Category: Stuff We Like

Chris’ Comics: Saga #31

tumblr_ntarc9gbIX1u6xizko1_1280Saga #31

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99


Hello once again Saga, I’ve too have missed you bunches!

While The Wicked + The Divine has been quite excellent at destroying me emotionally as of late, I’ve missed the pain I can only get from Saga, a type of pain I’ve grown to accept and love to an extent. Oh sure, Paper Girls is also a book that gives me some of that sweet sweet Brian K Vaughan cliffhanger love, but neither that or WicDiv have Ghus, the best character whom I’m mentioned several times before. Yes, tiny seal man/men are very important to me when it comes to comics, which I’m sure is a surprise to absolutely no one.

Saga #31 was a comic I was expecting to love from the get go. What I wasn’t expecting was that Hazel, the book’s narrator, and someone who’s gotten plenty of screen time as a plot point, as this issue’s lead. It’s nice to see an issue through the character’s eye off screen and on, as it freshens up the book a bit. Plus she’s cute as a button, which helps the reader overlooks some of the more tragic elements of this story.

Screen-Shot-2015-11-25-at-11.16.43-AMSo obviously this is another great issue of Saga, that goes without saying. But you may be asking yourself “Hey Chris, aside from Kindergarten shenanigans and the amazing creative team of Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan, two of some of the most creative people currently working in comics, why is this book so great?” That being a mouthful aside, let me tell you why dear readers. For starters, we’re 31 issues in and Saga still manages to surprise me in ways that never insults my intelligence, and shocks comes off as earned, not chills thrills. It’s a book where ultimately no one is safe, and the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. That being said, there’s also a ton of emotional moments in this issue thanks to BKV and Staples creating some deep and complex characters, so you’re genuinely invested in their story. Unless of course you’re some sort of soulless monsters who hates well crafted comics, which in that case, congrats, you’re the actual worst.

Saga 31 manages to stay fresh and interesting by introducing 2 new characters. Saga’s known for adding in new character every arc, but 31 introduces a character that demands to be noticed, signifying that they’ll be playing a role in this arc soon. And what I find most intriguing is that this new badass is extremely LGBT+ friendly in a way that has not be represented in the book yet. BKV and Staples have a pretty good track record when it comes to handling under represented queer characters, so I’m excited to see what they do with this new character, knowing that they’re being introduced in a way that fits the story, not as cheap heat. And if that’s not enough to at least peak your curiosity, the book ends on a cliffhanger that once again walks the thin line between being terrible and hilarious. Or it’s intended to be terrible, and I’m just a psychopath who find humor in the wrong thing. Can’t rule either out.

tumblr_nye1hbzRBN1ro3xdro1_1280Having Saga back on the shelves is always an exciting time for me as a comics reader, despite knowing it’s going to end in tear and me cursing the creative team names ( I prefer to yelling VAPLESSSSS instead of yelling their individual names for the record). It remains an inventive title that always manages to entertain while causing me great distress. Yrs, I’m well aware I sound like a mascogist, but trist me, Saga #31 is an excellent comic that you should already be purchasing by now. Assuming you’re of age, and do not plan on reading it in public.


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Chris’ Comics: Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #4

PhonogramIG_04-1Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #4

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

Common sense would dictate that you shouldn’t jump into a mini-series when it’s halfway over. “But Chris, the cover is a Scott Pilgrim reference, and I love Scott Pilgrim!” That’s cool, I GET that, I too love Scott Pilgrim. And hey, there’s plenty more of references on the inside. BUTTTTTTTTT, chances are if you didn’t read Phonogram: The Singles Club in addition to Scott Pilgrim, this book will confuse the hell out of you, despite it being a very good comic. To say that it’s required reading is an understatement.

For those of you who actually have both those books and currently reading The Immaterial Girl, you are in for a treat! Issue 4 of this mini series focuses on Lloyd, aka Mr Logos and his love/hate relationship with Laura Black, all while playing homage to Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s massive hit comic. Of course it’s done in the most Kieron Gillen way possibly, which means references to Blondie, with some amazing art. This fun done in one is a bit of side story, focusing on some character that have appeared in past volumes of Phonogram, but does not touch upon the the events of T.I.G. much.

PhonogramIG04_Preview_Page2-932x1415So I want to talk about those lovely Scott Pilgrim homages first. What I really dig about team WicDic Phonogram’s tribute to SP is that it’s entirely done through visual cues in the book’s art. Letterer Clayton Cowles, who’s brilliant, uses several font styles found in SP v1: Precious Little Life (I actually have my copy next to me as I typed it to serve as confirmation, look at me, I’M DOING ACTUAL RESEARCH FOR A REVIEW!). Artist Jamie McKelvie frames the opening page exactly the opening page of said book, and like O’Malley’s art, the majority of this book is in black and white. Colorist Matthew Wilson goes the extra distance, giving McKelvie’s black and white art that manga influenced-zine-esque look, while masterfully coloring the pages that allow for color (And there’s a reason for those pages to be in color this issue, which is a story telling technique I love).They could have easily made a “bread make you fat?” joke (No offense Chip and Joe ) and called it a day, but no, they went the extra mile, because they are a gifted bunch.

As for the non-SP influenced content, I really like how Kieron Gillen writes the relationship between Lloyd and Laura. It’s a interesting love/hate relationship, and it PhonogramIG04_Preview_Page3speaks much of Kieron’s talent that he managed to make it so deep and complex in a span of an issue. Additionally, Gillen excels at having a least ONE brilliant phrase per comic and here we’re treated to two that were so good, I actually stood up and cackled a bit. It also helps that Jamie McKelvie’s art is so expressive, so the book looks as good at it sounds when you’re sitting in your living room reading dialogue to your cat. Yeah I do that some times, what of it?!

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #4 is a done and one that allows the story to breathe a bit, and shines some light on some fun characters. I enjoyed the hell out of it, and am absolutely loving what this return to Phonogram has given me so far.


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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #1

Spider-Woman-1-Cover-8769aSpider-Woman #1

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvard Lopez

Marvel $3.99

When we last saw Spider-Woman, she was running off with Black Widow to go die in Secret Wars #1. Don’t worry, she got better, somehow. Better and apparently pregnant. COMICS, EVERYONE!

In case you somehow missed the hoopla, Jessica Drew is back and with child in this newest volume of Spider-Woman. Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez and Alvard Lopez fully embrace this whole 8 month post Secret Wars gap by putting J-Drew in a scenario no one saw coming. And by doing so, it sets the book off in an entirely new direction, in addition to adding a much beloved character to the cast of supporting characters. As much as I loved having the Porcupine and Phil Urich bounce off Jessica, having Captain Marvel play a larger role in the book give Jessica a chance to interact with her bestie, and makes for a perfect comedic foil to our hero. There’s also a hint that another Spider-lady will be popping up from time to time, but we have to see how this all plays out first.

I really like the way Jessica’s pregnancy is handled in this first issue. She’s upset that she’s being sidelined, but it’s a choice that she ultimately made, not wanting to risk the life of her Jess-and-her-motorcycle-e1447959748798yet to be born child. Seeing Jessica dealing with a maternity leave and an overly-concerned best friend is fun, but never makes the character the butt of the jokes. She’s struggling with the pregnancy, on her own mind you as there doesn’t seem to be an active father figure present, but she never comes off as weak. If anything it’s the opposite, as it shows Jessica rising to  the challenge to meet it head on (with some help from her friends).

Aside from the addition of her blonde BFF and some cameos from a bunch of prominent Marvel characters,  Jessica mostly interacts with Ben Urich,  who helping her adjust to an everyday normal person problem, and the Porcupine, who’s gone full amateur super hero. I really dig Jessica training Roger Cocking to be a better person, as its nice to see a petty crook being rehabilitated successfully. Hopeless and Rodriguez did wonders for the character, and seeing him as a full on hero is a nice path of progression for the character. Hopefully it will stick, because while I’m not expecting a Deadpool-level boost for the character, way too many reformed super villains have gone to the side of the angels, only to be written as a villain down the line with little to no explanation.

29cncyfAnd while a ton of things have changed for Jessica in terms of the status quo, the creators involved remain just as good as they were before the hiatus. I mean, that sort of thing should go without saying, because more writers and artists don’t suddenly regress in skills after a short hiatus. But we get to see a different side of Javier skills when he as to channel his inner Kirby/Byrne towards the end of the book. I absolutely love the way he draws a certain race of Marvel characters, as they look way creepier and in line with their silver age incarnations than the way they’ve been portrayed as of late. Plus being his own colorists give him a chance to do things with skin and lighting most artist don’t get to do with their own work. And I absolutely love Hopeless’ dialogue in this issue. He gets to focus on these heroes more human sides, which leads to a number of wonder scenes and interactions that are very enjoyable, and sound so natural.

This is the Spider-Woman #1 we deserved for the last year. It’s a fantastic soft reboot that does Jessica Drew, a wonderfully complex and compelling character, justice, while dealing with a subject matter that’s often mishandled by cape comics. Hopeless approaches pregnancy with the respect and sincerity it deserves, ensuring his critics that he’s going to do Spider-Woman right. It’s a great comic, and I can’t wait to see this story arc play out.



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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #45

Batgirl_45_coverBatgirl #45

Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, Serge Lapointe

DC, $2.99

Batgirl #45 is a comic with 0 super villain punching and 100% romance and relationship-based plots. That may sound less than ideal for a super hero comic, but you also have to factor in there’s also a 100% increase of Dick Grayson in this month’s issue; which is important to me obviously, making it the lack of costumed violence more than okay.


But before I start gushing over a Babs Tarr drawn Grayson (aka the best thing), let me start off by saying that this issue is actually a pretty big moment for mainstream comics. Early in the run, the Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.34.41 PMcreative team made an error that could be viewed as transphobic. While it was not their intent, the team apologized, promised to do better, and made sure the digital and collected version of the story were fixed to be less offensive. This issue illustrates that the team has continued to make good on their promise, as we see a trans character get married to her girlfriend, without one of them being a Skrull or super villains showing up to crash wedding. As far as I can tell, this is the first trans-wedding in mainstream comics, which is great, as it shows Big 2 comics creators striving to be more inclusive and mature about LGBTQ issues. It’s also nice because it feel genuine, not a marketing stunt, and chances are we don’t have to worry about these characters being fringed anytime soon. It’s also nice to see a wedding happen in comics that’s not full of shenanigans, but that’s less impressive, at least comparatively speaking.

Okay, back to me gushing over Dick (PHRASING). Babs Tarr is back on solo layouts and finished pencils for this book, and the results are pretty great. I really dug the portrayal of Grayson under Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, who write him as more of a (incredibly handsome) jerk than the Screen-Shot-2015-10-29-at-12.31.32-AMteam over in Grayson do, but given the history between the two, it makes sense, and doesn’t really damage the character in any permanent way. Their relationship is flirty and playful, and respects each of the characters new histories in this newer DCU. I also really appreciated the creators allowing male characters pining over the female lead in a way that reverses gender stereotypes, showing some vulnerably we usually don’t see from male super heroes.

I’ve stated that Tarr has drawn Batgirl with a shoujo manga influence in the past, and issue 45 allows the artist to go all out in that style. Colorist Serge Lapointe gets in on this, using a lighter palette, heavy on the pinks, purples, and whites. Of course given the wedding theme of the issue, it make totally sense, and I like how Lapointe drops the Shoujo filter a few times, going with bolder, crisper palette for the more intense, non-smooching-related scenes. It’s a neat technique, and it’s cool to see an artist experiment like that.

Batgirl #45 may be my favorite issue of this team’s run to date. It’s a fun issue with a lot of fun character moments, and focuses on my 2 favorite DC characters. Babs Tarr’s art couldn’t be better, and the writers inject the book with some stellar dialogue, while doing some really progressive stuff. Plus it’s nice to see someone do take on romance comic that’s not from Rosy Press. Pick it up if you have feeling/opinions on Batgirl and the Robin formerly known as Nightwing, or if you just like refreshingly modern romance comics.

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Chris’ Comics: Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine

BitchPlanet_vol1-1Bitch Planet Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine

Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV, Cris Peter, Clayton Cowles

Image, $9.99

When I reviewed the debut issue of Bitch Planet late last year, I made the claim that this it was the best thing Kelly Sue Deconnick had written to date. I’m a big fan of KSD’s work, but there was something so fresh, so different and high concept about the book that struck a nerve with me in a way her previous comics haven’t. I sadly fell behind on the title due to a move, and several other life-related reasons, but that’s no longer the case! The first trade has hit the shelves, I had read it, and now I will do my best to sell you on it.

If you’re not in the know, Bitch Planet can be described as a twist on exploitation in a 92b603a210042716f7488054742d7551._SX640_QL80_TTD_sci-fi world; in the future women who don’t fit into a super sexist society’s norms are tossed into a space prison known as the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost, aka the Bitch Planet. An all women’s prison setting may sound a bit risque, but Kelly Sue and artist  Valentine De Landro are aware of that, and let the reader know that it’s far from the case. Granted the book IS gorgeous, the cast is never sexualized, making it the opposite another popular women in prison series “Orange is the new Black”. Deconnick has gone on the record stating she’s never seen the show, and the content of this trade is proof of that. We’re introduced to a cast of female prisoners that are all bad ass, and face an enemy that views them as less than human. There’s a lot of parallels to today society, and while most of them are taken to the extreme, a lot of the antagonistic character’s actions and dialogue may leave you feeling uneasy. But these ladies are “Non-Compliant”, and are not about to lay down and die.

There’s a lot to like with Bitch Planet, assuming you’re not the type of person who thinks harassing women on the internet is a good use of time. The book is ambitious, as the creative team touches up/comments on all sorts of topics like sexism, body shaming, racism, sports and media corruption… a lot of things really, which is impressive, given that it’s only five issues of content. And like I said, it’s visually stunning. Regular series artist 4540639-penny_rolle-bitch_planet#3Valentine De Landro has a cool grindhouse look to his art that is fitting for the vibe of the reto-future book. I also dig seeing a cast of characters with various body types, which is refreshing, and makes the book feel grounded. I’m also a fan of the clean, Mike Allred-esque work of guest artist Robert Wilson IV, who’s contributions to the done-in-one origin issue of fan-favorite character Penny Rolle are fantastic. Equally important to the visuals of Bitch Planet is colorist Criss Peter, who constantly changes up his style to fit the story. Bitch Planet is as every bit as good looking as it is clever, thanks to this trio of artists.

And I honestly don’t know where to begin with signing praise to Kelly Sue’s contributions to this book. Her dialogue is razor sharp, and it injects so much life into the cast and the world they inhabit. It reads and feels like 100% pure DeConnick; unafraid to go into some dark territory, challenge the readers, and inspire them in ways her past work hasn’t. I loved her Marvel work and her other creator owned book, Pretty Deadly, but those books pale in comparison to what KSD brings to Bitch Planet, and I want more of it immediately.

Bitch Planet is a tremendous comic, one that’s easily worth your time if you want your views challenged. The creative team has created one of the most important comics in the last 5 years in my opinion, and for $10, you’d been foolish to past it up.

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Chris’ Comics: New Avengers #1 and Ms Marvel #19

New-Avengers-1-Cover-06a5aNew Avengers #1

Al Ewing, Gerardo Sandoval, Dono Sanchez Almara

Marvel $3.99

Ever since Infinity, writer Al Ewing has been pumping out some damn fine Avengers comics for Marvel. Mighty Avengers has been constantly entertaining, and now that it’s kinda sorta post Secret Wars, he’s been given the chance to write not one but 2 Avengers series. The first of these debuted last Wednesday in the shape of New Avengers, with a fan favorite roster and a bold new direction.

New Avengers #1 kicks off with a number of fan favorite characters: Squirrel Girl, Wiccan, Hulking, Songbird and from Ewing’s Mighty Avengers run White Tiger and Powerman. They’re assembled by Sunspot, who now owns A.I.M. thanks to the events of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run. They’re operating by their own rules, which doesn’t sit well with SHIELD, so they have Hawkeye (the Clint Barton flavored one) join the roster as a spy, ensuring my spending money. It’s a fun line up, and Al brings in a number of his Might Avengers co-stars to act as the team’s supporting characters, and build a bridge between his sister book The Ultimates.

29addcd4d60c46f931da5afb255a89b7._SX640_QL80_TTD_Drawing New Avengers is Gerado Sandoval , whose work I’m familiar with from the absolutely insane Marvel Vs Attack on Titan. His style is very much in the mold of Joe Madueria, which explains why Wiccan looks straight up Naruto. He’s bombastic enough for the fight scenes, but struggles a bit when it comes to the talking head bits. I’m sure there’s a number of people who are turned off by Sandoval’s manga style, but I dug it for the most part. The coloring by Dono Sanchez Almara is a perfect fit for Sandoval’s, giving the book a bright, animated look, which perfectly matches the fun art and Ewing’s delightful dialogue.

New Avengers #1 hits the floor running, with some unique art, a solid premise, and some great dialogue. It’s an incredibly fun book with a lot to like, and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a fan of these characters, or just want a fun, over the top Marvel team book

tumblr_nvxtooYwUq1t0cxrao1_1280Ms. Marvel #1


Marvel $2.99

RIP $3 Marvel comics.


And here I was thinking this would be a tears free weak, silly me.

The final issue of Ms. Marvel “Season One” is upon us, and man, it’s a fantastic read, but also an assault on my emotions. This arc wraps at where Secret Wars #1 ends, so the ending of this issue is a bit of a downer, despite the overall quality. Well sort of. We all know Kamala has a bright future as an Avenger starting in a few weeks, so the ending kinda loses some impact by being tied into the larger Marvel Universe. Not to mention the solicit for Ms Marvel volume 2, issue 3 going live today. Good timing there Marvel.

tumblr_nvxtooYwUq1t0cxrao5_1280Mad spoilers aside, G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Ian Herring craft one hell of an ending. The finale sees Kamala as Kamala, not her costumed alter ego, talk to her mother about her double life in an amazing scene, reunite her several of her peers and face the final incursion head on. Everything about this issue is incredible, as it blends a number of emotional beats with some expressive line work and gorgeous colosr. We really get a sense of how  Kamala has grown over the course of 19 issues, and how the evens of this arc has affected her. Wilson and Alphona have created something special with this character, and this issue serves of proof of that.

Ms Marvel 19 is a tear jerker of a finale. One with gorgeous, detailed art, that’s super expressive, with amazing acting, and a fantastic use of color during the final pages. In a world where super hero books are constantly relaunched and rebooted, this “final” issue gets is as perfect as it can be, technicalities aside. It”s a testament on how special a character like Ms. Marvel is in the marketplace, and how stellar this creative team is. I can’t wait for more.


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Chris’ Comics: Jughead #1 & Papergirls #1

DISCLAIMER: I will go on the record saying that I believe Chip Zdarsky is NICE MAN, but this comic was bought with my own money.

635793458419385897-Jughead-1RegCvrJughead #1

Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson

Archie Comics, $3.99

Jughead joins the ranks of Afterlife with Archie in being one of the 2 Archie books I’ve bought in the last 2 centuries. Much like Afterlife, the creators on this book warranted me at least checking out the first issue, despite not caring much for the lead character. The record will show that obviously I am a fan of Handsome-for-Canada writer Chip Zdarsky‘s output, and I’ve been enjoying Erica Henderson‘s work on the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  I haven’t been keeping up with the relaunched Archie title by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, so I wasn’t sure what this incarnation of Jughead was like, aside from his love of hamburgers, and chances are he wasn’t a zombie.

Jughead #1 turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Well not that much of a surprise, given the fact I just said I’m a big fan of these creators. I just really appreciated how Henderson and Zdarsky they managed to blend the spirit of these classic iconic comic characters while placing them in a modern setting.

Jughead2015_01-5-666x1024Erica Henderson drawing a teen comedy was a genius move on the behalf of Archie. She excels at drawing various body types and expressions, making her a perfect fit for this title. Her acting and costume designs make the book look like it takes place in 2015, and keeps the character recognizable it. Having her ink and color her own works also helps her art look clean and bold, not unlike Fiona Staples work on Archie proper.

And much like being assigned writing duties on Howard the Duck, Chip Zdarsky couldn’t be a better choice for Jughead. In the afterword, Chip goes on the record stating that he’s a huge fan of Jughead and Archie comics, and it shows in the book. His Jughead is very sarcastic and a bit of a slacker, but ultimately very likable. His dialogue is sharp and hilarious, again much like Howard, but a little more reserved, making it still a teen rated book, only because there’s some serious dept to the humor, and a big ol’ reference to a popular and violent fantasy TV show. It makes for a really fun read.

Jughead #1 is another stellar reinvention of a classic Archie character. I really enjoyed this debut issue, but I’m concerned how long the team with stick around what with Squirrel Girl returning soon, and Chip’s various comments to Marvel and Image comics. Hopefully the pair will be around for awhile, as this book is off to a great start.


294389._SX360_QL80_TTD_ Paper Girls #1

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

Image $2.99

Paper Girls #1 was THE comic everyone was talking about at NYCC this year. It’s the first new ongoing writer Brian K Vaughan has launched since Saga, and the first book artist Cliff Chiang has worked on after his Wonder Woman run. It’s been shrouded in secret since it’s announcement, with a premise no one knew much about aside from “suburban paper girls in the late 80s”, with rumors of some sort of bonkers twist to the whole thing. Those rumors were correct to an extent, leading to one of the BEST final page reveals of the year (sorry Invincible Iron Man) in an excellent first issue.

I’ve spoken highly about BKV on this blog multiple times thanks to Saga. Same for colorist Matt Wilson, who’s also working on this book, and is unsurprisingly excellent. Whom I’ve never really talked about around these parts is Cliff Chiang, who’s the perfect artist for a period piece like this. Everything he draws in this debut issue is terrific; the spooky psychedelic dream that kicks this issue off, the character’s body language and dress, and the things related to the twist I dare not spoil. What’s also neat is the subtle but effective reminders that Chiang uses to let the readers know that this whole thing takes place is the 80s, without beating us over the head.  BKV also gets some credit for that, as his “perfect but still natural” dialogue never flirts with nostalgia or worries about being too period accurate. There is one major exception where a homophobic slur is dropped (consider this a trigger warning for the book), but it’s handled pretty well all things considering, as one of the character acknowledges the choice of wording is pretty messed up. It’s good to see that the creative team actually put some thought into that’s word use, instead of just dropping it in the comics and making up excuses for its presence.

Matt Wilson’s colors are gorgeous in this book. He uses a lot of dark blues/purples/pinks for the background, occasionally switching things up to a red or a yellow, and it’s all quite striking. Letter & designer Jared K. Fletcher is the unsung her of the book, contributing some really cool stuff I can’t talk about, but it really sets the book apart from a lot of comics out there. This is a stellar creative team on every level.

I honestly feel the less you know about Paper Girls’ premise, the better you know. What matters is that 4 creators have come together and created a fantastic first issue that’s worth your time and 3 bucks.

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Highlighted New Releases for NCBD September 9th 2015

I’m gonna try to get back to regular posting on this blog. Here’s my first shot at it- a simple listing of personally recommended or otherwise notable new stuff available at Forbidden Planet NYC in-store and online for the week of 9/9/15. Here we go…


Descender TP Volume 1 – Jeff Lemire (w), Dustin Nguyen (a)

One young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. A rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey that pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling space opera from the creators of Trillium, Sweet Tooth, and Little Gotham.

Collects DESCENDER #1-6.

Continue reading

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Chris Comics: Welcome Back #1

STK678250Welcome Back #1

Christopher Sebela, Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, Carlos Zamudio

Boom $3.99

Sorry for the delay gang, someone had a birthday this week (it was me, I berfed), and a busted modem (also me), so interneting was hard.

Last week was an odd week for me  when it came to buying comics, as none of my usual pulls dropped, and the mountain of trades I have to get through are quite dated (no longer the case by the way, again, due to berf). Not wanting to leave Forbidden Planet NYC stranded on hashtag content, or drop $5 on a Marvel book, I decided to see what the indies had to offer. As luck would have it, the fine folks at Boom! Studios released Welcome Back, the first of 4 issue mini series with some slick twists I will attempt to not spoil in this review.


WelcomeBack_001_PRESS-8Welcome Back is written by Christopher Sebela, who’s work I’m not too familiar with outside of co-writing some comics with Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue Deconnick, but his High Crime series from Monkeybrain/Dark Horse is supposed to be really good. I have zero familiarity with artist Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, but man, his stuff is great. He’s a nice blend of artists like Chris Bachalo, Becky Cloonan and Sean Murphy. His line work is sharp and jagged, and fully of energy like Murphy, with his character designs and layouts very much in the graffiti and manga-influenced styles we get from Chris and Becky. And if Sawyer’s Murray in this scenario, then colorist Carlos Zamudio would be the next generation Matt Hollingsworth. The choices of colors in Welcome Back remind me a lot of Hollingsworth works on books like The Wake and Hawkeye, only not as muted. Welcome Back is easily one of the best looking books I’ve seen from a relatively new creative team in some time.

On the words side of things, I get why Sebela’s gotten a ton of praise for his indie comics. Welcome Back is wordy, but never overcrowded. It’s heavy on the dialogue and narration, but flows effortlessly, with everything coming across relatively natural sounding. Some of the stuff WelcomeBack_001_Interiors-1spoken during the action scene is a little clique and hokey, but aside from that, it’s relatively solid. My only real complaint other than that is the use of block, flat fonts for the sound effect by letter  Shawn Aldridge. It really clashes with the art, and it’s weird to see that sort of thing when the narration boxes and dialgoue balloons are position correctly. But those are only some small things that I’m sure that will improve in time, and don’t take much away from the rest of the book.

Welcome Back was a surprisingly great debut that I wish I could go into more but won’t, because again, there are some great twists that work if you go in blind. That’s what I did for the most part, and I enjoyed the book all the more. If you’re looking for something fresh and different, or just tired of one of your favorite being held up by delays, I can’t recommend giving Welcome Back enough. It’s a cool melting pot of ideas with an relatable lead character, and I’m excited to see how this all plays out.

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Chris Comics: Ms Marvel #17

Last-Days-of-Ms.-MarvelMs Marvel #17

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona & Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

On the left we have cover artist Kris Anka , who cover may qualify as the best thing. But while this gives us everything we ever wanted from Ms Marvel, it worth noting the content are not as happy.

Given who’s on the cover, and that this book is tied into Secret Wars, Ms. Marvel #17 can be best described as an issue that’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Captain Marvel’s presence is something the fans have been demanding since the book dropped, and Wilson, Alphona and Herring deliver when it comes to this team in spades. But it’s not exactly  the feel good issue I was hoping for, given the whole end of the world thing, but it is an incredibly smart comics that has some really good emotional moments as well.

3577e735844c9f972469b12814ecd674What  I like about this issue is that we get to see that Kamala has come a long way since issue once, but a lot of key characteristics are still intact for the character. Writer G Willow Wilson has Ms Marvel freak out when she meets Carol Danvers, which as a super fan, is something that makes a ton of sense, not to mention completely adorable. I enjoyed watching the two Marvels bounce off of each other, and I REALLY dug the brief mention of Kamala’s faith when Captain Marvel gives her a pep talk early in the book,( as well as Carol’s advice for our you lead when faced with a difficult kitten-related matter). I also dug Wilson’s take on Carol Danvers, who’s a lovable & playful badass who manages to also be a solid mentor to Ms. Khan when she’s not busting her chops. There’s also several moments that will tug at your heart, giving the book a sense of sadness and desperation. There’s plenty of high, lows and even a few laughs, which says a lot given the fact that this is only 20 pages of content.

On the art side of things, gosh I love Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring. Jersey City may be facing the apocalypse, but Alphona crazy detailed  panels manage to maintain this book’s excellent sense of humor. His backgrounds are chock full of MAD magazine-esque hidden jokes, and not to mention some bizarre and hilarious looking characters. His Kamala will have her facial expression exaggerated for humor’s sake, and he’s capable of drawing some extremely derpy looking animals, ramping up the book’s cute factor. That being said, he also manages to capture the more serious and emotional moments with the gravitas needed to sell the scene, and his Captain Marvel has just the right amount of swagger worthy of Carol Danvers. Colorists Ian Herring’s colors are perfect for every scene, giving the day scenes the proper sense of end of the world times, and using some interesting colors choices for the scene heavy on the super hero-type effects.

As someone who gave up on reading Secret Wars proper and already has a sense on how this will end thanks to upcoming solicits, it’s worth noting how good this creative teams on making this Incursion feel like a real threat. The sense of danger and emotional strain of Last Days is there and feels real, even though we’re due for a new Ms Marvel #1 come this fall. Ms Marvel continues to be the best thing coming out of Marvel these days, even when it’s tied into a massive crossover. This book is definitely worth your time if you’re a regular reader scared who’s not reading Secret Wars, or a Secret Wars fan looking for an amazing tie in.




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(Late) Review: Starfire #1

So yeah, doing 3 shows in 3 consecutive weekends has caught up to me. Flamecon was a wonderful one day show that I’m glad I funded/attended, and Heroescon was rad as always. But it’s taken a hit on my writing time, not to mention drained me physically (and financially). So the reviews are coming, they’ll just be a mixture of new stuff, slightly old stuff, collected stuff and one advance review. Give me 2 weeks and everything will be back to normal. Well as close to normal you can get around these parts. First up, a dated review on a book that I’ve really enjoyed recently.

Starfire-1-CoverStarfire #1

Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti/Emanuela Lupacchino/Ray McCarthy/Hi-Fi

DC $2.99

I’ll start this review off with a confession: I never really cared much for Starfire, even though I’m a pretty big Dick Grayson fan. Ir’s probably because I missed her heyday as a member of the Marv Wolfman/George Perez New Teen Titans. And aside from a few random Teen Titan revivals from the 90s/00s, my biggest exposure to the character was from the animated TT animated series, which I liked enough, but wasn’t super into.

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti however, are 2 creators I’m very much familiar with and dig. Their run on Power Girl was a blast, and I like what I’ve read of their Harley Quinn run. Putting them on a character like Starfire, who was very much in need of some direction after appearing in that ROUGH Red Hood and the Outlaws book, was a smart choice

4619905-starf_1_4Conner and Palmiotti’s Starfire is wisely located in Key West, which makes for an unusual locale for a super hero comic. The most southwestern point in the US, this tropical locale isn’t exactly full of crime and super baddies. But Starfire isn’t exactly a traditional super hero book; it’s more a comedic character exploration piece. Kory is trying to figure out her identity in Key West, not unlike how the writers are trying to find her a play in this relatively new DC. The pair of writers give her a nice cast of characters to work with, giving  the book a delightful sitcom-esque supporting cast. Amanda and Jimmy do some really solid world building in 20 pages, and I’m curious to see what they can do now that the introductions are done.

Starfire-2Emanuela Luppacchino is the penciler on this book, and he’s a perfect fit for the comic. He’s more Ivan Reis than Amanda Conner, and he manages to capture the beauty of the setting and the book’s lead perfectly. His characters are sexy, with hints of cheesecake here and there, but nothing super objectifying. And the humor is done justice with the cute little thought balloons Starfire has whenever she’s unfamiliar with earth terminology. Trever McCarthy‘s ink are clean and straightforward, with Hi-Fi making the book looking bright and vibrant.  Starfire herself is a prime example on how good the art sides of things are,  with her cool hair-flame effect never clashing with her orange skin. It’s a pretty accurate recreation of Key West, right down to the drunk bros.

Starfire #1 is the perfect introduction for people familiar with the character from the character, or didn’t care for her previous handling. It’s a little to sexy for younger reader, so maybe we keep the kids are the Teen Titans Go! audience from it until their older. But for anyone over 13 who wants a more iconic take on that character, or something that’s just fun and great looking, this is the book you want to be reading. If you like Conner/Palmiotti’s past work, or offbeat female lead titles like Squirrel Girl and Rat Queens, this is the book for you.

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Take a Comic Book History Tour of New York City

New York City is the birthplace of the comic book, and I’m pleased as punch to announce that Forbidden Planet’s sponsoring a series of walking tours in which you can experience the medium’s rich history firsthand. The folks over at ETC Custom Events are offering the following sojourns, titled “New York is Comic Book Country.” There’s an email address at the end of this article. Reach out to them if you’re interested in any or all of these fascinating tours.

ETC Custom Events,walking tour, geek tour, comic book tour, new york city tours

It Started on Yancy Street

Ranging from the birthplace and childhood neighborhood of “King of Comics” Jack Kirby — co-creator of Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and scores more — to the laboratory of Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2, this tour through the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village shows guests a veritable history of comic-book lore in New York. You’ll see Peter Parker’s pad in Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3, the site of Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, the original home of both All-American Comics (where the Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and the Justice Society of America all began) and EC (Tales from the Crypt, Mad), the campus of Marvel’s “Empire State University” and much more. The tour ends at Forbidden Planet, the be-all and end-all of comic books, graphic novels and comics collectibles. We’ve got some surprises in store (pun intended), both along the way and at the final stop. This is a great one for all comics True Believers.

Look — Up in the Sky!

The amazing lobby of the skyscraper where Timely (later Marvel) Comics began sets the stage for our midtown Manhattan tour, which takes sightseers to such venues as the W.R. Grace building (site of the Silver Surfer’s flight from the Human Torch in Fantastic Four: Rise of the SilverSurfer), the lair of Superman’s Lex Luther below Grand Central Terminal, and the home of the famed Daily Planet. Along the way, you’ll peek into Midtown Comics, see the sites of the Baxter Building and the Stark Tower (film version), and maybe even hang out right where the Avengers staged an epic battle. We’ll see where DC Comics got started and where the original Captain Marvel (Shazam), Human Torch and Sub-Mariner were born — not to mention Superman and Batman. Bank on a few surprise extras and a bunch more stops en route. Want even more? For the true devotee (or those with extra-sturdy sneakers) this one has several optional stops — ask us about them.

Avengers Assemble!

Stan Lee’s inspiration for the Avengers Mansion came from a real mansion right here in New York, and it’s the first stop on our uptown comic-book themed tour. Learn about the current headquarters of Marvel (you’ll even pop into a Marvel staff hangout). You’ll pass the former homes of two comics superstars, mosey on over to the site of Stark Tower (which might now be under construction), wander by the art studio of a brilliant but reclusive comics legend, and see other cool stuff as you explore the comic-book world here in NY. Ask us about a special add-on: A visit to MoCCA (the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) for a brief tour.

All tours available Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Feeling devil-may-care and spontaneous? Email us about our next-day tours, Thursday-Monday: Book a tour the following day for a 10-percent discount. Email us: for info and to book a tour!

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Walking in the Spider Webs edition.

Spider-Gwen_Vol_1_4_TextlessSpider-Gwen #4

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodriquez/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Gwen #4 aka, the issue where writer Jason Latour gets a lot of mileage from a bunch of dead people.

In a relatively quiet installment of Spider-Gwen, as we have our lead hanging out with May and Ben Parker, two characters who’ve played massive parts in Peter’s life but rarely got interact the world around them as a living couple. Here we get to see the two of them bounce off of Gwen in a world where Peter is dead, and even with that in mind, the results are really heart warming. While we’ve seen a similar Peter-less Gwen/May dynamic explored before in Ultimate Spider-Man, but things play out slightly different here. The Ben/Gwen stuff is great, despite it being a quick scene. Latour’s wonderful dialogue and Robbi Rodriquez‘s art really make it a memorable, and I’m excited to see these characters in the book more in the future. We also get some more Captain Jean DeWolffe, a long gone Spider-Man supporting character who’s given a new dynamic thanks to these talented creators.

Half the fun of Spider-Gwen is seeing how different the world she habits is from the 616. And while it hasn’t stopped being charming, it’s nice seeing these characters form deep relationships and bonds in a short amount of time. It continues to be a great looking book that’s equally charming and emotionally, not unlike the classic Lee/Dikito Spider-Man run.

SWOMAN2014007_CovSpider-Woman  #7

Dennis Hopeless/ Javier Rodriguez/Alvardo Lopez/Muntsa Vicente

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of Spider-Woman, here were have the O.G. Spider-lady Jessica Drew. We’re 3 issue into this run (ignore that number seven), and I am still marveling over how much this book has improved now that Javier Rodriguez has taken over artistic duties.

It’s rare to have a comic have something impressive about every page in it, but that’s the only fair description of Rodriguez’s contributions to this comic. We got a hints on how great his panel placement and layouts during his guest stint as a penciler on Daredevil and his work on AXIS: Hobgoblin, but his art is on a whole other level here. It’s equal parts Chris Samnee and Marcos Martin, but still it’s own style. Rodriguez is the next big thing in term of comics art, and Spider-Woman #7 is proof of that.

As good as Javier is, he obviously not the only reason why this book is as good as it is. Alvardo Lopez’s inks are tight and clean, perfectly in sync with Rodriguez’s line art. And Munsta Vincete‘s contributions as colorist are crucial, as he gives the book a clean and bright look with some really bold imagery at times. The art is on POINT, as is Dennis Hopeless‘ writing. Hopeless’s dialogue sounds as good as the book looks, as the arc takes an interesting turn, and introduces a fantastic new locale to the Marvel Universe.

Under a lesser creative team, a book like Spider-Woman would risk being redundant, especially with Spider-Gwen and Silk being as good as they are, especially in the visuals department. But this team has made this book both the heir to the Waid/Samnee Daredevil run as well as the Spencer/Lieber Superior Foes of Spider-Man. It’s visually amazing, hilarious, clever and slowly becoming the book I read first when I buy my comics.

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April 30th Troma Signing with Lloyd Kaufman, Ethan Hurt & Lisa Gaye!

Forbidden Planet is stoked to announce a Troma signing on Thursday April 30th at 7PM! The Troma Team and Ship to Shore Phone Co. are celebrating the release of the Class of Nuke ‘Em High Original Soundtrack Lp and the Blu-ray releases of Class of Nuke “Em High Part 2 and The Toxic Avenger part 2!

Meet Lloyd Kaufman (Troma President and creator of The Toxic Avenger), Ethan Hurt (Composer of the Class of Nuke ‘Em High Theme), and Lisa Gaye (star of Class of Nuke ‘ Em High 2 & 3, Toxic Avenger 2-4, and many more Troma classiscs!

As usual we make sure that people across the globe will be able to take part in this event! So pre-order a copy of the Class of Nuke ‘Em High LP, Class of Nuke ‘Em Blu Ray, or Toxic Avenger 2 Blu Ray DVD Combo from and it will be signed by all guests attending our event!


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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: SEXCASTLE


Kyle Starks

Image $15.99

Reviewed by Chris Troy 

“Nurse, this baby was born mean!”

Comics Alliance contributor/upcoming X-men ’92 writer Chris Sims first brought Kyle Starks‘ brilliant SEXCASTLE to my attention via a an article/Kickstartr plug on CA. The panel that sold me on the book is below, edited because language, but the important thing about this page remains unaltered:









The last panel is arguably the best line of comics dialogue in 2015/the last 10 years/since Ben Grimm declared it was “Clobberin’ Time” for the first time.

Once SEXCASTLE was fully funded, Image Comics, who has also given us comics with sex in the title such as SEX and SEX CRIMINALS, picked up the publishing rights, and unleashed Kyle Starks insanely rad comic on the masses last week. It’s a tribute/parody of classic ’80s/90s action films, which is nothing new to comics, but so over the top it feels fresh. Sexcastle definitely pays homage to the works that inspired it, but it also laughs at them, and encourages others to do so as well.

fistburger006SEXCASTLE is the tale of Shane Sexcastle, once the world’s greatest assassin, now an ex-con who ready to start life over in a small town. Of course that sort of plot doesn’t make for the most action packed action comic, so Shane’s vow to give up violence is short lived, and his legacy of brutality* catches up to him once he messes up some locale. This ends in hella punching several characters that bear resemblance to a lot of action film icons, and all of them dying terrible and hilarious deaths. Oh and an actual bear. Sexcastle isn’t exactly the most serious of comics folks.

What Sexcastle is however, is arguably the most quotable comic in some time. The dialogue is a blend of action movies and Chris Onstad‘s Achewood, meaning a lot of dumb things are said in clever and hilarious ways. There’s jokes everywhere in this book, and all of them stick their landing mostly because they’re played straight, and rarely acknowledged. I’m honestly surprised the book isn’t labeled as an action-comedy, but then again I suppose there’s nothing funny about violence. No, that’s a lie, comics violence can be hilarious, especially when GUNCHUCKS are involved.

Sexcastle01Starks’ artwork is simplistic, and honestly that’s for the best. Like I just said, there’s a ton of graphic violence in this book, and this book would probably turn me off to it a bit if it looked too realistic. The cartoony style works in the comic’s favor, as does having the book being printed in black and white with some gray-scaling. Even the hand penned lettering is often hilarious, featuring sound sound effects like ONG-BAK’D, PANTIED, and a bunch of others words I can’t post here.

SEXCASTLE, while chock full of good morals, is definitely not for the children. BUT it’s arguably the best comic release of the year. Yeah, I know, Scott McCloud released something not too long along, and technically this was first released in 2014, BUT MCCLOUD’S FOR NERDS** AND SEXCASTLE DOESN’T ACKNOWLEDGE SUCH LAME CONCEPTS AS TIME! To paraphrase The Simpsons, BUY SEXCASTLE OR GO TO HELL!




*Shout of to the Misfits!

** Not personal Scott McCloud, but this book owns harder than both The Raids and Dredd combined.


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