Category: Reviews

Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow #1

GA-Cv1_56fc1133c2db86.88017993Green Arrow #1

Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt

DC $2.99

 

 

 

 

IMG_8643 Hey there Forbidden Planet Faithful! Before I start talking about Green Arrow #1 ( It feels weird to write that instead of Hawkeye), I just want to give a shout out to everyone I ran into and saw at Hereoscon 2016 this past weekend. I got to shoot the breeze with a number of great creators, including 1 of my favorites as you can see on the left. I highly recommend that anyone who loves comics check out Heroescon in the near future, especially in this post NYC Special Edition world. Unrelated, I’m taking a week off, after this article due to life demands, so expect this blog to be Chris-free for a week.

Green Arrow #1 is a extremely fun follow up to a promising Rebirth debut issue. While I’m not sure how this whole twice a month shipping thing is going to play out in the long run, I’m not going to get ahead of myself, especially when there’s some stuff I want to address now.

IMG_0125Given how prominent of a character Batman is, not to mention the numerous similarities, creators who write Green Arrow have a difficult hurdle to clear when it comes to making the two characters distinct. In less skillful hands, this arc of Green Arrow could have ended up feeling a lot like the modern classic Batman story “Court of Owl”. Even with the cliche”one of the guys within Queen’s company is secretly totes evil and plotting against him ” reveal, writer Benjamin Percy does a fine job of steering clear of said birb story  by embracing the difference between the two title characters. Percy’s more proactive, society conscious Oliver Queen who isn’t afraid to bend the rules a bit is a smart narrative choice, and something you don’t see when it comes to Big 2 super heroes.

As for Benjamin Perry’s script, it’s not as tight as the last issue. There’s a REALLY solid cliffhanger ending to this comic, but it doesn’t hit as hard if you’ve just joined the book like I have. Also while I know not every super hero archer comic can read like Hawkeye, some of the dialogue in this particular issue is cheesy in a an eye-rolling way. Where this comic IMG_0126really shines is when it focuses on Oliver Queen and the various relationship he has with this supporting cast, Black Canary especially. Ultimately it’s a pretty solid script, just a little tarnished with some disappointing dialogue.

With an opportunity to draw some quitter moments this time around, Otto Schmidt’s art remains a just cause for buying this comic. The quieter, more intimate scenes are really strong, and it’s a nice showcase of the type of art Schmidt was can produce. That being said, the fight scenes are also quite dope, making for a complete package, especially when you factor in he inks and colors the book as well.

Green Arrow #1 is a good comic that continues to shine with a solid creative team. The good more than out weights the bad for this issue, making it a flawed, but enjoyable read.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Titans Rebirth

Titans-Rebirth-1-456x700Titans Rebirth

Dan Abnett, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse

DC $2.99

While Green Arrow is a character/franchise I’ve never given a damn about, Teen Titans/Titans is something I’ve flirted with for most of my comics reading life. Having characters like Dick Grayson, Wally West, and Donna Troy associated with the franchise helps a lot, but for whatever reason helps, but ultimately I’m out after an arc. I doubt I’m the only one who’s had this problem, as it seems like DC has a problem with the franchise post Geoff Johns departure from the title in the mid 2000s. With Rebirth, the brand is split into two books, one with a fairly iconic roster of Teen Titans debuting later this year, and an older lineup of Titans dropping this past week.

Titans Rebirth isn’t a bad comic, but it’s very much the definition of a zero issue. With Wally West back in action, he seeks out to reunite himself with his former sidekicks, who’ve recently reunited in the Dan Abnett penned Titan Hunt mini-series. While that mini-series isn’t mandatory reading for this issue, I imagine it will help reader recognize the less iconic characters in this story. Abnett’s script is very by the numbers, chock of cliche dialogue and by the numbers moments, including the mandatory hero on hero fight due to misunderstanding. It’s not particularly bad, but nothing worth celebrating.

TNSREB_1_5_5Drawing this comic and I believe the series going forward is Brett Booth, who is the very definition of Jim Lee 90s style art, for better and for worse. Booth excels at layout, going with some very dynamic layouts that ooze with the type of energy you want from a super hero comics. He also get creative with his panel layouts towards the end of the comic, something that I enjoyed very much, and does a really great job with language and facial expressions. Where Booth falters is his inability to draw teenagers early on in the issue, and his design for Roy Harper aka Red Arrow, aka Arsenal. I know he’s not the guy who gave him an “iconic” backwards Baseball cap, but that plus goggles is a dated look that makes very little sense. Also I question how Wally’s costume continues to shine, even in the dark

Assisting Booth on the art are  Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse, who ink and Image-71-600x633color the book respectively. Rapmud tends to do heavy on the cross stitching at time throughout the comic, but that aside his work is really quite excellent. His linework is clean and thin, and looks gorgeous when paired with Dalhouse’s bright and playful colors. Even if Booth’s art isn’t your thing, it’s hard not to like it thanks to the contributions by Rapmund and Dalhouse

Titans Rebirth is a comic book-ass comic book. The heroes have a misunderstanding, fight and resolve everything within 20 pages. Abnett tries to stir emotions with some fun flashbacks, but given this DC Universe is only 5 years old, it feels cheap, and unoriginal (I think this is the third time a writer has tried doing a Kid Flash/Robin stealing the Batmobile story in the last decade). But imperfections aside, Titans looks to be in capable hands, and there’s definitely some promise.

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Chris’ Comics: The Fix #3

TheFix_03-1The Fix #3

Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill, Nic J Shaw

Image $3.99

I’ll be honest; for a hot minute, I almost didn’t review this comic. Given what went down in Orlando this past weekend,  the events in The Fix #3 made my reading experience uncomfortable. That is not the fault of Nick Spencer, Stever Lieber, Ryan Hill or Nic J Shaw in ANY shape or from mind you, as there was no way they could predict was would offer a few days after the book’s release. I will point everyone to this tweet, and encourage anyone who can afford to give to do so.

The Fix #3 sees our lead Roy putting in some overtime, which he scored in the most horrible of ways, poor Pete. Body-guarding musician Elaina seems like a sweet gig for him at first, but things quickly spiral out of control, leading is an ending you won’t see coming.

Nick Spencer is currently know by the majority of comics readers as the guy who did some bad things to Captain America (The Steve Rogers flavor). In this comic though, Spencer is providing some commentary on what fame and the music industry can do to a person. The character of Elaina can be easily called a stand in for a Lindsey or a Brittany,  and what they endured once becoming household names. Spencer may be taking some of the plot points straight from the headlines, but he manages to stay away from becoming too preachy at any given point, which is appreciated.

Steve Lieber’s art is impressive as per usual on this third issue. His work is so expressive, and it definitely helps set up several gags in this issue. Lieber knows exactly when to exaggerate character’s faces for maximum comedic effect, and his body language is just as fantastic. He knows how the switch up the tone on the fly, which really helps keep readers on the edge of their seats. Ryan Hill’s colors are superb, giving this book the proper Shane 3074774-007_fix03Black feeling this book deserves. The constant presence of orange/red colors helps create an environment that appears to be welcoming, but there’s that feeling of tension bubbling underneath. Nic J Shaw, just feels like the right guy to be lettering this book, especially come the finally pages of the book where multiple types of fonts are required. Despite being only 3 issues in, it’s scary how good this art team is, and how well the collaborate.

Further proof of this creative team’s brilliance comes early in the issue, where Roy and his pal Donovan are having a conversation about Elaina. Not only is it a nice bit of exposition, but there’s an amazing gag towards the end that works due to the pacing of the dialogue, Lieber’s page layout, and a killer line at the very end. It’s definitely a tad crude, as is the conversation leading up to it, but given the type of people involved in this scene, it’s completely in character, and serves as a reminder that they’re not exactly the best of folk. It’s something Lieber and Spencer did in SUP FOES a lot, and it’s good to see it return, turned up to 11, here.

The Fix #3 may have be a victim of unfortunate timing, but I can still recognize how excellent this comic is.  It’s a a perfect blend of action, comedy and drama that’s really unlike any comic out there, and by an writer/artist team that’s a proven commodity.

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked + The Divine #20

TheWickedAndTheDivine_20-1The Wicked + The Divine #20

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

Oooh, WicDiv and The Fix both dropped this week. Good job this week, that’s some fine comic booking!

So The Wicked + The Divine #20 is a comic book that explains how Laura/Persephone isn’t a headless corpse who is burnt and dead after the events way back in issue 11.  It involves  a heroic sacrifice, sexy times, and a lovely bit of character exploration that reveals that one of the demigod’s true identity. “But Chris, isn’t that just the character’s names?” is something you may be asking, in which I reply HOW DARE YOU, IT TURNS OUR THAT ONE OF THE GODS IS A BIT OF FIBBER, NOW WHO FEELS DUMB!

But yeah, the bulk of this issue focuses on how Persephone isn’t dead, and what she was up to during the previous arc. It’s a well-crafted comic, that masterfully weaves itself between the events of the Commercial Suicide arc, while tying into the end of issue 18 quite nicely. A lot of this issue is told in flashbacks, in which Matt Wilson and Jamie McKelvie do a fine job of making visually interesting. Instead of coloring the book in a traditional method, Wilson Persephone-c0d75pulls from the dedicated color pallet he uses exclusively for coloring Persephone for the flashback sections. It’s such a cool idea, and when you factor in he does it twice for the different time periods, it serves as testament as to exactly how talented of an colorist he is. As for his pal/the book’s artist Jamie McKelvie, it’s great work as usual. There’s a page in which resident goth badboy Baphomet is posed like a 90s Lobo cover, which I adore, for the simple fact that it’s super ridiculous, but played straight. Not to talk down on Jamie, but this is an issue with some great art, and some REALLY inventive coloring practices that’s super impressive.

As someone who appreciated how meta/”inside baseball” Kieron Gillen got in Phonogram, there’s a page in this issue that channels that feeling while explaining one of the character’s roots. It’s not the deepest cut in any way, especially given the subject matter and the medium, but it’s still an incredibly endearing scene, and shows how much charm he can inject into his scripts when he wants to. I’m not saying that it’s a weakness of Gillen’s mind you, it just seems that the noted devil-man rather twist in tumblr_o8cx2zatBJ1tuoa2wo2_1280the knife in his reader’s then make us say “d’awww”. No, I’m still not bitter over Tara, why do you ask?

Once again, The Wicked + The Divine is a satisfying read, with a creative team that never fails to impress. Issue 20 is an well crafted comic that’s spectacular from both a narrative & craftsmanship stand point, not to mention rewarding from a fan perspective. A perfect blend of action, suspense, comedy and intrigue, The Wicked + The Divine #20 is a perfect example of how great the Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson and Cowles team is, while being a comic that rewards long time readers.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Paper Girls #6

PaperGirls_06-1Paper Girls #6

Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher

Image $2.99

After a brief hiatus, Paper Girls returns, with our girls no longer in the mid to late 80s, but now in June 2016. Also from this point on, I’m going to get deep into spoilers, so if you’re a trade waiter or behind, know that this is a solid comic and move on.

Anywho, spoilers. Now in the year 2016, the girls come across a 40 year old Erin Tieng, whom I can relate to in the worst sort of ways. Things get kind of X-men-y as we have both a teen and middle age incarnation of a character running around, but Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang keep things relatively grounded, or at least as grounded as you can when time travel is involved.

First and foremost, I love how modern day/future Erin Tieng is portrayed. You rarely see middle aged women drawn as middle aged women in comics, lets along be put in starring rolls. But Chiang doesnt shy away from Erin’s age, giving her wrinkles, a bit of a belly, and Screenshot-31body language that shows that she’s been through some stuff. It also raises some interesting questions about her younger counterpart’s trip into the future goes, especially with the arrival of a new, yet familiar looking character halfway through the issue.

And while Paper Girls has yet to hook me (or emotionally devastate me) like BKV’s other hit comic Saga, the series has definitely excelled at being an extremely well put together comic book. Colorist Matthew Wilson is known for his vibrant, dynamic colors on books like The Wicked and the Divine and Thor. Much like his work on Daredevil, Wilson’s color choice are more subdued here, but still striking by using more unusual color choices to set scenes like purples and pinks. It’s very much in style with Chiang’s style and help keeps the book looking unique.

Also I’m not sure who decided to have the fan letter’s page ALSO go from the 80s to 2016, but it’s a fun bit of meta storytelling that I dig. Speaking of things I dig, Jared K Fletcher’s design work remains top notch. I really enjoy what he and Vaughan have been doing with language and the book’s dialogue, be it the raw but totally fitting choice in fonts and how the time-travelers(?) language is used. If I’m not mistaken (famous last words), the visitors Screenshot-30weird, broken language is getting clearer with every passing issue, which I think is a neat way of making the reader feel more familiar with these characters. This issue in general also feels more restrained for character building, which is something I very much appreciated.

Paper Girls is a very unique read with an excellent sense of design. It’s easy to see that it’s very much  the product of creators who love the medium, and want to use it to tell a story that perfect for this format. Again Paper Girls isn’t my favorite book on the stands by BKV or Matt Wilson, BUT it’s so rewarding on a technical level, not to mention captivating as hell, I can’t help but to buy it on sight.

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow Rebirth

STL007334_5f7a59e4-abc5-4b67-beca-66ed49ca8f3d_1024x1024Green Arrow: Rebirth

Benjamin Percy, Otto Scmidt

DC $2.99

Something’s off about this issue of Hawkeye. It’s in Seattle, Clint’s got a beard, Kate is now blonde and not wearing pants. Weird that they change the status quo for these characters so much, I give it a 4/10.

This week sees Rebirth season officially kick off, and instead of reviewing Superman or Batman, I decided to give a character I usually don’t give a toss about a shot with Green Arrow Rebirth. What got me to pick it up was the art by Otto Schmidt, whose style reminds me a lot of your Sean Murphys and Robbi Rodriguezes. This one shot mostly focuses on Green Arrow’s relationship with Black Canary, which really isn’t a thing these days, but for some reason Dinah finds herself drawn to Ollie and vice versa. Also apparently someone is abducting homeless people, which calls for a resolution via Super Heroics.

Coming into this series, I felt bad for writer Benjamin Percy. Green Arrow is arguably one of the most popular DC heroes thanks to his hit CW TV show/abs showcase, and I imagine he has marching orders that require him to make this book accessible to that GAREB_1_hires-4audience as well as to GA fans who’ve been in this hobby for a few years. And why I can’t tell you if that’s something he succeeds at doing yet (also because I don’t watch Arrow ,sorry Val!), Percy has certainly written an enjoyable comic, successfully getting me interested in a character I haven’t cared about in like….ever. In the span of twenty pages, we’re treated to a Green Arrow who’s determine to right the wrongs ignored by traditional law enforcement agencies, get introduced to some creepy new villains, and quickly forge a relationship between Arrow and Black Canary. I was worried about the use of the term Social Justice Warrior, as it’s usually used by the worst type of people on the internet, but Percy takes it back, and makes it something that works for Oliver Queen. His Canary is super fierce and r960-d0831b070e0c5113b59b28fc844cce70an ass kicker, not unlike the incarnation that popped up in Batgirl and her own series.

Getting back to Otto Schmidt, much like Percy, I was completely unfamiliar with him coming into the series. But I warmed up to his art quick, as I love how stylized and dynamic it is. Doing both the pencils and color, Schmidt gives this book captures the ton of the book perfectly, giving his characters a ton of personality. His pencils bring a certain energy to the page that I dig, an his use of color, especially with Canary’s powers is cool. It’s a very modern looking book, and something DC’s needed for some time.

Green Arrow Rebirth feels like the fresh start that DC Rebirth is setting out to do. While it doesn’t seem to be a 1:1 mirror of the TV show, it definitely succeeds at being an entertaining read. This Green Arrow reads and looks like the classic incarnation without feeling dated, and with a costume that makes more sense. And while Black Canary may not be a title character, she’s used in a way that makes her feel more like a co-star than a supporting character. For the first time in my life I’m excited to read a Green Arrow comic, or at least the issues drawn by Otto Schmidt

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Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #4 & Spider-Woman #8

XM922016004-DC11-4baa6X-men ’92 #5

Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

X-men ’92 #5 is a comic that had me cackling early in the issue, only to audible gasp come the book’s final pages. To say it’s a good comic is an understatement.

There’s been some online chatter than this book is too jokey at times. Granted there’s been an abundant amount of humor in this series, writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers are definitely not afraid to get serious at times, which is shown in this issue. And it’s a nice throwback of sorts, as the nature of Storm (phrasing) and Beast’s conflict is something that’s been explored before in Fall of the Mutants/Inferno era of the X-men, and as recent as various X-Force revivals titles. The creative team have done nods like this before, but this is the first time it’s had so much depth to it, and I’m feeling it.

Art wise, Alti Firmansyah is super expressive and animated, and letterer Travis Lanham does something really neat with their choice of fonts during on extended scene. The book has relied on nostalgia for jokes before, and in this particular instance, the lettering really helps sell the humor here. It’s a neat bit that I appreciated a bunch. Matt Milla’s colors are solid, especially when dealing with the Cyberspace craziness.

The second arc of X-men ’92 is a massive improvement over the mini series it followed, and I dug the hell out of that mini. Bower, Sims and the entire art team are given more room to breathe, and don’t have to worry about adhering to the rules of a crossover event. Free to tell their own stories, they turn the extreme up to 11, and gave us an arc that’s absolutely bonkers, yet incredibly enjoyable.

Spider-Woman_Vol_6_8_TextlessSpider-Woman #8

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel. $3.99

Hey look, Spider-Woman’s back. Well technically she never left, I just took a break due to Spider-Women crossover times.

Spider-Woman #8 is a done in one that sees Jessica Drew back in action, taking on Tigershark, while the Porcupine watches her son. It’s not unlike issue 5 actually, one this issue is super heavy on the action.

Much like myself, Javier Rodriguez returns to Spider-Woman this month, and absolutely kills it. His colors are gorgeous, giving the book a radiant glow that’s also stunning as the pencil art. Which, by the way, is incredible. The way Rodriguez draws sprawling fight scenes is incredibly, never skimping out on the details. This may be the single best looking Marvel comic I’ll read this year, as no one does layouts and motion like Rodriguez. And props to Alvardo Lopez, who manages to ink this thing with some incredibly thin lines, keeping the line clean and crisp.

Dennis Hopeless is superb. He wonderfully mixes humor with some emotion. His Jessica Drew is so three dimensional, being both a loving mother and a adrenaline junkie who loves help people.  And what he’s done with the Porcupine, changing him from a Z-list villain into someone quite endearing is spectacular.

Spider-Woman #8 is a comic that’s big on hear and big on action. It’s a gorgeous book that’s balances character development and super heroics perfectly. And even with Civil War II around the corner, I’m excited to pick up the next issue, just because of what the creators have done with Carol Danvers in this title. Buy on sight.

 

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Chris Comics: Putting The New 52 to rest with Grayson and Batgirl

Grayson-20Batgirl-52-variant-cover-by-Babs-TarrGrayson #20

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

Batgirl #52

Brenden Fletcher, Elenora Carline, Minkyu Jung, Serge Lapointe, Steve Wands

DC $2.99

Now that DC Rebirth is up and running, May sees the end of several DC titles before they get rebranded and relaunched with new creative teams. Which means both Batgirl and Grayson have come to an end, which is a shame.

Batgirl #52 wraps up the Brenden Fletcher-verse crossover, and sets up the next chapter of Barbara Gordon’s life for the creative team of Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque. Grayson #20 ends Dick’s run as a spy, puts the genie back in the bottle in regards to his secret identity, and gets him back in the Nightwing costume in time for Tim Seeley‘s return to the character. Despite neither storylines wrapping up with their original creative teams attached (Fletcher on Batgirl being the exception), both stories wrap up nicely, with only a few missteps.

As I’ve said several times in the past, Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly read exactly like image-117Tim Seeley and Tom King do on this book and that’s excellent. I’m sure they studied the notes left by those writers to a T, which I appreciate, especially when they were brought on the book so late in the game. Not only do they close out one of the most interesting status quos for Dick Grayson on an extremely high note, but they set things up for Helena Bertinelli’s role in the upcoming Batgirl and the Birds of Prey book flawlessly. And Roge Antonio’s art improves tenfold this issue, drawing an incredibly compelling action final fight scene between Grayson and Otto Netz for the bulk of the issue. He does a superb job of keeping in the spirit of the trippy art direction established by previous series artist Mikel Janin, while doing his own thing. Jeromy Cox has been fantastic on this title since issue one, and he’s just as great here. I HATE to see Grayson end, but man, this was a real solid ending by this team.

Batgirl #52 on the other hand, feels rushed, as there are a number of grammatical and spelling errors that plague this issue. The art from Elenora Carline & Minkyu Jung,  is okay, but there’s a lot of stiff posing and flat looking characters despite some excellent colors from Sergio Lapointe. Even Brenden Fletcher’s dialogue is extremely disappointing at times, reading more like a cheesy all ages comic more than the fresh and relevant to today’s audience stuff we as readers have been used to. Which is odd, given how good a solo Fletcher can be, as seen in Black Canary and Batgirl_52_01Gotham Academy.

I also find it odd to remove Barbara Gordon from her company so early in the game. I know WHY it needed to happen (new creative team and with a new MO), but to do 2 issues after the company’s up and running feels really out of place. It feel likes it was more than an editorial call rather than something Fletcher elected to do, although I have no evidence of such.

At the end of the day, we have 2 books I’m sad to see end, for entirely different reasons. With Grayson, it’s an end of an era that I really enjoyed, but know that the character’s in good hands. With Batgirl, it feels like the character is being forced into a more traditional role, rather than allowing her to exist in a status quo that very few, if any, female characters get to inhibit. I’ll be reading both characters once their reintroduced in Rebirth, although there’s no guarantee I’ll be sticking around for the long haul.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

IMG_0124The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Welcome to the issue of Squirrel Girl where our heroine tackles her most difficult foe yet: ONLINE DATING.

The team of Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi kick off a new arc with issue 8, that starts of with Squirrel Girl teaming up with her New Avenger chums and ends with a super hero truther & dealing with the Mole Man. This is pretty on brand for this title, and much like every previous issue, and absolute hoot.

What I love about this creative team is that Ryan North and Erica Henderson will always go out of their way to educate you while reading this book. I had no idea Tree Lobsters were a thing, and not only does this issue start off with the Avengers dealing with a giant one, but the creative team makes sure to give reader an history lesson about said insects that helps push the story along in a natural way. It’s not anything new for this book, but it’s something that pops up from time to time that I’ve genuinely enjoyed about the title. A little less high brow is a double spread of Squirrel Girl attempting to date, which has a bunch of sights gags and funny dialogue that’s pretty great in my opinion.

Also Erica Henderson draws the best outfits in comics, and getting to see how fashionable Doreen and her friends are in this issue is a personal highlight.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Gil #8 is another excellent issue by a creative team that’s never failed to amazed. Romance plotlines can make or break a comic, and North, Henderson and Renzi succeed, while making the title feel like one of the most fresh and relevant books on the stands

STL004332Spider-Man/Deadpool #5

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

One of the reasons I enjoy Spider-Man/Deadpool so much is that it feel like Joe Kelly returning to Deadpool again, telling stories that mash up the work he did with the character while building upon all the great stories Gerry Duggan wrote. Also these stories co-star Spider-Man, arguably the best super hero, which is something I am also all about.

Issue five of this series sees Deadpool dealing with the aftermath of murdering Peter Parker, which apparently wasn’t a fake out. Aside from being out of a co-star, it turns out he was mistaken about Peter Parker, and that means Deadpool’s got fix the mess he’s made.

It also means artist Ed McGuinness gets to draw some characters associated with the supernatural side of Marvel, which is welcomed, as he rarely gets to do spooky stuff. There’s some stuff, wonderfully inked and colored by Mark Morales and Jason Keith that’s genuinely terrifying , including a re-imagining of a Spider-foe who’s usually pretty goofy looking. It’s also see the team reference an infamous Spider-Man story,  which is one of several things that I can’t quite tell are just little nods, or if Kelly and McGuinness are planting the seeds for future stories.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #5 puts a nice little bow on the first arc, while setting up the next one quiet nicely. I’m glad the team is only off the book of 2 months, because the type of comics they’ve been making are the type of comics I adore.

 

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Chris’ Comics: DC Universe Rebirth #1

366074._SX640_QL80_TTD_DC Universe Rebirth #1

Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez, Brad Anderson, and others.

DC $2.99

DC Rebirth is here, and everything old is new and incredibly complex again! Also head’s up, mad spoilers for this comic follow.

Writer Geoff Johns and artists Gary Frank, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis and Ethan Van Sciver come together to revamp the DC for the the umpteenth time, and try to get lapsed readers to come back to the DCU. While setting up the premises of several books, fans are also treated to the return of (white) Wally West, a few plotlines from John’s Darkseid War arc over in Justice League, and the crazy pants reveal that Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen fame may or may not be responsible for the new 52/Rebirth earth. It’s super ambitious , as I’ve said so earlier in the week, and had it not been leaked onto the internet several days before it was released, I’m sure it would be the book everyone is talking about, instead of being 2nd fiddle to Captain America drama.

But while it’s definitely ambitious, it’s also something that requires you read several other books before hand before tackling. Not caught up on the events on Superman, Justice League, and several other books? Then a lot of this book won’t make sense to you.

As for the inclusion of the Watchmen characters into the DCU proper. I’m not a fan of how the company has treated Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in the past, nor am I a fan of when DC attempts to tell stories featuring those characters without those two creators. Having REB_1_1-6them, even if it’s JUST Dr. Manhattan, rubs me in the wrong way, especially when you factor in that he’s a analog for Captain Atom. Johns clearly has a plan, but it feel like it’s scraping the bottom of the barrel for shock value.

So yeah, it’s safe to say it’s something I’m not a fan of, or will be following for the next..2 years? Christ. Also see: the 3 Jokers subplot. 1 Joker is already 1 too many, I don’t need a gathering of Joker-los.

Now that I’m done ranting, let’s get to the good stuff. first and foremost, this book is gorgeous. Frank, Van Sciver, Reis and Jimenez all contribute some great art to this title, which definitely helps is feel like a “important” “epic”. All 4 artists bring a nice George Perez/Neal Adams look to the book, reminding older readers of classic DC, while giving newer readers some great art to admire.

It’s also nice to see DC and Johns embrace their legacy characters again. As someone who grew up with Wally West as the Flash, it’s nice to see a similar version of that character Blue-Beetlesreturn. Same with Ted Kord, who we get hanging out with Jamie Reyes, something Blue Beetle fans have been waiting years for. And the stuff teased for the Aquaman family of characters, the JSA and the Atom all shows promise, as they blend post crisis DC with the new 52 universe nicely.

YMMV when it comes to DC Universe Rebirth #1. There’s a lot of promise to the new status quo, even though I’m not feeling a few plotlines. But again, had I read it without spoilers, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more. 80 pages for $3 is a great deal, especially with the talent involved, and I recommend it if you want a quick sampling of what DC will be offering for the rest of the year.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Future Quest #1

QuestCover1Future Quest #1

Jeff Parker, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Steve Rude, Jordie Bellaire

DC $3.99

 

We’re living in an age where licensed comics are shaking off the stigma of being terrible, which publishers assemble creative team to tell high quality stories. Jem, the Power Rangers, Adventure Time and Transformers are prime examples of that, and it’s nice to be able to say the same for the debut issue of Hanna Barbara’s Future Quest.

Written, drawn, and colored by the INSANELY TALENTED team of Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, Steve Rude and Jordie Bellaire, Future Quest #1 ones takes a number of old Hanna Barbara characters and brings them together in a shared universe. Granted that sort of thing may be a tough sell for anyone who didn’t grow up in the 60/70s, or in my case 1990s Cartoon Network, Parker, Shainer and Rude certainly do their damnedest to Future Quest #1_Page_2_573e4dc63d3a48.34454091make this book as accessible, not to mention appealing, to as many people as possible.

Putting Doc Shainer and Steve Rude on this book guarantees is a damn fine looking comic. Both these artists have some Alex Toth influence in their work, and it prevalent on this book. Granted there are a few updates to a few characters, it’s in ways that feel nature, and make sense. Shainer and Rude’s art reminds me a lot of what Chris Samnee is doing over at Marvel, only a little more cleaner and bright. And there’s a certain cinematic flair to their collective styles that really does wonders for this story, making it feel like a big and “important” event comic. And when it comes to colors, there’s very few people on same level of talent as Jordie Bellaire, who’s colors tie this book together in a way very few colorists can. She uses a lot of bright colors that make Rude and Shainer’s art look very similar, even those Rude is a little tighter than the soft, rounder style of Shainer.

Jeff Parker is one of the best dudes working in comics today, and it’s a shame his name hasn’t been attached to more high profile work. He’s great on this comic, which starts off a Space Ghost origin story, and quickly introduces several of the book’s biggest players. Much like the art, Parker’s dialogue rings true to the type of stuff you would here on an Future_Quest_1_1episode of Johnny Quest, but updated for a modern audience. He does a nice job of making this book read like an all age title, without having to “dumb down” anything. The best example of this is the final page of this book, which sees the use of some interesting language. Parker seems to be setting up some sort of Marvel Team-Up type book, with the Quest Family serving as Spider-Man, with the likes of Bird-Man, Space Ghost and several other characters making up the rotating supporting cast.

Being the only book I was excited for once the DC X Hanna Barbara titles were announced, Future Quest #1 succeeds in rewarding my hype. It’s a promising debut, with gorgeous visual, fun dialogue and a lot of foreshadowing that looks to make this book a real interesting read. It’s clear as day that these creators are having a blast on this title from the get go, and I’m quite eager to see where they take this book, and what kind of the stories they tell without having to worry about things like budgets. It’s a very good first issue, which isn’t a surprise given the talent involved.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Fix #2 & Gotham Academy #18

STL004569Gotham Academy #18

Brenden Fletcher, Steve Orlando, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Moritat, Serge La Pointe, Minkyu Jung, Natasha Aletrici, Faith Erin Hicks

DC $2.99

Gotham Academy #18 has a story written and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks. If this was a CBR/IGN type site, that’s the sort of thing that would make me give this comic a 10/10.

Issue 18 is not only the final installment of the Yearbook arc, but also the final issue of this volume. The title will be taking a brief hiatus as Rebirth kicks off, and will return with an annual come August, follow by the 2nd volume starting up in September. So what this issue does is wrap up a plot point for season 1, and give this volume a nice cute ending.

Aside from the 2 page Hicks penned and drawn issue that I’ve clearly enjoyed, Brenden Fletcher also wraps up the scrapbook/Damian story arc with Adam Archer and Sandra Hope, plus checks in on another semi-forgotten character with Moritat. The team of Steve Orlando and Minkyu Jung get in on the fun with Maps and another super obscure DC character, and Natasha Aletrici does a cute 6 page story featuring on Pom and her never seen before mother. While these creators all bring their own respected voices to the book, it’s impressive how all these stories fit the tone of Gotham Academy.

With a lot of the weirder, off-bea DC books wrapping up, I’m glad Gotham Academy will be back in a few months. This arc was neat, and it super cool to see so many different creators come together and play in this sandbox. I’m now I’m eager for the original creative team come back and tell more stories with these creators.

 

 

CoverThe Fix #2

Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill, Nic J Shaw

Image $3.99

Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber need to be on this book for forever. Also if you want to put that on the trade jacket, y’all more than welcomed to do

Issue #2 of the new crime-comedy comic is just as incredible as the first. Our leads are in a bit of predicament after went down in the first issue, so they hatch up a scheme to deal with their problems. Said scheme involves shooting one of themselves in the hand, and ruining an innocent man’s life. Officers Roy and Brundo are terrible people.

And that’s why this book is so great! Like Superior Foes of Spider-Man, you SHOULD dislike our two dirty cop leads, as they are very bad people, and have yet to do a single thing to change that. But Spencer and Lieber have made a pair of character who are very charismatic, and placed them in a very funny book, so it’s all good. At least that is what I tell myself, truth be damned.

What’s really great about this issue is that everyone is putting 100% into this issue. Artist Steve Lieber not only draws a ludicrous number of panels per page, but Nick Spencer makes sure to fill them full of dialogue. Which means letter Nic J. Shaw has his work cut out for him, and does a excellent job of fitting all that dialogue onto the page without running much interference on the art. And Ryan Hill‘s colors are perfect for Lieber’s are, giving the book a nice warm, California feel.

The Fix #2 is great, simple as that. There’s a reason why this book is flying off the shelves, and it’s because the creators on this title are doing some career defying work. This is not a title you’re not going to want to trade wait for. Buy on sight.

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Chris’ Comics: All-New X-men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops

61lj1+9Td9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_All-New X-Men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops

Dennis Hopeless, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy, Nolan Woodard

Marvel $15.99

With the exception of the superb and insanely fun X-Men ’92, I’ve more or less stopped buying X-Men comics on a monthly basis. Between the decidedly darker tones of the current books and creative teams that don’t do much for me, not to mention the absence of several character I really like, I thought issue #600 of the previous volume of Uncanny X-Men would be a fine jumping off point.

With that being said, it seems Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley have made a liar out of me,

All-New X-men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops collects the first 6 issues of the Hopeless/Bagley run, which sees the 4 of the 5 time displaced original X-men join forces with the new Wolverine (formerly X-23),  Genesis (aka Kid Apocalypse) and Oya. Traveling around the world in a T.A.R.D.I.S. inspired Winnebago, this trade sees the team reuniting to deal with the threat of a Cyclops-inspired gang of upstart mutants, as well as the classic X-Villain the Blob. These 6 issues also deal with the young Scott Summers dealing with his legacy, as his older, supposedly deceased, counterpart has done something unforgivable. It’s a wonderful blend of action and drama that the X-men are AllNewXMen2Image2known for, which makes it very appealing for someone who has been reading Uncanny X-men for quite some time now.

Dennis Hopeless being the writer for this title definitely got me to come around on this series. Hopeless wrote the excellent X-Men Season One a few years back, and according to an appearance on the X-men focused podcast Jay and Miles X-plain the X-men, this series is a spiritual sequel to that graphic novel. Hopeless is excellent here. Be it making the Blob a complete badass, or having Bobby Drake struggling with coming out with his sexuality, everything Hopeless puts on the page is great. Granted I’m not the biggest fan of Pickels the Bamf, Hopeless does a good job of giving each and every cast member their own narrative. It’s classic Claremont done in 2016, perfectly balancing the melodramatics with action.

Journeyman artist Mark Bagley wouldn’t have been my first pick to draw a book that features teenagers and X-men, but then again I’m an idiot. Bags years on Ultimate Spider-Man serve him well on this title, as he draws an impressive amount of teens punching, snikting and dialoguing at each other. Bagley on this book remind me a lot of like Alan Davis on early Excalibur- not necessarily the flashiest artist in comics, but a strong story telling you can tell a clean and compelling story with his pencils. Inking Bagely is Andrew Hennessy, with Nolan Woodward on colors. I’m none too familiar with 18301925these creators, but they do great things with Bagley’s pencils. It’s a dynamic art duo that keeps the book looking clean, fresh and vibrant,  and the book looks timeless, which is important given the past meets present premise of this book.

All New X-Men is a surprisingly fun book, even with the baggage from it’s sister books and the Inhumans-related nonsense.. Hopeless has proven his ability to write younger characters again and again over the years, and Mark Bagley is a legendary talent. Their run on All New X-Men is a great start, and I highly recommend this book if you want an X-Men title that’s not too dark, but serious enough to make it incredibly compelling.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked & the Divine #19

tumblr_o6mfzkAJHN1tuoa2wo1_1280The Wicked + The Divine #19

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

DID YOU KNOW: Marvel isn’t the only comics publisher focusing on a Civil War these days. The cast of The Wicked & The Divine finds itself in the middle of feud, as secrets, murder, and secret murder have several characters at each other’s throats.What this means is that Jamie McKelvie gets to draw a lot of pretty peopling throwing punches at each other’s pretty faces for this arc. A while I love how smart and inventive this title usually is, and it’s commentary on fandoms, having McKelvie drawing big fight scenes again is nice. He did a bang up job on that sort of thing back during Young Avengers, and having him do an action heavy arc is a welcomed change of pace.

The Wicked and the Divine #19 sees Baal and the gods aligned with secret murderer & den mother Ananke go after the newly resurrected Persephone and her allies, as well as the return of party god Dionysus. We also learn about some additional plots involving murder, become holy crap, this is a VERY dark arc! While there’s a some trademark whimsy and snark to this book’s dialogue, for the most part Kieron Gillen’s writing plays it straight, letting the readers know we’re in for serious business. It’s very much in a Wicked+Divine19_01similar vein of what Gillen brings to his Darth Vader book over at Marvel, versus the low stakes, slice of life type stuff he did on Phonograms or the first volume of WicDiv.

Moving back to the subject of art, Matthew Wilson continues to do no wrong.  His work on Black Widow and Captain Marvel impresses me month after month, but what he brings to WicDiv is something entirely else. Issue 19 is a very dark issue in the literal sense, and Wilson’s colors do an excellent job working off a lot of pages where black plays a massive role in the design. Wilson also excels in the brighter panels, doing some fantastic stuff in the chamber where the Parthenon meet, giving it a clean, sterile look. I also dig the way he uses colors to show injury, especially in the case of Baal, enhancing McKelvie’s line art in the process.

Clayton Cowles’ font choices also remain inspired. I’m not going to lecture y’all on the importance of good letting in comics, but Cowles’ work on this book definitely deserves Wicked+Divine19_05some recognition. He’s a gifted letterer and much like Wilson colors, his choice in placement and design are brilliant.

The Wicked and the Divine #19 is a great comic. It gorgeous, dramatic and pushes the narrative in a very interesting direction. While it’s not as though provoking as some issues have been in the past, it being a more action oriented comic definitely livens things up a bit, while raising some fascinating questions. And it appears we’ll be getting some answers next month, which is a neat way to get reader to get excited for the future while thoroughly enjoying the present.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Black Widow #3

portrait_incredible (9)Black Widow #3

Chris Samnee, Mark Waid, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

With the excellent Black Widow #3, I recommend anyone who hasn’t read the comic yet to flip directly to the final page. Yes I know that sounds odd,  not to mention super spoilery, but trust me. I’ll wait.

 

RIGHT?!

 

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about this run so far is how minimalist it feels in terms of the amount of dialogue spoken by the character. Writer Mark Waid is a favorite of mine, and he’s usually a dude who fills his books with a plethora of pleasant words. Here on Black 5176762-3+bwidow2016003_int3-2Widow, it feels like Waid has scaled back on dialogue, letting the art of Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson tell the story, which is an incredibly smart creative choice by the team. Half the issue is without dialogue, and it’s all the better for it, as readers get to enjoy Samnee and Wilson’s art without being covered up by words balloons. And it works in Waid’s favor as well, as he makes the dialogue that is spoken feel all the more important.

Issue 3 sees Natasha return to Russia to retrieve data for the dude blackmailing her. While doing so, it revisits parts of her origin, but doesn’t let it bog down the narrative. I love the decision by Waid and Samnee to NOT do an updated origin story in this title so far, assuming the reader knows the deal with Natasha is. Thanks to the Marvel movies, the lot of us know Nat’s deals, so not going down that route is truly appreciated.

In terms of visuals, there’s so much to like about this issue. My personal favorite comes at the close of the second act, where Natashan takes down an enemy in hand to hand combat. In a single page, Samnee draws Natasha’s take down, while referencing her background in BWIDOW2016003-int3-4-36210ballet. Not only is the composure of the page brilliant, but the choreography is beautiful as well, as Matthew Wilson does the lords works on the colors. There’s some really good mixture of purples, blues and blacks on this page, with red being used to focus on 3 key images. The color red plays a huge role in this issue, which makes a sense give the character’s history and iconic hair, and I love how Wilson and Samnee use it in so many ways. Black Widow may only be three issues deep, but man it’s definitely one of the most visually interesting books on the market.

I feel bad that I don’t get to talk about Mark Waid more on this book, but given how Samnee and is credited as both as a writer and an artist, it’s hard to tell exactly what he brings to the table specifically. But the book is excellent, which is a trademark of most of Waid’s work.

Black Widow manages to be way darker than their previous collaboration on Daredevil, but never in a way that feels depressing. It’s a more serious and action heavy read, with zero time for jokes and quips. That being said, the quality of this book is the real reason it’s so enjoyable, and after that brutal cliffhanger,I’m eager for more.

 

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