Tagged: Chip Zdarsky

Troy’s Toys but with WAUGH: Howard the Duck #3 edition

DIG057129_1Howard the Duck #3

Chip Zdarsky/Joe Quinones/Joe Rivera/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Things I didn’t know I wanted from comics: Howard the Duck teaming up with Aunt May.

Things I now have from comics: Take a guess genius, and then read 500 words about Howard the Duck #3, which is easily the funniest comics numbered 3 that I’ve read this year.

Creators Zhip Cdarsky (spelling Chip’s name wrong is always cool and funny according to Sex Criminal Solicits and Tumblr!) and Joe Quinones’ take on Howard the Duck continues to impress with this third issue, in which said Duck and said Aunt attempt to solve some crime after the time honored traditional fight/robbery at gun point (I swear that all makes sense in context, read the book and see how right I am). This collaboration involves going under cover, fighting the elderly, and more Spider-Man crying, three things that continue to make this book sound like a fever dream, but are real and also quite enjoyable.

Joe Quinones is a talent artist who I’ve seen drawn many a pretty lady throughout his career, but apparently he’s also good at drawing old people, all types of  ducks and Z-list Marvel villains. It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that his talents allow him to blend all these things together without anything sticking out, but it’s constantly impressive. Quinones usually handles pencils and inks by himself, but he’s joined by Joe Rivera this month, something I wouldn’t have know if it wasn’t listed in the credits. Rivera’s matches Quinones’ style perfectly, and I could not tell who inked what. Rico Renzi’s coloring is also fantastic, giving the characters a cool 3-D effect that makes them pop out from the pages a bit, and stand out from their environments.

This month they’re joined by Jason Latour, who also did some fun stuff with Aunt May this month (FYI I resisted making so many May puns) in Spider-Gwen last week. Jason draws a backup story that’s so New York you would swear it was written by a Gothamist columnist. Latour’s style is a lot more pulp and abstract compared to Quinones, but is great looking none the less. Also his take on a certain iconic Marvel character is rad as hell, and I want to see him draw him more in the future.

Chip Zdarsky is a NICE boy who is also hilarious and Canadian. His comedic writing skills are in full force here, giving the readers a ton of content to digest. There’s a ton of humor and character development crammed into this book, but none of it feels forced. We’re beginning to see some running gags form, and they still seem fresh, even though some of them are related to some deep cuts from Marvel’s past.  Chips shows some amazing amount of restrain, even with everything coming at the reader so fast, and the comic is better for it.

Howard the Duck is not unlike Chip’s other big book Sex Criminals in a few ways, as both are great looking, hilarious, and have a surprising amount of heart at times. Oh as of issue 3, lead characters who are often naked. It’s well worth your time and money, despite how I’m making the wholw thing sound.

 

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Troy’s Toys, But with Comics: Yet more Image debut editions

Kaptara-coverKaptara #1

Chip Zdarsky/Kagan McLeod

Image $3.50

KAPTARA: The comic where you come for Chip Zdarsky’s action figure fan fiction but stay for the gorgeous art by Infinite Kung Fu’s Kagan McLeod….as well as for the insanity of Churp’s action figure fan fiction.

“When Kaptara was first announced, I didn’t know what to make of it except for GAY SAGA will read many a comic journalist review of this book. I may be paraphrasing, but it did honestly feel like Zdarsky and McLeod were relatively tight lipped about the book until its release. Which I’m fine with, I don’t need the damn thing spoiled and dissected before it comes out (see: Avengers: Age of Ultron).

That being said, Kaptara isn’t as strong script wise as Howard the Duck was. Our main lead isn’t exactly the most likable, which I’m fine with, as I dig flawed main characters. That being said, not much of the supporting cast has much to going on either, so it’s kind of a drag in that department. It does pick up once things are planet-side, and once the series’ premise is explained a bit more, Kaptara’s cast and narrative  get FAR more interesting. It also helps that McLeod gets to flex his artistic muscles a bit more as the book progresses, giving us the goods and forests made of MURDER!

Kagan McLeod’s art is the reason you should buy this book. While Zdarsky may not be at his strongest in the premiere, Kagan certainly is, and it shows in the art. It’s equal parts Ryan Ottley and Sean Murphy, but with a European-esque vibe to it, making it entirely trippy, but unique. This is especially true once the book is set on Kaptara, where we’re treated to some really well executed action scenes and wonderfully odd character designs.

Kaptara is a fun comic oozing with potential. Now that Chip is done with introductions, I’m sure the script side of things will only improve, all while Kagan’s art will continue to impress and amaze.

STK666093Beyond Belief #1

Ben Acker/Ben Blacker/Phil Hester/Eric Gapstur/Mauricio Wallace/Marshall Dillon

Image, $3.50

CLINK!

Let’s be honest for a section: comics adaptions of other mediums tend to have a spotty track record. Not everything can be Mark Waid and the Dodsons on a Star Wars book, because not every property is Star Wars, and not every comics writer can be Waid. HOWEVER, some mediums lend themselves better to comics, which is exactly the case with The Thrilling Adventure Hour’s Beyond Belief Image comic debut.

Translating the popular podcast done in an old timey radio to a comic is something THA creator’s Ben Acker and Ben Blacker have done before with Arcadia Press to much success. Now with Image, they get to tell episode length stories in comics, enlisting veteran artist Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur and Ande Parks to tell the tale of Frank and Sadie Doyle. For those not in the know, the Doyles are an upper class couple who deal with spooky ghosts and their ilk, usually highly intoxicated. That is literally my #SQUADGOAL FYI.

With the Bens on board, the book sounds like an extended episode of the podcast, which is great for a fan like myself. Phil Hester’s art is also welcomed, as his work is clean is smooth and crisp, capturing both the humor and horror elements of Beyond Belief perfectly. It’s enhanced greatly by Gapstur and Parks inks, which are heavy on the shadowing but not to the point of saturation, but on a comfortable enough level that it blends perfectly with Marshall Dillion’s colors.

Beyond Belief #1 does an excellent job of introducing people not familiar with the Doyles to the TAH hour with a nice back up explaining how Frank and Sadie met. It’s incredibly new reader friendly, and fans of Beyond Belief should dig it as well. It’s a fun horror comic that isn’t too spooky, but not silly enough not to be compelling. It’s highly welcomed if your looking for something a little more off beat.

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Duck Puns Edition

howard_the_duck_1_coverHoward The Duck #1

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

I love the fact that we now live in a world where the box office success of Guardians of the Galaxy means Chip Zdarsky gets to write a Howard the Duck book drawn by Joe Quinones.

Howard the Duck is the latest off-beat Marvel book that’s unsurprisingly amazing. Joe Quinones has been drawing a number of beautiful covers for years, so this book looking as good as it does is expected. And Zdarkseid (Mandatory misspelling of Chip’s pen name=GET) has been one of the funniest dudes in comics as of late, so Howard being a laugh riot also isn’t shocking.

What I wasn’t expecting was this creative team to build a narrative that spans from the original Howard the Duck #1 all the way to the GOTG post credit scene. It’s the opposite of the recently relaunched Ant-Man, embracing Howard’s weird history, not to mention the recently concluded She- Hulk series, yet presenting in a way that easy for new reader to pick up. I would say it’s the best Howard I’ve read since creator Steve Gerber’s last run, but I’m sure there was also a mini series where Howard turned into a MODOK, which is also pretty great.

I can’t ever recall wanting a Howard the Duck series, but now that I have one by this specific creative team I kind of love it. It looks great, it’s funny as hell and there’s enough content in the first issue that warrants a re-read. Howard the Duck #1 is not unlike Squirrel girl#1 where Marvel has given us super hero humor book by some top-self creators. Also if anyone at Marvel is reading this, a Zdarsky-penned “Self-loathing Spider-Man” series is something I want now.

 

portrait_incredibleSpider-Gwen #2

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodrigues/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

I’ll be honest, I was willing to trade wait Spider-Gwen even with the first issue being quite superb. But then Scumbag Matt Murdock made an appearance, and suddenly I was $4 poorer.

Spider-Gwen continues the trend of excellent talking animal comics by Marvel this week, as Spider-Ham plays a unexpected, but none the less important role in this issue, which sees both Stacys deal with their respected Spider-Gwen related problems. Having both Stacys take point this issue gives it a unique perspective, as Father/Daughter relationships are rarely explored in super hero comics. We also get to see more of this reimagined Marvel universe characters, and a background Easter egg promising an interesting take on one Felicia Hardy. In a way it hits a lot of the same beats the first issue did, while continuing to develop the characters and move the story forward. This continues to be Jason Latour‘s finest Marvel work to date, especially with the dialogue sounding and flowing as well as it does.

Visually, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi continue to provide stellar art for this book. Each character is boiled down to a specific characteristic (Murdock’s always sleazy, Frank Castle always looks determined, Spider-Ham is VERY much a pig) under Rodriguez’s skillful line work, and the heavy use of pink and green against the darker backgrounds of this book still make it look slick as hell.

Spider-Gwen #2 is pretty much more of the same of what we got from issue 1, which is fine. The first issue was rad, as was this one. Between this and the newly relaunched Spider-Woman, we have two awesome alternatives to Amazing Spider-Man, with each book offering something fresh and fun.

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Secret Criminals Edition? Yeah I guess that works

I would read a book called Secret Criminals FYI.

SECAVN2014012CVR-659x1000Secret Avengers #12

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel/$3.99

Secret Avengers #12 can be best described as “Nextwave meets True Detective“, which is the best description for any comic, and I don’t care if you disagree with me.

I love it when Marvel has a book that features fairly iconic characters and allows it to operate under the radar. Like MODOK drunk texting Deadpool (complete with the use of the word “Bae”), or Hawkeye dropping the phrase “Resident Terrorist Sex Horror Advisor”, which is something we’ll probably not be hearing in a movie anytime soon. There’s also a killer gag involving ring tones, which only proves that I’m a big fan of phone-based jokes apparently. It makes for a fun read, and it’s nice that not everything has be average Disney XD viewer friendly.

But this book isn’t all jokes mind you. Spider-Woman and Maria Hill find themselves in a bit of a pickle, and their interactions ring true to their characters. Ales Kot‘s Maria Hill is a no-excuses workaholic, and she bounces off his equally determined but more sarcastic Spider-Woman quite nicely. We also have Kot writing Black Widow and Lady Bullseye in a cosmic horror setting, which is something I didn’t know I wanted, but glad I’m now have. These character interactions are a key part of which I enjoy this title so much, as Kot has a gift for dialogue. His jokes hit hard, and there’s so much subtext in some throw away lines that it warrants multiple re-readings. It’s a smart book wrapped in some crazy circumstances, beautifully illustrated by Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson.

Secret Avengers remains one of the craziest and surreal books Marvel’s been putting out for the last year. If this is the final incarnation of this book, I’ll be glad, because it will be an hard act to follow up on.

SEXCRIMINALS_10Sex Criminals #10

Matt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky #10

Image $3.50

Chip Zdarsky draws hella genitals in this issue, be warned if you’re squeamish. Also if you’re squeamish, what’s wrong with you, Sex Crimz is not for you.

A Tinder’s worth of crotch pics (or Grinder I suppose) aside, this is another brilliant installment of Sex Criminals. Writer Matt Fraction has never shyed away from discussing the importance of mental help, and he’s handling of Jon seeing a therapist is nothing short of inspiring. Sex Criminals has always managed to channel genuine human emotion despite it’s lewd premise, and this issue is proof of how good it can be.

Chip Zdarsky is a funny dude, no one is surprised by this statement. But ol’ Zdarkseid manages to use sound effects in a particular way this issue that had my dying as I read it. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but if it is, it’s fantastic. His timing and structure couldn’t be any better for setting up these little sound effect gags, and the use of all lowercase letter had me dawing as well as loling. And yeah, I just used “Daw” and “Lol” as actions, what of it?

There’s also  a bit in this issue that is very Scott Pilgrim esque, only with a lot more genital talk. I didn’t think I could love this series anymore than I have bee, but(t) here we are. Also is you think the last 200 words were mastubatory, let me make you aware of the fact that Hawkeye drops next week and it will get worse.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Troys, but with Tiny Pink Books: Just the Tips

just_the_tips-cov1corJust the Tips

Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

Image, $12.99, RATED M/Mature

I grew up with an aunt who loved having small little humor books for her coffee table. A bunch of them contained content that I didn’t get at the time, nor should have been looking at to begin with, but the jokes I did get were pretty funny, I guess. So to see the guys behind Sex Criminals do something in that vein with their new book, Just the Tips, brings up some weird nostalgia in me. More importantly though, it makes me laugh quite hard, and I wish I phrased all of this better, hashtag yikes.

Just the Tips, for those of you not in the know, is a mix of new and older material from Sex Crimz, and on paper is a book in which Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky help you be better at sexy times. There’s nothing in this book that affects the narrative in the proper Sex Criminals comic, so if you’re expecting that sort of thing, you may be slightly disappointed. Speaking of disappointing, I was talking to your lady friend and-I’m sorry, I’ll stop.

Tips02That being said, if you’re just here for laughs and questionable imagery, you’re fine. Sure you’ll fine some letters and SEX TIPS from the generally excellent reader’s letters column reprinted here, but none of the smart  and thoughtful ones. It the gross and funny ones, don’t worry you won’t actually learn anything, which is all a part of the joke anyway.

Aside from the reprinted Sex Tips, positions and letters, Matt and Chip gifted the reader with a bunch of erotica, pick-up lines, dirty talk, and my personal favorite movie reviews of sex parody movies that they’ve created. Oh and the entire things kicks off with an introduction from the President himself of the Unite States himself, Barack Obama. Yeah, I’m surprised they got him for this book too, but Chip and Matt are pretty popular these days.

Chip Zdarsky and Matt Fraction telling terrible, dirty jokes, is the selling point of this book, and it’s the main reason it works out so well. Their personalities and humor have made them 2 of the most in-demand and beloved creators currently in comics, so them spending 92 pages making dick jokes is the type of book that would only work for them. Well them and Howard Chakyin, but that’s a difference talk for another day.

tips-panelDesign wise, Just The Tips is simplistic, but attractive, mostly consisting of float 2 color pages. A lot of black and pink, ensuring that this book looks like a sex toy, which I’m sure is intentional. Any of Zdarsky’s art that appears in here isn’t as refined as what appears in Sex Criminals proper, but it’s still charming in it own special way. Well  as charming as the topic can be. Be prepared to have the solar system ruined for you half way through this book.

Over the last year Sex Criminals has proven to be one of the most unconventional successes in comics, with it’s original premise, and it’s honest and hilarious look at sex. Just The Tips isn’t as thought provoking or insightful, but it isn’t meant to be. It’s 92 pages of adult humor and apologies, and the perfect thing to make for awkward conversation if read in public. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a Brimper, or know someone who’s down with Brimping.

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Feel Good Inc.

 

Hell of a week y’all. Talking comics today is a welcome distraction after everything we’ve see go down over the last couple of days

 

STK644079All New X-Men #30

Brian Michael Bendis/Sara Pichelli/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

 

Call it a breather issue. Much like Chris Claremont before him, Brian Michael Bendis uses this issue of All New to do some character building, with Angel taking X-23 out on the town, Emma Frost beginning Jean Grey’s training and Kitty Pryde taking a holographic phone call from her kinda boyfriend Peter Quill. It’s a very cute script, and it’s something needed to cleanse the palette after all that time travel shenanigans.

 

With the previous issue seeing the departure of series regular artist Stuart Immonen (who’s stick around to handle this book’s cover), Bendis is joined by his former Guardians of the Galaxy artist Sara Pichelli. Immonen is a difficult artist to follow up to, but Pichelli, who has some experience drawing these characters, makes a strong debut. For a mostly taking heads issue, Pichelli’s facial expressions and body language really sells the book, especially with the few pages that are dialogue free. The one area she actually surpasses Immonen in is having this cast look like teenagers, something Stuart struggled with, especially when their older counterparts were also on the page. She’s a welcomed addition to this book, and I’m excited to see her draw more of it.

 

My only real beef with this issue is that the final page’s cliffhanger is tied into the last 2 issues of Uncanny X-men , and will probably play out over there instead of this book. If you’re like me and buy both Bendis X-books this isn’t much of an problem, but those not may be disappointed to have to track down a pair of issue that shipped before this one. Ultimately, I dug the hell out of this comic. It was cute, good looking and chock full of fun moments. These sort of one offs are appreciated, and it’s a nice break before another famous Bendis/Pichelli shows up next month.

 

 

sexcriminals_07Sex Criminals #7

Matt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky

Image $3.50

The letters section for this issue alone is worth the $3.50. There I just saved you 2 minutes of reading.

Oh you stuck around! Really? Did you not read what I wrote above? Oh you want more reasons? Yeah okay sure, I suppose I can help you there.

Sex Criminals is probably my wife’s favorite comic not called Saga. Which means my wife has great taste in both comics and men. But the opening sequence of this book really impressed her this week, as there’s something that Suzie, our female lead, is suffering from that my wife knew all too well. It’s a testament to both Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, who managed to hit the symptoms of said problem dead on, despite being dudes. It’s also a reason why this book is such a hit.

 

Issue 7 is a return to form for Sex Criminals. Not that issues 5 or 6 were bad, but they were heavier on the serious side. This one is chocked full of humor, including the use of a word that makes me giggle every time I read/hear it because I am 12. There’s even a bit of action and suspense too, making it a nice balanced read.

 

I’ve already sung Fraction’s praises plenty of times in the past between this book and Hawkeye, so I’m gonna talk Chip Zdarsky for a bit. First off, that cover. Extremely sharp and a very cool design. Zdarsky’s always been a bit experimental with the covers, and the results are great. But this is kinda next level for the ol Chipper, and I hope it continues. Then there’s in the interiors. I had to re-read some sections and few times just to catch all the gags hidden in the background. It’s a shame that some of this Easter eggs and gags are sacrificed for word balloons, but it’s nice to see Chip put so much effort into something a lot of people not named Matt Fraction aren’t going to see.

 

Sex Criminals seven is the result of 2 creators having a blast creating a comic. Which is great for the reader, because the ends results are stupendous. Combined with a first-class letters column that’s as insightful and hilarious as the interior, Sex Criminals #7 is another can’t miss comic from Fraction and Zdarsky.

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics Belated Edition part 2

wicked-and-divine-620x400The Wicked + The Divine #1

 Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson

Image, $3.50

Despite not being familiar with half the bands mentioned in the comic, I REALLY dug Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s 2 installments of Phonograms. And now that they’re done with their 14 issue run of Kate Bishop an her cosplay friends ( aka Young Avengers),  the pair have returned to Creator Owned Comics with Wicked + The Divine.

 

W+ t D is the tale of reincarnated gods and pop stars. So yeah it’s A LOT like Phonograms in a way, at least in concept.  Hey even Gillen admits that’s in his letter at the end of the issue, but the actual execution of the material makes all the difference. Unlike the casters that cling to the shadows in Phonograms, these gods are out there in public, letting the world know that they’re out there and operating on another level.

 

Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson are arguably 2 of my favorite artist/colorists working in comics today, and they are absolutely divine (HAR HAR) in this kick off issue. McKelvie’s line work is fabulous, and his facial expressions and the emotion he can get his characters to convey are all top notch, as usual. But it’s Matt Wilson who’s really upped his game here. Between the results of what happens when Luci snaps her fingers and how the character’s makeup and eye liner looks, it’s hard to name a colorist as skilled as Wilson working in comics today.

 

As for writer Kieron Gillen, he’s nothing short than brilliant. His dialogue is sharp, giving each of the characters a distinct voice that makes them stand out a bit. And while the plot is fairly straight forward, it’s incredibly engaging and ends on a solid cliffhanger. This is Gillen at his strongest, and it’s something that readers benefit from.

 

Wicked + The Divine is a stellar debut by one of the best creative teams with a working relationship in comics today. Anyone who loved Phonograms & Young Avengers, or was stupid enough to skip over them, needs to read this book immediately.

 

3898273-sex+criminals+02Sex Criminals #6

 Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Image $3.50

Sex Crims is back, in what is arguably the most Matt Fraction issue to date. What the means is that there’s a lot of self depreciation,  paranoia and some bleakness to this issue. Not exactly what you’re expecting from a sex comedy, but something that only helps the narrative and help flesh (HAR HAR 2) out the characters.

 

On the joys of Sex Crims that while it’s an extremely lewd funny book, it’s also incredibly honest and smart. This issue really shows that, as Jon, our male lead steps into the spotlight. Despite being a man who poops in plotted plants and freezes time every time he climaxes, he’s also a man suffering from most realistic difficulties, that help make his easier to sympathize with.

 

This issue isn’t all doom and gloom tho. While Chip  Zdarsky can sell the more dramatic bits of comic with the greatest of ease, he’s also a gifted cartoonist who can hide a ton of jokes hidden in the panels. At this weekend at Heroescon, Fraction described the process as MAD magazine esque and there’s no better description of it.The letter column remains something crucial to one’s enjoyment of Sex Criminals. It’s a fascinating look at what kind of community has been built around this book, and is something genuinely enjoyable.

I’m glad to have Sex Criminals back, and I’m curious as to what direction the book is taking with this volume seemingly focusing on Jon.

 

300px-Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_22Uncanny X-Men #22

Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend

Marvel $3.99

 

Gah. This issue comes so close to be a perfect end to the X-Men Vs SHIELD arc, but it hampered by a guest colorist who’s style is lighter than what we usually get with Chris Bachalo. It clashes with Bachalo & Tim Townsend’s (and like 4 other dudes) heavy black style, and does not compliment it as well as it should.

 

It’s a real shame, because everything else about this issue is great. We finally get some answers to some long brewing questions, and 2 other characters get a nice return to form. It’s a rewarding book for long time readers, and it definitely sets up the potential for some cool stories for the future.

 

As for the reveal as to who has been sending Sentinels after Cyclops’ renegade X-Men, it works in terms of the actual identity. The execution is a bit lacking, as the motive for said villains is a tad lacking. Of course Brian Michael Bendis could be planning to touch upon that in a future issue, it’s just a little weak at this moment.

 

Overall the X-Men Vs SHIELD story arc was a fun little romp.  Nothing ground breaking, but a fun story that looked great and read well. A shame about the colors in that final issue, but overall a good time.

 

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Eisners X Image part 1: Sex Criminals

The Eisners are kinda like the Academy Awards of comics, but the key difference is that I kind of care about them (Suck it Oscar!) . Image, a company whose output I’ve been loving for the last few years, was nominated for 20 awards, including 4 out of the 5 best on going series noms (that 5th man? Marvel’s Hawkguy, thus proving I am right about everything!)

Since I’ve already recently spoken about Rat Queens in great detail, I figured I’d spend some time over the next few weeks preaching about some other fantastic Eisner nominated series. So if you wanted to pick up East of West, Saga, Sex Criminals or Pretty Deadly but were waiting for the Chris Troy nod of approval, you’re in luck. We’re starting this thing off with a personal favorite of mine, Sex Criminals, nominated for best new series, best continuing series, and a best writer nod for Matt Fraction! So now that I’ve knocked off 150 word, let’s get to the Brimp,.er,…Sex Crim talk, focusing on the recently released first volume of the hit series!

sex-criminals-vol-01-releasesSex Criminals volume 1 

Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

Image $9.99

+5 to me for not starting this discussion off with “Let’s talk about Sex Criminals baby“. Proud of myself for the restraint shown there, great hustle Chris.

As a dude who reads A LOT of Marvel on a weekly basis, I can confidentially say there’s not a lot of things the publisher offers that aren’t related to dudes in costumes punching each other. And even if we include stuff like the MAX titles, not a lot of their comics, nor DC’s, actually cover topics like sex and dating without tossing in a Wolverine or Deadpool somewhere. Those topics are SEVERELY overlooked in comics, and if they are, it’s usually not in the best or adult manner.

1600d25dc8012d796418a60fd6061011Which is one of the best things about Sex Criminals It’s an earnest and hilarious look at the world of dating and  relationships (as well as sexy times). Sure the main characters freeze time every time they climax to rob banks (hence the title), BUT their relationship is depicted in a super realistic and enjoyable manner  thanks to creators Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky.

I’ve spoken highly of Fraction in the past, as I am a big fan of his clever dialogue and his ability to write flawed, all too human characters (see Hawkeye, Iron Man, Casanova). But I honestly feel that Sex Criminals works as well as it does thanks to Chip Zdarsky’s visuals. His cartoonist background (or is that background as a cartoonist? My grammar is shit folks) helps makes Sex Criminals stand out on the shelves, as his characters actually look human.  All different body types inhibit the semi-realistic world Fraction and Zdarsky created, which again, acknowledges the human element of this book that really won me over. And because they’re so human, it only makes them THAT much more easier to relate to, and helps sell the humor with some really well drawn facial expressions and body language. It’s also use of colors and special effects ( or whatever the correct term of lightening is for comics, again I am GREAT at this!) is really interesting, and only helps to improve the visuals.

sDEAqnYThe humor, by the way, is phenomenal. While R-rated sex comedies usually do well in the box office, there was little to no comics alternative prior to Sex Criminals, at least at the scale of recognition  and relevance Image, Fraction and Zdarsky can offer. Some of it is quite vulgar, some of it surprisingly dark, but a lot of it works because it’s sometime we can all relate to. That and the panels are crammed with hidden jokes and easter eggs, like Sexual Gary, who’s due for his own t shirt this summer!

It’s also one of the first comics to offer a musical sans actual music, which is impressive and hilarious. I’ve included a page from it to the left as evidence.

sexcriminals01-21If you’ve chosen to go the trade route over the singles, be warned that you’ll be missing out on some hilarious recaps and an amazing letter’s page, which I believe is being published separately later this year. You do get some extras though, like a collection of variant covers and some content that you have to see for yourself to understand/believe.

In a country where sexual education is lacking at best, Sex Criminals does a lot to be educational as well as sex positive. Again, it’s something so new and refreshing that you have to respect if even if you don’t like it. Easily one of my favorite books out there today, Sex Criminals is a title worthy of the hype. Pick it up immediately and see how right I am about that. #humblebrimp

– Chris Troy doesn’t actually profit from Sex Criminals sales, but he’ll praise it like he does. Find him on twitter @theanarchris

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics : Uncanny Sex Marvels

Once again, I am extremely too proud of that title.

Books what shipped this week that you may dig!:

Buffy the Vampire Slays Season 10 #1

Witcher #1

Animal Man #29

Superman Unchained #6

Wonder Woman #29

American Vampire Second Cycle #1

Bad Ass #3

Samurai Jack #6

Fuse #2

Lazarus #7

Rocket Girl #4

Daredevil Vol 4 #1

Iron Man #23.Now

Thor God of Thunder #20

Adventure Time #26

Sixth Gun #39

WWE Superstars #3

Shadowman #15

X-O Manowar #23

REVIEWS!

 

 

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_19.NOW_TextlessUncanny X-Men 19.NOW

Brian Michael Bendis/ Chris Bachalo/ Tim Townsend

Marvel $3.99

FACT: That pet variant is both frightening and terrifying, stay the fresh hell away from it.

It’s UMX Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. (part 1), despite the fact that neither group appear on panel together at any given point. THAT BENDIS DECOMPRESSION LYFE Y’ALL!

What we get is the reveal of Dazzler’s fate (it’s super icky!), S.H.I.E.L.D. grilling a former X-man, and Scott’s team versus a whole bunch of new Sentinels! Which is still a fun read, don’t get me wrong, but has nothing to do with that cover. Chris Bachalo and his army of inkers are all in fine form, with some really cool Sentinel redesigns, some sick looking spells from Magik, and what is probably an intentional horrible new costume for Goldballs. Yes he’s a thing. Yes, that name is definitely intentionally horrible.

Bendis and company don’t do anything ground-breaking with this issue, but they seem to be setting up a fun little story that will hopefully wrap up several yet to be addressed plot points the book has set up in it’s first year. It’s off to a good start, I just hope it delivers, as this book has been on a hot streak as of late and I’d hate to see it end with this arc.

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-10.09.55-PM-424x400Sex Criminals #5

Matt Fraction/Chip Zdarsky

Image, $3.50

This issue starts off with a MATURE READERS ONLY recap poem. And with that, I officially forgive Matt and Chip for the delays the book has been facing.

Issue 5 officially wraps up the first volume of Sex Crim, changing the book’s status quo a bit. Nothing too big though, as this book is called Sex Criminals for a reason after all.

Also the whole “pooping in the plant thing” is explained, which I was surprised that it would be at all. Had it pegged as a one-note gag at best, but there’s a deeper meaning behind it. “Deeper” is a relative term by the way.

Something I really like about Sex Crim is that is requires re-reads. These are due to Chip Zdarsky putting a ton of work into his panels, and hiding all sorts of disgusting and awesome jokes everywhere. Do they further the narrative? No. Did I laugh out loud several times reading this issue? Yes. Maus this book ain’t, and it never claimed to be. Issue 5 feels a little slow in terms of development, but it’s definitely a book worth buying. The hiatus until June may kill me (HYPERBOLE!)

portrait_incredible (1)Captain Marvel #2

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

On paper, this opening pages of Ms Marvel sound like a horror book. A mysterious fog blows into Jersey City and a young girl becomes a shape shifting freak as black helicopters circle Manhattan. It’s not until a transformation gag kicks in 4 pages deep does the book remind us this is a spandex affair.

That’s not a bad thing by the way. After an incredibly strong debut issue, Wilson, Alphona and friends deliver a great follow up issue, as Kamala tries to figure out what exactly she’s turned into, and springs into action for the first time. Also family drama. It’s an fun read, with some really clever use of faith interwoven into the narrative. Plus some “be careful for what you wish for” type stuff, going back to my opening statement about how this book feels kind of feels like a horror title in the beginning.

With gorgeous visuals from Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring and some incredibly endearing dialogue from G. Willow Wilson (and a sharp cover by Jamie McKelve), Ms Marvel is shaping up to be a can’t miss title from the House of Ideas.  With Saga on hiatus on May, this may be THE book to be reading in 2014.

 

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Troy’s Toys, But With Comics- The Sexy Start of the New Year

So the Image Expo 2014 has come and gone and man, screw them. I have a limited budget for comics stuff because living in  New York isn’t cheap, and they go and announce like 3 or 4 books I don’t have the budget for, but from creators I REALLY like. So that sucks for my bank account, but great for me…..spiritually I suppose? I dunno, but if you want to get caught up on what went down, go check our friends at Bleeding Cool and Comics Alliance for details, interviews and pictures.

Now that the holidays (and MAGfest 2014, wooo) has passed, comics have began shipping normally once again. Which means no more waxing poetically over books I really liked in 2013, and back to discussing new comics.

sex-criminals-4-web-72Sex Criminals #4

Matt Fraction/Chip Zdarsky

Image, $3.50, 20 pages, plus letters from pervs

Haha, J/K, I’m just going to talk more about Matt Fraction comics to start off the year!

I want to say this is the issue where guff gets real, but this also a comic where Chip Zdarsky draws a pizza vagina in the letters section. Another fine reason as to why this book is Time’s Comic Book of 2013.

sex-criminals1-fourth-printingBut yeah, shit gets real in this surprising dense 4th issue. Fraction and Zdarsky get a lot done in the span of 20 pages, and not all of it are butt sex jokes and funny named pornos. I mean yeah, those are there, but there are also times of serious business too. It’s a lot more like the first issue where tragedy and humor are perfectly mixed, only there’s more drama and action ( like there was any shortage of that in this book, HIYYOOOOOO) this time around. And hey, we even get some questions answered! And no worries, the intro page remains hilarious (good luck trying to read that one out loud), and the letter page….well like I said, pizza vagina, so the same as usual.

Sex Criminals was one of the most refreshing reads of 2013, also known as the year of Luigi,  and it starts off 2014 strong. I’m super excited for the conclusion of the first arc next month, and you all can look forward to me suffering from withdrawal as the book goes on a brief hiatus after that.

Also hey, we got that 4th printing cover in stock (pictured above), which I’m still laughing about. There’s also the upcoming 4th printing, but for a 2nd time cover coming in a few weeks, because people are dumb and didn’t pre-order this book the first time around, or just really like odd-photoshopped covers. I’m obviously in the later category.

 

STK629100All New Marvel Now Point One

A lot of people. No serious, a lot of people worked on this comic, look at the credits page, it’s the last page in the book and see how right I am!

Marvel, $5.99, 52 pages

Marvel did one of these last year that I didn’t care much for, with the exception of the Mike Allred Ant-Man story ….written by Matt Fraction (whomp whomp whompppp).

Marvel was definitely aiming for the Tumblr crowd with this book, which is fine, because it’s still good without pandering for “Likes”/”Faves”/”Reblogs”.  My personal highlight is the G. Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona Ms. Marvel story. While the character was announced a few months back, the only appearance she’s made so far was at the end of the the first volume of the current Captain Marvel book. Here we get to see what she’s made of, and it’s a very fun read, as it’s a fresh take on the super powered teenager story, that’s a tad self aware, careful not to cater to stereotypes, and shows some cool uses of the lead’s power set. Additional props to Ian Herring’s colors which really make the story pop.

Allred’s back this year, with Dan Slott with a Silver Surfer story that’s all sorts of great. Mike Allred is at his best when he’s channeling Jack Kirby, so seeing him take to the cosmos is a real delight for me. Also it’s been some time since I’ve seen Dan Slott write something not Spider-Man-related, so seeing him flex those muscles again is fun. And speaking of good looking books, Phil Noto’s Black Widow story is a visual tour de force. Nate Edmondson and Clayton Cowles are great on words and colors, don’t get me wrong, but this story is Noto’s show, and he excels are delivering some fantastic visuals. The  Al Ewing/Lee Garbett Loki story that bookends this title is fun and the James Robinson/Steve Pugh All New Invaders story shows potential. The Avengers story wasn’t that bad either, but I’ve seen better from Rags Morale, although Nick Spencer delivers on the script end. . But for $7 bucks, I can’t complain, as the title served it’s purpose. It’s successfully gotten me excited about a bunch of titles Marvel’s publishing, although I’ll probably only be only buying one of them monthly.

Alright I talked about 2 comics for a long time today. I’ll be back to review the first volume of The Wake real soon!

 

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

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

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

sex-criminals1-fourth-printing3) Sex Criminals

Matt Fraction/Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

172778002) Hawkeye

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: The one where I met Warren Ellis

photo (8)First and foremost, a big thank you to Warren Ellis for coming out to past Friday (as seen here with my friend Sean). It was the first time in FOREVER since he’s had a signing in NYC, and it was super-great to meet one of my favorite writers. I picked up his Avengers OGN too , so expect to see a review on that quite soon, but today shall be dedicated to what dropped this past Wednesday.

 

 

xme14Uncanny X-men #14

Brian Michael Bendis/ Chris Bachalo

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

Let’s start off this review by noting that the solicit for this issue has nothing to do with what was actually published. And that’s a great thing because this is by far the best issue of Brian Bendis’ run on Uncanny X-men to date. The plot focuses on Benjamin Deeds, one of the new mutants to pop up post-AvX, and Emma Frost, who decides to take the young male under his wing.

At first this book feels like Bendis and Chris Bachalo riffing on “The Graduate”, but that’s slowly disproven once the pair hit up Atlantic City and hijinks ensue. Bendis is on-point with this issue, as we get a ton of development with young Benjamin, fleshing out one of the newest X-men, in addition to getting to see a side of Emma Frost we haven’t gotten to seen in awhile. Bachalo and his plethora of inkers are great as usual, and the training montage in the beginning of the book looks fantastic. This was a strong month for what’s usually the weaker of the 2 Bendis X-books, and I hope this sort of quality sticks around.

Sex Criminals #3

sexcriminals3-coverMatt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky

Image, $3.50, 20 pages

I always feel a little weird when googling Sex Criminals images….

The third issue of Fraction/Zdarsky’s mature readers only series continues to be a laugh riot from cover to cover, which is exactly what I need from this book. I don’t think there’s another book out there that actually makes me as excited to read both the recap page and the letter column like Sex Criminals does.  That’s not to say the rest of the book is a bore, because that’s not the case at all. Chip and Matt do a fantastic job of telling an all-too human story about sex and dating, despite the crazy time-freezing/sex police plot elements.

Anyone familiar with Fraction’s Casanova series knows that the dude loves music and that sort of passion sometimes bleeds into the narrative. It happens twice in this issue of Sex Criminals, the 2nd time leading to the comics musical number of the year. It’s hilarious and even a little bit sexy thanks to Zdarsky’s amazing art.

I’d probably go as far as to claim Sex Criminals is probably the most emotional comic not called Saga being published these days. This is the comic perfect for 2013, combining indie comic style with mainstream presentation and hype. It’s also probably my favorite book being published thanks to this amazing 3rd issue, so there’s that.

Daredevil  #33

 

Mark Waid/Chris Samnee/Jason Copland

 

$2.99, Marvel, 20 pages

 

Daredevil_33_CoverDaredevil has been going strong for awhile, so when something slips up, it hits twice as hard. Jason Copland, who’s not a bad artist, is certainly not on the same level as Chris Samnee, the guy he’s filling in for, and it certainly shows in this issue. The art doesn’t feel as polished as his work on “Kill All Monsters”, feeling rough and unfinished in some parts. To be fair, it may not be all on Copland, and there could be editorial things factoring in here.

That being said, Mark Waid still continues to be the modern legend we all know him as. The book’s script is fine, and it raises a question or two about the mental state of this post-Shadowland Daredevil, which has been an on and off again subplot ever since Waid relaunched the series.

Again, this isn’t a bad issue, but I’ve been spoiled by the bar Waid, Samnee and Javier Rodriguez have set. So unless you’re a Mike Allred level talent filling in, I’m bound to be disappointed when that level isn’t met.

Longshot_Saves_the_Marvel_Universe_Vol_1_2_TextlessLongshot Saves the Marvel Universe

Christopher Hastings/Jacopo Caramagna

Marvel, $2.99, 20 pages

Really wish I knew what was up with my borders getting all messed up with this article.

The 2nd issue of Longshot’s mini, raises the stakes a bit, and it way more action packed than issue 1. Hastings being good at writing cool action pieces is no surprise, given what’s happened over the years with Doctor McNinja, and the book continues to deliver with the trademark over the top humor he’s know for. Caramamagna’s visuals are a treat too, as his art continues to be very fluid, and animated. It’s great to see a self-contained, light-hearted mini series not tied into major events coming out from Marvel, something that’s becoming rarer and rarer over the years.   It’s definitely worth reading if you want a fun read without having to know every bit of detail of a character.

 

 

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Here I have bought some comics. A lot of comics actually.

All heat, no jokes, once again y’all!

Wolverine_and_the_X-Men_Vol_1_37Wolverine and the X-men #37

Jason Aaron/ Giuseppe Camuncoli/ Andrew Currie

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

Chapter 9 of the Battle of Atom crossover is such a pain to review on some level. On the script end of things, it’s a fine book, as Aaron delivers on several fronts. If I was discussing this book on the quality of it’s script alone, I’d say it was fantastic. But visually this art in this issue isn’t very good. The book credits Camuncoli as the penciller, and Currie as the finisher. What that means exactly, I don’t know, but it results in some less than great visuals when all is said and done. The art seems very rushed, which is unfortunate, because this event has been fantastic so far in that department, and it seem odd that Camuncoli, a veteran of the 2x a month shipping Spider-books, couldn’t deliver. Because man, this is an ugly book  and it rarely, if ever, matches the standard of Aaron’s script. Hopefully this is more of a mistep than an indication of what the final chapter will be like, because it would suck and blow if the final chapter of this event was as poorly drawn as this one was.

sex-criminals

Sex Criminals #2

Matt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky

Image, $3.50, 20 pages

When the first issue of #SEXCRIMINALS dropped, I thought it was a very good issue, but it was not at all what I expecting given the contents of the creator’s tweets. It was great, but more 16 Candles than the 40 Year Old Virgin, which I did not see coming. Issue #2 is probably the funniest and vulgar comic I’ve read in years, starting from a page to page recap on the first page to a very candid and HILARIOUS letter page, ending with a picture of Fraction getting a nipple pierce in Toronto sex club. This book is not afraid to be an adult comic, and it’s all the better for it. Fraction writes 2 very human leads with a strange and funny power and Chip Zdarsky’s visual gags are gut-busting. His day job as a Canadian magazine/newspaper (I forget) cartoonish is on full display here, and the product is better for it. This was easily the best book I read this week, and I can’t recommend Sex Criminals enough if you’re A) 17 or older B) Not easily offended C) A little bit of a pervert.

comics-velvet-1Velvet #1

Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting

Image, $3.50, 20 pages

Before I discuss my problem with Velvet, let start by saying how GREAT this book looks. Steve Epting’s, with Elizabeth Breitweiser on colors, art is some next level stuff, as Velvet is easily one of the best looking comics in an already strong stable of artists over at Image. That being said, the Brubaker-snob in me feels this script is VERY by the books, especially after reading his other excellent creator owned series Fatale, and his modern-classic run on Captain America. While it’s an original concept, it feels a bit like an unused Black Widow script at times.  Of course your enjoyment may vary, because you may not be a Bru-snob like myself. And it’s by no means a bad comic. I’m just a little let down is all, and maybe a  little spoiled by Fatale. It’s definitely work a look if you’re a Brubaker/espionage fan though, even with a ton of great Image books already flooding the market.

dd32_bgDaredevil #32

Mark Waid/ Chris Samnee

Marvel, $2.99, 20 pages

Speaking of books that are hard to review, here’s Daredevil. Is Mark Waid one of the best writer still working in the industry? Yup. Is Chris Samnee somehow doing new things with his art, reaching Bruce Timm’s level of quality in some panels/pages. Hell, even the sound effects are used cleverly (not sure if that’s Samnee or VC’s Joe Carmagna) and are super fun. Again, this is brief, but that’s because this book remains flawless. Unless you hate great comics, y’all need to be reading Daredevil. I’m tired of trying to come up with new ways of trying to say how great this book is.

4pd1logoPretty Deadly #1

Kelly Sue Deconnick/ Emma Rios

Image, $3.50, 20 pages

As anyone whose read this column before can tell you, I’ve never had a problem admitting the fact that I’m a HUGE fan of Kelly Sue Deconnick’s writing. AND DAMN, KSD’s creator owned book’s debut comes out swinging, with Emma Rios’ best work to date, making this book a visual tour-de-force. A fantasy-western with a female lead, Pretty Deadly’s debut may not exactly be the most straightforward read, but it’s the one of the best look books to debut this year. Rios’ work is both dynamic and trippy, and it’s fun just to stare at her panel work and layouts in this book without reading any dialogue. Her character designs are pretty great, and it’s a shame that we don’t see our lead until the final page of this issue, because Ginny’s possibly the coolest new character of 2013 I.M.O, at least on a visual level.

KSD’s script is sharp, even if it’s a little abstract at time. Her work here is VERY different from her Captain Marvel scripts, aside from the fact that both books have some kick ass female leads. But it’s still fantastic, making Pretty Deadly a must read, especially with Jordie Bellaire’s colors completely the package, making this one of the best looking takes on the wild west in some time. In a white-male heavy industry, books like Pretty Deadly are rare , but definitely needed and welcomed. Arguably one of most important launches of the fall, and it delivers. Buy on sight, assuming it’s still in stock.

Tune in next time for…THE END OF BATTLE OF ATOM! SAGA! AND BECAUSE WE ALL DEMANDED IT, THE RETURN OF NEIL GAIMAN’S SANDMAN!

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Warren Ellis Fantastic Four #1

Since FF#1 came out this week I figured why not tell you about Warren Ellis’ design your own Fantastic Four #1 cover challenge.  Well I guess there’s not much to it… Warren Ellis’ has an online thingie (bare with me I’m still new to this whole internet stuff) called Whitechapel where he interacts with fans in interesting ways, like this FF thing (no, not that FF Thing).

Here are a few personal favorites…

And how could I not love this beauty.

Thanks Warren for keeping things awesome, why don’t you all buy Nextwave to show him your appreciation.

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