Val’s Toy Chest Extra- Who’s Who in the DC Universe- Black Canary

Just a fun spread found in this week’s print issue of the Weekly Planet to commemorate the release of DC Collectibles’ Black Canary/Laurel Lance action figure. I wanted to share it here as well.

Template based on the 1985 DC Comics series: Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe.

Layout: Justin Bacolo

Text: Valentine Chhann

BC (1)

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Laurel Lance Leaves Her Mark

She’s finally here! After months of delays, the brand new DC Collectibles Laurel Lance/Black Canary action figure from Arrow will be arriving in store. Regular readers of this column know how long I’ve been waiting for this one to drop and I am thrilled to say she is now available to purchase! Clad in her black outfit, the Laurel Lance action figure comes with interchangeable hands and Laurel’s tonfa as well as multiple points of articulation and is based on Katie Cassidy’s portrayal of the sonic siren during season 3 of Arrow. Currently available product from Arrow include: Malcolm Merlyn, John Diggle and the evil one, er..Felicity Smoakas well as the Funko POP of Speedy. Also out this week is the season 3 version of Arrow. If the Flash characters are more to your liking, we still have Heat Wave and Reverse Flash in stock as well.

Non CW-based DC Collectible products arriving this week include the Darwyn Cooke Harley Quinn figure joining the previously released Supergirl and Batman figures, a DC Cover Girls Raven statue and plush dolls of Super-Pets Ace and Jumpa.

POP vinyls have proven to be extremely popular over the past few years and we’ve gotten in a bunch of new ones over the past few weeks as well as restocks on a few others. The Agent formerly known as Skye has shaken up our POP shelves with the arrival of the Quake/Agent Daisy Johnson POP from Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. We have also received the first of the new Impopster line of DC POPs including the Riddler and Poison Ivy as Batman and Batgirl, respectively. The remainder of Mega Man POP characters, A-Team POPs and a restock on the massive POP Rides Wonder Woman and her Invisible Jet round out our POP vinyl arrivals for the week.

Last but not least, the latest Marvel Select figures are dropping this week as well. This release features Captain America and The Winter Soldier as both appeared in this summer’s amazing Captain America: Civil War. Each figure features the usual standard of articulation that Marvel Select is known for as well as character specific accessories.

Briefly:

New Muppets select figures are scheduled to drop including Bunsen and Beaker, Statler and Waldorf and everyone’s favorite Electric Mayhem drummer: Animal!

The next wave of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates are coming in featuring Space versions of several fan favorite characters including Casey Jones and April O’Neil as well as a Kraang, a Salamandrian and more. These are based on the currently airing Nickelodeon Animated Series. April is going to be hard to find and as I am April O’Neil collector, I am going to need one.

That’s all for me this week! Catch you next time!

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing #2

NTW_Cv2_57326865387b69.18795802Nightwing #2

Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual

DC $2.99

 

When we last left that Dick Grayson (all of a week ago, double shipping!), he was currently getting his well chiseled butt handed to him by his new Court of Owls appointed chum Raptor. Nightwing #2 deals with the fallout of that issue, as the duo go on their first mission together, and is a pretty solid improvement over last week’s (in my opinion) slightly disappointing installment.

Writer Tim Seeley doesn’t mess around this issue, which drops the flashbacks and focuses solely on Dick and Raptor’s new relationship. This issue does wonders for the new character, who’s very much being developed as a broken mirror image of Dick. Considering Grayson is in desperate need of a rogue gallery of his own, he’s a welcomed addition, and I like how the character manages to be fun, but also a violent murder-man NTW-2-2-b05d0with some bad intentions. Raptor’s interactions with Dick are not unlike the Wally West  and Grayson friendship, with Dick in the straight man role, something we rarely see him in.  In addition to fun times with Raptor and his bird bros, we get more Dick and Barbara interactions, and any appearance of Kobra. I’m a full believer that any comic can be improved with the appearance of Batgirl and or Death Cults that dress as giant snakes.

Last review I voiced my concerns about Nightwing re-trending ground already covered by Seeley in Grayson. Issue 2 does away with that, but ramping things up to 11, and raising the question of who’s playing who. Unlike Spyral, Seeley lets us know that Dick’s in over his head in no time, constantly keeping him off of his game and having both the character and the reader questioning his methods and motives. So yes there’s definitely some familiarity if you’ve read Grayson, but there’s also a lot of new elements to ensure that the comic feels fresh. Also Seeley manages to end this book on several gut punches that hurt, but that are also very very good.

Javier’s Fernandez’s art is much tights this much. Granted he’s still struggling with mask/emblem thickness, he gets to channel Sean Murphy and get some action-horror stuff this issue, and it looks great. His art really shines when it comes to scenery chewing action scenes, as well as the spooky snake-monsters he creates, and I’m glad to see the book’s 15visuals improved this dramatically. I do wish Fernandez did has someone else inking him though, because there’s a panel or two that feel a bit rushed. Chris Sotomayor’s colors are still superb, and I really like how his choice in blue and orange ensure that our eyes are drawn to Raptor and Nightwing immediately. It’s proof that a good colorist is extremely important to the creative process.

The Second Chapter of Better than Batman is a step in the right direction. I have a few qualms with the art, but the coloring and the writing do an excellent job of making this book a compelling read. It’s a fun and weird blend of genres, despite it’s initial super hero appearance. But most importantly it makes Dick Grayson feel like a unique character, not just an interchangeable member of the Bat-Family. We’re just a slight art improvement away from this book being a great title, not just a good one.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter@TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. He’s also not really a fan of Death Cults, aside from the several he leads.

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CHris’ Cinema: Suicide Squad

Suicide_Squad_(film)_PosterSuicide Squad (2016)

Will Smith, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Jared Leto

Warner Bros, PG-13

Hey there FPNYC Faithful! I’m going to switch things up this week and review an actual movie you can go out and see in theaters RIGHT NOW, instead of some comics. If you don’t care for that, don’t worry, I have a pair of reviews dropping in a few days as well (Nightwing and Paper Girls), so you can look forward to that. Additionally, if your jonesing for some fresh new Suicide Squad comics, both Suicide Squad Rebirth and Harley Quinn #1 dropped this past week. SS Rebirth is very much a Rebirth comic made for people who just saw the new movie, and Harley Quinn is a nice jumping on point for the bestselling run commandeered by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. And with that, here comes some #SQUADTAKES.

I had a chance to see Suicide Squad last week at press screening in Manhattan. As nice as it was to see a comic book movie before the internet ruined it for me with spoilers and takes, and I wish the product I watched was better. I went into the film excited to see David Ayer’s spin on one of my favorite, lesser known DC properties, but walked away a little disappointed. That’s not to say there’s not some fun to be had with Suicide Squad, but the film is not a proper response to Marvel Comics-based offerings like Civil War or Deadpool.

First and foremost, much like the rest of the critics/internet at large, I was not impressed by Jared Leto’s Joker. I’m not a fan of the character in general, but Leto fails to do the ceba46ed7c7cd79ac9d8670ea86cb41b6644604b95aac7927cde7e2655f97c19clown any justice, especially when compared to other live action Joker performance. While the Joker/Harley relationship in this movie isn’t the problematic mess it has been in animation and comics, Leto’s Joker is so underwhelming it lessens Robbie Margot’s performance like some sort of talent black hole. Also the plot is a bit of a mess, which can be blamed on the alleged claims of reshoots and alternate cuts. And while I see what they were trying for with the soundtrack of this film, it was more of a deterrent than helpful. Filmdrunk Editor in Chief Vince Mancini made several comparisons of the movie to early 2000s rap-metal, which is a fairly accurate claims, for better or worse.  Said claims is ironic, because the actors tried so hard and got so far with the material they were given, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter looking at the numbers on Rotten Tomatoes. Also please give me a fake internet award for that last sentence.

That being said, there is some fun to be had with Suicide Squad. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is a sight to see, as she’s most spot on live action incarnation of the Wall to date. Will Smith’s Deadshot is fun in his own way, but it was a little off putting for me to hear Big Willie Style drop profanity throughout the film. Despite Killer Croc and El Diabo maxresdefault (1)falling victim to some slightly racist clichés, both Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jay Hernandez have some great characters moments. Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang steals every scene he’s in, Joel Kinnaman‘s Rick Flagg is fine enough, and the Justice Leaguers that show up are pretty neat as well. Sadly not every character is given a chance to shine, and honestly the less said about their various portrayals, the better.

Suicide Squad is a mediocre film that at the very least takes a step in the right direction for the DC Cinematic Universe. With any luck, Wonder Woman will be the first GOOD DC movie in some time come 2017, and this movie will do well enough that it’s cast can be redeemed in a sequel or the heavily rumored Harley Quinn spin-off film.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter @TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. His favorite Linkin Park song is none of your business.

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Val’s Toy Chest- SDCC Marvel Announcements/Batman Animated and More

Hasbro had a decent showing of new Marvel action figures at San Diego Comic Con this year with new X-Men, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy 6″ Figures making their debuts. The next X-Men line includes an updated Jim Lee style Cyclops, 70’s era Dazzler, Sunfire, Colossus, Polaris and a New Mutants Warlock Build-A-Figure, The Guardians will include Vance Astro, Darkhawk, and Angela, while the Spider-Man wave features popular Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, The Green Goblin, Spider-Man UK, Black Costume Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099. Finally, the Dr. Strange wave features movie versions of the titular Doctor and Baron Mordo, Iron Fist, Brother Voodoo, Nico and a comic version of the Doctor with a build-a-figure of Dormammu. In addition to these Legends, Hasbro has a series of Netflix based figures scheduled which will feature the Punisher and Jessica Jones.If the 3 and 3/4″ figures are more your speed, Hasbro has another assortment in the works which includes the X-23 version of Wolverine, Iron Man from the current Civil War II miniseries, Lady Deadpool, Maestro, Jewel, Shocker, Tombstone and Moon Knight.

Hot Toys fans were treated to the prototypes of several figures from this summer’s Captain America: Civil War including Crossbones, Scarlet Witch and several of the other key players. Netflix’s Daredevil series will also see a Hot Toy or two coming out in the near future.

Recently released and on our store shelves now are the following awesome items:

Finn from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens film is now a highly collectible 1/6 scale action figure, equipped with the usual Hot Toys detail and accessories. He is available on his own or packed with the Riot Control Stormtrooper.

New Funko POP arrivals include video game mainstays, Mega Man and his archenemy, Dr. Wily, Scott Pilgrim, Ramona and Knives from the Scott Pilgrim feature film as well as POPs from the old Jim Henson film, The Dark Crystal. Funko also has new ReAction figures available to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of James Cameron’s Aliens. The three-pack features Ripley, a Power Loader, and the Alien Queen.

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Finally we will be seeing some new DC Collectibles this week. We should be getting stock on Commissioner Gordon, Ra’s Al Ghul and Zatanna from Batman: The Animated Series as well as the Reverse Flash from the Flash TV show. I personally cannot wait to add Zatanna to my collection of all this week’s new figures.

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Next week- could it be- could the Laurel Lance Black Canary figure from Arrow finally be shipping to stores? My sources say yes. Let’s hope they’re right! Catch you all next time!

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #1

BG_Cv1_57082d25dc1793.92171144Batgirl #1

Hope Larson, Rafeal Albuquerque, Dave McCaig

DC $2.99

I’ll be honest; going into Batgirl #1, I was worried about the character and the direction they were taking her post Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, & Babs Tarr. There were multiple quotes from writer Hope Larson saying how this run was going to be darker, and while I like Rafeal Albuquerque‘s art, the last time he drew this incarnation of Batgirl there was bit of a thing. Also the white person walking around Asia to learn kung-fu is a trope that at best is cliche, and at worst a bit racist. That being said, reading this first issue has vanquished my fear and we instead get a pretty solid comic that’s mindful of my concerns.

The new Rebirth debut issue sees Babs Gordon in Japan, in search of an old-timey Japanese super hero named Fruit Bat, in order to up her own heroic game. While doing so, batgirl-1-preview-675x1024she runs across her never previously mentioned but apparently old friend Kai, as well as a Fuku-wearing assassin. While long-lost friends and school girl looking assassins were something covered extensively in the previous run, Hope Larson and Rafeal Albuquerque are talented enough creators to make this whole thing seem fresh.

Larson’s voice for Barbara Gordon is sharp enough to keep left over readers from the previous run pleased, but also comforting for lapsed reader who are coming back. Her Batgirl reads a little more focused and mature, but also fun and playful. It’s the best sort of compromise. While not all of the jokes in this issue land, Larson does a great job of building a new setting and status quo for Barbara, setting up the future of this title quite nicely. And granted Kai nor the nameless assassin we get in this issue do very little for me, the introduction of the Fruit Bat definitely makes for fun stuff.

Artist Rafael Albuquerque is definitely a more traditional super hero comics artist than Babs Tarr is, but with that being said, the book still maintains a youthful and fun visual tone. He does some excellent work with the body language and facial expressions in this book, and I love the energy he puts into his fight scenes. I also love the way Albuquerque portrays motion in a medium full of static imagery, as he’s  not afraid to experiment with BG01_03panel layouts and it leads to some great results. Dave McCaig’s colors are also a great fit for this book, as he sticks with bright colors that play off of Barbara’s costume and hair quite well.

Batgirl #1 is a fun first issue that doesn’t change the title character too much, and does a find job to appealing to several different types of audiences. It does an excellent job of showing the fun side of super heroics, with some dialogue that a little more polish and way less dramatic than the Babs we saw in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. Old and new readers have plenty to like with this new creative team, making it arguably one of the more accessibly DC super hero comics to come out of Rebirth so far.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing #1

Nightwing-1Nightwing #1

Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual

DC $2.99

Nightwing is back this week, as we see writer Tim Seeley and artists Javier Fernandez and Chris Sotomayor start the “Better than Batman” arc. This arc appears to be a nice blend of the espionage elements introduced by Seeley in Grayson, mixed with some super heroics. It’s not as strong as the Rebirth one-shot, but there’s some enjoyable stuff in this issue.

Where this book really shines is in the writing. After barely allowing Dick to interact with the Bat-family for 2 years in Grayson, Seeley fully embraces it here, using characters like Damian and Batgirl for Dick to bounce off of. As someone who loves both those relationships, and is a known Dick X Barbara shipper, I dig it, as Seeley does a great job writing these characters talking to each other. And I really like Dick’s open defiance while working with the Court of Owls, keeping him a heroic character while working with/for the NTW_1_1enemy. As for Raptor, Dick’s new partner/ “mentor”, the potential for some cool stuff to be done with the character is there. But the writing is not without its share of flaws. The pacing feels off with this issue, as Seeley trips up a bit during the constant switching scenes between Gotham and Europe/Russia. And while Seeley uses Batgirl to voice that there are some weird similarities between Spyral and the Court of Owls, I hope he can steer clear of re-trending the same ground with the whole double agent thing as the book progresses.

With the twice shipping schedule Javier Fernandez, who isn’t bad, but isn’t as strong of an illustrator as Yanick Paquette was in the previous one-shot. While there’s nothing wrong with the bulk of his work (especially when it comes to drawing establishing shots and backgrounds), he seems to struggle with the title character. There were too many instances where Dick’s mask or Nightwing emblem on the costume is drawn too thin or small. It’s an odd complaint sure, but seeing it vary in size and thickness from page to page really took  me out of the story. Also Dick ends up with a Peyton Manning forehead way too many times in this issue. A shame, because Chris Sotomayor’s color are great in image-82this issue, and I love the design that letterer  Carlos M. Mangual has come up with for the Nightwing narration box.

Nightwing #1 isn’t a bad comic, but it’s disappointing, especially when compared to the Rebirth one shot that leads into it. That being said, there’s plenty of potential and time for the team to step up their game and tell a solid story. Seeley already has worked on a dozen or so GREAT Dick Grayson stories, and now that we’ve been introduced to the main players, he can go forth and tell a good story. And all Fernandez has to do is tweak his Nightwing and we’re good on the art. Again it’s a bit of a bummer that this comic isn’t the best, but it does enough things to be a interesting read and give readers hope for the future.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 & X-Men ’92 #5

RCO001_1469630922The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Tom Fowler, Rico Renzi, Kyle Starks

Marvel $3.99

Readers, please take note of the wonderful cover that graces this month’s issue of Squirrel Girl, as I’m sure it will be winning whatever fake internet award I’ll be handing out come December.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a book that has never fails to impress me in some manner, and this issue continues that streak. Our lead has to deal with a love-stricken Mole Man, who’s abducted key landmarks around the world in order to get Doreen to go on a date with him. Squirrel Girl dealing with toxic masculinity may not some like a good premise for a comic, haha that is a joke, it totally is, and the execution is nothing short of genius. I saw this as the ending for this issues sees our hero do the unthinkable, yet manages to not undo all the effort done by this team to make her an unstoppable and incredibly well rounded force for good. Also there’s another scene involving squirrels in Iron Man armor, which is something I’ll never grow tire of.

SQGIRL2015B010_int2_2-932x1414Ryan North. Erica Henderson, & Rico Renzi are a creative team I adore & adding Tow Fowler as an inker was fantastic move. This month we see Kyle Starks of Sexcastle (aka the greatest comic) swing by for a 3/4th page cameo, continuing the trend of a guest contributor knocking it out of the park. As per usual, the writing and art are impeccable, as North and Henderson continue to offer dialogue and art that are beyond unique.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 is another fabulous issue that once again says something important while being an incredibly fun read. This may very well be my favorite arc to date, and even as a dude in my early 30s, I’m glad this book exist for the lessons it attempts to teach it’s young audience.

 

 

 

portrait_incredibleX-Men ’92 #5

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Cory Hamscher, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of surprises, this issue of X-Men ’92 ends by bring back some characters who haven’t been seen since the 90s. Chris Sims and Chad Bowers continue to do a bang-up job of making references to some of the most obscure corners of the 1990s X-universe, including a X-men board game I remember begin advertised like crazy in the back of Marvel comics when I was a wee millennial.

Issue 5 checks in with Cyclops and Jean Grey, whom haven’t been seen in the title since the Secret Wars mini-series. The couple are quasi-retired, but that makes for a boring super hero comic, so they find themselves dragged to the future by Rachel Grey. For long time X-fans, Scott + Jean + Future usually means one or two other character showing up, and they do. But Sims and Bower embrace the hell out of it, making for a strange but be873c68c1f206db75af43465f803c1b._SX640_QL80_TTD_wonderful read that riffs on a few different 90s X-stories.

Cory Hamscher is on art duties this month, and his style is a great fit for this tyle. He riffs on the Kuberts/Whilce Portacio look that was so famous in the 90s, while being a competen story teller in his own right. It’s good stuff.

X-men ’92 is another fun installment a series that’s been a constant delight. It’s the type of book that both satisfies readers looking for a less complicate super hero book, while giving long time X-fans plenty to enjoy.

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Val’s Toy Chest- San Diego 2016 DC Toy and Media News

San Diego Comic Con was over this past weekend and there was plenty of awesome toy news. This week I will look at the DC figures and notable items that were announced at the show from DC Collectibles, Diamond Select Toys, Mattel, Hot Toys and whatever else I can fit in the column. Also a couple of brief thoughts on DCTV and the Wonder Woman trailer.

DC Collectibles has even more characters joining their ICONS line including figures for Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, a Jim Balent styled ’90’s Catwoman, The Demon, Deadshot, Shazam, Sinestro and Nightwing. Each figure comes with several accessories and full articulation. I mentioned the DCTV line in the last column and there were no additions there. The Batman The Animated Series line will be joined by a Superman The Animated Series two-pack featuring Superman and Lois Lane, plus New Batman Adventures versions of Catwoman and the Riddler. Announced but not allowed to be photographed were TAS versions of Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze. DC continues their Designer Series with a line by Ant Lucia, featuring everyone’s favorite DC Bombshells. Articulated versions of Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy make up the initial assortment. All figures mentioned above should start appearing in stores sometime in 2017.

Diamond Select Toys is continuing their line of DC Vinyl figures and Busts based on the classic Batman, Superman and Justice League Unlimited animated series. Characters announced for the vinyl figure line include JLU’s Power Girl analogue Galatea, this author’s favorite, Black Canary, plus the Huntress and many more. Shazam, Hawkgirl, Green Arrow, Aquaman and John Stewart will all get the animated bust treatment.

Mattel is really stepping up their game with the multitude of reveals at San Diego this year, including a few retailer exclusives announced as well as the normal series. Figures announced include TV versions of Jay Garrick, King Shark, Zoom and Hawkman, Comic versions of Batgirl, Jim Gordon Batman, Batman Year 2 villain, The Reaper, Rebirth Batman, The Finch Wonder Woman from the end of her New 52 run, Damian Wayne, Cassie Wonder Girl and Dr. Psycho. Some will be exclusive to specific retailers, while others will be widely distributed. Again, these should be out starting sometime in 2017.

Hot Toys announced and displayed several figures from the forthcoming Suicide Squad film. Characters shown include Harley Quinn, The Joker and Deadshot. These will come with the usual cloth costuming and character specific accessories related to the film. Harley looks pretty darn awesome. Notable other DC products include Cryptozoic’s Bombshells blind box toys, Mezco’s newly announced comic-style Red Arrow, Deathstroke, Darkseid and Joker One:12 figures, plus the debut of their first announced female One:12, Harley Quinn from the Suicide Squad movie.

Finally- DC Live-Action Media made some interesting announcements over the weekend, including the line-up for the Justice Society of America and Legion of Doom debuting on Legends of Tomorrow, the effects of Flashpoint on the Flash, Superman’s arrival on Supergirl, as well as the return of Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance(not necessarily resurrected, BTW) across all of the CW series. That last bit got me excited as that means we’ll continue to see some iteration of Black Canary in the larger DC TV Universe. If you’re a fan of the DC Extended Universe, the trailer for Wonder Woman dropped and it is GLORIOUS.  Gal Gadot proved she has what it takes to play the Amazing Amazon in Batman V Superman and this solo movie should solidify her status as an action star. Can’t wait!

Next week: Marvel Toy Announcements from San Diego Comic-Con- see you then!

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow #3

GA_Cv3_dsGreen Arrow #3

Benjamin Percy, Juan Ferreyra, Nate Piekos

DC $2.99

As excited as I’ve been for the DC Rebirth titles, I’ve also been extremely wary of the fact that some of the titles ship twice a month. Green Arrow is one of those books, and it’s the first of these double shipping titles to fall victim to the various problems of a comic series coming out twice a month.

Juan Ferreyra joins writer Benjamin Percy for this arc, which sees Green Arrow go on the offensive after being betrayed and left for dead. Meanwhile, Black Canary and John Diggle begin their own separate quests for revenge, unaware that Oliver Queen is still alive. It’s not a bad comic per say, but feels very light, and uninspired. Uninspired as in I’ve definitely read this story before.

Ferreyra’s art is very good in some areas, but it feels like he can’t maintain a consistent style throughout the comic. The book is at its best early on, when Ollie breaks into his own building, which allows Ferreyra to do some cool things with the layouts. And his fight IMG_0130scenes are solid enough, though lacking the dynamic feeling that Otto Schmidt brought to the title. But his female characters look like something you see airbrushed on the side of a van at a KISS concert in Jersey. Yes, I’m aware that is a very specific example.  Also, why this isn’t something that’s only ever been done by this artist, I generally dislike the pencils to color choice, as the lack of ink here makes the art feel rough and unfinished. It also doesn’t help that the colors and lighting are all over the place, making the book glow in some really weird areas.

On the writing sides of thing, Percy isn’t much better this issue. Some of these panels suffer from way too much dialogue, covering up entirely too much of the art. And some of the stuff that comes from the characters mouths is painfully bad. Also a criminal organization called the Ninth Gate lead by a man name Dante isn’t exactly the strongest story-telling. And like I said, above, you’ve read this comic before. The similarities between this story arc and very recent Batman comics like “The Court Of Owls” and “Year Zero” are beginning to pile up. IMG_0131I’m sure they’re not intentional, but it definitely feels repetitive are certain points. And while there’s a chance that it’s just some serious misdirection, setting up Black Canary for the damsel role is someone that irks me intensely.

Green Arrow #3 is a comic that is the very definition of mediocre. There’s some good bits sprinkled about, but also a ton of stiff artwork, just plan bad dialogue and numerous moments of uninspired writing. It’s not enough to drive me away from the title, but it’s disheartening to say the least. Also as someone who plans on supporting the also twice a month shipping Nightwing, it has me worried about how double shipping will affect that book as well.

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Chris’ Comics: Snotgirl #1

STL011624Snotgirl #1

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

Image $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

tumblr_o4ysvnCGRp1rm4afao1_1280Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth

Julie and Shawna Benson, Claire Roe, Allen Passalaqua

DC $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- A Legendary Week /SDCC Preview

As I write this column, we have already burned through most of our newly received Spider-Man Marvel Legends action figures. Spider-Man Peter Parker, Spider-Girl Ashley Barton, Hobgoblin and Electro are all that remain from the wave as of today. Each figure in the wave has a piece to build Space Venom and the two sold-out figures were Silk and Spider-Man Miles Morales. We should hopefully get more of these in the future. Arriving this week will be the heavily anticipated X-Men Legends wave and these will definitely not last very long either. X-Men merchandise isn’t as heavily marketed as it was during the 90s and 00s, so there’s definitely a collector’s void that needs to be filled. The previous wave of X-Men Legends ended up being a shared Toys R Us/Diamond exclusive and command some pretty impressive after-market prices. (I still need you Mohawk Storm!) So my advice on this wave is- if you want it, jump on it fast. Seven of the figures in this series have a piece of the Juggernaut so you can build your own Cain Marko. The seven figures needed are: Brown Costume Wolverine, Cable, Phoenix, Rogue, Havok, Kitty Pryde and Iceman. The final figure in the wave is Deadpool, hot off his movie star turn earlier this year. I rarely buy complete Marvel Legends waves and this wave is definitely calling to me. My personal must haves are Rogue, Phoenix, Kitty, Iceman and Juggernaut. Wolverine is rumored to be the best action figure version of him yet, so proceed with this information as you will. We’ve also gotten restocks on Taskmaster, Mockingbird, Agent 13 and Captain America with the Wolf Head.

San Diego Comic Con is this week and although I won’t be there in person, you bet I will be following all of the latest toy reveals and news. As has been tradition the past few years, DC Collectibles has started showing off their new product before the show. Earlier in the year, I lamented that the DC TV line didn’t have a strong enough presence at Toy Fair. This was a mere few weeks before I disowned Arrow as a show, though there are still characters I would want in a DC TV line, particularly from Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, and Supergirl. DC Collectibles is about to give us a good portion of the DC TV verse in action figure form in a big way. From the worst season of Arrow, we will see figures of Matt Ryan’s Constantine and Megalyn E.K.’s Vixen, both awesome guest stars and welcome additions to my live-action DC heroes shelf. Flash sees Zoom, while the inaugural Supergirl season gives us figures of Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl and David Harewood’s Martian Manhunter. Legends of Tomorrow‘s first three offerings are Ciara Renee’s Hawkgirl, Brandon Routh’s Atom and Franz Drameh’s Firestorm. Though I quit the one TV series, I am down for all of these figures, particularly since I enjoyed Vixen and Constantine so much in their guest roles. All I need now are for Speedy, Black Siren and White Canary figures to be announced. These newly announced figures are scheduled to start appearing on store shelves sometime in 2017.

Sideshow Collectibles has been announcing new figures and statues in the lead-up to SDCC and this includes some cool new items including a beautiful Premium Format statue of this author’s favorite super-heroine, everBlack Canary. Fellow FP employee and Kaijuly author, Pablo is thrilled to see that the Main Man, Lobo is getting his first 1:6 scale poseable action figure. Sideshow’s retail partner Hot Toys has also teased Back to the Future 2 toys, including Doc Brown, Marty and a new movie-accurate Delorean car, plus a teaser for the older Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

NECA is sure to have some interesting figures on display at SDCC this year, including horror based action figures such as Freddy and Jason, stuff from their Aliens and Predator lines and more. One surprising announcement made prior to the start of the convention is a very interesting action figure two-pack. Based on the treasury-sized special released in 1978 is a two pack of Muhammad Ali and Superman. Each figure is fully articulated and is done in a stylized manner to evoke the art of Neal Adams as seen on the famous cover. NECA doesn’t usually have the license to make DC figures in this scale, but they must have found a similar loophole as they’ve used in the past to make their Toys R Us exclusive DC figures.

That’s all for me this week- next week- we’ll take a gander at what was announced at San Diego Comic Con! Catch you next time!

 

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The Wicked + The Divine #21

TheWickedAndTheDivine_21-1The Wicked + The Divine #21

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing Rebirth

NTWREB_Cv1-1Nightwing Rebirth

Tim Seeley, Yanick Paquette, Nathan Fairbairn

DC $2.99

 

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

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

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

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

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

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