Chris’ Comics Special Edition: Making sense of Civil War II and DC Rebirth

This past week saw Civil War II #0 drop, and this upcoming Wednesday sees the release of DC Rebirth #1. Both comics are being marketed as huge event comics with massive repressions, but neither of them are particularly new reader friendly. Also both these event were spoiled on Reddit, because this is 2016, and this is how things work in this day and age.

So let’s pretend you dear reader would like to read one or both of these comics, but haven’t been paying close attention to Marvel or DC as of late. Which given the numerous reboots/relaunches/crossovers, is understandable.

DC Rebirth #1 is the result on the constant slumping sales of DC Comics over the past DC-Comics-Rebirth-Coveryear. As creatively successful the DC You initiative was, the who movement was crippled by the poor selling Convergence event (remember that). And after Superman V Batman: Dawn of Justice under-performing, DC needs a hit. DC Rebirth #1 is the comic that will kick off a company wide series of relaunches and reboots, and is a pretty good value at $2.99 for 80 pages. It’s written by Geoff Johns, one of DC’s top dogs, who’s written such comics as Green Lantern Rebirth, Flash Rebirth, and the Batman Earth One books. Drawing this comic is the team of Gary Frank, Phil Jimenez, & Ethan Van Sciver. As I said earlier, reddit, and then Bleeding Cool, spoiled the hell of this comic, with IGN and Newsarama following suit. It sounds pretty bonkers, but if you’re lapsed DC reader, this may not be you thing. Johns and co pull from Pre New 52 era DC comics, obviously the new 52, and make a BOLD decision to bring in some characters who never really fit into DC Continuity. I applaud DC for trying something, but this also reeks of desperation to a certain extent.

Despite the first issue not dropping until June, there are already 2 chapters of Civil War 2 out. There was a prelude by writer Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Cheung that civil-war-II-cover-96a7edropped on Free Comic Day a few weeks ago, and then this past week saw the release of Chapter 0. Written by Bendis and drawn by Oliver Coipel, this comic takes place before the Free Comic Book Day story, and focuses on She-Hulk and War Machine, both whom had really bad days in that free prelude comic.

The plot for Civil War 2 is strikingly similar to the movie Minority Report, something I’m sure Marvel and Bendis are tired of hearing. Newly hatched Inhuman (ugh) Ulysses apparently has the ability to predict the future.  Captain Marvel wants to use this Inhuman to prevent FUTURE CRIME, whereas Iron Man rather have disasters come about the natural way, despite once being all about the US Government having access to all super hero’s secret identity. And of course since this is cape comics, this debate can only be resolved via PUNCHING. David Marquez will be drawing this book, so at the very least, this will be a GREAT looking comic event.

There’s some cynicism surrounding the whole event, as Marvel hasn’t exactly been gun shy about massive crossovers involving heroes punching each other since the O.G. Civil War. We’re also only a few months removed from Secret Wars, which was well received, and generally agreed upon being the best Marvel crossover event in recent history. It is doesn’t help that it appears to be a bit of a cash grab, as there is that whole Captain America: Civil War movie in theaters as we speaking, making Marvel and Disney “Sick cash”.

So there you have it. 2 different events coming real soon, designed to “CHANGE THINGS FOREVER” and drain your bank accounts. That being said, if you’re up for big name creators taking some chances and throwing some insane ideas at readers, Rebirth and Civil War II are definitely going to do that. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key to be your entryway into Marvel or DC, you’re probably better off with a Squirrel Girl, Batgirl, Ms. Marvel or Gotham Academy.

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Chris’ Comics: Future Quest #1

QuestCover1Future Quest #1

Jeff Parker, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Steve Rude, Jordie Bellaire

DC $3.99

 

We’re living in an age where licensed comics are shaking off the stigma of being terrible, which publishers assemble creative team to tell high quality stories. Jem, the Power Rangers, Adventure Time and Transformers are prime examples of that, and it’s nice to be able to say the same for the debut issue of Hanna Barbara’s Future Quest.

Written, drawn, and colored by the INSANELY TALENTED team of Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, Steve Rude and Jordie Bellaire, Future Quest #1 ones takes a number of old Hanna Barbara characters and brings them together in a shared universe. Granted that sort of thing may be a tough sell for anyone who didn’t grow up in the 60/70s, or in my case 1990s Cartoon Network, Parker, Shainer and Rude certainly do their damnedest to Future Quest #1_Page_2_573e4dc63d3a48.34454091make this book as accessible, not to mention appealing, to as many people as possible.

Putting Doc Shainer and Steve Rude on this book guarantees is a damn fine looking comic. Both these artists have some Alex Toth influence in their work, and it prevalent on this book. Granted there are a few updates to a few characters, it’s in ways that feel nature, and make sense. Shainer and Rude’s art reminds me a lot of what Chris Samnee is doing over at Marvel, only a little more cleaner and bright. And there’s a certain cinematic flair to their collective styles that really does wonders for this story, making it feel like a big and “important” event comic. And when it comes to colors, there’s very few people on same level of talent as Jordie Bellaire, who’s colors tie this book together in a way very few colorists can. She uses a lot of bright colors that make Rude and Shainer’s art look very similar, even those Rude is a little tighter than the soft, rounder style of Shainer.

Jeff Parker is one of the best dudes working in comics today, and it’s a shame his name hasn’t been attached to more high profile work. He’s great on this comic, which starts off a Space Ghost origin story, and quickly introduces several of the book’s biggest players. Much like the art, Parker’s dialogue rings true to the type of stuff you would here on an Future_Quest_1_1episode of Johnny Quest, but updated for a modern audience. He does a nice job of making this book read like an all age title, without having to “dumb down” anything. The best example of this is the final page of this book, which sees the use of some interesting language. Parker seems to be setting up some sort of Marvel Team-Up type book, with the Quest Family serving as Spider-Man, with the likes of Bird-Man, Space Ghost and several other characters making up the rotating supporting cast.

Being the only book I was excited for once the DC X Hanna Barbara titles were announced, Future Quest #1 succeeds in rewarding my hype. It’s a promising debut, with gorgeous visual, fun dialogue and a lot of foreshadowing that looks to make this book a real interesting read. It’s clear as day that these creators are having a blast on this title from the get go, and I’m quite eager to see where they take this book, and what kind of the stories they tell without having to worry about things like budgets. It’s a very good first issue, which isn’t a surprise given the talent involved.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Fix #2 & Gotham Academy #18

STL004569Gotham Academy #18

Brenden Fletcher, Steve Orlando, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Moritat, Serge La Pointe, Minkyu Jung, Natasha Aletrici, Faith Erin Hicks

DC $2.99

Gotham Academy #18 has a story written and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks. If this was a CBR/IGN type site, that’s the sort of thing that would make me give this comic a 10/10.

Issue 18 is not only the final installment of the Yearbook arc, but also the final issue of this volume. The title will be taking a brief hiatus as Rebirth kicks off, and will return with an annual come August, follow by the 2nd volume starting up in September. So what this issue does is wrap up a plot point for season 1, and give this volume a nice cute ending.

Aside from the 2 page Hicks penned and drawn issue that I’ve clearly enjoyed, Brenden Fletcher also wraps up the scrapbook/Damian story arc with Adam Archer and Sandra Hope, plus checks in on another semi-forgotten character with Moritat. The team of Steve Orlando and Minkyu Jung get in on the fun with Maps and another super obscure DC character, and Natasha Aletrici does a cute 6 page story featuring on Pom and her never seen before mother. While these creators all bring their own respected voices to the book, it’s impressive how all these stories fit the tone of Gotham Academy.

With a lot of the weirder, off-bea DC books wrapping up, I’m glad Gotham Academy will be back in a few months. This arc was neat, and it super cool to see so many different creators come together and play in this sandbox. I’m now I’m eager for the original creative team come back and tell more stories with these creators.

 

 

CoverThe Fix #2

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

Image $3.99

Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber need to be on this book for forever. Also if you want to put that on the trade jacket, y’all more than welcomed to do

Issue #2 of the new crime-comedy comic is just as incredible as the first. Our leads are in a bit of predicament after went down in the first issue, so they hatch up a scheme to deal with their problems. Said scheme involves shooting one of themselves in the hand, and ruining an innocent man’s life. Officers Roy and Brundo are terrible people.

And that’s why this book is so great! Like Superior Foes of Spider-Man, you SHOULD dislike our two dirty cop leads, as they are very bad people, and have yet to do a single thing to change that. But Spencer and Lieber have made a pair of character who are very charismatic, and placed them in a very funny book, so it’s all good. At least that is what I tell myself, truth be damned.

What’s really great about this issue is that everyone is putting 100% into this issue. Artist Steve Lieber not only draws a ludicrous number of panels per page, but Nick Spencer makes sure to fill them full of dialogue. Which means letter Nic J. Shaw has his work cut out for him, and does a excellent job of fitting all that dialogue onto the page without running much interference on the art. And Ryan Hill‘s colors are perfect for Lieber’s are, giving the book a nice warm, California feel.

The Fix #2 is great, simple as that. There’s a reason why this book is flying off the shelves, and it’s because the creators on this title are doing some career defying work. This is not a title you’re not going to want to trade wait for. Buy on sight.

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Val’s Toy Chest- A Siren Drops In on The Flash

It has been over a month since I last watched the CW show that shall not be named. I still watch the other CW series since they weren’t the ones to deal the killing blow to my favorite character.  By the time this makes it into your hands, The Flash will have aired its penultimate episode of the season. Since this is an unexpected sequel to last week’s all-villain edition of the Weekly Planet, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the Black Siren, the Flash TV show’s villainous Earth-2 version of Black Canary– plus the usual toy news you’ve come to expect from my column with some skewing towards the villains.

For fans of the Cartoon Network’s Justice League series, the Black Siren was an alternate universe version of the Black Canary, at the time of Siren’s introduction, Canary hadn’t appeared in any significant manner, if at all, in the animated universe started by Batman: The Animated Series. The Black Siren alias Donna Nance was a member of the Justice Guild of America, an analog of the classic 1940’s team, The Justice Society of America. The episodes featured a weird setting where the Justice League seemed to be caught in a world where time froze in the 50s and Black Siren was super-domesticated- think June Cleaver or Lucy Ricardo. When Laurel Lance died this season, it was immediately announced that Katie Cassidy would reprise her role as an alternate version of Laurel. It was later revealed that her character would be named Black Siren after the JL character which Andrew Kreisberg, now executive producer of The Flash had a hand in creating. In contrast to the original animated character, the Flash’s Black Siren looks to be a gothy, vampy, black-leather clad villainess working for this season’s villain, Zoom and who possesses a costume very close to the comic book Black Canary’s traditional look, down to her choker and bustier. Why the other show couldn’t get it right, I can’t say. To further distinguish Black Siren from Black Canary, this version has the metahuman sonic scream that was denied to Laurel’s Canary during her four seasons. In my ideal scenario, Laurel would come back from the dead and reclaim the Canary moniker and kick some butt, but the execs on that show seem to want to keep her dead for some stupid reason. My second choice is to have this Earth-2 Laurel reform and become the “real” Black Canary from the comics- basically anything to have my favorite character on TV again. I hope the ratings are way up so the CW can see that killing her off was a grave error.

theflash-invincible-blacksiren-01

As far as toys go- we’ve gotten some exciting pieces in this week. If you like your DC characters, we now have the complete set of new DC POP vinyl figures in. These include Cyborg, Supergirl, Power Girl, Firestorm and Black Manta. The Firestorm piece is pretty awesome and has been a fast seller and I anticipate Supergirl will do well because of the TV show. We have also gotten a restock on the Darth Vader POP vinyl and still have the Hot Toys Boba Fett in regular and deluxe version with a Sarlacc Pit base. If you are a fan of the Star Wars Black Series, we also have the 6″ Darth Vader back in stock, possibly for the last time. DC Collectibles’ Animated Batman line also has its share of memorable villains including Joker, Riddler, Man-Bat, Roxy Rocket and Harley Quinn, which are all back in stock too. Marvel fans have the amazing Venom 6″ Marvel Legends figure to drool over with his interchangeable heads including a McFarlanesque sculpt. We also have more stock on everyone’s favorite mad Titan with the Diamond Select Marvel Select Thanos figure.

We are also expecting figures from the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. The usual suspects are here, including all four Turtles, Casey Jones, plus villains such as The Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang and a Foot Soldier. The figures are all in 5″ scale and feature multiple accessories and full articulation.

On the higher end of things, we have some great villain statues in stock. There’s the Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman statue from Batman Returns by Tweeterhead, DC Collectibles’ Joker and Harley Quinn, a Julie Newmar Catwoman from Diamond Select Toys, a Star Wars Captain Phasma vinyl statue from Kotobukiya and so much more.

That’s pretty much it for me this week. Hope you enjoyed our look at some of the villains we have strewn throughout the store, as well as the brief history of the Black Siren. Catch you all next time with more toy news and rumors.

 

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Chris’ Comics: All-New X-men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops

61lj1+9Td9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_All-New X-Men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops

Dennis Hopeless, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy, Nolan Woodard

Marvel $15.99

With the exception of the superb and insanely fun X-Men ’92, I’ve more or less stopped buying X-Men comics on a monthly basis. Between the decidedly darker tones of the current books and creative teams that don’t do much for me, not to mention the absence of several character I really like, I thought issue #600 of the previous volume of Uncanny X-Men would be a fine jumping off point.

With that being said, it seems Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley have made a liar out of me,

All-New X-men Volume 1: Ghosts of Cyclops collects the first 6 issues of the Hopeless/Bagley run, which sees the 4 of the 5 time displaced original X-men join forces with the new Wolverine (formerly X-23),  Genesis (aka Kid Apocalypse) and Oya. Traveling around the world in a T.A.R.D.I.S. inspired Winnebago, this trade sees the team reuniting to deal with the threat of a Cyclops-inspired gang of upstart mutants, as well as the classic X-Villain the Blob. These 6 issues also deal with the young Scott Summers dealing with his legacy, as his older, supposedly deceased, counterpart has done something unforgivable. It’s a wonderful blend of action and drama that the X-men are AllNewXMen2Image2known for, which makes it very appealing for someone who has been reading Uncanny X-men for quite some time now.

Dennis Hopeless being the writer for this title definitely got me to come around on this series. Hopeless wrote the excellent X-Men Season One a few years back, and according to an appearance on the X-men focused podcast Jay and Miles X-plain the X-men, this series is a spiritual sequel to that graphic novel. Hopeless is excellent here. Be it making the Blob a complete badass, or having Bobby Drake struggling with coming out with his sexuality, everything Hopeless puts on the page is great. Granted I’m not the biggest fan of Pickels the Bamf, Hopeless does a good job of giving each and every cast member their own narrative. It’s classic Claremont done in 2016, perfectly balancing the melodramatics with action.

Journeyman artist Mark Bagley wouldn’t have been my first pick to draw a book that features teenagers and X-men, but then again I’m an idiot. Bags years on Ultimate Spider-Man serve him well on this title, as he draws an impressive amount of teens punching, snikting and dialoguing at each other. Bagley on this book remind me a lot of like Alan Davis on early Excalibur- not necessarily the flashiest artist in comics, but a strong story telling you can tell a clean and compelling story with his pencils. Inking Bagely is Andrew Hennessy, with Nolan Woodward on colors. I’m none too familiar with 18301925these creators, but they do great things with Bagley’s pencils. It’s a dynamic art duo that keeps the book looking clean, fresh and vibrant,  and the book looks timeless, which is important given the past meets present premise of this book.

All New X-Men is a surprisingly fun book, even with the baggage from it’s sister books and the Inhumans-related nonsense.. Hopeless has proven his ability to write younger characters again and again over the years, and Mark Bagley is a legendary talent. Their run on All New X-Men is a great start, and I highly recommend this book if you want an X-Men title that’s not too dark, but serious enough to make it incredibly compelling.

 

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Enter to Win a FREE Synchronicity BluRay

Magnetic Releasing and Forbidden Planet NYC are offering you a chance to win a FREE BluRay copy of this acclaimed film via our Twitter feed!

Forbidden Planet Synchronicity

Chad McKnight, Brianne Davis and Michael Ironside star in the exhilarating sci-fi thriller Synchronicity… with AJ Bowen and Scott Poythress. Don’t miss the film critics are calling “mind blowing” and “easily one of the best sci-films in years.” Own Synchronicity now on Blu-ray, DVD or Digital HD from Magnet Releasing.

Hurry up and get RT’ing!

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Val’s Toy Chest- Toyetic Villains

This week’s issue of the Weekly Planet is an all-villain issue, so this column is a tribute to some of the bad guys and gals of the toybox. Whether they originated in the movies, TV or the comics or even the toyline itself, plenty of villains have found their way onto toy shelves since the advent of media tie-in action figures. I’m going to take a quick look at some of the more notable ones from the past thirty-plus years or so.

Star Wars- Darth Vader was the premier villain in the 1977/78 line by Kenner. Vader was hardly the only villain produced in the original line but he was definitely a striking figure dressed in his all black outfit with vinyl cape and red lightsaber. I never had Vader as a child but bought him when Kenner brought out the 1995 Power of the Force line. Other notable villains in the classic trilogy line include the Emperor, Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett. I definitely don’t have to tell you what those guys look like as their iconography has transcended pop culture.

Masters of the Universe/Princess of Power– 1982 was the very first year of the classic Mattel line and there was no shortage of baddies in the line. Skeletor was the main bad guy for the first couple of years with lackeys such as Mer-Man, Beast Man, Trap Jaw and Evil-Lyn as his henchmen. Skeletor would come in several variant versions during the series’ heyday which would highlight a new action feature such as a water-spraying dragon or battle armor that would show damage every time it was hit. My childhood included the two versions mentioned above but not the original version for some reason. 1985 was the year that Hordak joined the series and his black and red armor and bat motif definitely resonated with me. Hordak was introduced in the He-Man line but fans of the mythology know that he was the main antagonist in the She-Ra animated series. She-Ra’s toy line had its own feline foe in Catra who was also on the cartoon as one of Hordak’s army. He-Man was my first major toyline and I had a good portion of those baddies growing up, as well as several She-Ra dolls, Catra included.

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesThe Shredder, Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, The Foot Soldier– Playmates’ 1988 line featured all of these characters and would expand to include villains of all sorts of shapes, sizes and species. The original Ninja Turtles series was the very first expansive line that I had every unique character from. And they were definitely unique, from the fly version of Baxter Stockman to the cajun alligator Leatherhead with a dose of a psychotic pizza chef(Pizzaface), an actual CAT burglar(Scratch) and everything in between, chances are if there was an animal or concept you liked, there was a Ninja Turtle character inspired by it.

Star Trek– 1992’s Star Trek: The Next Generation line kicked off a good seven year run of action figures from Playmates Toys, which would eventually include characters from all four of the original series and several of the movies up til Star Trek: Insurrection. Characters such as Khan, Q, The Borg, The Borg Queen, Gul Dukat, Sela, Seska and more made it into the series. The articulation and depth of character selection for a Trek line has thus far remained unmatched by any modern line, with most stopping at the crewmembers and including very few of the bad guys and/or aliens.

Of course there have also been multiple toy lines featuring the pantheon of DC and Marvel characters from companies like Mego, Kenner, Mattel, Toy Biz and Hasbro. Most of the classic DC and Marvel villains have seen some form of plastic immortality particularly with the modern DCUC  and Marvel Legends lines. For example, characters like the 13 members of the legendary Legion of Doom from the 1978 season of Challenge of the Super Friends were all released in the DC Universe Classics line over the 20-plus series of figures. For those playing at home, that lineup included: Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Brainiac, Toyman, The Riddler, Scarecrow, Cheetah, Giganta, Captain Cold, Grodd, Black Manta, Solomon Grundy and Sinestro. Marvel villain teams like the Sinister Six and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants have seen multiple plastic incarnations in several different sizes as well. Though villains aren’t always considered great sellers, the smarter toy companies know that we need them to build our universes.

Honorable villain shout-outs to: The Baroness, Destro and Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe, The Misfits from Jem and the Holograms and Mumm-Ra from Thundercats.

Briefly: NECA’s latest wave of Predators have hit which includes three figures from Aliens Vs Predator: Ancient Warrior Predator,Masked Scar Predator, Temple Guard Predator  and we’ve also received our shipments of Hot Toys’ Ant-Man and Princess Leia Organa. Catch you in the store next time!

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked & the Divine #19

tumblr_o6mfzkAJHN1tuoa2wo1_1280The Wicked + The Divine #19

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

DID YOU KNOW: Marvel isn’t the only comics publisher focusing on a Civil War these days. The cast of The Wicked & The Divine finds itself in the middle of feud, as secrets, murder, and secret murder have several characters at each other’s throats.What this means is that Jamie McKelvie gets to draw a lot of pretty peopling throwing punches at each other’s pretty faces for this arc. A while I love how smart and inventive this title usually is, and it’s commentary on fandoms, having McKelvie drawing big fight scenes again is nice. He did a bang up job on that sort of thing back during Young Avengers, and having him do an action heavy arc is a welcomed change of pace.

The Wicked and the Divine #19 sees Baal and the gods aligned with secret murderer & den mother Ananke go after the newly resurrected Persephone and her allies, as well as the return of party god Dionysus. We also learn about some additional plots involving murder, become holy crap, this is a VERY dark arc! While there’s a some trademark whimsy and snark to this book’s dialogue, for the most part Kieron Gillen’s writing plays it straight, letting the readers know we’re in for serious business. It’s very much in a Wicked+Divine19_01similar vein of what Gillen brings to his Darth Vader book over at Marvel, versus the low stakes, slice of life type stuff he did on Phonograms or the first volume of WicDiv.

Moving back to the subject of art, Matthew Wilson continues to do no wrong.  His work on Black Widow and Captain Marvel impresses me month after month, but what he brings to WicDiv is something entirely else. Issue 19 is a very dark issue in the literal sense, and Wilson’s colors do an excellent job working off a lot of pages where black plays a massive role in the design. Wilson also excels in the brighter panels, doing some fantastic stuff in the chamber where the Parthenon meet, giving it a clean, sterile look. I also dig the way he uses colors to show injury, especially in the case of Baal, enhancing McKelvie’s line art in the process.

Clayton Cowles’ font choices also remain inspired. I’m not going to lecture y’all on the importance of good letting in comics, but Cowles’ work on this book definitely deserves Wicked+Divine19_05some recognition. He’s a gifted letterer and much like Wilson colors, his choice in placement and design are brilliant.

The Wicked and the Divine #19 is a great comic. It gorgeous, dramatic and pushes the narrative in a very interesting direction. While it’s not as though provoking as some issues have been in the past, it being a more action oriented comic definitely livens things up a bit, while raising some fascinating questions. And it appears we’ll be getting some answers next month, which is a neat way to get reader to get excited for the future while thoroughly enjoying the present.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Black Widow #3

portrait_incredible (9)Black Widow #3

Chris Samnee, Mark Waid, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

With the excellent Black Widow #3, I recommend anyone who hasn’t read the comic yet to flip directly to the final page. Yes I know that sounds odd,  not to mention super spoilery, but trust me. I’ll wait.

 

RIGHT?!

 

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about this run so far is how minimalist it feels in terms of the amount of dialogue spoken by the character. Writer Mark Waid is a favorite of mine, and he’s usually a dude who fills his books with a plethora of pleasant words. Here on Black 5176762-3+bwidow2016003_int3-2Widow, it feels like Waid has scaled back on dialogue, letting the art of Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson tell the story, which is an incredibly smart creative choice by the team. Half the issue is without dialogue, and it’s all the better for it, as readers get to enjoy Samnee and Wilson’s art without being covered up by words balloons. And it works in Waid’s favor as well, as he makes the dialogue that is spoken feel all the more important.

Issue 3 sees Natasha return to Russia to retrieve data for the dude blackmailing her. While doing so, it revisits parts of her origin, but doesn’t let it bog down the narrative. I love the decision by Waid and Samnee to NOT do an updated origin story in this title so far, assuming the reader knows the deal with Natasha is. Thanks to the Marvel movies, the lot of us know Nat’s deals, so not going down that route is truly appreciated.

In terms of visuals, there’s so much to like about this issue. My personal favorite comes at the close of the second act, where Natashan takes down an enemy in hand to hand combat. In a single page, Samnee draws Natasha’s take down, while referencing her background in BWIDOW2016003-int3-4-36210ballet. Not only is the composure of the page brilliant, but the choreography is beautiful as well, as Matthew Wilson does the lords works on the colors. There’s some really good mixture of purples, blues and blacks on this page, with red being used to focus on 3 key images. The color red plays a huge role in this issue, which makes a sense give the character’s history and iconic hair, and I love how Wilson and Samnee use it in so many ways. Black Widow may only be three issues deep, but man it’s definitely one of the most visually interesting books on the market.

I feel bad that I don’t get to talk about Mark Waid more on this book, but given how Samnee and is credited as both as a writer and an artist, it’s hard to tell exactly what he brings to the table specifically. But the book is excellent, which is a trademark of most of Waid’s work.

Black Widow manages to be way darker than their previous collaboration on Daredevil, but never in a way that feels depressing. It’s a more serious and action heavy read, with zero time for jokes and quips. That being said, the quality of this book is the real reason it’s so enjoyable, and after that brutal cliffhanger,I’m eager for more.

 

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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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