Tagged: francesco francavilla

Troy’s Toy, but with Comics: Afterlife Saga

LAST WEEK’S LATE REVIEW:

Secret-Avengers-2014-5Secret Avengers #5

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

First and foremost, that cover is dope. Tradd Moore’s covers for this series have pretty top-notch so far, but when you toss in ammo crate in goat form with a Wolverine-fish, you get points in my book.

That being said, this book isn’t as light in tone as the cover suggests. There’s a murder mystery aboard the Helicarrier, and one of the Secret Avengers may be guilty. Also one of them may be getting a new super power while another one of them may be suffering from PTSD. There’s a ton of mistrust amongst the team, and this may not end well for S.H.I.E.L.D. once everything is said and done.

Issue 5 is particularly dark, but also incredibly smart. There’s a conversation between Maria Hill and M.O.D.O.K. that shows that Ales Kot isn’t afraid to draw parallels to the current state of the US Military and some of the ugliness that they can be capable of. It puts some blood on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hand, making the organization a little more grey and grounded than it’s use to.

So yeah, this issue of Secret Avengers isn’t exactly a feel good issue, but it successfully builds tension and leads to interesting character interactions. Well worth the $4.

saga_21Saga #21

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

Team Saga won a number of Eisners again this past Friday, much to the surprise of no one. Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples have yet to disappoint with this title,  and all acclaim given has definitely been earn.

That being said, this new issue of Saga isn’t the most upbeat of issues. There’s a great moment with Hazel, and some sexy times, but for the most part, it’s all building up for some bad stuff. BKV and Staples have been carefully building to an event spoken on the final page of the first chapter of this arc, driving us, the readers insane. The first hints were given last issue, and here they’re expanded up further, making the turning of each page each more dramatic. There’s also a new element tossed in, which is definitely not going to end well for our lead couple.

But like a car wreck on a highway or NASCAR racing event, you can’t help  but watch. It’s done so well, and we already know how it ends, and it’s going to be terrible. But again, BKV and Staples are on top of their games and the end product is craft so well.

Ultimately Saga continues to be great but, but ultimately one that’s going to send me to my grave early, weeeeeeeee!

 

Sabrina02Afterlife with Archie #6

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa/Francesco Francavilla

Archie $2.99

Spoilers: This was not the happiest of weeks for comics

A lot of comics fall into the habit of being cliche and predictable. You can see the outcome early  in an arc, the status quo is maintained, no one ever stays dead, etc.

Afterlife with Archie is not that book. It is the book that plays a zombie outbreak in Riverdale straight and has lead to some amazing moments. This issue is a done in one focused on Sabrina, the teenage witch. Sabrina is partially responsible for this mess, has been exiled from our realm, and wakes up in a nice house with padded walls.

And the final 2 pages of this story is amazing. There’s a huge twist that’s definitely setting up something big down the road in AwA and Francesco Francavilla draws the hell out of it. And the twist itself is brilliant. You can kind of see it coming if you’re familiar with a partial horror writer, but  it doesn’t take away from the final reveal, especially with how good it looks.

There’s also a preview of a Sabrina solo book by Aguirre-Sacasa, which looks neat as well. It’s weird to see a spin off of a book that’s only six issues deep, but it makes sense once you read everything.

Afterlife with Archie continues to impress, and this is arguable the best looking comic of the year so far. Buy volume 1, and the pick up this issue immediately if you want to be caught up with one of the best horror books on the stands.

 

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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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TRY SOMETHING NEW CHAPTER 6: Have Won Their First Victory.

So one of my co-workers today told me that they have no idea what it means when I write “RIYL” in my column. I guess I just thought that was something everyone knew. Seems not to be the case. This is like when I try and talk to my friends about… most of the things I try and talk to my friends about really. Blank stares. A sea of blank stares. An endless, bottomless, oppressive ocean of blank stares. Now I put my actual readership of this column at about 8 people split between the blog and the newsletter. One of those people is my dad for some reason. One is Forbidden Planet’s tech-wizard/dancing machine Tyler, who gently informed me “I only read it because I have to.” Then he thoughtfully added, “Stop mentioning me in your column.” No. Anyway, I now wonder if any of my 6 other readers have understood why every book recommendation ends with a series of letters and a list of other books. Is my writing that disjointed that when I lapse into code and nonsense nobody bats an eye? Either way RIYL stands for “Recommended If You Like.” It’s an acronym. TRY SOMETHING NEW has just taken it’s first step towards becoming educationalish.

Fun Fact: The word “acronym” is, in fact, an acronym. What is a.c.r.o.n.y.m. an a.c.r.o.n.y.m. for? Well you will have to use g.o.o.g.l.e. to find out the answer to that one. On with the show!

Bionic Man Vs Bionic Woman #1

BIONIC MAN VS. BIONIC WOMAN #1. I don’t know anything about this book. Didn’t read it. Didn’t read the BIONIC WOMAN comics that came before it. Didn’t read the BIONIC MAN comics that came before it. Never watched the TV shows those comics are based on. So why am I recommending this book? It was written by a man named Keith Champagne. That is the best, most badass name in all of comics. This guy must get invited to every party in the world. People probably offer him money to sleep with them. I bet Keith Champagne could kill a man on live tv and never be arrested. I bet he owns a submarine. He probably wouldn’t need a spacesuit on the moon. I feel like I got pregnant just talking about him. You know, I used to think Dennis Hopeless was the best name in comics. Boy was I wrong. Go buy Keith Champagne’s book so he gets more writing gigs and we can talk about him more.

R.I.Y.L: I have no idea. Running in slow motion? Track suits? People with robot parts? Men and women fighting each other? No. Recommended if you like Keith Champagne. R.I.Y.L.K.C.

Black Beetle #1 (of 4)

BLACK BEETLE: NO WAY OUT #1 is out this week. Why are there two different comics with color coded beetles as the main character? Because humans as a species are all really close to running out of ideas. That doesn’t change the fact that Black Beetle is a very fun new series from superstar artist and sometimes writer Francesco Francavilla. With an art style that is most at home doing stylish and action packed noir stores, Mr. Francavilla has written a character that easily plays to his strengths. This pulp detective/superhero character has appeared in a few short stories in DARK HORSE PRESENTS that were collected as BLACK BEETLE #0, but now he heads out on his first longer case. If you have no exposure to this Black Beetle yet No Way Out #1 is a great place to jump on. Keith Champagne would want you to.

RIYL: Pulp stuff like THE SHADOW, THE ROCKETEER, or THE SPIDER, new superheroes who feel like old superheroes.

Harbinger (Ongoing) TP VOL 01 Omega Rising

HARBINGER vol 1. OMEGA RISING. I am a big supporter of Valiant. They took a bunch of dead properties that only a few diehard fans cared about and brought them back to life in a big way last year. Rather than going out and spending a ton of money on big names who would do rush jobs on their properties, Valiant spent wisely. They got not the biggest names, but some of the best names, to thoughtfully and carefully bring their books to life. ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, X-O MANOWAR, & BLOODSHOT were some of the best superhero titles released last year, with writers like Fred Van Lente (HERCULES, COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS), Robert Venditti (SURROGATES, THE HOMELAND DIRECTIVE), Duane Swierczynski (PUNISHER, CABLE), (if they were smart they would hire Keith Champagne) making a smart and coherent universe for these characters. Fun, nice looking, and a good starting points without alienating old fans, the relaunch was well planned across the board. But the book that got me most excited, the book that shot my interest through the roof, was HARBINGER. Like a dark and cynical, yet compassionate take on the X-Men, Harbinger is the story of a superpowered teen who must learn to control his powers while others seek to use him for their own gains. This idea should be intriguing for any fan of capes comics, but I cared because Valiant went out and hired Joshua Dysart. Far from a household name but he should be, Mr. Dysart is probably best known for his run on SWAMP THING or writing the Neil Young comic that I didn’t read. But Mr. Dysart also wrote my favorite comic of the last 5 years, one of my favorite stories of all time actually, UNKNOWN SOLDIER. If you haven’t read UNKNOWN SOLDIER you are missing out on one of the great graphic narratives of our lifetime. I use a lot of hyperbole in this column but I kind of think that last sentence was true. It is hard for me to put into words how compelling and beautiful UNKNOWN SOLDIER is. HARBINGER, while no UNKNOWN SOLIDER, is however one of the best superhero setups we have seen in a long time and a reason to visit comic shops every month. Valiant are continuing their wonderful commitment to get people excited about their books by making this collection of the first 5 issues only $10. They are challenging you not to read it, daring you to continue to read the same old stuff when there is newer, better, and cheaper. Don’t let Valiant make you look like an idiot. Buy HARBINGER vol. 1 today. Or this week at least.

RIYL: The more personal X-MEN stories, MORNING GLORIES, or RISING STARS.

One Trick Rip Off Deep Cuts HC

ONE TRICK RIP-OFF. Paul Pope is one of those artists who has reached a level of success which means he doesn’t have to put out a lot of work and it only increases peoples excitement. There are a few folks operating in this class now; Geoff Darrow, Ashley Wood, Darwyn Cooke, Charles Burns, folks like that. Paul Pope definitely leads the pack though. Sure they do things here and there from time to time, a shirt, a magazine cover, a short story, but a new book is a cause for serious celebration and excitement. Well Paul Pope has a new book this week. ONE TRICK RIP-OFF. And here’s the thing. It’s not even a new book and I am disturbingly excited. Originally it was published as short stories in DARK HORSE PRESENTS and later collected in the mid 90’s, but this is the first time this story has been printed in color, and the first time it has been available at an affordable price in more than a decade. Containing the whole story, plus over 150 pages of other shorts, art, and rarities from Mr. Pope, this book is a no-brainer for people who want to study the work of one of the pioneers of modern comic visuals. Mr. Pope is a true badass in the comics world today and he rarely sticks his head out long enough for us to get work from him. Also, not as cool a name as Keith Champagne, but Paul Pope is a pretty awesome guy name. Grab this one while you can.

R.I.Y.L: Great art that is also really cool. Cooler than you or me.

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