Model Hunger DVD Release Party July 13th

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

Model Hunger Forbidden Planet NYC signing Debbie Rochon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click right HERE to pre-order signed copies.

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Val’s Toy Chest- Saga/DC Collectibles/Funko POP and More

Saga fans have a lot to look forward to and a lot to be upset about all in one fell swoop this week.  First off- the long-awaited Lying Cat plush doll is finally in stock. I haven’t had a chance to test the talking feature of the plush out yet, but I do love the Image comic series it is based on. On that note- Lying Cat seems to have come out at the perfect time, especially if you only read Saga in trade. I love reading single issues , but I got into Saga long after the first arc was done and made a conscious decision to wait for the trades to release. It makes waiting for each arc to play out in single issue form before being collected GRUELING, but I also manage to avoid spoilers for Saga– thank goodness. That being said, a brand new volume of Saga is out this week with the release of volume 6 of the Brian K. Vaughan/Fiona Staples series. I cannot wait to see what Marko, Alana, and Hazel are up to now. Speaking of Marko and Alana, I am sure if you are a fan of the series, you are drooling over the San Diego Comic Con Exclusive Action Figure Two-Pack from McFarlane Toys of the star-crossed couple. I hope individually packed figures make their way to comic shops at some point, because these figures are gorgeous and this two pack will almost certainly be hard to find.

Shifting gears to DC Comics and their stable of characters, DC Collectibles is finally starting to get some of their long-awaited figures out into the world. From the CW TV series I don’t watch anymore,  comes the Malcolm Merlyn action figure. Based on the character as he appears in the 3rd season of the show, this figure also features the likeness of actor John Barrowman, also known as Captain Jack Harkness for you Doctor Who fans.  From the Flash TV series, we get a figure of Heat Wave, now also a cast member on Legends of Tomorrow. Heat Wave features the likeness of Dominic Purcell and can hang with the previous Captain Cold figure. Future CW figures include Ollie in his season 3 outfit, the long-awaited Laurel Lance Black Canary figure and the Reverse Flash. If the current CW based figures aren’t your thing(and if they aren’t I can’t blame you, especially after the debacle on that show…), we are also receiving the Batman The Animated Series Mad Love 2-pack featuring Harley Quinn and the Joker. The figures are both fully articulated and Harley is an exclusive Nightgown version. Each set also comes packaged with a full color trade paperback of Mad Love and other stories, featuring plenty of Joker and Harley Quinn tales. Finally, fans of Supergirl and of late artist Darwyn Cooke have a sweet release to look forward to this week as the first in DC’s new Designer Series is released. Supergirl is based on Cooke’s retro-style artwork and will come packaged with a couple of her super pets. Future figures include Batman, Harley, Flash, John Stewart and Wonder Woman.

New Funko product just keeps on coming. This week we have received The Green Arrow and Speedy(Thea) POPs, Suicide Squad DORBZ and Mopeez, as well as a handful of Scooby-Doo and Game of Thrones DORBZ. We also got Zoom, the BFG, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk and some others in recent weeks. The Game of Thrones 3 3/4″ figures have also arrived including Jon Snow and Ghost. For those of you with a more political bent, we have received a limited supply of the three presidential candidate POPs, including Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. I will say no more.

I’ve spoken at length in previous columns about the new set of DC Superhero Girls figures and dolls that Mattel is introducing to capture the younger female audience. We are finally getting a couple of cases of these action figures in and having seen these before, these are nice poseable, inexpensive figures that should appeal to little girls and boys as well as female action figure collectors. Each character may not be wearing the traditional versions of their iconic outfits, but they are all still highly recognizable. Figures that have been introduced into the line thus far are Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Bumblebee.

Briefly: a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre 8″ figure has arrived depicting Leatherface as he appeared in the 2nd film and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is back in stock as a ReAction figure. That’s all for me this week- next week, I’ll give you my impressions of Heroes and Villains Fan Fest as I venture to meet the fabulous women of the live-action DC TV universe, including Katie Cassidy, Caity Lotz, Katrina Law, Willa Holland and Ciara Renee. Can’t wait!

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Val’s Toy Chest- Toy Biz 5″ Marvel Flashback

While at EternalCon two weekends ago, Justin and I walked around and saw many vendors with old toys, including some with figures from the old 5″ Toy Biz lines. Toy Biz was one of the upstart toy companies that came out of nowhere during my youth and lasted until I was an adult. Toy Biz’s first foray into action figures came with the release of Tim Burton’s Batman movie in 1989. Interestingly enough, even though Toy Biz started off making toys of DC characters, they would eventually hold the master toy license for the Marvel Universe for a little over a decade. The Marvel line originally started in 1990 in a 5″ scale compatible with the DC Superheroes line, which was also one of the few times back in the day that one company held both the DC and Marvel licenses simultaneously. These days, DC and Marvel have many license holders in common, but back in the day it was a rare occurrence.

My first real Marvel line was the 1991 X-Men line which came out before the hit Fox cartoon came on the air. I had the entire first series including the notorious pegwarmer, Storm. In fact, I loved Storm because at the time, she was a  new female superhero to add to my collection other than Wonder Woman. The 1991 Storm figure was outdated by the time she came out, wearing a costume she was no longer using in the comics. Storm also suffered from a weak sculpt with pencil thin arms and legs and no curves whatsoever. Her face sculpt was decent though. Storm’s weak performance in the toy aisles nearly spelled doom for any further female characters in any of the Marvel lines, although Invisible Woman would make it out in extremely limited numbers, due to a faulty action feature, the following year. The X-Men Animated Series changed all of that, as Fox and Toy Biz discovered that not only were boys watching the show, so were girls- and they wanted the female heroes from the series in plastic form. At this point, it was roughly two years since Toy Biz had released a female action figure, so they gave one of the breakout characters from the cartoon an action figure that proved to be extremely popular with collectors and kids. That character was Rogue, who had an action feature that delivered a power punch. I  remember seeing the pictures of Rogue from the 1994 Toy Fair in Tomart’s Action Figure Digest as well as Lee’s Action Figure News and Toy Review, Hero Magazine, and Wizard and couldn’t wait to add her to my collection. I still love that figure. The ensuing years included more female figures as well as more diverse lineups including Fantastic Four and Iron Man series based on the syndicated cartoons, the Spider-Man animated line based on the Fox show and many more. As the lines got larger, the sculpting got better and that eventually paved the way for the 6″ scale Marvel Legends line, but that’s a discussion for another time.

One of the things I miss about the old toy lines is the dedicated character artwork on the packaging. Action figure packaging is very generic these days, but Super Powers, TMNT, G.I. Joe,  and the initial years of the Toy Biz Marvel lines had some beautiful artwork gracing the fronts of their blister cards. This doesn’t include the Star Wars line, which back in the day had gorgeous stills from the movies as card art. Some of my favorite packaging art from the Toy Biz lines include Rogue, Phoenix, Venom, Spider-Man, Iceman and Gambit.

As far as a top 5 figures from Toy Biz’s 5″ lines, I’ll have to go with the following from the initial years of the Toy Biz Marvel lines:

5. Iceman (X-Men 1992)- one of my favorite Marvel characters when I was growing up since he was one of the stars of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Was a notoriously hard to find figure back in the day because of the color changing paint.

4. Iron Man(Marvel Super Heroes 1991)- a decent sculpt with removeable armor and mask to switch between Iron Man and Tony Stark modes, the Iron Man armor made him look nice and bulky, which I liked.

3. Venom(Marvel Super Heroes 1991)- another decently sculpted figure, Venom came with a spider-shaped tube filled with black slime. This was the first ever Venom figure(if you don’t count Black Costume Spider-Man from Secret Wars…).

2. Rogue(X-Men 1994)- still one of my favorite Rogue figures, great sculpt, great action feature and the beginning of a new era of female action figures from Toy Biz.

1. Phoenix (X-Men 1995)- An even better sculpted female action figure, this was definitely one of the turning points for the Marvel line and how much better the figures got after her wave, her action feature also made sense for the character with light up eyes and hair. Originally cast in Phoenix green, this same sculpt would be repainted as Dark Phoenix later on with a gorgeous shade of red.

Briefly: New Dragon Ball POP vinyls are in, but some are already sold out. Star Wars Tin Toys have come in and includes Force Awakens characters. Our shipment of Star Wars TFA figures from Hasbro came in recently and includes General Hux, Asty, and a variant of Rey, who now comes packed with a blue lightsaber. We’ve also gotten in the Takodana Encounter 3 3/4″ Action Figure set which features the first ever Maz Kanata action figure.

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

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow #1

GA-Cv1_56fc1133c2db86.88017993Green Arrow #1

Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt

DC $2.99

 

 

 

 

IMG_8643 Hey there Forbidden Planet Faithful! Before I start talking about Green Arrow #1 ( It feels weird to write that instead of Hawkeye), I just want to give a shout out to everyone I ran into and saw at Hereoscon 2016 this past weekend. I got to shoot the breeze with a number of great creators, including 1 of my favorites as you can see on the left. I highly recommend that anyone who loves comics check out Heroescon in the near future, especially in this post NYC Special Edition world. Unrelated, I’m taking a week off, after this article due to life demands, so expect this blog to be Chris-free for a week.

Green Arrow #1 is a extremely fun follow up to a promising Rebirth debut issue. While I’m not sure how this whole twice a month shipping thing is going to play out in the long run, I’m not going to get ahead of myself, especially when there’s some stuff I want to address now.

IMG_0125Given how prominent of a character Batman is, not to mention the numerous similarities, creators who write Green Arrow have a difficult hurdle to clear when it comes to making the two characters distinct. In less skillful hands, this arc of Green Arrow could have ended up feeling a lot like the modern classic Batman story “Court of Owl”. Even with the cliche”one of the guys within Queen’s company is secretly totes evil and plotting against him ” reveal, writer Benjamin Percy does a fine job of steering clear of said birb story  by embracing the difference between the two title characters. Percy’s more proactive, society conscious Oliver Queen who isn’t afraid to bend the rules a bit is a smart narrative choice, and something you don’t see when it comes to Big 2 super heroes.

As for Benjamin Perry’s script, it’s not as tight as the last issue. There’s a REALLY solid cliffhanger ending to this comic, but it doesn’t hit as hard if you’ve just joined the book like I have. Also while I know not every super hero archer comic can read like Hawkeye, some of the dialogue in this particular issue is cheesy in a an eye-rolling way. Where this comic IMG_0126really shines is when it focuses on Oliver Queen and the various relationship he has with this supporting cast, Black Canary especially. Ultimately it’s a pretty solid script, just a little tarnished with some disappointing dialogue.

With an opportunity to draw some quitter moments this time around, Otto Schmidt’s art remains a just cause for buying this comic. The quieter, more intimate scenes are really strong, and it’s a nice showcase of the type of art Schmidt was can produce. That being said, the fight scenes are also quite dope, making for a complete package, especially when you factor in he inks and colors the book as well.

Green Arrow #1 is a good comic that continues to shine with a solid creative team. The good more than out weights the bad for this issue, making it a flawed, but enjoyable read.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Titans Rebirth

Titans-Rebirth-1-456x700Titans Rebirth

Dan Abnett, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse

DC $2.99

While Green Arrow is a character/franchise I’ve never given a damn about, Teen Titans/Titans is something I’ve flirted with for most of my comics reading life. Having characters like Dick Grayson, Wally West, and Donna Troy associated with the franchise helps a lot, but for whatever reason helps, but ultimately I’m out after an arc. I doubt I’m the only one who’s had this problem, as it seems like DC has a problem with the franchise post Geoff Johns departure from the title in the mid 2000s. With Rebirth, the brand is split into two books, one with a fairly iconic roster of Teen Titans debuting later this year, and an older lineup of Titans dropping this past week.

Titans Rebirth isn’t a bad comic, but it’s very much the definition of a zero issue. With Wally West back in action, he seeks out to reunite himself with his former sidekicks, who’ve recently reunited in the Dan Abnett penned Titan Hunt mini-series. While that mini-series isn’t mandatory reading for this issue, I imagine it will help reader recognize the less iconic characters in this story. Abnett’s script is very by the numbers, chock of cliche dialogue and by the numbers moments, including the mandatory hero on hero fight due to misunderstanding. It’s not particularly bad, but nothing worth celebrating.

TNSREB_1_5_5Drawing this comic and I believe the series going forward is Brett Booth, who is the very definition of Jim Lee 90s style art, for better and for worse. Booth excels at layout, going with some very dynamic layouts that ooze with the type of energy you want from a super hero comics. He also get creative with his panel layouts towards the end of the comic, something that I enjoyed very much, and does a really great job with language and facial expressions. Where Booth falters is his inability to draw teenagers early on in the issue, and his design for Roy Harper aka Red Arrow, aka Arsenal. I know he’s not the guy who gave him an “iconic” backwards Baseball cap, but that plus goggles is a dated look that makes very little sense. Also I question how Wally’s costume continues to shine, even in the dark

Assisting Booth on the art are  Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse, who ink and Image-71-600x633color the book respectively. Rapmud tends to do heavy on the cross stitching at time throughout the comic, but that aside his work is really quite excellent. His linework is clean and thin, and looks gorgeous when paired with Dalhouse’s bright and playful colors. Even if Booth’s art isn’t your thing, it’s hard not to like it thanks to the contributions by Rapmund and Dalhouse

Titans Rebirth is a comic book-ass comic book. The heroes have a misunderstanding, fight and resolve everything within 20 pages. Abnett tries to stir emotions with some fun flashbacks, but given this DC Universe is only 5 years old, it feels cheap, and unoriginal (I think this is the third time a writer has tried doing a Kid Flash/Robin stealing the Batmobile story in the last decade). But imperfections aside, Titans looks to be in capable hands, and there’s definitely some promise.

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Chris’ Comics: The Fix #3

TheFix_03-1The Fix #3

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

Image $3.99

I’ll be honest; for a hot minute, I almost didn’t review this comic. Given what went down in Orlando this past weekend,  the events in The Fix #3 made my reading experience uncomfortable. That is not the fault of Nick Spencer, Stever Lieber, Ryan Hill or Nic J Shaw in ANY shape or from mind you, as there was no way they could predict was would offer a few days after the book’s release. I will point everyone to this tweet, and encourage anyone who can afford to give to do so.

The Fix #3 sees our lead Roy putting in some overtime, which he scored in the most horrible of ways, poor Pete. Body-guarding musician Elaina seems like a sweet gig for him at first, but things quickly spiral out of control, leading is an ending you won’t see coming.

Nick Spencer is currently know by the majority of comics readers as the guy who did some bad things to Captain America (The Steve Rogers flavor). In this comic though, Spencer is providing some commentary on what fame and the music industry can do to a person. The character of Elaina can be easily called a stand in for a Lindsey or a Brittany,  and what they endured once becoming household names. Spencer may be taking some of the plot points straight from the headlines, but he manages to stay away from becoming too preachy at any given point, which is appreciated.

Steve Lieber’s art is impressive as per usual on this third issue. His work is so expressive, and it definitely helps set up several gags in this issue. Lieber knows exactly when to exaggerate character’s faces for maximum comedic effect, and his body language is just as fantastic. He knows how the switch up the tone on the fly, which really helps keep readers on the edge of their seats. Ryan Hill’s colors are superb, giving this book the proper Shane 3074774-007_fix03Black feeling this book deserves. The constant presence of orange/red colors helps create an environment that appears to be welcoming, but there’s that feeling of tension bubbling underneath. Nic J Shaw, just feels like the right guy to be lettering this book, especially come the finally pages of the book where multiple types of fonts are required. Despite being only 3 issues in, it’s scary how good this art team is, and how well the collaborate.

Further proof of this creative team’s brilliance comes early in the issue, where Roy and his pal Donovan are having a conversation about Elaina. Not only is it a nice bit of exposition, but there’s an amazing gag towards the end that works due to the pacing of the dialogue, Lieber’s page layout, and a killer line at the very end. It’s definitely a tad crude, as is the conversation leading up to it, but given the type of people involved in this scene, it’s completely in character, and serves as a reminder that they’re not exactly the best of folk. It’s something Lieber and Spencer did in SUP FOES a lot, and it’s good to see it return, turned up to 11, here.

The Fix #3 may have be a victim of unfortunate timing, but I can still recognize how excellent this comic is.  It’s a a perfect blend of action, comedy and drama that’s really unlike any comic out there, and by an writer/artist team that’s a proven commodity.

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Val’s Toy Chest- Icons, Data and SHIELD

It was an eventful weekend for yours truly as I took a trip out to Eternal Con at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, Long Island with fellow FP employee Justin Bacolo. There’s also some toy news to share as we’ve received lots of new product with even more incoming. If you’re a DC toy fan, this is the week for you.

Firstly, let’s talk about Eternal Con. Eternal Con was a lot of fun. Held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Eternal Con wasn’t your average convention. The exhibits were open to the public while the show was going on, so you could take in the museum and the vendors. Food pricing onsite was fairly inexpensive, with the exception of drinks. Justin was there for legendary comics writer and former Marvel EIC Jim Shooter, while I was there to meet Elizabeth Henstridge aka Agent Jemma Simmons from Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.  Ms. Henstridge was a delight during my brief interaction with her.  I couldn’t get any information on season 4 of the show as Elizabeth hasn’t begun filming for the next season yet. IMG_0615

After meeting Elizabeth, Justin and I headed to some of the panels that Eternal Con had to offer. The bigger panels were held in an IMAX theatre attached to the museum which is an awesome place for a panel session. Jim Shooter’s panel was great and I decided to stay for Brent Spiner’s. Brent was an amazing panelist as he hammed it up for the audience and took plenty of fan questions. He even did a spot-on impression of his fellow castmate Patrick Stewart. Once Mr. Spiner’s panel ended, I stayed for Elizabeth Henstridge’s panel which was mostly a discussion between her and the moderator about getting her role as Simmons.  I then decided to venture upstairs again to see if I could ask Elizabeth a question about one of her upcoming projects but she had a line, so I decided to forego that and instead got a picture with Brent Spiner. I’ve been a massive Star Trek: The Next Generation fan since I was a teenager and to meet the man who played Data was an awesome moment.

IMG_0622 IMG_0623

Data and Simmons, pretty awesome weekend. My next con is in a couple of weeks and I cannot wait for that one, despite my not being a fan of Arrow anymore. Yes, I will be at the rescheduled Heroes and Villains Fan Fest. All is not lost as Katie Cassidy, Caity Lotz, Ciara Renee, Katrina Law and Willa Holland will all be there so I can get my dose of girl power, especially my Black Canary.

As far as toys this week: Suicide Squad POPs have started to arrive. We have the Shirtless Joker, two versions of Deadshot, Katana, Harley Quinn, Rick Flag, Boomerang, and Killer Croc. We’ve also received the Iron Man Mark 40 from Hot Toys. Music parody lovers rejoice as Weird Al Yankovic‘s first ever 8″ Action Figure has been released from NECA. Finally, DC Collectibles is back on track with new releases from the ICON line. First time figure Atomica joins Superman, Aquaman, and Harley Quinn in this latest wave. These should be awesome figures if the previous series is anything to go by.

That’s it for me this week, catch you guys next time!

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked + The Divine #20

TheWickedAndTheDivine_20-1The Wicked + The Divine #20

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson Clayton Cowles

Image $3.99

Oooh, WicDiv and The Fix both dropped this week. Good job this week, that’s some fine comic booking!

So The Wicked + The Divine #20 is a comic book that explains how Laura/Persephone isn’t a headless corpse who is burnt and dead after the events way back in issue 11.  It involves  a heroic sacrifice, sexy times, and a lovely bit of character exploration that reveals that one of the demigod’s true identity. “But Chris, isn’t that just the character’s names?” is something you may be asking, in which I reply HOW DARE YOU, IT TURNS OUR THAT ONE OF THE GODS IS A BIT OF FIBBER, NOW WHO FEELS DUMB!

But yeah, the bulk of this issue focuses on how Persephone isn’t dead, and what she was up to during the previous arc. It’s a well-crafted comic, that masterfully weaves itself between the events of the Commercial Suicide arc, while tying into the end of issue 18 quite nicely. A lot of this issue is told in flashbacks, in which Matt Wilson and Jamie McKelvie do a fine job of making visually interesting. Instead of coloring the book in a traditional method, Wilson Persephone-c0d75pulls from the dedicated color pallet he uses exclusively for coloring Persephone for the flashback sections. It’s such a cool idea, and when you factor in he does it twice for the different time periods, it serves as testament as to exactly how talented of an colorist he is. As for his pal/the book’s artist Jamie McKelvie, it’s great work as usual. There’s a page in which resident goth badboy Baphomet is posed like a 90s Lobo cover, which I adore, for the simple fact that it’s super ridiculous, but played straight. Not to talk down on Jamie, but this is an issue with some great art, and some REALLY inventive coloring practices that’s super impressive.

As someone who appreciated how meta/”inside baseball” Kieron Gillen got in Phonogram, there’s a page in this issue that channels that feeling while explaining one of the character’s roots. It’s not the deepest cut in any way, especially given the subject matter and the medium, but it’s still an incredibly endearing scene, and shows how much charm he can inject into his scripts when he wants to. I’m not saying that it’s a weakness of Gillen’s mind you, it just seems that the noted devil-man rather twist in tumblr_o8cx2zatBJ1tuoa2wo2_1280the knife in his reader’s then make us say “d’awww”. No, I’m still not bitter over Tara, why do you ask?

Once again, The Wicked + The Divine is a satisfying read, with a creative team that never fails to impress. Issue 20 is an well crafted comic that’s spectacular from both a narrative & craftsmanship stand point, not to mention rewarding from a fan perspective. A perfect blend of action, suspense, comedy and intrigue, The Wicked + The Divine #20 is a perfect example of how great the Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson and Cowles team is, while being a comic that rewards long time readers.

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Funko Goes Retro and NECA Gets Catty

Funko kicks off this week’s column as we’ve gotten several new items from them that are still fresh in my mind. I also have some really cool toy news to share from one of my favorite companies: NECA and whatever other news I can fit into this column.

Newly arrived from Funko this week are the very cool Barbie Rock Candy vinyl figures. These join the previously arrived DC Rock Candy figures and are all very nice and affordable. Barbie outfits from the 1950s thru the 1980s are represented, including Barbie as a Hippie, an Astronaut, in a Red Dress, Gym Outfit, Rocker, Surgeon, a Superstar and in her classic Swimsuit. I am partial to the 1986 Barbie and the Rockers look since that is my favorite decade and all. We still have the DC ones as well. with the exception of the two Batgirl figures which I anticipate will be here before too long. New DorbZ have also arrived including Wilson Fisk, the Masked Vigilante, and Matt Murdock from Netflix’s Daredevil series, Finn, The Flame Princess, Marceline, and Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time and a Daedric Warrior from Skyrim. Fans of Funko’s most successful line are sure to love the new Harry Potter POP Rides. Harry, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley each come with a part of the Hogwarts Express and the sculpts on each character varies from the original single boxed versions. These will probably go really fast. Last but not least, everyone’s favorite talking dog from this columnist’s favorite Disney/Pixar film has made it out in POP form with the release of Dug from Up.

NECA and I have a complicated relationship- I love plenty of their lines, but I wish they would do certain characters that they deem to be too niche(e.g; Nancy Thompson- A Nightmare on Elm Street). That being said, NECA announced a brand new 1/4 scale figure to go with some of their previously released 1/4 scale pieces. The latest announcement from NECA would gladly claw your eyes out and purr while doing it. I’m talking about the Batman Returns Catwoman, featuring the likeness of actress Michelle Pfeiffer, who memorably brought Batman’s favorite feline femme fatale to life in the 1992 blockbuster. Catwoman should be out before the end of the year and features movie accurate detailing, an interchangeable head with battle damaged mask, a whip and a taser weapon. Just announced as I was putting this piece together is another 1/4 scale figure- this one of fan-favorite Marvel character, Deadpool. Deadpool will come in his traditional red and black outfit and features plenty of weapons. That one should be out by the end of the year.

Odds and Ends: We should be getting a ton of Hasbro Star Wars Black 6″ The Force Awakens figures soon. We’ll finally have Rey, Chewbacca and General Hux. I’m looking forward to completing my own Star Wars: The Force Awakens 6″ collection with a couple of the aforementioned characters. Hot Toys’ latest addition to their collection of Marvel figures is a doozy. Plenty of those Marvel characters can call him their creator. I’m speaking of Stan Lee, who has been getting plenty of action figure love these past few years. This is also the last year he plans to do conventions, so meet him while you can.

Speaking of conventions, I will be at Eternal Con on Saturday. I skipped out on Wizard World Philadelphia this year to go to this one. As you may or may not know, I’m a big fan of celebrities and have met a ton over the years. This convention has a couple of neat guests that I am interested in seeing in person. For Dr. Who and Guardians of the Galaxy fans, Karen Gillan a.k.a. Amy Pond will be in attendance. Star Trek: The Next Generation fans can meet Lt. Commander Data himself, as Brent Spiner is making an appearance. Finally, from one of the comic shows that hasn’t completely let me down this year is one half of Agents of SHIELD‘s FitzSimmons, Jemma Simmons herself, Elizabeth Henstridge. I am planning on meeting Ms. Henstridge and will try and have a convention report in the next column!

That’s it for me this week! Next week if my sources are accurate, should see some neat new DC Collectibles. Catch you then!

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Chris’ Comics: Paper Girls #6

PaperGirls_06-1Paper Girls #6

Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher

Image $2.99

After a brief hiatus, Paper Girls returns, with our girls no longer in the mid to late 80s, but now in June 2016. Also from this point on, I’m going to get deep into spoilers, so if you’re a trade waiter or behind, know that this is a solid comic and move on.

Anywho, spoilers. Now in the year 2016, the girls come across a 40 year old Erin Tieng, whom I can relate to in the worst sort of ways. Things get kind of X-men-y as we have both a teen and middle age incarnation of a character running around, but Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang keep things relatively grounded, or at least as grounded as you can when time travel is involved.

First and foremost, I love how modern day/future Erin Tieng is portrayed. You rarely see middle aged women drawn as middle aged women in comics, lets along be put in starring rolls. But Chiang doesnt shy away from Erin’s age, giving her wrinkles, a bit of a belly, and Screenshot-31body language that shows that she’s been through some stuff. It also raises some interesting questions about her younger counterpart’s trip into the future goes, especially with the arrival of a new, yet familiar looking character halfway through the issue.

And while Paper Girls has yet to hook me (or emotionally devastate me) like BKV’s other hit comic Saga, the series has definitely excelled at being an extremely well put together comic book. Colorist Matthew Wilson is known for his vibrant, dynamic colors on books like The Wicked and the Divine and Thor. Much like his work on Daredevil, Wilson’s color choice are more subdued here, but still striking by using more unusual color choices to set scenes like purples and pinks. It’s very much in style with Chiang’s style and help keeps the book looking unique.

Also I’m not sure who decided to have the fan letter’s page ALSO go from the 80s to 2016, but it’s a fun bit of meta storytelling that I dig. Speaking of things I dig, Jared K Fletcher’s design work remains top notch. I really enjoy what he and Vaughan have been doing with language and the book’s dialogue, be it the raw but totally fitting choice in fonts and how the time-travelers(?) language is used. If I’m not mistaken (famous last words), the visitors Screenshot-30weird, broken language is getting clearer with every passing issue, which I think is a neat way of making the reader feel more familiar with these characters. This issue in general also feels more restrained for character building, which is something I very much appreciated.

Paper Girls is a very unique read with an excellent sense of design. It’s easy to see that it’s very much  the product of creators who love the medium, and want to use it to tell a story that perfect for this format. Again Paper Girls isn’t my favorite book on the stands by BKV or Matt Wilson, BUT it’s so rewarding on a technical level, not to mention captivating as hell, I can’t help but to buy it on sight.

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow Rebirth

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

Benjamin Percy, Otto Scmidt

DC $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

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Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #4 & Spider-Woman #8

XM922016004-DC11-4baa6X-men ’92 #5

Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

X-men ’92 #5 is a comic that had me cackling early in the issue, only to audible gasp come the book’s final pages. To say it’s a good comic is an understatement.

There’s been some online chatter than this book is too jokey at times. Granted there’s been an abundant amount of humor in this series, writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers are definitely not afraid to get serious at times, which is shown in this issue. And it’s a nice throwback of sorts, as the nature of Storm (phrasing) and Beast’s conflict is something that’s been explored before in Fall of the Mutants/Inferno era of the X-men, and as recent as various X-Force revivals titles. The creative team have done nods like this before, but this is the first time it’s had so much depth to it, and I’m feeling it.

Art wise, Alti Firmansyah is super expressive and animated, and letterer Travis Lanham does something really neat with their choice of fonts during on extended scene. The book has relied on nostalgia for jokes before, and in this particular instance, the lettering really helps sell the humor here. It’s a neat bit that I appreciated a bunch. Matt Milla’s colors are solid, especially when dealing with the Cyberspace craziness.

The second arc of X-men ’92 is a massive improvement over the mini series it followed, and I dug the hell out of that mini. Bower, Sims and the entire art team are given more room to breathe, and don’t have to worry about adhering to the rules of a crossover event. Free to tell their own stories, they turn the extreme up to 11, and gave us an arc that’s absolutely bonkers, yet incredibly enjoyable.

Spider-Woman_Vol_6_8_TextlessSpider-Woman #8

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel. $3.99

Hey look, Spider-Woman’s back. Well technically she never left, I just took a break due to Spider-Women crossover times.

Spider-Woman #8 is a done in one that sees Jessica Drew back in action, taking on Tigershark, while the Porcupine watches her son. It’s not unlike issue 5 actually, one this issue is super heavy on the action.

Much like myself, Javier Rodriguez returns to Spider-Woman this month, and absolutely kills it. His colors are gorgeous, giving the book a radiant glow that’s also stunning as the pencil art. Which, by the way, is incredible. The way Rodriguez draws sprawling fight scenes is incredibly, never skimping out on the details. This may be the single best looking Marvel comic I’ll read this year, as no one does layouts and motion like Rodriguez. And props to Alvardo Lopez, who manages to ink this thing with some incredibly thin lines, keeping the line clean and crisp.

Dennis Hopeless is superb. He wonderfully mixes humor with some emotion. His Jessica Drew is so three dimensional, being both a loving mother and a adrenaline junkie who loves help people.  And what he’s done with the Porcupine, changing him from a Z-list villain into someone quite endearing is spectacular.

Spider-Woman #8 is a comic that’s big on hear and big on action. It’s a gorgeous book that’s balances character development and super heroics perfectly. And even with Civil War II around the corner, I’m excited to pick up the next issue, just because of what the creators have done with Carol Danvers in this title. Buy on sight.

 

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Chris Comics: Putting The New 52 to rest with Grayson and Batgirl

Grayson-20Batgirl-52-variant-cover-by-Babs-TarrGrayson #20

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

Batgirl #52

Brenden Fletcher, Elenora Carline, Minkyu Jung, Serge Lapointe, Steve Wands

DC $2.99

Now that DC Rebirth is up and running, May sees the end of several DC titles before they get rebranded and relaunched with new creative teams. Which means both Batgirl and Grayson have come to an end, which is a shame.

Batgirl #52 wraps up the Brenden Fletcher-verse crossover, and sets up the next chapter of Barbara Gordon’s life for the creative team of Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque. Grayson #20 ends Dick’s run as a spy, puts the genie back in the bottle in regards to his secret identity, and gets him back in the Nightwing costume in time for Tim Seeley‘s return to the character. Despite neither storylines wrapping up with their original creative teams attached (Fletcher on Batgirl being the exception), both stories wrap up nicely, with only a few missteps.

As I’ve said several times in the past, Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly read exactly like image-117Tim Seeley and Tom King do on this book and that’s excellent. I’m sure they studied the notes left by those writers to a T, which I appreciate, especially when they were brought on the book so late in the game. Not only do they close out one of the most interesting status quos for Dick Grayson on an extremely high note, but they set things up for Helena Bertinelli’s role in the upcoming Batgirl and the Birds of Prey book flawlessly. And Roge Antonio’s art improves tenfold this issue, drawing an incredibly compelling action final fight scene between Grayson and Otto Netz for the bulk of the issue. He does a superb job of keeping in the spirit of the trippy art direction established by previous series artist Mikel Janin, while doing his own thing. Jeromy Cox has been fantastic on this title since issue one, and he’s just as great here. I HATE to see Grayson end, but man, this was a real solid ending by this team.

Batgirl #52 on the other hand, feels rushed, as there are a number of grammatical and spelling errors that plague this issue. The art from Elenora Carline & Minkyu Jung,  is okay, but there’s a lot of stiff posing and flat looking characters despite some excellent colors from Sergio Lapointe. Even Brenden Fletcher’s dialogue is extremely disappointing at times, reading more like a cheesy all ages comic more than the fresh and relevant to today’s audience stuff we as readers have been used to. Which is odd, given how good a solo Fletcher can be, as seen in Black Canary and Batgirl_52_01Gotham Academy.

I also find it odd to remove Barbara Gordon from her company so early in the game. I know WHY it needed to happen (new creative team and with a new MO), but to do 2 issues after the company’s up and running feels really out of place. It feel likes it was more than an editorial call rather than something Fletcher elected to do, although I have no evidence of such.

At the end of the day, we have 2 books I’m sad to see end, for entirely different reasons. With Grayson, it’s an end of an era that I really enjoyed, but know that the character’s in good hands. With Batgirl, it feels like the character is being forced into a more traditional role, rather than allowing her to exist in a status quo that very few, if any, female characters get to inhibit. I’ll be reading both characters once their reintroduced in Rebirth, although there’s no guarantee I’ll be sticking around for the long haul.

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Crisis on Infinite Toylines

This week’s issue of the Weekly Planet is dedicated to the huge crossover events that have defined DC and Marvel comics for the past three decades. In that vein, this week’s column is dedicated to some of the toylines based on those events. I will also touch on some of the new stuff that has arrived recently.

The first toyline based on a huge comic event was Mattel’s Secret Wars line.  The first series included famous Marvel luminaries such as Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Wolverine alongside villains Kang, Doctors Doom and Octopus and Magneto. Several of Marvel’s characters made their action figure debuts in this series such as Magneto, Wolverine, Hobgoblin, Black-costume Spider-Man and Daredevil. The line was short-lived though and only went to 2 series in the United States with a rare 3rd series issued internationally. Interestingly enough, several characters issued in the toyline were not involved in the comic book storyline at all. My favorite from this line: Black Costume Spider-Man. It was a sleek neat look and has always been my favorite of the Spider-Man costumes.

When DC Collectibles started in 1999, the goal of the line was to make several characters that had been neglected in prior mass-market toylines. Characters such as Black Canary, Zatanna, The JSA and others made their debut during this time. Several years later and after acquiring the rights to make characters from the Batman and Superman families, DC Direct issued a 20th Anniversary line based on their classic story- Crisis on Infinite Earths. The first wave featured new and alternate versions of characters such as Robin and Supergirl plus Harbinger, Psycho-Pirate and the Monitor. The line also lasted three series and would include other major players from the story such as The Huntress, The Anti-Monitor, The Kimiyo Hoshi Dr Light and Barry Allen. Crisis sequel, Infinite Crisis would also receive its own line that featured Donna Troy, Power Girl, Alexander Luthor, and an OMAC along with new figures for DC mainstays like Superman and Wonder Woman. Crisis was also the theme for the first series of Infinite Heroes from Mattel and included characters seen in the earlier DC Direct set as well as characters not associated with the original mini-series at all. My Favorite From This Line: (DC Direct and Mattel) Headband Supergirl. One of the most 80’s costumes ever, this was the look I first knew Supergirl for and I love both the DC Direct 6″ version and the Mattel 3 3/4″ version.

Blackest Night was one of the biggest Green Lantern related events in DC history and also got a dedicated toyline from DC Direct which included all of the deputy Lanterns such as Red Lantern Mera, Orange Lantern Lex Luthor and Blue Lantern Flash plus Lantern leaders like Indigo-1, Arkillo and Atrocitus. Zombified versions of Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Superman and Firestorm also crept their way into the series. Several characters also made their way into the Mattel DC Universe Classics line. My Favorite From This Line: (DC Direct) Red Lantern Mera- one of the coolest designs for the oft-neglected wife of Aquaman also included the first-ever figure of Red Lantern Kitty Dex-Starr.(Mattel) The version of Dex-Starr from the DC Universe Classics is my favorite as he is slightly less stylized than the DC Direct and also comes with a piece that protrudes out of Dex-Starr’s mouth to simulate the Red Lantern’s blood-spewing action.

In this week from Funko- the Women of DC are back in vinyl form and in a brand new series. Rock Candy was first shown at Toy Fair and features DC women and a Barbie set. The first pieces have arrived in store and include Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and the Gal Gadot Wonder Woman. Each figure is in the same price range as the Funko POPs and are adorable. Sailor Jupiter has joined the rest of the Sailor Scouts in Funko POP while new POPS from Independence Day, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Ghostbusters 2016 have all arrived.

Catch you guys next time!

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

IMG_0124The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Welcome to the issue of Squirrel Girl where our heroine tackles her most difficult foe yet: ONLINE DATING.

The team of Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi kick off a new arc with issue 8, that starts of with Squirrel Girl teaming up with her New Avenger chums and ends with a super hero truther & dealing with the Mole Man. This is pretty on brand for this title, and much like every previous issue, and absolute hoot.

What I love about this creative team is that Ryan North and Erica Henderson will always go out of their way to educate you while reading this book. I had no idea Tree Lobsters were a thing, and not only does this issue start off with the Avengers dealing with a giant one, but the creative team makes sure to give reader an history lesson about said insects that helps push the story along in a natural way. It’s not anything new for this book, but it’s something that pops up from time to time that I’ve genuinely enjoyed about the title. A little less high brow is a double spread of Squirrel Girl attempting to date, which has a bunch of sights gags and funny dialogue that’s pretty great in my opinion.

Also Erica Henderson draws the best outfits in comics, and getting to see how fashionable Doreen and her friends are in this issue is a personal highlight.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Gil #8 is another excellent issue by a creative team that’s never failed to amazed. Romance plotlines can make or break a comic, and North, Henderson and Renzi succeed, while making the title feel like one of the most fresh and relevant books on the stands

STL004332Spider-Man/Deadpool #5

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

One of the reasons I enjoy Spider-Man/Deadpool so much is that it feel like Joe Kelly returning to Deadpool again, telling stories that mash up the work he did with the character while building upon all the great stories Gerry Duggan wrote. Also these stories co-star Spider-Man, arguably the best super hero, which is something I am also all about.

Issue five of this series sees Deadpool dealing with the aftermath of murdering Peter Parker, which apparently wasn’t a fake out. Aside from being out of a co-star, it turns out he was mistaken about Peter Parker, and that means Deadpool’s got fix the mess he’s made.

It also means artist Ed McGuinness gets to draw some characters associated with the supernatural side of Marvel, which is welcomed, as he rarely gets to do spooky stuff. There’s some stuff, wonderfully inked and colored by Mark Morales and Jason Keith that’s genuinely terrifying , including a re-imagining of a Spider-foe who’s usually pretty goofy looking. It’s also see the team reference an infamous Spider-Man story,  which is one of several things that I can’t quite tell are just little nods, or if Kelly and McGuinness are planting the seeds for future stories.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #5 puts a nice little bow on the first arc, while setting up the next one quiet nicely. I’m glad the team is only off the book of 2 months, because the type of comics they’ve been making are the type of comics I adore.

 

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