Tagged: Batgirl

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #48

BG_CV48Batgirl #48

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr, Rob Haynes, Serge Lapointe, Lee Loughridge

DC $2.99

BABS TARR!! BLACK CANARY!! CO-O-ah dang, I almost had enough things that started with “B”to warrant a “BACKGIRL” gag. ::: is fired immediately for even suggesting that. :::

 

Batgirl #48 sees Babs Tarr return to art duties, which means the book is back to firing on all cylinders. Her pencils (with Rob Haynes helping with breakdowns) are great, and her artistic vision and style help Batgirl bounce back after an issue where I wasn’t really feeling the art. Tarr is the life blood of this book, and it’s nice to see the book look as good and it reads. Also Tarr finally gets to draw Batgirl as a Luchador, which is obviously great, and long overdue in my opinion.

batgirl-48-vid-gamesBabs’ art and holographic pro wrestling aside (again, GREAT!), Batgirl #48 offer readers a lot for their $3. We finally get some answers regarding what’s going on with Babs’ (Gordon) brain,  see her team up with Batwing against the video game themed villains Co-op, said Black Canary team up, and some other things that I don’t want to spoil. My only complaint is that one reveal in this issue was something we all saw coming a mile away, which is a bit anti-climactic, unless there’s a last minute swerve next issue, which would be welcomed.

Also that fight with Co-op had some many terrible puns it felt like I was reading Kieron Gillen’s Twitter feed. Painful if you’re not down with that sort of thing, but also wonderful in a Batman ’66 sort of way.

My beef aside, I also like how the book manages to have 2 colorists work on it and come out relatively fine. Serge Lapointe is joined by Rob Haynes, and while you can tell the differences in style from first glance, the book doesn’t suffer as a result from it. Bab Tarr’s demands colors that pop and are energetic, and both colorists manage to nail that without any issue. I dug how Haynes used darker, bolder colors for his segments, stressing the action/dramatic vibe the book took, where as Lapointe’s palette was lighter. Batgirl uses color extremely well, and it’s great to see colorists not named Matt Wilson kill it in comics.

While there was some fun at their expense earlier, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart really do a superb job on the script. Cringe worthy jokes aside, there’s a healthy mix of batgirl-48-vid-games-2action and drama, resulting in a fun super hero soap opera. In addition to forwarding the plot and character relationship, the book manages to bring reader up to speed as to what Black Canary’s been up in a fun scene that doesn’t read like an forced ad for her book.

Batgirl #48 ends on a great cliffhanger,  really raising up the stakes for this arc. It’s a great read, and proves how important Babs Tarr role in this title is. If there rumored DC relaunch does go through, hopefully this creative team stay intact. They’re created an incarnation of Batgirl that’s delightful, and it’s the most fun I’ve had with the character in years.

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #47

4999675-0+bg_cv47_dsBatgirl #47

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Eleonora Carlini, Moritat, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

 I’m a reasonable critic, or I’ve lied to myself enough times to fully believe that I am. I understand that fill in artists are a thing that needs to happen when it comes to super hero comics. Babs Tarr is still relatively new to the business, and it’s hard for most artists, old and new, to hit that 12 issues a year mark. It’s something I’ve grown accustom to, and don’t mind when guys artists like Bengal swing by a draw an issue.

Batgirl #47 has 2 artists assigned to this comic, and while they’re both similar in style, neither Eleonora Carlini or Moritate really give the readers much to talk about. Carilini’s out of costume stuff looks fine enough, almost hitting those Babs Tarr level of 4999685-3+bg_47_3energy to the book, but it falls apart when character in costume show up. Moritat’s backgrounds are nice and detailed but his characters, especially the faces, are weak, and the art looks more like a children’s book than a comic at times. It’s a shame, because Serge Lapointe does some great stuff with the coloring, which does save the art work in some portions of the book, but certainly not others.

I do dig what Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher are doing on the narrative end of the title. We get to see Barbara Gordon pal around with the Spoiler, who I adore, and Bluebird, someone I not as familiar with, but dig none the less. It’s a fun team up that sees the trio working with Bab’s roommate Frankie, who also has gotten herself a code name that starts with an O, but isn’t the one that you want. It does makes for a solid running gag, hopefully editorial will let Frankie take up the name we want her to have sooner rather than later. Regardless, it’s fun to see Babs pal around with other female super heroines who are not Black Canary, and I hope to see them stick around.

The 2 writers also manage to balance a number of subplots in the span of 20 issues without things getting out of hand. I like how they manage to keep this book in line with the events of two other Bat books while having Barbara deal with her own set of problems 5010044-bg_47_5with each plot line have enough space to breathe. It’s a shame the art for this title isn’t on par with this writing, because the dialogue is a ton of fun, and the narrative is incredibly strong.

I hate to trash a book, but ultimately Batgirl #47 disappointed me. Again it’s a shame, but I really like what the writers bring to the table, and I enjoyed Batgirl running around with some of the less prominent members of the Bat-Family. On paper it sounds like a fun team up book, but the execution suffers from not so great art. A shame, as the book turns out to be a textbook example of how a weak art can ruin a good comic. It’s super unfortunate, as this issue sets up some important things up for the upcoming 50th issue, so it’s a bit a crucial issue, despite not being the most enjoyable comic.

 

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Chris’ Comics: What I loved about Comics in 2015

It’s been awhile FPNYC Faithful! Both my wife’s and my parents are divorced and remarried, so that means 4 families in 3 different states over the course of 3-5 days, depending on the year. The upside to that is that I got to see “The Force Awakens” twice, which I enjoyed a bunch. Downside is that my portable keyboard’s “N” and “B” keys don’t working, making writing while traveling virtually impossible, at least if I wanted proper spelling.

2015 was kind of a mix bag for Comics. Between Convergence and Secret Wars, there were WEEKS where I didn’t pull any big 2 comics. Which was fine really, as Dark Horse, Image and Boom put out some fantastic books this year. Which means I’m going to spend today talking about what I loved about comics this year.

Kaptara-coverTHE RISE OF CHIP ZDARSKY: The homie Matt Fraction is probably my favorite dude working in comics, but in terms of books released in 2015, I think I’ve read all of 6 books written by Fraction in 2015. HOWEVER, his chum/Sex Criminals co-creator Chip Zdarsky had a fantastic year as far as I’m concerned. 2015 saw Chip teamed up with Infinite Kung-Fu creator Kagan McLeod and put out the excellent Kaptara for Image, Joe Quinones on Marvel’s absolutely hilarious Howard the Duck series, and in a move no one saw coming, Archie hired him and Erica Henderson for a Jughead series. Zdarsky and his army of artists released some gorgeous comics packed with sharp and brilliant humor. I’m excited to see what Chip and his friends can do come 2016, which will hopefully include Sex Criminals coming out on a regular schedule.

KIERON GILLEN, JAMIE MCKELVIE AND MATT WILSON PUT OUT PHONOGRAM VOLUME 3, OH AND THE WICKED AND THE DIVINE REMAINS AN EXCELLENT TITLE. 

PhonogramIG_04-1 Warning, this is where things get a little Image heavy for a bit.

For months, WicDiv has been battling it out with Saga for the crown of “Most Emotionally Damaging Image title”. 2015 saw that book hit all sorts of new creative highs, making for a fantastic read.

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT PHONOGRAM CAME BACK!

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl isn’t the trio’s most accessible work, something I’ve stated several times,  but I don’t care. The music + magic plot point with it’s fascinating cast resonates with me in ways most comics don’t. I’m glad to see it come back, especially with these creators as good as they are now, and it deliver on levels I couldn’t predict. Between this and WicDiv, it’s hard to argue any creative team have had such a banner year more than these two.

PaperGirls_02-1BRIAN K VAUGHAN RELEASES A 2ND ON-GOING, IMAGE GETS ME TO GIVE THEM MORE MONEY. 

I might as well just get the rest of the Image stuff out in a single, dedicated section. In addition to books I was already reading like Rat Queens, Deadly Class, Saga, Sex Crimz, WicDiv & Pretty Deadly, Image decided to let a bunch of talented folk to put out more great books, which is both great for me as reader, and terrible for my savings account. Bitch Planet, Paper Girls, The Goddamned, Island, Montress,  and Tokyo Ghosts are just a few of the incredible offerings coming out from Image, who has had an banner year in 2015. And with creators like Bryan Lee O’ Malley preparing books for Image in 2016, I can’t see the publisher slowing down anytime soon.

SECRET WARS ISN’T TERRIBLE, A TON OF MARVEL BOOKS ARE FUN, THE STAR WARS BOOKS ARE GREAT, AND ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT MARVEL Silk Marvel #1NOW HAS A TON OF POTENTIAL HITS ON THE WAY*!

I have plenty of issues with Marvel 2015, but I can’t deny the company has put out some amazing books over the past 12 months. Secret Wars, even with the delays, may be the new standard of excellent for event books. Marvel added wonderful books like The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Spider-Gwen, and Silk to their catalog. Hawkeye, Uncanny X-men and Secret Avengers all ended on high notes, as the Star Wars line kick several types of ass in ways Star Wars comics never had before. 2015 has been another great year for the House of Ideas, and 2016 looks to continue that trend with the new Black Panther, X-Men ’92, Black Widow, Luke Cage/Iron Fist and Captain Marvel titles dropping over the new few months.

*Anything Inhuman related being the exception, unless we count the wonderful Ms. Marvel.

DC….WELL DC TRIED REAL HARD AND THEY DESERVE SOME PROPS FOR AT LEAST MAKING AN ATTEMPT!

DC did not have a banner year, which is a shame. Convergence was a massive flop and it Batgirl_45_coverdid a ton of damage towards the DC You launch this past summer, which was pretty great for the most part. Black Canary, Starfire are excellent companion books to the already established (and wonderful) Batgirl and Harley Quinn titles, and Tom King is doing the Lord’s work over in Omega Men. The creative teams over on the Superman and Bat books are taking some neat risks, and the Justice League books have been pretty solid as a whole. Sadly, the sales haven’t been there, so who knows what’s to become of books like Gotham Academy and Prez come 2015. But with such cutting edge and diverse titles like John Constantine: Hellblazer, Cyborg, Grayson, and Midnighter coming out, hopefully DC’s 2016 will be better without having to sacrifice much.

And that concludes the annual wall of text. A weird but good year for comics IMO, which plenty to look forward next year! Thanks for reading, hope to see you again come 2016!

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #45

Batgirl_45_coverBatgirl #45

Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, Serge Lapointe

DC, $2.99

Batgirl #45 is a comic with 0 super villain punching and 100% romance and relationship-based plots. That may sound less than ideal for a super hero comic, but you also have to factor in there’s also a 100% increase of Dick Grayson in this month’s issue; which is important to me obviously, making it the lack of costumed violence more than okay.

 

But before I start gushing over a Babs Tarr drawn Grayson (aka the best thing), let me start off by saying that this issue is actually a pretty big moment for mainstream comics. Early in the run, the Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.34.41 PMcreative team made an error that could be viewed as transphobic. While it was not their intent, the team apologized, promised to do better, and made sure the digital and collected version of the story were fixed to be less offensive. This issue illustrates that the team has continued to make good on their promise, as we see a trans character get married to her girlfriend, without one of them being a Skrull or super villains showing up to crash wedding. As far as I can tell, this is the first trans-wedding in mainstream comics, which is great, as it shows Big 2 comics creators striving to be more inclusive and mature about LGBTQ issues. It’s also nice because it feel genuine, not a marketing stunt, and chances are we don’t have to worry about these characters being fringed anytime soon. It’s also nice to see a wedding happen in comics that’s not full of shenanigans, but that’s less impressive, at least comparatively speaking.

Okay, back to me gushing over Dick (PHRASING). Babs Tarr is back on solo layouts and finished pencils for this book, and the results are pretty great. I really dug the portrayal of Grayson under Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, who write him as more of a (incredibly handsome) jerk than the Screen-Shot-2015-10-29-at-12.31.32-AMteam over in Grayson do, but given the history between the two, it makes sense, and doesn’t really damage the character in any permanent way. Their relationship is flirty and playful, and respects each of the characters new histories in this newer DCU. I also really appreciated the creators allowing male characters pining over the female lead in a way that reverses gender stereotypes, showing some vulnerably we usually don’t see from male super heroes.

I’ve stated that Tarr has drawn Batgirl with a shoujo manga influence in the past, and issue 45 allows the artist to go all out in that style. Colorist Serge Lapointe gets in on this, using a lighter palette, heavy on the pinks, purples, and whites. Of course given the wedding theme of the issue, it make totally sense, and I like how Lapointe drops the Shoujo filter a few times, going with bolder, crisper palette for the more intense, non-smooching-related scenes. It’s a neat technique, and it’s cool to see an artist experiment like that.

Batgirl #45 may be my favorite issue of this team’s run to date. It’s a fun issue with a lot of fun character moments, and focuses on my 2 favorite DC characters. Babs Tarr’s art couldn’t be better, and the writers inject the book with some stellar dialogue, while doing some really progressive stuff. Plus it’s nice to see someone do take on romance comic that’s not from Rosy Press. Pick it up if you have feeling/opinions on Batgirl and the Robin formerly known as Nightwing, or if you just like refreshingly modern romance comics.

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Chris Comics: Batgirl #44

4815993-bg_cv44_dsBatgirl #44

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Bengal, Serge Lapointe

DC, $2.99

I’m not entirely sure if it’s a coincidence or the work of Bat-Group editor Mark Doyle, but I can help but notice that the 3 DC books I read every month have really great alternative artist to fill in for their respect books. Bengal, previoulys seen on the Batgirl: Endgame one shot and the lead story in this year’s often-mentioned-by-me-Batgirl Annual, fills in for the first time on Batgirl proper, and delivers some fantastic visuals. While he’s not as experimental or fashion savvy as regular series artist Babs Tarr, Bengal’s more traditional lay outs and strong body language make for a good looking comic none the less. Bengal’s style is comparable to Tarr’s in that they’re obviously from a generation of artist raised on anime and manga, but where as Babs is Shoujo Manga/Anime, Bengal is very much shonen. This is evident in the big fight scene in the issue, which is the bulk of Bengal’s best art is present thanks to incredibly well choreographed panels. And even though some of the character heads are a little too lumpy or round at times,  my biggest fault with the art doesn’t lie with Bengal. I felt the pale colors provided by usual on point colorist Serge Lapointe take a bit away from the visuals. Batgirl has been a book which has been visually define by being kinetic and bright, but the muted colors take things back a notch this time around.

 

4815995-bg_44_2Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart (as well as previous series writer Gail Simone) deserve a decent amount of praise for giving Babs a wonderfully diverse cast of supporting characters. Despite living in the fictional area Burnside, based on super gentrified real life areas like Portland and Brooklyn, Fletcher and Stewart have surrounded Babs with some wonderful characters from various walks of life, and quickly made them stand out in a number of fascinating ways. It’s a shame the same can’t be said about this month’s villain, who felt rather disposable and a bit of an afterthought. I understand it’s hard to build upon on of the strongest collection of villains in comics when you’re NOT Grant Morrison, and that the team is channeling Batman 66 as well as Batman The Animated Series, but it would be nice to see Batgirl face a more formidable foe instead of another throw away villain who wears an absurd amount of eye shadow. My issues with the Velvet Tiger aside, the writing in this comic is still pretty great. Barbara’s various relationships with her friends all fell genuine thanks to the superb dialogue, and while there’s plenty of talk, it never feels like too overbearing. Fletcher and Stewart also know when to dial back and let Bengal and letterer Steve Wands handing all the heavy lifting with the fight scenes, leaving the slick action sequences relatively uncluttered.

CQAMp_kUcAA1KmPDespite my various critiques/nit-picks with the comic, Batgirl #44 is ultimately another fun issue of this great run. Bengal’s art is quite solid, and the writing is on par as usual, and I really felt like I got my $3 bucks worth with all the content crammed into 20 pages. Between this and the previously reviewed stellar Grayson installment, it was a good week for Bat-Family fans.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #43

BG-Cv43-ds-dd959-600x923Batgirl #43

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr, Michel Lacombe, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

Batgirl #43 is a frustrating comic (but at least that David LaFuente cover is rad). On the narrative end of this book, it’s hard to find fault with this issue, which really comes as no surprise. Writers Brenden Fletcher & Cameron Stewart give us an narrative with plentiful content, juggling multiple characters and plot lines with little to no problem. It’s impressive considering 3.5 new characters are added/reintroduced to the mix and are given plentiful face time, in addition getting some cool moments with Babs’s roommate Frankie and another supporting character in my favorite scene in the book. All of this, plus a cool murder mystery involving tigers! Stewart and Fletcher really make me  feel like I’m really got my money’s worth with this book, which I appreciate.The various relations between all the characters make the book that much more enjoyable, and the mystery while a tad bizarre is also a ton of fun. That quality writing also makes me feel a little bad that I’m about to be a little harsh on the book’s art.

bg-43-2-148685-320x180As I said last review, Babs Tarr is responsible for the layout/breakdown for this book now that Cameron Stewart is off drawing Fight Club 2. In the span of the last 3 issues we’ve seen Tarr handle the bulk of the art either by herself, or with a guest artist. Issue 43 continues the trend with Michel Lacombe helping with breakdowns, and Juan Castro inking some of the final few pages. This is where the problems lie, as the book looks different from page to page at times, with the art either looking really good, or incredibly rushed. Some of the blame can be placed on colorist’s Serge Lapointe‘s shoulders, as some pages have a weird glow to them, and there even panels where the colors are darker than the previous ones for no reason. See the panel I’ve included; the lighting on the forearms/hands makes zero sense given where the direction of the light is coming from. There’s a few panels like that which really took me out of the 4767224-bg_43_4experience. The addition of Castro’s ink is interesting, as it gave Babs’ art a little more of a finished look, but it also clashes with her looser, sketchier style. The middle section of the comic is ultimately where the book looks it’s best, but again, the odd changes in the hue takes away from the stronger portions of Tarrs and Lacombe’s art.

Batgirl #43 is a fun comic that’s hampered by an unfortunate amount of art issues. I probably wouldn’t mind it as much as I do if we were dealing with a multi issue run, but we’re only 3 issues in after a 2 month hiatus. Hopefully Editorial can find someone who can help Tarr with breakdowns on a more regular basis, because seeing the book hampered by inconsistent art is extremely annoying. Hopefully, much like this month’s Gotham Academy, this is a rare misstep but a member of proven creative team, and thing will be back on track next issue.

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl Annual 3

IMG_0099Batgirl Annual 3

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Bengal, David Lafuente, Ming Doyle, Mingjue Helen Chen

DC $4.99

Originally, I wanted to talk about Batgirl Annual 3 in the same review as Batgirl 42, BUTTTTT when your double sized issue has 4 artists attached to it, maybe you give it a separate review.

Batgirl Annual 3 is part art jam issue, part team up comic. Over in Batgirl proper, we’ve rarely seen her interact with anyone in the Bat-family outside of her dad. Here, Babs runs into the newly revived Spoiler, the recently cancelled Batwoman, the adorable leads from Gotham Academy AND as the cover shows, her former…something, Dick Grayson and his boss Helena Bertinelli. Drawing this issue is a murder row’s of artists; Bengal, fresh from the Batgirl Endgame one shot, Gotham Academy alternate artist Mingjue Helen Chen, and making their Bat family debuts, David Lafuente and Ming Doyle, who handle the Spoiler and Batwoman chapters respectively. The annual is written by series regulars Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, who don’t produce the deepest of plots, but a fun one none the less, invoking silver age team up books like the Brave and the Bold and Marvel Two in One. For five bucks, you can do a lot worst out there, especially when you factor in how good this book looks.

BatgirlBengal’s Grayson chapter starts the book off, and Stewart and Fletcher NAIL the voices of Dick and Helena perfectly. It’s a amusing story where our 3 heroes have to stop a group of terrorists in Gotham, and Dick has to avoid being seen by Babs at all costs. Bengal’s manga meets David Lapham art style is perfect for this high action story, and the writers perfectly capture the tone and style of Grayson, including incorporating the series’ key running gag.  As someone who really likes the Dick and Barbara relationship, this story work for me on a number of levels.

From there it’s Spoiler and David Lafuente. As someone who wasn’t a fan of Lafuente’s Ultimate Spider-Man run, I can honestly say that his work on this story is incredible. Lafuente’s style has grown since his Marvel days, channeling some Todd Nauck and the late and great  Mike Wieringo in his pages. It’s some very kinetic and expressive stuff, and if I have any complaints, it’s that I wanted another 15 pages, or at least for Lafuente to draw theses characters again in the future. After that it’s tumblr_ns99dbFSik1rrp531o1_250Ming Doyle’s Batwoman story, which has a cool pulp vibe to it, and reminds me a lot of the good ol Greg Rucka and JH Williams era for Kate Kane. Also, there’s a pretty sweet Wicker Man reference in the story, and I for one always appreciate shout outs to movies remade by Nicholas Cage.

Finally the books ends on Batgirl teaming up with Olivia and Maps from Gotham Academy. While it feels like pure fluff (Fletcher co-writes GA, so their appearance make sense to a degree), Mingjue Helen Chen draws the hell out of this story. It’s so charming that you can forgive it, especially when you get to the final page of the story But this story, like every other one except the Batwoman story, all have the same problem. The villains are pretty forgettable and kind of generic. Like I have no idea if they’re an established threat in the DCU, something brought back for their first New 52/DC You appearance, or created for this book. And ultimately, I don’t care.

Batgirl-Annual-5-600x923Batgirl Annual 3 is something you don’t need to pick up if you think it’s going to tie into the current Batgirl on-going someway. BUT, if you want to see a bunch of great Bat family character interact with Babs while being drawn by some fantastic artists, then yeah, you should buy it.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #42 & Sex Criminals #11

STK674518Sex Criminals #11

Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

Image, $3.99 (or $4.69 for the XXX variant, which you should not open in public or your place of work.)

 

After a number of crazy delays, Sex Criminals returns to the stands, and we are richer for the experience. Fraction and Zdarsky give us a new character in this issue, and said character seem like a nice new person who loves their mother a bunch. Oh and they also have freaky sex powers, what a world. Issue 11 also changes the location for the book, which is revealed in a hilarious montage one would expect from the genius of Chip Zdarsky. And while we’ve seen plenty of quality Chippage as a late from both Kaptara and Howard the Duck during the Sex Crimz hiatus, having a comic he drew just feels right. Mostly because he’s co-created some incredible endurable characters I’ve missed, but also because NO ONE does sight gags and easter eggs as well as him. It’s incredible how much humor he can pack into the background of these books, never overcrowding them and distracting readers from what we’re suppose to be focusing on with the narrative.

As someone who’s met and talked to Chip and writer Matt Fraction a number of times over the past year and a half ( no restraining order yet, whooo), it’s freaky how much this books feels like an extension of their friendship. There’s a bit where Fraction breaks the forth wall and explains why there text there instead of dialogue (due to Chip’s talents ironically), and it feels like something he would be screaming about during a panel. It’s hilarious and it shows how confident and comfortable these two creators are with each other. Fraction’s words as still sharp as ever, blending pop culture jabs and jokes with engaging dialogue. His characters read very realistic, despite you know, the whole freezing time thing.

Sex Criminals‘ return is a mostly talking heads issue which pushes the plot forward a bit. The biggest reveal is hilarious, and it’s nice to see the book return hitting the floor running. This book being as good as it is surprises no one, and I’m glad to have it back.

BG_Cv42 Batgirl #42

Babs Tarr/Brenden Fletcher/Cameron Stewart/Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

 Batgirl #42 sees artists Jake Wyatt & Michel LaCombe helping Babs Tarr with breakdowns. On one hand this is good, because Wyatt’s style is a little tighter than Tarr’s giving the book a look similar to when Cameron Stewart was assisting Babs. However, it loses some of the energy she brought to the book last issue with her dynamic layouts. Oh sure, we only got an issue with her working alone on the book, but I really like the results, and was hoping for more. The book still looks great though, so don’t expect any sort of dip in quality on the art end. There’s still a lot of energy to these pages, and Serge Lapointe‘s bright colors are fantastic. And Tarr’s Burnside is great, full of energy and sexy and confident Batgirl dealing with a new Batman and the new 52 incarnation of Livewire.

Batgirl #42 is a comic I dug a lot. The premise is neat: An experiencde Batgirl teaming up with a inexperienced Batman who’s also her dad is something new, and a fun exploration of the daughter/father superhero dynamic. Writers Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher having Babs take point in their battle against Livewire makes a ton of sense given how she’s slightly more experience with dealing with super-crazies directly than her dad it, and it does so without making the Jim Gordon Batman look inept. The pacing is great, and the balance between time spend on Barbara as a grad student and as Batgirl is appreciated. Plus the team brings back a great supporting character from the Gail Simone run of this book, and ends the book on happy little cliffhanger. Batgirl remains a refreshing and fun book, with great visuals and a pleasant blend of drama and action.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Welcome Back Babs (A Batgirl #41 review)

Batgirl_Vol_4-41_Cover-1_TeaserBatgirl #41

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Joel Gomez/Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

So Batgirl’s back, and things are a little different this time around . Yes I’m well aware things have been very different since issue #36, but we have a few more changes on our hands. First and foremost, co-writer Cameron Stewart is no longer handling layout duties, as he’s busy drawing a thing I’m not supposed to talk about. What this means is that Babs Tarr is drawing this book by herself, a first for the book and her career, which is immediately noticeable. Her style is more expressive and looser than Stewart’s, giving the book a more over the top manga-style look in terms of character language and layout. It’s a little jarring at first, but it also give the more its own visual identity unlike anything else out there on the stands, and let’s Tarr experiment with her storytelling. With Babs (the artist, not the Batgirl) handling the bulk of the art now, she has Joel Gomez assisting her on backgrounds, something I wouldn’t have noticed with the proper crediting.

batgirl-41-robo-batThe book also has a new colorist in Serge Lapointe, who does a lot of neat things with the color. The book’s color has more of a softer feel to it, sometime giving it that pencils to color look to it depending on the panel. Another cool trick Lapointe does is giving some backgrounds a neat spray paint look, which stands out a bunch when slapped against white canvas-esque negative space. I definitely do miss Stewart’s visual contributions to the book, as well as Wicks coloring, but Tarr, Gomez and Lapointe are so talented it’s hard not to mind the slight changes all that much.

The other big change is the fact that Batgirl is now a little in-line with other non-Fletcher written Batbook’s continuity, which puts Babs (The Batgirl, not the artist) in a difficult position thanks to the events of Endgame. Her dad Jim Gordon is the new Batman (spoilers?), who’s under orders to get rid of the other vigilantes of Gotham .  This is obviously a problem for Batgirl, but for the reader, it’s an interesting story to bear witness too, as it adds a cool twist to the usually stable Jim & Barbara Gordon relationship. In addition to all that Bat-family drama, we get the new 52 premiere of a cult favorite villain, allowing Babs Tarr to get her Bruce Timm on, all while some seeds are planted for another Bat-character to make an appearance down the line.

sdsd-740x431The Brenden Fletcher/Stewart/Tarr team hit their sophomore arc of Batgirl at full speed. While there’s some changes on the visual side, Fletcher and Stewart’s dialogue is just as good as it’s was pre-crossover break. There’s some really cute humor here, as well as some character relations that feel honest and genuine. The book feels fresh and relevant to the times, but never goes overboard with the time-sensitive references. It’s a fun little read that looks fantastic, and you can sense the team is having a blast work on the book.

Batgirl continues to be a book that shows DC is willing to change to ensure it’s brand survives in a world where Marvel dominates the charts and box offices (Jurassic World being the exception.). It’s success is obviously the reason why we even got this DC You initiative to begin with, and I’m happy to say it’s as good of a comic as it is important to the company and the marketplace.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: #BatgirlofBurnside Edition

So in case haven’t sold a large  small portion of your humanity to the internet like I have, you may have missed this week’s Batgirl controversy. The Outhouse has a good summary of the insanity if you care to catch up on it, and I agree with DC‘s  decision to recall the cover. Sadly, there’s a loud internet minority that doesn’t agree with me, but I really don’t give a toss about their whacks opinions.

As fate would have it (“or maybe it’s a CONSPIRACY?!” says that one guy on Facebook no one really likes), not only did this month’s issue of Batgirl drop this week, but the Batgirl: Endgame tie-in issue dropped as well. Since Barbara is once again in the spotlight, I’d figured I’d cover both issues in the column, because it makes or better narrative or something.

batgirlendgame1BG40cover-copy_5488f03771edf2.26063680Batgirl: Endgame #1

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Bengal

Batgirl #40

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks 

DC $2.99

Batgirl Endgame wasn’t what I expecting, but delightful none the less. Taking place before the events of Batman #40, but after Batgirl #40, the one shot sees Babs helping out with some evacuating while dealing with the ( HERE LIES SPOILERS) The Joker plague that infected Gotham.

The comic is impressive on 2 major levels. It’s a silent issue of sorts, which ever since G.I. Joe #21, is nothing new, but still an hard feet to pull off. What separate this silent issue from past ones is the clear use of Emojis, thus making it the MOST 2015 of comics. The other things that wow me was the art of Bengal, who has the not easy task of being the first artist to draw something related the series since Babs Tarr. This France-based artist delivers some gorgeous and really expressive art, and successfully manages to tell a emotional story without the use of any dialogue.

The story, by series regulars Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, itself is fairly straight forward, and a tad on the fluff side, but let’s be real, there’s only so much you can do with a editorial mandated tie in. Upside, it’s a simple one-shot (unlike the Death of the Story arc from a few years back), the gets to see Batgirl be a creative and triumphant hero, which is nice when dealing with Joker related stuff. It’s a solid alternative to the pretty grim stuff that’s been going with Batman proper, and shows that Barbara can be triumphant and stay true to her character even in the darkest of situations.

With Batgirl #40 we have a story in a very modern setting with a some retro plot elements. The previous issue gave us the reveal of the first arc’s big bad, and we get it’s origin with this issue. It’s a bit disappointing in my opinion, as SPOILERS a rogue AI based on Batgirl’s brain patterns is something  straight out of Wargames. I do appreciate it being  an analogy for the Batgirl’s ongoing struggle with her identity, but I thought it was a little ham fisted. That being said, I REALLY dug the last few pages of the issue, and I’m hyped to see what June will bring for this title and the upcoming Black Canary title.

 

Even though I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of the book’s plot, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Marius Wicks’ visuals are still gorgeous. Tarr’s facial expressions, beautiful character designs & outfits and brutal yet clean fights scenes combined with Wicks’ crisp colors palette are still the main reason to buy this book. And while Stewart and Brenden Fletcher’s script wasn’t as strong as i’ts been in the past, they do drop some interesting hints about the possible future of some of the cast members.

 

Batgirl #40 is a bit uneven, and Batgirl Endgame is a bit of light read, but I wouldn’t call either comics bad. They’re fun books, with visuals that aren’t afraid to try new things. They both feel fresh, which is appreciated and welcomed, as I rather see comic try and fail then stick to  a proven but tired formula. Batgirl is a book that embraces the changing comic book medium, and that makes it a must read.

 

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Forbidden Planet NYC Sponsoring This Week’s Geek Girl Brunch

IMG_2285Lotsa free comics, a special coupon, and some random neat-o surprises (for example, one attendee’s going home with a 1:100 Grant Morrison variant to Multiversity #1, someone’s got a copy of Frank Quitely’s DC art book coming to them… etc.). The event’s booked solid with a waiting list, but be sure to get in touch with them if you’d like to be involved in their future gigs.

Check out this Batgirl piece Cameron Stewart drummed up to celebrate the party!

Cameron Stewart Batgirl Geek Girl BrunchUPDATE 1/23/15: We’re also providing a Batman Cookie Jar for the GGB crew to giveaway via raffle!

Entertainment Earth Batman Cookie Jar

 

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Everything is OKAY edition

PREVIOUSLY ON TTBwC: You may remember some of my recent reviews for DC’s Grayson and Batgirl have been either slightly negative, or concern about some of the content. This month, said books are released on the same week, and man I am no longer concerned about either title’s quality.

GRAY_Cv6_543db3662f95c5.33622396Grayson #6

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

After 6 issues, 1 Annual and one Editorial Mandatory Tie in Issue, Grayson gets an issues that isn’t a done in one. And man, the cliffhanger is everything I love about this book.

Grayson #6 is a return to form for the creative team, as Dick and the Midnighter final get to throwing down mano y spanish word for hand. Well technically this is like the 3rd time they’ve fought in this series, but this one takes up the bulk of the issue for a change. We also get some new insight on the SPYRAL organization and the people who run it, and the reveal of a new big bad, as well as some jokes. Great jokes at that, including at least 2 laugh out loud bits of dialogue.

There are a few deep cuts to both Pre and New 52 comics continuity in this issue, as Tom King and Tim Seeley really come through with this issue. It’s a smart fight book, that perfectly blends weird sciences with a great fight scene, complete with some superb dialogue. And artists Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox continue to amaze, which some really kinetic line work and some outstanding coloring. This book looks as good as it reads, if not better, especially with some of color choice’s Cox uses to really make the fight scenes pop. Especially with the throwdown’s location, the almost psychedelic color pallet has this book almost out Jim Sterankos your average issue of Secret Avengers.

Grayson #6 comes damn close to being a perfect comic. The creative team starts 2015 off on the right foot, and I’m eager to see what a full year of Grayson will bring us.

tumblr_ne60quQzFV1qfd9cso1_1280Batgirl #38

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

DC $2.99

Speaking of A+ plus coloring, Maris Wicks does some really neat stuff with this month’s issue of Batgirl. Wicks has been doing some dynamite work since this creative team took over the title, but the color in this issue really stands out. There’s several scenes, ranging from a confrontation in a alley way to a high speed motorcycle race that really pop thanks to Wicks’ skills.

Great coloring aside, Batgirl #38 finally raises the stakes with the plot, and moves the story in an interesting direction. Batgirl’s new boyfriend doesn’t approve of the vigilante in town, Black Canary doesn’t approve of her heavy social media presence or her behavior, and there’s still a large helping of jerk-ass white boys making Burnside not so great at times. Granted some of these elements may not seem like the boldest and most original, they’re blended together well enough to seem fresh and entertaining, especially given how well Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher write dialogue. Batgirl is very much a book that reads like it takes place in 2015.

Babs Tarr (with Cameron Stewart on breakdowns) is a beast with this issue. She crams pages with a numerous amount of panels (her average is about 7 in this book, where your usual comics is 5-6 at most), which a frightening amount of detail and expression. It’s impressive to see her talents grow with every issue, especially when she’s this new to the medium.

Batgirl #38 is another delightful issue from the creative team, with a cool mystery, fantastic character interaction and slicks visuals. It’s exactly what this book needed after some of the more controversial material from the previous issue.

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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: Purple is the new Black

MISSING: Intro. Last scene: When I didn’t have a lot of words about comics to vomit upon my computer.

Hawkeye_vs._Deadpool_Vol_1_2_TextlessHawkeye/Deadpool #2

Gerry Duggan/Matteo Lolli/Jacopo Camangi

Marvel $3.99

With the Fraction/Aja’s Hawkeye series continuously hit with delays, I’ve had to turn to the wonderful Secret Avengers and this mini series for my Clint Barton and Kate Bishop fix. As luck would have it, I couldn’t have chosen 2 better books to do so, and oddly enough, book both has a healthy amount of Deadpool in them.

Not that I’ve pointed out Marvel’s lack of original content (KIDDING), I should talk about this comic that I have purchased.  This issue, tying into recent events in both  Deadpool and Amazing Spider-Man,  sees our team try to set a trap for the baddies, and it goes as well as one would an except a Hawkguy conceived plan to go. Also the Hawkeyes learn just exactly how weird and complex Deadpool’s life can get, and video games are played. Other things goes down too, but those are spoilers, so it’s probably bess that I don’t discuss them.

Gerry Duggan, who co-writes Deadpool’s monthly series, draws upon both characters histories, bringing up some more obscure elements of their careers for hilarious results. I was not expecting a reference to the beloved Joe Kelly era Deadpool book, nor a discussion about the fate of Hawkeye’s Sky-Cycle. The book also continues to reference a few visual gags from the Hawkeye on-going, and they continue to remain fun little nods to that book.

Matteo Lolli gets some help from Jacopo Camagni on the art side of things, and it’s certainly something I welcomed. I was a fan of Camangi’s work on last year’s Longshot mini series, and he fits the book well. His Kate Bishop looks like a young woman, and his softer, round faces and exaggerated body language help sell a lot of the book’s humor. The two artists’ styles are similar enough to tell a cohesive story, but you can also appreciate what each brings to the book as well without preferring one to another. And the colors complete the package, making this title long for a Hawkeye/Deadpool animated series that we’ll never get.

For a mini I was willing to write off as a cash grab, I’ve been having a blast reading Hawkeye Vs Deadpool. It’s a fun hero team up/fight book that looks great, is good for a few laughs, and helps fans realize how much growth these two popular characters have gone through thanks to their respected creative teams.

 

Batgirl-36Batgirl #36

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

Dc $2.99

Batgirl’s 2014 soft relaunch continues to impress, with a strong follow up issue to the current creative team’s debut. In this issue, Barbara Gordon’s supporting cast continues to grow, with several new characters introduced, as well as a throw down with a pair of cosplayers turn contract killers on stolen high-tech motorcycles. As someone who loves Barbara Gordon as a character, having her throw down with murderous cosplayers isn’t needed for me to buy your comics, but I appreciate you targeting my tastes.

Judging from what I just wrote, it’s safe to assume that I liked this comic. And I don’t mean to take away from writer Brenden Fletcher, who’s contributions to this book are crucial, but a lot of this book worked for me thanks to the talents of  artists Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and colorist Maris Wicks. While Burnside is very much a new part of Gotham, the artists really did an excellent job of fleshing out the city and it’s various locales, making it a very believable place. Tarr using a number of fashion blogs for her character designs also helps sell the city, which definitely looks like part of Brooklyn I’ve been to recently.

Maris Wicks’ colors are fantastic. The book definitely pops out thanks to his bright palette and blends well with Tarr’s kinetic pencils, especially when it comes to the book’s climatic fight scenes. I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s the best looking book on the market, but it definitely sticks out on the shelf, and yes,  looks great. And Fletcher’s dialogue is sharp, smart, and manages to tug at the hear at times. It’s a creative team that meshes together well, giving the reader one hell of comics experience

Batgirl continues to be a title I didn’t know I wanted, but glad I now have. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this invested in Barbara Gordon’s life, and this creative team is already batting (not a pun, I swear) .1000 after 2 strong issues. Batgirl is giving my pull list a run for being my current favorite title, which says a lot given how strong comics have been as whole in 2014.

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Late, yet again.

Belated post once again, this time due to NYCC. Con was great, and I saw many a fine folk. Last week was also a really great week for comics too, but I’m only going to highlight 2 of them today, because they are arguably the most important. I’m sure Sex Criminals will be fine.

 

586cfd30a87203654de3e206e1093d7dBatgirl #36

Brenden Fletcher/Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr

DC $2.99

::: Cut and pastes last week’s Gotham Academy review, changes a few names, call it a day :::

So yeah, despite there being no shortage of dope comics released this year, THIS is the book I wanted more than anything after it was announced. Barbara Gordon is my number 1 with a bullet favorite DC character, and I haven’t been excited for the character in quite some time. No offense Gail Simone, you’re still rad.

But man, that Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr new costume effect. Stewart’s drawn many a fine comic in his career, and Tarr has been one of my favorite people since I met her at Heroescon this PAST summer. And that new costume is all sorts of dope, which btw if you’re paying attention DC Collectibles, new Babs figure ASAP. A statue is fine as well.

So yeah, I went into this book a little excited. And much like Gotham Academy before it, it exceeded my expectations. Tarr, Stewart and Brenden Fletcher crafted a comic that felt like the sort of book the new 52 should have been in the first place. It’s refreshingly modern, in both tone and style. Burnisde may be a Gotham-stand in for Portland or North Brooklyn but its the plot that really make this book stand out. Not too many mainstream comics are willing to tackle revenge porn and privacy invasion, but team Batgirl 2k14 do so, and kick it straight in the face.

Batgirl is another example of DC actually getting it. Gotham Academy is a great book, but Batgirl is an A list character that non-comics people are familiar. This is the type of book that should be an entry gate to DC Comics/Comics in general, and it’s off to a damn good start.

 

WYTCHES_webWytches #1

Scott Sndyer/Jock

Image $2.99

(Somehow) it is October, which means SPOOKY comics are a plenty this month. Oh and hilariously named donuts like “Boston Screme”. Both are things that I like, but only the former involves the talents of creators Scott Snyder & Jockat least as far as I know.

The pair released Wytches last week, and the hype for that book was nearly comparable to Barbara Gordon’a new look. Snyder may be sitting on top of the comics world due to Batman ( rightfully so mind you), but Wytches serves as a reminder on how well this dude does horror. The first few pages of this book are horrific, which is something I imagine one would want from a spooky-scary comic.

And then there’s Jock. Easily one of the most interesting and talented artists working in comics today, Jock’s art is phenomenal in this debut. Paired with colorist extraordinar Matt Hollingsworth, the pair set the tone of the book perfectly. The book looks great when the characters are suffering the most, which I know makes me sound like a sociopath, but it’s true. It’s a great looking book featuring terrible things happening to questionable people.

I also really like the hook for Wytches. Said Witches are far from the black hat/cat cauldron troupe, and are hardly the worst thing in the book. I refuse to say more due to fear of spoilers, but Snyder/Jock/Hollingsworth have something special going on in this book. Wytches does for witches what The Wake did for mermaids.

Wytches is off to an impressive start, and has me rethinking my pull list in order for me to buy it monthly. It’s a stellar debut, something Image has become notorious for, and it’s great to see one of the industry’s biggest name flex his horror muscles again with a fantastic art team.

 

 

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