Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 Signing Monday Night

Forbidden Planet fpnyc signing Joe Hill
Forbidden Planet NYC will be hosting a signing event with the editors and contributors of Best American Science Fiction 2015 on Monday November 11th at 7pm.

Joining previously announced guests Joe Hill and John Joseph Adams will be Jess Row, Carmen Maria Machado, and Seanan McGuire. The gig will kick off with a brief presentation/discussion followed by a book signing.

You are welcome to bring a few extra books to get autographed in addition to BASFF2015, but please keep the quantity within respectful limits (say, no more than five pieces at most). We will also have other books by these authors for sale.

UPDATE: 11/9/15 5:00pm EST. Please note that pre-orders for signed copies of this book are now closed. Thanks!

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

SQGIRL2015B001_CoverThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

DID YOU KNOW: You can prevent me from being disappointed by your book’s lack of CAT THOR by coming up with a food court filled with establishments that have hilarious super-hero related names.?! Keep that in mind all you non- Ryan North and Erica Henderson creators out there!


Now that Secret Wars is over, ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT MARVEL has started, books that were on hiatus are back, and that’s great for anyone who was enjoying Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (AKA me). The book is back, and not much has changed, which is fine, because nothing was broken to begin with. Well that’s not exactly true, as our hero is now an Avenger (see here and here), which means she has a sweet teleporter which I’m sure will lead to hilarious mishaps sooner rather than later.  Oh and North and Henderson have used the editorial mandated 8 month gap to make Doreen Green a 2nd year college student, and move in her cat enthusiast BFF Nancy Whitehead, which is a nice way to please both the powers that be and fans of the book who don’t care about big event comics.

tumblr_nwxjdvM1A31qetjcco1_1280Those changes aside, it’s business as usual, and the business of kicking butts and eating nuts is booming. Ryan North is still writing genius scripts, and this month gives us such gems as a super obscure robots villain, more fun with computer science,  and the introduction of Squirrel Girl’s mom Maureen Green. Maureen (which rhythms with Dorren!) is a super likable character from the get go, and a bit of a rarity; she’s a mother well aware of her daughter’s life, is a fan of her life choices, loves her new bestie,  OH AND IS ACTUALLY ALIVE AND PROBABLY NOT IN DANGER OF GETTING KILLED OFF ANYTIME SOON. All of it is refreshing, and handled with the level of excellence-meet-insanity North has been known for from this series.


Equally as rad is the art team of Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi. While Henderson’s work on this title has always been solid, this issue feels clean and more expressive than previous ones. What she does with her character’s body language is superb, and the range of emotions she can put into the cast’s acting is impressive. Also she’s definitely on North’s level when it comes to making the book funny, as she inserts a number of gags all 4throughout the book. And the new costume she gives Squirrel Girl is super adorable, and I’m excited to see who cosplays it first next year. Colorist Rico Renzi colors are fantastic, starting the issues off with a cool moody intro that plays off the intensity of the flames quite well, and then switches it up for a bright, animated look for the rest of the book. I dig it, as it set the moods from ultra-heroics to slapstick humor well, and pairs well with Henderson’s pencils and inks.

With great cartoon-esque visuals and some really fun and intelligent writing, Unbreakable Squirrel’s second #1 of the year is as great as the one we got back in January. It’s a delightful romp that joins Ms Marvel as a book that truly feels like an all ages book without looking down the young readers. I’m glad it’s stuck around for this long, and kept it’s killer creative team, and I hope they have the chance to continue telling these types of stories.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: New Avengers #2

NEWAVN2015002_DC11_LR_11New Avengers #2

Al Ewing,  Gerardo Sandoval, Dono Sancez Almara

Marvel $3.99

New Avengers #2 is a bit of difficult comic for me to discuss. On the one hand, it’s an incredibly well done comic; it’s fun, looks great, and you can tell writer Al Ewing is having a blast with this roster and concept. I appreciate the fact that the story went on only for 2 parts, as that’s just the right length this particular arc needed to be to establish the direction of this book. On the other hand, the book felt kind of shallow, focusing mostly on the evil Ultimate Reed Richards (aka The Maker), and not giving much development to our heroes.


In Al Ewing’s defense, he tries to do a lot with this book, which sadly may have contributed to some of the book’s undoing. The cast is huge, between the New Avengers, Dum Dum Duggan and Hawkeye, Sunspot’s staff, and the Maker and his cronies. It’s a lot to balance, and again, Ewing tries to do some cool stuff with the character, but never really hits the mark. Having White Tiger tumblr_nwxyb0mSg01sq4537o1_1280bounce off of Squirrel Girl is a neat idea, but Ewing’s Squirrel Girl doesn’t seem as clever as the one we’ve been getting over in the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, which is disappointing to me as a fan. He finds much more success in Sunspot, the Maker, and Songbird, the later showing the most depth out of any of the on-site Avengers. I hate to harp on Ewing, who has some genuinely fun ideas like Sunspot having a Champagne Robot and SHIELD and the Maker trying to make sense of this Marvel universe,  but the highlight real is relatively short  for this issue.

Ewing also doesn’t get much help from artist  Gerardo Sandoval this time around, who’s art is all over the place. While I don’t mind his super stylized art for the most part, there a multiple scenes where the female character waists are insanely too thin, especially with the extremely large chests their given. Much like Ewing, he works best when it comes to the Maker material, or some of the fight scenes, but he stuffers when the action slows down, and character have to interact with each other through non-violent means. Case in point, there’s a panel where Hawkeye is saying something, and Sadoval didn’t even bother drawing the dude’s mouth (or eyebrows). Marvel deserves some of the blame, as Sandoval strikes me as an artist who would have benefited from having a single issue drop this month instead of two.

On the positive side of things, Dono Sancez Almara’s colors for this comic are absolutely stunning. He managed to nail everything Ewing and Sandoval throw at him, tumblr_nx25apIVM41r7hjkqo1_1280ranging from Lovecraft inspired madness to super heroes brawling in Paris. The colors he chooses for every scene are perfect, which helps make the art more enjoyable. Letterer Joe Caramagna also deserves praise, as he uses a ton of different fonts for this book, helping Ewing convey emotion through words. These two excel, giving the book a sense of fun and energy that may have not been present had other creators been assigned to it.

New Avengers #2 isn’t a bad comic, but I’m not sure it’s a comic I want to pay $4 a month for. It may flow better once it’s collected, so I’m willing to give it another once that trades drops, and swap it out for another book in the meantime.

Post to Twitter

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.

Post to Twitter

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.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Lady Killer TPB

2015-01-05-ladykillerLady Killer

Joelle Jones, Jamie S. Rich, Laura Allred

Dark Horse, $17.99

Confession: I love it when artists are credited before writers on comics. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of books I buy currently because I love the writer/writers involved, so I’m not saying this out of spite. But more times than not, an artist is the reason a why I’ll check out a book I’m totally unfamiliar with, and are the deciding factor as to if I will stay with it or not.

On paper, the premise of Lady Killer doesn’t appeal to me much, which is why I initally passed over it. A housewife who’s secretly a hired killer set in the 50s really doesn’t do much for me, either though I’m a fan of books with female leads. But the book was getting some solid buzz, and I eventually reconsidered my stance seeing how good the art was. So yeah, Dark Horse crediting Joelle Jones first on the cover of the Lady Killer trade was a smart move. Jones is an artist I had zero familiarity with coming into this series, but offers a lot to like once you see her work. The best way to describe her art style is Annie Wu (Hawkeye, Black Canary) mashed up with EC Horror comics, as her art on this book is gorgeous, but also extremely gory. Lady Killer is not for those with low tolerances for the ultra violence, so if if the cover disturbs you, you should stay away.

4263831-1+ldyklr+#1+pg+01Those who don’t mind watching  fictional people die violent deaths are in for a treat. Aside from some gorgeous line art from Jones, Laura Allred colors the hell out of this book. Allred goes faux-retro by keeping her palette monotone, which mixes nicely with the splattered inks from Jones, giving the book a gritty, dirty look. I also like the specific shade of red Allred went with (no pun intended), as it’s bold to the point where it’s noticeable, stressing the importance of that color in the book. It’s a very cool visual trick that I dug a lot, and given her past work on such books on FF!, Silver Surfer and iZombie, made her a perfect fit for this book. The artists also deserve credit for keeping the outfits, settings and color scheme very period accurate, going a long well to sell the book’s premise.

I haven’t talked much about Jamie S. Rich, the book’s co-creator and writer. Rich is another creator I’m unfamiliar with, but his work on Lady Killer is  pretty solid. The dialogue is pretty straight forward, feeling slightly restricted, and making the book come off as quiet as time. It feels like he held back on filling the books with character talking in order to let Jones win the audience over with her art. It’s a smart move, as her work is ldyklr2p4stunning, and it makes the dialogue seem all the more important when the characters do speak. I’m also a fan of some of the humor injected into the book, granted it’s pretty dark, the black humor is totally fitting for a book like this. Less is more with Lady Killer, and Rich does hint at some intriguing concepts throughout the book, leaving me wanting to know more about the world, but still satisfied with what I got.

Lady Killer isn’t the most original book you’ll read this year, as several plot points and themes will feel familiar to anyone who’s familiar with Ed Brubaker or Greg Rucka‘s works. But it’s a visually stunning ultra violent ride with a fun, sexy vibe to it as well. It’s a fun mini that tells a complete story, and is definitely worth your time if you want something heavy on the action.



Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #

GOTHAC_Cv11_559c14eab7e5c4.74432291Gotham Academy #11

Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Msassyk, Minhjue Helen Chen, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

As much as I loved Gotham Academy pre-Convergence break, I haven’t been as keen on the book since its return, the Damian Wayne issue aside. I think the problem was that the last few issues felt too busy for their own good, crammed with way too much content with little room to breathe. Issue #11 finally puts that to an end, as the gang heads into Gotham City proper to do some research on Olivia’s deceased super villain mom, or in Kyle’s case, play tennis. And much liked the previously mentioned last issue I really dug, a Robin shows up for a cameo! This time it’s Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, aka the best Robin, who never takes up too much space, and plays off of the cast incredibly well.

The creative team doesn’t cut back on the amount of exposition or action that we’ve seen in the previous issues, but the issue seems to flow much better than the previous ones Maybe I’m biased and think it has to do with the increase of jokes/focus on Maps? While it 4866252-gothac_11_1certainly could be a factor, it’s not the only reason why I’m big on this issue. This issue seems less removed from the proper Bat Universe (there’s Red Robin, a flashback involving the Dick Grayson Robin and Batman that ties into Olivia’s mom heavily, as well as a shout out to We Are Robin), and the inclusion of all of that works in the book’s favor. I also love how we’re getting more of proactive Olivia, who determined to get some answers and work with a team than the reluctant sack of angst we’ve been getting as of late.

This issue sees 3 artists working on the book:  Karl Kerschl, regular fill in artist Mingjue Helen Chen, and colorist Msassyk stepping up to lend Kerschl a hand. I really like Msassyk’s line work, as it’s very much in line with Kerschl’s style, to the point where I was assuming it was mostly Kerschl drawing this issue until I re-read the credits. The coloring is a little uneven sadly, but it’s still good enough that it doesn’t take away too much from the art, especially in the earlier portions of the book, the flashback scene, and the book’s climax. A lesser book would have suffered from having too many in the kitchen, but these 4 creators really do a excellent job of giving this comic a nice, cohesive look.

GA03Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher‘s dialogue is excellent in this issue. The duo do an excellent job of sprinkling some quality humor throughout the issue, which contrasts nicely with the all the action and sleuthing that goes down. Also, I could read Maps interacting with a member of the Bat Family forever, because it is delightful.

 Gotham Academy #11 is a well crafted comic that’s nice mix of everything really. It’s a book that well aware of the current on-goings of they’re darker sibling books, but thanks to a filter that heavily influenced by Batman The Animated Series, it also posses’ a sense of charm the other books don’t have. I’m back on board with this book 100%, and I’m excited to see  how the mysterious surrounding this issue will be resolved when this arc is over.



Post to Twitter

Spaz Comics Signing Part Two Wednesday 10/21

Our first Spaz was so damn spaztastic we’re bringing you another one!

Spaz Comics #2 debuted at New York Comic-Con last week, but we’ve got THE event that launches the new issue into the stratosphere. Come to Forbidden Planet on October 21st at 7pm for a night of stand-up comics slinging their… um, comics!

Spaz Comics signing Forbidden Planet Rik Sansone

Here’s the confirmed lineup of guests who’ll be appearing (with maybe a surprise or two yet-to-be-announced):

Bob Greenberg (HBO’s “Vinyl”)
April Brucker and May Wilson (“The Break-Up”, HBO)
Noah Diamond (“I’ll Say She Is”)
Johnny Rizzo (“Last Comic Standing”)
Rik Sansone (“Last Comic Standing”)

All ya gotta do is bring four bucks to Forbidden Planet this Wednesday night. We’ll trade you a penny and a funny comic for the dough. See ya then!

Post to Twitter

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.


Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Sex Criminals #13

SexCriminals13_CvrSex Criminals #13

Chip Zdarsky, Chip Zdarsky, Chip Zdarsky, Matt Fraction,

Image, $3.50

So it’s been awhile since I’ve talked about ol’ Sex Crimz, be it due to delays, the fact that I’ve written about Fraction and Zdarsky a ton these last few years, and that the current arc has been great, but hard to talk about due to some of the NC-17 content. Luckily, issue 13 changes that, due to an incredible joke, and a important and fantastic discussion about being asexual.

First the joke. For all of you not in the know, The Harvey awards nominated Chip Zdarsky and only Chip for Sex Criminals in their Best Humor Book category. That lead to some things, which you can read about here. But that’s not the end of the story, oh no. Matt Fraction decided to continue to go to bat for his chum, in which you can see on the book’s cover credits. There’s also a page in the middle of the book decided to it, involving the creators in a way I dare not spoil. You can make an argument that it’s a bit excessive, BUT the joke works even if you’re not aware of the team SexCrimz/Harvey Awards beef. Anyone, let’s talk about something with a little more substance now yes?

7c0ead5d861f6ddf87bc041845cbf4d6._SX640_QL80_TTD_Sex Criminals was the first big name comic to discuss modern female sexuality in depth when it debuted, and since then, they’ve always managed to have an issue that’s very intelligent and educational, giving the reader something to think about when they’re done with the comic (aside from the contents in the letter page). This issue, as I said above, we’re introduced to a character who’s asexual. I’m 90% certain neither Matt nor Chip are, so what they do with this issue and this character in fantastic. Alix is a completely believable and fantastic character who’s portrayed in a positive light. Yes she gets some crap for being asexual, but it’s never as the butt of the joke, but more so to show what sort of garbage some people have to endear with in their lives.

I don’t want to make the claim that this is the best issue Chip Zdarsky has drawn to date, but man, there’s a lot to like about Chip’s art here. There’s a gorgeous double spread early on, an interesting and hilarious use of Carl Sagan, some fantastic execution of 16 panel pages, and of course the fine use of Manime, the break out character of the year. Fraction is on point as usual, giving us some really smart, insightful dialogue while slipping in a joke or two. Like Brain K Vaughan, Matt has nailed the flow of comics dialogue, making all his character sound incredibly realistic, even the hard to nail #TEEN characters.


Sex Criminals is not unlike this week’s Wicked and the Divine where the theme/topic at hand is both modern and handle incredibly well. Fraction and Zdarsky focus on something I’ve never read about before in comics, and the duo treat the subject matter with the utmost respect, while telling the tale of 2 characters who freeze time after making whoopie. It’s a fantastic issue by two creators on top of their games who are clearly having a ton of fun making comics.


Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and The Divine #15

TheWickedAndTheDivine_15-1The Wicked & The Divine #15

Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

The Wicked and the Divine has never been shy about the fact that it’s as much about fans and fandom as is about death. I approve of this sort of examination from the creators’ perspective, as fandom is something rarely discussed in comics aside from the occasional cosplay joke, so to see it explored the way it has been in WicDiv makes the titles one of the most relevant books on the stands, and has made the creative teams a trio of darlings on social media platforms like Tumblr.

Tumblr is a platform that I use sparingly, but one I enjoy a lot. As someone who’s in his early 30s (#KILLME), I feel ancient on the platform, given the average user age is nearly a decade younger, and also the fact that my random dick jokes tend to go over better on Twitter. But I’m well aware that it’s generally the most progressive of all of the social media platform, even though some of those folks are well meaning but still “doing it wrong”. This particular issue of WicDiv touches upon that, making for a fantastic comic featuring a fan favorite character while discussing appreciation vs appropriation.

tumblr_nw81rrxqfQ1rn4nneo3_500Amaterasu was the first goddess we met in WicDiv, yet she’s barely had much exposure since her appearance in that debut issue. Drawing the red-headed goddesses’ tale is Stephanie Hans, who’s worked with writer  Kieron Gillen over on Marvel’s Journey Into Mystery and Angela in the past. She’s a great choice, as there’s something that screams “epic” about Hans’ painted style. Of course I mean epic in the sense of Homer’s Iliad, not as an overused buzzword. It’s a fitting description in my opinion, and a fitting choice of artist, given the fact that it’s about Amaterasu, a goddess who was also featured in a video game Okami, which also had a painted, water brush style as the basis for it’s graphic engine. And since Kieron Gillen use to be a video game journalist for a number of publications, I doubt it’s much of a coincidence! Origins aside, I like how Hans uses the color red in this comic well, as it’s striking when used property. Her character acting is superb, show the cast portraying a number of emotions and looking great while doing so. Hans was the first artist that came to mind when McKelvie’s temporary departure was announced, and seeing her slay on this issue was an absolute treat.

the-wicked-and-the-divine-15-hospitalGillen and Hans have made a really clever comic with this issue of WicDiv. There’s a internet flame war played out as a stereotypical super hero fight that looks great, and gives Amaterasu some need depth Hans’ use of color mixed with Gillen’s sharp dialogue is great here, and it’s Clayton Cowles lettering that really brings the whole thing together. The entire scene is so bombastic and over the top it’s hard not to laugh when you realize why what Amaterasu is doing is so wrong, and the follow up conversation and ending make you incredibly sympathetic towards her.

There’s so much to enjoy with this issue of WicDiv. For starters it’s the first issue in a while that didn’t devastate me emotionally, so that’s cool. But more importantly Gillen and Hans give Amaterasu a some depth, while showing the reader that’s she’s far from perfect but still likeable. It’s a book that’s visually stunning, really smart, and isn’t afraid to have some fun at the audience’s expense. Stephanie Hans is a welcomed addition to this arc of rotating artists, and I hope to see her revisit the title again down line. But as it stands, this is a perfect done in one issue of WicDiv, and one that should be read immediately based on the level of talent exhibited by the creators alone.


Post to Twitter

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.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Invincible Iron Man #1

New York Comic Con is a thing that happened, and a thing that made me grateful I have PTO at my day job, as I did not get out of bed until 10am this morning. It was a massive show that was super fun, I got to see a bunch of great folks, talk comics, and attend some neat panels. Now let us never speak of it again, unless it’s relevant to a comic book I’m discussing.

unnamed-138879Invincible Iron Man #1

Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Justin Ponder

Marvel $3.99


Marvel’s made it no secret that they’re out to make Iron Man their flagship character these days, undoubtedly inspired by the success of the character on the big screen. A move I’m sure that will work, much like the Inhumans replacing the X-men-oh.

Snark and Bleeding Cool rumors aside, Marvel Comics has enlisted a team of top notch creators to make Iron Man their premiere super hero title; Brian Michael Bendis, who’s written the character numerous times in the past, David Marquez, a top talent who’s been a very good artist  for the last few years, and Justin Ponder, and excellent colorist in his own right. No disrespect to the previous creative teams, but this is by far the strongest group of creators Tony Stark has had since Matt Fraction was attached to the book several years ago.

IIM-Preview01-58c53Assigning David Marquez and Justin Ponder to this book was a brilliant move. Aside from already having a solid working relationship with Bendis, the pair of artists create a gorgeous looking book that says “This is an Iron Man comic for 2015″. Marquez’s style is perfect for a character like Tony Stark, blending Robert Downey Jr’s good looks with a new suit of armor that feels new and refreshing. I dug how detailed, not to mention how cool, his armoring up sequences where in this book, as well seeing the new suit flying around. Sadly most of the action scenes were limited to another long time Iron Man villainess who also gets a slight redesign, but I’m sure Bendis will give Marquez a chance to blow our minds somewhere down the line.  Justin Ponder’s colors are incredibly strong in the comic. Bendis and Marquez give Ponder a number of locations and characters to work with in this issue, and he absolutely nails the environments and lightening perfectly. These two creators have given us a great looking book, and I’m excited to see more from them on this title.

Invincible_Iron_Man_1_Preview_3I believe this comic marks the first time long time Marvel comics Brian Michael Bendis has tackled Tony Stark in a solo capacity, only writing him as a part of team or in crossovers. Bendis’ take on Stark is very much influenced by RDJ as well, which is good, because this book is suppose to be super accessible to new readers. That being said, his take on the character is still pretty faithful to the core of the character, so long time fans won’t be put off by it. Bendis does an excellent job creating a new status quo for Iron Man, and manages to craft a post-Secret Wars comic that doesn’t spoil the event much, if at all. The much hyped final page is cool, and definitely lets reader know that this is VERY much a Marvel Universe with Iron Man at the center of things. And I REALLY like the 2 new female characters introduced in this issue, and hope they stick around for the long haul My only compliant is that the book feels brief, which is more of a nitpick I guess, because it definitely has me wanting to read more.

Invincible Iron Man certainly has the potential to be one of the biggest Marvel books of the year in terms of sales and excitement. Will it dethrone Star Wars or the surprisingly wonderful new Amazing Spider-Man is yet to be seen, but also not a concern of mine. It’s a good comic that I dug, with a fantastic creative team who can hopefully give us the best run of solo Iron Man stories since the last incarnation of an Invincible Iron Man book.


Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-Men ’92 #4

SHILL ALERT:  New York Comic Con is this week, and I’ll be there all 4 days as an attendee, which is the first time in forever. As usual, you can follow my nonsense on Twitter and Instagram, at @theanarchris. WARNING: I GET KINDA NSFW/ CURSE HAPPY WHEN I START DRINKING/GETT ANNOYED, SO HEAD’S UP THERE. Anywho on to #content

backgroundX-men ’92 #4 (of 4)

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Scott Koblish, Matt Milla

Marvel $4.99

For the record, if X-men ’92 wasn’t already confirmed for a returning on-going next year, I would have probably spent half this article pleading for people to go buy X-men ’92, because it was an incredibly fun book. Fun and X-men rarely go hand to hand these days (see the OTHER X-Men Secret Wars tie-ins, and the upcoming solicits for the All New Marvel Now stuff), making X-men ’92 a bit of a  rarity. A welcomed one at that, taking one of the most recognizable incarnations of the X-men, and setting them up in a world that loves and adores them for a change, all while injecting with a ton of humor and fan service into the story.


X-Men_92_4_2The final issue of the mini-series sees the X-men and their various allies fight the dreaded X-Sentinel, while Professor Xavier battles the Shadow King. Artist Scott Koblish does an incredible job drawing the massive fight scenes, having to draw and impressive amount of characters several times throughout the book, and never once dialing down the detail or the acting. The sense of scale and action he manages to portray is fantastic, and it’s cool to see him be able to switch up between action, comedy, and drama without skipping a beat. His character work is super expressive, and he manages to sneak in his fair amount of inside jokes and reference just as well as his writers, while perfecting capturing the excess of the nineties without going overboard.  Matt Milla, the book’s colorist is also as impressive, managing to set the scenes perfect with some excellent lighting and palette choices. While the books character designs are very much stuck in the 90s (because again, X-men 92), the coloring looks like a book from today.

Writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers, do a fantastic job wrapping up this mini on a high note. The writing is superb in this issue, making sure every core character gets their moment to shine, and having some fun while doing so. The dialogue is especially strong XMEN92-004-01this issue, be it Gambit and Rogue being….well Gambit & Rogue (something 90s X-fans will get says Buzzfeed), an insanely hilarious scene featuring Wolverine, and a touching end bit with Storm and Cyclops being the personal highlights of this issue. As I’ve said in the past I love how the use some of the obscure and insane elements of X-men history, and play it straight. The final fight has not one, but 2 bonkers bits that had my cackling like a mad man as I read this book, and am I grateful for them.


X-men ’92 was a mini that was welcomed for a number of reasons; one of them being one of the few Secret Wars tie ins that shipped on time for the most part. It was also a legitimately fun read that looked great and celebrated the X-men at the peak of the popularity, while poking some fun at it without coming off as mean spirited. I encourage anyone who grew up on the 90s animated series and found the comics too daunting to give this book a shot, especially since it basically laid the groundwork for the new ongoing next year.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Zodiac Starforce 1 & 2

28942Zodiac Starforce 1 & 2

Kevina Panetta, Paulina Ganucheau, Savanna Ganucheau

Dark Horse $3.99

I’ll be honest; I initially wrote off Zodiac Starforce, mostly because it really didn’t seem like my thing. I have a passing familiarity with Sailor Moon, and gave it a go plenty of times while growing up, but it was something that never caught my interest the way Dragon Ball Z or Gundam Wing did. I recognize it as an important work that obviously connected with a ton of people globally, but ultimately not my thing, especially when it’s called Sailor Moon Crystal.

My wife on the other hand, is very much a fan of the one they call Sailor Moon. So when she passed the Zodic Starforce banner at the Dark Horse booth during Rose City Comic Con, she made it a point to pick up the first issue. Issue 2 dropped this week, and since my pull list was light, I figured I would read issues 1 and 2 give it a shot.

zodsf1p5Zodiac Starforce has a cool enough concept. The premise is that a bunch of Zodiac related teenage magical girls have been retired for the last 2 years, and have grown slightly apart. However the threats they thought they vanquished have apparently returned, and one of their own life is now endangered. Writer Kevin Panetta masterfully injects a healthy dose of drama and mystery surrounding the plot, casually dropping hints as to what events cause the group to slip apart, all while fleshing out the characters. Sadly some of the dialogue feels stiff and forced sometimes, but never to the point where the book is unreadable. But I REALLY dig the premise, and I hope Panetta continues to flesh out the world and it’s inhabitants more as the mini series continues.

The one area where Zodiac Starforce does suffer sadly is in the visuals. While the colors by Savanna Ganucheau are bright, clean and occasionally psychedelic in cool way, the art by Paulina Ganucheau is more stiff and uneven. I don’t generally mind manga-influence art, I mean have you’ve seen my reviews for Babs Tarr works for crying out loud, but Paulina’s stuff looks more like faux-Anime influence (think Totally Spies, or other mid 2000s cartoon trying to ape anime), with some awkward posing and facial expressions. It improves a bit in issue 2, especially towards the end of the book, so hopefully that trend will ydq1bp7zlbfrrneuqggrcontinue as the book moves forward. But having talented artists like Kevin Wada and Marguerite Sauvage contribute wonderful covers doesn’t help the interior art out at all. It’s also important to recognize that this is her first big comics work, so maybe I could ease up on it a bit.

Zodiace Starforce is a book that my wife really digs and I’m warm towards, but would have probably waited for a trade to read. Then again, I’m not exactly the targeted demographic, so your mileage may vary, especially if you’re into Sailor Moon or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But as someone who really digs comparable and excellent works like Lumberjanes, Fresh Romance, and Batgirl, Zodiac Starforce didn’t do much for me, even with some really cool and fun stuff scattered about the first 2 issues.



Post to Twitter