Category: Stuff We Like

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

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

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

Layout: Justin Bacolo

Text: Valentine Chhann

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

HGWhosWho

 

 

Post to Twitter

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

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

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

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

Other things of note this week:

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

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

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

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

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

Post to Twitter

Val’s Toy Chest- Toy Fair 2017- DC Comics Presents…

Firstly- DC TV figures of Firestorm and Zoom should be in store this week. Keeping with the DC theme- there’s a lot of Toy Fair news to discuss especially with my favorite pantheon of characters. Let’s get to it.

DC Collectibles revealed a ton of new stuff this weekend including several DC TV offerings. Some we’ve seen before, others are brand new. Coming this year from the CW series are: Vixen, the Atom, Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter and Supergirl along with John Constantine from his appearance during season 4 of Arrow. Just revealed are Kid Flash as played by Keiynan Lonsdale and Sara Lance, the White Canary as played by Caity Lotz. If you recall I mentioned Sara as a figure I wanted to see in last week’s column and here she is.1487515673206

On the animated side of things, DC had the new Batgirl on display from Batman: The Animated Series, Superman and Lois Lane from Superman: The Animated Series as well as The Joker expressions pack which features several different heads, hands and other parts to create several different looks. Massive packs are the new normal for the remainder of the reveals at Toy Fair including the previously solicited 5 pack featuring Renee Montoya, Mr Freeze, Bane, Killer Croc and Poison Ivy. The Montoya and Ivy figures are beautiful in person, while the others are no slouches either. The largest, most impressive reveal though was the Batcave set which will feature a backdrop as well as a lightup Batcomputer and more plus the animated Alfred figure which looks amazing. If you thought the Batwing was huge, be prepared for this gorgeous piece.20170219_094842

DC’s Icons lines continues with two new two-packs and a brand-new single figure. Since it is the 25th Anniversary of the original Doomsday storyline comes a pair of figures from that classic tale. Doomsday and a battle damaged Superman are in the package with different interchangeable accessories to create several looks from the story. The Super-Sons are the theme of the other pack and you get Damian Wayne and Superboy from the recent Rebirth title.  Rebirth is also the theme for the new Supergirl figure which features a look similar to her TV show look but in the comic styling. She is going to be a hard one to resist.

Jumping over to Funko, DC POPs due to arrive from Funko include characters from the forthcoming Wonder Woman and Justice League films as well as a second wave of Batman ’66. Characters featured in this second wave include Riddler, Penguin, Mr Freeze, King Tut, and the long awaited Batgirl!20170219_09382520170219_093831 The signs all pointed to Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl being included not only in the POP line but also Funko’s new 3 3/4″ line. The 3 3/4″ line includes characters such as Bookworm, Catwoman, King Tut, Mr Freeze and a Batmobile with Batman and Robin. I am thrilled as I cannot get enough of 60s Batgirl memorabilia so this one is a must have.

NECA shocked everyone this Toy Fair with the reveals of a hero/sci-fi monster two pack series. NECA doesn’t have the DC master license like Mattel does, so they’ve had to get special permission to create any DC characters below 18″ in the past and this time around. we get two new Batman vs packs featuring the Caped Crusader versus a Predator or an Alien. The Alien in this case is special as he resembles the Joker. There is also a Superman/Alien two-pack in the pipeline. If you are familiar with NECA’s stuff, you know these will be extremely popular for the heroes alone.20170219_1246481487526491860

Speaking of NECA, their Quarter scale Catwoman figure was on display and according to my rep, these should be arriving in our store soon, once I know exactly when, I will share that info here.

1487526745455

There’s so much more to cover including items from Mezco and Mattel, I will save all the Mezco 1:12 news for next week’s column. As far as Mattel goes- the following new items were revealed on Sunday for their Multiverse line: TV versions of the Atom and Martian Manhunter, comic versions of Batwoman Kate Kane and Green Lantern Jessica Cruz along with a Rebirth Superman, Duke Thomas Robin, Batwing and Two-Face, plus a new collect and connect Clayface. Wonder Woman gets her own dedicated film line with a cloaked Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, Diana of Themyscira and Hippolyta with a build-a-figure of ***SPOILER*** Ares. As I can’t get into the Mattel showroom, I don’t have any personal pictures of these items but they can be seen with a simple web search.

That’s all for me this week- stay tuned as I will do a special all-picture post on the store’s on-line blog as well as cover Marvel and Mezco stuff the next time around. See you then!

 

Post to Twitter

weird_detective_cover

Graphic Spotlight – WEIRD DETECTIVE: THE STARS ARE WRONG

Cthulu crime stalks the streets of New York in this cosmic horror mini-series!

There’s been a pattern, some might classify it as a plague, of crimes committed in the Big Apple that defy logic. They’re too weird and bizarre for the average detective to unravel without having to believe in the extraordinary. Fortunately, Detective Sebastian Greene isn’t your average detective. He’s fighting against these unspeakable terrors that lurk in the shadows from beyond space and time. The reason he can take on these beings who want to usher in the unimaginable evil, the Old Ones, is because he’s one of them. After all, who better to catch a monster than one of their own?

New York Time’s best-selling author, Fred Van Lente (Generation Zero, Conan the Avenger, Marvel Zombies), and artist Guiu Vilanova (Conan the Avenger) are on the case for Weird Detective, a Lovecraftian mystery tale!

It’s part cop procedural, part H.P. Lovecraft terror, and completely compelling. If you love mystery, sci-fi, horror, and classic pulp, then this weird tale is just what the coroner ordered. This collection has every issue of the mini-series that brings Fred Van Lente’s penchant for air-tight plots filled with unexpected turns back to darken your book shelves. Just remember this one thing: Buyer beware…

Post to Twitter

Val’s Toy Chest- NYCC Edition 2016

New York Comic Con was this past weekend and I attended the show on Sunday. I think I might be over the crowds. I also didn’t go through with meeting any of the celebrities I had considered seeing at the show, maybe the next time they appear at a convention I will.  All that being said, I had a decent time seeing some of the new toys coming out within the next few months or so. I also got to see Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman outfit as well as Gal Gadot’s up close and personal, as the DC booth had both on display.

Mezco’s 1:12 line had some awesome additions to the line including a Suicide Squad Harley Quinn, marking the first female figure in the series, an impressive Darkseid, Deadpool, and the 1984 Ghostbusters cast.img_0770

NECA had their Quarter Scale Batman Returns Catwoman on display and she is beautiful. Selina comes with an alternate head and movie-accurate accessories and should probably be out before the new year.

img_0780

Diamond Select Toys had some neat PVC statues on display including Zatanna, Black Canary and the Huntress, all based on their DC Animated appearances as well as a brand new bust of the Batman: The Animated Series‘ Batgirl. img_0771img_0774
Diamond Select also had some of the new Muppets figures on display including Miss Piggy and Janice.img_0775

Sideshow Collectibles had some cool stuff to show off at NYCC as well including the 1:6 Lobo, Wolverine, Daredevil and Punisher figures as well as Hot Toys of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Rey in her outfit from the final scene as well as Luke Skywalker from the same scene.

img_0768

Super 7 has teamed up with Mattel and is reissuing several of the Masters of the Universe classics figures with additional accessories that will allow for several different looks. I don’t know how these will be distributed yet, but I am looking forward to getting my hands on the Teela and Ram-Man in particular. Other characters announced are He-Man, Skeletor, and Faker.img_0787

Speaking of ’80’s toy lines, Kotobukiya showed off the remainder of their Super Powers statues featuring the original 8 heroes from the initial 1984 wave of the fabled Kenner toy line.  In the coming months, Aquaman, Hawkman and Wonder Woman will join the previously released Batman, Robin, Superman, Flash and Green Lantern. The colors are really vibrant on these and the sculpts are very sharp.img_0777img_0779

That’s pretty much all I saw at NYCC, but we’ve gotten a couple of notable pieces in-store over the past week. Here’s what’s brand new:

The Hot Toys Armored Batman from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has arrived. Decked out in his armor, Batman comes with interchangeable lower face plates and multiple accessories and should be a popular piece. The regular Batman should be along fairly soon as well.

Monster toys are starting to come back into the store just in time for Halloween. First up is the ultimate edition of Freddy Krueger as seen in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Freddy comes with several accessories to display several of his looks from the fan-favorite film. Meanwhile, from the next film in the series comes the A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master 8 Inch retro figure of Freddy in his surgical scrubs from the end of the film which comes with his trademark sweater and a pair of sunglasses to recreate another iconic moment from the profitable sequel. NECA is the manufacturer for both these items. If dream stalkers aren’t your thing, we’ve also received the 5″ Chucky figure from Mezco. Chucky comes with a gun and knife.

Not into killer dolls either? What about a couple of Wild Stallyns? Yes, the NECA 8 inch retro box set of Bill and Ted are in stock. Relive Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure with this pair of figures based on the film and featuring the likenesses of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. Finally- NECA’s first female quarter scale figure has released with the Batman: Arkham City Harley Quinn based on the clown princess of crime’s appearance in the popular videogame.  Harley comes packaged with a baseball bat, extra hands and a pair of guns.

That’s it for me this week. Catch you next time!

Post to Twitter

Val’s Toy Chest- A Voyage to the Star Trek Convention…

If you’ve been reading my column since its inception, you’ve probably guessed that I am a fan of a LOT of different properties. One of those is Star Trek. I don’t generally mention Star Trek too much in this column since there has been a dearth of product from the license in recent years. Plus- my favorite Trek is Star Trek: The Next Generation, followed closely by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and there’s not a lot of product going on for either lately, save the occasional trading card set and high-end figures for TNG. That being said there is at least one cool TNG product coming within the next year, which I will mention at the end of this article. All that being said, I attended my very first Star Trek Convention this past weekend and it was a lot of fun, though different than what my usual con experience is.

I went to the Star Trek Mission New York 50th Anniversary Con on Friday with the intent on meeting some of my favorite women of Star Trek. I checked my Facebook feed before I left for the show and found out that another of my faves was going to be there. Denise Crosby wasn’t listed on the website as an attending guest but was there anyway to promote Star Trek Online, where she voices one of her TNG characters, Sela. Denise was signing complimentary 8×10 photos promoting the game and was also posing for candid photos with her fans. Crosby has long been on my bucket list of TNG actresses to meet, so naturally I jumped at the chance to see Lt. Tasha Yar in person. Denise was an absolute pleasure to meet and she was accommodating, making sure to make time for everyone who had come to see her.

IMG_0733I will say this much about the show floor itself- it was tiny. I can understand this since it was the first official Star Trek convention in NYC in quite some time, but if you were looking for a wide selection of older/vintage items, this sadly was not the convention for it. The exhibitors were mostly involved in either gaming, currency, starship models, magazines and even postage stamps that debuted at this convention. That being said, it was still a fairly cool experience. As I had a few hours to kill, I decided to attend the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine panel that took place on the main stage.  Castmembers in attendance were Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Michael Dorn(Worf), Terry Farrell(Jadzia Dax), Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko), Armin Shimerman (Quark) and Nana Visitor(Kira). The six castmates had an hour long discussion about the show, acting as a profession and other interesting topics. As I was only going the one day, I decided to meet Terry Farrell and get an autograph from her as opposed to a professional photo with her, since you don’t get to interact much with the latter and almost none of the actors offered table photos.  Terry was as pretty as she was back during the heyday of DS9 and I briefly mentioned to her how Dax was my favorite DS9 character. Interestingly enough, though I forgot to mention my enjoyment of it to her, Terry played the role of the mannequin on a brief vacation in the remake of my all-time favorite Twilight Zone episode, “The After Hours.”

I did some more walking around after that and finally got what I most wanted to get out of this convention- a picture with Gates McFadden, a.k.a Dr. Beverly Crusher, my favorite Trek character of all time. The Gates interaction was brief, but she made it a point to greet the fan coming in for the photo op before we smiled for the camera. I did get to meet McFadden back in 2014, but that was a similar situation where I chose one option over the other. Being amongst all the Star Trek actors, made me want to start meeting more of them, particularly the TNG ones. Patrick Stewart is at the top of my list, and I should meet Armin Shimerman one of these days since he is also a Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum.  All-in-all I had a great time at Mission 50 and would do it all over again.

IMG_0742

The cool TNG item coming out next year is a blind bag series by Titan, featuring the entirety of Picard’s original crew as well as some notable aliens. These are similar to the Dr. Who ones we currently carry.

Briefly: DC Collectibles has three new figures out this week from the Greg Capullo designer series including Wonder Woman, The Flash, and a new Batman. We will also be getting a restock on the Flash and Captain Cold TV figures, which join our still in stock Arrow, Black Canary, Heat Wave, Malcolm Merlyn, and Reverse Flash figures. Reenact your own adventures with these detailed figures from the different CW series…AND if you can’t wait til she crosses over with the Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and that other show, the Mattel DC Multiverse figure of Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl will also be arriving on our shelves this week.

Ripley, Alien Queen and the first of the Preacher TV POPs have arrived in stock and Legends of Tomorrow should be real soon…

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

Post to Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #2 & Snotgirl #2

Batgirl_002_2016_2_covers_Digital_Zone_EmBatgirl #2

Hope Larson, Rafael Albuquerque, Dave McCraig

DC, $2.99 

Batgirl #2 takes Babs to Singapore this month, where she attempts to up her hero game by learning mixed martial arts, while also trying to discover what kind of secrets her friend Kai is keeping, plus a dabbing of some romance. It’s a dense, but fun issue that offers very little time for Batgirl in costume, but a ton of focus on Barbara Gordon.

Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque‘s 2nd issue is a delight, as their take on Batgirl is a lot of fun. Larson’s voice for Barbara reads like someone in their early 20s, and captures the intelligence and spunk you’d expect from the character. She’s also genuinely funny in a way that she hasn’t before, almost in a classic Peter Parker way. And I like how the plot manages to weaves between multiples threads, without ever getting too overwhelming.  It’s a nice blend of romance, mystery and action that should appeal to old and new fans of the character.

While Rafael Albuquerque doesn’t have a breakout scene this month, is art is gorgeous none the less. I love, LOVE his facial expressions, and how he draws Babs’ MMA sequences. She looks like a legit brawler, never too sexy or frail, and the composition of the pages with the fight scenes are insanely good. Dave McCaig‘s colors are stunning as well, as he plays some bright colors off of white space.

Batgirl #2 is a another good comic from a team who’s doing some great work. It’s been awhile since I’m seen new creators excel so much after following a fan favorite run, and I’m glad to see Larson, Albuquerque and company hit the floor running.

Snotgirl_02-1Snotgirl #2

Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung

Image Comics, $2.99

The cool thing about Snotgirl so far is that it’s the type of book that will keep you guessing. From the solicits and early previews, it was safe to assume Snotgirl was a comic about a fashion blogger with a nasty allergy, while also being a discussion about identity on the internet. Then the ending hit, and well, the only thing that was safe to say there’s more going on then I had initially imagined.

Issue two deals with the fall out of the previous issue’s ending, while raising a few more questions. We’re also introduced to a pair of intriguing new characters, and reminded that our lead and her friends are still some of the most shallow characters in comics.

Despite some more intentional confusion and leads that are hard to rally behind, Snotgirl remains one of the best new books on the stands. Bryan O’ Malley‘s script and dialogue ooze of the type of creativity that he can only bring to a comic. Oh sure you may not like Lottie, but you’ll be drawn into her world all too easily. As for the art by Leslie Hung, the best way to describe it is like a Korean drama with L.A. sensibilities. It’s bright, gorgeous, loose and expressive, perfect for a book that in some ways is about fashion and a vapid existence.

Snotgirl #2 is a treat for anyone who enjoys the comic medium and isn’t afraid of trying new things. Buy on sight.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl & The Birds of Prey #1

Nightwing #3 also shipped this week, and it’s a pretty good comic that features Barbara Gordon. However, so did B&BOP #1, which offers me MUCH more to talk about.

B013-Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-Cover-214dcBatgirl & the Birds of Prey #1

Julie and Shawna Benson, Claire Row, Allen Passalaqua, Steven Wands

DC $2.99

It’s rare that I get to say that I have a guilty pleasure comic. Most of the comics I pull are critical darlings, or massive fan favorites. Then we have Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, which not only has a trio of character I like, but also a trio of female creators attached to the book. Should be a slam dunk for me right? No, the art is often ugly, and the dialogue is still WAY too over dramatic. Yet I can’t stop reading this book.

Birds of Prey #1 is the every cliche first meeting turn fight turn team up we’ve all come to expect from super hero books (Nightwing even chimes in on in, turning it into a running gag). Batgirl and Black Canary don’t trust Huntress, who Babs finally pieces together is Dick Grayson’s old spy partner/boss, but they come to terms with her so they can figure out who this new Oracle is. Unfortunately for our heroes, this new Oracle has a Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-3plan, and this plan is SNAKE THEMED VILLAINS. Between this and the aforementioned Nightwing, it seems DC Rebirth is actually editorial ways of forcing BIG SNAKE onto the populace, and  I am okay with this.

I don’t want to crap on Claire Row‘s art, but there are some really questionable panels in this book. Barbara Gordon looks fine without her cowl on, but once it’s on, the shape of her head can only be described as “potato-esque”. Also there’s several instances where it looks like character’s teeth are trying to escape their mouths. With Roe as the inker and the pencilier, it leaves very little room for colorists Allen Passalaqua to make any improvements in this book. Their contributions are excellent, and its a shame that the line art he’s coloring isn’t better.

And like I said above, a lot of the dialogue from is bad, Julie and Shawna Benson as there’s a few instances where the characters argue with each other via screaming their motivations. Black Canary is often the voice of reasons and the only character who sounds remotely human. They do a fine job of showing that this new Oracle has gotten under Bab’s skin, so her acting slightly out of character at times is fine. But their Huntress spits Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-7out cliche tough guy line after line to the point where it’s hilarious more than anything.

But that being said, I can’t stop buying and reading this book. It’s heavily flawed, but also crazy fun. While the art isn’t so hot in some areas, it’s more than serviceable in others, especially when it comes to the Babs and Canary versus Helena fight. And while the dialogue is so bad it’s good, the script itself and plot are pretty solid. So while there’s arguable better cape books on the stands, this is THE MOST CW DC book on the market, which means I MUST READ IT, despite my constant avoidance of Arrow.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Supergirl Rebirth

supergirlrebirthSupergirl Rebirth

Steve Orlando, Emanuela Lupaccino, Ray Mccarthy, Michael Atiyeh

DC $2.99

Supergirl is one of those DC characters I’m a fan of in theory, but rarely actually read any of the comics she appears in. While I’m a fan of how she’s been handled when it comes to animation and live action incarnations (the current CBS/CW Supergirl series, not the movie mind you), the comics Supergirl starred a character that was either too angry or sexed up, or in the case of the Peter David penned series, too weird. As fate would have it, DC editorial got their stuff together for Rebirth/the CW re-airing of the first season of Supergirl to make a comic that’s the perfect gateway book.

Supergirl Rebirth sees Kara Zor-El get shot into the sun, fight a Kryptonian werewolf,  and start high school. On paper that may sound weird (and also awesome), but keep in mind this book is written by Steve Orlando, who’s run on Midnighter was anything but conventional. Much like Supergirl, Orlando is a someone I wish I was more familiar with, as a PDF of his acclaimed graphic novel Virgil remains unread on my iPad. Orlando is great on his Supergirl debut, making his Supergirl a powerful and skilled fighter, but also Supergirl-Rebirth-Preview-Page-2-1-420x300someone who’s very compassionate. Marvel has done a excellent job of producing comics where the heroes want to see their villains rehabilitated, rather than just punched and punished, and it’s nice to see Orlando bring that sort of thing to DC, and make it feel natural. Speaking of feeling natural, I’m unsure how much of the elements popularized by the live action show were influenced by the comics and vice versa, but Orlando manages to make a book that incorporates elements like the Danvers and the D.E.O. work without ignoring work done by previous creators.

On the art side of things, we get the team of Emanuela Lupaccino, Ray McCarthy, & Michael Atiyeh, fresh from their run on the recently concluded Starfire series. I can’t think of a better trio of artists for a Supergirl book, as Lupancchino’s pencils inject the type of life and energy you’d expect when you think of a Superman comic. There’s a double 5384914-sgreb_1_5spread of Kara flying out of the sun that just screams iconic, and it’s nice to see a  Supergirl comic where she’s smiling again. McCarthy’s inks are clean, ensuring everything that Lupacciono puts down on paper ends up in the final art, and Atiyeh’s colors are gorgeous.

Supergirl Rebirth is probably not a book I’ll be reviewing every month, but it’s definitely good enough for me to catch up via trade. That being said, if you have more of an investment in the title character or any element of the creative team, it’s an extremely fun book with a ton of promise. It’s the type of start you want from a new creative team, and something DC needed to do with the IP. If Orlando, Lupacchino and co can continue the moment they established here, we should be in store for a pretty good run for a character who needs more of them.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: All-Star Batman #1

asbatman1cvrAll-Star Batman #1

Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr, Danny Miki, Dean White, Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire

DC, $4.99

Bruce Wayne is having one of those days. You know the ones, where everything is #$%ed and everybody sucks. The type of days that have you packing a chainsaw, to skin some dudes raw. And if Bruce’s day keeps going this wa- okay I’ll stop.

All-Star Batman #1 is the double sized return of Scott Snyder to Batman, paring one of the most acclaimed Batman writers of our time with modern legend John Romita Jr, and current artistic tour-de-force Declan Shalvey. While I’ve stated that I REALLY REALLY REALLY don’t like paying $5 for single issues, it’s hard to say no to a creative team like this, also my ability to not spend money is questionable at best.

The debut of this new, villain focused All-Star Batman sees Batman and ol Harvey Dent taking a little road trip to try solve Harvey’s Two-Face problem. Two-Face, reimagined as All-Star-Batman-1-pagesome sort of crime boss Snowden, has put quite the bounty on the Bat which means everyone from Firefly to common folk are gunning for Batman. The Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire colored back up has Batman working with former We Are Robin lead/Snyder created character Duke Thomas to investigate a murder that appear to be unrelated to the Two-Face arc. Both tales have some incredible twists to them, ensuring that readers/suckers like me come back to spend $5 again next month.

John Romita Jr is an artist whose work I’ve been exposed to a lot, as I grew up reading hella Spider-Man comics. It does feel odd to see him draw Batman, but that does not at all mean his work on this book is bad, far from it. He’s an excellent fit for the title and this universe, bringing the right amount of bombastic action to a story that’s heavy on fight scenes. His take on Two-Face is terrific, and the last page of his story is possibly the greatest collection of panels assembled in 2016. Inking JRJR is Danny Miki, who is superb, with Dean White providing the book with some gorgeous colors. The Declan All-Star-Batman-1-DC-Comics-Rebirth-Spoilers-1Shalvey & Jordi Bellaire story is a little more contained, slower paced and something you’d expect from a Scott Snyder Batman comic. It’s gorgeous in its own right, offering sleek visuals to a more psycho-analytical story.

I’ve dug a number of past Scott Snyder-penned Batman stories, and All-Star Batman is no different. But this larger page count and multiple artist project allows Snyder to flex his creative muscles and tell the type of cerebral detective story we’re use to with the back-up, with the main story being an over the top action story.  Year Zero certainly hinted at that sort of thing with crossbow wielding dirt bike Batman, but here we get the next level of that with CHAINSAW TRUCKER Batman. It’s a nice counter offer to the more traditional super heroics seen in the Tom King Batman series, as well the more X-Men influenced Detective Comics.

All Star Batman is my favorite thing to come out of Rebirth so far. Given a murder’s row of artists and his own little corner of the Bat universe to play in, Snyder is now allowed to tell his own stories, free of worry of the current status quo, and with some of the most iconic villains in the industry. As much as I’m against five dollars comics, this is definitely the rare exception that is worth every penny.

 

 

Post to Twitter

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

Just a fun spread found in this week’s print issue of the Weekly Planet to commemorate the release of DC Collectibles’ Black Canary/Laurel Lance action figure. I wanted to share it here as well.

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

Layout: Justin Bacolo

Text: Valentine Chhann

BC (1)

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Nightwing #2

NTW_Cv2_57326865387b69.18795802Nightwing #2

Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual

DC $2.99

 

When we last left that Dick Grayson (all of a week ago, double shipping!), he was currently getting his well chiseled butt handed to him by his new Court of Owls appointed chum Raptor. Nightwing #2 deals with the fallout of that issue, as the duo go on their first mission together, and is a pretty solid improvement over last week’s (in my opinion) slightly disappointing installment.

Writer Tim Seeley doesn’t mess around this issue, which drops the flashbacks and focuses solely on Dick and Raptor’s new relationship. This issue does wonders for the new character, who’s very much being developed as a broken mirror image of Dick. Considering Grayson is in desperate need of a rogue gallery of his own, he’s a welcomed addition, and I like how the character manages to be fun, but also a violent murder-man NTW-2-2-b05d0with some bad intentions. Raptor’s interactions with Dick are not unlike the Wally West  and Grayson friendship, with Dick in the straight man role, something we rarely see him in.  In addition to fun times with Raptor and his bird bros, we get more Dick and Barbara interactions, and any appearance of Kobra. I’m a full believer that any comic can be improved with the appearance of Batgirl and or Death Cults that dress as giant snakes.

Last review I voiced my concerns about Nightwing re-trending ground already covered by Seeley in Grayson. Issue 2 does away with that, but ramping things up to 11, and raising the question of who’s playing who. Unlike Spyral, Seeley lets us know that Dick’s in over his head in no time, constantly keeping him off of his game and having both the character and the reader questioning his methods and motives. So yes there’s definitely some familiarity if you’ve read Grayson, but there’s also a lot of new elements to ensure that the comic feels fresh. Also Seeley manages to end this book on several gut punches that hurt, but that are also very very good.

Javier’s Fernandez’s art is much tights this much. Granted he’s still struggling with mask/emblem thickness, he gets to channel Sean Murphy and get some action-horror stuff this issue, and it looks great. His art really shines when it comes to scenery chewing action scenes, as well as the spooky snake-monsters he creates, and I’m glad to see the book’s 15visuals improved this dramatically. I do wish Fernandez did has someone else inking him though, because there’s a panel or two that feel a bit rushed. Chris Sotomayor’s colors are still superb, and I really like how his choice in blue and orange ensure that our eyes are drawn to Raptor and Nightwing immediately. It’s proof that a good colorist is extremely important to the creative process.

The Second Chapter of Better than Batman is a step in the right direction. I have a few qualms with the art, but the coloring and the writing do an excellent job of making this book a compelling read. It’s a fun and weird blend of genres, despite it’s initial super hero appearance. But most importantly it makes Dick Grayson feel like a unique character, not just an interchangeable member of the Bat-Family. We’re just a slight art improvement away from this book being a great title, not just a good one.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter@TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. He’s also not really a fan of Death Cults, aside from the several he leads.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #1

BG_Cv1_57082d25dc1793.92171144Batgirl #1

Hope Larson, Rafeal Albuquerque, Dave McCaig

DC $2.99

I’ll be honest; going into Batgirl #1, I was worried about the character and the direction they were taking her post Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, & Babs Tarr. There were multiple quotes from writer Hope Larson saying how this run was going to be darker, and while I like Rafeal Albuquerque‘s art, the last time he drew this incarnation of Batgirl there was bit of a thing. Also the white person walking around Asia to learn kung-fu is a trope that at best is cliche, and at worst a bit racist. That being said, reading this first issue has vanquished my fear and we instead get a pretty solid comic that’s mindful of my concerns.

The new Rebirth debut issue sees Babs Gordon in Japan, in search of an old-timey Japanese super hero named Fruit Bat, in order to up her own heroic game. While doing so, batgirl-1-preview-675x1024she runs across her never previously mentioned but apparently old friend Kai, as well as a Fuku-wearing assassin. While long-lost friends and school girl looking assassins were something covered extensively in the previous run, Hope Larson and Rafeal Albuquerque are talented enough creators to make this whole thing seem fresh.

Larson’s voice for Barbara Gordon is sharp enough to keep left over readers from the previous run pleased, but also comforting for lapsed reader who are coming back. Her Batgirl reads a little more focused and mature, but also fun and playful. It’s the best sort of compromise. While not all of the jokes in this issue land, Larson does a great job of building a new setting and status quo for Barbara, setting up the future of this title quite nicely. And granted Kai nor the nameless assassin we get in this issue do very little for me, the introduction of the Fruit Bat definitely makes for fun stuff.

Artist Rafael Albuquerque is definitely a more traditional super hero comics artist than Babs Tarr is, but with that being said, the book still maintains a youthful and fun visual tone. He does some excellent work with the body language and facial expressions in this book, and I love the energy he puts into his fight scenes. I also love the way Albuquerque portrays motion in a medium full of static imagery, as he’s  not afraid to experiment with BG01_03panel layouts and it leads to some great results. Dave McCaig’s colors are also a great fit for this book, as he sticks with bright colors that play off of Barbara’s costume and hair quite well.

Batgirl #1 is a fun first issue that doesn’t change the title character too much, and does a find job to appealing to several different types of audiences. It does an excellent job of showing the fun side of super heroics, with some dialogue that a little more polish and way less dramatic than the Babs we saw in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. Old and new readers have plenty to like with this new creative team, making it arguably one of the more accessibly DC super hero comics to come out of Rebirth so far.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 & X-Men ’92 #5

RCO001_1469630922The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Tom Fowler, Rico Renzi, Kyle Starks

Marvel $3.99

Readers, please take note of the wonderful cover that graces this month’s issue of Squirrel Girl, as I’m sure it will be winning whatever fake internet award I’ll be handing out come December.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a book that has never fails to impress me in some manner, and this issue continues that streak. Our lead has to deal with a love-stricken Mole Man, who’s abducted key landmarks around the world in order to get Doreen to go on a date with him. Squirrel Girl dealing with toxic masculinity may not some like a good premise for a comic, haha that is a joke, it totally is, and the execution is nothing short of genius. I saw this as the ending for this issues sees our hero do the unthinkable, yet manages to not undo all the effort done by this team to make her an unstoppable and incredibly well rounded force for good. Also there’s another scene involving squirrels in Iron Man armor, which is something I’ll never grow tire of.

SQGIRL2015B010_int2_2-932x1414Ryan North. Erica Henderson, & Rico Renzi are a creative team I adore & adding Tow Fowler as an inker was fantastic move. This month we see Kyle Starks of Sexcastle (aka the greatest comic) swing by for a 3/4th page cameo, continuing the trend of a guest contributor knocking it out of the park. As per usual, the writing and art are impeccable, as North and Henderson continue to offer dialogue and art that are beyond unique.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 is another fabulous issue that once again says something important while being an incredibly fun read. This may very well be my favorite arc to date, and even as a dude in my early 30s, I’m glad this book exist for the lessons it attempts to teach it’s young audience.

 

 

 

portrait_incredibleX-Men ’92 #5

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Cory Hamscher, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of surprises, this issue of X-Men ’92 ends by bring back some characters who haven’t been seen since the 90s. Chris Sims and Chad Bowers continue to do a bang-up job of making references to some of the most obscure corners of the 1990s X-universe, including a X-men board game I remember begin advertised like crazy in the back of Marvel comics when I was a wee millennial.

Issue 5 checks in with Cyclops and Jean Grey, whom haven’t been seen in the title since the Secret Wars mini-series. The couple are quasi-retired, but that makes for a boring super hero comic, so they find themselves dragged to the future by Rachel Grey. For long time X-fans, Scott + Jean + Future usually means one or two other character showing up, and they do. But Sims and Bower embrace the hell out of it, making for a strange but be873c68c1f206db75af43465f803c1b._SX640_QL80_TTD_wonderful read that riffs on a few different 90s X-stories.

Cory Hamscher is on art duties this month, and his style is a great fit for this tyle. He riffs on the Kuberts/Whilce Portacio look that was so famous in the 90s, while being a competen story teller in his own right. It’s good stuff.

X-men ’92 is another fun installment a series that’s been a constant delight. It’s the type of book that both satisfies readers looking for a less complicate super hero book, while giving long time X-fans plenty to enjoy.

Post to Twitter