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A Slice of Pye: John Pye talks Snyder’s Batman

Morning light breaks over the great old city and they’re all out there; clawing at the doors, peering through the windows, begging to get in to satisfy their insatiable need. They’re all calling his name:

BATMAN!

No, it’s not the blood-thirsty, Jokerized victims of Gotham City I’m referring to, but the Bat-Crazed fans who can’t get enough of artist, Greg Capullo, and writer, Scott Snyder’s modern legends of the Dark Knight.

But how did we get here? As Batman puts it in issue 38 of Snyder’s New 52 run, “let’s talk history.”

Along with Batman, we fought our way through a hellish labyrinth set to instill paranoia and despair (Batman Vol. 1 THE COURT OF OWLS  and Vol. 2 THE CITY OF OWLS). The, we faced off against our inner-most fears while a long-kept secret, finally revealed, tore the bonds of family apart (Batman Vol. 3 DEATH OF THE FAMILY). We battled for the soul of a darkened city within the grip of hopelessness and riddled with puzzles (Batman Vol. 4 ZERO YEAR – SECRET CITY and Vol. 5 ZERO YEAR – DARK CITY).

Through Batman’s eyes we’ve done all this, but the fight is still far from over. Bad news for Batman; great news for us.

“Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” Those words once delivered by Jack Nicholson’s Joker 26 years ago would coincidently be a fitting title to the Joker’s goodbye that takes its form in the ENDGAME story arc.

Scott Snyder has often-times compared his Joker to the devil himself. He’s the kind of devil that thrives off our misery as a mirror to the worst in us. He’s the kind of demon that whispers what we fear most into our ears – what we’re afraid to have exposed, to lose, or even to gain through means unforgivable.

It’s been said many times that the Joker is Batman’s mirror. And as Bruce gazes into that mirror, he is forced to come to grips with something he has always feared: uncertainty. Batman has uncertainty over who the Joker truly is and, more importantly, what Batman might have to do to ultimately bring the Clown Prince of Crime down.

Ironically, uncertainty is also what we, the die-hard readers of Batman, face as Snyder and Capullo near their contractual end with DC Comics on. There’s a sense of anxiety knowing that not only may Batman or the Joker be coming to their end, but the creative team may be as well.

It remains uncertain whether Capullo and Snyder will stay on the title beyond issue 50, but I assume that I can speak for everyone (or at least the thousands of us who fought alongside Batman for the last four years) when I say thank you for continuing to inspire us. Thank you for putting Batman through hell for the last four years. It has reminded and reinforced why we love the character as much we all do. We wish you success on whichever road you decide to take. We can only hope you allow your hearts to guide you on that road. We can only hope your hearts lead you back to Gotham.

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Two New Expansions to Two of the Most Popular Board Games on Forbidden Planet’s Shelves

Just in case you missed two of this week’s big gaming releases…

Smash Up Pretty Pretty Expansion

Smash Up Pretty Pretty Expansion

Think only pirates, time travelers, vampires, and bears can smash bases? Well get ready to be taught a lesson… in the nicest way possible! Pretty Pretty Smash Up brings the sweetest factions ever to the vicious fight for victory! Kitty Cats use their incredible cuteness to take control of enemy minions. Princesses ply their royalty, beauty, and even their love to get their way. Fairies` fickle tricks give you options like never before, while the herds of Mythic Horses work together for dominance. These adorable creatures are more than just pretty faces they`re powerful cards that will integrate seamlessly into your existing Smash Up sets.

Pandemic State of EmergencyPandemic State of Emergency Expansion

Saving the World Just Got A Little Tougher! Three new challenges await you in this new expansion for the Pandemic Board Game – The Hinterlands Challenge, in which the diseases are spread from animals to humans! The Emergency Events Challenge that adds unpredictable Events to cause devastating effects on the game…requiring the use “Quarantines” to stop the spread of disease across the board! And The Superbug Challenge, in which a fifth disease that cannot be treated threatens the world! Produce vaccine doses after finding its cure in order to fight off this threat. You must eradicate the superbug disease to win. This expansion is not for the faint of heart!

Both of these are in stock at Forbidden Planet NYC now!

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All of Today’s Daily Deals Are at Least 50% Off

Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Sassy Spies Editions

Yes, yes, I’m well aware Spider-Woman isn’t a spy anymore, but she’s still in Secret Avengers for the next 2 months so it works.

 

635544611181339292-SpiderWoman-coverSpider-Woman #5

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez

Marvel $3.99

NEW STATUS QUO! NEW COSTUME! NEW ARTIST! 5TH ISSUE IN!

Spider-Woman, not unlike Spider-Gwen, is done with Spider-Verse nonsense, done with the Avengers, done with Greg Land, and is hitting the streets with a new mission and a new slick look courtesy of Kris Anka. Writer Dennis Hopeless is now free to tell stories without having to worry about tying into Amazing Spider-Man, and the book’s all the better for it.

 

Land is replaced by former Daredevil colorist/Fill in Artist Javier Rodriguez, who reminds everyone that he can draw and color the hell out of a comic 5 pages into this issue. Rodriquez definitely picked up some tricks coloring Chris Samnee over the years, which explains why is layouts are so good. And of course, the coloring on this book is surreal. The way Rodriquez colors the rain almost make those panels feel 3-D. And man, that new costume looks amazing on Jessica. Inking him is Alvaro Lopez, who knows where to thicken his black lines and where to keep them thin. He’s a fine match for Javier.

 

Hopeless staying aboard on the title is A-O-K with me, as he’s a smart writer with a knack of coming up with unique premises on corporate comic characters. Jessica struggling with going solo is an interesting predicament for a super hero, and it’s a cool challenge for her to overcome. And the addition of Daily Bugle mainstay Phil Urich is neat, and gives Jessica a great character to interact with. Also Hopeless appeals to my loves of the recently completed Superior Foes of Spider-Man and brings in several Z-list Marvel villains for Jessica to harass.

 

Spider-Woman #5 is not unlike the Bab Tarring of Batgirl, which is fine because that was a smart move, and it’s certainly now working for J-Drew.   Between this, Silk and Spider-Gwen, you’d think the comics world would be sick of female Spider-ladies, but not that’s far from the case. Each one of these titles brings something to new to medium, and all of them are good comics.  Spider-Woman #5 is a VERY good comic that should have been a #1. I know the book got a nice sales boost launching and tying into Spider-Verse, but THIS is the debut issue the creators and characters deserve.

 

stk665635Grayson #8

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

This issue sees the end of season 1 wrapping up, as the book goes on hiatus for 2 months due to DC moving to the west coast and not replacing them with robots like I did (Hence I spell all good like always). In terms of endings, I don’t think this could have been any better.

Issue 8’s cover is pretty spot on, as SPYRAL finds a traitor in it’s ranks, and it’s up to Agent Grayson to save the day. It brings the cast of mostly new characters together in a fun and creative way, and ends on a brutal note. It’s spy comics done right, which has been this creative team’s MO since day 1, so this issue being as great as it is doesn’t come at that much of a surprise. Tom King and Tim Seeley deliver another fine script with some choice dialogue and neat twists, and Mike Janin and Jeromy Cox make the whole thing looks so pretty. Even when things get dark and violent, which says a lot about how I judge beauty.

Issue 8 is an issue that wraps up some plot-lines, starts new ones, and sees one of Dick Grayson’s student name each of his butt cheeks. It’s another great installment of comic that has been a crazy fun ride, and this slight break will make me miss it a ton.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Jeff Lemire Debut edition

Welcome to the article where I know I’m going to spell Lemire as “Lemiere” at least twice and not notice it until it’s pointed out in the comments section/Twitter.

Jeff Lemire, who’s had a big week, is a writer who’s stuff I haven’t touched in awhile, but I definitely liked is work in the past. His run on Animal Man was quite good, he did a pre-Flaspoint/New 52 Superboy book that was equally bizarre as it was charming, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of his creator owned stuff. This week, Lemire launches his new Indie book under Image, and relaunches my favorite Marvel comic (that’s yet to be completed).

Descender-01-6b1c3Descender #1

Jeff Lemire/Dustin Nguyen

Image $2.99

Ever since Saga took over comics, Image has had no shortage of comics involving space, children, crime or a combination of all three. Most of those book has also been amazing, so no one complains about it because otherwise the alternative is going back to Spawn or Witchblade.

As every review of Descender will tell you, Sony Pictures ponied up a ton of money to secure the films right to the comic, despite the fact it was still a month away from hitting the stands. Created by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, it is a GORGEOUS looking book, and  it reads like Chris Nolan directing a Pixar movie. If that’s now something you want in your life, I wouldn’t hold you breathe, also welcome to the nightmare that is being me. But yeah, Nguyen’s water colors look great, and Lemire’s writing is spot on. Despite this being another comic about a young boy by Lemire (see Blankets, Superboy, parts of his new Hawwkeye series,  Sweet Tooth), he introduces a weird  cast that’s helps suck you into this world that he’s co-created. It’s a surprisingly charming book, despite some really dark plot points and themes.

I went into Descender with a good feeling, and I ended up liking it a lot more than I was expecting. Robots and space are often my jams when it comes to media, and Descender uses them to tell an exciting new story I’m eager to read more of.

 

All-New_Hawkeye_Vol_1_1_TextlessAll-New Hawkeye #1

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Here we have the other great looking Jeff Lemire comic to debut this week. Sadly, I am not as happy with it as I was with Descender.

All-New Hawkeye is not a bad comic, but it just didn’t wow me like the yet to be completed Matt Fraction/David Aja book did. That book had a mission statement from day one (Show what Hawkeye does on his day off). This one starts off mostly set in the past, and cuts to the Hawkeyes doing some avenging in the present. While I appreciate Lemire taking the book in a new direction, it still needs a hook. All I got from it was “Hey, the previous Hawkeye series got Marvel a ton of buzz and acclaim, let’s keep this book going.” Hawkeye volume 1 issue 1 felt like a cool new indie book, where as ANH feels like more like a really good cover band messing up my favorite song. Lemire’s attempt to capture Clint and Kate’s banter is appreciated, but it’s something he needs to work on. It felt colder and nagging than it did humorous and playful.

Visually, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring couldn’t be better replacements for David Aja & Matt Hollingsworth. Perez’s art is the best thing about this book, and his painted illustrations for the flashback material are gorgeous. And when paired with Herring for the modern stuff, we get some solid action scenes, with Herring doing his best to ape Matt Hollingsworth flat color pallet. It works for the most part, because while Perez isn’t as strong as the veteran Aja, Herring’s bold colors help complete the visual experience. All New Hawkeye is a great looking book, and I’m glad Perez and Herring are able to deliver on the art end of things like Aja, Annie Wu and the other Hawkeye volume 1 artists before them.

In the new creative team’s defense, it was an almost impossible task to make me fall in love with this book like I did with the previous volume. Following up to that creative team is a huge  challenge, and they definitely tried to do their best with this issue. I have faith that Lemire can escape Fraction’s shadow sooner rather than later, but I’ll admit, it felt weird to read a Hawkeye comic that I didn’t fall in love with immediately. I hope that’s something that doesn’t happen again.

 

 

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Morgan’s Mini-comic Mayhem* – Sawdust Press Edition

* Not actually written by Morgan

Former FP employee, Morgan Pielli, used to dive into our exhaustive catalog of minis and zines to let you know what was worth reading from the seemingly-daunting indie section. A primer, if you will, of the kind of treasures you’ll find there.

Sadly, Morgan had to return to his home planet town. But we carry on in his totally-not-an-alien name with these reviews. This week we’re focusing on the talented folks at SAWDUST PRESS.

BLOOD ROOT is an ongoing anthology of comic shorts that feels like a fresh take on The Twilight Zone. Each story features a new creative team, with diverse ideas that range anywhere from a family dinner gone wrong to the seeming-safety of a girl’s bedroom all the way to a post-apocalyptic South Korea. There are already three volumes out to read. Take my word, they’re all worth it. But, if you have any doubts, come on by and start with the first story, THE FAMILY THAT EATS TOGETHER by  James Neish and I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a cute little gift for your nature-loving friend, Sawdust’s FIELD GUIDE series is perfect. Sharing some of the adorable intricacies of the DEATHFACE MUSHROOM or the COMMON LEAFBUG as imagined by Shing Yin Khor is a surprisingly effective way to get someone to fall in love with you, or just fall in love with insects yourself, ya big weirdo. And if, let’s say, you fumbled on Valentine’s Day, they might not be a bad way to get yourself outta trouble.

Finally, there’s the CENTER FOR OTHERWORLD SCIENCE, another creation of Shin Yin Khor’s. This time it’s the misadventures of a group of scientists studying the increasingly improbable secrets held beneath our planet’s surface. Unsurprisingly, adorable (albeit giant) bugs factor heavily, as does an ongoing love story between two lady scientists. What could be better? And there’s a whole three comics out already with more on the way.

 

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danielketchum

5.5 Questions with Marvel Editor Daniel Ketchum

One of the nice things about comics is that the people who write and draw ‘em are just as likely to show up at Forbidden Planet on a Wednesday to pick up their stack as anyone else.

And that’s when we strike!

This week we caught up with STORM, MAGNETO, and X-MEN editor, Daniel Ketchum. No Pokemon questions were asked. Probably for the best.

FORBIDDEN PLANET: So, as an editor, I’m assuming that you sometimes have to be the bad guy. SO in the world of bad guys are you more like Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay or Judge Judy?

DANIEL KETCHUM: If I had to choose one, I’d say Gordon Ramsay, because he’s a Tiger Mom like I am–he criticizes out of love and only wants people to be their best. But when it comes to likening myself to reality show judges, I have definitely said that I am the Michael Kors of Marvel. (e.g. “It looks like you colored that page with a trackball mouse and an eye full of lemon juice!”)

FP: If you could put any single character in all of your books, who would it be and why?

DK: Definitely Mary Cherry from your favorite TV show, Popular. (“Y’all, I’ve got two words for you: EXORCISM!”) But if we’re talking about a Marvel character I would put in all of the books that I edit, it would be STORM…and I do.

FP: If you could have any non-comic writer (novelist, screenwriter, poet) write book for you, who would it be?

DK: Oh, lordy. You know, the last book book I ran to the store to buy the day it was released was Joan Didion’s BLUE NIGHTS. I can only vaguely imagine what a comic written by Joan Didion would be like. But I’d love to read it and, even more so, I’d love to be the editor who got to collaborate with her on it.

FP: If you could have dinner with any comic character (you’re paying) who would it be and why?

DK: I would take Alfred Pennyworth and Jarvis to dinner because they deserve a chance to kick back and enjoy a delicious meal they didn’t have to lift a finger for. I might also take Jubilee, because it looks like she’s fallen on hard times…

FP: Follow-up: Would your answer change if they were paying?

DK: Yes. Because then I would be dining with ALL-NEW X-MEN‘s Hank McCoy and I would expect no less than a magical evening. MAGICAL.

FP: Who would win a Magic the Gathering game? Batman, Reed Richards or Emma Frost?

DK: Obviously Emma Frost. You can’t play a card game with a telepath! And you know Emma would totally cheat and, like, read her opponents’ minds to find out what their face-down morph creatures are…

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FP Spotlight: Jeff Lemire

If you ask someone what their favorite book is, they usually have a passionate explanation for it. “The main character is just like me”; “It’s just so heartbreaking”; “It made me laugh until I cried”; and so on. No one holds up a copy of something that changed their life and says “I dunno, it looked really cool.” This emotional core is something that comics sometimes find themselves lacking, but a few writers and artists have mastered the art of really getting to their readers, and Jeff Lemire is first among them.

Lemire kicked off his career with LOST DOGS, a 24-hour comic-turned-graphic-novel with the assistance of a Xeric grant. It’s messy, but it’s got a lot of heart in its black-white-red story of a lumbering oaf just wanting to help. It’s a book that gets by a lot on its atmosphere, and the messy inks Lemire employs.

For his second project, rather than try to go the superhero route, or a book where magic is law, or some other high concept project, Lemire turned his eye to his beloved home county in the Great White North itself, and decided to tell the story of a county full of average Canadian people. The ESSEX COUNTY trilogy is one of the most heartbreaking and simultaneously uplifting books I could possibly recommend. It’s the Spoon River Anthology by way of Slap Shot, with lots of hockey, kids and adults who dream of escape, and people who are just doing the best they can to get by. It’s Steinbeckian, and it’s huge, without losing a sense of intimacy into what these people want–and how rarely they will get it.

2009 was a banner year for Lemire: it finally saw the publication of ESSEX COUNTY (which went on to be named one of the Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade); the publication of THE NOBODY, his retelling of The Invisible Man; and the beginning of his first creator-owned series, SWEET TOOTH. Sweet Tooth tells the story of Gus, a young boy with deer antlers and an incredible taste for chocolate. It went on for several years, and turned villains into begrudging heroes, gave fathers to wayward children, and told the secret history of the world. All this in a world where Mad Max could have been the guy who killed Bambi’s dad.

Since 2012, Lemire’s work has been mostly at Vertigo and DC. He launched some of the best New 52 titles during the company-wide relaunch in 2011, including ANIMAL MAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, and FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. For a man who’s able to move around in so many genres, the quality of his books never suffers from title-to-title, because he’s a master of the emotional core of a book. Animal Man is about a superhero protecting his daughter while she grows up too fast; Frankenstein is about a man making amends with his friends and his estranged wife in order to face their future. Add into this a standalone graphic novel, THE UNDERWATER WELDER, that reads like a lost Twilight Zone episode, and you’ve got a winning combo.

Most recently, Lemire returned to the drawing board for a longer form experiment, writing and drawing TRILLIUM, a ten-issue series about a WWI soldier recently returned from the war falling in love with a 30th century scientist. They both help each other heal and they get in plenty of spacetime continuum fights. Add into this his radical experimentation with form, making a House-of-Leaves-like experience out of reading a comic, and it’s just this side of genius.

Lemire is one to watch out for, still. After his exclusive agreement with DC expired last year, he was quick to jump onto THE VALIANT (available at our fine store–issue 4 coming soon!), and BLOODSHOT REBORN from Valiant. This week we’ve got ALL-NEW HAWKEYE (miraculously out before the finale of Regular old Hawkeye!) as well as writing a brand new series called DESCENDER, about a young boy robot illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. We thinks it’s going to be a visual delight as well as an emotionally satisfying read.

And refusing to ever take a break, Lemire will be illustrating a series written by Scott Snyder (his best friend/nemesis– best fremesis) in the near future, too!

So here’s to you, Jeff Lemire. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

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Petrie @ The Planet – Hello, Goodbye

I’m a bit more melancholy than usual as I write this. Last week, I said goodbye to Forbidden Planet, locked the store and headed back to the home that I’ve had for fifteen years that is no longer my home. As I type this, I sit in an apartment with a heating problem, knowing I can’t just text a friend to see if they want to go grab a drink.

This has me thinking about goodbyes. We bid them, sadly, to our favorite characters from time to time. Yet they’re never really gone from us. Their stories are on our bookshelves and in our comic boxes, long after they are published. From Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen in GOTHAM CENTRAL, to Julia’s beloved Donna Troy in the New Teen Titans collection GRADUATION DAY, to Jean Grey in the DEATH OF PHOENIX; these characters are no longer just flat images on a page — they’re friends. They linger in our hearts.

The story-lines and creative teams we love come to a halt yet, whatever happens the characters endure. Whether it’s Clark, Steve, Bruce, Tony or Diana they will continue long after we stop collecting and pass our collections on. So, why do we continue reading, collecting, and running to the stores on Wednesdays?

We continue reading because goodbyes are hard. We do this because we’ve grown up with these comics; these people go through the same things we do. They comfort us, look out for us, teach us what it is to be a good person. A hero.

For everything that we bid goodbye to, we say hello to something else. The wonderful thing about creativity is that there is always something new being created. For every time an Avenger falls, there is a character like SPIDER-GWEN to captivate us. For every time a writer like Gail Simone leaves BATGIRL we get another title from them, such as SECRET SIX.

For me, whenever a co-worker goes they have left me something to love. When Vita moved on, she left me RAT QUEENS and PRINCELESS to remember her by. Danny left me CAPTAIN AMERICA, a character I never knew outside of the Avengers. But she gave me a love and appreciation of Cap that has me re-reading WINTER SOLDIER again and again. Drew gave me Mark Waid’s DAREDEVIL, Alec and Val gave me a desire to collect toys and fill my house with them.

And Julia, well, Julia reminds me again and again that the passion we have for these characters should never be hidden but celebrated. She once told me she had to take a minute to compose herself when she saw Donna Troy’s return. She loves Donna and I cannot help but envy how Julia allows herself to smile whenever she tells me about a book that has touched her heart.

The list of my co-workers goes on and on, but they have all left me a better person for knowing them and this article would be far too long if I mentioned everyone by name and extolled their virtues. Let’s just say that the biggest reason I shopped at FP and the very best reason that I loved working there was the passion that each and every employee has for graphic literature. Most of the graphic novels on my shelves were recommended by someone who works at the Planet. Each time I even look at my shelves, I am grateful for my time there.

Most importantly, the customers at Forbidden Planet have left me the joy of knowing them and of, hopefully, helping steer them towards titles, writers and artists. I hope they’ve enjoyed that as much as I have enjoyed them sharing their favorite titles with me.

Since I got permission from them to say their names, I want to thank Ira and Shara for always bringing joy to our faces and lives whenever they came into the store. As I was once the sub box guy and put titles into the boxes, it was a wonderful moment for me when I got to meet Box #223. It was months before we met face to face and I couldn’t help but notice we had similar tastes in books and I was grateful whenever we got a few minutes to chat about the things we’d read, what we enjoyed and even what we didn’t. Box #48 is one of the kindest souls that I have met. When #48 has finished those comics they get packed up and sent to soldiers overseas.

That is what I will miss the most – the kindness and generosity and solidarity that exists at the Planet. The stereotype is that if you lock two geeks in a room they’ll argue about whether Superman or Thor would win in a fight (or, if it were Julia and myself, it would be the battle of the Batgirls, as we both love Barbara, she tells me all about Cass and I try to convince her that Stephanie is kinda cool).

I think that what would really happen if you locked two geeks in a room, though, would be a whole lotta love. And then, when you unlocked the door and let the geeks out, I imagine they’d head out to the nearest con and take pictures with the cosplaying ladies. (Sidenote: Straight guys, this is your advice for the day from your new gay best friend: just politely ask if you can take a picture with the cosplay gal, say thanks and move on. I am available for any other questions you can only ask a GBF. Just send an email to Julia and she’ll forward it to me.)

One last word about goodbyes. This week we said goodbye to Leonard Nimoy. He was an amazing actor and man and I can only say this: Mr. Nimoy, you have given us all so much joy. Thank you. You lived long and, we hope, we gave you as much as you gave us.

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Daily Deals for 3-6-2015

Here’s a rundown of the deals Forbidden Planet NYC is offering today:

Batman Arkham Asylum Grant Morrison Dave McKean video game of the year graphic novels

Batman Arkham Asylum… The original Morrison/McKean classic! ($18) $7.99

George Romero’s Empire o/t Dead Act One Tp… ($20) $6.99

Hedge Knight Game of Thrones TP… ($15) $4.99

Mars Attacks The Dice Game… ($20) $7.99

Funko Legacy Magic the Gathering Liliana Vess AF… ($25) $5.99

*Forbidden Planet’s DAILY DEALS are updated every morning. Prices are valid in-store til the shop concludes its business day (10pm or 12am, depending on the day) and online for roughly 24 hours. Prices are valid while in-stock supply lasts.

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Troy’s Toys, But With Comics: Rapid Fire Edition

Here lies Chris Troy, what died of emotions related to Parks and Rec ending.

Aside from the best show wrapping up, hella fine comics dropped this week, including an issue of Secret Avengers I refused to review because it would just be me gushing about how self-aware and insane the issue is. So instead, I’ll talk about these 2 non-Marvel book, in an effort to to distract myself from this Johnny Karate-less future.

WickedDivine_08_300_462The Wicked + The Divine #8

Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson

Image $3.50

This may be hyperbole, but this is probably the best use of color in comics I’ve seen in the last 5 years.  Matthew Wilson absolutely delivers the good in Wicked and the Divine #8, in which our lead character attends what can be best described as a “God Rave”.  It’s as psychedelic as one would imagine, and Jamie McKelvie’s simple yet expressive layouts are enhanced tenfold thanks to Wilson’s brilliant colors. This is Wilson’s “Pizza Dog issue” moment, which I mean that he deserves an Eisner for it, and that I’ve made my weekly Matt Fraction reference.

And it’s not like the other contributors are slacking in any capacity. McKelvie is incapable of drawing a bad comic as far as I’m concerned, giving us some really interesting layout and panel placement and Kieron Gillen‘s script and dialogue is wonderful as per usual. But Matthew Wilson really flexes his creative muscles and busts out a Tron meets Andy Warhol color palette, and we the reader are richer for it. The book not only embraces the fact that comics are a strictly visually medium, but it grabs you by the throat and screams it in your face with it high intensity use of color. Of course, you can make an argument that Gillen and McKelvie set up Wilson to deliver such a performance, but I feel his colors make the issue.

Long story short: The Wicked + The Divine #8 is an $3.50 tab of acid that’s well worth the trip. As someone who’s never done acid, I hope that analogy works, because I don’t know any better way to describe this comic.

GOTHAC_Cv5_545d116f223cc7.03502535 Gotham Academy #5

Becky  Cloonan/Brenden Fletcher/Karl Kerschl/Msassyk/Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

If you’re a fan of quirky (And excellent) comics, Gotham Academy #5 is a book you need to read. Aside from always gorgeous visuals from Karl Kerschl and his talented team of colorists (Msassyk and Serge Lapointe ), this month’s installment involves a man bat, a lizard man, hidden tunnels, a school dance, intrigue AND a shout out to one of the best moments of Batman: The Animated Series. Dense doesn’t even begin to cover it, and it’s impressive how much this creative team crams into a single issue month after month.

Gotham Academy continues to use elements of Bat-Lore in interesting and unique ways, and it’s hard not to compare it to Harry Potter or Wolverine and the X-men. But like those works, it’s a fun as hell read, and you can tell Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher are really having a blast working with Kerschl and company. And their fun means a slick looking book with some great character moments, which is all I want from my #TEEN romance, spookums and mystery comics. Granted this month’s issue is heavier in Bat-stuff, literally, than past issue, it’s uses those elements to it’s advantage, so it seem natural, not forced.With the Batline being so good over the last 6 months, it’s hard to claim that Gotham Academy is the best book coming out from DC these days. But man, it’s a discussion worth having.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Troys, But with Comics: Back, with my friend Gwen edition

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK! No for real, don’t, I’ve only been gone for about a week, also I may have used this joke before.

Sorry for the sudden disappearance, but I had a move on my hands, which meant, me, my wife, our dumb cat went from Brooklyn to Queens, care of the Tracksuit Bros from Hawkeye. The snow did not make things easier by the by. But I’m back, chock full of new comics to talk about, and I’ll eventually get back to Toy Fair coverage. Give me a week and we should be good*.

 

*Citation needed.

Spider-Gwen-1-Cover-Robbi-Rodriguez-720x1112Spider-Gwen #1

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodriguez/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Verse is old, busted and bloated, Spider-Gwen is the new hotness.

When Spider-Gwen made her debut back in the Edge of Spider-Verse mini, I thought it was too much of a  (great looking) tease that played it a bit too safe, which sucked for me at the time. Then that particular issue went through several reprintings, giving Gwen that Babs Tarr Batgirl hype, so here we are 4 months later, looking at the relatively Spider-Verse free debut of Spider-Gwen’s ongoing. Editor Nick Lowe credits the fans excitement for the character for  the birth of the book in the debut issue’s letter section, and it’s a good to Marvel to see listening and giving the fandom what they want with this book.

spider_gwen_1_1Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi do some amazing work with this issue. Rodriguez’s layouts and energy put a fresh paint of on this familiar yet different Marvel Universe. His style is the child of the exaggerated expressions you see from Erica Henderson‘s work combined with the sharp lines and “dirt” you see from Sean Murphy.  His line work is loose, and when paired with Rico Renzi’s bright color palette, it makes for a superb visual experience. Between Renzi’s Gwen and Jordie Bellaire’s Moon Knight, Marvel’s making an impressive case for characters to have more white in their costumes. Also, I hope that doesn’t read as a Klan reference. Gwen’s costume grabs your eyes when it’s on the page, and its demands you attention, making it the focus of the panel, despite her positioning within. And the graffiti element leads to some really fascinating use of colors, which looks fantastic in digital. It’s Spider-Man meets Jet Grind/Set Radio, which is my jam, and makes the book worth it for the visuals alone.

Jason Latour‘s script is great too. Now free to tell his own story that’s not limited to a single issue tie in, Latour is free to flesh out Gwen’s world and cast more. His Gwen has her share of bad luck, but it’s way different than the type Peter Parker’s dealt with in his various incarnations. Which is great, because powers aside, Spider-Gwen really feels different from Spider-Man on every level. Additionally, Latour does a nice job of adding several established Marvel characters to the world with some neat twists, obviously planting the seeds for future story. And the situation Gwen’s dad is now faced with is really interesting, not to mention what’s going on with her band mates. It’s a surprisingly dense read for a 20 page comic, even with a cliffhanger ending. The pacing is great, and Latour has really stepped it up from the EoSV one shot.

Spider-Gwen #1 is another great debut from a company that’s been on fire with female lead books as of late. Latour, Rodriguez and Renzi come out swinging with this debut, and I mean that with fists, not webs, ugh, never mind, just buy it, this review has died via wordplay overdose.

 

 

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Petrie @ The Planet: Wonder Woman and Women in Comics

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Wonder Woman saved my life. When I was young (I was not little, weighing in, at my lightest, about 30 pounds heavier than I am now) I was an adopted, multi-racial, overweight child. I was also, not to be politically incorrect, really gay. I thought there was something terribly wrong with me that I didn’t want to play sports or go fishing, but instead wanted to hang out with the girls, play with dolls and read.

Then along came a metal spinner rack at our local convenience store. There was a woman in a red, white, blue and yellow costume holding back a lightning bolt with a rope (“Hera help me stop this lighting before it splits this building in two!”).

I have no idea what drew me to her but, there she was, right in front of me. Back then comics cost .25 cents (Yes, .25 cents!! I’m showing my age, but no more than the crows feet) and fortunately she was there on Saturday mornings with her friends. Her Super Friends.

Then came Lynda Carter. I’ve made no secret of my love affair with Stephen Amell and the passion he and I share, but Lynda was my first crush. I had her poster. I had her puzzle. I had her doll. More importantly as I got a bit older and began to realize why there was a gulf between myself and other boys my age, I also began to realize that Wonder Woman was different as well.

Wonder Woman was a woman in a field of men. She wasn’t a girlfriend or a damsel in dstress. She did the rescuing. She wasn’t the same as me, but she knew what it was like to be different and I always got the feeling she was okay with it. I knew she’d say to me, “It’s okay to be different and I like you BECAUSE of that.”

Unlike Superman or Batman or, even, Captain America who I thought would like me “even though” I was different. To my six or seven year old self, the space between ‘because of’ and ‘in spite of’ meant the world to me. It meant I would have a friend who would help me through the teasing and bad times.

Now, not to be more maudlin, I say none of this to make anyone feel sorry for me. I say this as a lead in to why I love women in comics. From Wonder Woman (I call her Diana. Yeah, we’re on a first name basis. I’m that cool now.) I was lead to Batgirl, Hawkgirl, Wonder Girl, The Wasp, Scarlet Witch (She and Diana and I had coffee the other day. She’s not crazy about how she’s been written recently, but mostly, she’s NOT CRAZY.)

I love that comic book women are more than one trait.  I know in my heart of hearts that Natasha is the toughest Avenger out there, but she’s dying for human connection. Black Canary could take down Batman if needed but she loves life so much she’ll never be a dark knight. Helena Bertinelli is an angry, vengeful creation, but she never gives up trying to make Gotham and herself better. The Wasp is silly, and flighty and the best field leader the Avengers ever had, keeping an arrogant Hercules in check and giving orders to Thor and Iron Man.

I love that comic book women are bad-ass. Diana will give you her hand in peace, but she’ll make it a fist and take you out if you want to cause trouble. I cannot overstate how much you should read the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang Wonder Woman. It’s an epic masterpiece, blessedly free of continuity. Azzarello makes Diana powerful and compassionate, two qualities which people seem to forget are NOT mutually exclusive. (Editor’s note: the Greg Rucka run is worth a look, too, if you can get your hands on it.)

I love that comic book women teach me how to have fun. Paul Dini’s BLACK CANARY/ZATANNA: BLOODSPORT graphic novel came out early last year and it’s fantastic! Two women who wear fishnets better than anyone on the planet (except our co-worker, Dany) and are friends. It’s a comic full of joy. And fisticuffs.

I love that comic book women teach me about the world. G. Willow Wilson’s MS. MARVEL is a revelation. This book is an addictive read. A teenage, Muslim fan-girl gets superpowers and succeeds in becoming like her idols. I look forward to this book every month. It’s fun and touching and beautifully written. It will make the hurt of losing SHE-HULK slightly less. I’m not sure how Charles Soule pitched SHe-Hulk. “She’s a big, green, super hero lawyer! We’ll make her as awesome as Gina Torres in ‘SUITS!’ And we’ll throw in Patsy Walker and a monkey named Hei Hei!!”  There is no way this book should work, but I fell in love with it. As has everyone else. Shulkie, we hope to see you soon.

You should know how awesome Kelly Sue DeConnick is, but in case you haven’t read her books yet, she’s simply an amazing writer who deserves the heaps of praise she’s gotten. If you want trippy, read PRETTY DEADLY. It’s drawn by Emma Rios and despite what some people say it’s not over-hyped. It’s Death’s Daughter as John Wayne in ROOSTER COGBURN written by H.P. Lovecraft. I’ll let that sink in. If you want a more super-hero piece, you’ve got CAPTAIN MARVEL. Whatever she’s writing, Kelly Sue hits it out of the park. If you haven’t read BITCH PLANET, please do. (Editor’s Note: Her run on GHOST is a solid, oft unsung winner, too.)

If I could have dinner with any working comic creators, I think it’d be Gail Simone and Nicola Scott. If you haven’t read EARTH 2, you should. James Robinson builds a world, and Nicola brings it to life. She not only draws beautiful pictures, she tells a story. and when she and Gail did the SECRET SIX? Well, it’s magic. Twisted, creepy, sick magic. And I loved every last second of it.

Babs Tarr on BATGIRL is genius. She does amazing things with this book, not the least of which she manages to dress a super heroine in casual clothes that a woman would actually wear. Gather around and listen to your new gay best friend, straight guys: when picking out clothes for your girlfriend as a present, stay away from using comics as a guideline; I guarantee, you’ll be wrong.

Marguerite Bennett is another writer that you should take notice of. If you didn’t read her recent spy series BUTTERFLY, then run back to the store and get the few autographed copies we have left. She’s about to start co-writing A-FORCE, an all female Avengers squad and the rumors are true, I did a little dance when I heard about this series.

There are a lot of books I want to tell you about with women who are strong and powerful and sexy and all those things in between, but mostly I want to tell you about women who are written as fully fleshed out characters. Grab Mark Waid’s SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT and you’ll know in an instant why Supes fell in love with Lois Lane. Pick up some Marv Wolfman/George Perez NEW TEEN TITANS and you get the fiery Starfire, the reserved Raven and the glorious Donna Troy, or, as I call her, Julia’s wife and eternal love. Get Kurt Busiek’s ASTRO CITY: VICTORY to have the best comic book study of feminism and heroism, where Winged Victory fights to remain the inspiration she is. Grab some BIRDS OF PREY (honesty time: read any pre-New 52 BOP, but post-New 52, stop after the first trade. The first collection is an awesome take on modern-day paranoia in the information age, after that the book gets, well, not as great.)

Read HAWKEYE for Kate Bishop’s attitude. Read HARK A VAGRANT! for Kate Beaton’s humor. Read anything by Greg Rucka for a male writer who simply writes great characters regardless of gender. Read Ed Brubaker’s CATWOMAN for some moral ambiguity.

More than anything else though, I beg and implore and plead with modern dance for you to read some WONDER WOMAN. She’s a multitude of things but, more important than whether she’s a warrior or a diplomat or anything else, she’s the personification of love. And, more than anything else in the world, don’t we need more love? And that’s why I read comics by and about women. Love.

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Troy’s Toys : Toy Fair 2015 part 1

I did a thing on Monday! A thing being street for “Attended Toy Fair 2015 at the Javitis Center  for the very first time!” in case you’re not in the know.

Anywho, fun Toy Fair fact- you can’t see the big boys of toys ( Hasbro/Lego/Mattel) without appointments. Apparently a guest badge has less power at Toy Fair that I was lead to believe, so I missed out seeing all the cool Marvel figures I wanted to steal.

What I did see, aside from an alarmingly amount of educational toys, are some cool action figures that will be dropping over the next year. Also fun fact: everyone wants to be Funko now. Despite the fact that Funko has the license to do ANYTHING at this point, so it seems kinda redundant.

heroes-of-the-storm-series-1-nova-terra-63ef0 devil-may-cry-afa02NECA was the first booth I checked out, because they announced they’re doing figures based on Blizzard’s “Heroes of the Storm”, which is my current MOBA jam. The large prototypes on display  looked great (NOVA! <3), and I’m eager to see what the final products look like this summer. Also on display were more Simpsons Celebrity figures, Pacific Rim toys, more Aliens and Predator figures, as well as Planet of the Apes. The most surprising had to the often delayed Player’s Select Dante figure ( Devil May Cry 1 none the less), which looks to be the most accurate/best version of the character to date. NECA will also continue to do NES/Genesis era versions of their licensed characters, like Godzilla, Rambo and Predator, because they’re down with that sort of synergy. And finally, expect to see a bunch of figures based on the Playstation hit Little Big Planet, with Sackboy in his original form, plus in the form of other Playstation franchises like Uncharted and God of War.

Flash-TV-Flash-AF-65377 DC-Icons-AF-MisterMiracle-f83a0From there, I paid a visit to the Diamond Selects/DC booth. While most of the non-DC toys were already released, the DC selection was quite rad. Expect to see a ton of new figures & statues based on their non-Constantine TV shows ( Gotham, Flash and Green Arrow, plus classic stuff like Batman 66 & Batman the Animated Series)  dropping in the near future. In addition to that, there’s the DC Icon lines, which seem to be the In-house evolution of the dead Mattel DC Universe Classics line. The first couple of waves are a mix of iconic characters like Batman and Superman, with lesser know ones like Mister Miracle, Deadman, and Blue Beetle III. The $24.95 price tag seems to be justified, although I’m curious if this line will eventually replace the new 52 figures that have been coming out from the company as of late.

 

Pop-Doctor-Who-10th-Doctor-eb9bd Legacy-Firefly-Hoban-Washburne-5f2dfI touched upon Funko earlier, cracking wise about how they have the license for everything, but that’s not that much of an exaggeration. Aside from the usual licenses, expect the POP line to grow with figurines based on Doctor Who, Evolve, Futurama, Bravest Warriors and the Breakfast Club, amongst other. Their Legacy line of 6″ figures will add Firefly, the Rocketeer and Evolve to it’s ranks, and the Faux Classic-Kenner esque line continues to grow, with toys based on Arrow, Breaking Bad, The 5th Element and Terminator 2.

That’s all I’ll cover this time. Next up: More from DC and Funko, some McFarlane Toys plus some cool import Goodness from Bandai, Square Enix and Good Smile!

 

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Sacrifice

LGBT VD (that’s, uh… Valentine’s Day) Picks and More!

It’s February. The month of love, l’amour, passion, romance and sweet kisses. (Editor’s note: and whips and handcuffs and bondage rope and…)

I love Valentine’s Day. Well, actually I love the day after when all the candy goes to 50% off. Valentine’s Day itself I could take or leave, but being single, it gives me a chance to get a little tipsy in public without judgement.

Now, when one thinks of comics, there are epic love stories that span the years. Clark and Lois. Bruce and Selina. Reed and Sue. Scott and Jean and/or Emma.  Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. Dick Grayson and Starfire. Dick Grayson and Helena Bertinelli. Dick Grayson and, well, pretty much everyone of a certain age in the DCU.

Of course the most true and everlasting of love stories is myself and Stephen Amell, star of the tv show ARROW, but since those details are private, I’ll get back to my point. Love abounds in all corners of the world and while Nick is covering one half of those love stories I’ll be giving you some LBGT recommendations. We here at FP have you covered for all the Valentine’s Day gifts you’ll need for the geeks in your life!!

YOUNG AVENGERS has young love with all its angst and trauma and the great ups and downs. There is a hardcover omnibus with all of the recent Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie run and the overarching storyline revolves around WICCAN making a huge magical mistake in order to make his boyfriend, HULKLING, happy. Ah, the things we stupidly do for love when we’re young. It’s a sweet story about love against a cosmic background and if you’ve never read Young Avengers, it’ll make you want more.

Paige Braddock’s JANE’S WORLD and Alison Bechdel’s ESSENTIAL DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR are must haves for, well, everyone. The absurdities of love and the pitfalls of lust are made universal. I guarantee you will find yourself identifying with more than one character in these amazing (indie) books.

Love doesn’t get more tragic than when I broke up with Christian Bale after he finished up with playing BATMAN and refused to even give me a prop batarang. He cried and cried  when I left and, I assume, eventually moved on, but I digress.

Tragic love in the comics doesn’t get more beautifully rendered than when GREG RUCKA writes about RENEE MONTOYA. If you haven’t read GOTHAM CENTRAL, please do so immediately! There is no way for me to recommend this book enough. It’s everything you love about comics with amazing characterization, gripping stories, stunning art and when combined with BATWOMAN:ELEGY (which, for the record, is flawless!!) shows both sides of a love story that never fails to touch my soul. Also, I’ve gotten to meet Greg Rucka at a bunch of cons and he couldn’t be a kinder, more lovely person.

Now, NORTHSTAR’s wedding always gets props in the Marvel Universe and, don’t get me wrong, as annoying as he is, it’s actually quite nice to see a human side of Jean Paul and how he interacts with Kyle is beautiful. Plus it’s written by MARJORIE LIU and she’s awesome!

That being said, I think ALPHA FLIGHT by GREG PAK and FRED VAN LENTE might be even better. It’s the very beginning of NORTHSTAR and Kyle’s relationship and it’s more than worth the read.

STRANGERS IN PARADISE has Katchoo and Francine in the longest love story in comics on record, and, I won’t tell you if it ends well or not, but I will say that it’s worth the ride.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we all have those characters that we crush on. Julia has Donna Troy. Justin has Hobgoblin (don’t ask, we all think it’s weird) and I have Catman (Editor’s note: Yes, because that’s the height of normalcy).

Now, since the first two mini-series of the SECRET SIX are collected in one volume and here today, I’m going to recommend this. I think once you read it, you’ll understand why I have actually read Catman fan-fiction. This book has great storytelling, fantastic art and a Parademon who has a crush on a clown, so it’s safe to say you’ve never read anything like it. I want you all to pick up this book and buy it. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s an actual love story you won’t see coming. In addition to loving Greg Rucka, I freely admit to loving GAIL SIMONE as well. I can honestly say I’ve never read a book of hers that hasn’t made me laugh, made me think and made me gasp, often all at the same time. Yes, I have a little crush on Gail, too.

If straight up romance for the LGBT community isn’t your thing then let’s think outside of the box for all your Valentine needs and gifts. This week, we have Wally Wood’s TORRID ROMANCE on sale today. I have been known to spend a lot of time at cons pouring over the back issues of romance comics, so I enjoy a little camp with my romance. It doesn’t get much campier than Wally Wood.

Now, if your significant other is a fan of toys, then BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA Pops are on their way and they’re adorable. Also, we have MALEFICENT (the Hot Toy, not the real one) and if you get it for your lady friend, take a hint from your new gay best friend, guys. Don’t tell your girlfriend that she reminds you of Maleficent. Big mistake. Trust me on this.

Matt D. has a Valentine’s blu-ray for your romantic evening in. It’s FRANKENHOOKER and, yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. When a man loses his lady love, well, he’ll do anything to bring her back. It’s, perhaps, not as torrid as Torrid Romance, but it certainly involves more body parts and needle and thread.

Alec will be picking up the LIVING DEAD DOLL Kiss of Death Kissing Booth for his lady love. There’s a morbid joke in there somewhere, but I’m just going to assume that his Valentine’s Day will be totally un-romantic and creepy. I’m not judging, just saying.

We have your gift needs covered here at the Planet, no matter the holiday or who you’re buying for. And remember, psychologists agree that the best way to avoid the stress of gift buying is to buy yourself a little treat at the same time.

And if you’re here on Valentine’s Day, wish our Valentine a happy birthday. Bonus points if you can guess where his name came from.

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