Tagged: Chad Bowers

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 & X-Men ’92 #5

RCO001_1469630922The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Tom Fowler, Rico Renzi, Kyle Starks

Marvel $3.99

Readers, please take note of the wonderful cover that graces this month’s issue of Squirrel Girl, as I’m sure it will be winning whatever fake internet award I’ll be handing out come December.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a book that has never fails to impress me in some manner, and this issue continues that streak. Our lead has to deal with a love-stricken Mole Man, who’s abducted key landmarks around the world in order to get Doreen to go on a date with him. Squirrel Girl dealing with toxic masculinity may not some like a good premise for a comic, haha that is a joke, it totally is, and the execution is nothing short of genius. I saw this as the ending for this issues sees our hero do the unthinkable, yet manages to not undo all the effort done by this team to make her an unstoppable and incredibly well rounded force for good. Also there’s another scene involving squirrels in Iron Man armor, which is something I’ll never grow tire of.

SQGIRL2015B010_int2_2-932x1414Ryan North. Erica Henderson, & Rico Renzi are a creative team I adore & adding Tow Fowler as an inker was fantastic move. This month we see Kyle Starks of Sexcastle (aka the greatest comic) swing by for a 3/4th page cameo, continuing the trend of a guest contributor knocking it out of the park. As per usual, the writing and art are impeccable, as North and Henderson continue to offer dialogue and art that are beyond unique.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 is another fabulous issue that once again says something important while being an incredibly fun read. This may very well be my favorite arc to date, and even as a dude in my early 30s, I’m glad this book exist for the lessons it attempts to teach it’s young audience.

 

 

 

portrait_incredibleX-Men ’92 #5

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Cory Hamscher, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of surprises, this issue of X-Men ’92 ends by bring back some characters who haven’t been seen since the 90s. Chris Sims and Chad Bowers continue to do a bang-up job of making references to some of the most obscure corners of the 1990s X-universe, including a X-men board game I remember begin advertised like crazy in the back of Marvel comics when I was a wee millennial.

Issue 5 checks in with Cyclops and Jean Grey, whom haven’t been seen in the title since the Secret Wars mini-series. The couple are quasi-retired, but that makes for a boring super hero comic, so they find themselves dragged to the future by Rachel Grey. For long time X-fans, Scott + Jean + Future usually means one or two other character showing up, and they do. But Sims and Bower embrace the hell out of it, making for a strange but be873c68c1f206db75af43465f803c1b._SX640_QL80_TTD_wonderful read that riffs on a few different 90s X-stories.

Cory Hamscher is on art duties this month, and his style is a great fit for this tyle. He riffs on the Kuberts/Whilce Portacio look that was so famous in the 90s, while being a competen story teller in his own right. It’s good stuff.

X-men ’92 is another fun installment a series that’s been a constant delight. It’s the type of book that both satisfies readers looking for a less complicate super hero book, while giving long time X-fans plenty to enjoy.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #4 & Spider-Woman #8

XM922016004-DC11-4baa6X-men ’92 #5

Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

X-men ’92 #5 is a comic that had me cackling early in the issue, only to audible gasp come the book’s final pages. To say it’s a good comic is an understatement.

There’s been some online chatter than this book is too jokey at times. Granted there’s been an abundant amount of humor in this series, writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers are definitely not afraid to get serious at times, which is shown in this issue. And it’s a nice throwback of sorts, as the nature of Storm (phrasing) and Beast’s conflict is something that’s been explored before in Fall of the Mutants/Inferno era of the X-men, and as recent as various X-Force revivals titles. The creative team have done nods like this before, but this is the first time it’s had so much depth to it, and I’m feeling it.

Art wise, Alti Firmansyah is super expressive and animated, and letterer Travis Lanham does something really neat with their choice of fonts during on extended scene. The book has relied on nostalgia for jokes before, and in this particular instance, the lettering really helps sell the humor here. It’s a neat bit that I appreciated a bunch. Matt Milla’s colors are solid, especially when dealing with the Cyberspace craziness.

The second arc of X-men ’92 is a massive improvement over the mini series it followed, and I dug the hell out of that mini. Bower, Sims and the entire art team are given more room to breathe, and don’t have to worry about adhering to the rules of a crossover event. Free to tell their own stories, they turn the extreme up to 11, and gave us an arc that’s absolutely bonkers, yet incredibly enjoyable.

Spider-Woman_Vol_6_8_TextlessSpider-Woman #8

Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvardo Lopez

Marvel. $3.99

Hey look, Spider-Woman’s back. Well technically she never left, I just took a break due to Spider-Women crossover times.

Spider-Woman #8 is a done in one that sees Jessica Drew back in action, taking on Tigershark, while the Porcupine watches her son. It’s not unlike issue 5 actually, one this issue is super heavy on the action.

Much like myself, Javier Rodriguez returns to Spider-Woman this month, and absolutely kills it. His colors are gorgeous, giving the book a radiant glow that’s also stunning as the pencil art. Which, by the way, is incredible. The way Rodriguez draws sprawling fight scenes is incredibly, never skimping out on the details. This may be the single best looking Marvel comic I’ll read this year, as no one does layouts and motion like Rodriguez. And props to Alvardo Lopez, who manages to ink this thing with some incredibly thin lines, keeping the line clean and crisp.

Dennis Hopeless is superb. He wonderfully mixes humor with some emotion. His Jessica Drew is so three dimensional, being both a loving mother and a adrenaline junkie who loves help people.  And what he’s done with the Porcupine, changing him from a Z-list villain into someone quite endearing is spectacular.

Spider-Woman #8 is a comic that’s big on hear and big on action. It’s a gorgeous book that’s balances character development and super heroics perfectly. And even with Civil War II around the corner, I’m excited to pick up the next issue, just because of what the creators have done with Carol Danvers in this title. Buy on sight.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #3

portrait_incredible (8)X-Men ’92 #3

Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

X-Men ’92 #3 starts off with a gathering of Draculas (the actual Dracula, not that gag where you refer to all Vampires as Dracula) from different realities. If a league of multi-dimensional Draculas is not your thing, chances are X-men ’92 isn’t for you.

Last month I said it was amusing to see Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, and Alti Firmansyah pay tribute to “Curse of the Mutants”, which is decidedly not a 90s X-story arc, and one that isn’t exactly a fan favorite. This month the creative team goes one step further with the idea, tying that arc into their Alpha Red plotline, and the results are AMAZING. Well amazing as you can get without the presence of a Holy Water Enhanced Iceman.

I love the energy Alti Fimransyah’s style brings to this title. It feels very Disney influences, and it lends itself well to a comic defined by an animated series first and foremost. It really works when dealing with the younger characters, not to mention more off beat characters like Artie (of Artie and Leech fame) and Dracula himself. She also excels at clearly XM922016003-int2-5-ffdc7portraying the reference to past X-men stories, a running gag that I’ve enjoyed over the course of the mini series and this ongoing. Matt Milla’s colors are once again perfect for Fimransyah’s art, once again giving the book a clean and bright look.

Sims and Bowers continue to impress as much as their art team as well. The dialogue continues to walk that lines between ridiculous and class X-Men, never reading as parody, but never getting too serious. The interactions between Storm and Dracula this issue are a great read, and the two writers do a fantastic job of giving the two characters a history, despite the fact that this is the “first” time they’ve met. Their love for the source materail really comes across in this comic, but never ever getting too deep in the nostalgia/fan service.

One of the best things about this title is how the creators get to cherry pick from one of the most unique eras of X-men comics, without the baggage and excess (X-cess?) or the 90s and early 00s of the X-line. Seeing the kids of Generation X and TEEN version of X-Force/X-Statix dealing with vampires is something that sounds absolutely insane, yet goddess-2totally works for this universe.  It also helps that that Bowers, Sims and Firmansyah get to use one of the most iconic line up of X-men, and get to use them in their own separate corner of the Marvel Universe.

X-Men ’92 #3 is a hoot. Despite the over the top nature of this book, the creators do an excellent* job of raising the stakes**, and making the vampire threat feel genuine. Which by the way, if you would have told me this was a vampire story after the first issue, I would thought you were crazy. But here we are 2 issue later, and again, CROSS DIMENSIONAL CONCIL OF DRACULAS. God I love this book.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #2

5148021-02X-men ’92 #2

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marel $3.99

As someone who’s read a ton of Chris Sims’ work over the years, I’m actually a little ashamed I didn’t see the final page of this comic coming. Way to make me feel like a real dumb-dumb sir.

X-Men ’92 #2 doesn’t just embrace the fact that they can now tell stories that are TOO HOT FOR (1992) TV this month. Oh no, writers Sims and Chad Bowers rub our faces in it, practically screaming “HEY LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS WE CAN DO NOW, LOOK LOOK, LOOK!”, but in a fun and excited sort of way. Which is fair, because while this book definitely hits some notes that are DARK AND EXTREMEEEEEEEEEEE, it remain a delightful read that’s a bit over the top in all the right ways. If you told me that we’d see a plot point taken from Marvel’s defunct Midnight Sons line in a comic in 2016, I would have called you a liar. In the writer’s defense, they successfully create a narrative in which this relic from the 90s works for the story. And speaking of weird story beats, Bowers and Sims decide to pay tribute to a more recent but weird as all hell X-men story, once again merging the past with a more recent weird X-men story. It’s the best kind of fan service for any devout X-men fan, especially if they dig the odder bits of continuity.

Also Rogue can’t stop hitting bears is a new running gag of sorts that I am 1000% okay with.

Artist Alti Firmansyah really comes into her own this month, cutting back on the references in the art and doing her own thing with the layouts. I’m more than fine with this, as is results in some dynamic storytelling, complete with some very expressive faces, and some extremely well “choreographed” fight scenes. There’s a scene that’s surprisingly violent in this issue, which Firmansyah handles by blacking out the characters involved for a panel, making it X-Men-92-2-4way less graphic, but still coherent enough for readers to figure out what’s going on. Also I love how timeless she can mast her characters look, even though several of them have some rather dated and peculiar character designs. My only real complaint with the art is that Maverick loses his eyes for several panes in this book, although I’m uncertain if that’s on Alti or colorist Matt Milla. That snafu aside,  I love how bright and dynamic the colors are in this book, especially come the final pages of the issue.

X-men ’92 remains a engaging and entertaining read. By being set in it’s own continuity, the creators can pull from so much, and completely surprise readers. Sims and Bowers’ dialogue is very whimsical, and helps to make the stakes feel high, even while being a tad silly. And Firmansyah and Milla do an exceptional job of invoking the styles of the 90s, and updating them in a way that just feels right. As I said time and time again, X-men ’92 is a great book that’s self contained and scratches so many itches while only being 20 pages. It’s the perfect read for someone who only wants to read 1 X-men title a month, and not have to worry about other events in the Marvel Universe interfering with the story.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris Comics: X-Men ’92 #1

X-Men-92-1-2016X-men ’92 #1

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Alti Firmansyah, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

I have not read an X-Men comic since Uncanny#600 dropped a few months back. Nothing against the current creative teams (especially the ones working on All New X-Men, who’s first volume I have pre-ordered), but the current direction of those titles is pretty dark. And after several years of bleak X-Men comics, I need something a little different to lighten the mood. Luckily, due to popular demand, the X-men ’92 Secret Wars mini has graduated into an on-going, meaning I can enjoy my favorite* mutants without having to stomach Inhuman related nonsense.

*My actual favorites won’t be showing up again until issue 5, but you get what I’m saying.

Chris Sims and Chad Bowers return to X-Men ’92, free to tell stories without having to worry about Battleword or Doctor Doom, which is something they embrace rather quickly. X-Men-92-9as the book brings in several Russian characters and locales. I applaud the duo for embracing some really obscure 90s X-men characters, although I’m not surprised to see the presence of one that possess a MUTANT DEATH FACTOR. The book continues to be a celebration of the 90s of course, and once again Sims and Bowers pay tribute to the Morrison 2001-era X-characters showing up in some fun cameos. It’s also nice to see the X-men in a proper school environment, something I haven’t seen since Wolverine and the X-men.

The art by Alti Firmansyah and Matt Milla couldn’t be any more different than the art team of the previous volume of this book, but it’s very fitting. Firmansyah’s style is very much softer and animated, similar to the infamous cartoon, but definitely not as dated. It’s very expressive, and he does some great stuff with the character’s body language. What he does do like former X-Men ’92 artist Scott Koblish is reimagining iconic X-men covers and imagery for panels, which is a nice inside joke that I adore. There’s also small several nods to the 90s in the art that really helps sells the setting of this book without overdoing it. Milla’s colors are superb, very bright, and perfectly XM922016001-int3-2-2b0c7capture the feel or the show just as well as the art. It’s the best possible look for a book like this, and I’m eager to see them draw familiar character over the coming months.

The dialogue in this book is also phenomenal. Aside from capturing the feel of these character perfectly, it also manages to invoke the era properly as well, without feeling dated or force. It’s a perfect blend of the Claremont meets Saturday morning characters, especially in the cases of Gambit, Wolverine and Rogue. It’s over the top and cheesey in all the right ways, making it a complete blast.

X-Men ’92 isn’t anything genre defining, but it’s an excellent alternative to the all-too-serious X-books that exist “in-continuity”. It continues to be a bonkers celebration of the X-men during one of their most popular periods in comics, but with a story that’s a little more coherent and free of crossovers with a dozen other X-books. This debut issue was a ton of fun, and I’m glad to have this sort of X-Men book back in my life

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-Men ’92 #4

SHILL ALERT:  New York Comic Con is this week, and I’ll be there all 4 days as an attendee, which is the first time in forever. As usual, you can follow my nonsense on Twitter and Instagram, at @theanarchris. WARNING: I GET KINDA NSFW/ CURSE HAPPY WHEN I START DRINKING/GETT ANNOYED, SO HEAD’S UP THERE. Anywho on to #content

backgroundX-men ’92 #4 (of 4)

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Scott Koblish, Matt Milla

Marvel $4.99

For the record, if X-men ’92 wasn’t already confirmed for a returning on-going next year, I would have probably spent half this article pleading for people to go buy X-men ’92, because it was an incredibly fun book. Fun and X-men rarely go hand to hand these days (see the OTHER X-Men Secret Wars tie-ins, and the upcoming solicits for the All New Marvel Now stuff), making X-men ’92 a bit of a  rarity. A welcomed one at that, taking one of the most recognizable incarnations of the X-men, and setting them up in a world that loves and adores them for a change, all while injecting with a ton of humor and fan service into the story.

 

X-Men_92_4_2The final issue of the mini-series sees the X-men and their various allies fight the dreaded X-Sentinel, while Professor Xavier battles the Shadow King. Artist Scott Koblish does an incredible job drawing the massive fight scenes, having to draw and impressive amount of characters several times throughout the book, and never once dialing down the detail or the acting. The sense of scale and action he manages to portray is fantastic, and it’s cool to see him be able to switch up between action, comedy, and drama without skipping a beat. His character work is super expressive, and he manages to sneak in his fair amount of inside jokes and reference just as well as his writers, while perfecting capturing the excess of the nineties without going overboard.  Matt Milla, the book’s colorist is also as impressive, managing to set the scenes perfect with some excellent lighting and palette choices. While the books character designs are very much stuck in the 90s (because again, X-men 92), the coloring looks like a book from today.

Writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers, do a fantastic job wrapping up this mini on a high note. The writing is superb in this issue, making sure every core character gets their moment to shine, and having some fun while doing so. The dialogue is especially strong XMEN92-004-01this issue, be it Gambit and Rogue being….well Gambit & Rogue (something 90s X-fans will get says Buzzfeed), an insanely hilarious scene featuring Wolverine, and a touching end bit with Storm and Cyclops being the personal highlights of this issue. As I’ve said in the past I love how the use some of the obscure and insane elements of X-men history, and play it straight. The final fight has not one, but 2 bonkers bits that had my cackling like a mad man as I read this book, and am I grateful for them.

 

X-men ’92 was a mini that was welcomed for a number of reasons; one of them being one of the few Secret Wars tie ins that shipped on time for the most part. It was also a legitimately fun read that looked great and celebrated the X-men at the peak of the popularity, while poking some fun at it without coming off as mean spirited. I encourage anyone who grew up on the 90s animated series and found the comics too daunting to give this book a shot, especially since it basically laid the groundwork for the new ongoing next year.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Spider-Woman #10 & X-men ’92 #3

Spider-Woman_Vol_5_10Spider-Woman #10

Dennis Hopeless/ Natasha Bustos/Vero Gandini

Marvel $3.99

Going into this issue knowing regular series artist Javier Rodriguez would not be drawing it, I was expecting myself to enjoying this issue of Spider-Woman a little less than usual. Nothing against guest artist Natacha Bustos, but the shadow Rodriguez casts on this book is MASSIVE, and it’s a hard to follow.

However, most of my issues with #10 aren’t with Bustos. She kills it with this issue, channeling Rodriguez while giving the book a softer, more manga-influenced look. Natacha never gives us any crazy, hyperactive layouts we’ve gotten in the past, but she does a fine enough job with the issue. It’s a shame that Vero Gandinis color pallet is so pale, otherwise I would have zero complaints with the art. Sadly, aside from his beautiful night skies,  his use of light colors irk me, making the final product look cheaper. I was willing to chalk it up to a printing error, but after looking at the digital copy, it’s definitely the shade. The day scenes are well lite enough, but it takes away from the night time scene.

CNWcZSSW8AAR1_CMy other issue with this comic was it being forced into being a Secret Wars: Last Days tie-in. 1/4 of the book is spent setting up Jessica’s appearance in Secret War #1, and it feels so forced, with an overly aggressive Black Widow that’s incredibly unlikable. It’s rare to see writer Dennis Hopeless slip up like this, but given how poor the Spider-Verse stuff was handled, it doesn’t come as a surprise. The book is at it’s best when it’s dealing with the A plot, which involves such greatness as HULK CATTLE and the Porcupine going full O.M.A.C. (Happy birthday Jack Kirby!), and could have used five more pages of that then lining up the events of a 4 month old comic.

Spider-Woman #10 is the uneven conclusion to a pretty great run of Spider-Woman comics. The book will be back in November with the Javier Rodriguez, and Natcha Bustos will be off drawing the All New Devil Dinosaur series. I’m excited for both titles, and I hope this next volume of Spider-Woman will be free of crossovers. Hopeless and Jessica are best when they’re left to their own devices, despite the chance of boosted sales thanks to being a major event tie in

X-Men_'92_Vol_1_3_TextlessX-men ’92 #3

Chad Bowers/Chris Sims/ Scott Koblish 

Marvel $4.99

Nothing says 90s X-men like X-Force. The New Mutants went from being the 2nd X-men book to being a sales juggernauts, launching the careers of both Rob Liefield and Greg Capullo, and introducing Marvel icons like Cable and Deadpool. It comes as no surprise that Sims and Bowers decided to use these characters for this title, and the results of pretty great.

X-Men ’92 #3 collects the 5th and 6th installments of the digital version of X-Men ’92, which are both the best and worst chapters of this series so far. The first half of this book sees X-Force off to save the captive X-men, all while Casanova Nova finds herself struggling against the combined might of Cyclops and Jean Grey. The 2nd of the half explains Casanova’s end game, ties the book back to Secret Wars, and is kind of all over the place. You can tell writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims are having a blast with this book when their focusing on the characters, which is where is when the book really shines. It’s an extremely fun fiction of sorts, and I wish these two could continue to have their fun instead of having to wrap this thing up so the 616 X-men can pal around with the Inhumans or whatever.

004085411ce2dfd3afbf59c707e7fe85Sadly the artist Scott Koblish‘s art isn’t as solid this time around. While he manages to draw some ridiculous guns and pouches this issue, some of the pages feel rush, and the art feels less parody and more cheap 90s licensed merchandise at times.

The good more than out weight the bad in X-men ’92 #3. Its an incredibly fun and exciting read that hits a few snags, but is worth the cover price. It’s been a while since we’ve had a light-hearted X-men book on the stands, and hopefully these creators will have a chance to work their magic again after Secret Wars.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-men ’92 #2

bwxmen922

 

BROTIP Forbidden Planet Faithful: Don’t get bedbugs. It is the worst thing. Also why yes, my apartment building does have them, however did you figure that out?

 

X-Men ’92 #2

Scott Koblish, Chris Sims, Chad Bowers

Marvel $4.99

It’s a good thing I’m not allowed to talk about books strictly with gifs and images (also known as the Tumblr method), otherwise my entire review for this comic would consist of the following image:

 

achewood-beef-hee-hee

 

 

 

 

 

(( BONUS BROTIP:  If you’ve never read  Chris Onstad’s Achewood, you probably should go do so now))

X-Men ’92 #2 is a delight. Collecting the 3rd and 4th digital installment of the X-Men 92 Infinity Comics, the X-men find themselves at the mercy of Cassandra Nova, who’s been revised for this tie-in with a completely new origin that involves several classic characters. With the team at her mercy. Nova sets out to make the X-men more “Kids TV friendly”, which means making Wolverine hug it out, cleaning up Gambit and Rogue’s sexual tension and dealing with the likes of Storm and Beast as well, all while Jubilee and a few un-X-pected allies try to save them all. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s all played straight, which only makes the book all the funnier. Cassanova Nova as a literal stand in for US BS & P (That’s TV talk for Broadcast Standards and Practices) is a wonderful gag that’s effortlessly woven into the plot, not requiring the reader to know what sort of ridiculous TV rules the actual X-men 1992 animated series had to adhere to.

8dcc696bce064f1ebf5705823c76ca99Artist Scott Koblish is continues to mesh quite well with writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims, but you definitely get the sense Koblish is trying to out X-geek Chad and Chris at times. While Bowers and Sims make all sort of obscure X-Men reference, Scott’s channeling some iconic moments from X-history, as well as the people behind those books. That being said, it’s also the book’s biggest flaw. Sometimes the book is a little too inside baseball for it’s own good, and casual readers are properly going to be slightly lost at some of the references. BUT, if you’ve been reading the X-books from 1991-roughly 2012, you’re going to be fine. If you’re hoping that this is the issue that ties the story closer to Secret Wars, you’re out of luck, as it only mentions the Thors in passing, and nothing else related to the mega-event.

4704979-xm922015002_int2-3Even with the book deep in in jokes and nostalgia, casual X-fans will find something to enjoy with this issue. Sims and Bowers Wolverine feels like the more iconic version of the character, which makes his fate all the most amusing. Their Storm is over the top, Beasts is a fun genius, Rogue smoldering in generic southern angst, and like I said last time, their Gambit is PEAK scumbag. If whoever is responsible for “It not you it Gambit” doesn’t win some sort of aware in 2016, comics award ceremonies have failed me. Koblish is equally as impressive, telling a fantastic story while sneaking in all sorts of in-jokes and visuals gags.

 

This book is tie in comics at it’s finest: creators who are fans of their source material celebrating it’s rich history, even the more ridiculous stuff. X-Men ’92 continues to be everything I wanted from this sort of book, if not more.

 

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: X-Men ’92 edition

XM92_HIRES.0X-Men ’92 #1

Chad Bowers/ Chris Sims/ Scott Koblish/Matt Milla

Marvel $4.99

So here we are in the middle of All New Marvel leaks week. There’s been 3 new X-men books announced so far, and Dennis Hopeless aside, I’m really not feeling them. Aside from some questionable character designs and artists, none of the rosters nor directions do much for me. It’s going to be weird to not be buying an X-book come this fall, but I’ll live, as there’s no shortage of great comics to buy at the moment. Case in point X-Men ’92, the digital first book from Marvel that’s based on one of the most lucrative and iconic eras of the team’s existence.

unnamed-136500The 1990s were a weird period for comics. It was decade that brought us the rise and fall of the collector market, nearly saw the end of Marvel, the creation of Image and a brief love affair with the extreme. Comic Book Scholars (aka older nerds) have varying opinions of the decade, but one thing can be agreed on: No one franchise ruled the decade more than the X-men. The Uncanny X-men (mostly Wolverine) were everywhere: over a dozen books which crossed over every other months, TV, video games, chain pizza restaurants, Mall kiosks, and toy shops. It was a complete 360 from now, where Marvel merchandising partners are allegedly attempting to get the general public from forgetting the character.

At first glance, X-men ’92 would appear to be Marvel’s answer to DC’s Batman 66. But it’s more than that. Writers Chris Sims, Chad Bowers and artist Scott Koblish celebrate everything the decade brought to Marvel’s mutants, while using the iconic animated series roster. Don’t get me wrong, the comic is definitely faithful to the cartoon in terms of character behavior: Gambit is a peak scumbag, Cyclops has a stick up his butt, Jean Grey falls down a ton, etc.  But it brings it a ton of things from the comics of the same time, as well as a character slightly newer to the X-lore. X-Men ’92 collects the first two digital installment of the series, in which the X-men throw down in a game of laser tag and investigate a rehabilitation center which reportedly cures villainous mutants of their evil ways. There’s some mention of Secret Wars related nonsense, but for the most part the crossover has minimal impact on the story, letting the creators tell their story.

x1-e1432736008112-600x415Sims and Bowers, making their Marvel debut, tell a story that’s incredibly faithful to the way the characters were portrayed in that era, and one that’s quite hilarious. The writing duo make a ton of inside jokes, ranging from references to Pizza Hut tie-in comics, to cameos from internet famous X-Men podcasters, and some more accessibly ones, like setting the bulk of the first issue in a mall. The book is incredibly fun and clever, never punching down when it comes to the source material, but always embracing it. Artist Scott Koblish is also on point, channeling everyone from Jim Lee to Rob Liefield, making this book look like a product of the 90s. He and colorist Matt Milla are just dedicated to making this book look like the X-men 90’s animated series and slip in some deep cuts, like constantly miss-coloring Jean Grey’s gloves, changing the length of Cyclops’ neck, and never putting Rogue’s white hair streak in the same location.  The duo absolutely nail the look and the feel of the show, to the point where I could here the animated series actors saying the dialogue in my head. And luckily for us, we don’t have to worry about the budget getting slashed at any given time.

Screen-Shot-2015-06-11-at-7.25.33-PM-672x372X-Men ’92 is everything I would want from a book based on one of my gateways into the Marvel Universe as a kid. The source material may not be the best incarnation of the X-men, but it felt larger than life, something the creators of this book obviously felt as well. It’s tells a story that you may not like if you’re here for Secret War related content or aren’t familiar with the 90s era of the team, BUT I’m not here for Doom and am VERY familiar with the 1990s! I’m here to see the X-men fight Free Ranged Sentinels and protect the X-treme. Er Extreme. I’m not sure if Adam X, the X-Treme will be showing up in this book. I mean it would make sense, but I can’t promise it. Either way, pick this book up, in print or digitally if you like the stranger side of the X-men, or just like chili fries. It’s higher price point is well worth the trip down memory lane bub. #killme

Post to Twitter

Oni Press Double Review Feature: Megagogo & Down! Set! Fight!

I’ve been reading a LOT of Marvel and Image books as of late, which comes to the surprise of no one who reads this column on the reg. For good reasons mind you, as both publishers have been doing a great job of putting out books that appeal to me. But even I need a little change of pace every now and then, and Oni Press is usually the publisher that scratches that itch .

I’m going to focus on a pair of recently released graphic novels by some relatively new creators, both published by the fine folks over at Oni. Oni Press has released a number of titles I’ve really enjoyed over the years, such as Scott Pilgrim, Wasteland, Super Pro KO! and the Sixth Gun, just to name a few. I really dug both these books, and hopefully you will too. If not, no worries, I’ll be talking about like 5 new Marvel books come the weekend.

MegaGoGo-V1-1Megagogo by Wook Jin Clark

Recently, I found myself interested in seeing what was up with the Power Rangers, mostly due to various Twitter babble. It’s probably been close to 15 years, if not longer, since I’ve cared about the franchise in an non-Figuarts context. And since most of the various series is available on Netflix, I thought I’d give one of the newer seasons a shot.

SPOILER: I did not like it.

So I gave up on MMPR. Several days later Comics Alliance ran a preview for Megagogo, which was Super-Sentai-esque, only a little more mature, for a lack of a better word. There’s shades of Voltron, Kamen Rider and Pacific Rim in there as well, not nothing that could be considered homage or parody. It was very much WHAT I was looking for out of my Power Rangers-fueled nostalgia journey, so I gladly dropped the $20 it retailed for.

MegaGoGo-V1-11For those not familiar with the book, Megagogo pits a bunch of Giant Robot piloting heroes against monsters and the KKK. Most of this first volume sets up the world (set in  Atlanta, GA), illustrated beautifully by Wook Jin Clark. Clark’s art reminds me a lot of Jeff Smith‘s post-Bone work (Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil, Rasl), with dash of manga flair, with the expert use of grey-scale and black and white. The characters faces are very expressive, which helps sell the dialogue a ton . I also took great delightful in Clark’s use of sound effect, because I’m the type of dude who appreciates a giant OH SNAP written in the background while a Giant Mecha Robot pummels as Kaiju.

Speaking of the ultra-violence, the fight scenes in Megagogo are super fun. Without spoiling things, the final battle in the book is a must-read, and is probably one of the most unique fight scenes to grace comics in some time.

While the narrative is nothing deep, Megagogo is a super fun read, and well worth your time if you’re into books with giant robots punching hella racists. And if you’re not, yo, what’s up with that?

oni-press-down-set-fight-soft-cover-1Down! Set! Fight! by Chad Bowers, Chris Sims Scott Kowalchuk and Josh Krach

As far as Comic Journalists go, I’m a fan of Chris Sims. He’s down a ton of fun stuff for Comics Alliance over the years (as well as Wired, Cracked, With Leather and a few other places), and I’ve had a fun timing chatting with him at Heroescon in the past. And I’m digging what he and Chad Bowers are doing with Erica Henderson are doing with Subatomic Party Girls  (Monkey Brain), so this book wasn’t the hardest sell for me. I mean, it’s not mecha vs racism, butttttt an disgraced ex-football player forced to do combat with a legion of sports mascots is pretty great as well.

 

What did end up taking me by surprise is how good Scott Kowalchuk’s art is. There’s a Chris Samnee vibe to it, with hints of Jazzy John Romita Sr. His colors are pretty great too, capturing the look and feel of the Southern setting perfectly.

2-682x1024In case you somehow skipped the 2nd paragraph, this book definitelu delivers. It feels like some sort of Black Dynamite/Batman ’66 mash-up, with some Looney Tunes level violence. There are a ton of action in this book, all well “choreographed”, and at times, hilarious. Going back to the Looney Tunes comparison, it’s more more pianos-falling-on-coyotes, then say Invincible. And much like Megagogo and Scott Pilgrim before them, there’s some extremely clever uses of sound effects.

Overall, neither of these books are reinventing the wheel, which they never claim to be doing to begin with. But what they are is good looking and fun reads. Which is fine, because I love fun, and you should too. At $20 a pop, both of these books deserve a spot on your book shelves. Big ups to the creators and Oni Press for continuing to fill the racks with something different.

 

-Chris Troy can be found screaming about True Detective on all sorts of social media thiniges @theanarchris

 

Post to Twitter