Tagged: Amanda Conner

Chris’ Comics: Starfire #2

 

STARF_Cv2_552d9445eac847_14180805Starfire #2

 

DC $2.99

Starfire #2 is an interesting comic. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are attempting to do something new with the character, which is an admirable task given how bloated the super hero market is, not to mention an alien trying to fit in on earth is ALSO the premise to one of DC’s most iconic characters. Setting the book in a small Florida city gives it a unique hook and a unique look thanks to artist Emanuela Lupacchino. That being said, why I’m a fan of a the concept of this issue, the actual execution wasn’t as good as I was hoping.

Comics-070915---Starfire-02Case in point: Starfire vs. an actual hurricane (Named Betty incase you were wondering) is an interesting premise. Kori isn’t an exactly a Superman level character ( Well neither is Superman these days but ignore that for now), so it actually poses a threat to the character. The downside to this is that all the emotional beats (AKA characters who are actually expendable) are tied to a lot of characters too new to feel any real attachment too. It is nice to see Starfire actually be an actual hero and try to save everyone, so the book has that going for it. And good for the creators involved for putting out 2 issues of a super hero comics that hasn’t resulted in a slugfest yet. It’s an refreshing alternative to the usual fisticuffs, and it’s cool to see Amanda and Jimmy continue to push Starfire closer to her animated counterpart. The cheesecake from the first issue is also turned down significantly which is good, as the events of this issue really don’t allow for it.

But continuing my roll as a Negative Nelly, something else that irked me slightly about this book was the humor. Granted humor is subjective, a the vast majority of the jokes in this issue didn’t work for me, including a few I wasn’t sure if we’re jokes or plot points. But I’m glad the “Starfire doesn’t understand that word or phrase gag with cute visual cue” has been overused yet, as its one of the jokes in this book that works for me still.

sf-2-panelsI also have ZERO complaints about the visuals. HI-FI‘s colors really sell the sense of danger of this hurricane, and the use of black and blue backgrounds work nice against Starfire’s skin. The book still retains its tropical vibe thanks to HI-FI and Lupacchino, which is something that could have been easily overlooked. And Ray McCarthy deserves some praise for some really clean inks, tying the art package together nicely.

Despite some disappointing aspects, the second issue of Starfire is a light, but fun read. The creators are striving to do something with this book, even with a VERY obvious callback to their run on Powergirl. Even though it didn’t succeed on every level, Starfire deserves praise for being a very different type of super hero book, and for that I am grateful to the creators and the editorial staff involved.

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(Late) Review: Starfire #1

So yeah, doing 3 shows in 3 consecutive weekends has caught up to me. Flamecon was a wonderful one day show that I’m glad I funded/attended, and Heroescon was rad as always. But it’s taken a hit on my writing time, not to mention drained me physically (and financially). So the reviews are coming, they’ll just be a mixture of new stuff, slightly old stuff, collected stuff and one advance review. Give me 2 weeks and everything will be back to normal. Well as close to normal you can get around these parts. First up, a dated review on a book that I’ve really enjoyed recently.

Starfire-1-CoverStarfire #1

Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti/Emanuela Lupacchino/Ray McCarthy/Hi-Fi

DC $2.99

I’ll start this review off with a confession: I never really cared much for Starfire, even though I’m a pretty big Dick Grayson fan. Ir’s probably because I missed her heyday as a member of the Marv Wolfman/George Perez New Teen Titans. And aside from a few random Teen Titan revivals from the 90s/00s, my biggest exposure to the character was from the animated TT animated series, which I liked enough, but wasn’t super into.

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti however, are 2 creators I’m very much familiar with and dig. Their run on Power Girl was a blast, and I like what I’ve read of their Harley Quinn run. Putting them on a character like Starfire, who was very much in need of some direction after appearing in that ROUGH Red Hood and the Outlaws book, was a smart choice

4619905-starf_1_4Conner and Palmiotti’s Starfire is wisely located in Key West, which makes for an unusual locale for a super hero comic. The most southwestern point in the US, this tropical locale isn’t exactly full of crime and super baddies. But Starfire isn’t exactly a traditional super hero book; it’s more a comedic character exploration piece. Kory is trying to figure out her identity in Key West, not unlike how the writers are trying to find her a play in this relatively new DC. The pair of writers give her a nice cast of characters to work with, giving  the book a delightful sitcom-esque supporting cast. Amanda and Jimmy do some really solid world building in 20 pages, and I’m curious to see what they can do now that the introductions are done.

Starfire-2Emanuela Luppacchino is the penciler on this book, and he’s a perfect fit for the comic. He’s more Ivan Reis than Amanda Conner, and he manages to capture the beauty of the setting and the book’s lead perfectly. His characters are sexy, with hints of cheesecake here and there, but nothing super objectifying. And the humor is done justice with the cute little thought balloons Starfire has whenever she’s unfamiliar with earth terminology. Trever McCarthy‘s ink are clean and straightforward, with Hi-Fi making the book looking bright and vibrant.  Starfire herself is a prime example on how good the art sides of things are,  with her cool hair-flame effect never clashing with her orange skin. It’s a pretty accurate recreation of Key West, right down to the drunk bros.

Starfire #1 is the perfect introduction for people familiar with the character from the character, or didn’t care for her previous handling. It’s a little to sexy for younger reader, so maybe we keep the kids are the Teen Titans Go! audience from it until their older. But for anyone over 13 who wants a more iconic take on that character, or something that’s just fun and great looking, this is the book you want to be reading. If you like Conner/Palmiotti’s past work, or offbeat female lead titles like Squirrel Girl and Rat Queens, this is the book for you.

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What I dug in 2014: DC Comics edition

It’s the end of 2014, which means it’s time for everyone to drop “Best Of” lists. Truth be told, there’s been a ton of acclaimed comics I didn’t read this year, so me complying one is kind of whack. HOWEVER, I’ve read a bunch of good comics this year, so I’m going to make 3 articles dedicated to some of my favorites from the past year. A solid cop-out if you ask me, #biased.

2012/2013 saw me drop a number of DC Comics titles, mostly due to the lack of interest in the direction DC editorial was heading. 2014 changed that, as  editor Mark Doyle came aboard the Bat-line and shook things up a lot, assigning some top notch creators to old and new titles. It’s resulted in me getting interested back in Dc’s catalog for the first time in a while, with the exception of one book I never really stopped reading.

Batman_Vol_2_31_Textless-1That exception is Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo‘s amazing run on Batman. This book has been constantly excellent since the beginning of the new 52, and this year saw the conclusion to the incredible Year Zero story line, as well as the fantastic Endgame arc. Snyder’s Batman has been a more human take of the character, way different from the Bat-god we’ve seen from Grant Morrison‘s run, and has been the most relatable take on the character in some time. Greg Capullo, inked masterfully by Danny Miki with amazing colors by FCO Plascencia, is doing some next level stuff with this book. His villains are grotesque, his Batman is a mix of iconic and pulp hero, and his Gotham varies from modern metropolis to nightmare-fuel garbagetown depending on the scene.

4008079-grayson01But Snyder and Capullo kicking ass isn’t anything new. What is new is Grayson, the spy thriller that saw Nightwing go from vigilante to spy who refuses to kill. Which is problematic given his new profession. Written by Tim Seeley and former actual spy Tom King, with  Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox, it’s been the most compelling Dick Grayson has been since he was Batman, and is a fun book that incorporates espionage with some weirder elements of the Batverse. While the book suffers the occasional misstep, it’s also incredibly smart and sexy when the book (in a non-insulting/offensive way) delivers. The Future’s End tie-in was easily one of the best editorial mandated tie-in book to an event I don’t read this past year, and would be the best single issue for the series if we didn’t have a surprisingly sweet issue involving a Manty Raid.

STK652755586cfd30a87203654de3e206e1093d7dI also can’t overlook the trio of female lead books set in the Batverse. Gotham Academy, but Brendan Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, Karl Kerschl and and a trio of amazing colorists ( Geyser, Dave McCaig and John Rauch) is Batman meets Harry Potter, and is a slick looking book I didn’t know I wanted, but now am incredibly happy we have. It reminds me of Jason Aaron‘s insanely charming run of Wolverine and the X-men, only with less mutants and more #Teens. Harley Quinn, by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Chad Hardin and Alex Sinclair, has became a massive hit for DC Comics, and while the book is pretty hit or miss to me, it’s hard to overlook it’s importance. It’s the closest DC has an book that truley appeals to the Deadpool audience, and when the book is good, it’s good. And finally there’s Batgirl, DC’s arguably most hyped book of the year. The book, seeing Fletcher joined by Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Maris Wick, set the internet aflame when it was announced, and has delivered ever since they creative team’s debut in October. It’s a much needed book that does some interesting things with Barbara Gordon, and much like Gotham Academy, it’s gorgeous and incredibly fun.

 

So yes, while DC has put out some incredibly bad books this past year (Forever Evil and the current run of Wonder Woman spring to mind), it seems they’ve finally found some books that match some of the gems Marvel has been offering as of late. I’m hoping this trend continues well into 2015.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Smells and Sagas

harley-quinn-vol-2-annual-1-cover-1-teaser-107613Harley Quinn Annual 1

Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmotti/John Timms/ Paul Mounts/Others

DC $5.99

This comic stinks….literally!

::: Pats himself on the back and calls it a day for being the best. :::

Now that the premature congratulations are over, DC has revived (?) scratch and sniff comics for the $6(!) Harley Quinn Annual! This is the first issue of Harley’s series I’ve read, and at $6 I probably could have chose a better and cheaper jumping on point, but a poly-bagged comics with scratch and sniff pages is the stupidest of gimmick, which I am very weak against.

 

In my impulse purchasing defense, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are a pair of creators who are fully capable of pulling this gimmick off. I loved their work on their fan-favorite Power Girl series from a few years back, so I figured if anyone could do this weird cash-grab gimmick justice, it would be them. Turns out for the most part, I was right.

The comic revolves are Harley trying to break out her BFF Posion Ivy from Arkham Aslyum, not knowing there’s more going down than expected. My problem with this book is that for a lack of better words is that its “try-hardish”. Connor & JP makes several ham fisted attempts to offend, amuse and educate throughout the comic, and at times it’s groan worthy and bloated. I appreciate the effort, but it’s as graceful & subtle as a bad Deadpool comic. It could use about a less 1/4th dialogue, and about 95% less social commentary.

That being said, the book excels when it aims to offend. The scratch and sniff panels work more than miss, and the art is fantastic. This is my first exposure to John Timm’s work, but he’s easily one of the best artists to work on Harley, and all of the guest artists all deliver on their short contributions.

The Harley Quinn Annual sounds a little weird on paper, but the execution is phenomenal. It’s a fun done in one with some great art and some fantastic character moments. As a guy who finds Harley hella problematic in general, I couldn’t recommend this book enough as an entry point into the book, but  will understand if you prefer to grab that first volume hardcover instead.

 

 STK652827Saga #24

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

 ::: Insert Chris’ Quarterly Saga Hiatus Withdrawal rant here:::

I really want to end the review there and go back to playing video games. But I don’t think I hit 500 words yet so I guess I should do some explaining.

 

Saga #24 in a single word, is incredible, not unlike the last 23 issues. 18 of the 20 pages focuses on characters we haven’t seen since volume 3, and its compelling as hell. 3 characters who was previously a 1 panel gag gets a ton of fleshing out , and we get caught up with several slightly more familiar  and it’s completely delightful. And of course the final 2 pages hit like a ton of bricks, but in the best ways possibles. BKV and Fiona Staples do some things NO ONE was expecting, and man it only makes the build up for chapter 5 more incredible/painful.

It’s business as usual for Saga, which is great, because Saga’s business is the best.

 

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