Category: Stuff We Like

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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Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #9 & Green Arrow #2

Spider-Woman_Vol_6_9_TextlessSpider-Woman #9

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel $3.99

MOTHER #$@#$%^& WENDIGO!

As I said last week in my Captain Marvel review, Civil War the second is upon us, which means tie-ins issues. And since Carol Danvers has been a supporting character in this title for awhile now, Spider-Woman is getting dragged into this mega-event, like it or not. I feel you J-Drew, lord knows that I feel you.

And while the (gorgeous and simplistic) cover implies hella Civil War action, this issue of Spider-Woman feels like like a tie-in and more like an issue of that delightful Jason Aaron run of Wolverine and the X-men from back in the day. While there’s definitely some Civil War: The Two related stuff in this issue, the bulk of this sees Jessica and friends IMG_0127in Canada dealing with Wendigos! Wendigo is one of my favorite C-list Marvel villains, and I love the way it’s used in this comic, especially when the grizzly twist drops.  As this all goes down, Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman bond, and by bond I mean yell at and insult each other. Good times.

The team of Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, and Alvardo Lopez continue their hot streak on this title, with some hilarious dialogue, paired with gorgeous art. The arguing between Jessica and Carol is super entertaining, and readers new and old can feel the history between the two characters. Rodriguez’s facial expressions, acting and page composition are spectacular. I love how we’re guaranteed at least one impressive double page fight scene per issue Lopez’s inks are out of the world, as he and letterer Travis Lanham continue to excel on this book.

Spider-Woman #9 is a very smart tie-in, one that brings Carol into the larger Marvel universe without betraying its mission statement. It’s nothing new for this great creative team, but you still can’t help but get excited reading this sort of comic.

 

GA_Cv2_ds-e1467817721597Green Arrow #2

Benjamin Percy, Otto Scmidt, Nate Piekos

DC $2.99

This series continues to be great for Oliver Queen, who’s just been betrayed, arrowed, tossed into the ocean and left for dead. Hey wait.

Green Arrow #2 resolves the cliffhanger ending of issue 1 by making things MUCH worse for our lead believe it or not. We also get a name for the creepy, homeless-stealing Draculas, and the reintroduction of a character who originated on the Arrow TV show. And while she gets less screen time this month, Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt gives some rad as hell Black Canary moments, complete with narration boxes with fishnets. Nate Piekos is the secret MVP of this book for that move.

There’s a lot to like in this issue of GA, which is heavy on the action. Schmidt’s art is gorgeous, and I love the splash pages where a boat is positioning, and the imagery he creates on another page that shows Ollie descending into hell (figuratively) is spectacular.  IMG_0129The book is pretty light on the action sadly, but it makes up for it with a tone of gorgeous visuals.

In terms of the dialogue. Percy’s stuff is “like a Michael Bay movie, but smart and good.”. So the opposite of a Michael Bay movie really. But it’s solid none the less, as he does some clever stuff that reference’s Dante’s Inferno, which is super symbolic of what Ollie’s going through.  The Dinah stuff is great, but I love how he basically manages to remix several older GA stories and do something new with this book. It’s compelling as hell, even though it’s a real bad day for Oliver Queen.

I know a lot of folk like/liked Oliver Queen in Arrow, but this is the first time I’ve really been able to get behind the character and enjoy him in a starring role. Green Arrow #2 is a RAD comic, and it’s arguably one of the biggest successes coming out of Rebirth so far.

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9

5283868-sqgirl2015b009_dc11-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, David Malki, Tom Fowler, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is that it’s a book that always keeps the readers on their toes. Issue 9 is no exception, as an arc that started off about DATES has turned into a story about a love smitten Mole Man who may have goes full “Nice Guy”. It’s something you wouldn’t see in any other Marvel book (well okay maybe Howard the Duck or Gwenpool, but no where else!), yet it makes sense in the pages of Squirrel Girl.

Joining the Unbeatable team of Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi this month is inker Tom Fowler, who’ s a great fit for this title. With Henderson working on this book, finishing up her run on Jughead, and working on the upcoming Squirrel Girl graphic novel, it makes sense that she get’s some help with something on this title. Fowler is great, covering Henderson’s pencil in nice crisp inks, and giving the pages a more finished and 5283872-sqgirl2015b009_int2-2less rushed look. Fowler compliments Henderson well, and I hope he sticks around on the title for awhile. In addition to Fowler, David Malki comes by to draw a page to explain why Mole Man is mad this month. The best way to describe that page is “Old Timey” and it’s something that you need to understand WHY it’s so great.

Speaking of great, Ryan North and Erica Henderson continue to be pair of amazing creators. North, who already has written the best Kraven the Hunter story since the classic “Kraven’s Last Hunt” story, does the same for Mole Man. His ability to turn the Fantastic Four’s first villain into a sympathetic character is crazy impressive, and it’s a very clever interpretation of the character. I thoroughly enjoyed Mole Man talking like someone from the silver age, and North commenting on it via Doreen Green, and the alt text on the bottom of the page. We also get more of Brad, the Super Hero truther, who’s my new problematic fave. Henderson’s art is fabulous as always, and it’s great to see her work her magic on some old Kirby monsters.  And it’s neat to see how expressive she can get with a character who’s’ eyes and 5283874-sqgirl2015b009_int2-3constantly blocked off by glasses. With Inks by Fowler and great colors as per usual by Rico Renzi, Squirrel Girls continues to read as good as it looks.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9 continues to be the most unique comic on the stand. Romance in super hero books usually plays out in the most clichéd ways, but here North and company provide some solid commentary on how NOT to treat someone, while casually mentioning a sad mutant killing robot. Given how young some of the book’s readers are (see the genuinely wonderful letter section), it’s an important lesson to be taught. Also, for an issue that’s smack dab in the middle of an arc, it’s impressive how accessible the comic is! The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl continues to be the golden standard of Marvel comics, and by far the company’s most constantly amazing title as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Heroes and Villains Day One

Way back in January, I was excited to go to the inaugural NY/NJ Heroes and Villains Fan Fest held at the Meadowlands Convention Center. I had purchased my ticket to the show on Black Friday the year before- and was anticipating two days of meeting and greeting the stars of my then favorite show. Then- Arrow Season 4, Episode 18 happened and I was DONE. I had been spoiled about the events of that episode prior to them unfolding, but I was hoping that the producers were putting out false spoilers to hide someone else’s fate. Regular readers of this column know how upset I was(and still am) about the unnecessary death of Dinah Laurel Lance/The Black Canary on Arrow earlier this year, so going to Heroes and Villains after breaking up with the show was going to be an interesting experience for me. Of course, since Arrow is part of the CW DC TV Universe, actors from that show, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow were going to be in attendance at the con. I still like the latter two shows, though LoT has me a little upset with the decision to can Hawkgirl and Hawkman. And speaking of Hawkgirl- actress Ciara Renee was one of the biggest draws for me at this convention as I’ve enjoyed her portayal of Kendra Saunders throughout the three series. I headed on over to New Jersey on Saturday with my friend Kim and we met Ciara first thing that day. She was very lovely as we chatted briefly and I told her that I was going to miss seeing her as Kendra on a regular basis. She also loved Kim’s shirt. I got an autographed 8×10 from her(which ended up being the only one I got the entire weekend), as well as a picture at her table with me and Kim in the shot.

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We spent a lot of Saturday walking around as everyone I wanted to meet had massive lines. I managed to luck out and get on Caity Lotz‘s line during one of the rare times where she wasn’t bombarded with a long queue of people. Caity, for those of you who aren’t fans of the different shows, plays an original character named Sara Lance, sister of Laurel Lance, and in the show continuity, was the inspiration for the Black Canary. Sara portrayed the Canary, a League of Assassins member during season 2 of Arrow, before she was killed off to launch Laurel towards her Black Canary destiny. Sara returned to life via the Lazarus Pit and joined LoT as the White Canary, who is a rather enjoyable character. I decided just to get a picture since I owned one of Caity’s autographed Arrow season 2 trading cards already. She was a doll during our brief meeting and I definitely want to meet her again. IMG_0633

Much like her TV sister, Katie Cassidy had a huge line all weekend. Now I’ve met Katie before, but she’s one that I could meet over and over again, especially since she was the live action version of my favorite comic book character. Since I’ve met her before and got an autograph in person and on a trading card, I opted for the photo- a little blurry, but you can tell its us.

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After the picture was taken, I mentioned to Katie that I was annoyed about Laurel’s death and that I wasn’t going to watch Arrow anymore. Katie told me that I still should, but I told her that I wouldn’t until they announce that she’s coming back. She thought that was sweet of me. Great experience with her as always.

My final picture for Saturday was with Willa Holland, whom I will miss seeing as Speedy/Thea Queen, unless she is in a crossover episode. Very brief encounter with her as well, but she seemed really into her fans, which was nice to see, I definitely wouldn’t mind meeting her again either. She also had a massive line all weekend.IMG_0639

Briefly- new Star Wars: The Force Awakens POPs are in, including Maz Kanata, General Leia, FN-2199, Kylo Ren Unmasked, Snap Wexley, ME-809 and the Guavian. Luke is almost gone, though we should be getting more and Rey and Hux haven’t arrived as of this writing. New Marvel Comic-based POPs are also here including Dr. Strange, Doc Ock, Spider-Gwen and the Falcon. These join the previously released She-Hulk and Captain Marvel. Next time: Part 2 of my Heroes and Villains Con experience! See you next week!

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson Annual #3

STL008068.jpg.square-true_maxheight-285_size-285Grayson Annual #3

Jackson Lanzing, Colin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox, Natasha Alterici, Christian Duce, Mat Lopes, Flaviano, ,Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor

DC $4.99

Hey look your chum Chris is back! Hello pretend internet friends, I missed playing Overwatch you too!

Also back this week is Richard Grayson, as his time as a spy finally comes to an end with Grayson Annual #3. Set in an unspecific time in Grayson’s publication history, this annual sees the likes of John Constantine, Harley Quinn, Azarel, Green Lantern Simon Baz, and Jim Corgan gather to figure out who the mysterious Agent 37 is. Spoilers, it’s Grayson-Annual-3-3-600x462Dick Grayson.

Not unlike the Gotham Academy Yearbook arc and Batgirl #50 , Grayson Annual 3 is an anthology comic that has regular replacement series writers  Jackson Lanzing and Colin Kelly and replacement artist Roge Antonio joined by an array of newer talent that focuses on a specific character. Natasha Alterici draws and colors the John Constantine tale, which sees the duo deals with Vampires with far more sexy imagery than I was excepting. Christian Duce and Mat Lopes handle art duty the Azarel story, which fits nicely into the events of Batman and Robin eternal. Flavario draws and colors the Harley Quinn portion, and Javier Fernandez & Chris Sotomayor  closes things out with the Simon Baz portion of the book. Jeromy Cox, who I believe colored all of Grayson, returns as well, and for the most part is solid, but makes a relatively big mistake by miscoloring Harley Quinn.

Kelly and Lanzing did an excellent job of mimicking the tone of Tim Seeley and Tom King established in the regular series, but were tasked with getting a lot done in the span of 3 issues. Here they’re given some more room to breathe, and tell an extremely fun done and one that does the series justice. With Alterici, they’re allowed to get sexy with the undead CmILJ2dWkAgpAEvand John Constantine. As someone who generally dislikes it when John interacts with the spandex side of DCU, I had a blast with him and Dick trading quips, and John getting hot and bothered. With the Azarel story, the writers remind us that Grayson is good dude even as a spy, and they handle the more stoic aspects of Azarel quite well. The Harley Quinn section is my favorite, as Flavario reminds me a lot of Babs Tarr’s style, which lends itself well to a story co-starring Harley, who steals nearly every scene she’s in. The Baz story is solid, as Fernandez does a good job blending cosmic elements with the more street level aspects you get from a Bat book.

Grayson #3 doesn’t do anything to improve the relatively rushed ending of Grayson, but it allows the writers and Roge Antonio to give themselves a proper send off.  It’s an extremely clever script that does the many aspects of the character justice, and ends on a super sweet note. I wished it would have dropped before the DC Rebirth one-shot, but that doesn’t take away from the experience. Grayson 3# is a GREAT celebration of Dick Grayson, and is an impressive comic for a team that was brought in relatively last minute.  Anyone who enjoyed Grayson and needs a Dick fix (phrasing) before that Nightwing Rebirth one shot needs to pick up this comic sooner rather than later.

 

 

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Model Hunger DVD Release Party July 13th

Wednesday July 13th from 6:30 – 8:30 come celebrate the DVD release of Model Hunger at Forbidden Planet NYC!

Model Hunger Forbidden Planet NYC signing Debbie Rochon

One of our favorite companies, Wild Eye Releasing is putting out the feature film directorial debut of Debbie Rochon, one of our most favorite people in the world, and we’re gonna have a release party of epic proportions to celebrate!  Just look at this guest list…

Debbie Rochon – Director
James Morgart – Writer, Executive Producer
Mary Bogle – Star
Voltaire – Star
Kaylee Williams – Star
David Marancik – Star
Michael Thurber – Star
Carmine Capobianco – Star
Suzi Lorraine – Star

You probably know Debbie from at least one of her two hundred plus roles (you read that right… TWO HUNDRED PLUS – that means more than two hundred). In fact IMDB currently boasts 246 acting credits. She’s been directed by a countless number of independent auteurs, so it’s about time she got behind the camera to give us her visceral vision. I’m sure anyone who has been directed by the likes of Lloyd Kaufman or Chris Seaver has said to themselves… “I can do that!” and we here at FP are glad that Debbie did.

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Former model and actress Ginny (Lynn Lowry) had been cast aside by the modeling industry when she was a young woman due to her body type – and she didn’t take the rejection well. When new neighbors Debbie and Sal move in, they begin to notice strange things happening, as the list of missing young women begins to grow. What has Ginny been doing in her basement all these years, and can she be stopped’

So come down to Forbidden Planet to celebrate the release of Model Hunger and get your copy signed by a whole slew of people! Wait… what’s that you say? You can’t make the event but you really want to support  independent cinema and grab an autographed copy of Model Hunger. Well don’t you worry your pretty little head. Forbidden Planet is now taking pre-orders for signed copies! All you gotta do is order your copy now and we will make sure that director Debbie Rochon as well as all cast and crew members in attendance sign your copy at the event before we ship it out to you. This way you can reap all the benefits of attending this killer event without even putting your shoes on.

What: Model Hunger DVD release party and signing.
Who: Debbie Rochon, James Morgart, Mary Bogle, Voltaire, Kaylee Williams, David Marancik, Michael Thurber, Carmine Capobianco, and Suzi Lorraine
When: July 13th 6:30 – 8:30
Where: Forbidden Planet NYC 832 Broadway NYC
Why: Support independent cinema!

Click right HERE to pre-order signed copies.

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow Rebirth

STL007334_5f7a59e4-abc5-4b67-beca-66ed49ca8f3d_1024x1024Green Arrow: Rebirth

Benjamin Percy, Otto Scmidt

DC $2.99

Something’s off about this issue of Hawkeye. It’s in Seattle, Clint’s got a beard, Kate is now blonde and not wearing pants. Weird that they change the status quo for these characters so much, I give it a 4/10.

This week sees Rebirth season officially kick off, and instead of reviewing Superman or Batman, I decided to give a character I usually don’t give a toss about a shot with Green Arrow Rebirth. What got me to pick it up was the art by Otto Schmidt, whose style reminds me a lot of your Sean Murphys and Robbi Rodriguezes. This one shot mostly focuses on Green Arrow’s relationship with Black Canary, which really isn’t a thing these days, but for some reason Dinah finds herself drawn to Ollie and vice versa. Also apparently someone is abducting homeless people, which calls for a resolution via Super Heroics.

Coming into this series, I felt bad for writer Benjamin Percy. Green Arrow is arguably one of the most popular DC heroes thanks to his hit CW TV show/abs showcase, and I imagine he has marching orders that require him to make this book accessible to that GAREB_1_hires-4audience as well as to GA fans who’ve been in this hobby for a few years. And why I can’t tell you if that’s something he succeeds at doing yet (also because I don’t watch Arrow ,sorry Val!), Percy has certainly written an enjoyable comic, successfully getting me interested in a character I haven’t cared about in like….ever. In the span of twenty pages, we’re treated to a Green Arrow who’s determine to right the wrongs ignored by traditional law enforcement agencies, get introduced to some creepy new villains, and quickly forge a relationship between Arrow and Black Canary. I was worried about the use of the term Social Justice Warrior, as it’s usually used by the worst type of people on the internet, but Percy takes it back, and makes it something that works for Oliver Queen. His Canary is super fierce and r960-d0831b070e0c5113b59b28fc844cce70an ass kicker, not unlike the incarnation that popped up in Batgirl and her own series.

Getting back to Otto Schmidt, much like Percy, I was completely unfamiliar with him coming into the series. But I warmed up to his art quick, as I love how stylized and dynamic it is. Doing both the pencils and color, Schmidt gives this book captures the ton of the book perfectly, giving his characters a ton of personality. His pencils bring a certain energy to the page that I dig, an his use of color, especially with Canary’s powers is cool. It’s a very modern looking book, and something DC’s needed for some time.

Green Arrow Rebirth feels like the fresh start that DC Rebirth is setting out to do. While it doesn’t seem to be a 1:1 mirror of the TV show, it definitely succeeds at being an entertaining read. This Green Arrow reads and looks like the classic incarnation without feeling dated, and with a costume that makes more sense. And while Black Canary may not be a title character, she’s used in a way that makes her feel more like a co-star than a supporting character. For the first time in my life I’m excited to read a Green Arrow comic, or at least the issues drawn by Otto Schmidt

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