Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #3

portrait_incredible (8)X-Men ’92 #3

Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- She Is The One Named

Hey readers, we’ve got some cool stuff in this week including a couple of new Hot Toys, some eagerly anticipated Funko POP figures and I’ve got some cool toy news to share as well.

Our newest Hot Toys arrivals include a Bounty Hunter and one of Iron Man’s army. Everyone’s favorite Mandalorian is here in two distinctive versions. The regular Boba Fett features his detailed armor and helmet as well as several accessories, a standard base and interchangeable hands. The Deluxe version features all of the same components of the regular figure as well as a Sarlacc Pit base and blast effects for his jetpack.On the Marvel side of things we have the Iron Legion from last summer’s Marvel blockbuster: Avengers: Age of Ultron. The Iron Legion figures the usual standard of Hot Toys articulation as well as moveable fingers and light-up features. There are a couple of incoming Hot Toys as well that should be arriving within the next couple of weeks, if not sooner. The first of these is the Ant-Man figure as seen in last year’s feature film, the other is a character from a galaxy far, far away.  Yes- one of my most anticipated Hot Toys will make her debut as the Princess Leia figure is due to arrive, complete with her white dress, blaster and iconic hairstyle from Star Wars: A New Hope.

Funko POP has been compared to fads like Beanie Babies and Troll dolls, while there could be some truth to that statement, I think Funko POPs will last a whole lot longer. Why? It’s all due to licensing. Trolls were a revival of a 70’s fad while most Beanie Babies were just cute plush animals. POPs offer up a variety of licenses from all over the pop culture spectrum. One of the biggest markets right now is the Manga/Anime genres. One of the most famous of these is Sailor Moon and Funko now has figures based on the characters from that series. Currently in stock at the moment are Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Mars, Sailor Venus and Sailor Mercury. Jupiter has yet to arrive. Sailors Moon and Venus each come with a cat companion, Luna and Artemis, respectively. Also new to the store are the Harry Potter Neville Longbottom POP and the Pac Man POP.

If your idea of nostalgia involved turning on the TV to watch Lion-O yell “Thunder-Thunder-Thundercats- Ho!,” then you’re in luck. Mezco Toyz decided to finally finish the adult Thundercats lineup with the addition of Tygra to their ranks. Tygra stands in scale with the previously released Lion-O, Panthro, Cheetara and Mumm-Ra and comes with his signature bolo weapon. Thundercats merchandise in particular hasn’t been as regular as He-Man merchandise has been, though there are set to be exclusive Mattel website figures later in the year. Fret not however if you’ve missed previous figures in the Mezco line as Lion-O is due back out with his sidekick Snarf and Cheetara may also find her way back soon too. I’ll keep you posted.

Finally in cool toy news- NECA continues to widen the character roster on their Aliens line of figures. Last week, Aliens Day was on 4/26 and to celebrate, NECA started announcing a few items which were solicited later in the week. Firstly, there is a Toys R Us exclusive Kenner colors Ripley, which looks gorgeous. Then actress Carrie Henn announced a Newt action figure which will be available at San Diego Comic Con. Finally, Series 9 of Aliens was announced which will include the concept Albino Alien, Private Frost and the frequently requested Vasquez figure. Vasquez and Frost will both be sculpted to resemble Jenette Goldstein and Ricco Ross respectively and will come with dedicated accessories. NECA will also revisit everyone’s favorite dream street, Elm with a new 18″ Freddy Krueger based on his appearance in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. As much as I love Freddy- where’s my Nancy Thompson, NECA?

On that note- I bid you farewell for the week and I will catch you next time!

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #51 & Grayson #19

STL001391Batgirl #51

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

DC $3.99

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

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

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

GRAY-Cv19-6d216-7296dGrayson #19

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

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

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

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

 

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

ofcqtec1mz6l9xiwi8lgThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

Saga_36-1Saga #36

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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America’s Deadliest Home Video DVD release party!

America’s Deadliest Home Video DVD release party!ADHVAD

Alternative Cinema home entertainment and Lunchmeat VHS Magazine will team up with NYC’s leading comic, dvd and collectibles store Forbidden Planet to host an in-store event for the release of America’s Deadliest Home Video. We plan to jam-pack this event with raffles, free-bees, and autographs!

On Thursday May 12th from 7 to 9 PM come to FPNYC to celebrate the release of this amazing and obscure slice of cult cinema with producer/actor Mick Wynhoff, actress Mollena Williams and Josh Schafer the publisher and editor-in-chief of Lunchmeat VHS Magazine.

Josh Schafer of Lunchmeat Magazine? Why would he be there? Well I’ll tell you why! Not only will America’s Deadliest Home Video be released on DVD for the first time ever, it will also be available in a limited edition VHS collectors edition which was produced by the Meat-Man himself, Josh Schafer, so you know it’s gonna be a groovy package!

Wait! Did you just read all that and get really bummed out because you have a previous engagement the night of our release party? Well don’t sweat it cause FP has got your back… as usual. That’s right you can pre-order the DVD, the VHS or both and we will make sure to get them signed by all the guests attending our event on May 12th before we ship it out to you. So even if you live in Abu Dahbi or just planned to wash your hair that night, you can still get your hands on an autographed copy of Americas Deadliest Home Video!

Pre-order the DVD by clicking right here!

Pre-order the limited edition VHS by clicking right here!

Collector’s Limited Edition VHS contains new bottom load sleeve, bumper sticker, custom key chain, original poster and VHS sleeve autographed by Jack Perez, Gretchen Bonaduce and Mick Wynhoff.

ADHVAD2

Before Man Bites Dog.  Before The Blair Witch Project.  Before Paranormal Activity…there was America’s Deadliest Home Video, the original found footage shot-on-video shocker written and directed by Jack Perez (Some Guy Who Kills People), produced by Mick Wynhoff, and starring ‘The Partridge Family’’s own Danny Bonaduce and Melora Walters (Dead Poets Society).

Lost for 25 years, the original found-footage shocker written and directed by Jack Perez (Some Guy Who Kills People), produced by Mick Wynhoff and starring Danny Bonaduce (TV’s The Partridge Family).

Prepare yourself for a rip-roaring ride through the incredibly raw and realistic shot-on-video found footage shocker that started them all! America’s Deadliest Home Video unreels the story of Doug (Danny Bonaduce), an overzealous home video enthusiast who decides to ditch his unfaithful wife for the open road with his beloved camcorder in tow. Doug’s troubles triple when he inadvertently records three criminals known as The Clint Dryer Gang deep-sixing their latest escape vehicle. The egotistical leader Dryer (Mick Wynhoff) then abducts Doug, forcing him to record their atrocious blood-spilling exploits and eventually coercing Doug into joining their heinous crime spree inciting deadly results.

This once obscure but now considered seminal SOV feature abounds with violence, sleaze and sexual tension topped off with a deft touch of comedy from writer / director Jack Perez (Some Guy Who Kills People), and it’s now available on DVD for the first time ever loaded with illuminating extras!  Experience ADHV and see if you can survive the ride!!

So one more time…

What: America’s Deadliest Home Video release party!
Who: Actor/Producer Mick Wynhoff, actress Mollena Williams and Lunchmeat VHS Magazine’s Josh Schafer.
When: May 12th from 7 to 9 PM.
Where: Forbidden Planet 832 Broadway New York, NY 10003
Why: In the words of Josh Schafer “Keep cult flicks alive!”

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

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

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

portrait_incredible (7)Captain Marvel #5

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

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

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

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Star Wars Black In the House!

If you’ve read my past columns, you know that I’ve been a casual Star Wars fan since I was a little kid. I haven’t been a fan of the entire saga, choosing to mostly ignore the prequels as they didn’t appeal to me. I did give the latest film a shot and really loved it- it helped immensely that there was a strong female protagonist in Rey and characters I loved like Chewbacca, Han Solo and Leia Organa were back. On that note, after a long wait, we have finally started seeing some new pieces from Hasbro’s 6″ Black Series line. There have also been a couple of restocks including one of my very favorite figures of the entire series thus far.

Fans of the Original Trilogy, The Force Awakens, Star Wars: Rebels and even the prequels should be thrilled with the assortment of figures just released by Hasbro. From the very first movie, A New Hope, comes the Luke Skywalker figure dressed in his famous white and beige outfit. Luke comes with his signature blue lightsaber and a pair of binoculars which clip on to his belt. His white tunic is made out of cloth and he features several points of articulation. The Force Awakens still gets the lion’s share of the Star Wars Black line for the moment- at least until Star Wars: Rogue One comes out later in the year. Figures out in this recent assortment include First Order Snowtroopers and Flametroopers, plus Han Solo as he appeared in this seventh installment of the fan-favorite film series. Each of the troopers comes clad in their respective armors with multiple points of articulation and character-specific accessories. Han comes with his blaster and is also fully poseable.

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Star Wars: Rebels has been a fairly popular animated series on the Cartoon Network and took over the reigns of the now defunct Clone Wars series. Hasbro has taken the character designs from the animated series and has given them a realistic look to fit in with the aesthetic of the regular Star Wars 6″ Black line. The first of the 6″ Rebels figures to arrive are Jedi Kanan Jarrus, the character played by Freddie Prinze, Jr. and fan-favorite character and original Clone Wars character, Ahsoka Tano, who has recently shown up on Rebels. Each figure comes with their distinctive lightsabers and follows the same poseability model as previous Star Wars Black figures. Finally- prequel fans get one of the cooler looking characters with the release of the Jango Fett 6″ Figure. Jango has his silver and blue Mandalorian armor, a removable helmet, his jetpack and two blasters.

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Back in stock from Star Wars Black is the premier villain of the entire Star Wars universe, Darth Vader. I’d argue that this is probably my favorite figure in the entire Star Wars Black line, even over the Leia in Boushh disguise figure. Vader comes dressed in his iconic black armor with a sweeping black fabric cape, his famous helmet and his red-bladed lightsaber. The blade is detachable and the helmet is removable, which helps you to recreate the scene at the end of Return of the Jedi where he reveals his scarred face to Luke. Definitely one of the best 6″ figures at this price point. Also back in- one of the newest heroes from the Force Awakens, Finn. Finn is dressed in the outfit he crashed on Jakku in. Still available are X-Wing Pilot Poe Dameron and Constable Zuvio, whose character ended up on the cutting room floor.

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Other toys scheduled to arrive this week include some Star Wars 3 3/4″ figures from the recent film, plus a restock on items from the wildly popular DC Collectibles Batman: The Animated Series line. Characters such as Bane, Batgirl, Killer Croc, The Joker, Harley Quinn, plus Batman and Robin should all be gracing our DC toy shelves again sometime this week. Newly arrived is the next figure in NECA’s popular videogame line, The Terminator 2 T-800 figure as seen in the 1991 T2 Video Game. Decorated to resemble his 8-bit pixelated appearance in the game, the figure is fully articulated and comes with interchangeable heads and a shotgun.

On a quick note, I’ve been listening to a lot of Prince this week due to his untimely passing. Prince may not have had a deep comics connection other than his soundtrack contributions to Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film and a rare Piranha Press one-shot comic book, but he was an icon nonetheless and was definitely a memorable part of my youth. R.I.P. Purple One and thanks for “Manic Monday,” “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain” and so much more.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Howard the Duck #6 & Spider-Man/Deadpool #4

Hey, sorry for the delay in reviews, but I was out of town for the last few dues on account of PAX East, which was relatively light on comics content. But now I’m back, so let’s get on with the hot comic TAKES yes?

portrait_incredible (1)Howard the Duck #6

Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera, Marc Deering, Jordan Gibson

Marvel $3.99

Hey look, I’m reviewing a Howard the Duck comic again, this is somewhat comforting! Also, mine is a sad existence.

The 2nd part of the “Animal House” crossover sees Ryan North join the creative team of Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, and several inkers and colorists for an issue where our heroes and several guest stars deal with a villainess who’s into cosplay and hunting man-beasts. There’s also a squirrel with Wolverine’s M.O.,  because of course there is.

It’s a little jarring to see Squirrel Girl drawn by Joe Quinones at first, as his style is a little more realistic than SG’s regular artist Erica Henderson. But once you grow accustom to it, it’s real easy to get caught up in the books visuals. It’s just a little unfortunate that the 3 inkers working on the book, Joe Rivera, Marc Deering and Quinones himself don’t mesh up as well as say as Jordan Gibson helping Joe on the coloring. It’s a minor thing, which doesn’t really derail the comic that much, but it’s noticeable none the less, especially in some of the later panels.

That being said, the dialogue and jokes are really strong in this issue. North and Zdarsky manage to do some nice world building with both their books, while injecting a ton of humor into the story. It’s quite the romp, and it’s the type of fun I don’t get enough of in comics.

Howard The Duck #6 is a fun read that closes out the brief crossover with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl on a high note. Hopefully this is not the last time these creators collaborate again, because after reading the last 2 issues of both series, I’m left wanting more for all the right reasons.

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_4_TextlessSpider-Man/Deadpool #4

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

Here we have another Marvel book that’s a crossover sorts. The key difference is that maybe you keep this one from the kids (once again I apologize to the small child and his father who thought it would be fun to look over my shoulder while I was reading this on the 7 train this past Wednesday).

Spider-Man/Deadpool #4 is the comic that not only gives Ed McGuinness a chance to draw Thor, which he excels at. It also gives the artist a chance to draw Spider-Man and Deadpool reenacting Dirty Dancing in their underwear. There’s a solid reason for both, because Joe Kelly is a hell of a writer, who does some extremely strange and wonderful stuff in this issue, despite Deadpool being THE WORST.

Spider-Man/Deadpool is a comic with prides itself on being a high energy read that constantly surprises reader in the most heartbreaking ways possible. Issue 4 is a prime example of that, as this issue that’s high on laughs ends on the most dour note possible. But Kelly, MxGuiness and inker Mark Morales and colorist Jason Keith excel at making funny and super enjoyable comics with some real depth to them, so I’m sure issue #5 will be just as fun.

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Val’s Toy Chest- The Eighties Will Never Die

If you’re familiar with me, you’ll know that I have been obsessed with 80’s pop culture since like forever. If you hear a familiar tune from the decade of excess playing in the store, it most likely will be my playlist. Why do I bring up the ’80’s you ask? Well there’s some cool 80’s-related memorabilia in stock or coming in this week. So put on your legwarmers or bandannas, pop in the Huey Lewis or Ray Parker Jr.  song of your choice into your tape deck and let’s see what we’ve got.

I spent most of the day today receiving our restock of Funko’s ReAction figures in the basement and there’s a ton of 80’s goodness there. Horror fans especially have something to look forward to here as the two biggest 80’s horror franchise villains are represented. In one corner- the man of your dreams is back- Freddy Krueger has returned to give the rest of your 3 3/4″ action figures their worst nightmares.  In the other corner is Camp Crystal Lake’s most notorious murderer- the man with the machete- Jason Voorhees. You can pit the two against each other ala 2003’s Freddy Vs. Jason or add them to your respective A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th collections. Bloody horror wasn’t all the 80’s had to offer and Funko has the perfect solution- time to cue up “The Power of Love” on your Walkman and chill out with the Back to the Future ReAction figures of everyone’s favorite time travellers- Marty McFly and Doc Brown as skillfully played by Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd respectively. Finally if you love furry critters with plenty of rules attached to them, you might want to take a gander at the Gremlins line, everyone’s favorite Mogwai, Gizmo is back in stock and we still have a handful of his human friend Billy left as well as a Gremlin in a bandit mask. ReAction figures may not be as articulated as modern figures but the throwback style to vintage Kenner action figures and inexpensive price range make these a fun addition to your collection.

If ReAction figures aren’t your scale or style, turn up Ray Parker Jr’s. “Ghostbusters” to 11 and check out Diamond Select’s latest series of Ghostbusters Action Figures. Which characters make up this second wave of figures? The lineup is solid with Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman, Harold Ramis’ Egon Spengler and Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett(Zuul possessed version) all releasing this week. Each figure in the series stands approximately 7″ tall and feature multiple points of articulation and come with pieces to build a giant rooftop diorama.  Still in stock from the first series are Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore and Rick Moranis’ Louis Tully(Vinz Clortho possessed version). Future pieces in the line will include Gozer, the first ever Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz figure and more. Definitely a step-up from Mattel and NECA’s earlier lines.

If these ’80’s throwbacks aren’t outrageous enough for you, we’ve also got my second favorite all-female band(after the Bangles) returning to comics shops with a brand new issue. Jem and the Holograms #14 releases on Wednesday and is the next part in the current “Dark Jem” storyline. Can the Holograms disconnect Synergy and stop the infectious dark sound from spreading or are they too late? And if you’re behind on the series overall, the second trade of Jem and the Holograms will also be out Wednesday. This volume collects issues #7-10 of the ongoing plus the 2015 annual and holiday special.

There’s so much more 80’s nostalgia peppered throughout our shelves, whether it be trade versions of famous comic book events like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Secret Wars or even DVDs and Blu-Rays of obscure and cult-classic 80’s horror films to t-shirts,  magnets, housewares and more based on properties like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Masters of the Universe and beyond. You should check it out! As for me, I’m going to “Walk Like An Egyptian” right out of this column for this week and catch all of you next time!

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #17

Gotham_Academy_Vol_1-17_Cover-1_TeaserGotham Academy #17

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

DC $2.99

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #2

5148021-02X-men ’92 #2

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marel $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Avengers Incoming- Happy 500!

It is a fairly light week in FP’s toy department. There are a few items on their way in to us however and I’ll tell you about them now. It’s also our 500th issue of the Weekly Planet, so I’ll talk about my all-time favorite DC Comics Anniversary Issues. If you want my thoughts on last week’s Arrow debacle, please refer to fpusadailyplanet.com where I have my final say on what they did to Black Canary.

A couple of the stragglers from the Avengers: Age of Ultron Hot Toys series will be making their appearance in-store soon. Fans of the film can look forward to figures of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver and Paul Bettany’s Vision joining their growing cast of movie Avengers. The Hasbro Marvel Legends Civil War Series 2 figures should also be making their way in sometime soon. The hot figure from this assortment is sure to be the Black Panther, who makes his feature film debut in Captain America: Civil War this May, portrayed by actor Chadwick Boseman. Black Panther was also recently announced as a Hot Toys figure. There will also be a small Funko restock of various ReAction figures and Star Wars Wacky Wobblers on their way into the store shortly as well. If you still have Star Wars fever, we will be getting the Rey, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma and other Wacky Wobblers back in.

So it’s our 500th Weekly Planet issue, I can’t believe it’s already at 500, I remember when I used to shop here(as opposed to working here) and when the newsletter had just started. It was a fun bonus to read with my comic purchases and for a while I had amassed a collection of them, I’ve moved several times since and can’t remember where any of the really early issues could be- maybe at my childhood apartment. I never dreamed that one day I would be writing for it myself.  When I think of Anniversary issues, I think of some of the ones I bought as back issues when I was a kid and since I was always a DC fan, I had a bunch of those.  Batman #400 was one I bought at the newsstand in 1986, I enjoyed the story which had pretty much everyone of importance to Batman involved (with two surprising omissions) and was drawn by several of that era’s finest comic book artists.  The cover itself was striking with the Bill Sienkiewicz artwork, the purple and yellow Batman logo and the Gold DC Bullet and Anniversary Logo. Great story about Batman’s enemies all being sprung from Arkham Asylum in a plot by Ra’s Al Ghul to corrupt the Batman. This was essentially a  done in one “Knightfall” 7 years earlier and to date has not been reprinted.

B400

Another particularly memorable issue for me was 1982’s Justice League of America #200, which I bought as a back issue. I am a massive JLA fan, I have every single one of the now discontinued DC Archives plus a good portion of the issues from the 70s and on. (I even have JLA #75, which is considered the first appearance of one Dinah Laurel Lance) JLA #200 was a pretty much perfect issue, although again, someone prominent was missing from the storyline for some reason. The tale was again illustrated by a bunch of DC’s finest talent of that era and featured the 7 founding  members of the JLA facing off against the new kids- so you had battles between Superman and Hawkman, Aquaman and Red Tornado, Wonder Woman and Zatanna, plus a great Brian Bolland-illustrated Batman Vs. Green Arrow and Black Canary portion amongst other tales. Why are they fighting? I’ll let you read the story. This was reprinted in a now out of print George Perez JLA Hardcover.

Next up is Action Comics #600 from 1988 which I loved as a huge Wonder Woman fan back in the day. This was the issue where the lead story finds Post-Crisis Superman and Wonder Woman trying to figure out if they should pursue a romance, but run afoul of Darkseid and his minions on Olympus during this first date. Great tale by Perez and John Byrne. Speaking of romantic Anniversary issues, Tales of the Teen Titans #50 springs to mind with the nuptials of Donna Troy and Terry Long, attended by Titans past and present as well as some other familiar faces, all mostly out of costume. The Action tale is reprinted in Man of Steel Volume 8, while the Donna Troy(HI JULIA!) story is reprinted in New Teen Titans: Who Is Donna Troy?

There’s many more Anniversary issues out there, but these are the ones that have stuck with me from childhood til today. Hope I jogged some of your nostalgia for some of these old DC tales and I hope you enjoyed this 500th issue of The Weekly Planet! Catch you next time!

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #50

BG_Cv50Batgirl #50

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr, Roger Robinson, John Timms, Elonora Carlini, James Harvey, Serge Lapointe

DC $4.99

I’ll be blunt, Batgirl #50 is a little bit of a disappointment.

While it’s not entirely the creative team’s fault, this is a $5 comic that feels more like an annual. What was suppose to be the final issue for all 3 members of Team Batgirl (Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher & Babs Tarr,who are off to do creator owned stuff for Image), the comic actually features several additional guest artists, once again making the title feel more like a art jam project.  Babs Tarr does draw the bulk of these pages (20 aka the amount of your average DC/Marvel book), which is where the book really shines. If this was the springboard for the new Birds of Prey book, the additional pages by the guess artists would make a ton of sense. But seeing how none of those character except Batgirl & Black Canary are appearing in that title come this summer, it feels like an excuse to pad the book’s page count. I’m genuinely curious if the decision to make the comic double sized was editorial or the creative teams, because it feels incredibly disjointed.

To be fair to the guest artist, their work is certainly solid. Roger Robinson, John Timms, Elonora Carlini, and James Harvey have all pitched in on art duties before on the character, so they certainly feel familiar on the book. They all manage to ape Tarrs’ sBatgirl-50-11tyle quite well, so the book looks good all throughout the issue. And while I may complain about the presence of multiple guest artists, I really do dig the Street Fighter-influenced Vs. pages that break up the chapters. And it’s cool to see Babs working off of Cameron Stewart’s layouts again, as we can see how much she’s grown since she last worked off of them.

The book is at it’s best when it towards the ending, as you can really see where the team was trying to take Barbara. It’s where the real meat of the story is, and it does some really cool things with Babs and the cast of supporting characters the team has assembled. It’s a shame that there’s not more time spent on that sort of thing, versus the amount of time spent with the guest artists and guest stars dealing with other villains. The book ends up feeling back-loaded, which is a batgril-50-teamshame, because again, while I don’t dislike the artist, but there’s a lot of fat to chew through to get to the good stuff.

Batgirl #50 has some genuinely good moments in it, but this book will test your patience. A shame really, because the team had spent a considerable amount of time taking Babs into her this new and exciting direction. They do ultimately succeed in blazing some new paths with the character, and set things up for the next creative team to do some real interesting things with the character, but I just wish the execution could have been a little better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Fix #1

TheFix_01-1The Fix #1

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

Image $3.99

I am grateful for Marvel’s The Superior Foes of Spider-Man for a number of reasons, some of the being the head of crime boss Silvermane in both KISS make up and on top of a remote control car. But the biggest reason I loved that book was seeing creators Steve Lieber and Nick Spencer work together and create a comedy comics with lead characters who are quite the jerks. With SUP FOES ending last year, the creative team has reunited and created The Fix, which is published through Image, and debuted this past week. While Superior Foes excelled while playing within the confines of the Marvel Universe, The Fix being creator owned allows Spencer and Lieber to do and say things that are VERY not main Marvel continuity approved.

The Fix’s premise is very at home for anyone who loved SUP FOES; only thing time around, instead of super villains, we get 2 small time criminals who are also cops. A pair of Boomerangs if you will (i.e. likable, but also the worst type of people), Roy and Mac are trying to make an easy buck in a number of illegal ways; robbing nursing home residents, pqeleyk6dqxzsbtu0walillegal robot fights, letting a “producer” off the hook after a bath salt induced rampage for a cut of his profits. Somehow, they’re super charismatic despite all of this, but I guess that’s because they’re surrounded by folk who are somehow worse. Come the end of the book, we’re finally introduced to a character who is actually morally upstanding, but there’s bit of bit of twist involved that’s super hilarious.

Nick Spencer is an excellent writer who does a lot of  genres quite well, but I find him the most enjoyable when he’s writing crime comedy. It’s a little off-putting at first to see him drop F-bombs and tell stories about accidentally swallowing things that I can’t mention here, but it’s so funny that you’ll get over it fast. Nick is definitely one of the smartest 002_thefix01dudes I currently follow on Twitter, so this script and the dialogue being as clever as it is comes as no shocker (no pun intended). Read the pages where we meet crime boss Josh and see what I mean.

Steve Lieber’s art is as equally inspiring. There’s a flashback involving a Bath Salt induced rampage, and there’s maybe all of 2 dudes in comic who could even come close to capturing this short of insanity/depravity as well as he does. His ability to convey comedy is spectacular, and I absolutely adore how Steve draws facial expressions. In short, Lieber’s art is absolutely terrific. Coloring Lieber’s art is  Ryan Hill, whom I’m not too familiar with, but absolutely kills in this first issue. He manages to nail the sleeze and grit you would expect from a crime drama extremely well, but keeps things bright enough to remind you that this whole shebang takes place in sunny California.

The Fix is incredible. I’ve loved a lot of Image #1s over the last few years. but it’s been a good while since I’ve been tickled by a book this much. If there’s any justice in the world, The Fix will be the next big thing at Image, so you should get on it NOW.

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked + The Divine #18

1The Wicked + The Divine #18

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

Hooray, The Wicked + The Divine is back! Quick, come grab a copy for yourselves immediately, shoving and or trampling anyone who dares get in your way!

DISCLAIMER: It is impossible to discuss this book without mentioning some spoilers, so if you aren’t caught up on WicDiv, skip this review.

The title for The Wicked + the Divine #18 is “Don’t Call it a Comeback”, which is WAY too appropriate. Series lead Laura Wilson returns, reborn as the Goddess Persephone, and she has a score to settle. Writer/co-creator Kieron Gillen made a joke that this arc was the WicDiv equivalent of Civil War (The Marvel version, not the historical one), and that’s a pretty fair description of the event of this issues. This issue also sees the return of Artist/Co-creator Jamie McKelvie, who will remain on art duties for the book until it ends. More details on that over the coming months. Both returns are welcomed, as the artist and colorist Matthew Wilson create one of the most action packed issues in quite some time. It’s McKelvie meets Shonen Manga in the best sort of ways, as Wilson’s bright, Wiced+Divine18_002energetic colors give the book a cool look that also reminds me of the action scenes in Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim adaption. The use of pinks, greens and blues are the types of colors usually not associated with action scenes is a nice touch, and really gives the book a distinct look.

Kieron Gillen also said that Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video serve as inspiration for this comic. That much is obvious, given Laura’s dialogue, and the way McKelvie draws her. Before her “death” Laura came off a naive, an excited fangirl walking amongst gods. Now she’s drawn with more confidence and swagger, obviously looking to settle the score with Ananke and her co-conspirators.  I love the way McKelvie handles body language, and the devil may care smile on Laura’s face is fantastic.  Also look how he arranges the panels on the 2 preview pages I posted; you can switch the first two on each page, and the comic still makes sense. And the range of emotions McKelvie can draw is some next level stuff, and I’m thrilled to see his return to this title being nothing short of spectacular.

Kieron Gillen seems oddly restrained in this issue. That’s not so much a critique as it is an observation, which makes sense, as this issue really feel like more of a celebration of the art team. That’s not to say that Gillen doesn’t make any worth contributions to the issue.There’s still plenty of good to be mined from the dialogue, especially the scenes Wiced+Divine18_003involving Baal and Baphomet. Seeing two lovers scorned go out it twice in this comic gives it some really emotional weight. Well more emotional weight, can’t forget Laura’s return and all that. The team also begins to shine some light on X, who’s probably the least developed of Parthenon, and it’s revealed that she’s in a really unique position due to her age.  There’s a lot to enjoy from this issue, which is no surprise, given how good this creative team can build worlds.

I really missed the lack of The Wicked + The Divine in my life, and am over the moon that is came back as strong as it did. It’s a title that’s gone from something I was really digging, to someone that gets read immediately once the newest issue drops. The way Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson choose to explore fandoms and icons makes for an fabulous read, and issue 18 is more proof that they’re one of the most consistent, creative,  and thought-provoking teams working in the industry today.

 

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