writer can be Waid. HOWEVER, some mediums lend themselves better to comics, which is exactly the case with The Thrilling Adventure Hour’s Beyond Belief Image comic debut.

Translating the popular podcast done in an old timey radio to a comic is something THA creator’s Ben Acker and Ben Blacker have done before with Arcadia Press to much success. Now with Image, they get to tell episode length stories in comics, enlisting veteran artist Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur and Ande Parks to tell the tale of Frank and Sadie Doyle. For those not in the know, the Doyles are an upper class couple who deal with spooky ghosts and their ilk, usually highly intoxicated. That is literally my #SQUADGOAL FYI.

With the Bens on board, the book sounds like an extended episode of the podcast, which is great for a fan like myself. Phil Hester’s art is also welcomed, as his work is clean is smooth and crisp, capturing both the humor and horror elements of Beyond Belief perfectly. It’s enhanced greatly by Gapstur and Parks inks, which are heavy on the shadowing but not to the point of saturation, but on a comfortable enough level that it blends perfectly with Marshall Dillion’s colors.

Beyond Belief #1 does an excellent job of introducing people not familiar with the Doyles to the TAH hour with a nice back up explaining how Frank and Sadie met. It’s incredibly new reader friendly, and fans of Beyond Belief should dig it as well. It’s a fun horror comic that isn’t too spooky, but not silly enough not to be compelling. It’s highly welcomed if your looking for something a little more off beat.

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Childhood Flashbacks editions

There are currently 12 unwatched episodes of Daredevil in my Netflix queue right now, please note that I took time to write this article instead of ODing on DD.

Saga_27-1_300_462Saga #27

Fiona Staples/Biran K Vaughan

Image Comics $2.99

I’ve been running out of ways to complement Saga. Each issue is a 20 page celebration of comics, with the creators doing their damnedest to show exactly  why they’re the best what this medium is capable of. This month’s issue is no exception, as Fiona Staples and Brain K Vaughan show off their full range of talents.

Issue 27 has Fiona Staples drawing everything from odd/unusual erotica, to grotesque violence, to absolutely adorable thanks to tiny sealman/my favorite character Ghus. Ghus in particular is an fine example of Staples’ artistic skills, as she manages to convey a lot of character and emotion in a character with a comparatively simplistic design. There’s also some really powerful emotional beats that Staples hit without the assistance of BKV’s words. While she’s never been anything less than impressive, this particular arc of Saga may be Staples finest work to date. I couldn’t think of a better artist to see their name listed before the writer’s name in the credits page.

Brain K Vaughan continues to be the very best at what he does when it comes to dialogue and the script, snikt. We get to take another glimpse of Marko’s past in this issue, and the stuff revealed in the flashbacks is brutal, but compelling none the less. He also injects some much needed humor in places that helps ease the tension, as well as remind us how delightful these characters are. Vaughan’s words are overshadowed by the art at times, but it never feels like he’s coasting on Staples talents.

Saga is still very much the best book on the market, and this issue is just further proof of that.

portrait_incredible (1)All New Hawkeye #2

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

AWWW, Fact: This is the 2nd Hawkeye #2 in which a/the Swordsman is a crucial element to the plot!

This 2nd issue of All New Hawkeye is a slight improvement over the previous issue, but I’m still a tad confused over the direction of the title. The book continues to be split between the past and present, but the present sections continue to feel like an after though. Ramon Perez and Ian Herring certainly do some cool stuff with this book’s visuals, but it genuinely does feel like writer Jeff Lemire prefers re-telling Clint’s origin than moving his Hydra/creepy-ass children plot forward.

To be fair, the Circus flashback segments are fairly enjoyable, even with the art being a little uneven in places. The sketchy art looks a tad incomplete at times, but Ian Herring’s colors really help enhance it a ton. The modern segments look slightly better, as Perez channeling David Aja suits his style better. Lemire is still struggling with the Hawkeyes banter, but it’s improving.

All New Hawkeye #2 is a much needed step in the right direction, although it’s not quite there yet. Hopefully the next issue will continue to improve in quality, and this book will be on par with the previous creative team’s efforts.



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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Mark & Eve & Alex & Scott & Emma Edition

Invincible_118Invincible #118

Robert Kirkman/Ryan Ottley/Jason Howard/Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Image $.25

CHRIS FACT: If you offer a comic that I have the SLIGHTEST interest in for under $1, I will buy it.

Invincible is a book I’ve read for a long time. Like 104 consecutive issues long. It was also a book that got a little too gross for my liking and jumped ship. But for a quarter, I was willing to pick it up and see what Mark and the gang were up to these days. For the record, Invincible 118 is definitely NOT the perfect jumping on point for new readers. There’s a 6 page recap of the series, and that’s HELLA intimidating if your new to the series. But if you’re a lapse reader like myself, it’s pretty good issue to jump back in on and not be too lost.

Robert Kirkman is still going strong on this book, mixing drama with some much needed but slightly juvenile humor, which is needed because this book gets GRIM in the last few pages. TRIGGER WARNING/SPOILERS: There’s a sexual violence discussion that while handled well, kind of comes out of nowhere if you’re not caught up on the book. I applaud Kirkman for taking some story telling risks and actually pulling it off, but I’m not sure if that’s going to win him any new readers.

Ryan Ottley, one of my favorite artists today and one of the things I miss most about the book, has started inking himself, and it’s a bit jarring. His art looks a little looser, and more Erik Larsen-esque. It’s not bad mind you, it’s just took me by surprise. On colors we have  Jean-Francois Beaulieu who uses a brighter palette than John Raunch did, but still isn’t on FC Plascencia level. In his and Raunch’s defense, it could be a printing issue, but without a digital copy of the book, it’s hard to say.


Invincible ends on a solid cliffhanger, hoping to keep anyone new to the series on. For me, it’s not enough to get to start buying the title again, but it was a nice to revisit the book. I applaud Invincible for being a super hero book where there’s some consequences for the cast’s actions because there’s no status quo, I just have no desire to stick around.


Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_32_TextlessUncanny X-men 32

Brian Michael Bendis/ Chris Bachalo/Tim Townsend

Marvel $3.99

I’m sure Brian Michael Bendis isn’t the type of dude who googles his own name and reads reviews of his comics. Dude has better to do with his time. But man, it really does feel like Uncanny X-men 32 addresses all of my complaints with the book in a single done in one.

The end of AXIS is finally addressed in this book as Cyclops’ brother Havok joins the cast. Bendis’ take on Alex is fun, although you’ve have to be caught up on Rick Remender‘s runs on Uncanny Avengers and AXIS to understand why he’s currently the way he is. Alex acts as the stand in for the reader, and helps us get caught up on what went down at the end of the last issue and the beginning of this one. There’s a bit with Scott and Emma that made me MAD as of fan of those readers, but speaks of Bendis’ talents. He managed to get some strong emotions out of me with this comic, something he hasn’t done with this book in some time. Bendis has a pretty good track record with done and ones on this title, but this is easily one of his stronger issues on this run.

Chris Bachalo and his army of inkers provide to supply this book with some fine art (that cover is especially good), although the 2 different colors and some odd photoshopping when it comes to the background hurts it in places. It doesn’t ruin the book in any way, but it certainly pulled me out of the experience a few times. But when it’s good, it’s good, especially when it comes to that Scott and Emma confrontation. Again, a great scene that hurt me oh so much.

As we approach the end of Bendis’ Uncanny X-men run, it’s nice to see the writer continue to take the X-men in some interesting directions while writing some excellent comics. His run on Uncanny has been a little uneven in place, but issues like these overshadow the weaker issues. Uncanny X-men 32 may be the best yet, setting the up the end of  this volume of  UXM on a interesting foot.



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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Jeff Lemire Debut edition

Welcome to the article where I know I’m going to spell Lemire as “Lemiere” at least twice and not notice it until it’s pointed out in the comments section/Twitter.

Jeff Lemire, who’s had a big week, is a writer who’s stuff I haven’t touched in awhile, but I definitely liked is work in the past. His run on Animal Man was quite good, he did a pre-Flaspoint/New 52 Superboy book that was equally bizarre as it was charming, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of his creator owned stuff. This week, Lemire launches his new Indie book under Image, and relaunches my favorite Marvel comic (that’s yet to be completed).

Descender-01-6b1c3Descender #1

Jeff Lemire/Dustin Nguyen

Image $2.99

Ever since Saga took over comics, Image has had no shortage of comics involving space, children, crime or a combination of all three. Most of those book has also been amazing, so no one complains about it because otherwise the alternative is going back to Spawn or Witchblade.

As every review of Descender will tell you, Sony Pictures ponied up a ton of money to secure the films right to the comic, despite the fact it was still a month away from hitting the stands. Created by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, it is a GORGEOUS looking book, and  it reads like Chris Nolan directing a Pixar movie. If that’s now something you want in your life, I wouldn’t hold you breathe, also welcome to the nightmare that is being me. But yeah, Nguyen’s water colors look great, and Lemire’s writing is spot on. Despite this being another comic about a young boy by Lemire (see Blankets, Superboy, parts of his new Hawwkeye series,  Sweet Tooth), he introduces a weird  cast that’s helps suck you into this world that he’s co-created. It’s a surprisingly charming book, despite some really dark plot points and themes.

I went into Descender with a good feeling, and I ended up liking it a lot more than I was expecting. Robots and space are often my jams when it comes to media, and Descender uses them to tell an exciting new story I’m eager to read more of.


All-New_Hawkeye_Vol_1_1_TextlessAll-New Hawkeye #1

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Here we have the other great looking Jeff Lemire comic to debut this week. Sadly, I am not as happy with it as I was with Descender.

All-New Hawkeye is not a bad comic, but it just didn’t wow me like the yet to be completed Matt Fraction/David Aja book did. That book had a mission statement from day one (Show what Hawkeye does on his day off). This one starts off mostly set in the past, and cuts to the Hawkeyes doing some avenging in the present. While I appreciate Lemire taking the book in a new direction, it still needs a hook. All I got from it was “Hey, the previous Hawkeye series got Marvel a ton of buzz and acclaim, let’s keep this book going.” Hawkeye volume 1 issue 1 felt like a cool new indie book, where as ANH feels like more like a really good cover band messing up my favorite song. Lemire’s attempt to capture Clint and Kate’s banter is appreciated, but it’s something he needs to work on. It felt colder and nagging than it did humorous and playful.

Visually, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring couldn’t be better replacements for David Aja & Matt Hollingsworth. Perez’s art is the best thing about this book, and his painted illustrations for the flashback material are gorgeous. And when paired with Herring for the modern stuff, we get some solid action scenes, with Herring doing his best to ape Matt Hollingsworth flat color pallet. It works for the most part, because while Perez isn’t as strong as the veteran Aja, Herring’s bold colors help complete the visual experience. All New Hawkeye is a great looking book, and I’m glad Perez and Herring are able to deliver on the art end of things like Aja, Annie Wu and the other Hawkeye volume 1 artists before them.

In the new creative team’s defense, it was an almost impossible task to make me fall in love with this book like I did with the previous volume. Following up to that creative team is a huge  challenge, and they definitely tried to do their best with this issue. I have faith that Lemire can escape Fraction’s shadow sooner rather than later, but I’ll admit, it felt weird to read a Hawkeye comic that I didn’t fall in love with immediately. I hope that’s something that doesn’t happen again.



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