Category: Stuff We Like

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!

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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!

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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)

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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Chris’ Comics: Snotgirl #1

STL011624Snotgirl #1

Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung, Mickey Quinn, Mare Odomo

Image $2.99

Snotgirl #1 is not only the first time Scott Pilgrim/Seconds creator Bryan Lee O’ Malley has delved into a monthly comic, but it also marks the first time someone else is drawing his work. Making her comics debut is Leslie Hung, who teams with O’Malley to tell the story of one Lottie Person. Lottie is 25 year old Fashion blogger who lives in L.A., and is crazy popular on the internet. Her personal life is a bit of a mess though as her friends are constantly flaking out on her, her love life is  a mess, suffering from serious allergies. Also she’s not exactly the nicest person, as O’Malley and Hung have made her a very shallow and self absorbent lead who at times deserves the hand she’s dealt. Having a unlikable character as your lead is a risky move, but it works, thanks to the talent involved.

If there’s anything that you can compare Snotgirl to, it’s shoujo-manga (I.E. manga that’s aim specifically at women). Both the dialogue and manga feel very breezy and flowery, which Snotgirl03I’m sure is intentional; after all given o’ Malley love of manga. It’s also an incredibly smart comic, hidden behind a paper-thin lead. Aside from Lottie dealing with her problems, this book serves as both  commentary and a critique on social media careers while examining the duality of having a online and offline personality.

I absolutely adore the art team of Leslie Hung and Micky Quinn. Hung’s art is gorgeous, well except for the parts where our lead is dripping excessive snot from her nose. It’s manga with a touch of Babs Tarr, meaning it looks VERY 2016. My only nitpick is that there’s a pair of panels at the end of the comic that’s very vague, and I can’t tell if that’s intentional or not. Quinn’s colors are fantastic; very bright and clean, capturing the LA feel of the book exceptional well. Bryan Lee O’ Malley comics always look good, and Snotgirl is no exception to that. I also don’t want to over look Mare Odomo, who handles the letters. Odomo isn’t the first letterer who’s had to work emojis/text messages into a comic book’s narration, but this comic is some of the best use of it I’ve seen in awhile.

Speaking of O’ Malley, I love what he’s down with this debut. He manages to make Lottie snotgirl01-review05really polarizing, but also someone you’ll want to read about. Every time the character has a moment that makes her the least bit tolerable, O’ Malley makes sure there’s a moment that completely undoes that. That’s not to say that there’s nothing endearing about the book’s cat, but O’ Malley throws out a last minute twist that puts and end to that.

Snotgirl is book unlike anything else out. It’s hard to explain why it’s such a amazing read without spoilers, but given the fact that it’s Bryan Lee O’ Malley’s first attempt at a 20 page comic, that’s all you need. But the book doesn’t succeed due to his talents alone,  as Hung, Quinn and Odomo all excel at their respected roles. Snotgirl #1 is fantastic comic with a unique premise, and it’s something you should be reading now versus waiting for the trade.

 

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

tumblr_o4ysvnCGRp1rm4afao1_1280Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth

Julie and Shawna Benson, Claire Roe, Allen Passalaqua

DC $2.99

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve enjoyed a Birds of Prey comic. The Chuck Dixon and 1st Gail Simone runs on the title are some of my favorite DC comics, starring a bunch of my favorites like Barbara Gordon and the Huntress. The less said about the live action TV series it’s inspired however, the better.

DC Rebirth has lead to the revival of the title, re-teaming Batgirl & Black Canary with Huntress, again, for the first time. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen DC flirt with BoP as a title since the new 52 debut, but it is the first time we’ve seen the iconic line up together since 2011.

Speaking of the CW and BoP, while I didn’t bother reading the New 52 incarnation of BoP, I have been watching The 100 over the last few years. Julie and Shawna Benson are writers on that show, and are now writing this title. There I have explained the segue, let’s continue with this . Their dialogue tends to lend on the dramatic side, but it’s still solid enough. They do a good job of tying together events from the past and upcoming Batgirl run, Black Canary’s recent series, and the events the unfolded during Grayson/Nightwing Rebirth. They also give Babs an New 52/Rebirth origin for Oracle, which sadly undoes the 5330745-bgbopreb_1_4attempts to write out The Killing Joke. The Bensons do a good job of setting up their arc in 20 pages,  with this book working at break neck speed. Hopefully the can tone down the dramatic dialogue in future installments, as I found myself saying “No one speaks like that” several times.

On the art we have Claire Roe and Allen Passalaqua. Clare Roe isn’t a bad artist, and the potential for her to be a great fit for this title is there. Her body language and layouts are pretty strong, it’s that she struggles a bit with the faces. Batgirl is the biggest victim of this, as occasionally her eyes or teeth are too big for my liking. Allen Passalaqua’s colors are good, especially in the scene introducing Huntress in this issue. Also I’m not sure who designed Hunteress’ new gear, but man it looks great. It’s a good art team, and I’m sure the more familiar Roe gets with this cast, the better it will be.

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey is your all purpose set up issue, and it’s a perfectly fine one at that. The Bensons do a fine job of introducing these characters to new, lapse or returning readers, and do fine job of giving each Bird their own distinctive voice and motive. Impressive work for their comics debut. And again, while Roe’s art didn’t really do much for me with this debut, the potential for improvement is definitely there. I do think that it it’s pretty cool that we have an all-female writer and artist team on this book, which is the first time it’s happen since the Simone/Nicola Scott days. Batgirl and the BoP is off to a good enough start, and the book is interesting enough to have me coming back next month.

 

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The Wicked + The Divine #21

TheWickedAndTheDivine_21-1The Wicked + The Divine #21

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

While The Wicked + the Divine has definitely had its share of fight scenes in the past, I can’t recall there being an arc that has been this heavy on action. That’s not a critique mind you, as artist/co-creator Jamie McKelvie’s ability to draw pretty people hurting each other, with breathtaking colors from Matt Wilson, is something I enjoy immensely.

WicDiv #21 sees bitty demi-goddess Minerva returned to Ananke and Woden, which is less than great for her, as the duo has some less than great plans for the wee deity. Obviously this does not sit well with Laura/Persephone and her allies, which means fighty time, fighty time, blood blood blood! This is not exactly the deepest issue of WicDiv, but again, McKelvie and Wilson excel at drawing fight scenes, and writer Kieron Gillen does a Wicked+Divine21_01damn fine job with the dialogue that it’s still a super fun read.

“Fun” may be the wrong word to use. Two minor characters meet their untimely fates in this issue, but since they weren’t exactly the most fleshed out nor beloved, their deaths seem to serve no purpose other than a reminder that Ananke isn’t a nice lady. But this more restrained Kieron Gillen thrives with his abrupt, straight to the point, dialogue, Baphomet and Baal have been bitter opponents throughout this arc, but their beef may finally be squashed when Baphomet drops 16 words that completely changes his opponent’s views. Dionysus finally has a break out moment, and it’s a less than 20 word affair. And my personal favorite is an exchange between Ananke and Woden, in which she #micdrops him in 10 words. It’s quick brutal and and a fine example how good Kieron Gillen’s dialogue is. Clayton Cowles also deserves props for his lettering contributions, especially when it comes to font choices and word balloon placement. Letterer’s are often the unsung heroes of the medium, and considering what Cowles brings to this book, creators like him deserve more recognition.

That being said, McKelvie and Wilson’s art is the real selling point of this issue. McKelvie once against manages to draw some brutal fight scenes, mixing what he did with Young Avengers with a heavy manga influence. And Wilson is incredible this issue, from his ability to set scenes with his palette choices, to incorporate some many effects into the art. Wicked+Divine21_03As well choreographed as Dionysus’ scenes are by McKelvie, Wilson’s colors bring those pages to a different level, injecting a level of energy very few colorists are able to. Woden and Dionysus alone are proof of that, but when you factor in the other 4 characters with their own signatures palette and visual effects, it speaks volume about Wilsons talents. Also best nicks and bruises in the business.

The Wicked + The Divine #21 is a VERY good fight comic which some fantastic visuals. It’s the type of comic that really takes advantage of the medium, overloading the reader’s eyes with fantastic and colorful visuals. It also feels like working towards an endgame of sorts, which is odd, because the end of the book hasn’t been announced. It’s the type of comic that will leave you both satisfied with what you got, but will leaving you dying for more.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing Rebirth

NTWREB_Cv1-1Nightwing Rebirth

Tim Seeley, Yanick Paquette, Nathan Fairbairn

DC $2.99

 

Nightwing Rebirth is not only the return of Dick Grayson to spandex, but it also reunites writer Tim Seeley with the title character after a brief absence. Seeley, who has spent the last 2+ years co-writing Grayson with Tom King, has done some wonderful things with the character, and wastes no time in saying goodbye to one cast of supporting characters while having Dick returning to the familiar streets of Gotham & the Batman family. Joining Seeley for this one-shot are artists Yanick Paquette and Nathan Farbairn, who are as suited to drawing costumed fisticuffs as Mikel Janin was to drawing sexy spy stuff.

While the bulk of this comic is spent closing one door while opening another, Nightwing Rebirth makes for a terrific read due to relying some great emotional beats Dick Grayson has with the characters he encounters. Longtime fans will enjoy Dick shooting the breeze with Damian, his former Robin, and Bruce Wayne, their mutual father figure. Those who Nightwing-Rebirth-1-spoilers-preview-dc-3know the character from the previous Grayson status quo get to see Dick wrap up his relationship with Spyral, with a hint of things to come with Helena Bertinelli and the Midnighter. And the mega-fans who’ve read everything from Batman and Robin Eternal to We Are Robin finally get some follow up to the Robin Wars crossover, with some Court of Owls related content. It’s a comic that can be easily enjoyed by new fans, but the longer you’ve been following the character, the more you’ll get from it. For me, it’s rewarding to see a light-hearted and “fun” character interact with grumps like Batman and Damian, who lighten up solely due to Grayson’s presence. Also, as someone who’s HYPED for the upcoming Batgirl and the Birds of Prey series, this comic does a fantastic job of setting up the new Huntress. It’s also crazy impressive that the creative team manages to do so much in the span of 20 pages.

Like I said above, Yanick Paquette was the perfect guy to draw this comic. Given his experience from working with Grant Morrison on various Batman comics, and his ability to draw beefcake exceptionally well makes him an all too ideal fit to draw the exploits of Richard Grayson. His backgrounds are stunning as well, and it’s impressive to see him nail the constant change of locations so effortlessly. My only real issue with the art is that Nathan Fairbairn water color-esque coloring feels muted on this book. To be fair though, that could Nightwing-Rebirth-1-spoilers-DC-Comics-Rebirth-4be a result of the book’s printing, and not on the colorist himself. But between the dynamic body langue use to convey emotion during the talking head scenes, to the sprawling layouts of the fight scenes, it’s very hard to speak ill of this book’s art.

As for Tim Seeley,  I think I’ve run out of ways to praise the dude. His take on Nightwing is stellar, as he continues to nail how complex and fascinating the character is. It’s the ideal blend of humor, action and drama that he refined on Grayson and has perfected for this comic.

As a big fan of the character, Nightwing Rebirth justifies the return from spy to spandex. For the first time in awhile, it’s justifies the existence of the Nightwing role, in a way we haven’t seen in years. While I’ll certainly miss Dick’s time as a spy, I’m more than ready to read about him as Nightwing once again.

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Chris’ Comics: Paper Girls #7 & The Fix #4

PaperGirls_07-1Paper Girls #7

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

Image $2.99

What I like about this current arc of Paper Girls is that it’s taking a lot of time travel cliches and having fun with them. So many stories involving time traveling embrace a certain set of rules (Don’t interact with your past/future self, don’t tell people things that haven’t happen yet) that it feels like there’s a certain checklist you have to embrace to tell they type of story. Luckily the team of Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson and Jared K. Fletcher play by their own rules, and it makes for a fascinating read.

As anyone who’s read Saga or anything else BKV has written, you know that he’s quite capable of doing emotional moments well. There’s two in this issue that are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, but they’re both written so incredible well. Of course the credit due is split between Vaughan and artists Chiang and Wilson who excel at body language and mode coloring. Their pacing is great, as one scene goes from super cute to pretty funny in a blink of an eye, while the other drags out just the right amount of time for maximum devastation.

While I was pretty hit or miss on the initial arc, Paper Girls #7 is a great read by a creative team that can’t seem to do any wrong this time around. Everything from the art to the dialogue to the placement of the word balloons seems perfect and significant, and it’s proof that these creators are onto something truly special with this title.

TheFix_04-1The Fix #4

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

Image $3.99

Sadly, the events on that rad as all hell cover do not take place in this issue.

Mac Brundo is the lead for this issue, a nice change of pace from the last few Roy-centric issues. While he’s no angel, Mac is a little more likable then Roy, and this issue does a good job of making the reader emphasize with him. We also get introduced a character who may or may not have something to do with the events of the last issue, as well as checking in with character find of the year, Pretzels.

Also it’s the first comic I’ve read in recent history where FAP is used as a sound effect, and yes, if you know what that refers to, it’s for those exact reasons. Props to Nic J Shaw for making those fonts large enough for extra comedic effect.

Steve Lieber‘s art thiis month is a little more exaggerated than usual, and it works well for this issue. It never clashes with Lieber’s more realistic style, and when paired with some great sights gags and razor sharp dialogue from Nick Spencer, it results in laughs.

The Fix #4 is another hilarious read from a team of creators who excel at the ridiculous. Between genital based humor, pets, and several threats of violence, it’s hard for me to not love this comic.

 

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