Tagged: annie wu

Chris’ Comics: The Top 4 (and a Hawkguy) Finale

At last, it’s time for my final article for the Daily Planet. Instead of reviews, I’m going to recommend 4 series to you (plus Hawkeye, because we all know that’s coming) that are some of my favorite comics. There’s a few “well duh” choices on the list, but hopefully someone will find a new favorite on this list, or at least think I have excellent tastes in comics.

DCD5297571) Batgirl: Year One (Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Marcos Martin) The only way you can buy Batgirl: Year One these days is in a trade packaged with the also great Robin: Year One. But Batgirl: Year One is arguably my favorite story featuring my favorite DC character. It’s a nice re-imagining of her origin from pre New 52 times, from a writer who wrote a good portion of the best Babs Gordon stories in the 90s. Marcos Martin later blew up on books like Spider-Man and Dr. Strange: The Oath, but this is where the Martin hype train officially began. A gorgeous story that does wonders for one of the most iconic superheroes out there, Batgirl: Year One is the one DC story I can’t recommend enough.

DCD4061942) Phonogram: The Singles Club  (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson). While I absolutely adore this team’s work on The Wicked + The Divine and Young Avengers, P:TSC is my next pick, which was the first time Wilson joined Gillen and McKelvie on a creator owned joint. Set over the course of a single night, each issue in this trade tells a different story, focusing on a different character, and occasionally crossing over. My personal favorite of the various stories is the finale, a relatively silent story that focuses on Kid-With-a-Knife, one of the more simplistic but exciting characters in the series. While it’s technically the second part of the Phonogram trilogy, it’s by far the most accessible, and an excellent entry point for Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson’s indie work.

15958246263) The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, Becky Cloonan). I really wanted to throw a Grant Morrison penned story on this list, but honestly, there’s enough best of/recommendation lists out there featuring his work on All Star Superman, JLA, Doom Patrol, etc. Instead I’ve opted for a comic featuring a character played by Morrison in the My Chemical Romance music videos this comic series is based on/a sequel to. While being familiar with said music videos/album helps. Killjoys is good enough to enjoy on it’s own, thanks to Cloonan’s gorgeous art, and Way’s sensational and kinda out there scripts. While you can make an argument that both creators have stronger work on the market, this is a favorite of mine, and it’s definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of either creators.

07851983934) NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. (Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen) Also known as my favorite comic series before Hawkguy was a thing. Warren Ellis’ funniest book to date, in which his team of super hero pirates fight an evil corporation profiting from a war they’ve created. A cult favorite that’s influenced so many books, NEXTWAVE was at one point the weirdest but also one of the best looking books Marvel had ever published thanks to Stuart Immonen’s art. Assuming you haven’t read it, you should, unless you hate nuclear puppies, flesh eating koalas and dragons that wear shorts.

 

 

0785192190Hawkguy) Hawkeye (Matt Fraction, David Aja, Annie Wu, Matt Hollingsworth, and various) And here it is, my obvious favorite that I’ve never shut up while writing for Forbidden Planet NYC. Hawkeye was a game changer for Marvel, and is easily the best for-hire work Fraction and Aja have done, possibly ever. The creative team makes walking dumpster fire Clint Barton one of the most relatable characters in comics, while making Hawkeye Kate Bishop a break out star. From the Pizza Dog issue to the Sandy relief issue, there’s some many amazing, genre defining comics that show that you can do big 2 comics with an indie comics sensibility. No comic series has affected as much as this book has, and there’s never going to be a time where I won’t recommend it.

And with that, I take my leave. I’d like to thank everyone who’s read my work, my fellow contributors, and the fine folk at Forbidden Planet for giving me a stage over these last years to talk about comics, and toys. I’ve had a blast, and if you care to see what I’m doing post Forbidden Planet, give me a follow on twitter (@theanarchris). Thanks for the memories FPNYC faithful!

 

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #17

Gotham_Academy_Vol_1-17_Cover-1_TeaserGotham Academy #17

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Annie Wu, Michael Dialynas,, David Peterson, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

 

One of the best things about the Yearbook arc is the variety in tone and genre the stories in each issue are. I knew nothing about the creators contributing to Gotham Academy #19, originally thinking it was the conclusion of this storyline. This month I was pleasantly surprised to see the issue kick off with a story that more or less crosses over Black Canary for example, another title that Brenden Fletcher writes.

We get a lot of content from issue #19, which see the girls set out to get their scrapbook from returning guest star Robin (Damian Wanye). It acts as the bridge between the other 3 tales, and again, not a bad bit of storytelling, I just get a little irked everything artist Adam Archer draws Olivia and company’s heads too large or too lumpy. I’m also not a fan of 2how it looks like Damian’s costume is too big for him.

The Annie Wu drawn crossover story sees the GA kids run into Heathcliff, who first showed up in this book and then started showing up as a supporting character in Black Canary. This is probably my favorite story of the bunch, as it looks great, and I really like the way Fletcher handles the reunion between Heathcliff and Pomeline. Wu is colored by Serge Lapointe, who’s washed out and neon color palette is perfect for a story involving relationships and music.

From there we get Michael Dialynas, who’s worked on The Woods for Boom Studios, telling the story of that one time Maps and Olivia ran into a demon cat on campus. This 6 page story starts off with a cool horror vibe to it, but then gets a little cuter once we find out who’s responsible for said cat. It’s the story has a Batman: The Animated series vibe to it, and I love how Dialynas can manage to pull off horror and adorable with his art.

By assembling so many different on this title the last few months,Gotham Academy has exposed me to a variety of creators I occasionally have little to no prior experience with. That statement is especially true come the end of this comic, where Mouse Guard creator David Peterson tells a story set in Gotham Academy’s past. He creates a quartet of 4 new GOTHAC_17_3characters, and the story revolves around the oft-mentioned “Sorcery & Spells” game that Maps loves so much. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous to look at, I love how it’s inspired by the 1980s Dungeon and Dragons panic, in which the game was believed to have some sort of Satanic ties. Also, the way Peterson tackled the project is super impressive, and I encourage you all to go visit his site and read up on how he approached this story.

“Yearbook” has been a incredible arc for Gotham Academy, and no issue proves that more than this one. The range of talent involved in every issue is insane, and it’s impressive how much mileage each creator can get from a book that only had a dozen or so issues under it’s belt before this arc started. Brenden Fletcher, along with Karl Keschel and Becky Cloonan have created a fantastic playground for this guest creators, and seeing the character celebrated like this month after month has been great.

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: First and Last Days Editions

Hey look, it’s  2 books that actually came out recently! Let me review them!

ms-marel-124127Ms. Marvel #16

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Let’s get this review started  by talking about how good Ms. Marvel and it’s creators are. Solicitations for this issue spoiled the last page of Ms Marvel 16 3-4 months ago, depending on what websites you read, especially if you saw what’s on the cover for 17. It’s something we’ve yet to get on this title yet, wanted forever, and have finally gotten a taste of it. Even knowing it was coming didn’t diminish the moment, and if anything, only made me hungry for more.

Ms Marvel 16 is the first issue of the “Last Days” arc, which ties into Secret Wars. G Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring has put Khamala Khan through a lot over these last 16 issues, but how does Ms Marvel stop the end of the world? Knowing what we know from Secret Wars, it seems impossible, even though that Free Comic Book Day let us know that she’ll be fine when all is said and done. Still, Wilson and Alphona make the stakes feel real, without having to sacrifice all of the charm and humor this book is known for.

Then we get to the last two pages. This is comics at it’s finest, and the opposite of the bad feels Kieron Gillen and BKV have given me in the previous weeks. We see our hero doubt herself, but refusing to give up and accept oblivion. It’s inspiring, and it’s hard not to get excited when you reach the previously mentioned final page of this book. It’s a super important moment for the character, and the creative team nail it on every level, from the layout, to the dialogue and choice of colors.

Ms Marvel continues to be stellar, and this issue is no different. It may be the best, which says a lot given the fact it’s a tie-in issue. It super hero comics at it’s finest, fully embracing the legacy set by Jack, Steve and Stan, and taking it to the next level.

 

black-canary-1-promo-121636Black Canary #1

Brenden Fletcher/Annie Wu/Lee Loughridge

DC $2.99

I’ve seen a few comic blogger types refer to this new DC You (#killme) initiative as “The Batgirl effect”, which I think is a fair description. The Fletcher/Stewart/Tarr/Wicks Batgirl got DC attention and praise it hadn’t seen in a while, and it was only a matter of time before would attempt to recapture that magic with some of their other properties. With Black Canary, we see a one of the Batgirl writers teamed with a fan favorite artist, resulting in another strong DC Debut.

Black Canary is a kung-fu rock and roll comic, which is all sorts of my type of premise. Dinah Lance was given a cool new direction in the pages of Batgirl, and now we get to see Black Canary on the road, wrecking venue after venue while keeping her past a secret from her bandmates. However, she’s not the only person in her crew with a secret or two, which leads to violent hitting times  . It’s a fun premise that feels like a natural and much needed  evolution of this incarnation of the character.

I’ve been a fan of artist Annie Wu since her run on the often mentioned Hawkeye. Her take on Black Canary is great, giving her a slick punk rock meets MMA make over. It’s a cool take of the character’s iconic look, giving it a much needed update. Wu’s line work a little harsher and simplistic than her work on Hawkeye, which is fitting for the new status quo. Lee Loughridge‘s colors and Steve Wands letters give the book a cool vibe that can be best described as Sex Pistol ‘Zine meets DC comics. The whole thing feels very Image esque is terms of design, which I’m sure to intentional as to draw in a larger audience. And even if it isn’t, it’s still cool as hell.

On the script side of things, we have Batgirl/Gotham Academy’s Brenden Fletcher, who’s quickly carved out his little corner of the DCU. This is the first exposure to Fletcher’s solo writing duties, and it’s solid. The issue quickly establishes Dinah current M.O. in a cool bit of exposition via a number of new age media. It’s a neat narrative device, and it’s a cool way to catch readers up on Dinah if they haven’t been reading Batgirl. His dialogue is solid, and while there’s nothing that particularly stand out, it’s more than serviceable.

Between this and Starfire, DC “You” is off to a strong start with this new slate of diverse female lead books. Black Canary is another fun and good looking book with a fun premise. DC is finally beginning to fight back after Marvel‘s barrage of great quirky hits from earlier in the year, and I’m curious to see what else the company can produce on this sort of level of quality.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Girls and their dogs

ms-marvel-8-cover1Ms. Marvel #8

G. Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Look at that cover. It is a cover that is made of 100% pure joy, as well as paper and probably some chemicals.

Ms. Marvel has been a delight since day 1, but issue 8 may just be my favorite issue to date. As you can tell from the cover, Lockjaw of the Inhumans shows up, possibly in the most amazing and adorable fashion. Which I think is ultimately why I liked this issue so much, because it is the cutest thing to ever cute a cute. G Willow Wilson has done a lot to make Kamala not a stereotypical teenage girl character, so seeing the new Ms Marvel actually go head over feet for her new pet is more of a delight than it is insulting. Her Ms Marvel is a character that’s very 3 dimensional, so seeing her a different side of her every so often is fun.

Issue 8 also sees the return of artist Adrian Alphona, who absolutely owns his return. The book’s art certainly didn’t suffer during his break, especially with master colorist Ian Herring on colors but Alphona’s style is unique, so having him back just feels right. And we as readers are rewarded to some great art that’s beautifully weird, and packed full of small details and hidden jokes. It’s also great to see how Adrian illustrates the use of Ms Marvel’s powers, leading to some cool and hilarious visuals.

Ms Marvel continues to be one of the best books on the stands today, and it’s mostly due to the level of talent and dedication the creative team brings to this book. From cover to cover, the book is a refreshing alternative to most super hero books and is a ton of fun.

hawkeye-020-001Hawkeye #20

Matt Fraction/Annie Wu. Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel $3.99

🙁 🙁 🙁

With the release of issue 20, we only have 2 issues of Hawkeye left. I am the saddest of Chris’ over this fact. The 3 sad faces above prove that.

Issue 20 is artist Annie Wu‘s final issue on the series, and ultimately wraps up Kate Bishop’s California adventure. A lot of questions are resolved and a few reveals are had, making for a satisfying, but not necessarily the happiest of endings.

While the book is a bit of a downer at times, the creators do a fantastic job on this comic. Annie Wu’s art is super expressive, and the range of emotions she can put into her characters and environments is impressive. Poor Kate Bishop takes a beating in this issue, and Wu does a bang up job of showing it, with some nasty bruises, bandages and messed up hair. But her Hawkeye is a warrior, and the final 2 pages show how much of a bad ass Katie-Kate can be when push comes to shove. Matt Hollingsworth’s colors really do Annie Wu pencils justice, mixing a lot of bright colors you’d associate with California with the traditional Hawkeye purple. It’s the same flat coloring style you see when David Aja is drawing the book, but it’s different enough to compliment Annie Wu’s style in all the right ways.

Matt Fraction‘s script of course brings the entire package together. His dialogue is sharp,  the reveals he drops land and nothing feels out of place. It’s impressive to see how much he got out of Kate’s “new” supporting cast in such a brief period of time spent with them, but they all feel so fleshed out. And his Kate also remains a fun character that you can help but cheer for, especially when some of the shit hits the fans. He’s done wonders for the character, and I consider him the definitive voice of Kate, despite having nothing to do with her creation.

With this and Superior Foes of Spider-Man wrapping up soon, I’m really bummed to see 2 of my favorite books come to an end. However much like SUP FOES, Hawkeye’s ending seems like it’s coming to a natural ending point, and I’m sure the creators will stick the landing. The Kate Bishop California adventure does suffer a bit due to countless delays, but ultimately it does it’s job of ending one story and setting up the final story. I don’t want this book to end y’all, but I’m eager to see what Fraction, Hollingsworth and David Aja do with the final 2 issues after this issue.

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, But With Comics SPRINGGGGGG!

Oh sure, it’s super grey outside at the moment, but spring is finally here! It’s in the 40s, the cat is growling at birds it can’t get at and I get to be mad at the Yankees in real time in 2 days. I’ll gladly take subpar baseball over snow any day.

Before we get into comics, let me state that the first Rat Queens collection dropped this past week, and it is excellent. I usually try to stay on top of new Image debuts, but this one missed my radar somehow. So I dropped the $10 and bought the first trade and am more than pleased with it. I’ll try to do a proper review during the week, but this book is buy on site great.

OTHER BOOKS WHAT SHIPPED THAT YOU MAY LIKE:

Empowered Special #6

Furious #3

Might MGMT #20

Tomb Raider #2

Adventures of Superman #11

Aquaman #29

Sandman Overture #2

Wake #7

Legends of Red Sonja #5

Rocky and Bullwinkle #1

Deadly Class #3

Fatale #21

Sex #12

Walking Dead #124

All New Ghost Rider #12

Amazing X-men #5

Deadpool #26

Superior Spider-Man #30

Bravest Warriors #18

Hacktivist #3

 

REVIEWS

portrait_incredibleAll New X-men 24/Guardian of the Galaxy 13

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Sara Pichelli/David Marquez

Marvel $3.99

Note- All New X-men 24 shipped 2 weeks ago.

Despite my problems with the earlier chapters of this crossover, the final 2 chapters of “The Trial of Jean Grey” were very much what I wanted from this event. Heavy on the action, some genuinely excellent interactions between the 2 casts and amazing visuals by Immonen, Pichelli and Marquez make this the type of crossover I wanted to read.

That being said, this mini-event still has some problems. The announcement of the new young Cyclops on-going series really spoils the impact of the last 3 pages, which is a shame. Also despite this being a crossover, it really felt more like an X-event guest starring the Guardians. Maybe something from this event will affect this title more down the road, but chances are I won’t be reading GoTG to see it play out. And truth be told, this could have done in 4 issues, opposed to 6.

The Trial of Jean Grey wasn’t the worst thing I read in recent history, but All New X-men really tired from back to back crossovers. There’s been more than enough new ideas and concepts introduced in this book that need to be fleshed out more. Hopefully with the next few issues can get the book back to being as good as it was when it first debuted, otherwise I’m dropping it.

avengers_assemble__25_by_zurdom-d71ie6xAvengers Assemble 25

Kelly Sue Deconnick/Warren Ellis/Matteo Buffagni/Neil Edwards/ Raffaele Ienco

Marvel $3.99

Nothing detracts from one’s enjoyment of a comics more than bad art, which brings us to the final issue of Kelly Sue Deconnick’s Avengers Assemble run. It’s a shame, because the script and dialogue written by KSD and Warren Ellis is fun, clever, and puts a nice little bow on this run. Sadly, it’s ruined by 3 different artists, who are very different stylistically. The usually relibale Matteo Buffagni’s pencils look rush and overly-simplistic, as does Neil Edwards, who’s Bryan Hitch-esque art couldn’t be any more different than Matteo’s. Raffaele Ienco‘s art is easily the best, but he only draws the final 2 pages. A shame, as DeConnick and Ellis deserved better for their final issue.

 

1000093043Hawkeye 18

Matt Fraction/Annie Wu/Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel, $2.99

Well that escalated quickly!

Kate Bishop’s California adventure has taken a turn for the worse in issue 18, as we finally learn more about the mysterious cat food man.  It’s a brutal issue, as Annie Wu really steps up her visual game. Her art on this book has been nothing short of great, but Wu really out does herself in this issue, especially in the facial expression area.

Aside from looking great, Hawkguy 18 touches upon some seed planted earlier in the book, as the story arc becomes full circle. Once again, Kate finds herself in scenario that’s entirely on her, which was the type of thing she left NYC to avoid. Seeing her Clint Barton-free life parallel Clint’s  has been really funny so far, but that red in their collected ledgers (GET IT, IT’S AN AVENGERS REFERENCES!) is beginning to cost people their lives. It’s fun to see Matt Fraction bring everything full circle, in what will probably result in one hell of a showdown in a few issues.

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics 1/22/14 edition

So we’re all on board for killing the winter/the snow yes? Because we need to.

hawkeye16658Hawkeye #16

Matt Fraction/Annie Wu/Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel, $2.99, 20 pages

Hawkeye‘s back this week! Sorta….David Aja still needed time to finish up issue #15, so we’re jumping ahead to #16 for another Kate Bishop adventure, which I’m of 2 minds about.

Kate’s new status quo in the book leads to another fun done and one, which sees Lady Hawkguy dealing with a pair of aged dueling pop stars.Matt Fraction’s channeling some of his Casanova work here with this premise, only there’s more way more humor and less trans-dimensional jumping, and arguably the best “Champions”-related joke in years. And we get to see more of Kate’s LA supporting cast, which is great is you’re a fan of world building.

IMG_00382My problem with this issue is that it’s very…disjointed at the end. There’s a solid gag or 2, but the pacing feels rushed, so the landing doesn’t stick. Again, far from a bad issue, it’s just stink that the issue kind of falls apart at the end.

What does work is the team of Annie Wu and Matt Hollingsworth. Their Los Angeles is bright, fill with various shades of blues and purples and is a stark contrast from Clint Barton and David Aja’s New York. And Wu’s Kate Bishop is awesome. Very expressive, trendy and fluid. She looks like a believable 18 year old vigilante.

Again, Hawkeye #16 is a good comic. I’m just spoiled by it being a GREAT comic for months.

MARVELCoverTemp copy.indtPretty Deadly #4

Kelly Sue Deconnick/Emma Rios/Jordie Bellaire

Image, 20 pages, #3.50

Damn this book is brutal.

Team Pretty Deadly continues to deliver the most intense fight scenes in comics since the 2nd issue, which doesn’t come as a complete surprise given how talented Emma Rios is. And paired with Jordie Bellaire’s amazing colors, the damage these characters take looks extra vicious, but never too grotesque. It earns it’s M for Mature rating.

Kelly Sue Deconnick and Team Pretty Deadly are crafting quite the tale. After a slow and vague start, this series has really ramped up in terms of progression, fleshing out the characters, building the world and answering questions. There’s still some weirdness to it, but it’s welcomed, as it’s very much the type of weird one would find in Sandman, rather than being weird for weirdness sake.

What started off as something as a revenge-driven  narrative  has definitely shown that there’s more life in this story, even with the first arc wrapping up next month. Pretty Deadly has been on fire for months, and much like it’s publisher.

backgroundAll New X-men 22.Now

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

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

Stuart Immonen’s return aside, my expectations for this issue were pretty low. 22.NOW is the lead in for yet another crossover (SIGH), this time with Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy book. It’s worth noting that both of these books have movies coming out this summer, so the writings on the wall as to why, at least from an editorial stand point.

The books starts of with 6 pages of X-drama, and the remainder of the book is all action all the time. Immonen and friends pull no punches with their return on the art , as the book looks great. You’ll be surprised how much detail is crammed into a salad of all things! And Marte Gracia’s are great, as the book really pops on a visual level. Bendis, meanwhile delivers a solid script,  and his RUN D.M.C. love is noted.

While I’m still a little fatigued from Battle of the Atom, I’m definitely intrigued by the opening chapter of The Trial of Jean Grey. It only being 6 chapters definitely keeps my hopes up, and the artists attached to it certainly have me excited. Hopefully this one ends as well as it starts.

 

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Troy’s Toys, But with Comics Best of 2013 List Part 2

In retrospect, a short title would have been nice. Also happy New Year!

Welcome back to me coasting for cash-money. As I said last time, this is the “Matt Fraction Power Hour” portion of the list. Fraction created some amazing comics this past year, which anyone who’s been reading this blog on the regular is well aware of . So here’s 2 of my favorites, which I imagine come to the surprise of no one.

sex-criminals1-fourth-printing3) Sex Criminals

Matt Fraction/Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)

Yes, that is the 4th printing cover for Sex Criminals #1, thanks for asking, it’s available 1/8/2013.

Sex Criminals is the best book I never knew I wanted. A surprisingly touching sex-comedy, Fraction and cartoonist/Applebee’s enthusiast Chip Zdarsky have created something special in the span of 3 issues.

I can’t recall the last time we’d had a tasteful (well at some points) look at sex from the female perspective in comics, if at all.  Which is exactly what the first issue does with it’s lead Suzie. It starts off on a tragic foot, followed by some dark comedy shortly after. It’s easily the strongest debut issue of the year, and gives Fraction the chances to stretch some creative muscles he can’t over at Marvel for obvious content-related reasons. Issue #2 deals with the male lead learning to deal with his own sexuality, which isn’t so touching as it is hilarious.

fa71823a0950587e07ebbe33656c6097And then there’s Chip Zdarsky. Given the content on his twitter feed and tumblr, it’s hard to see where Fraction’s madness begins and Zdarsky’s begins, but Matt could not have a better artist attached to this title. Chip’s art is beautiful to look at, and crammed with a ton of hilarious visual jokes. At times there seems to be some sort of competition going in with him and Fraction as to who can do the grossest thing with this book, and the winners are the fan in the end. Unless you’re offended by porn shop humor. Which if so, stay away.

And speaking of fans, the Sex Criminals letter pages of all things are an absolute delightful to read. Matt and Chip are surprisingly candid about discussing their sex lives, as are their readers. A tad perverted yes, but hey this book is called Sex Criminals, what did you expect? Same goes for the intro recap pages, which are just walls of text.

Despite it’s mature content and only having 3 issues out, Sex Criminals was already named Time Magazine’s comic of the year, and topped several other well known publication best of list. And well deserving mind you, because if there’s one book that’s going to top Hawkeye or Saga as the IT book of 2014, it’s going to be Sex Criminals. Which now gives me a lazy segway into book #2….

 

172778002) Hawkeye

Matt Fraction/David Aja/Annie Wu and others (Marvel)

Don’t call it a comeback. Hawkguy’s been here for a year, rocking his peers….and that’s all I got.

I could easily sum up the decision with the words “The Pizza Dog issue” and chances are most comic book readers would understand that reasoning. While Sex Criminals may have the best debut issue of the year, Hawkeye #11 is easily the best single issue of the year for a number of reasons, both on technical and emotional levels. Insert the David Aja/Chris Ware comparison here.

2974126-hawkeye+009-019And obviously this series is not a one trick pony. Scheduling issues aside (the title was delayed a number of times this year sadly), this book has been flawless, even with Aja needing some help on the penciling side of things. But when you have Annie Wu drawing the Kate Bishop side of things, and guys like Francesco Francavilla stepping in to draw and issue or 2, things are more than okay.

And let’s not forget what the creative team behind the Hurricane Sandy issue managed to accomplish in a matter of weeks.

Name dropping talent aside, it’s important to focus what Fraction and friends have accomplished with this character in barley over a year. Using the hype from last year’s Avengers movie, they’ve turn Clint into a complex character, one who’s heavily flawed despite his best intentions. The stakes are low and personal in Hawkeye, and it’s barely tied into the proper Marvel Universe, outside of the occasional Avengers cast member cameo. We also have Kate Bishop, West Coast Avenger, dealing with her own baggage, and the potential for some amazing stories, and the addition of Clint’s brother Barney to the cast. Editor Stephen Wacker is allowing the team to tell small personal stories in a world of Marvels, and the end results of fantastic.

 

 

So there you have it, 600 words of Matt Fraction flatterly. Which means next time we’ll see #1 right? Right? I think that’s how counting works.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Greenest Wednesday

A butt-ton of books dropped this past week, so let’s get down to business, yes?BlackScience_01_Cover_B

Black Science

Rick Remender/Matteo Scalera/Dean White

Image, 20 pages, $3.50

Black Science is a book I was a little concern going into it, as it came across as a spiritual successor to Fear Agent. FA is a personal favorite of mine, so there was a high expectation to be met. So did it you may be asking yourself? For the most part yes, as Matteo Scalera is no Tony Moore/Jerome Opena yet, but his pulpish visuals do Remender’s script well. It also helps that the “painted art” is by Dean White, who served Remender well back on Uncanny X-Force, and continues to do so here. There’s some fantastic use of shades of black, purple, orange, and blue in this book, and I definitely feel the “punk rock forbidden science” hook. That being said, there’s a case of Fridging (killing off a female character to only advance the plot) early on that kind of rubbed me in the wrong way, especially with all the internet rage over in Uncanny Avengers, also written by Remender. The ending, while a tad predictable when dealing with sci-fi, had a Tim Truman vibe to it that I really dug. Like something out of Vertigo in it’s prime, Black Science is definitely a book worth keeping an eye on.

cache_308_479_0__92_saga16_coverSaga #16

Brian K Vaughn/Fiona Staples

Image, 20 pages, $2.99

Saga, perfect Saga, remains the best. As we come closer to the end of act 3, we finally see things established at the end of act 2 come full circle, making me excited to see how this all wraps up before the brief and painful between volume hiatus. It’s more of the same from BKV and Staples, fleshing out some characters new and old, some world building, and a delightful poke at the spandex books and the folks who read em. And several characters find themselves in odd scenarios, which is all good, surprising no one. Staples continues to be an fantastic artist, and BKV is easily one of the best writers in comics right now.  The end product is at it’s worst great, and at it’s best brillant. Either way, the reader are winners in the end.

Hawkeye_Vol_4_14_TextlessHawkeye #14

Matt Fraction/Annie Wu/Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel, 20 pages, $2.99

Whelp, time to start looking at book written by the DeFractions clan. This month in Hawkeye, we return to the West Coast to check in on Katie-Kate Bishop and Lucky the Pizza Dog. Joining Fraction for her first full issue s Annie Wu, who’s off to a strong start. Wu comes from an animation background, which  shows, as the characters are very expressive in issue #14,  something I’m delighted with. Wu also throws Kate in several super-cute outfits, which I am a fan on. Fraction continues to write the hell out of this book, showing how Kate is similar to the OTHER Hawkeye, often for laughs, other times showing why she stuck around with Clint for so long. It’s an incredibly well executed done in one, proving that Kate Bishop could handle her own on-going series (she lets Clint co-star in this one after all). It’s takes a certain caliber of artist to be able to keep up with David Aja, and Wu  has the chops and the skill to do so.

Avengers-Assemble-21-Cover-e1579Avengers Assemble #21

Kelly Sue Deconnick/Matteo Buffagni/Nolan Woodard

Marvel, 20 pages, $3.99

The last time KSD and Buffagni worked on an issue of AA, I had some harsh words about the art. Skip ahead a few months, and Buffagni’s stepped up his game, delivering one of the best-looking issues of the series since Kelly Sue came aboard. The animated style is clean, fluid and bright, making it a perfect fit for the script, which is great itself. We have Spider-Girl swinging by for a nice team up with the other Spider-themed lady Avengers, and there’s laughs and action aplenty. Plus KSD brings in a female villain from her awesome Osbourne mini series from a few years back, and throws in some baddies from A.I.M. as well, while tying this all into Inhumanity. It’s a surprisingly dense read, ensuring you get your $4 worth from the comic. I really hope the title can stay crossover free for a bit, because it really shines when KSD is allowed to do what she wants with Spider-Woman and her teammates. And with Warren Ellis coming aboard next month, things are only looking better for this title, especially with the art now as good as it is.

Pretty-Deadly-2-CoverPretty Deadly

Kelly Sue Deconnick/Emma Rios/Jordie Bellaire

Image, 20 pages, $3.50

Pretty Deadly, much like Saga, is mature comics done right. Issue 2 shows the reader exactly why this book is titled as such with one of the most bad ass fight scenes this year. Rios and friends deliver an impressive 12 page action piece which is both brutal and beautiful, almost calling out other action comics (no pun intended) out there in a way. Everything from the page layouts to the coloring is fantastic, and it really shows off the strength of this creative team. Not to say KSD doesn’t pull her weight, because she does as she ensures there’s a plethora of quality content crammed in this book from cover to cover. It’s just that this issue is owned by Rios, who does the coolest thing I’ve ever seen with butterflies in a comic.  A step up from a impressive debut issue, Pretty Deadly is the type of comic I hope get an oversized hard cover some day, so that I can drool over the art is a slightly nicer format.

portrait_incredible (3)All New X-men

Brain Michael Bendis/ Brandon Peterson/ Israel Silva

Marvel, 20 pages, $3.99

My biggest problem with this issue is that Kevin Nowlan is only drawing the cover. It’s also my only problem. Well played Marvel.

Fill-in artist can either make or break a book for me. Sometimes they deliver (Daredevil) and sometimes the artist that swings by has the odds stacked against them and they can’t (again, Daredevil). Brandon Peterson, an artist I was actually kind of dreading filling in, make me a believer real quick with this issue.

Israel Silva, the colorist, is probably the real star of this issue. Kitty, Magik and the O5 X-men are in Miami this issue, and Silva’s colors are definitely faithful to the city.  Obviously Peterson gets props as well for capturing the look of Miami with his art, but Silva’s use of neon colors completes the package. It’s a stick looking book, and Bendis’ script plays to strenght of his co-creators. It’s chock full of action too, making up for a relatively slow previous issue, and the last page reveal is great if you don’t pay attention to solicits. It’s another great issue in a strong week for comics.

 

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