Tagged: Chip Zdarsky

Spider-Man’s Spectacular New Series

Spider-Man gets back to basics!

Over the last couple of years Peter Parker has undergone a makeover of sorts. He hasn’t been the only Spider-Man web slinging around the city. He’s also now the head of a global company called Parker Industries. It’s a little different from the bullied nerd in science class or the photographer scraping together enough to make ends meet. Peter Parker, in a lot of ways, has had a lot of luck going for him once he got his mind and body back as his own. Indeed, the Superior Spider-Man did a lot for Pete and he’s been reaping the benefits of it ever since. This hasn’t been your traditional friendly neighborhood wallcrawler.

Now, from the mind that brought you the recent Howard The Duck romp comes a back to basics approach to ol’ webhead. Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert are a dream team. They’re here to show you that Peter Parker’s as much of a lovable loser as he always was. Even if he’s winning on paper with a high-rise in Manhattan, that doesn’t mean he’s not got the soul of the Spider-Man we all grew up with. Now, this isn’t going to replace the main Amazing ongoing series. Instead, think of Spectacular as a sister series.

Finally, Peter will be back patrolling the neighborhood, grabbing a bite with Johnny Storm, maybe a classic team-up, and dealing with complex romantic debacles. There’ll be old fan favorite foes and some new ones who’ll be looking to build a place amongst the classics. And it’s Chip Zdarsky, so, you know, banter will abound. We gotta have a snarky Spidey!

If you’ve longing for a slightly more familiar status quo for Peter Parker, here’s your new favorite of the three ongoing series with the title, well, you know, in them. As much as things change, some things will always stay the same. Oh, and get your copy signed in-store by the creators tomorrow!

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Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert Spectacular Spider-Man Launch Signing at Forbidden Planet NYC

Head to Forbidden Planet NYC on Wednesday June 21st when our signing guests will be Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals, Howard the Duck) and Adam Kubert (Superman: Last Son, Avengers vs X-Men) to celebrate the release of their new comic Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #1!

Fans are also welcome to bring up three items from their personal collection in addition to any books purchased from Forbidden Planet NYC on the day of our event. There will also be representatives of the CGC on hand if collectors wish to have comics processed through them.

The festivities kick off at 6:00pm. Hope to see you here!

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Chris’ Comics: Howard the Duck #6 & Spider-Man/Deadpool #4

Hey, sorry for the delay in reviews, but I was out of town for the last few dues on account of PAX East, which was relatively light on comics content. But now I’m back, so let’s get on with the hot comic TAKES yes?

portrait_incredible (1)Howard the Duck #6

Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera, Marc Deering, Jordan Gibson

Marvel $3.99

Hey look, I’m reviewing a Howard the Duck comic again, this is somewhat comforting! Also, mine is a sad existence.

The 2nd part of the “Animal House” crossover sees Ryan North join the creative team of Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, and several inkers and colorists for an issue where our heroes and several guest stars deal with a villainess who’s into cosplay and hunting man-beasts. There’s also a squirrel with Wolverine’s M.O.,  because of course there is.

It’s a little jarring to see Squirrel Girl drawn by Joe Quinones at first, as his style is a little more realistic than SG’s regular artist Erica Henderson. But once you grow accustom to it, it’s real easy to get caught up in the books visuals. It’s just a little unfortunate that the 3 inkers working on the book, Joe Rivera, Marc Deering and Quinones himself don’t mesh up as well as say as Jordan Gibson helping Joe on the coloring. It’s a minor thing, which doesn’t really derail the comic that much, but it’s noticeable none the less, especially in some of the later panels.

That being said, the dialogue and jokes are really strong in this issue. North and Zdarsky manage to do some nice world building with both their books, while injecting a ton of humor into the story. It’s quite the romp, and it’s the type of fun I don’t get enough of in comics.

Howard The Duck #6 is a fun read that closes out the brief crossover with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl on a high note. Hopefully this is not the last time these creators collaborate again, because after reading the last 2 issues of both series, I’m left wanting more for all the right reasons.

Spider-Man_Deadpool_Vol_1_4_TextlessSpider-Man/Deadpool #4

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

Here we have another Marvel book that’s a crossover sorts. The key difference is that maybe you keep this one from the kids (once again I apologize to the small child and his father who thought it would be fun to look over my shoulder while I was reading this on the 7 train this past Wednesday).

Spider-Man/Deadpool #4 is the comic that not only gives Ed McGuinness a chance to draw Thor, which he excels at. It also gives the artist a chance to draw Spider-Man and Deadpool reenacting Dirty Dancing in their underwear. There’s a solid reason for both, because Joe Kelly is a hell of a writer, who does some extremely strange and wonderful stuff in this issue, despite Deadpool being THE WORST.

Spider-Man/Deadpool is a comic with prides itself on being a high energy read that constantly surprises reader in the most heartbreaking ways possible. Issue 4 is a prime example of that, as this issue that’s high on laughs ends on the most dour note possible. But Kelly, MxGuiness and inker Mark Morales and colorist Jason Keith excel at making funny and super enjoyable comics with some real depth to them, so I’m sure issue #5 will be just as fun.

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Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

portrait_incredibleThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

Ryan North, Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, Joe Quinoes

Marvel $3.99

I’ve never thought I’d be excited to read a comic featuring Kraven the Hunter, yet here we are.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 sees our heroine reunited with the villain from her very first issue one, which crosses over with this month’s Howard a Duck. I have not been purchasing the current volume of Howard, because I refuse to pay $5 for Gwenpool, so having Howard, his writer Chip Zdarsky and van enthusiast Joe Quinoes pop up in this book is quite welcomed. Issue 6 is part one of two issue crossover, something BOTH creative teams wanted to do something fierce, making it the type of crossover I could get behind.

While Batman and Superman are doing battle for incredibly dumb reasons in the DC Movie Murderverse (shout out to Rob Bricken!), it’s nice to have a team up featuring 2 character who tolerate each other at best. The premise for this issue is simple enough: Howard is a cat racist, accidentally abducts Mew, Squirrel Girl intervenes, and somehow a dope Kraven the Hunter themed van and cosplay are also involved. This is very much the IMG_0121product of Canada writers/madmen Ryan North and (( insert the misspelling of Chip Zdarsky’s name here because that is clever and not at all overdone at all by now, nope)), and could not be any happier. The #JOKES are everywhere, including dual commentary on the bottom of the page, which makes for a very fun read.

The quips and one-liners are non-stop, and range everywhere to Howard’s “relationship” to Disney, Doombot Cosplay, and Squirrel Girl trying to explain similarities in different species to Howard (more on that later).

And while the barrage of jokes is non-stop, the dialogue is super sharp. Chip and Ryan play with the “heroes meets heroes, fight and then team up” trope in an incredibly neat way, and the dynamic between the two leads is fantastic. Howard’s more cynical and bitter outlook clashes perfectly with the Unbeatable one’s more chipper and upbeat personality, which the writers play up in the best possible ways. There’s also a genuine heartfelt IMG_0122moment or two between 2 characters, which is always appreciated and break ups the jokes a bit. What I’m saying is if you’re expecting a super serious hero team up, you’re wasting your time here, also do you not know how these characters work?

Aside from the debut of the best new vehicle in comics, not to mention a guest artist for a very special Deadpool card, the art for this issue is handled by Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi as per usual. And as per usual, it is GREAT! Henderson is a perfect fit for a character like Howard thanks to her very expressive and animated Style. I hope this doesn’t come across as me saying Henderson should only draw funny animal books, but her style definitely lends itself well to a character like Howard. Case in point, the page where Doreen is getting her science on, and Howard is getting more upset in every other panel. She’s also experimenting with layouts more, as seen in a page where it’s structure as SG kicking through panels. Henderson has been fantastic on this book since day one, and I appreciate her experimenting more with her layouts and use of white space. Rico Renzi’s colors remain just as great, and sets the tone for the light heartedness of this comic perfectly.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl  #6 is a hilarious and fun comic in ways so many other books aren’t. And it’s great to see creators actually come together and pitch a crossover like this, as their excitement really shines through. It’s the way crossovers should be done in my opinion, especially if wicked vans are involved.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Sex Criminals #14

SexCriminals_14-1Sex Criminals #14

Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

Image $3.99

Finally, the David Bowie tribute comic no one was asking for!

As someone who’s been championing t3h Sex Crimz since its debut, I’m more than willing to admit that the third arc has not been the smoothest. While the quality really hasn’t dropped much, the delays between issues have definitely made it difficult to remember exactly what has happened during this storyline resulting digging through the old long box. Granted we did get that one issue that wonderfully discussed being asexual, the other 2 issues have been kind of a blur for me.

That being said, issue 14 feels like a return to form. At least in terms of humor, as we get some fantastic jokes this issue. There’s a 4 page gag in which the chums Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky channel Chuck Jones in most chum-like fashion. It’s a play on a gag they used in an earlier issue, but ramped up to the next logical level. The payoff is sexcriminals14-review06_180_277_s_c1incredible and it shows how the creative team successfully dealt with a potential problematic plot point without scrapping it. It also highlights exactly what each creator brings to the table, be it incredible dialogue, or sensational art, and how their bond makes for some fine comics.

And while that particular gag is definitely my favorite thing about this issue, it’s far from the only good thing about Sex Criminals #14. The issue starts off with a really great sequence that showcases how great of an artist/colorist/letter Zdarsky is. The delays in Sex Criminals, while disappointing, are usually the product of Chip trying to cram as much into a single panel as possible. His dedication to his craft is admirable, and we the reader benefit as we’re treated to some fantastic line work, hidden jokes crammed into the smallest of places and some genuinely amazing coloring. I dislike it when my funny books are late, but when the creators are as good as Zdarsky, it certainly makes up for it.

Matt Fraction is okay too, I guess.

That was #JOKES. It’s been months since I’ve been able to enjoy the Notorious M.A.T.T.’s writing, as this issue serves as a fine example of what he’s capable of bringing to that table. Fraction is not unlike Brian K Vaughan in that he excels at that his characters sound sexcriminals14-review07-68677natural when they speak, even though no one can actually talk as perfect like that in the real world. There’s also something so genuinely in the way Fraction writes his characters, and granted maybe some of it also comes from Chip, but the final few pages of the comic read like some of Fraction’s strongest stuff. Sex Criminals is often at its best when it’s grounded in reality, and I really dig how Matt handles the cast and their dialogue in this issue.

Sex Criminals #14 is a great comic. There’s some strong character work from two creators who are known for writing compelling characters in the medium. Sex Criminals is unlike any other comic out there not just because of its plot, but because Matt and Chip are unlike any other creative team currently working in comics.

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Chris’ Comics: Kaptara Volume 1- Fear Not, Tiny Alien

kaptara-vol1tp-cov-webKaptara Volume 1: Feat Not, Tiny Alien

Chip Zdarsky, Kagan McLeod

Image  $9.98

::: Wipes forehead in relief:: Phew, almost went 3 weeks without mentioning a comic written by Chip Zdarsky. Glad I put a stop to that!

2015 was the year Chip Zdarsky went from being Matt Fraction’s chum who drew Sex Criminals, to Chip Zdarsky, Matt Fraction’s chum who draws Sex Criminals as well as plethora of covers, writes Howard the Duck for Marvel, as well as Jughead for Archie. It was the year that saw Zdarsky grow as writer, not just as artist and a guy who favorites a bunch of stuff I say on social media.  And while his work for hire stuff is great, those books didn’t get to show off the Zdarsky brand like Kaptara does.

Kapata, drawn by Kagan McLeod, was original sold as “Gay Saga”  when it was first hitting the stands/being marketed. In reality it’s “Intentionally Gay Masters of the Universe”, which is something I think is fantastic. It stars Keith Kanga, a scientist who’s Kaptara04_Preview_Pageship crash lands on the planet Kaptara, and find out that the Earth is in grave danger. However, Keith isn’t sure if he wants to actually return to Earth, or continue to live among his new acquaintances.

In my defense, art aside, the first issue of the series wasn’t as strong as Chip’s debut on Howard or Jughead. I decided to wait for the trade, which turned out to be my prefered method of reading Kaptara. Once the initial cast/naked shape shifting wizard is introduced, and the plot is establsihed, the book begins to take off, mixing Zdarsky’s trademark humor with some gorgeous work from McLeod.

Kagan’s work on this book is stunning, managing to recreate the Kirby meets Robert E Howard look of He-Man, only taking it to the extreme. McLeod creates such interesting visuals as a Smurf-like race of Mushroom people who are the actual worst, Cat Tanks, oh and like 50 new characters all with names and M.O.s in the span of 2 pages. McLeod is artistic tour de force, and Kaptara’s all the richer for having him attached to the book. His pages are filled with lush colors and wonderfully bizarre characters and setting. McLeod was absolutely stunning on Infinite Kung Fu, and he’s equally wonderful  on this book.

screenshot_2015-05-20-19-07-302I’ve sung Chip’s praises as a writer plenty of times before, but with Kaptara, we get to see his skills as a writer that are more in the vein of Sex Criminals than his work for hire, as he and Kagan have created everything from the ground up. Like I said earlier, the book suffers a little bit early as the cast/plot is established, but once Keith lands on Kaptara, the book really takes off. We get to see Zdarsky’s trademark brand of humor mesh with some interesting character building, letting us see a different side of Chip’s skill sets. It’s some solid work, and shows just how talented Zdarsky is as a writer.

Kaptara Volume 1 includes the first fives issues of the series, a cover gallery,  breakdown of the final 2 pages of issue 5 (this will make sense once you read it!), and autobiography/tale kaptara02_preview_page5-jpgof sexual conquest by Dartor (Prince of Endom!), really making this $9.98 (Chip will NOT be undersold!) package all the more attractive. Overall, Kaptara is a really charming book, well charming for a sci-fi fantasy comedy adventure book with sexist Mushroom folk. I know Image isn’t exactly short on comedy books OR sci-fi comics, but between Kagan McLeod’s psydelic visuals, and Zdarsky’s witty dialogue, Kaptara is a book worth checking out if you haven’t yet.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Obi-Wan & Anankin and Jughead

I would read that comic!

Obi-Wan_and_Anakin_1_cover_CBRStar Wars: Obi-5Wan and Anakin #1

Charles Soule, Marco Checchetto, Andres Mossa

Marvel $3.99

Hey look, another Star Wars comic drawn by Marco Checchetto, hope this one works out better than last time.

Coming out earlier than expected is the debut of the new Obi-Wan and Anakin mini-series, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Checchetto. Star Wars hype remain high in the Troy household, and I like the idea of mini-series set between installments of the prequel, so I figured I’d give this debut a shot. While I’m pretty cold towards Soule’s Marvel work (his creator owned stuff is great), I found a lot to enjoy with his contributions to this issue. His dialogue is solid, particularly in a scene set during Anakin’s training in the presence of Senator Palpatine, and his premise for the inaugural issue is fun, with some cool moments. Charles does a lot of things right with the tone and “directing” of this mini, succeeding in telling a captivating story with Obi-Wan and young Anakin where George Lucas has failed.

Like his work on Shattered Empire, Marco Checchetto does a great job of capturing the proper looks for the established characters in this mini, and really shines when it comes to creating new characters and ships. His art perfectly captures the swashing buckling spirit of Soule’s script, making this book a perfect blend of drama and action. I also like some of the smaller, subtle things he adds to the art, like having Anankin’s hair indicate with way the winds are blowing Also man, colorist Andres Mossa really give the book a sweeping, cinematic feel, and making the setting climate feel more harsh and dangerous, while giving the book a cool glow. His contributions to this book are crucial, as the final product would not look as good as it does thanks to what Mossa brings to the table.

Obi-Wan and Anakin is a solid comic set in a time period that made for some pretty awful Star War movies. It seems the creative team has a better handle on this scenario and it’s players, not to mention the hindsight as to what to avoid. Assuming the writing stay the same over the next four issues and Checchetto can stick the deadlines, we should be in for a fun little mini.

jughead2015_03-coverJughead #3

Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson

Archie $3.99

In non-Star Wars news, Jughead remains wonderful. No one is surprised, as I’ve been praising this book since day 1, what with it’s fantastic creative team, which makes reviewing it a bit of a pain. You can only praise a book so many times before sounding like a broken record, so thanks for being good at your jobs Chip and Erica.

Erica Henderson draws the hell out of this issue, which introduces Jughead’s parents and gives us some spy action as Jughead deals with his expulsion from high school. I love the outfits she throws the cast into throughout the book, as Henderson’s fashion sense is better than most creators, and makes the cast all the more believable. Her art is treat for anyone who can appreciate a more animated style for their comics, and for people who like their character wearing age appropriate clothing.

As for writer/noted Canadian Chip Zdarsky, surprise, he’s great too. Asking Zdarsky to writer jokes is like asking me to make grammatical errors, and it’s also frustrating to see him deliver so effortlessly. Part of the fun of this book is seeing what he pulls from when it comes to the dream sequences for this book, and bringing back the Man from A.R.C.H.I.E. is a cool bit of Archie history, not to mention gives the chance to have the writer to have some fun with acronyms.

Jughead joins Saga as one of those books you know you’re bound to get your money’s worth with. It’s 2 very talented people who are doing some career defining work across the medium coming together to create a super 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: Jughead #2

Jughead2-webJughead #2

Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson

Archie $3.99

So aside from Phonogram: TIM and Spider-Woman, I had to choose between picking up Jughead and Ms Marvel this past week. I went with Jughead, as it’s a buck cheaper, I love the creative team, and I now have an excuse to pick up Ms Marvel in trade. It’s a win for everyone involved who’s not my checking account! Also I have bought 2 consecutive issues of an Archie comic in the year of our lord 2015, this is definitely a personal record of sorts! Be proud of me.

The 2nd issue of Jughead was something I found highly enjoyable. Jughead’s Time Police is something I’ve heard about in whispers for some now time, so seeing Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson tackle it in this reboot was certainly intriguing. Much like the previous issue, the issue is broken down by first act, “fantasy”-based second arc, the final act, and then a reprint of a classic Archie strip with an hilarious introduction from Chip. While the older material isn’t my cup of tea, I appreciate the format Zdarsky and Henderson have established, and the extra content certainly justifies the $4 price tag.

Jughead2015_02-11-666x1024The 2nd issue continues the debut issue of Jughead and his pals having to deal with the new over-zealous staff at their high school. First and foremost, I love how much Erica Henderson draws from current fashion for the cast’s looks. I’m already familiar with how expressive her art is from her work on Squirrel Girl , but with Jughead, she’s allowed to draw less super heroes and more every day clothing, which is rad. Of course, the stuff with the Time Police requires to take the book’s visuals in a different direction, which is fine, because Henderson’s experience with TUSG gives her some experience with the fantastic. I’m a fan of her colors, well at least I think I am, because I’m 98% certain half the copy I picked up was a victim of several errors when I was printed. But the stuff I’m positive wasn’t messed up come printing looks great, and looking at panels from the digital copy of the book confirmed that my book is sadly a victim of a printing press error.

Everything Chip Zdarsky contributes to this issue is gold. Obviously the humor is on point, which comes as no surprise, give his…well everything. Like go check his twitter account right now for proof. Okay back? Too bad, I’m continuing without you if you’re not. Anyway, Chip’s dialogue is great, chock full of snark and jokes, making this incarnation of Jughead very Spider-Man-esque with the amount of wisecracks per page. But it’s never Jughead2015_02-7overdone, as Zdarsky knows when to reel it back a bit as to not to interfere with the plot. And despite the teen rating due to a realtively dark twist at the end, the book is a clever read that I feel kids who watch stuff like Adventure Time and Steven Universe would dig.

(( I also want to give props to whoever decided Jughead should come off as asexual, but I’m not sure if that’s Chip or Mark Waid‘s doing. It may not be intention, but it’s cool to see a high school male character who’s not all girl crazy for a change, and has very little interest in smooching. ))

Jughead #2 is another fun installment of this really interesting Archie reboot. I really like the overarching “Jughead vs the man, but is still kinda lazy” plot of this new series, while weaving in some weirder elements of Archie’s publishing history into the narrative. It serves the spirit of classic Archie will, but also gives the franchise a much needed modern make over, resulting in a fun, relatively all ages experience.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Sex Criminals #13

SexCriminals13_CvrSex Criminals #13

Chip Zdarsky, Chip Zdarsky, Chip Zdarsky, Matt Fraction,

Image, $3.50

So it’s been awhile since I’ve talked about ol’ Sex Crimz, be it due to delays, the fact that I’ve written about Fraction and Zdarsky a ton these last few years, and that the current arc has been great, but hard to talk about due to some of the NC-17 content. Luckily, issue 13 changes that, due to an incredible joke, and a important and fantastic discussion about being asexual.

First the joke. For all of you not in the know, The Harvey awards nominated Chip Zdarsky and only Chip for Sex Criminals in their Best Humor Book category. That lead to some things, which you can read about here. But that’s not the end of the story, oh no. Matt Fraction decided to continue to go to bat for his chum, in which you can see on the book’s cover credits. There’s also a page in the middle of the book decided to it, involving the creators in a way I dare not spoil. You can make an argument that it’s a bit excessive, BUT the joke works even if you’re not aware of the team SexCrimz/Harvey Awards beef. Anyone, let’s talk about something with a little more substance now yes?

7c0ead5d861f6ddf87bc041845cbf4d6._SX640_QL80_TTD_Sex Criminals was the first big name comic to discuss modern female sexuality in depth when it debuted, and since then, they’ve always managed to have an issue that’s very intelligent and educational, giving the reader something to think about when they’re done with the comic (aside from the contents in the letter page). This issue, as I said above, we’re introduced to a character who’s asexual. I’m 90% certain neither Matt nor Chip are, so what they do with this issue and this character in fantastic. Alix is a completely believable and fantastic character who’s portrayed in a positive light. Yes she gets some crap for being asexual, but it’s never as the butt of the joke, but more so to show what sort of garbage some people have to endear with in their lives.

I don’t want to make the claim that this is the best issue Chip Zdarsky has drawn to date, but man, there’s a lot to like about Chip’s art here. There’s a gorgeous double spread early on, an interesting and hilarious use of Carl Sagan, some fantastic execution of 16 panel pages, and of course the fine use of Manime, the break out character of the year. Fraction is on point as usual, giving us some really smart, insightful dialogue while slipping in a joke or two. Like Brain K Vaughan, Matt has nailed the flow of comics dialogue, making all his character sound incredibly realistic, even the hard to nail #TEEN characters.

 

Sex Criminals is not unlike this week’s Wicked and the Divine where the theme/topic at hand is both modern and handle incredibly well. Fraction and Zdarsky focus on something I’ve never read about before in comics, and the duo treat the subject matter with the utmost respect, while telling the tale of 2 characters who freeze time after making whoopie. It’s a fantastic issue by two creators on top of their games who are clearly having a ton of fun making comics.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Jughead #1 & Papergirls #1

DISCLAIMER: I will go on the record saying that I believe Chip Zdarsky is NICE MAN, but this comic was bought with my own money.

635793458419385897-Jughead-1RegCvrJughead #1

Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson

Archie Comics, $3.99

Jughead joins the ranks of Afterlife with Archie in being one of the 2 Archie books I’ve bought in the last 2 centuries. Much like Afterlife, the creators on this book warranted me at least checking out the first issue, despite not caring much for the lead character. The record will show that obviously I am a fan of Handsome-for-Canada writer Chip Zdarsky‘s output, and I’ve been enjoying Erica Henderson‘s work on the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  I haven’t been keeping up with the relaunched Archie title by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, so I wasn’t sure what this incarnation of Jughead was like, aside from his love of hamburgers, and chances are he wasn’t a zombie.

Jughead #1 turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Well not that much of a surprise, given the fact I just said I’m a big fan of these creators. I just really appreciated how Henderson and Zdarsky they managed to blend the spirit of these classic iconic comic characters while placing them in a modern setting.

Jughead2015_01-5-666x1024Erica Henderson drawing a teen comedy was a genius move on the behalf of Archie. She excels at drawing various body types and expressions, making her a perfect fit for this title. Her acting and costume designs make the book look like it takes place in 2015, and keeps the character recognizable it. Having her ink and color her own works also helps her art look clean and bold, not unlike Fiona Staples work on Archie proper.

And much like being assigned writing duties on Howard the Duck, Chip Zdarsky couldn’t be a better choice for Jughead. In the afterword, Chip goes on the record stating that he’s a huge fan of Jughead and Archie comics, and it shows in the book. His Jughead is very sarcastic and a bit of a slacker, but ultimately very likable. His dialogue is sharp and hilarious, again much like Howard, but a little more reserved, making it still a teen rated book, only because there’s some serious dept to the humor, and a big ol’ reference to a popular and violent fantasy TV show. It makes for a really fun read.

Jughead #1 is another stellar reinvention of a classic Archie character. I really enjoyed this debut issue, but I’m concerned how long the team with stick around what with Squirrel Girl returning soon, and Chip’s various comments to Marvel and Image comics. Hopefully the pair will be around for awhile, as this book is off to a great start.

 

294389._SX360_QL80_TTD_ Paper Girls #1

Cliff Chiang, Brian K Vaughan, Matt Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher

Image $2.99

Paper Girls #1 was THE comic everyone was talking about at NYCC this year. It’s the first new ongoing writer Brian K Vaughan has launched since Saga, and the first book artist Cliff Chiang has worked on after his Wonder Woman run. It’s been shrouded in secret since it’s announcement, with a premise no one knew much about aside from “suburban paper girls in the late 80s”, with rumors of some sort of bonkers twist to the whole thing. Those rumors were correct to an extent, leading to one of the BEST final page reveals of the year (sorry Invincible Iron Man) in an excellent first issue.

I’ve spoken highly about BKV on this blog multiple times thanks to Saga. Same for colorist Matt Wilson, who’s also working on this book, and is unsurprisingly excellent. Whom I’ve never really talked about around these parts is Cliff Chiang, who’s the perfect artist for a period piece like this. Everything he draws in this debut issue is terrific; the spooky psychedelic dream that kicks this issue off, the character’s body language and dress, and the things related to the twist I dare not spoil. What’s also neat is the subtle but effective reminders that Chiang uses to let the readers know that this whole thing takes place is the 80s, without beating us over the head.  BKV also gets some credit for that, as his “perfect but still natural” dialogue never flirts with nostalgia or worries about being too period accurate. There is one major exception where a homophobic slur is dropped (consider this a trigger warning for the book), but it’s handled pretty well all things considering, as one of the character acknowledges the choice of wording is pretty messed up. It’s good to see that the creative team actually put some thought into that’s word use, instead of just dropping it in the comics and making up excuses for its presence.

Matt Wilson’s colors are gorgeous in this book. He uses a lot of dark blues/purples/pinks for the background, occasionally switching things up to a red or a yellow, and it’s all quite striking. Letter & designer Jared K. Fletcher is the unsung her of the book, contributing some really cool stuff I can’t talk about, but it really sets the book apart from a lot of comics out there. This is a stellar creative team on every level.

I honestly feel the less you know about Paper Girls’ premise, the better you know. What matters is that 4 creators have come together and created a fantastic first issue that’s worth your time and 3 bucks.

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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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Chris’ Comics: Howard the Duck #5

4730614-howard2015005_dc11-page-001Howard the Duck #5

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Joe and Paolo Rivera, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Oh Howard A Duck, you are a gift.

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones and Rico Renzi’s first arc/volume (NEW HAT THOUGH!) wraps up with a massive super hero fight in Manhattan for the fate of the world, a concept Chip and Joe claim they were the first to come up with. In case you don’t know how #JOKES work, that is one and an example the A+ comedy one gets from a Chip Zdarsky penned comics.

tumblr_nt0y86mP6j1qeeerco2_1280There’s a lot to like in Howard the Duck #5. First and foremost is Joe Quinones drawing a massive amount of of Marvel’s NYC-based heroes, and them looking fantastic/amazing/marvelous/other puns. Quinones’ style is clean and detailed, and his takes on all these characters comes across as looking quite iconic. His commitment to to his craft results in some fine looking lay outs, mashing up some of Marvel most beloved, as well as some of their newer, heroes up against the ridiculous threats he and Chip Zdarsky have conceived. I like what Joe does with facial expressions, as several maskless character perfectly express the absurdity of the whole scenario, especially on the final page with has arguably the best drawing of the Human Torch and Spider-Man in some time. Assisting Quinones on art duties is the brilliant father and son inking team of Paolo & Joe Rivera, giving Quinones’ work the clean, thin lines it deserves. Rico Renzi’s colors pop off the page, completing the art package, and giving Howard a high quality look you wouldn’t expect coming from a comedic book.

Earlier this year writer Chip Zdarsky joked that he was cramming in a lot of content and guest appearances in Howard the Duck as he was expecting to be fire after every issue came out. Howard #5 won’t be Chip’s last ride with the character, but you’ll definitely get you 4 dollars worth from it. This issue wraps up the arch, reveals a supporting character’s secret, and makes several intriguing hints regarding the future of the this book. Oh and is absolutely hilarious as well. We get more “Inconsolable Spider-Man” jokes, editor notes for hilariously titled comics that never existed, several deep cut Marvel jokes and a subplot involving a rather obscure Marvel book that results in Howard freaking out. It’s not all jokes either, as Chip and Joe do some cool stuff with the Howard and Tracy relationship, injecting some heart warming material into the book. Again, a lot of stuff goes down in this book, but it never feels over crowded or bloated.

tumblr_nsznomBLdn1sajkn0o1_400Howard the Duck #5 is a great ending for a fantastic first arc. Howard is easily up there with Superior Foes of Spider-Man and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl in terms of being some of the best modern Marvel humor books, and the star power behind it should hopefully ensure that it sticks around for quite awhile. You can tell Zdarsky & Quinones definitely love or at least heavily appreciate the classic Steve Gerber era Howard, and embrace it while pushing the character forward. Howard the Duck is book I’ll continue to buy when it returns later this year, especially if the creative teams continues to put out this level of quality comic month after month.

 

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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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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Memorial Day Lateness

4339743-uxm34Uncanny X-men #34

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

As I’ve said plenty of times in the past, the strongest issues of Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-men run have been the done in ones. UXM #34  is another done in one, so it’s safe to say you can another positive review from me for this title.

One of the things Bendis did early in his run was set up a cool Mystique Vs Dazzler feud. It’s something I’ve enjoyed because they’re 2 of my favorite mutants, and it’s lead to a cool Kris Anka (who draws this issue) redesign for Dazzler. With the Bendis run coming to an end soon October,  he uses this issue to wrap up that plot up in a satisfying way.

One of the reasons why this issue worked for me was it gave Dazzler some much needed focus and characterization. She joined the team shortly before the Charles Xavier retcon a go-go arc, but was quickly delegated to a background character role. She’s a lead character here, and Bendis gets a lot out of her in 20 pages. It also helps that Bendis get to bounce her off of Maria Hill, a character he co-created and has a massive amount of experience writing. His take on Mystique is also rad, as he handles her with a certain degree of sympathy that makes the character relatable even though she’s a bit of a monster. Aside from the Dazzler & friends related business, we get to  check in on the new students who are currently without a school. Bendis drops some hints that he has some plans for them to be revealed soon, and I’m curious to see what they are. It’s been a bit of a challenge to get new mutants to stick around for an extended period of time, and I’m curious to see if Bendis has any ideas on how to change that with his generation of  “X-kids”.

Kris Anka was the best choice to draw this issue, as he is great at drawing female characters and can convey the proper emotions needed for this story. His body language is really strong, and it shows in this issue, especially since there’s a lot of scenes involving 2 or more character standing/sitting around chatting. Anka’s work is exceptionally clean, and Marte Gracia‘s coloring keep the book looking fresh, giving Anka’s minimalist style a much needed sense of dimension.

Uncanny X-men 34 is another fine single issue that tell a story within 20 pages and will warrant an immediate re-read. It’s not the best this run has seen, but it’s definitely worth the price of admission if you’ve been enjoying this incarnation of X-men

Kaptara_02Kapatara #2

Chip Zdarsky/Kagan McLeod

Image, $3.50

Kaptara #2 is a fine comic, but I’ll be honest: the art is wasted on the monthly format. Artist Kagan McLeod‘s work is so good, it begs to be put in one of those oversize albums (Hardcovers as their known as in the States) the European market gets because they appreciate the medium better. This  absolutely bizarre but incredible looking take on the Masters of the Universe universe deserves an over-sized hardcover at the very least. McLeod’s art, especially his character designs, are hard to describe properly. They’re extremely odd, but are flowing with creativity that it’s worth admiring. Everything from the body language, to the layouts to the environments are so unique, and have just the right amount of comedy to remind you that this is not exactly the most serious book. The best way to describe it would be those old  Sunday morning newspaper strips with a modern Adult Swim twist.

Writer Chip Zdarsky‘s second efforts on this book are a improvement from the previous issue. The main character Keith is given some much needed drive, and the characters from the previous issue also get their fair share of development. Chip and Kagan also introduce several new characters that are also as equally amusing and well designed, expanding the cast quite a bit. Now that the general premise is explained, Chip gets a little more room to breath, and the book benefits greatly from it.

Kaptara #2 is insanity on paper, but also gorgeous. It’s unpredictable, hilarious and something genuinely unique, which something both the readers and the industry benefits from.

 

 

 

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