Category: Reviews

Troys Toys But With Comics: The Very Very Very Late Edition

Between the annual Video Game and Musics Festival known as MAGfest and the annual blizzard that never was in NYC last night/today, my column almost didn’t happen. Forunately for you and my bank account, someone else is currently using my TV/WiiU, so I GUESS I can write about comics.

portrait_uncannyLegendary_Star-Lord_Vol_1_8_TextlessLegendary Star-Lord 7&8

Sam Humphries, Freddy Williams III, Paco Diaz, David Curiel

Marvel $3.99

Legendary Star Lord double shipped this month, as Marvel books tends to do that from time to time. Not to mention the Black Vortex begins next month, and I’m sure Marvel needs all their ducks in a row for that.

Issue 7 sees the X-men’s Kitty Pryde join the cast full time, as she attempts to liberate her captured sorta boyfriend from big bad Mr. Knife. Issue 8 sets the sage for the Black Vortex, adding a relatively new character to the story, as well as dealing with the Star-Kitty romance that’s been a thing since the book kicked off. It’s the calm before the storm, and giving the reader a chance to catch their breath before the SPACE PUNCHING starts.

I’ve said it multiple times before and I’ll say it again- Star Lord RARELY brings anything new to the table, but it consistently entertains. Issue 7 has an incredibly smart and well executed action scene that sees Kitty Pryde use her powers in an interesting way, and hearkens backs to Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-men run. You can tell Sam Humphries is having fun with this book, given the book’s tone and dialogue. Freddie William’s III art is a little sloppier than looser than series regular artist Paco Diaz, but it’s serviceable none the less.

I’ll be taking a break from Legendary Star Lord now that it’s crossover time, but I’ve really enjoyed the 2 installment we’ve gotten this month. It’s been an entertaining read that genuinely captures the feel of Chris Pratt’s Star Lord, but fits nicely into the proper Marvel 616.

wickeddivine_07The Wicked and the Divine #7

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelive and Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

One of the “perks” of following writer/ War Hammer 40k enthusiast Kieron Gillen on twitter is to see him toss out some of the worst puns I’ve ever seen on the internet. Spoilers: this is the month that bleeds into Wic+Div and it’s the best/worst.

We also get to know Woden, the Tron Legacy looking god a bunch more and get to see Laura attend Fantheon, which is not unlike a Comic Con but for gods. Yes I had several NYCC flashbacks while reading this, thank you for your concern. Woden is very much more of a Lucifer type of character, but less of a trickster and more of a jerk. I’m very found of this character obviously

The creative team nail the look and the feel of the convention spot on, continuing to remind us that these gods are very much rock stars. It’s very much like Phonograms, but with a murder mystery wrapping. It feels very genuine, even in a fantastic setting, and helps the reader connect to the cast, especially if they’re familiar with being super into a fandom. This book may be tumblr-baiting to a degree, but it’s so enjoyable that I don’t care.

Reviewing Wick+Div issue by issue is rough, as it’s like reviewing a song from an album one track on a month to month bias. But it’s paced well enough that you feel satisfied with ever issue, and are left dying for more.

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

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

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

Nick Spencer/ Ramon Rosanas/Jordan Boyd

Marvel $4.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Spies like Us Edition

First and foremost, happy 2015 Forbidden Planet faithful! There were all of 7 comics released this past week,  none of which I pull,  so we’re going to take a look at 2 books that dropped last week instead. Then I’ll finish my “What I like dug” over the next few days, just in time for the first New Comics Wednesday of 2015. Aren’t schedules fun?

GRAYANN_Cv1_540f47df5c1c08.60705222Grayson Annual #1

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Stephen Mooney/Jeremy Cox

DC $4.99

I want to like this comic more than I do.

I’m doing my best to not be an old man and start ranting about how Annuals should be saved for big stories like were in my day. Hell this annual was originally solicited as such, promising us the New 52 origin of Helena Bertinelli. Which we get, sort of, for all of a page.

The rest of the book is dedicated to several new characters, one who’s supposedly really good at what he does, and we get a lot more focus on said new character than we do on Helena, as well as a Irish Folktale. Which is different, but not exactly the most compelling stuff in the world.

While the book isn’t bad ( Tom King and Tim Seeley‘s script is okay, Stephen Mooney‘s art is serviceable, and Jeremy Cox‘s colors remain excellent), it’s not exactly required reading at $5. It does nothing for the over all narrative of the series, even  thought there’s some cool stuff sprinkled throughout the issue.

December was not the best month for Grayson in my option. Between the annual and issue 5, the book feels like it’s stuck in neutral. Hopefully January will see a proper return to form for this book and it’s creative team.

background (1)Secret Avengers #11

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

And once again, Secret Avengers is espionage comics done right.

The final arc of Secret Avengers begins with this issue, and properly raises the stakes. The mysterious world of TLON has began to appear in “our” world, the secret mastermind behind the whole ordeal begins to make his presence known and now it’s up to MODOK and his allies to save to the day. It’s Cosmic Horror meets Archer (wordplay?) at it’s finest.

And speaking of F-I-N-E (#segue) Michael Walsh & Matthew Wilson continue to be at the top of their respected games with this book. Between the storm in Venezuela and the various action pieces on the Hellicarrier, Walsh and Wilson continue to do some interesting and beautiful things with format, design and panel layouts. They do Ales Kot’s script the justice it deserves, being able to convey the emotion needed for the Hawkeye/Coulson confrontation, as well as providing some awesome fight scenes.

Kot also deserves some praise for the way he’s been handling Agent Coulson and his PTSD in this book. Hawkeye, Maria Hill, and Black Widow may be normal human comfortable with some of insanity that goes down on the reg in the 616, Phil Coulson is not, and is affected by it. It’s something that could be handled poorly in the wrong hangs, but Ales Kot writes Phil and his condition properly, which makes for a compelling and a emotionally invested read.

Secret Avengers continues to be one of the strongest offerings from Marvel month after moth. It’s weird, violent and funny, and every so often, it has something smart and endearing to say.

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What I dug into 2014: Marvel Edition

Today I’m going to take a look at what Marvel made me happy with over the past year. The company did an excellent job of maintaining a diverse catalog of super hero books (Although they could work on diversifying their creators), while pushing out a bunch of $5 books I didn’t read.

portrait_incredible (1)First and foremost, 2014 gave us Ms. Marvel, arguably the MOST important cape book on the stands today. A wonderful comic by G Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Ian Herring,  Khamala Khan is as relevant to readers and their world as Spider-Man was in the 1960s. It’s a gorgeous book with a message that’s an absolute delight to read. Marvel did a lot with their female characters in 2014 (2015 isn’t looking too shabby either for the record), and Ms Marvel is ultimately the best of the bunch, if not the company’s entire catalog.

 

 

backgroundIn 2014, we saw one of Marvel’s best books end. No not Hawkeye. 2015 for that, maybe. The Superior Foes of Spider-Man ended this year, which saw Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber and Rachelle Rosenberg tell some ridiculous and hilarious stories starring some of Spider-Man more’s C & D list villains. If Khamala Khan wasn’t so  damn compelling, Boomerang would had easily been my Marvel character of the year, which speaks volume on how good this creative team is. Also this book had a Corgi as a reoccurring character, which is how you get the Chris Troy vote.

hawkeye17cvr300px-Secret_Avengers_Vol_3_1So this is the part where I talk about Hawkeye. We all saw this coming. Hawkeye by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth and Annie Wu didn’t ship on time at all throughout the year, but when it did, it was amazing. 2014 saw a Christmas Special, Kate Bishop’s California adventure wrap up, and the amazing Sign Language issue, because apparently the Pizza Dog issue wasn’t ground breaking enough. The Hawkeyes had a another great year, between this, the Gerry Duggan penned Hawkeye Vs Deadpool mini series, and Clint’s roll in Secret Avengers.

Secret Avengers (by Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, & Matthew Wilson) is also an amazing book. Incredibly weird, and sometimes morbidly dark, but amazing none the less. Also see the brief but rad Moon Knight run by Warren Ellis, Declan Shevaley &  Jordie Bellaire.Weird? Yes. Violent as hell? Also yes? Incredible visuals and some solid story telling. YUP. This is the best Ellis Marvel book since NEXTWAVE, and Shevaley’s art is incredible. A shame it was so short, because I could have read a year’s worth of stories by this team.

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_20Captain_Marvel_Vol_8_1_TextlessTruth be told, Marvel had a bunch of great books by amazing creative teams drop throughout out the year. Storm, Daredevil, Captain Marvel, Uncanny X-men,  Thor, Captain America, The Mighty Avengers, Magneto, She Hulk and Black Widow spring to mind immediately, and I’m sure I missed a few. Like Legendary Star-Lord for example.

While Marvel event titles were expensive and kind of a mess, the company provided a incredible amount of quality books in 2014. The company took a lot of risks, and a lot of them paid off. I’m eager to see what the company has to offer in 2015, all while avoiding Secret Wars or whatever.

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Young and the Restless edition

This week’s unintentional theme for reviews is #Teens. It would have been #JamieMcKelviecovers, but Kris Anka did the cover to Ms Marvel, also, that hashtag would be crazy long.

STK655085Ms Marvel #10

G Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

After an unexpected hiatus, Ms. Marvel returns to deal with troubled teens and murderous robots via a mad scientist cockatiel. Also yes, I was giggling in delight as I typed those last 3 words, I am an adult.

With issue 9 revealing Ms Marvel’s roots (hint/spoiler: Inhuman), issue 10 is a return to form for the series, using the generational gap in America as a source of inspiration for the issue’s plot. It’s something I haven’t seen done as well since Brian K Vaughn and series artist Adrian Alphona were on Runaways,  mixing actual TEEN issues with comic book super villains. Is it a hoot.

G Willow Wilson was recently signed to an exclusive contract with Marvel, and the dialogue for this issue is all the proof why that was a smart movie. Everything that comes out of Kamala Khan’s mouth sounds genuine for a teenager in the Marvel universe, even when it’s calling for her teleporting pet doggie. Kamala as a  representation of the modern teenager works as well as Hawkeye as the 3o yr old uncomfortable in his own skin, cough cough me.

Alphona and colorist Ian Herring continue to be brilliant on this book. It’s trippy, colorful and so expressive, making it a unique looking book even in Marvel’s wonderfully diverse art styles. Each panel is crammed with details that contain fun little sight gags, Easter eggs or just some funny looking stuff.

Ms Marvel continues to be the best comics to debut from Marvel this year, with the most likable lead to be introduced into the MU in some time. Any and all the success and praise the title has received is warranted, and it’s well worth picking up, as per usual.

wickeddivine_06_2The Wicked + the Divine #6

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

It’s weird to have an Image book go on hiatus for only a month, but it’s certainly welcomed.

I believe in the concept of a multiverse. Somewhere, I’m sure artist Jamie McKelvie didn’t get into comics, but fashion instead, and is brilliant. Luckily we live in the universe where McKelvie draws pretty people who are insanely well-dressed.

The Wicked+The Divine #6 takes place one month after the events of issue 5, and sees our lead still in mourning. I reminds me a lot of the beginning of the recently conclude Legend of Korra season, only with less bending and more…British? Anywho, Laura’s a hot mess, we’re introduced into a rad new character, and the subject of fandoms and conventions are woven into the narrative.

It’s hard to picture a creative team more “With it” then Mckelvie and Kieron Gillen. Despite WickedDivine being urban fantasy, everything feels so realistic and modern, from the dialogue to the use of certain technology. Even Laura’s cracked iphone will make you take notice and give you a sense of familiarity.

Matthew Wilson is arguably my favorite colorist in comics at the moment, and reading his stuff digitally is the best way to experience his talents. His work really makes McKelvie’s art look as good as it does, as his choice in colors ultimately unit McKelvie’s pictures and Gillen words, making for a beautiful package, not to mention a terrific looking book.

This volume of The Wicked + The Divine is off to a smart start, and I’m super curious as to how the subject of fandoms will tie into the story. Their gods murder mystery book is somehow the most human book on the market, and a testament of how talented this team is.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Inside Baseball edition

In a year we’ve had a lot of great books drop, this may be the strongest week for comics all year. And no, I’m not just saying that because Sex Criminals dropped with an a incredible reference to another hit Image title. Spoilers, that joke is all sorts of wrong in the best sorts of ways. There’s also another pair of books that dropped that were rad, although one of them has some troublesome elements. Let’s discuss yes?

4264340-batgirl+01Batgirl #37

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

DC $2.99

If I could recommend this book based on it’s cover alone, I would. It’s sharp, clever and easily one of the best covers to drop in 2014.

Be warned though, I’m sad to say that the villain of Batgirl #37  issue is bit of a problematic trope. Which is unfortunate, because anyone should be able to enjoy this book, as it definitely one of the finest coming out from DC these days.

If you don’t mind that particular rough element though, you’re in for a visual treat. Babs Tarr‘s storytelling is incredible (also reminder that Cameron Stewart does the break downs) and Maris Wicks’ coloring is definitely on another level. There’s a lot of glizz and glam in this issue, and Wicks’ coloring makes it almost look 3-D, which is an super impressive feat in itself. There’s a panel in this issue that could have easily ruined the book for long time Batgirl fans, but it’s handled so well it got an audible “Holy Crap” from me when I read it on the subway.

Batgirl continues to be a fun revamp of a beloved character. And while all the Instagram/Uber references may date the book in a few years, it still feels like the most relevant and fresh book coming out of DC these days. Even with the problems this issue faced with the villain, it’s still a good issue early in it’s fan favorite run.

bitchplanet_01aBitch Planet #1

Kelly Sue DeConnick/Valentine De Landro/Cris Peters/Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

It’s been entirely too long since I’ve gotten to talk about Kelly Sue Deconnick book, so you may want to prepare yourself for some serious gushing soon.

Bitch Planet has been on my radar since it was announced earlier this year at the Image Expo in San Fran. The original pitch made it come off as campy sci-fi space drama, but the first issues reads more like “Oz” than “Orange is the New Black“, and I couldn’t be happier.

Kelly Sue Deconnick is one of most favorite people currently working in comics, and I couldn’t help but love how fresh and unapologetic it is. It’s a unique concept (women being tossed in a planet-sized prison for any number of reasons) that’s illustrated beautifully by the talents of Valentine De Landro and Cris Peter. Visually it reminds me a lot of Michael Walsh & Matthew Wilson‘s work on Secret Avengers, but  a little more cleaner line work and with a little more psychedelic color palette. Paired with KSD’s razor sharp dialogue, it’s amazing debut, with 2 pair of fantastic new characters that will get your attention immediately.

DeConnick, De Landro and their team have created a book that feels important, with it’s strong feminist message, characters with body times usually not associated with comics’ protagonists and it’s “our way or the high way” approach. The type of book comics needs, and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate creative team to deliver it. Bitch Planet may be Kelly Sue’s best work to date, and it’s worth your time.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Troys, but with Tiny Pink Books: Just the Tips

just_the_tips-cov1corJust the Tips

Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

Image, $12.99, RATED M/Mature

I grew up with an aunt who loved having small little humor books for her coffee table. A bunch of them contained content that I didn’t get at the time, nor should have been looking at to begin with, but the jokes I did get were pretty funny, I guess. So to see the guys behind Sex Criminals do something in that vein with their new book, Just the Tips, brings up some weird nostalgia in me. More importantly though, it makes me laugh quite hard, and I wish I phrased all of this better, hashtag yikes.

Just the Tips, for those of you not in the know, is a mix of new and older material from Sex Crimz, and on paper is a book in which Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky help you be better at sexy times. There’s nothing in this book that affects the narrative in the proper Sex Criminals comic, so if you’re expecting that sort of thing, you may be slightly disappointed. Speaking of disappointing, I was talking to your lady friend and-I’m sorry, I’ll stop.

Tips02That being said, if you’re just here for laughs and questionable imagery, you’re fine. Sure you’ll fine some letters and SEX TIPS from the generally excellent reader’s letters column reprinted here, but none of the smart  and thoughtful ones. It the gross and funny ones, don’t worry you won’t actually learn anything, which is all a part of the joke anyway.

Aside from the reprinted Sex Tips, positions and letters, Matt and Chip gifted the reader with a bunch of erotica, pick-up lines, dirty talk, and my personal favorite movie reviews of sex parody movies that they’ve created. Oh and the entire things kicks off with an introduction from the President himself of the Unite States himself, Barack Obama. Yeah, I’m surprised they got him for this book too, but Chip and Matt are pretty popular these days.

Chip Zdarsky and Matt Fraction telling terrible, dirty jokes, is the selling point of this book, and it’s the main reason it works out so well. Their personalities and humor have made them 2 of the most in-demand and beloved creators currently in comics, so them spending 92 pages making dick jokes is the type of book that would only work for them. Well them and Howard Chakyin, but that’s a difference talk for another day.

tips-panelDesign wise, Just The Tips is simplistic, but attractive, mostly consisting of float 2 color pages. A lot of black and pink, ensuring that this book looks like a sex toy, which I’m sure is intentional. Any of Zdarsky’s art that appears in here isn’t as refined as what appears in Sex Criminals proper, but it’s still charming in it own special way. Well  as charming as the topic can be. Be prepared to have the solar system ruined for you half way through this book.

Over the last year Sex Criminals has proven to be one of the most unconventional successes in comics, with it’s original premise, and it’s honest and hilarious look at sex. Just The Tips isn’t as thought provoking or insightful, but it isn’t meant to be. It’s 92 pages of adult humor and apologies, and the perfect thing to make for awkward conversation if read in public. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a Brimper, or know someone who’s down with Brimping.

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Lovable Rogues edition

Grayson_Vol_1-5_Cover-1_TeaserGrayson #5

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin/ Jeremy Cox

DC Comics  $2.99

Grayson #5 is arguably the most ambitious issue since the Future’s End one-shot. That being said, while issue 5 looks great, it’s arguably the weakest issue to date.

The premise of this issue is that a mission has gone off the rails, so Dick Grayson, Helena, the Midnighter and a new born child are forced to walk across 200 miles of desert to reach civilization. The purpose of this issue is to show the reader that Dick Grayson never gives up, is pretty much perfect, doesn’t afraid of anything, blah blah blah.

While I dig what Tim Seeley and Tom King are trying to do with this issue, it’s something that we’ve been seeing since issue 1: that Dick Grayson values life and will do whatever to protect it. This issue feels like it spinning it’s wheels a bit, instead of advancing the plot. Helena’s presence feels tacted on, and the ending is kind of a mess.

That being said, it’s still a gorgeous book. Mikel Janin does a excellent job of drawing sexy people in the desert, and I’m sure a ton of people are glad to see shirtless Dick Grayson run around with a 10 day year old beard. He also does a lot of interesting things with his story-telling with double page spreads and multiple panel work, And colorist Jeremy Cox really steps up this issue, showing how brutal the desert setting  is, and making the relatively simplistic backgrounds come to live.

Grayson #5 is a frustrating comic, that looks great but offers new in the narrative. It’s a rare misstep from a solid creative team.

Legendary_Star-Lord_Vol_1_6_TextlessLegendary Star-Lord #6

Sam Humphries/Paco Medina/Juan Vlasco/Davis Curiel/

$3.99 Marvel

WACKY DATE ISSUE, WACKY DATE ISSUE!

Legendary Star-Lord  #6 sees Kitty Pryde and Peter Quill go on their first date. Well sorta date, as Kitty is still on Earth, so it’s Kitty via hologram. Oh and there are still a bunch of people trying to kill Peter Quill, so that complicates things a bit, and ensures that this is a wacky date issue.

This is not the first comic that’s tried to do the date with a twist thing. It’s be done to death, and even by attempting it, risks being extremely troupey and cliche. That being said, the team of Sam Humphries and Paco Medina have made their run on Star-Lord incredibly fun, so it’s comes as no surprise that this issue is a hoot.

Humphries and Medina’s handling of Kitty Pryde in this series has been nothing short of excellent, so getting more screen time with her in this issue works in the book’s favor. She works well opposite of Star-Lord, and Humphries draws a lot of the character’s history to make her very compelling co-star. Also he and Paco and like the only dudes in comics that seem to remember Lockeheed exists, so seeing that little purple dragon pop up a bunch is a treat for me.

Speaking of treats, Paco Medina’s art is great. The details on his backgrounds are Jim Lee-esque, and his facial expressions and  character’s body language is superb. Star-Lord is a book that is very high energy and fun and is serviced well by Medina’s art, combined with excellent and clean inks from Juan Vlasco and bright & vivid colors by David Curiel.

Legendary Star-Lord continues to be a fun book with a ton of humor, romance, and action. It’s a nice homage to the space operas inspired by it, but not afraid to add some fun little twists to it. And with a cool mystery revealed and fun, exciting cliff hanger ended, I’m excited to see what the next issue brings.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Mindtrip

Happy Turkey Day weekend. Assuming you weren’t trampled on Friday via stampeding crowds looking for hot dealz.

ODY-C-1-CoverODY-C #1

Matt Fraction/Christian Ward

Image $3.99

OY-C is a comic that….I…um….that is to say…

:: Stares at keyboard for several minutes at a lost for words ::

ODY-C is kind of a weird book y’all. A different type of weird that I’m use to from the writer. In the outro, Matt Fraction describes the book as a retelling of the The Odyssey with a Wonder Woman meets Barbarella filter. Which it definitely achieves, channeling some 4th World Jack Kirby with a dash of Blizzard’s Starcraft designs as well. But to be honest, Fraction’s writing left me a little cold with this debut. There’s hints of his brand of humor and dialogue sprinkled around the comic, but his dedication to the source material rubbed me the wrong way a few times. It’s far from bad, and impressive that Fraction managed to balance new dialogue all while paying homage to the original Odyssey, but I just didn’t connect to this comic like I did previous Fraction written debuts.

Visually, this book looks  like nothing else on the market. Christian Ward‘s visuals are as trippy as they are beautiful,  and his use of colors and the choice of palette is fantastic. My favorite moment comes from a multi-panel fight scene that’s coated primarily in shades of  red, with the only contrasting color being white. It’s an insane visual trick that really makes the art pop out. And Chris Eliopoulos‘ lettering couldn’t be better, doing this epic justice.

In addition to Ward’s gorgeous art, there’s an 8 page double sided fold out that kicks this comic off. There’s an insanely detailed battlefield image by Ward on one side, and the other is map/timeline that was done with help from one Drew Gill. It’s a dense read that sets the stage for the book, almost drowning the reader with information.

I applaud Fraction and Ward for making one of the most visually interesting books on the market with a female heavy cast.  I’m going to give the series another issue to see if it’s pull  worth of if I’m better waiting for trade. Regardless of my buying preference, ODY-C is a different type of comic, something that deserves to be read based on it’s boldness alone.

 

backgroundSecret Avengers #10

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of weird looking books that look good, this issue of Secret Avengers is arguably the best the book’s looked all year.

I don’t want to take away from Ales Kot‘s contributions to this book. Kot’s work on this title has been important, managing to combine some genuine humor into a exciting espionage thriller that’s pretty dark and very weird. But ultimately, it’s the team of Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson that made fall hard for this issue.

Allow me to explain why: the final 5 pages of this comic take place Venzuela, amiss of a downpour. Spoilers, if only you didn’t look at this book’s cover, it involves Hawkeye and Agent Coulson having a stare down  and it looks fantastic. Walsh’s body language, facial expressions, panel composition are great, and look amazing thanks to Wilson’s black and grey pallets. And the final page is equally hilarious and dreadful, setting up for the third and final arc of this series. Capped off by another fantastic Tradd Moore, Secret Avengers makes me a happy reader once again.

It’s hard to say if this book is coming to an end because of low sales, or if it had a plan ending from the beginning. Hopefully it’s the later, because it’s easily the best the book’s been since Warren Ellis‘ brief run. Either way, I’m excited to see how this all ends, despite the fact that and another wonderfully weird Marvel book will be over.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17

My pull list last week consisted of 1 whole title. This week was much better, as several great comics dropped, making me happy and my wallet sad. One of those books was the final issue of The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, which I decided warrants an article/review all to itself. BE WARNED, WE’RE GOING TO GET DEEP INTO SPOILERS!

portrait_incredibleThe Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17

Nick Spencer/Steve Lieber/Rachel Rosenberg

Marvel $3.99

When I reviewed SUP FOES #16, I stated that if that was the final issue of the series, I would have been more than pleased. But now that I’ve read issue 17, I can proudly say that past me was wrong once again, and it was for all the right reasons.

SUP FOES #17 is the issue where Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber and Rachelle Rosenberg show their hand, and all the secrets and twists are revealed. The massive heist and gang wars are all just a distraction for Boomerang, who doesn’t want to the run the city as a crime boss, but as a star pitcher. For the New York Mehs, an excellent visual gag by Lieber that’s also a pretty accurate description of that team. Of course, the other 5 members of the Sinister “6″ weren’t in on that plan, so they’re kinda in a bind/in the middle of a 4 way betrayal, and the sudden appearance a certain gun toting vigilante.

But of course, Boomerang can’t (and shouldn’t) have nice things, and poop hits the fan shortly after his plan is explained. His final fate is purposely vague , a reference to the Sopranoes, which he names drops, and it features a character who’s appearance makes all the sense in the world. Also I called it last month, so it didn’t exactly come as a complete surprise. The other Sinister 5 member also get their just desserts, with 2 of them ending up in better positions that they were in when the book started, where as the other 2 are probably not. We also get an appearance from poor Mach-VII and a certain bar tender who apparently was more than she lead on to be.

 

The humor in Superior Foes is definitely a good reason as to  why this book so great. There’s a number of hilarious panels that really show up the genius of both Spencer and Steve with both visual and spoken jokes, not to mention some really odd and insane references, especially when it comes to a gag involving the Shocker. References can sometimes be really cheap when it comes to jokes (oh look it’s like that other thing I like, haha), but Spencer and Lieber call themselves out on it as well, and it works in their favor.

But it’s ultimately the message of Superior Foes, eulogized by former wrestler/upcoming Thor Annual writer CM Punk,  that explains  why this book is so great. Spencer, Lieber and Rosenberge ultimately told the tale of a bunch of people who had a dream, and went about the easiest and sometimes most illegal ways to achieve it. It’s not a GREAT moral, but it something we can all relate to on one way or another, sometimes even more so than the super-altruistic leads of these cape comics.

The Superior Foes of Spider-Man wasn’t a book that changed the Marvel Universe (for 6 months), sold incredibly well, or had a massive fanbase like the Carol Corp. What it was thought was Nick Spencer delivering some of the funniest and clever scripts in his Marvel career, Steve Lieber drawing the hell out of this book (this particular issue average 8 panels a page, if not more, without a drop in quality), and Rachelle Rosenberg’s coloring adding another dimensional to the the pencil art (see the Boomerang at the bar pages in this issue for some of her finest work), and giving the book a uniform look when there was a fill in artist.  SUP FOES was a book I almost missed out on when it first launched, and I’m glad I was there for the ride now that it’s over.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Solo X-Men

It’s a rare week for me, one where more trades of note dropped than books I buy, thanks to scheduling and delays. So welcome to the article where I dedicate 500 words to a single issues of Uncanny X-men.

 

portrait_incredibleUncanny X-men #28

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka

Marvel $3.99

Recently, Newsarama blogger Jim Mclauchlin wrote an article on said site putting comics journalism on blast. One of the things he stated  was that reviewing single issues of comics was unfair to creators, as it’s only focusing on one chapter of a story, which is something you wouldn’t see in a literary review . While there were several points in that article I agreed with, Jim also writes for a site that does Top Ten lists daily, and it’s totally fair to review comics on a issue to issue basis, because that is how they are sold. If Marvel or DC want to do single story graphic novels only, I would be all about that, but since they don’t, Imma do me and review their books as they hit the stands.

 

Which brings us to this month’s installment of Uncanny X-men, which is the latest chapter of the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier retcon arc. It’s worth starting off that the cover credits Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend on the art side of thing for this issue (obviously Brian Michael Bendis is credited as the writer correctly) , which is incorrect because Kris Anka handles that. The cover also implies a Magneto Vs Cyclops thrown down (again), which is also incorrect because Mags appears for all of one page. What I’m saying is that trusting Marvel is risky business.

Jokes aside, Uncanny X-men 28 is a solid issue. The quick recap is  that Scott Summers, the least pursued #1 terrorist in the Marvel Universe, is  trying to get walking macguffin Matthew Malloy to join his revolution. You know, the revolution that’s really not taken off after 30 issues. It’s a dialgoue heavy issue that sees 3 X-men’s faith in Charles Xavier’s teaching tested, and how differently they react to it. Oh and a lot of close ups of people’s faces, explosions and teleporting.

While the dialogue is pretty much by the numbers, with some cool callbacks to the X-men’s history, Kris Anka’s art work continues to wow me. Thanks to Bendis’ callbacks, we get to see Anka’s interpretations of the X-Men throughout time, ranging from the silver age to the modern age, and most importantly including the beloved Jim Lee designed 1990s roster. Marvel, if you do not publish a X-men’92 book with at least covers by Anka you are leaving money on the table.

Another thing that impressed me is a sequence in which Anka apes several different artists’ styles in a flashback of sorts. It’s not the first time I’ve read a comic where an artist changes his style in reference to another story arc, but it’s still really neat to see Anka channel a wide variety of artists like John Byrne, Joe Madureira, the Kubert bros and Oliver Copiel, among others.

Combine this with Anka’s flat, yet still bold, color pallet, and Uncanny X-men is a beautiful looking book. It’s not the type of book I would recommend to anyone not interested in X-Men comics to, but for those of you already fans of Marvel’s mutants, it’s a good read.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Smells and Sagas

harley-quinn-vol-2-annual-1-cover-1-teaser-107613Harley Quinn Annual 1

Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmotti/John Timms/ Paul Mounts/Others

DC $5.99

This comic stinks….literally!

::: Pats himself on the back and calls it a day for being the best. :::

Now that the premature congratulations are over, DC has revived (?) scratch and sniff comics for the $6(!) Harley Quinn Annual! This is the first issue of Harley’s series I’ve read, and at $6 I probably could have chose a better and cheaper jumping on point, but a poly-bagged comics with scratch and sniff pages is the stupidest of gimmick, which I am very weak against.

 

In my impulse purchasing defense, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are a pair of creators who are fully capable of pulling this gimmick off. I loved their work on their fan-favorite Power Girl series from a few years back, so I figured if anyone could do this weird cash-grab gimmick justice, it would be them. Turns out for the most part, I was right.

The comic revolves are Harley trying to break out her BFF Posion Ivy from Arkham Aslyum, not knowing there’s more going down than expected. My problem with this book is that for a lack of better words is that its “try-hardish”. Connor & JP makes several ham fisted attempts to offend, amuse and educate throughout the comic, and at times it’s groan worthy and bloated. I appreciate the effort, but it’s as graceful & subtle as a bad Deadpool comic. It could use about a less 1/4th dialogue, and about 95% less social commentary.

That being said, the book excels when it aims to offend. The scratch and sniff panels work more than miss, and the art is fantastic. This is my first exposure to John Timm’s work, but he’s easily one of the best artists to work on Harley, and all of the guest artists all deliver on their short contributions.

The Harley Quinn Annual sounds a little weird on paper, but the execution is phenomenal. It’s a fun done in one with some great art and some fantastic character moments. As a guy who finds Harley hella problematic in general, I couldn’t recommend this book enough as an entry point into the book, but  will understand if you prefer to grab that first volume hardcover instead.

 

 STK652827Saga #24

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

 ::: Insert Chris’ Quarterly Saga Hiatus Withdrawal rant here:::

I really want to end the review there and go back to playing video games. But I don’t think I hit 500 words yet so I guess I should do some explaining.

 

Saga #24 in a single word, is incredible, not unlike the last 23 issues. 18 of the 20 pages focuses on characters we haven’t seen since volume 3, and its compelling as hell. 3 characters who was previously a 1 panel gag gets a ton of fleshing out , and we get caught up with several slightly more familiar  and it’s completely delightful. And of course the final 2 pages hit like a ton of bricks, but in the best ways possibles. BKV and Fiona Staples do some things NO ONE was expecting, and man it only makes the build up for chapter 5 more incredible/painful.

It’s business as usual for Saga, which is great, because Saga’s business is the best.

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Late, yet again.

Belated post once again, this time due to NYCC. Con was great, and I saw many a fine folk. Last week was also a really great week for comics too, but I’m only going to highlight 2 of them today, because they are arguably the most important. I’m sure Sex Criminals will be fine.

 

586cfd30a87203654de3e206e1093d7dBatgirl #36

Brenden Fletcher/Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr

DC $2.99

::: Cut and pastes last week’s Gotham Academy review, changes a few names, call it a day :::

So yeah, despite there being no shortage of dope comics released this year, THIS is the book I wanted more than anything after it was announced. Barbara Gordon is my number 1 with a bullet favorite DC character, and I haven’t been excited for the character in quite some time. No offense Gail Simone, you’re still rad.

But man, that Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr new costume effect. Stewart’s drawn many a fine comic in his career, and Tarr has been one of my favorite people since I met her at Heroescon this PAST summer. And that new costume is all sorts of dope, which btw if you’re paying attention DC Collectibles, new Babs figure ASAP. A statue is fine as well.

So yeah, I went into this book a little excited. And much like Gotham Academy before it, it exceeded my expectations. Tarr, Stewart and Brenden Fletcher crafted a comic that felt like the sort of book the new 52 should have been in the first place. It’s refreshingly modern, in both tone and style. Burnisde may be a Gotham-stand in for Portland or North Brooklyn but its the plot that really make this book stand out. Not too many mainstream comics are willing to tackle revenge porn and privacy invasion, but team Batgirl 2k14 do so, and kick it straight in the face.

Batgirl is another example of DC actually getting it. Gotham Academy is a great book, but Batgirl is an A list character that non-comics people are familiar. This is the type of book that should be an entry gate to DC Comics/Comics in general, and it’s off to a damn good start.

 

WYTCHES_webWytches #1

Scott Sndyer/Jock

Image $2.99

(Somehow) it is October, which means SPOOKY comics are a plenty this month. Oh and hilariously named donuts like “Boston Screme”. Both are things that I like, but only the former involves the talents of creators Scott Snyder & Jockat least as far as I know.

The pair released Wytches last week, and the hype for that book was nearly comparable to Barbara Gordon’a new look. Snyder may be sitting on top of the comics world due to Batman ( rightfully so mind you), but Wytches serves as a reminder on how well this dude does horror. The first few pages of this book are horrific, which is something I imagine one would want from a spooky-scary comic.

And then there’s Jock. Easily one of the most interesting and talented artists working in comics today, Jock’s art is phenomenal in this debut. Paired with colorist extraordinar Matt Hollingsworth, the pair set the tone of the book perfectly. The book looks great when the characters are suffering the most, which I know makes me sound like a sociopath, but it’s true. It’s a great looking book featuring terrible things happening to questionable people.

I also really like the hook for Wytches. Said Witches are far from the black hat/cat cauldron troupe, and are hardly the worst thing in the book. I refuse to say more due to fear of spoilers, but Snyder/Jock/Hollingsworth have something special going on in this book. Wytches does for witches what The Wake did for mermaids.

Wytches is off to an impressive start, and has me rethinking my pull list in order for me to buy it monthly. It’s a stellar debut, something Image has become notorious for, and it’s great to see one of the industry’s biggest name flex his horror muscles again with a fantastic art team.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: So many things

Before I start screaming about this month’s issue of Saga, I just wanted to give y’all (all 3 of you) a head’s up with what to expect over the next few weeks. Aside from weekly reviews, expect to see a few advanced reviews, a NYCC preview, and hopefully a toy review or two in the coming weeks. I’m excited to share all of this with you the reader, because I like to talk about some (hopefully) cool shit.

Saga-23-90332Saga #23

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

SPOILER WARNINGS: HEAVY SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW BE WARNED.

First off, I just wanted to say how much I dig the use of yellow on the front, back and interior covers of this book. It looks really sharp and stands out a lot. Aside from being a well crafted comic, Saga is also a brilliantly designed book, something I appreciate bunches.

So if you’re caught up with this book (HERE COME THE SPOILERS Y’ALL), Brain K Vaughan and Fiona Staples have been teasing the split up of our leads for the last few months. Ever since the announcement via narration, they’ve been dropping a ton of hints of how it was going to go down, killing me slowly. Well this is the issue that is goes down, and when it looks something we’ve been expecting to happen to go down…

Vaughan and Staples pull a 360.

The split still happens I’m sad to say. But not in a way you’re (probably) expecting. And it hurts, believe you me, but the bait and switch does leave some hope. It’s brilliant, as we see why Vaughan used certain words in the way he did. And then the ending hits and we’re given something that’s been building since issue one. It’s an awesome ending that sets the stage of this volume’s end next month all to well.

And while BKV delivers top notch dialogue, Fiona Staples continues to show why she’s won a bunch of awards for this book. The body language, page and panel composition, the colors, the facial expressions-EVERYTHING-is done for a reasons and executed flawlessly. It’s fantastic.

It’s no surprise that Saga #23 delivers. Every issue of has Saga has delivered so far, so why would things be any different this month. It’s HOW the book delivers that makes it stand apart from previous installments of the book. Another flawless installment by arguably the only  perfect comic series on the stand today, I cannot stress enough how great this book is.

 

ENDS OF SPOILERS DON’T WORRY YOU CAN READ THE REST OF THE COLUMN!

background (1)Secret Avengers #8

Ales Kot/Micahel Walsh/ Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

SHAMELESS PLUG: This book’s writer (Ales Kot) will be signing his new Marvel title (Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier) at the store this Wednesday at 6pm. You should probably swing by and tell him how much you love his work and buy a bunch of his comics.

So yeah, in case the cover didn’t tip you off, it’s a MODOK heavy issue of Secret Avengers, one that fills in some gaps between the previous series and this one. It also reveals some answers to questions raised in the first seven issues of this book, reveals some cosmic horror and has some genuinely laugh out loud moments (especially with that last page).

Something I like about this title is how weird it can be at times without pointing it out. Ales Kot, Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson (who’s does some amazing things with colors this months) blend espionage with humor and some really gonzo elements of the Marvel Universe that remind you that this is a spy comic that takes place in a world of spandex wearing heroes. It’s not afraid to not take itself seriously at times, and look great while doing so.

Secret Avengers is a book that feels like Warren Ellis and Jim Steranko tackled a Avengers book set in the movie’s continuity but were given free range to do whatever they wanted. The end results are as equally bizarre as they are amazing.

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Girls and their dogs

ms-marvel-8-cover1Ms. Marvel #8

G. Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Look at that cover. It is a cover that is made of 100% pure joy, as well as paper and probably some chemicals.

Ms. Marvel has been a delight since day 1, but issue 8 may just be my favorite issue to date. As you can tell from the cover, Lockjaw of the Inhumans shows up, possibly in the most amazing and adorable fashion. Which I think is ultimately why I liked this issue so much, because it is the cutest thing to ever cute a cute. G Willow Wilson has done a lot to make Kamala not a stereotypical teenage girl character, so seeing the new Ms Marvel actually go head over feet for her new pet is more of a delight than it is insulting. Her Ms Marvel is a character that’s very 3 dimensional, so seeing her a different side of her every so often is fun.

Issue 8 also sees the return of artist Adrian Alphona, who absolutely owns his return. The book’s art certainly didn’t suffer during his break, especially with master colorist Ian Herring on colors but Alphona’s style is unique, so having him back just feels right. And we as readers are rewarded to some great art that’s beautifully weird, and packed full of small details and hidden jokes. It’s also great to see how Adrian illustrates the use of Ms Marvel’s powers, leading to some cool and hilarious visuals.

Ms Marvel continues to be one of the best books on the stands today, and it’s mostly due to the level of talent and dedication the creative team brings to this book. From cover to cover, the book is a refreshing alternative to most super hero books and is a ton of fun.

hawkeye-020-001Hawkeye #20

Matt Fraction/Annie Wu. Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel $3.99

:( :( :(

With the release of issue 20, we only have 2 issues of Hawkeye left. I am the saddest of Chris’ over this fact. The 3 sad faces above prove that.

Issue 20 is artist Annie Wu‘s final issue on the series, and ultimately wraps up Kate Bishop’s California adventure. A lot of questions are resolved and a few reveals are had, making for a satisfying, but not necessarily the happiest of endings.

While the book is a bit of a downer at times, the creators do a fantastic job on this comic. Annie Wu’s art is super expressive, and the range of emotions she can put into her characters and environments is impressive. Poor Kate Bishop takes a beating in this issue, and Wu does a bang up job of showing it, with some nasty bruises, bandages and messed up hair. But her Hawkeye is a warrior, and the final 2 pages show how much of a bad ass Katie-Kate can be when push comes to shove. Matt Hollingsworth’s colors really do Annie Wu pencils justice, mixing a lot of bright colors you’d associate with California with the traditional Hawkeye purple. It’s the same flat coloring style you see when David Aja is drawing the book, but it’s different enough to compliment Annie Wu’s style in all the right ways.

Matt Fraction‘s script of course brings the entire package together. His dialogue is sharp,  the reveals he drops land and nothing feels out of place. It’s impressive to see how much he got out of Kate’s “new” supporting cast in such a brief period of time spent with them, but they all feel so fleshed out. And his Kate also remains a fun character that you can help but cheer for, especially when some of the shit hits the fans. He’s done wonders for the character, and I consider him the definitive voice of Kate, despite having nothing to do with her creation.

With this and Superior Foes of Spider-Man wrapping up soon, I’m really bummed to see 2 of my favorite books come to an end. However much like SUP FOES, Hawkeye’s ending seems like it’s coming to a natural ending point, and I’m sure the creators will stick the landing. The Kate Bishop California adventure does suffer a bit due to countless delays, but ultimately it does it’s job of ending one story and setting up the final story. I don’t want this book to end y’all, but I’m eager to see what Fraction, Hollingsworth and David Aja do with the final 2 issues after this issue.

 

 

 

 

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