Tagged: ales kot

Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Secret Avengers #15

Hey gang you know what’s cool? Allergies that lead into in nasal infection. Which really knocks the wind out of your sails. But I’ve over it, and giving you an review that should have been up last week! That’s…something right?

Anway, here’s my final review for Secret Avengers, which will be followed by a Secret Wars review, because Secret is the new Uncanny at Marvel, or it’s not, I dont know, adjectives are confusing.

 

backgroundSecret Avengers #15

Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Here we have the 3rd final issue of Secret Avengers since 2013. Even in it’s prime, Secret Avengers was never the top selling Avengers book, constantly overshadowed by vanilla and New Avengers, despite seeing some major talent attached to it throughout it’s existence. With Secret Wars coming, and the existence of the Mark Waid’s S.H.I.E.L.D. title, this may be the FINAL Secret Avengers finale for the foreseeable future.

That being said, it’s almost arguably the STRONGEST and consistent run on Secret Avengers to date. Ales Kot, Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson (with Tradd Moore on covers and VC’s Clayton Cowles on letters) managed to deliver 15 excellent consecutive issues month after month, something that’s become rarer and rarer in comics. The quality of the title has never dropped, being one of Marvel’s boldest and brilliant titles in recent history.

Secret Avengers #15 is a surprising quiet issue, with the team having already saved the day and dealing with the fallout. After last month’s action filled issues with a dramatic cliffhanger, it was kind of a shock to see the book end without a single punch or explosion, and letting the reader fill in the blanks. The book focuses mostly on Maria Hill and MODOK, fleshing out the SHIELD commander a bit, while continuing the theme of her and MODOK being on the same side of the coin in a number of ways. Kot has never shyed away from Secret Avengers being a metaphor for his views on the US government, with SHIELD as a stand in for the military, so some of the events and conversations that go down in this comic do not come as a surprise. But it’s definitely and upbeat ending mind you, as Kot expertly sprinkles humor and legit joy masterfully throughout this comic, as he touches upon every major character he’s dealt with in this series, even a big name character no longer with us.

The equally talent Michael Walsh draws the hell out of this finale as well. Walsh’s art is best described as a rougher David Aja, and he’s just as bold and experimental as the former Hawkeye artist. His expressive characters are a treat to look at, and it’s amazing how much emotion Walsh can channel from his simplistic, sketchy style. Matthew Wilson compliment his pencils and inks perfectly, with the Eisner nominated colorist uses a flat yet bright palette. It’s adds a nice warm glow to the book, that pairs well with Wilson heavy lines.

Secret Avengers was a book that had a message that it was not afraid to shy away from, and was pretty bold for a Marvel book. And while it wasn’t as good as the modern cult classic Nextwave, it’s definitely somethings fan of that book can enjoy. It was a strange and often overlooked book from the publisher that’s worth reading. It also gave us of cover with Modok in funny hats, which speaks volumes to me.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Secret Criminals Edition? Yeah I guess that works

I would read a book called Secret Criminals FYI.

SECAVN2014012CVR-659x1000Secret Avengers #12

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel/$3.99

Secret Avengers #12 can be best described as “Nextwave meets True Detective“, which is the best description for any comic, and I don’t care if you disagree with me.

I love it when Marvel has a book that features fairly iconic characters and allows it to operate under the radar. Like MODOK drunk texting Deadpool (complete with the use of the word “Bae”), or Hawkeye dropping the phrase “Resident Terrorist Sex Horror Advisor”, which is something we’ll probably not be hearing in a movie anytime soon. There’s also a killer gag involving ring tones, which only proves that I’m a big fan of phone-based jokes apparently. It makes for a fun read, and it’s nice that not everything has be average Disney XD viewer friendly.

But this book isn’t all jokes mind you. Spider-Woman and Maria Hill find themselves in a bit of a pickle, and their interactions ring true to their characters. Ales Kot‘s Maria Hill is a no-excuses workaholic, and she bounces off his equally determined but more sarcastic Spider-Woman quite nicely. We also have Kot writing Black Widow and Lady Bullseye in a cosmic horror setting, which is something I didn’t know I wanted, but glad I’m now have. These character interactions are a key part of which I enjoy this title so much, as Kot has a gift for dialogue. His jokes hit hard, and there’s so much subtext in some throw away lines that it warrants multiple re-readings. It’s a smart book wrapped in some crazy circumstances, beautifully illustrated by Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson.

Secret Avengers remains one of the craziest and surreal books Marvel’s been putting out for the last year. If this is the final incarnation of this book, I’ll be glad, because it will be an hard act to follow up on.

SEXCRIMINALS_10Sex Criminals #10

Matt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky #10

Image $3.50

Chip Zdarsky draws hella genitals in this issue, be warned if you’re squeamish. Also if you’re squeamish, what’s wrong with you, Sex Crimz is not for you.

A Tinder’s worth of crotch pics (or Grinder I suppose) aside, this is another brilliant installment of Sex Criminals. Writer Matt Fraction has never shyed away from discussing the importance of mental help, and he’s handling of Jon seeing a therapist is nothing short of inspiring. Sex Criminals has always managed to channel genuine human emotion despite it’s lewd premise, and this issue is proof of how good it can be.

Chip Zdarsky is a funny dude, no one is surprised by this statement. But ol’ Zdarkseid manages to use sound effects in a particular way this issue that had my dying as I read it. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but if it is, it’s fantastic. His timing and structure couldn’t be any better for setting up these little sound effect gags, and the use of all lowercase letter had me dawing as well as loling. And yeah, I just used “Daw” and “Lol” as actions, what of it?

There’s also  a bit in this issue that is very Scott Pilgrim esque, only with a lot more genital talk. I didn’t think I could love this series anymore than I have bee, but(t) here we are. Also is you think the last 200 words were mastubatory, let me make you aware of the fact that Hawkeye drops next week and it will get worse.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Mindtrip

Happy Turkey Day weekend. Assuming you weren’t trampled on Friday via stampeding crowds looking for hot dealz.

ODY-C-1-CoverODY-C #1

Matt Fraction/Christian Ward

Image $3.99

OY-C is a comic that….I…um….that is to say…

:: Stares at keyboard for several minutes at a lost for words ::

ODY-C is kind of a weird book y’all. A different type of weird that I’m use to from the writer. In the outro, Matt Fraction describes the book as a retelling of the The Odyssey with a Wonder Woman meets Barbarella filter. Which it definitely achieves, channeling some 4th World Jack Kirby with a dash of Blizzard’s Starcraft designs as well. But to be honest, Fraction’s writing left me a little cold with this debut. There’s hints of his brand of humor and dialogue sprinkled around the comic, but his dedication to the source material rubbed me the wrong way a few times. It’s far from bad, and impressive that Fraction managed to balance new dialogue all while paying homage to the original Odyssey, but I just didn’t connect to this comic like I did previous Fraction written debuts.

Visually, this book looks  like nothing else on the market. Christian Ward‘s visuals are as trippy as they are beautiful,  and his use of colors and the choice of palette is fantastic. My favorite moment comes from a multi-panel fight scene that’s coated primarily in shades of  red, with the only contrasting color being white. It’s an insane visual trick that really makes the art pop out. And Chris Eliopoulos‘ lettering couldn’t be better, doing this epic justice.

In addition to Ward’s gorgeous art, there’s an 8 page double sided fold out that kicks this comic off. There’s an insanely detailed battlefield image by Ward on one side, and the other is map/timeline that was done with help from one Drew Gill. It’s a dense read that sets the stage for the book, almost drowning the reader with information.

I applaud Fraction and Ward for making one of the most visually interesting books on the market with a female heavy cast.  I’m going to give the series another issue to see if it’s pull  worth of if I’m better waiting for trade. Regardless of my buying preference, ODY-C is a different type of comic, something that deserves to be read based on it’s boldness alone.

 

backgroundSecret Avengers #10

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of weird looking books that look good, this issue of Secret Avengers is arguably the best the book’s looked all year.

I don’t want to take away from Ales Kot‘s contributions to this book. Kot’s work on this title has been important, managing to combine some genuine humor into a exciting espionage thriller that’s pretty dark and very weird. But ultimately, it’s the team of Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson that made fall hard for this issue.

Allow me to explain why: the final 5 pages of this comic take place Venzuela, amiss of a downpour. Spoilers, if only you didn’t look at this book’s cover, it involves Hawkeye and Agent Coulson having a stare down  and it looks fantastic. Walsh’s body language, facial expressions, panel composition are great, and look amazing thanks to Wilson’s black and grey pallets. And the final page is equally hilarious and dreadful, setting up for the third and final arc of this series. Capped off by another fantastic Tradd Moore, Secret Avengers makes me a happy reader once again.

It’s hard to say if this book is coming to an end because of low sales, or if it had a plan ending from the beginning. Hopefully it’s the later, because it’s easily the best the book’s been since Warren Ellis‘ brief run. Either way, I’m excited to see how this all ends, despite the fact that and another wonderfully weird Marvel book will be over.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: ALL HAIL THE HYPNO SLOTH!

Hey FPNYC faithful, before we go into this week’s round of reviews, I just wanted to point out that The Wicked + The Divine #5 also dropped this past Wednesday and it is super great. I’ll probably go back a look at the first five issues as a whole once the trade drops next month, so y’all can look forward to that I guess.

 

portrait_incredibleSecret Avengers #9

Ales Kot, Micahel Walsh, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

This issue has Hawkeye and Deadpool fight an Eco-Terrorist version of the Ultimate Warrior and an All Star Superman parody featuring MODOK. It’s a Nextwave appearance short of being everything I want from a Marvel comic.

 

Secret Avengers continues to be a weird sci-fi spy comic who’s jokes aren’t afraid to punch up. It takes some weird chances, not giving the reader a dumbed down product, and it’s all the better for it. Weird things happen for a reason, and while the answers to certain questions always doesn’t come immediately, when they are addressed it’s a win for readers. Ales Kot is a smart dude who balances a ton of different type of storytelling elements well, & Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson continue to amaze on visuals, especially with the last few pages, mixing some serious strangeness with some great character work and expressions. Not to mention doing some cool David Aja-esque panel breakdowns revolving around Hawkeye shooting off some arrows.

There’s also no less than 3 pin up pages in this book, something unusual for Secret Avengers. As someone who’s read comics in the 90s, it’s really hard for me to be impressed by that sort of thing, but seeing how they’ve been used so sparingly before in SA, the get the desired effect in issue #9. They’re all bold, mostly dialogue free, and contain really striking imagery. Props to the creative team for doing that sort of thing right.

Secret Avengers is basically more of the same. The same being a smart, engaging, weird and hilarious book that has Tradd Moore  and Wilson  some fantastic work on the covers every month. It’s also worth nothing that the first 6 issues are now available in trade, so if you wanted to jump on the book, now’s the time to do so.

 

 memetic1Memetic #1

James Tynion IV/Eryk Donovan

BOOM! Studios/ $4.99

A few months back, (possibly around San Diego Comic Con time) Boom send out an image of the Good Times Sloth, with little to no context. I remember being excited to find out what the deal was with said GT sloth, and then promptly forgot about it because that is how I roll.

 

However, a recent interview with the creative team on Comics Alliance reminded me of said sloth and learned me good of it’s origins (bad grammar was intentional BTW), and I was instantly hook on it’s origins and the book it would be appearing it. The book is called Memetic, and holy hell, is the a really good horror book.

 

For all of you not in the know, Memetic’s plot is as such: The Good Time Sloth image goes viral on the internet, setting all sorts of records and becomes a global phenomenon. Oh and then drives anyone who looks at it insane, and brings about the apocalypse. The book starts off 3 days into the end of times, and then jumps back to the beginning of the outbreak, just as the meme go viral and shit goes down.

It’s the type of high concept horror that made me a fan of James Tylon IV’s work earlier this year. His work on The Woods, Tylon’s OTHER BOOM horror book, was my proper introduction to his creator owned work, and Memetic’s double sized review is as good, if not better than that book. The concept is unique and fresh, the world building and character development is believable, and the social commentary is smart, but not pandering.

In addition to the a great script, Memetic looks fantastic. Erik Donovan style is sketchy and exaggerated, but considering the story revolves around a meme bringing about the end of the world, it makes sense. It actually reminds me a lot of Axe Cop’s creator Ethan Nicolle’sstyle, just a little bit looser. Adam Guzowski‘s colors are also great, as they can shift from dark to bright with no problem.

This 3 issue mini series does look like it’s going to end well, and I’m thrilled to be able to read it. Between this and Wytches, it’s been a great month for horror comics from non big-2 publishers.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: So many things

Before I start screaming about this month’s issue of Saga, I just wanted to give y’all (all 3 of you) a head’s up with what to expect over the next few weeks. Aside from weekly reviews, expect to see a few advanced reviews, a NYCC preview, and hopefully a toy review or two in the coming weeks. I’m excited to share all of this with you the reader, because I like to talk about some (hopefully) cool shit.

Saga-23-90332Saga #23

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

SPOILER WARNINGS: HEAVY SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW BE WARNED.

First off, I just wanted to say how much I dig the use of yellow on the front, back and interior covers of this book. It looks really sharp and stands out a lot. Aside from being a well crafted comic, Saga is also a brilliantly designed book, something I appreciate bunches.

So if you’re caught up with this book (HERE COME THE SPOILERS Y’ALL), Brain K Vaughan and Fiona Staples have been teasing the split up of our leads for the last few months. Ever since the announcement via narration, they’ve been dropping a ton of hints of how it was going to go down, killing me slowly. Well this is the issue that is goes down, and when it looks something we’ve been expecting to happen to go down…

Vaughan and Staples pull a 360.

The split still happens I’m sad to say. But not in a way you’re (probably) expecting. And it hurts, believe you me, but the bait and switch does leave some hope. It’s brilliant, as we see why Vaughan used certain words in the way he did. And then the ending hits and we’re given something that’s been building since issue one. It’s an awesome ending that sets the stage of this volume’s end next month all to well.

And while BKV delivers top notch dialogue, Fiona Staples continues to show why she’s won a bunch of awards for this book. The body language, page and panel composition, the colors, the facial expressions-EVERYTHING-is done for a reasons and executed flawlessly. It’s fantastic.

It’s no surprise that Saga #23 delivers. Every issue of has Saga has delivered so far, so why would things be any different this month. It’s HOW the book delivers that makes it stand apart from previous installments of the book. Another flawless installment by arguably the only  perfect comic series on the stand today, I cannot stress enough how great this book is.

 

ENDS OF SPOILERS DON’T WORRY YOU CAN READ THE REST OF THE COLUMN!

background (1)Secret Avengers #8

Ales Kot/Micahel Walsh/ Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

SHAMELESS PLUG: This book’s writer (Ales Kot) will be signing his new Marvel title (Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier) at the store this Wednesday at 6pm. You should probably swing by and tell him how much you love his work and buy a bunch of his comics.

So yeah, in case the cover didn’t tip you off, it’s a MODOK heavy issue of Secret Avengers, one that fills in some gaps between the previous series and this one. It also reveals some answers to questions raised in the first seven issues of this book, reveals some cosmic horror and has some genuinely laugh out loud moments (especially with that last page).

Something I like about this title is how weird it can be at times without pointing it out. Ales Kot, Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson (who’s does some amazing things with colors this months) blend espionage with humor and some really gonzo elements of the Marvel Universe that remind you that this is a spy comic that takes place in a world of spandex wearing heroes. It’s not afraid to not take itself seriously at times, and look great while doing so.

Secret Avengers is a book that feels like Warren Ellis and Jim Steranko tackled a Avengers book set in the movie’s continuity but were given free range to do whatever they wanted. The end results are as equally bizarre as they are amazing.

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: BERFday edition.

Hey today’s my birthday! Totally not relevant to anything we’re going to discuss tonight, except for like 1 gag, but you can wish me a happy birthday in the comments section if you dare!

portrait_incredibleSecret Avengers #7

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Deadpool and Hawkeye team-up time is exactly the type of birthday gift I wanted. Thank you team Secret Avengers.

Deadpool is a character that if not handled properly can ruin your story and bringing any momentum to a screeching halt. Luckily, that’s not the case for Secret Avengers #7, where Deadpool’s 4th Wall breaking and straight up insanity makes for a hell of a read. It also helps that Ales Kot’s version of the character is genuinely funny here, using himself to interact with Wade on the page.It’s not the first time we’ve gotten such, but it’s certainly the best execution of it in awile.

Michael Walsh, Matthew Wilson & VC’s Clayton Cowles also get in on the fun, providing some hilarious (and sometimes chicken-based) visual gags and sound effects. The book has been plenty funny in the past, but this issue really takes things to the next level all while advancing the plot. Walsh and co also do a lot of experimenting with layouts, using double spreads, pages with 10+ panels and some other interesting choices that I rather not spoil. It’s the title of art that deserves more praise than it’s getting.

Secret Avengers was a great book in a week that saw a lot of strong releases. It’s the type of Marvel Comic that justified the $4 price tag.

portrait_incredible (1)Ms Marvel #7

G. Willow Wilson/ Jacob Wyatt/ Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Jacob Wyatt‘s 2 issue guest stint on Ms Marvel returns this week with a delightful wrap of. Kamala’s team up with Wolverine has the pair fight a giant alligator and deal with a classic death trap while discussing  Ms. Marvel’s new career path. Under lesser creators, this book would risk being preachy, almost a “very special episode” type of book. Luckily for us, the readers, the creative team remains flawless, and the end result is a very good comic.

I’m the type of dude who doesn’t like Wolverine, as I’ve suffering from Wolverine exhaust ever since I got into comics. That being said, Wolverine hanging out with teen lady super heroes is something I like…..oh man, I just re-read that past sentence, I apologize how creepy it sounds. Sorry :/

Creepy-ass commentary is now over. And since G Willow Wilson is pretty much perfect on this issue, which ends on a super fun note, we’ll talk about Jacob Wyatt some more. I really loved his art during this arc, as he was just as expressive and animated as regular artist Adrian Alphona, but very much of his own style. His Khamala is adorable, which….nope, no more creepy as commentary, sorry.

But yeah, another enjoyable Ms Marvel, with some great art, fantastic dialogue and the set up for some really awesome guest stars. All under a highly amusing cover by Jamie McKelvie that dropped right during selfie-month in DC. Forbidden Planet’s best selling series is a best seller for a reason, and the quality seen in this issue is proof of that.

 

tumblr_n5xgrzsXkf1tuoa2wo1_500The Wicked + The Divine #3

Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie Matthew Wilson/Clayton Cowles.

Image $3.50

Brilliant, simply brilliant.

Much like the first 2 issues, the Wicked + the Divine is a gorgeous books that has some of the best dialogue in comics. It’s also incredible smart, and isn’t afraid to challenge the readers, making you wanting to re-read it several time to pick up on everything.

Also the Stephanie Hans variant is gorgeous and continues my streak of buying variant covers for this series.

And it’s just not Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie doing some career defining stuff. Matthew Wilson (again) color’s are the realness, and Clayton Cowle‘s lettering is the type that you stand up and take notice off. It’s several creators coming together to make a fantastic comic.

Wicked/Divine is one of those books that makes picking out a favorite Image book difficult. While it may initally come across as collections of Gillen’s greatest hits (Music and Gods as themes), it’s definitely taken it’s own form and the results couldn’t be better. It’s an amazing comics, one that stands out among a week of fantastic releases.

 

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics-Shorty got Low Low Low (and some other books)!

I could easily talk about the new issue of Hawkeye in 500+ words. But I won’t because this was a damn fine week for comics, and the other books that I pulled are also worth discussing. Plus Hawkeye’s return may warrant a separate review column (spoilers: it will!).

Uncanny-X-Men-24-cover-artUncanny X-men #24

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka

Marvel, $3.99

A few weeks ago, Kris Anka spoke about this very issue of UXM on Pat Loika’s Loikamania podcast. During the podcast, Anka pointed out that there’s a moment that Emma Frost has a reaction that she’s only capable of having that was a delight to draw. I’m not saying that specific moment is worth the $4, but it’s easily the best 2 panels in this issue, so yeah, it really is the best reason to drop $4 on this book.

After what I felt was a phoned in issue from Brian Michael Bendis last time around, he and Anka deliver the goods with issue 24. The script is a vast important, as one of the promised SEKKKKRETTTSSS of Charles Xavier is relieved and it’s a massive one. Bendis actually hinted at it a few months ago over in All New X-men, and this reveal takes away the grossness of that scene, clearing things up nicely. You can tell Bendis has been influenced by the last 2 X-films, and what element from the films he chooses to incorporate should lead to some interesting stories.

The only thing that irks me about UXM #24 is the handling of Dazzler’s new ( and awesome) look. The motivation behind it last issue explains why she’s now all faux-hawked out, but there’s no explanation as to how she got a new costume, and there’s zero reaction from the other X-men she’s been hanging with. Considering it’s the focus of the cover, not addressing it at all is kind of a cop-out in my opinion. That being said, I’m glad to see thing improve all over this issue, and I’m excited for issue #25 and how the big reveal is going to play out.

portrait_incredible (4)Secret Avengers #6

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel, #3.99

Oh look, another Marvel book that double shipped this month, goodbye money.

Coming off of a relatively dark issue #5, issue 6 is a step back in the fun, action direction the earlier issue of Secret Avengers were. This incredibly dense issue sees an awesome Black Widow/Lady Bullseye rematch (and yes, the video game motif returns this time it’s fighting games), Hawkeye step up for Maria Hill, and most importantly, MODOK rocking a monocle.

Another beautiful issue under Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson, writer Ales Kot does some really cool things with the narration boxes and editorial notes. They kinda break the 4th wall a bit, but it all makes sense once the issue wraps. I dug it a bunch, as it’s tricky technique that actually works here, given one of the characters involved.

I really feel bad for the creative team on Secret Avengers. It’s a really smart and fun book that doesn’t get enough hype for whatever reason. I urge anyone who digs Marvel’s quirkier tittles to give this book a chance. If you’re down won over by M.O.D.O.K. discussing sex with one of his minions, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Low_01-1Low #1

Rick Remender/Greg Tocchini

Image $3.99

The last time I read a story by Rick Remender & Greg Tocchini, it was a relatively underwhelming arc of Uncanny X-Force from a few years back. I always felt Tocchini was a little mismatched for the spandex world, and this debut issue of Low is proof of that.

Low is a gorgeous looking book that benefits from Tocchini inking and coloring his own art. It reminds me a lot of Sean Murphy on  The Wake in a way, given that their both heavy on the aquatic stuff,  but ultimately it’s a different type of beast all together. Both artists are heavy on the inks, but Tocchini’s style is smoother and cleaner overall. It reminds me a lot the Bioshock video game series in away, which is good, because I love those games.

Despite the relatively grim premise of the book, (Mankind is forced to live under the sea after the Sun goes supernova, and the search for a new planet to live on isn’t going well) our female lead Stel Caine is an eternal optimist determined to work everything out. Upbeat female leads is something Rick Remender hasn’t done at all in his creator owned books, and it’s a nice alternative from the usual grizzled and jaded male character that stars in his creator owned stuff. He’s caught some flack with his handling of female characters as of late, and it’s nice to see address them in the best manor possible: by creating great comics.

Low is off to a great start, continuing Remender’s creator owned hot streak at Image. It’s a beatiful looking book, and I hope this level of quality continues throughout the series.

 

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toy, but with Comics: Afterlife Saga

LAST WEEK’S LATE REVIEW:

Secret-Avengers-2014-5Secret Avengers #5

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

First and foremost, that cover is dope. Tradd Moore’s covers for this series have pretty top-notch so far, but when you toss in ammo crate in goat form with a Wolverine-fish, you get points in my book.

That being said, this book isn’t as light in tone as the cover suggests. There’s a murder mystery aboard the Helicarrier, and one of the Secret Avengers may be guilty. Also one of them may be getting a new super power while another one of them may be suffering from PTSD. There’s a ton of mistrust amongst the team, and this may not end well for S.H.I.E.L.D. once everything is said and done.

Issue 5 is particularly dark, but also incredibly smart. There’s a conversation between Maria Hill and M.O.D.O.K. that shows that Ales Kot isn’t afraid to draw parallels to the current state of the US Military and some of the ugliness that they can be capable of. It puts some blood on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hand, making the organization a little more grey and grounded than it’s use to.

So yeah, this issue of Secret Avengers isn’t exactly a feel good issue, but it successfully builds tension and leads to interesting character interactions. Well worth the $4.

saga_21Saga #21

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

Team Saga won a number of Eisners again this past Friday, much to the surprise of no one. Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples have yet to disappoint with this title,  and all acclaim given has definitely been earn.

That being said, this new issue of Saga isn’t the most upbeat of issues. There’s a great moment with Hazel, and some sexy times, but for the most part, it’s all building up for some bad stuff. BKV and Staples have been carefully building to an event spoken on the final page of the first chapter of this arc, driving us, the readers insane. The first hints were given last issue, and here they’re expanded up further, making the turning of each page each more dramatic. There’s also a new element tossed in, which is definitely not going to end well for our lead couple.

But like a car wreck on a highway or NASCAR racing event, you can’t help  but watch. It’s done so well, and we already know how it ends, and it’s going to be terrible. But again, BKV and Staples are on top of their games and the end product is craft so well.

Ultimately Saga continues to be great but, but ultimately one that’s going to send me to my grave early, weeeeeeeee!

 

Sabrina02Afterlife with Archie #6

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa/Francesco Francavilla

Archie $2.99

Spoilers: This was not the happiest of weeks for comics

A lot of comics fall into the habit of being cliche and predictable. You can see the outcome early  in an arc, the status quo is maintained, no one ever stays dead, etc.

Afterlife with Archie is not that book. It is the book that plays a zombie outbreak in Riverdale straight and has lead to some amazing moments. This issue is a done in one focused on Sabrina, the teenage witch. Sabrina is partially responsible for this mess, has been exiled from our realm, and wakes up in a nice house with padded walls.

And the final 2 pages of this story is amazing. There’s a huge twist that’s definitely setting up something big down the road in AwA and Francesco Francavilla draws the hell out of it. And the twist itself is brilliant. You can kind of see it coming if you’re familiar with a partial horror writer, but  it doesn’t take away from the final reveal, especially with how good it looks.

There’s also a preview of a Sabrina solo book by Aguirre-Sacasa, which looks neat as well. It’s weird to see a spin off of a book that’s only six issues deep, but it makes sense once you read everything.

Afterlife with Archie continues to impress, and this is arguable the best looking comic of the year so far. Buy volume 1, and the pick up this issue immediately if you want to be caught up with one of the best horror books on the stands.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics Belated edition part 1

Hey gang, sorry for the late of updates since Year Zero, but between Special Edition NYC and Heroescon (and the best BBQ), I haven’t been near a keyboard in awhile. Hopefully I’ll be all caught up with things by Wednesday.

sa4Secret Avengers #4

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

This month: Hawkeye, Nick Fury Jr, and a bunch of disposal SHIELD agents hunt a “The Fury” in a lawless Chinese City that disappeared 20+ years ago. It’s an Alien parody of sorts that’s high concept comics at its finest. Also Fury hunting the Fury sounds like slash fic, no I am not sorry for that joke.

While Ales Kot & Michael Walsh cut back on the comedy for an issue that’s more action-sci-horror, this comic is still entertaining as hell. There’s some laughs thanks to  MODOK mad science team  and the Hawkguy, but for the most part this comic plays it straight to help sell the horror/action aspects of the books. And it succeeds because the final product results in a brutal fight scene that also raises the question of how much Maria Hill and MODOK are the same in some aspects.  In terms of methodology, not so much visually. There’s also some weird stuff in this issue that SHOULD be considered a joke, but is played completely straight, making Secret Avengers that much more of interesting read.

While Kot continues to deliver top notch dialogue and plot, Walsh & colorist Matt Wilson continue to shine on this title. Kot channels some Chris Samnee this issue, and while the action scenes aren’t as dynamic and unique as the previous issue, they’re still strong enough to sell how creepy the Fury is. Wilson’s dark color palate really helps set the ton for this issue, primarily using blue, purples and blacks. Again, Aliens homage y’all.

Tradd Moore supplies another excellent cover to another excellent issue of Secret Avengers. While not as quirky as the last one, the stakes are raised with issue #4, which is another solid comic by this creative team.

 

portrait_incredibleAll New X-Men #28

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99 

Nothing says father’s day like the X-Men of the past fighting the Son of Charles Xavier right?

Daddy Issues aside ( J/K, this comic has a ton of them), this chapter continues to give more much needed characterization to the future brotherhood that could have helped improve the overall quality of Battle of the Atom. The Future Brotherhood’s motivations are fleshed out more, and amongst the reveals is how certain characters are alive, and why they’ve been acting the way they are. It’s some really good stuff by Bendis, who really gotten this book back on track as of late.

And while Bendis regains his footing, Stuart Immonen continues to impress. While his art has never really faltered at any point in this run, there is two particular pages, a double spread and the final page reveal that are great, and shows how well this creative team works together. The colors especially, because despite this book primarily drowning in red, are super sharp.

TLDR: Business as usual with this title. Which is good, because business is good comics.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Of Puppycats and X-men

NOTE: In  addition to the books I’m taking a look at this week, I also picked up the second issue of Boom’s Lumberjanes. It’a  great book, but real life hasn’t given me much time to write comics this weekend. Expect a proper review next weekend.

 

portrait_incredibleSecret Avengers #3

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

 

A “True Detective” reference Secret Avengers? Oh you shouldn’t have (That is a lie, always cater towards my interests please.).

 

Now that our team is assembled, the Secret Avengers are free to begin saving the world (in secret obviously). Not exactly a ground breaking concept I know, but what that actually means is that the team can now make fun of Hawkeye (“The Troubled One” as described by Maria Hill), throw down with Lady Bullseye, and make friends with sentient bombs. Yes, I’m well aware that last part sounds a little crazy, but keep in mind, this is a book with MODOK in it, so it’s not that bizarre if you really think about it.

 

Michael Walsh’s art is an absolute delight in this issue, and one of the reason it works so well is thanks to Matthew Wilson coloring. There’s some panels where only one color is used (the first page of the comic, several panels during the Black Widow/ Lady Bullseye fight), and it’s really striking. Walsh is no slouch either mind you, and the pages inspired by old school video games and really really cool. The art works we’ll with Ales Kot script, which is equally clever and humorous. And Tradd Moore’s cover is perfect, really highlighting the madcap atmosphere of this comic.

 

Secret Avengers continues to be the perfect book for fans eager for books that similar to Hawkeye, as well as ones that maintain the charm of the cinematic Marvel Universe. More comics could benefit with having talking bombs in their cast.

 

 

Bee-and-PuppyCat-Cover-ABee and Puppycat #1

Natasha Allegri/Garret Jackson/Madeleine Flores

KaBoom, $3.99

I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m a little let down by Bee and Puppycat’s comic debut. The animated short from last year was a delight, and the announcement of this mini series had my hopes set high, especially with Natasha Allegri involvement. Allergi’s comics debut with last year’s Fionna and Cake mini-series was excellent, but I found the first issue of Bee and Puppycat suffered from some awkward pacing and a bit of the ol’ decompression.

That being said, the book looks great, and the humor is swell. Bee, our magical girl temp worker, is a hot awkward mess of an adult, and it’s something that Allegri manages to capture perfectly in the comic. Puppycat, her magical dog-cat, is as cute as it’s animated counterpart, but without the audio element of the show in this book (animated Puppycat is voiced by the Japanese Vocaloid synthesizer program, which is super cute), it loses some of its charm. And again why the humor and visuals are great, I found the plot kind of dragging, paling to the narrative of the back up story. The backup story, by Madeline Flores, is excellent, and is a cute follow up to the animated short. Flores’ art is very expressive, and her choice to keep Puppycat silent works well. I’m actually more excited to see how that story wraps up than I am with the main.

Bee and Puppycat isn’t a bad comic but it pales to the recent released Fionna and Cake themed Adventure Time annual, and this week’s issue of Lumberjanes. Fans will find some enjoyment in it, but there’s little to sell people on not familiar with the property aside from the art.

All-New_X-Men_Vol_1_27_TextlessAll New X-Men

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Wade Von Grawbager/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

An incredibly DENSE issue from Bendis and Immonen, this issue of All New X-Men does a lot right.  Two of the underused characters introduced in last year’s Battle of the Atom event are fleshed out in a flashback, there’s another mystery plot line touched upon and a ton of action as the X-men find them under attack. It’s a lot for 20 pages of content, but Bendis paces it well, letting Stuart Immonen’s pencils to the talking when need be, and saving the large chunks of dialogue he’s known for the break from the action. The colors from Marte Gracia, in conjunction with the heavy black inks from Wade Von Grawbadger mix well, and help Immonen’s art give the sense of urgency and chaos this issue needs.

All New X-Men has really found its footing after dragging its heels for a few months. I’m really glad to see it, and hope this kind of quality continues to be present in the series.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics Late coz of PAX East edition

This review is a little late because I just got back from Boston. Well not just, more like got home, slept for forever, played with my cat and had coffee first, then got to writing. Priorities and such.

PAX East 2014 was awesome by the way, but I’ll get into that when I do my SPECIAL review of a Video Game related comic next around. But for now, comics talks!

REVIEWS:

portrait_incredibleSecret Avengers #2

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

THE WORST: There was no digital code with this book where there clearly was suppose to be. BURN IT ALL TO THE GROUND, FIGHT THE MAN, ETC!

My lack of digital content aside (HAIL HYDRA!), I really dug the 2nd issue of Secret Avengers. The first issue was a lot of fun, establishing this run of the title may be a little more light-hearted than past incarnations of the title. The use of characters like MODOK, Spider-Woman and Phil Coulson are excellent comedic foils to your typical espionage Marvel characters like Black Widow, Nick Fury and Maria Hill. But not in a slap-slick way mind more, they’re just lighter and upbeat characters in a pretty dark sector of the Marvel Universe. Also Hawkeye’s in this book, and if this blog has taught anyone anything, it’s that I like books with Hawkeye in them.

Aside from being heavy on the action and humor, the book is incredibly clever, both visually and dialogue wise. In two issues the team  of Klot, Walsh and Wilson is assembled and their M.O. is established. Which in this age of multi-arc decompressed event books, having a complete story done in 2 chapters is a god send.

Now that Avengers Assemble is over, Secret Avengers is the Avengers book that you want to read if you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s easy to get into, and veteran Marvel fans will like it for just being a good fun book. It joins Mighty Avengers as solid alternatives for reader who may be turned off by Johnathan Hickman‘s more complex and event driven Avengers books.

Lumberjanes01Lumberjanes #1

Shannon Watter, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson and Brook Allen

$3.99 Boom!/Boom Box

I was sold on this book the minute it was announced. The press release on Comics Alliance stated that Lumberjanes was to be “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” meets “Gravity Falls” and was co-created by one of my favorite artists on Tumblr. If none of that made sense to you, the translation is that I had very hype hopes for the book going into it.

But, did the book actually live up to my exceptions? Did I dig it even though Noelle Stevenson only co-wrote it and did the cover? HOW SWEET IS THAT COVER BRO?! These are some questions you may be asking right now, and I can only tell you the answers are Yes, very much yes, and so sweet! The first issue of Lumberjanes starts off incredibly strong, tossing you straight into the action, which involves our leading ladies hella punching 3-eyed foxes. If there’s nothing in that last sentence that didn’t appeal to you, it’s time to leave, and never return again.

There’s a LOT thrown at the reader in this first issue, which I’m okay with. Where as too many comics tend to guide the reader’s by the hand with boring scene-chewing dialogue and narration boxes,  Stevenson and co-writer Grace Ellis let the cast and their world’s actions speak louder than words. . The art team of Brooke Allen, Maarta Liaho and Aubrey Aiese is fantastic, as this books looks amazing. It’s very expressive and animated, and there’s a lot of stuff crammed into the panels that warrants re-reads. The ‘Janes body language is amazing, and it helps the reader figure out what kind of characters they’re dealing with here.

While Image is currently owning the mature audience creator scene, it’s nice to see BOOM!/Boom! Box put out something fun for all ages, especially with an all-female team. It’s a slick debut, and I’m hungry for more from this world.

All-New_X-Men_Vol_1_25_TextlessAll New X-men #25

Brian Michael Bendis and like 20 something artists

Marvel, $4.99

All New X-men #25 is kind of a weird comic to review. It’s a jam issue, which means a lot of cool artists draw cool things. And that’s no hyperbole, you’re getting artists like Bruce Timm, Art Adams, Skottie Young, Dan Hipp and Jill Thompson contributing to this thing, as well as some new talent like Max Wittert (another familiar face from Tumblr ). But it’s ultimately the issues serves as a giant Eff you to a long time X-man, who’s admittedly had it coming, and less of a monumental 25th issue as advertised.

So it is worth the $5 bucks? Heck yes, it actually is. It’s a solid done in one that touches upon the Battle of Atom event, as well as serves as a slight recap to the series so far. Bendis and company do any excellent job of mixing humor with drama, just like they did early in this series. Only this time around it’s more of an artist showcase. It may not be for everyone, but All New X-men #25 is a step in the right direction, and hopefully will continue to improve now that we’re done with crossovers in this book.

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WHITE SUITS #1 / ZERO vol. 1 Signing!

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Frank Barbiere (Five Ghosts) & Toby Cypress (The Tourist) will be on hand to sign the 1st issue of their brand new Dark Horse series THE WHITE SUITS. Ales Kot (Secret Avengers) will also be here to sign the first volume of his hit Image Comics series ZERO. Come hang out. Get weird. Stay until you can’t take it anymore.

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NYCC Week FP Event Announcement Numero Dos

The week of New York Comic-Con 2013 (10/7 through 10/11) is shaping up to be a dooooooozy ’round these parts, with signings and other events lined up for EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!!!

Yesterday I let the cat outta the bag about our Adventure Time gig, today I’m pleased to announce that on Monday October 7th at 7pm we’ll be hosting another Image Comics night with guests Greg Rucka (Lazarus… to name one), Ales Kot (Zero) and Frank Barbiere (Five Ghosts)!

Greg Rucka Forbidden Planet signing Ales Kot Frank Barbiere

Bring books to get signed.  Buy books here to get signed.  Meet and chat with some of the most cutting-edge comic writers working today.

See ya then!

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 24: There’ll Be No Escape For The Princess This Time!

There’s a lot of good comics this week. I know you want to buy the same old ones you always buy because they feel safe and comfortable. I get that. I’m not gonna tell you to not buy the stuff you like. I’m not a jerk. But I do need you to do me a favor. You can do that, right? Sell your kidneys, sell your kids, agree to do illegal stuff for unsavory men, sell your fillings, rob a bank. It’s time to try some new comics. I made a list of which ones you will need to buy if we want this to work out between us. You want this to work, right? You care about me, right? I care about you a lot. You are my favorite reader. I only write this for you. Want me to prove it? I make Tyler put in pretty pictures like this one to make you happy-

OCCUPY COMICS #1 is out this week.  This issue  features political and socially charged short stories by folks like Alan Moore, Mike Allred, David Lloyd, JM DeMatteis, Art Spiegelman, Ben Templesmith, Dean Haspiel, Ales Kot, Ron Wimberly, Molly Crabapple, Charlie Adlard, and a ton more. The book is a benefit for Occupy related initiatives like Occupy Sandy and Strike Debt (google them). Regardless of your personal politics this is a series well worth reading. It offers a ton of interesting viewpoints on a lot of different issues, smart social commentary that cuts across party lines and political aisles. Add to that some stunning artwork and storytelling, and some of the best and brightest in comics doing their best to say something beyond the usual “man punching another man” stories, and this is definitely something everyone who cares about the medium should be buying. Not a lot of comics are going to entertain you this much, inform you this much, and maybe help someone keep their home. Think about that when you choose to buy Red Lanterns instead and wonder why you feel like a husk of a person.

Did I mention that I like DARK HORSE PRESENTS a lot? I do. Issue 24 comes out this week. Congrats on 2 years of putting out the best book no one reads Dark Horse. Among the many great shorts in there, this issue sees the premiere of a new superhero character Blackout. Dark Horse has been doing a great job of getting exciting talent to launch new superhero books that are a fun alternative for those who feel tired of Marvel and DC’s usual fare. X, Ghost, and Black Beetle are among the best superhero books on shelves right now and hopefully Blackout will be joining their ranks. Written by up-and-comer Frank Barbiere, Blackout doesn’t feel like it’s reinventing the wheel, it doesn’t need to. It’s just really good. Barbiere has a knack for playing in genre and doing it better than most and this launch shows him doing that again with ease. Hopefully by this time next year I will be telling you “I told you so” about one of your favorite new series.

Speak of the devil. Mr. Barbiere has clearly been pretty busy. This week also sees the FIVE GHOSTS #3 out. I could write a whole bunch of snarky $#!% about Five Ghosts but I want to give Mr. Barbiere a nice quote for ads and whatnot. Five Ghosts #3 raises the stakes on this already great series in every way. Smart, tense, and beautiful, the best book of the year keeps getting better. Buy Five Ghosts or admit you are fake. Your welcome Frank.

Do you like pretty stuff? Read GODZILLA: HALF-CENTURY WAR. James Stokoe (pronounced “Stew-Coo-Ooo-Whoa-Eee”) is one of the best artists working in comics right now. Like the beautiful bastard child of Paul Pope, Geof Darrow, and Osamu Tezuka, Stokoe has earned a rabid fanbase by quality of work but not quantity of work. I am pretty sure I will never see a year with 12 issues of his work on the stands. With that understanding you should all view the arrival of a whole trade of his work as a sort of holiday. Skip work, buy some diapers and a lot of chocolate milk, get yourself a massage, and rent a new couch because it’s about to get awesome for you. In case the title didn’t make it clear, this book is Stokoe drawing a giant Japanese (Can they claim ownership of him? Should they?) dragon monster thing while it wrecks stuff. Yeah. It’s awesome.

THE PROPERTY is the new graphic novel from Rutu Modan, author of the brilliant Exit Wounds. If you have never read any of Ms. Modan’s work, her stuff reads like Tintin if Tintin was full of powerfully quiet human drama instead of, ya know, racism. It is economical in both art and storytelling, but the story never feels rushed or shortchanged. This is as elegant as comics get. The Property tells the story of 2 generations of Polish women returning to their homeland to reclaim property seized in the holocaust. As the story progresses both the cause and the meaning of this pilgrimage begin to change for the women and what results is a very touching and humorous story about peoples relationships to each other, their history, and the larger world around them.

It is that time of the week when I tell you to buy some new Image comic #1. This weeks obligatory #1 is THE BOUNCE. Joe Casey has written just about every major superhero worth writing and a lot that aren’t. He always makes books that manage to feel smarter and more fun than his contemporaries. Well now he launches The Bounce which is essentially a stoner version of Spider-Man. If there is one thing you should trust Mr. Casey to do it is both examine and deconstruct superheroes in really intelligent ways all while not letting you realize that is happening. He hides the smart storytelling in the fun. That’s smart. I’m tired. Buy this book.

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