Tagged: batman

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Creative Conversation: Ibrahim Moustafa

Welcome to a Creative Conversation with creator Ibrahim Moustafa. Here we give you a chance to get inside the mind, learn some in depth background, and discuss the creative process of some of comics’ best writers and artists. In our first Creative Conversation I had the opportunity to speak with the artist behind Vertigo’s smashingly good new series, “Savage Things.” If the Bourne franchise went down the horror route, you have an inkling of what’s in store for you with this book. Ibrahim gives a better sum up a little further down. We talked about first comics, must reads, stories that stick with us as young comic fans, how this new series came about and who would be on Ibrahim’s own personal Mount Rushmore of comic book artists. Agree? Disagree? Find out!

MK: So let’s start with a little background because in all our conversations I’m not sure I know this: How did your journey lead you to working in comics?

IM: I was always drawing as a kid, and some of my earliest memories are of watching the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies. Not long after that I discovered the Ninja Turtles and Batman 66 TV shows, and was obsessed with them all. I had and read a few comics as a kid and was always drawing the aforementioned. I got much more into collecting and reading comics when I discovered the X-Men cartoon in the early 90s, and I would hoard those Fleer Ultra 93 and 94 X-Men cards sets as a kid.

I fell out of comics for a long time as I got into sports a bit. And then in high school I was heavily into drawing graffiti art and breakdancing. When I was a Junior, “Smallville” had come out and rekindled my love of Superman. Someone gave me a book called “The Complete History Of Superman” and it had a few Alex Ross paintings in it, which completely blew my mind. I had no idea you could do *that* with superheroes.

That sent me down the rabbit hole of “Who is this guy? How is he doing this? What is he painting with? What else has he done?” From there I found “Kingdome Come” and started going to the comic shop, and that ignited my interest in drawing superheroes again. After a short while I realized that people were drawing comics for a living, and I began a very disciplined, regimented plan to make that my reality as well.

It worked (laughs)!

MK: That’s epic! What was your local comic shop when you were getting heavily into it?

IM:The first one I wandered into was a small one-off called Hidden Treasures or something to that effect, but they closed down shortly after. Then a friend that I worked with told me that there was a place called Things From Another World that was literally blocks away from our job. And they became my regular supplier in the formative era of my comics addiction, haha.

MK:They’re a great operation out in the Portland area. Other than Alex Ross, who were some other artists that got you jazzed into drawing superheroes and comics again?

IM: There have been SO many, but the ones that have stayed an influence/inspiration regardless of my changing interests are probably Stuart Immonen, David Mazzucchelli, and Lee Bermejo. As I’ve burrowed deeper into comics and it’s artistic masters, I’d say my Mount Rushmore consists Alex Ross, Stuart Immonen, Alex Toth, and Jorge Zaffino.

MK: That’s an eclectic looking Mount Rushmore.

IM: It is!

MK:I dig it. Before we go too far off topic: Favorite X-Men character?

IM: Cyclops (I know), Wolverine is a close second, though. You?

MK: I feel like Wolverine is everybody’s top one or two but personally, especially since Grant Morrison brought her into the mix I’m an Emma Frost man. Which doesn’t make me a “real” X-Men fan in most folks’ eyes but it is what it is. What is it about Cyclops for you?

IM: 1) You can like whichever X-Person you want and damn anyone who tells you otherwise!

MK: Thank you!

IM: 2) Honestly, I think Cyclops was the most like Superman, aesthetically, and that really appealed to seven year-old me when I discovered the show; he was the do-good leader, he had red blasts from his eyes, and he wore all blue with yellow and red (laughs).

But there was something about the idea that he was encumbered by his power that really hit me as a kid. The fact that this thing he could do made him an outcast and made his life difficult, but he used it to help people anyway…That always got me.

Also, his mutation didn’t cause him to have a drastically different outward appearance, but it was enough to make him an other. And growing up half-Egyptian, I experienced a lot of cultural differences from the kids around me. Questions like, “Why can’t you eat pork?” are a lot like, “Why are you always wearing sunglasses?” So, I think that appealed to me about Cyclops as well.

MK: Take that Cyclops haters! That’s really inspiring how you were able to have that relation to Cyclops. For you, do you think comics has a special place as far as storytelling in a way that movies, TV, theatre, or other mediums don’t quite?

IM: I do, absolutely. I think that there are more opportunities to play with the passage of time visually on a comics page than with other mediums. In comics, for example, you can have a splash page of a scene that is split into four different panels across a single image of say, a park. And each panel can represent the four seasons in a year.

Comics also allow for opportunities to echo imagery from one page or one sequence to another. So let’s say you have a page where a character is a child, and they’re playing, and they fall down and scrape up their knee. Then, you cut to them as an adult in a few chapters and they’re in a completely different scenario, but they go through a similar accident, and you’re establishing that they’re prone to this kind of thing in their life.

In comics, seeing all of those panels in one page as a whole creates a different experience than film or TV where you would see that happen one shot at a time. You’re taking in the gestalt of the moment on a page rather than the disparate parts that make the whole. Symbolism, the efficiency afforded by narration paired with a parallel image to the text, the pacing of a page-turn into a splash. There are tons of cool ways to deliver a moment in a comics page that are unique to the medium, and that’s probably what I love about it the most.

MK: That’s an amazing answer. Thank you for that. To switch gears a little, let’s talk about your new series out which I think definitely displays some of those elements you’ve so eloquently discussed. “Savage Things” which you draw, and is written by the one and only Justin Jordan, hit shelves on March 1st. Did you and Justin know each other much prior to working on the book? Was it an arranged marriage by Vertigo? How did your collaboration come about?

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Savage Things #1

IM: Justin and I had met here in Portland back in 2012 or so at a great indy comics show we used to have here called Stumptown. We’ve bumped into each other a few times since then on Twitter, and I’ve been a fan of his work since I first read “Luthor Strode” but when our editor Jamie S. Rich reached out to me to draw the book he facilitated a wonderful reunion for the two of us. So, pretty much an arranged marriage and the dowry was a super-dope book that I get to draw

MK: I love it when an arranged marriage blossoms into true love and kick ass action sequences.

IM: (Laughs)

MK: If someone asks you to describe “Savage Things,” what’s been your favorite answer to give?

IM: “Savage Things” is what you get when a bunch of Dexters are kidnapped and raised by the government to be Jason Bourne.

MK: That’s maybe the most badass way of summing up a book I’ve ever heard. Here’s a two-parter: What’s been one of the most challenging and what’s been your favorite thing to draw so far for the series?

IM: The book is full of excellent opportunities to create cool action sequences, and I think that’s been my favorite part so far. There have also been a few types of locations I’ve never never drawn before (a hospital, a power plant, a few others) so that’s been a fun challenge.

The most difficult thing has been figuring out how to draw expressive faces on sociopaths (laughs).

MK: That seems like a challenge on several levels (laughs). Can you perhaps tease us about something readers should be super excited to discover in issue two and beyond?

IM: Yes! The next few issues pitt our lead character, Abel, against six of the other sociopathic, trained murderers that he grew up with. So as you can imagine, issue one was just a tease at some of the brutality that these guys are capable of, especially toward each other. By the end of issue three, we pull back the lens and broaden the scope of the battle quite a bit. I’m very excited!

MK: Man, I can’t wait to see how you and Justin up the ante! Final two questions before our time’s up:

1) For someone new to comics, what are five essential must reads you’d recommend?

2) For all things Ibrahim Moustafa, “Savage Things,” and your ridiculously amazing James Bond posters, where can fans keep up with you on social media and the web? (Seriously, his James Bond posters kind of cray cray. Don’t believe me, click here!)

IM: 1) This is a tough one! These are certainly slanted toward things that I love, so your mileage may certainly vary.

Scalped” is my favorite book of all-time. It’s a crime drama a la “Breaking Bad” or “The Wire.” Anyone can dive right into it.

“Kingdom Come”: I read this pretty early on and loved it. There are a ton of references and characters in it, but as long as you know who Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Shazaam are, the rest falls into place.

The Losers” is a great book if you love action movies with fun characters, a cool story/lots of intrigue.

Old Man Logan” is almost a companion piece to “Kingdom Come” in that it’s a look at a possible future, full of cool stuff and references but mainly if you know the X-Men and the Avengers, you’re solid.

Batman: Year One.” One of the greatest comics ever made and a perfect primer for Batman fans looking to give the comics a try.

2) I’m on twitter at: @Ibrahim_M_ and my official site is http://theartofibrahimmoustafa.blogspot.com/

MK: Ibrahim, you’re a class act, thank you for being so generous and gracious with your time in joining me in our first Creative Conversation.

Check out “Savage Things #1” now and get ready for “Savage Things #2,” on shelves Wednesday, April 5th, 2017. Stay tuned for our next…Creative Conversation.

Please send love/hate messages to Matthew via Twitter @matthewklein316 and on Instagram. Matthew loves all things Batman, Valiant, and pro-wrestling related. He’s also pretty sure that it’s not recommended to spend more waking hours watching reruns of “Chuck” than sleeping but hasn’t been able to prove this theory.

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Kate Kane Begins in BATWOMAN REBIRTH #1

A new era of Batwoman starts here!

Her time is now! Kate Kane has been kicking all kinds of butt over in Detective Comics since DC Comics began it’s Rebirth initiative. The time’s arrived for Batwoman to strike off on her own, hot off the heels of the recent two-parter setup story “Batwoman Begins” in Detective Comics #948 AND #949 (which we might still have a few copies left if you’re quick about it).

Kate Kane’s been through a lot. She lost her sister and mother as a child. She served in the military to follow in her father’s footsteps. She got kicked out of the army because she refused to betray herself. Then, she returned and took up the mantle of the bat, a symbol to serve a greater cause than one’s own survival made infamous by her cousin, Bruce Wayne AKA Batman! A soldier hardened by war, recovering from experiences fighting a Batman-inspired armed unit known as the Colony that her father created, she made the hardest choice of her life: Locking up the person she counted on the most to support her. Now, her mission is leading Kate away from Gotham but possibly back into the hands of her own demons.

The next era of Batwoman’s adventures start here in this one-shot that’ll get you primed and pumped for her ongoing series. We recently learned that Monster Venom is the hottest new bioweapon on the black market. An organization called “The Many Arms Of Death” is planning to take it global. Batwoman must return to the place where she spent some her (and Kate Kane’s for that matter) darkest hours. Learn where Batwoman comes from and learn where she’s going next as the stage is set for the must-read series you’ll be adding to your pull list.

Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics Bombshells, Angela: Queen of Hel) and Steve Epting (Captain America, American Monster) usher in Batwoman’s next chapter. Don’t get left behind, this is one ride you want to be on.

 

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The Lego Batman Movie Giveaway

We’re giving away THREE sets of bags, t-shirts, toys and tickets to see the Lego Batman Movie on our Twitter feed! Just head over and RT to enter. Simple as that.

Here’s the synopsis of the flick:

In the irreverent spirit of fun that made “The LEGO® Movie” a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble – LEGO Batman – stars in his own big-screen adventure. But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.

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Batman Assembles The JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: REBIRTH #1

This New Comic Book Day welcome back one of DC’s premiere superhero teams!

A new dawn is rising on the Justice League of America. Spinning out of the events chronicled in Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad comes a team under the Justice League banner unlike any other. Don’t think so? Try these names on for size: Batman (makes sense), Black Canary (okay, been on the team before, sure), Killer Frost (what?), the Ray, (What?), Vixen (phew), the Atom (now you’re talking), and…Lobo?!?!?! You thought Lex Luthor put a few wrinkles into the team dynamic during the New 52, see what happens when the Main Man has to play nice with others. Who’s causing all this? Apparently, Batman. What’s he thinking? Find out in this issue as the Dark Knight assembles what DC is proclaiming to be the roughest and toughest Justice League of all-time.

After the events of Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad and four one-shots in January bringing you up to speed on the Atom, the Ray, Vixen, and Killer Frost, Steve Orlando (Midnighter & Apollo) and Ivan Reis (Justice League, Aquaman, Green Lantern) set the stage for this sensational roster. What does the future for this team hold? I have no idea but it’s likely to be anything but boring.

If you’ve been waiting for the next big thing when it comes to DC’s team books, you might have just found it. And you’ll find it on the shelves at Forbidden Planet for just $2.99 this Wednesday. Justice For All! But seriously, Lobo?!?!?

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Graphic Spotlight: THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON VOL. 2: POW. POW. POW.

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Deals with the devil rarely go right. See how the web of terror and intrigue ends in one of 2016’s best received series.

Chris came to Iraq after the 2003 American invasion to recruit and train a new generation of post-Saddam police. The murder of a recruit forced the Florida cop turned military consultant into an investigation that tangled the old government, new government, the jihadist network, the criminal underground, and American military machine together in a surefire suicide mission. Fortunately, Chris wasn’t alone chasing down the killer amidst the layers of lies and hidden agendas.

Aided by a Baghdad cop, Nassir, and the politically savvy Sofia, Chris thought he’d found the people responsible for the crime. Now, with Nassir captured, the stakes are ramping up as one man’s murder has dug Chris and everyone around him into a much deeper hole. In the violence’s aftermath, everybody’s lost something and now a debt must be paid even if it’s in blood. They say never trust a deal with the devil. In Baghdad, those kinds of deals can be explosive.

Written by one of 2016’s breakout comics writers and CIA veteran Tom King (Batman, The Vision, Omega Men) and gorgeously illustrated by Mitch Gerads (Batman, The Punisher) THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON VOL. 2: POW. POW. POW. brings one of the decade’s most critically acclaimed series to its stunning conclusion. Collects issues #7-12.

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DC Rebirth Paperbacks are Here

It’s the second New Comic Book Day of 2017 and the first four trade paperbacks featuring DC Comics’ 2016 Rebirth event are now available.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s currently on Forbidden Planet’s shelves:

Batman Rebirth Gotham I am Gotham Scott Snyder Tom King

Batman Rebirth TP Vol 01 – I am Gotham … “The Caped Crusader has never been stopped. Not by the Joker. Not by Two-Face. Not even by the Justice League. But now, in the wake of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH, Batman faces his most challenging foe ever-the idealistic hero known as Gotham, who wants to save the city from Batman himself! Collects the pages of BATMAN: REBIRTH #1 and issues #1-6 of the new, hit BATMAN series! This collection features a new cover by superstar artist David Finch!” Written by Scott Snyder and Tom King, with David Finch providing interior art as well.

Superman Rebirth TP Son of Superman Peter TomasiSuperman Rebirth TP Vol 01 – Son of Superman … “After the stunning events of DC REBIRTH, the world is left without Superman! Luckily, there is another Man of Steel to fill his shoes: the pre-Flashpoint Kal-El! However, can this new Superman protect the world while raising a super-son with his wife, Lois Lane? And should they help their boy use his new and rapidly increasing abilities, or hide them from the world? Don’t miss these stories from SUPERMAN: REBIRTH #1 and SUPERMAN #1-6!” Written by Peter Tomasi, with interior art by Doug Mahnke.

 

 

Auaman Rebirth The Drowning TP

Aquaman Rebirth TP Vol 01 – The Drowning … “Aquaman, the King of Atlantis, has never found a true home in either of the worlds that he was born of. In these tales from AQUAMAN: REBIRTH #1 and issues #1-6 of the new series, the King of Atlantis attempts to broker a peace between Atlantis and the surface, but this noble quest might force Aquaman to choose whether to live his life above the waves, or below them. Plus, Black Manta makes his bloody return and seeks to destroy everything and everyone Aquaman loves!” Written by Dan Abnett with interior art by Scot Eaton.

 

 

Green Arrow Rebirth TP Vol 01 Life and Death of Oliver Queen

Green Arrow Rebirth TP Vol 01 – The Life and Death of Oliver Queen … “Green Arrow’s life will be forever changed as he is betrayed by those closest to him! A budding relationship with Black Canary forces Ollie to confront the fact that he can’t fight “the man” if he is “the man.” And one by one, his friends desert him-and all the money in the world won’t bring them back when he needs them most. Collects GREEN ARROW: REBIRTH #1 and GREEN ARROW #1-5.” Written by Ben Percy with art by Ben Schmidt.

 

Next week we get Justice League and Flash.

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Chris’ Comics: All-Star Batman #1

asbatman1cvrAll-Star Batman #1

Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr, Danny Miki, Dean White, Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire

DC, $4.99

Bruce Wayne is having one of those days. You know the ones, where everything is #$%ed and everybody sucks. The type of days that have you packing a chainsaw, to skin some dudes raw. And if Bruce’s day keeps going this wa- okay I’ll stop.

All-Star Batman #1 is the double sized return of Scott Snyder to Batman, paring one of the most acclaimed Batman writers of our time with modern legend John Romita Jr, and current artistic tour-de-force Declan Shalvey. While I’ve stated that I REALLY REALLY REALLY don’t like paying $5 for single issues, it’s hard to say no to a creative team like this, also my ability to not spend money is questionable at best.

The debut of this new, villain focused All-Star Batman sees Batman and ol Harvey Dent taking a little road trip to try solve Harvey’s Two-Face problem. Two-Face, reimagined as All-Star-Batman-1-pagesome sort of crime boss Snowden, has put quite the bounty on the Bat which means everyone from Firefly to common folk are gunning for Batman. The Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire colored back up has Batman working with former We Are Robin lead/Snyder created character Duke Thomas to investigate a murder that appear to be unrelated to the Two-Face arc. Both tales have some incredible twists to them, ensuring that readers/suckers like me come back to spend $5 again next month.

John Romita Jr is an artist whose work I’ve been exposed to a lot, as I grew up reading hella Spider-Man comics. It does feel odd to see him draw Batman, but that does not at all mean his work on this book is bad, far from it. He’s an excellent fit for the title and this universe, bringing the right amount of bombastic action to a story that’s heavy on fight scenes. His take on Two-Face is terrific, and the last page of his story is possibly the greatest collection of panels assembled in 2016. Inking JRJR is Danny Miki, who is superb, with Dean White providing the book with some gorgeous colors. The Declan All-Star-Batman-1-DC-Comics-Rebirth-Spoilers-1Shalvey & Jordi Bellaire story is a little more contained, slower paced and something you’d expect from a Scott Snyder Batman comic. It’s gorgeous in its own right, offering sleek visuals to a more psycho-analytical story.

I’ve dug a number of past Scott Snyder-penned Batman stories, and All-Star Batman is no different. But this larger page count and multiple artist project allows Snyder to flex his creative muscles and tell the type of cerebral detective story we’re use to with the back-up, with the main story being an over the top action story.  Year Zero certainly hinted at that sort of thing with crossbow wielding dirt bike Batman, but here we get the next level of that with CHAINSAW TRUCKER Batman. It’s a nice counter offer to the more traditional super heroics seen in the Tom King Batman series, as well the more X-Men influenced Detective Comics.

All Star Batman is my favorite thing to come out of Rebirth so far. Given a murder’s row of artists and his own little corner of the Bat universe to play in, Snyder is now allowed to tell his own stories, free of worry of the current status quo, and with some of the most iconic villains in the industry. As much as I’m against five dollars comics, this is definitely the rare exception that is worth every penny.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing #2

NTW_Cv2_57326865387b69.18795802Nightwing #2

Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual

DC $2.99

 

When we last left that Dick Grayson (all of a week ago, double shipping!), he was currently getting his well chiseled butt handed to him by his new Court of Owls appointed chum Raptor. Nightwing #2 deals with the fallout of that issue, as the duo go on their first mission together, and is a pretty solid improvement over last week’s (in my opinion) slightly disappointing installment.

Writer Tim Seeley doesn’t mess around this issue, which drops the flashbacks and focuses solely on Dick and Raptor’s new relationship. This issue does wonders for the new character, who’s very much being developed as a broken mirror image of Dick. Considering Grayson is in desperate need of a rogue gallery of his own, he’s a welcomed addition, and I like how the character manages to be fun, but also a violent murder-man NTW-2-2-b05d0with some bad intentions. Raptor’s interactions with Dick are not unlike the Wally West  and Grayson friendship, with Dick in the straight man role, something we rarely see him in.  In addition to fun times with Raptor and his bird bros, we get more Dick and Barbara interactions, and any appearance of Kobra. I’m a full believer that any comic can be improved with the appearance of Batgirl and or Death Cults that dress as giant snakes.

Last review I voiced my concerns about Nightwing re-trending ground already covered by Seeley in Grayson. Issue 2 does away with that, but ramping things up to 11, and raising the question of who’s playing who. Unlike Spyral, Seeley lets us know that Dick’s in over his head in no time, constantly keeping him off of his game and having both the character and the reader questioning his methods and motives. So yes there’s definitely some familiarity if you’ve read Grayson, but there’s also a lot of new elements to ensure that the comic feels fresh. Also Seeley manages to end this book on several gut punches that hurt, but that are also very very good.

Javier’s Fernandez’s art is much tights this much. Granted he’s still struggling with mask/emblem thickness, he gets to channel Sean Murphy and get some action-horror stuff this issue, and it looks great. His art really shines when it comes to scenery chewing action scenes, as well as the spooky snake-monsters he creates, and I’m glad to see the book’s 15visuals improved this dramatically. I do wish Fernandez did has someone else inking him though, because there’s a panel or two that feel a bit rushed. Chris Sotomayor’s colors are still superb, and I really like how his choice in blue and orange ensure that our eyes are drawn to Raptor and Nightwing immediately. It’s proof that a good colorist is extremely important to the creative process.

The Second Chapter of Better than Batman is a step in the right direction. I have a few qualms with the art, but the coloring and the writing do an excellent job of making this book a compelling read. It’s a fun and weird blend of genres, despite it’s initial super hero appearance. But most importantly it makes Dick Grayson feel like a unique character, not just an interchangeable member of the Bat-Family. We’re just a slight art improvement away from this book being a great title, not just a good one.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter@TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. He’s also not really a fan of Death Cults, aside from the several he leads.

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #1

BG_Cv1_57082d25dc1793.92171144Batgirl #1

Hope Larson, Rafeal Albuquerque, Dave McCaig

DC $2.99

I’ll be honest; going into Batgirl #1, I was worried about the character and the direction they were taking her post Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, & Babs Tarr. There were multiple quotes from writer Hope Larson saying how this run was going to be darker, and while I like Rafeal Albuquerque‘s art, the last time he drew this incarnation of Batgirl there was bit of a thing. Also the white person walking around Asia to learn kung-fu is a trope that at best is cliche, and at worst a bit racist. That being said, reading this first issue has vanquished my fear and we instead get a pretty solid comic that’s mindful of my concerns.

The new Rebirth debut issue sees Babs Gordon in Japan, in search of an old-timey Japanese super hero named Fruit Bat, in order to up her own heroic game. While doing so, batgirl-1-preview-675x1024she runs across her never previously mentioned but apparently old friend Kai, as well as a Fuku-wearing assassin. While long-lost friends and school girl looking assassins were something covered extensively in the previous run, Hope Larson and Rafeal Albuquerque are talented enough creators to make this whole thing seem fresh.

Larson’s voice for Barbara Gordon is sharp enough to keep left over readers from the previous run pleased, but also comforting for lapsed reader who are coming back. Her Batgirl reads a little more focused and mature, but also fun and playful. It’s the best sort of compromise. While not all of the jokes in this issue land, Larson does a great job of building a new setting and status quo for Barbara, setting up the future of this title quite nicely. And granted Kai nor the nameless assassin we get in this issue do very little for me, the introduction of the Fruit Bat definitely makes for fun stuff.

Artist Rafael Albuquerque is definitely a more traditional super hero comics artist than Babs Tarr is, but with that being said, the book still maintains a youthful and fun visual tone. He does some excellent work with the body language and facial expressions in this book, and I love the energy he puts into his fight scenes. I also love the way Albuquerque portrays motion in a medium full of static imagery, as he’s  not afraid to experiment with BG01_03panel layouts and it leads to some great results. Dave McCaig’s colors are also a great fit for this book, as he sticks with bright colors that play off of Barbara’s costume and hair quite well.

Batgirl #1 is a fun first issue that doesn’t change the title character too much, and does a find job to appealing to several different types of audiences. It does an excellent job of showing the fun side of super heroics, with some dialogue that a little more polish and way less dramatic than the Babs we saw in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. Old and new readers have plenty to like with this new creative team, making it arguably one of the more accessibly DC super hero comics to come out of Rebirth so far.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing #1

Nightwing-1Nightwing #1

Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual

DC $2.99

Nightwing is back this week, as we see writer Tim Seeley and artists Javier Fernandez and Chris Sotomayor start the “Better than Batman” arc. This arc appears to be a nice blend of the espionage elements introduced by Seeley in Grayson, mixed with some super heroics. It’s not as strong as the Rebirth one-shot, but there’s some enjoyable stuff in this issue.

Where this book really shines is in the writing. After barely allowing Dick to interact with the Bat-family for 2 years in Grayson, Seeley fully embraces it here, using characters like Damian and Batgirl for Dick to bounce off of. As someone who loves both those relationships, and is a known Dick X Barbara shipper, I dig it, as Seeley does a great job writing these characters talking to each other. And I really like Dick’s open defiance while working with the Court of Owls, keeping him a heroic character while working with/for the NTW_1_1enemy. As for Raptor, Dick’s new partner/ “mentor”, the potential for some cool stuff to be done with the character is there. But the writing is not without its share of flaws. The pacing feels off with this issue, as Seeley trips up a bit during the constant switching scenes between Gotham and Europe/Russia. And while Seeley uses Batgirl to voice that there are some weird similarities between Spyral and the Court of Owls, I hope he can steer clear of re-trending the same ground with the whole double agent thing as the book progresses.

With the twice shipping schedule Javier Fernandez, who isn’t bad, but isn’t as strong of an illustrator as Yanick Paquette was in the previous one-shot. While there’s nothing wrong with the bulk of his work (especially when it comes to drawing establishing shots and backgrounds), he seems to struggle with the title character. There were too many instances where Dick’s mask or Nightwing emblem on the costume is drawn too thin or small. It’s an odd complaint sure, but seeing it vary in size and thickness from page to page really took  me out of the story. Also Dick ends up with a Peyton Manning forehead way too many times in this issue. A shame, because Chris Sotomayor’s color are great in image-82this issue, and I love the design that letterer  Carlos M. Mangual has come up with for the Nightwing narration box.

Nightwing #1 isn’t a bad comic, but it’s disappointing, especially when compared to the Rebirth one shot that leads into it. That being said, there’s plenty of potential and time for the team to step up their game and tell a solid story. Seeley already has worked on a dozen or so GREAT Dick Grayson stories, and now that we’ve been introduced to the main players, he can go forth and tell a good story. And all Fernandez has to do is tweak his Nightwing and we’re good on the art. Again it’s a bit of a bummer that this comic isn’t the best, but it does enough things to be a interesting read and give readers hope for the future.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Green Arrow #3

GA_Cv3_dsGreen Arrow #3

Benjamin Percy, Juan Ferreyra, Nate Piekos

DC $2.99

As excited as I’ve been for the DC Rebirth titles, I’ve also been extremely wary of the fact that some of the titles ship twice a month. Green Arrow is one of those books, and it’s the first of these double shipping titles to fall victim to the various problems of a comic series coming out twice a month.

Juan Ferreyra joins writer Benjamin Percy for this arc, which sees Green Arrow go on the offensive after being betrayed and left for dead. Meanwhile, Black Canary and John Diggle begin their own separate quests for revenge, unaware that Oliver Queen is still alive. It’s not a bad comic per say, but feels very light, and uninspired. Uninspired as in I’ve definitely read this story before.

Ferreyra’s art is very good in some areas, but it feels like he can’t maintain a consistent style throughout the comic. The book is at its best early on, when Ollie breaks into his own building, which allows Ferreyra to do some cool things with the layouts. And his fight IMG_0130scenes are solid enough, though lacking the dynamic feeling that Otto Schmidt brought to the title. But his female characters look like something you see airbrushed on the side of a van at a KISS concert in Jersey. Yes, I’m aware that is a very specific example.  Also, why this isn’t something that’s only ever been done by this artist, I generally dislike the pencils to color choice, as the lack of ink here makes the art feel rough and unfinished. It also doesn’t help that the colors and lighting are all over the place, making the book glow in some really weird areas.

On the writing sides of thing, Percy isn’t much better this issue. Some of these panels suffer from way too much dialogue, covering up entirely too much of the art. And some of the stuff that comes from the characters mouths is painfully bad. Also a criminal organization called the Ninth Gate lead by a man name Dante isn’t exactly the strongest story-telling. And like I said, above, you’ve read this comic before. The similarities between this story arc and very recent Batman comics like “The Court Of Owls” and “Year Zero” are beginning to pile up. IMG_0131I’m sure they’re not intentional, but it definitely feels repetitive are certain points. And while there’s a chance that it’s just some serious misdirection, setting up Black Canary for the damsel role is someone that irks me intensely.

Green Arrow #3 is a comic that is the very definition of mediocre. There’s some good bits sprinkled about, but also a ton of stiff artwork, just plan bad dialogue and numerous moments of uninspired writing. It’s not enough to drive me away from the title, but it’s disheartening to say the least. Also as someone who plans on supporting the also twice a month shipping Nightwing, it has me worried about how double shipping will affect that book as well.

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Chris’ Comics: Nightwing Rebirth

NTWREB_Cv1-1Nightwing Rebirth

Tim Seeley, Yanick Paquette, Nathan Fairbairn

DC $2.99

 

Nightwing Rebirth is not only the return of Dick Grayson to spandex, but it also reunites writer Tim Seeley with the title character after a brief absence. Seeley, who has spent the last 2+ years co-writing Grayson with Tom King, has done some wonderful things with the character, and wastes no time in saying goodbye to one cast of supporting characters while having Dick returning to the familiar streets of Gotham & the Batman family. Joining Seeley for this one-shot are artists Yanick Paquette and Nathan Farbairn, who are as suited to drawing costumed fisticuffs as Mikel Janin was to drawing sexy spy stuff.

While the bulk of this comic is spent closing one door while opening another, Nightwing Rebirth makes for a terrific read due to relying some great emotional beats Dick Grayson has with the characters he encounters. Longtime fans will enjoy Dick shooting the breeze with Damian, his former Robin, and Bruce Wayne, their mutual father figure. Those who Nightwing-Rebirth-1-spoilers-preview-dc-3know the character from the previous Grayson status quo get to see Dick wrap up his relationship with Spyral, with a hint of things to come with Helena Bertinelli and the Midnighter. And the mega-fans who’ve read everything from Batman and Robin Eternal to We Are Robin finally get some follow up to the Robin Wars crossover, with some Court of Owls related content. It’s a comic that can be easily enjoyed by new fans, but the longer you’ve been following the character, the more you’ll get from it. For me, it’s rewarding to see a light-hearted and “fun” character interact with grumps like Batman and Damian, who lighten up solely due to Grayson’s presence. Also, as someone who’s HYPED for the upcoming Batgirl and the Birds of Prey series, this comic does a fantastic job of setting up the new Huntress. It’s also crazy impressive that the creative team manages to do so much in the span of 20 pages.

Like I said above, Yanick Paquette was the perfect guy to draw this comic. Given his experience from working with Grant Morrison on various Batman comics, and his ability to draw beefcake exceptionally well makes him an all too ideal fit to draw the exploits of Richard Grayson. His backgrounds are stunning as well, and it’s impressive to see him nail the constant change of locations so effortlessly. My only real issue with the art is that Nathan Fairbairn water color-esque coloring feels muted on this book. To be fair though, that could Nightwing-Rebirth-1-spoilers-DC-Comics-Rebirth-4be a result of the book’s printing, and not on the colorist himself. But between the dynamic body langue use to convey emotion during the talking head scenes, to the sprawling layouts of the fight scenes, it’s very hard to speak ill of this book’s art.

As for Tim Seeley,  I think I’ve run out of ways to praise the dude. His take on Nightwing is stellar, as he continues to nail how complex and fascinating the character is. It’s the ideal blend of humor, action and drama that he refined on Grayson and has perfected for this comic.

As a big fan of the character, Nightwing Rebirth justifies the return from spy to spandex. For the first time in awhile, it’s justifies the existence of the Nightwing role, in a way we haven’t seen in years. While I’ll certainly miss Dick’s time as a spy, I’m more than ready to read about him as Nightwing once again.

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New and Recommended – New Comic Book Day September 16th 2015

Here’s a a simple listing of personally recommended or otherwise notable new stuff available at Forbidden Planet NYC in-store and online for the week of 9/16/15.

DC-Collectibles-Arkham-Knight-761941326788

 

Batman Arkham Knight Action Figure – DC Collectibles

After a long delay (the other figures from this first wave of Arkham Knight figures have been out for months) we finally receive the game’s big big baddie. Don’t blow his identity to me- I haven’t played it yet!

Scott Snyder Joker Endgame Batman Death

Batman HC Vol 07 Endgame – Scott Snyder (w), Greg Capullo (a)

The Joker is back in these stories from BATMAN #35-40! For years, The Joker has regarded Batman with a sick, twisted love. But now, the Clown Prince of Crime is done playing. He’s going to kill Batman. And he’s going to do it using those whom Batman loves the most: the Justice League. The Joker returns to Gotham City with a deadlier agenda than ever before, using every tool at his disposal to finally kill the Dark Knight. That includes turning Batman’s allies against him in the bloodiest brawl that he’s ever had to survive.

One of the most anticipated, exciting and buzzed-about Bat-storylines in years.

Continue reading

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Val’s Toy Chest- Yvonne Craig 1937-2015

BG1967

This wasn’t a column I thought I would have to write for years to come, but this is the sad reality, much as I would have preferred it not to be. I wrote this piece the same night that I found out about Yvonne Craig’s death and here it is in its entirety:

My world is a little less bright today. This morning (August 19th) as I was waking up to get myself ready for another Wednesday morning at Forbidden Planet I had gone on my phone to check Facebook as I am wont to do. I’ve been rewatching the classic Batman TV series since I received the entire series as a Christmas gift. My favorite season of the entire series is the 3rd Season, which, if you know your Batman history was the season that introduced Yvonne Craig as Commissioner Gordon’s daughter: Barbara, who by day was a librarian but at night was Gotham City’s “best-dressed crimefightress” Batgirl. Anyway, as I’ve been rediscovering the series I started liking pages on Facebook, finding all sorts of websites discussing the classic TV show and also digging out any related books on the show. One specific Facebook page that I liked was an Yvonne Craig fanpage which not only covered her Batman work but other stuff she had done as well.

It was early- maybe around 6 in the morning when I noticed the page had a post where the author wrote that he was “saddened to say that Yvonne Craig died August 17, 2015.” My mind was reeling from the news, Batman(’66, as it has been known since merchandising for the show started back in 2013) has been a huge part of my life since I was a kid. I have a vague recollection of watching it sometime during 1984 or 1985 on Channel 5 WNYW. I can remember one thing clearly from that mostly hazy(fitting, considering the villain’s motif) memory and that was the cliffhanger shot of Batgirl chained in Lord Ffogg’s dungeon from the episode “The Foggiest Notion.” I never saw the resolution of that cliffhanger on WNYW, but would eventually catch the entire run of 120 episodes on both the Family Channel and WPIX 11 during the Batmania revival of 1989. I recorded all of the special event nights that The Family Channel did where they would run a two hour block of episodes(usually on a Friday). It was during one of those nights where I remember seeing my ‘first’ episode with Batgirl. The episode: “Ring Around the Riddler” aired after the Penguin and Marsha, Queen of Diamonds Three-Parter. I loved seeing the different opening credits with Batgirl kicking the thug and her cycling across the screen on her BatgirlCycle. Something about the character and her laughing in the face of danger while being glamorous and feisty appealed to me. I was hooked on Batgirl and Yvonne Craig from that moment on- to the point that I ended up watching both of the films she made with Elvis Presley. As a kid during the 80s and 90s, I spent quite a few weekends watching my recorded Batman episodes on VHS and eventually I only watched season 3 because my attachment to the Batgirl character and Yvonne’s portrayal, was so deep. Keep in mind that this was shortly after “The Killing Joke” had come out and Batgirl the comic book character was a distant memory leaving us the wheelchair bound Barbara Gordon who hadn’t yet- but would become, Oracle. I wore out a couple of my tapes from constantly rewatching them and didn’t have a way to replace the episodes as most channels had stopped airing Batman by the early ’90s. By the time Batman made its way back into syndication, I didn’t have a VCR anymore and I DVRed the Batgirl episodes to relive my childhood affection for her and the show. Thankfully the series is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now after years of legal wrangling and red tape.

As I got ready to go to work, inspiration struck– I dug out my purple and yellow Batgirl logo shirt to wear and I make the decision to show as much of the third season as possible on the TV at work during my shift. I had a need to do something to honor one of my childhood heroines. I got to start the day out with the initial aired Batgirl episode: “Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin” and made it all the way through to the notorious Season 3, Episode 19 “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” which not only has the infamous Siamese Human Knot Bat-Trap but is also extremely sexist seen thru modern eyes. I finally capped the whole marathon with the rarely-seen “Batgirl” pilot film that had been used to sell the character to the execs at ABC. Now as I type this out, I’m at home with the recently released Yvonne Craig Batgirl figure from Mattel, the NJ Croce Bendable figure, and a copy of Yvonne’s autobiography: “From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond.” I am at the very least grateful that I got to meet Yvonne back in 2000 at a comic convention at Madison Square Garden where she signed and inscribed the aforementioned book to me. I’m also pleased that her legacy will live on not only because of the character she helped shape but also because she was truly a pioneer for female action heroes on the screen. The demand for new product from her era of Batman, along with forthcoming pieces featuring her as well as the series’ upcoming 50th Anniversary will help to ensure that her iconic turn as Batgirl will forever be emblazoned in her fans’ hearts. I will treasure all of it along with the memories and joy that Yvonne’s Batgirl has brought me for nearly three decades.

The Terrific Trio has become the Dynamic Duo again. Rest in peace, Yvonne.

A dedicated fan.

Val’s Top 5 Yvonne Craig as Batgirl moments:

5. Batgirl shows up outside of Lord Ffogg’s estate to aid the Dynamic Duo- The Londinium Larcenies

4. Batgirl’s astonishment at the Batcave after she and the Dynamic Duo are de-flattened- The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra

3. Batgirl fights the Penguin and his goons after both have finished racing the Wayne Foundation Handicap- A Horse of Another Color

2. Batgirl takes on the Cossacks on her own before getting ambushed by Egghead and Olga and forced to perform a Saber Dance with frosted swords- The Ogg Couple

1. Batgirl crashes the Penguin’s headquarters as he tries to dunk Batman and Robin into a vat of acid- Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin

 

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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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