Category: Stuff We Like

Chris’ Comics: Future Quest #1

QuestCover1Future Quest #1

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

DC $3.99

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked & the Divine #19

tumblr_o6mfzkAJHN1tuoa2wo1_1280The Wicked + The Divine #19

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: Black Widow #3

portrait_incredible (9)Black Widow #3

Chris Samnee, Mark Waid, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

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

 

RIGHT?!

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #3

portrait_incredible (8)X-Men ’92 #3

Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

X-Men ’92 #3 starts off with a gathering of Draculas (the actual Dracula, not that gag where you refer to all Vampires as Dracula) from different realities. If a league of multi-dimensional Draculas is not your thing, chances are X-men ’92 isn’t for you.

Last month I said it was amusing to see Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, and Alti Firmansyah pay tribute to “Curse of the Mutants”, which is decidedly not a 90s X-story arc, and one that isn’t exactly a fan favorite. This month the creative team goes one step further with the idea, tying that arc into their Alpha Red plotline, and the results are AMAZING. Well amazing as you can get without the presence of a Holy Water Enhanced Iceman.

I love the energy Alti Fimransyah’s style brings to this title. It feels very Disney influences, and it lends itself well to a comic defined by an animated series first and foremost. It really works when dealing with the younger characters, not to mention more off beat characters like Artie (of Artie and Leech fame) and Dracula himself. She also excels at clearly XM922016003-int2-5-ffdc7portraying the reference to past X-men stories, a running gag that I’ve enjoyed over the course of the mini series and this ongoing. Matt Milla’s colors are once again perfect for Fimransyah’s art, once again giving the book a clean and bright look.

Sims and Bowers continue to impress as much as their art team as well. The dialogue continues to walk that lines between ridiculous and class X-Men, never reading as parody, but never getting too serious. The interactions between Storm and Dracula this issue are a great read, and the two writers do a fantastic job of giving the two characters a history, despite the fact that this is the “first” time they’ve met. Their love for the source materail really comes across in this comic, but never ever getting too deep in the nostalgia/fan service.

One of the best things about this title is how the creators get to cherry pick from one of the most unique eras of X-men comics, without the baggage and excess (X-cess?) or the 90s and early 00s of the X-line. Seeing the kids of Generation X and TEEN version of X-Force/X-Statix dealing with vampires is something that sounds absolutely insane, yet goddess-2totally works for this universe.  It also helps that that Bowers, Sims and Firmansyah get to use one of the most iconic line up of X-men, and get to use them in their own separate corner of the Marvel Universe.

X-Men ’92 #3 is a hoot. Despite the over the top nature of this book, the creators do an excellent* job of raising the stakes**, and making the vampire threat feel genuine. Which by the way, if you would have told me this was a vampire story after the first issue, I would thought you were crazy. But here we are 2 issue later, and again, CROSS DIMENSIONAL CONCIL OF DRACULAS. God I love this book.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #51 & Grayson #19

STL001391Batgirl #51

Brenden Fletcher, Elenora Carlini, Minkyu Jung, Roger Robinson, Serge Lapointe

DC $3.99

I applaud what Brenden Fletcher did with this 51st issue of Batgirl. With Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart off the title and more or less done with DC Comics for the foreseeable future, Fletcher has 2 issues of comic to write before the new creative team takes over this summer. It appears he’s using these issues to do a low key crossover, using a plot line from the third Batgirl Annual he worked on to bring together the worlds of Batgirl, Black Canary and Gotham Academy. Aside from the slight fan service, Fletcher also has Barbara Gordon dealing with her new status quo, something he helped set up, which is a fun inverse of the super hero who also has to deal with running a company trope.

Oddly enough, having 3 artists on this book didn’t take away from my enjoyment on this book as much as you’d assume it would. Elenora Carlini & Minkyu Jung’s styles blend well together, channeling the same energy Stewart and Tarr brought to the book’s visuals. Roger Robinson is the odd man out here, with a style that’s less exaggerated and more traditional in a sense. His art isn’t bad per say, but it’s comparatively plain once stacked up against the other artists on the book. Serge Lapointe‘s colors are great as per usual, continuing to do some fantastic stuff on the Bat-books his colors.

Batgirl #51 is a fun read and feels like a cool little mini-event. The lack of Tarr and Stewart is felt, but if you’re a fan of the books Brenden Fletcher worked on during his time at DC, you’ll enjoy this issue.

GRAY-Cv19-6d216-7296dGrayson #19

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

The highest praise I can pay Grayson #19 is that if you told me that former writers Tim Seeley and Tom King wrote this issue, I would have believed you. Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly do a superb job and matching the tone set up by those 2 writers, making for an extremely fun read that sees Dick Grayson deal with a massive betrayal. It’s something that’s all too common in spy fiction, but because the creators involved are so talented, it comes off as a complete surprise.

Like the writers, artist Roge Antonio’s really steps up this issue and attempts to pay homage to the creators who came before him, His Dick Grayson may not be the prettiest, but Antonio excels at drawing some really solid action pieces, as well as getting a little trippy with the layouts at times. Having regular Grayson colorist Jeromy Cox color his art definitely helps with the experience, as his contributions really help set the mood and bring the art to life.

With next issue being the last, Grayson #19 ends with an encounter fans have been expecting/dreading. It’s a shame we already know who’s on this new Birds of Prey roster, because it definitely takes some of the suspense away from this encounter. But that’s on editorial/marketing, not the creators, so it’s hard to fault them. Regardless of quasi-spoilers, Grayson #19 is an thrilling comic, one that hopefully will be serviced by a fantastic ending next month.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 & Saga #36

ofcqtec1mz6l9xiwi8lgThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 isn’t writer Ryan North’s first attempt at “Chose Your Own Adventure” fiction, but none the less it’s one of the most technical impressive comics of this year so far. North dabbed in the subgenre a few years back with his choose your own adventure take on Romeo and Juliet, and it hilarious, much to no one’s surprise. This month, he and artist Erica Henderson swap out Shakespeare for Squirrels and the Swarm, a move that I fully support and dare call brilliant.

Henderson and Rico Renzi deserve a lot of praise for this issue, as the choose the story narrative demands numerous panels that require a ton of variation. And while you can see the demand take it’s toll on the art towards the end of the issue, the bulk of this comic is drawn extremely well. Considering this team is also working on several projects, it’s perfectly fine to overlook them taking some shortcuts here and there.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 is a genius comic that experiments with how to tell a story in this medium. It’s the perfect done in one that showcases this creative teams talents, and should be read for (successfully) taking such a risk.

Saga_36-1Saga #36

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Ah Geez, Saga’s gone and made my all emotional in the face this month.

The conclusion of this current arc is an assault on readers and their emotions. Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan give readers a moment we’ve been waiting for months, as well as a development no one saw coming, and it is a massive game changer. In addition to all of that, we get to see my personal favorite Ghus leap into action for the first time, and the results are shocking to say the least. I wasn’t prepared for the mixture of brutality and cuteness from that particular fight, but that’s what I got and I LIKE IT!

Fiona Staples remains an incredibly artistic tour de force. Nothing new on that front, but the way she does so much with seemingly such little effort is absolutely mind blowing. There’s 2 panels involving Prince Robot in towards the end of this issue that show some incredible growth for the character, with none of the dialogue pointing it out, just letting the body language do all the work. Not only does it show how impressive of a story teller she issue, but it shows how much BKV trusts her to convey these emotions to the reader.

That being said, if you don’t tear up come page 12, something is wrong with you.

BKV is real good on putting word on paper, this is fact. But God, he’s on top of his game with this particular issue. As great as Staples art is, the dialogue and narration he provides for this issue really enhance the emotional beats, especially on pages 10 and 11. These two creators are fantastic, and Saga’s repeatedly excellence is due to the bound these two have.

Saga #36 is a fantastic finale to this volume. It manages to surprise readers by being incredibly upbeat, something we as readers aren’t use to, and takes the book in an absolutely fascinating direction. For once I’m glad for break, because I want to take some time to enjoy this comic, before Vaughan and Staples do something to get me mad and or sad again.

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Chris’ Comics: All-New Hawkeye #6 & Captain Marvel #4

2016-04-21-allnewhawkeyeAll-New Hawkeye #6

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Hey it’s the finale issue of All-New Hawkeye! Again!

This ending is FOR REAL though, as it’s apparently the last installment in this series by the team of Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring. And while I’ve found this run a little uneven at times, issue #6 (which is the 12th issue for this team, but you know, COMICS!) offers the reader a lot, and actually changes things up for Team Hawkeye in a major way.

While I haven’t been the biggest fan of the flashback material Lemire and Perez have been doing throughout this run, this issue completely justifies the use of that narration device. Exploring Kate Bishop’s past was a good call, and the events in this issue does something real fascinating with Kate that I dare not spoil. It clarifies some things that date back to Kate’s earliest appearances in Young Avengers, and  hopefully retcons something extremely outdated & problematic from those stories as well. This carries over to the present day stuff, which I imagine will be used to launch whatever the next incarnation of Hawkeye will be in the coming months.

If there’s been on constant thing about this team throughout the last 12 issues, it’s been Ramon Perez and Ian Herring’s work. The two artists have been great time and time again, and this finale really sees them come into their own as story tellers, mixing some cool silver age aesthetics in the flashback material with some lush and vibrant pages for the modern day sections of the book. Perez and Herring really had their work cut out for them coming into this book, and it’s been super enjoyable watching them grow and experiment over the last year.

We don’t know what lies in store for Team Hawkeye in the coming months, but All-New Hawkeye was a interesting exploration of the lives of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Lemire, Perez and Herring didn’t exactly have the critically acclaimed run their predecessors had, but it was a fun story none the less. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see the Hawkeyes in action again.

portrait_incredible (7)Captain Marvel #5

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Felipe Smith, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

It’s slightly ironic that we’re discussing Captain Marvel, and to a lesser extent Abigail Brand, on 4/26/16, aka Alien Day (#brands). Earlier issues of this arc definitely felt like a homage to the classic Sci-Fi property, and this issue has 2 female character very much getting their Elena Ripley on.

Captain Marvel #5 sees writers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters make Carol Danvers current scenario go from bad to worse, as Alpha Flight’s attempts to deal with this “new” alien threat don’t go so well. Oh and that pesky traitor is still in their ranks, mucking things up. What’s bad for Carol and company is great for readers, and we’re treated to 20 pages of high stakes actions, beautifully depicted by Kris Anka, Felipe Smith and Matthew Wilson. I don’t think I’ve seen two artist who manage to blend their respected styles as well as Anka and Smith, and Wilson’s colors are a sight to behold. I love how Wilson sets such vibrant characters against dark backgrounds, giving the book a refreshingly modern and sharp look.

The Elena Ripley comparison feels spot on with Carol and Abigail never say die attitudes. Both character, despite their VERY comic book genealogy, feel so human, but never weak. It’s inspiring in several ways, and makes for a pair of characters that are easy to root for. I particularly like a very Shonen Manga influenced scene, where Carol’s staff let their leader know they’re with her in this high risk scenario. It’s a nice upbeat moment that gives the reader something to rally behind as the crisis at hand gets worse.

Captain Marvel #5 is the type of penultimate chapter you want from a 6 issue arc. The stakes of raised to the point where it genuinely feels no one is safe. It’s an impressive feet, given how predictable cape comics and can often be, and it’s just another reason why Captain Marvel is one of the best super hero titles coming out from Marvel currently.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #17

Gotham_Academy_Vol_1-17_Cover-1_TeaserGotham Academy #17

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Annie Wu, Michael Dialynas,, David Peterson, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

 

One of the best things about the Yearbook arc is the variety in tone and genre the stories in each issue are. I knew nothing about the creators contributing to Gotham Academy #19, originally thinking it was the conclusion of this storyline. This month I was pleasantly surprised to see the issue kick off with a story that more or less crosses over Black Canary for example, another title that Brenden Fletcher writes.

We get a lot of content from issue #19, which see the girls set out to get their scrapbook from returning guest star Robin (Damian Wanye). It acts as the bridge between the other 3 tales, and again, not a bad bit of storytelling, I just get a little irked everything artist Adam Archer draws Olivia and company’s heads too large or too lumpy. I’m also not a fan of 2how it looks like Damian’s costume is too big for him.

The Annie Wu drawn crossover story sees the GA kids run into Heathcliff, who first showed up in this book and then started showing up as a supporting character in Black Canary. This is probably my favorite story of the bunch, as it looks great, and I really like the way Fletcher handles the reunion between Heathcliff and Pomeline. Wu is colored by Serge Lapointe, who’s washed out and neon color palette is perfect for a story involving relationships and music.

From there we get Michael Dialynas, who’s worked on The Woods for Boom Studios, telling the story of that one time Maps and Olivia ran into a demon cat on campus. This 6 page story starts off with a cool horror vibe to it, but then gets a little cuter once we find out who’s responsible for said cat. It’s the story has a Batman: The Animated series vibe to it, and I love how Dialynas can manage to pull off horror and adorable with his art.

By assembling so many different on this title the last few months,Gotham Academy has exposed me to a variety of creators I occasionally have little to no prior experience with. That statement is especially true come the end of this comic, where Mouse Guard creator David Peterson tells a story set in Gotham Academy’s past. He creates a quartet of 4 new GOTHAC_17_3characters, and the story revolves around the oft-mentioned “Sorcery & Spells” game that Maps loves so much. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous to look at, I love how it’s inspired by the 1980s Dungeon and Dragons panic, in which the game was believed to have some sort of Satanic ties. Also, the way Peterson tackled the project is super impressive, and I encourage you all to go visit his site and read up on how he approached this story.

“Yearbook” has been a incredible arc for Gotham Academy, and no issue proves that more than this one. The range of talent involved in every issue is insane, and it’s impressive how much mileage each creator can get from a book that only had a dozen or so issues under it’s belt before this arc started. Brenden Fletcher, along with Karl Keschel and Becky Cloonan have created a fantastic playground for this guest creators, and seeing the character celebrated like this month after month has been great.

 

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Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #2

5148021-02X-men ’92 #2

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marel $3.99

As someone who’s read a ton of Chris Sims’ work over the years, I’m actually a little ashamed I didn’t see the final page of this comic coming. Way to make me feel like a real dumb-dumb sir.

X-Men ’92 #2 doesn’t just embrace the fact that they can now tell stories that are TOO HOT FOR (1992) TV this month. Oh no, writers Sims and Chad Bowers rub our faces in it, practically screaming “HEY LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS WE CAN DO NOW, LOOK LOOK, LOOK!”, but in a fun and excited sort of way. Which is fair, because while this book definitely hits some notes that are DARK AND EXTREMEEEEEEEEEEE, it remain a delightful read that’s a bit over the top in all the right ways. If you told me that we’d see a plot point taken from Marvel’s defunct Midnight Sons line in a comic in 2016, I would have called you a liar. In the writer’s defense, they successfully create a narrative in which this relic from the 90s works for the story. And speaking of weird story beats, Bowers and Sims decide to pay tribute to a more recent but weird as all hell X-men story, once again merging the past with a more recent weird X-men story. It’s the best kind of fan service for any devout X-men fan, especially if they dig the odder bits of continuity.

Also Rogue can’t stop hitting bears is a new running gag of sorts that I am 1000% okay with.

Artist Alti Firmansyah really comes into her own this month, cutting back on the references in the art and doing her own thing with the layouts. I’m more than fine with this, as is results in some dynamic storytelling, complete with some very expressive faces, and some extremely well “choreographed” fight scenes. There’s a scene that’s surprisingly violent in this issue, which Firmansyah handles by blacking out the characters involved for a panel, making it X-Men-92-2-4way less graphic, but still coherent enough for readers to figure out what’s going on. Also I love how timeless she can mast her characters look, even though several of them have some rather dated and peculiar character designs. My only real complaint with the art is that Maverick loses his eyes for several panes in this book, although I’m uncertain if that’s on Alti or colorist Matt Milla. That snafu aside,  I love how bright and dynamic the colors are in this book, especially come the final pages of the issue.

X-men ’92 remains a engaging and entertaining read. By being set in it’s own continuity, the creators can pull from so much, and completely surprise readers. Sims and Bowers’ dialogue is very whimsical, and helps to make the stakes feel high, even while being a tad silly. And Firmansyah and Milla do an exceptional job of invoking the styles of the 90s, and updating them in a way that just feels right. As I said time and time again, X-men ’92 is a great book that’s self contained and scratches so many itches while only being 20 pages. It’s the perfect read for someone who only wants to read 1 X-men title a month, and not have to worry about other events in the Marvel Universe interfering with the story.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel 3

portrait_incredible (6)Captain Marvel #3

Michele Fazeka, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Felipe Smith, Matthew Wilson, Joe Caramagna

Marvel $3.99

This volume of Captain Marvel never ceases to impress me in different ways with every new issue. This month, Kris Anka is joined by Felipe Smith (Ghost Rider) on art duties, and it was something I didn’t notice until re-reading the credits. I’ve seen Smith’s art before, and it’s amazing how much he changes his style for this issue to look like Anka’s.  I have no clue which pages he drew and which ones Kris did, as there’s art in this comic that looks more like Jamie McKelvie‘s than it does either of them. Of course that may be due to the fact that McKelvie’s usual colorist Matthew Wilson gets a little experimental with the colors in this issue, which is giving me some The Wicked & The Divine flashbacks. And props to letter Joe Caramagna for doing the same with his fonts, really tying the whole package together.

f916ecd5d21b90a9a98f67f314e85417._SX640_QL80_TTD_Wilson, by the way, is the MVP of this issue. Anka and Smith are all sorts of great, but Wilson’s colors do a fantastic job of bringing their art and wonderful designs to life. His choices in background colors are choice, giving the book the proper space/science fiction vibe it deserves, and I really like what he does with the “Flasback” segments of the issue. How Matt Wilson manages to be so inventive when he’s coloring so many books so well is beyond me, but I appreciate his contributions, and will not question that.

If the Kelly Sue Deconnick era was Carol’s Star War phase, the Fazekas/Butters is her Mass Effect era: Large supporting cast, light political intrigue, and some hardcore science fiction. It’s a change that really hasn’t explored Carol’s psyche or drive, but it’s something we don’t necessarily need. Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters have done an excellent job developing Carol’s supporting cast, stripping Carol down to her core self. Which is fine, because I don’t need to know why Carol is a hot headed badass who’s set out to do the right thing. We all know why by now, so just seeing her do it is all I need and want.

In addition to ramping up the mystery surrounding the weird alien ship and dealing with a possible traitor on Alpha Flight, the writers Screen-Shot-2016-03-17-at-1.44.41-PMfocus a little more on Abigail Brand in issue 3. You’ll hear no complaints from me, as these two handle the character as well as such creators like Joss Whedon and Kieron Gillen have in the past. I’m a fan of Brand, and having her be the straight woman to Carol is a genius idea.

Captain Marvel #3 is another exceptional issue from this creative team, one that manages to excel even with some help from a guest creator. From an intriguing plot, to some fun character designs, engaging dialogue and cool action set pieces, Captain Marvel has never been better. It’s definitely worth your time, and a great recommendation for anyone jonesing for the Agent Peggy Carter fix. We’ve entered a new Golden Age for comics featuring Carol Danvers, and Captain Marvel is leading the way by being constantly excellent.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Man/Deadpool #3

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_3_TextlessSpider-Man/Deadpool #3

Joe Kelly,Ed McGuinnes, Mark Morales, Jason Keith, Joe Sabino

Marvel $3.99

I’ve been reading Deadpool comics since Fabian Niceza and Joe Madureira were working on them, and it’s interesting to see how the character has developed over the last few decades. Wade Wilson has gone from a one note character to one that could support several books, one in particular that’s chock full of queer subtext, and both geopolitical and white privilege commentary. Fandom is a weird, yet wonderful thing at times, and it really feels like Deadpool as a character under editor Jordan D White is aware of what Tumblr users think of Wade, and have incorporated those elements into the character. It also helps that Joe Kelly, a man who helped make Deadpool a more three dimensional character all those years ago is the one doing this, mixing his take on the character with the incarnation that Gerry Duggan has been writing over the last 4 years.

d18b1878-cbf9-4908-9605-8df72c1ca522Spider-Man/Deadpool #3 is a comic that sounds simple enough (Spider-Man agrees to hang out with Deadpool for a day) but turns out to be a lot deeper read than one would expect. Oh sure there’s a lengthy fight scene involving a ton of forgotten 90s Marvel characters, but there’s also a shocking amount of emotion involved. Also jokes. The humor in this issue is fantastic, ranging from Looney Tune-esque violence you would expect from these characters, to some more mature and smart stuff. Kelly manages to do a lot in this 20 pages, never overloading readers with dialogue, and knowing when to let the art do the heavy lifting. He’s the perfect writer for this book, and nothing against Dan Slott or Duggan, but he’s probably the guy best sorted for these characters, given his history with them both.

I have never not loved Ed McGuiness’ art, and obviously this issue of Spider-Man/Deadpool isn’t going to change that fact. Spidey, Deadpool and his team of mercenaries head overseas for a job in this issue, and McGuiness, along w/ inker Mark Morales and Jason Keith, 54yk9bwproduce some fantastic art. We get to see Ed get to draw a plethora of characters featuring different body times, and it’s just so kinetic and fun. The whole thing looks like highlights from a top tier fighting game tournament, which is referenced at the end of the fight in those most Scott Pilgrim of manners. Which by, props to letterer Joe Sabino, who has to deal with a ton of dialogue due to who’s starring in this book. Also the inker and colorist are a big reason while the final big scene in this comic works, perfectly playing light off of the darkness to help make the emotional impact of Spider-Man meeting a very important person in Pool’s life work as well as it does.

A book like Spider-Man/Deadpool could be a success just by the popularity of the title characters alone. But editors Jordan D White and Nick Lowe really went above & beyond, getting Joe Kelly and Ed McGuiness to come back to their most famous collaboration, which is resulting is a phenomenal comic. There’s a layer of depth and emotions one wouldn’t expect from a book starring two of Marvel’s biggest IPs that surprisingly, but not in a way that clashes with the appeal of the characters. It also happens to be a fun super hero book, thanks to Kelly’s wonderful quips and McGuiness’ larger than life art. Spider-Man/Deadpool #3 is a terrific comic, and something Marvel should be extremely proud to be publishing.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Black Widow #1

Black_Widow_1_CoverBlack Widow #1

Chris Samnee, Mark Waid, Matthew Wilson, Joe Caramagna

Marvel $3.99

FACT: Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, & Matthew Wilson have done some great work for Marvel, both individually and as together a creative team.

FACT: In my opinion, Marvel has been pretty good at putting out female lead books over the last few years.

FACT: Black Widow, arguably Marvel’s most recognizable female character currently, needed an A list creative team (no offense Phil Noto) assigned to her series ASAP.

Someone at Marvel has agreed with me on that last fact, because the team who did a GREAT job on Daredevil are now on Black Widow. And the debut is, as I quote a friend texted me about the comic, “UGH, such a good!”

Often when a new creative team is assigned a character, the first issue is stripping down of what works for the character and the establishment of a new status quo. Not with Black Widow, as the team assumes that the reader knows what Natasha Romanov’s deal is. This debut issue for the Samnee, Waid, Wilson team is a 20 page chase scene, in which Natasha BW4has taken a thing from SHIELD, and SHIELD wants the thing back.

I love how quickly things escalate in this comic. The book starts off establishing that Widow is at odds with SHIELD, as she takes out a bunch of agents without much effort.  The scene quickly reminds the reader that Natasha is an unbelievable bad ass, from there, she’s fighting dudes twice her size, jumping out of a Hellicarrier, dodging agents in flying cars; all sorts of crazy action stuff. It’s the comics version of Crank, which is compliment by the way.

I like how Waid keeps the dialogue to the minimum, resulting in Samnee’s art carrying the bulk of the story. Chris Samnee is easily one of the BEST artist’s working in comics todays, and which a few changes, this probably could have worked as a wordless story. I’m grateful it’s not, as  Joe Caramagna does some really good sound effects work, and his choices of tumblr_o3jvjoYypd1uiitobo1_1280font give the book a cool pulp magazine vibe to it. And I love what Matt Wilson brings to the book, drowning the book in reds, which could be read (heh) as something symbolic, given who are lead it. And as I’ve stated, Samnee’s work is amazing, be it drawing an 14 panel single page fight scene, the aforementioned Hellicarrier scene which is gorgeous, or a intense motorcycle chase through the streets of Manhattan. This issue is another chapter in the gospel that is “Chris Samnee is real good at comics”.

Black Widow #1 isn’t a comic who wanted an in-depth look instead the mind of Natasha Romanov. It’s a 20 page action move that celebrates the character and re-establishes how great this creative team is. Fans who enjoyed this team’s run on Daredevil will love this comic, and anyone who wanted a new Black Widow series will surely be pleased. I fall in both categories, and am still blown away at how good this comic was. It’s another must read series from Marvel, which I’m glad to see is becoming more of a thing this year.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #4 & The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

 

STK696446Saga #34

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image #34

Ohoho, what is this? A very cute Ghus cover?! 10/10! Next review!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

Alright, alright I’ll talk more about Saga. For the most part this arc has been pretty low key and lacking on the soul crushing, the later which I don’t mind at all. But with one more issue left in this arc, the pieces are now being moved to either set the cast up for several victories, or a ton of heartbreak.

Aside from Fiona Staples’ always amazing visuals, I really like how the book jumps around a checks on the vast majority of the big players in this story. Juggling nearly a dozen characters is no easy task for any writer, but Brian K Vaughan manages to do so with minimal effort. At 22 pages of content, the pacing for this book is fantastic, and manages to move the plot in several interesting directions. It’s a nice rebound after an issue that really didn’t work for me, and it’s nice to see the book back being as good as it has been in the past. Plus I really like any time that Fiona gets to draw animal people, even when they’re not named Ghus.

Saga #34 is the penultimate issue of this arc that could go either way for the cast. There’s even chance that we also may not any resolution at all, and that all the good stuff will go down in the next arc. Either way this comics is an enjoyable read, chock full of great and dialogue that’s also too clever, but never goes overboard.

Unbeatable_Squirrel_Girl_Vol_2_5_TextlessThe Unbeatable Squrrel Girl(s) #5

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Reniz

Marvel $3.99

Prepare for a weird complaint with this review.

While The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5 definitely sticks the landing of this 4 issue arc, it’s not exactly the cleanest of landings. This book is a bit overwhelming, as Ryan North doesn’t just go full Grant Morrison, but he manages to make me feel dumber in the process.

While I don’t mind comics trying to make me up my game, or hell being chock full of #content, I feel like this arc could of used another issue. A LOT goes down in this issue, and while it puts a nice little bow on this arc, I couldn’t finish this issue in a single sitting. And it’s only 20 pages. That being said while it’s a bit intimidating, there’s some REALLY good bits of dialogue and jokes that make for fun reading experience.

Visually, I have no complaints as per usual. Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi are a fantastic creative team, and they really go all out this issue. Henderson does some amazing things with her, cramming her pages with multiple panels and not cutting any corners. How she manages to draw this book and Jughead without taking any time off speaks volumes about her talent and dedication towards her craft. Also that cover is striking as hell.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5 may be a tricky read, but it’s a great one none the less. North, Henderson and Renzi craft a fun comic that shows off their talents in a multiple of ways. And considering the book is crossing over with Howard A Duck next month, the future is bright for Doreen Green.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Goddamned #3

TheGoddamned_03-1The Goddamned #3

Jason Aaron, r.m. Guera, Giulia Brusco, Jared K. Fletcher

Image $3.99

The Goddamned is a great comic to review because every issue offers something worth examining. After the first 2 issues, both which I’ve enjoyed thoroughly, I was afraid that Kain and Aga were going to go down the cliche route of Savior and Damsel. While some of that still rings true, issue 3 shows some much needed development for both characters, as Jason Aaron and r.m. Guera do some much need character growth in this issue.

While the man who invented murder (again, such a fantastic title) is a fun lead, Kain hasn’t been one we the reader could get behind. It risked the character being a bit 2 dimensional, but this issue steers away from that by looking us several glimpses at Kain’s past. The flashback involving his parents (Adam and Eve in case your Biblical knowledge is rusty or lacking) is great for fleshing out the character, given us a much needed moment of humor and allowing Guera to draw something pleasant for a minute. Eden under r.m and 002goddamned03jpgcolorist Giulia Brusco is gorgeous and by giving us a quick look at paradise, it shows up how far the world has fallen.

And while it may be hard to look at, the look and design of the world of The Goddamned is gorgeous in it’s own twisted way. I’ve compared it to those old timey Prince Valiant/ Sunday Comics strips, but I’m seeing some Dr. Seuss influence in this month’s issue when it comes to the designs of the newly introduced Night Raiders. Maybe it’s a combination of the exaggerated faces with the bright colors of their eyes, but I’m reminded of the ol’ Chuck Jones “Horton Hears a Who!” TV special. Yes, I’m ancient, this has been established. Either way, I love the look of this book, from it’s malformed characters, to detail backgrounds to “exotic” wildlife. Guera and Brusco deserve like 20 Eisners for the art in this book.

Going back to Jason Aaron, I like how restrained he is in this issue. For the most part, he lets the spectacular art tell the story, which is a smart move given the quality. It also makes the dialogue feel all the more important, not to mention informative. There’s a lot of cool bait and switching in this issue, rarely for the greater good, and I dig the hell out of it. Also I love the choice of fonts Jared K. Fletcher uses for the dialogue, which really feel primitive and biblical, for a better lack of proper adjective.

The Goddamned is definitely the most brutal and old school Vertigo-feeling comic out on the shelves today. Issue 3 is a reminder of how this creative first took off, and as a reader, I couldn’t be any more thrilled to have it. The final pages tease at something very interesting, and I’m curious to see how it all plays out given the type of person Kain is. The Goddamned is a comic that I didn’t really mind being a month or so late, because every issue has been a epic in itself.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #17

tumblr_o17r1mABBV1r2kdz1o1_500Grayson #17

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Jeromy Cox

DC, $3.99

The previous issue of Grayson teased 2 characters I was very excited to see making an appearance in this title. The homies Tom King and Tim Seeley continue to do me right, as we get to see this pair of characters fight Dick Grayson this month, making for a excited and once again, very much pleased, Chris Troy.

Even with a great premise, Grayson #17 faces the problem of not being drawn by regular series artist Mikel Janin. He’s replace by veteran penciler Carmine Di Giandomenico, which is a artistic choice I’m more than okay with. His style is much Grayson05more suited for a comic that’s heavy on the action, as this is issue is,  and Carmine absolutely delivers on an issue that’s chock full fight scenes. While he doesn’t do sexy or psychedelic as well as Mikel, he manages to capture his ability to meet the writers demand to draw some creepy as hell creatures (Cthulhu Monkeys!) while fists and plot twists are thrown about. Di Giandomenico  manages to capture the brutality one would expect from an all-out spy fight, while drawing some lush and detailed scenery. My only complain is that since it’s the first time he’s working with colorist Jeromy Cox, the art doesn’t pop as much as it did under Janin. Hopefully that will change as the pair get more experience working togther. I believe Carmine is the artist on the title until this DC Rebirth stuff goes down and this book becomes Nightwing again (insert profanity filled rant here), which again, I’m fine with if this is what the book is going to look like for the next few months.

On the narrative end of things, Seeley and King continue to mix humor and drama incredibly well, making for a fun read. The pair do spy drama really well, which is no image-151surprise given King’s history with the C.I.A., so when this month’s plot twist drops, there’s some “Oomph!” to it. And I really dig how much fun they’re having with the title character. Espionage comics often risk being too serious and dry for my liking, but with Grayson, Dick’s an incredibly charming and fun lead, who isn’t afraid to crack wise here and there. It rings incredibly true to the character and his history, which is why I love I love the book so much. It remains a new direction and situation for a decades old character, while respecting and building upon his established history. Also again Dick Grayson vs. Frankenstein’s monster, what’s not to love about that.

Even with a new artist attached to the title, Grayson #17 is another strong issue in the series. The creative team continues to tell and intriguing tale using a number of obscure and forgotten DC characters, giving older DC fans plenty of Easter eggs to appreciate, without losing newer readers by making  too many deep cuts. It’s a spy comic that invites readers to laugh along with the tropes the genre has created, while giving them a incredibly satisfying read.  King, Seeley and Di Giandomenico continue to keep us on the edge of the seat, without ever going too dark, or too slapstick. All in all it’s another great in a series that continues to impress.

 

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