Tagged: grayson

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl & The Birds of Prey #1

Nightwing #3 also shipped this week, and it’s a pretty good comic that features Barbara Gordon. However, so did B&BOP #1, which offers me MUCH more to talk about.

B013-Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-Cover-214dcBatgirl & the Birds of Prey #1

Julie and Shawna Benson, Claire Row, Allen Passalaqua, Steven Wands

DC $2.99

It’s rare that I get to say that I have a guilty pleasure comic. Most of the comics I pull are critical darlings, or massive fan favorites. Then we have Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, which not only has a trio of character I like, but also a trio of female creators attached to the book. Should be a slam dunk for me right? No, the art is often ugly, and the dialogue is still WAY too over dramatic. Yet I can’t stop reading this book.

Birds of Prey #1 is the every cliche first meeting turn fight turn team up we’ve all come to expect from super hero books (Nightwing even chimes in on in, turning it into a running gag). Batgirl and Black Canary don’t trust Huntress, who Babs finally pieces together is Dick Grayson’s old spy partner/boss, but they come to terms with her so they can figure out who this new Oracle is. Unfortunately for our heroes, this new Oracle has a Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-3plan, and this plan is SNAKE THEMED VILLAINS. Between this and the aforementioned Nightwing, it seems DC Rebirth is actually editorial ways of forcing BIG SNAKE onto the populace, and  I am okay with this.

I don’t want to crap on Claire Row‘s art, but there are some really questionable panels in this book. Barbara Gordon looks fine without her cowl on, but once it’s on, the shape of her head can only be described as “potato-esque”. Also there’s several instances where it looks like character’s teeth are trying to escape their mouths. With Roe as the inker and the pencilier, it leaves very little room for colorists Allen Passalaqua to make any improvements in this book. Their contributions are excellent, and its a shame that the line art he’s coloring isn’t better.

And like I said above, a lot of the dialogue from is bad, Julie and Shawna Benson as there’s a few instances where the characters argue with each other via screaming their motivations. Black Canary is often the voice of reasons and the only character who sounds remotely human. They do a fine job of showing that this new Oracle has gotten under Bab’s skin, so her acting slightly out of character at times is fine. But their Huntress spits Batgirl-and-the-Birds-of-Prey-1-7out cliche tough guy line after line to the point where it’s hilarious more than anything.

But that being said, I can’t stop buying and reading this book. It’s heavily flawed, but also crazy fun. While the art isn’t so hot in some areas, it’s more than serviceable in others, especially when it comes to the Babs and Canary versus Helena fight. And while the dialogue is so bad it’s good, the script itself and plot are pretty solid. So while there’s arguable better cape books on the stands, this is THE MOST CW DC book on the market, which means I MUST READ IT, despite my constant avoidance of Arrow.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Grayson Annual #3

STL008068.jpg.square-true_maxheight-285_size-285Grayson Annual #3

Jackson Lanzing, Colin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox, Natasha Alterici, Christian Duce, Mat Lopes, Flaviano, ,Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor

DC $4.99

Hey look your chum Chris is back! Hello pretend internet friends, I missed playing Overwatch you too!

Also back this week is Richard Grayson, as his time as a spy finally comes to an end with Grayson Annual #3. Set in an unspecific time in Grayson’s publication history, this annual sees the likes of John Constantine, Harley Quinn, Azarel, Green Lantern Simon Baz, and Jim Corgan gather to figure out who the mysterious Agent 37 is. Spoilers, it’s Grayson-Annual-3-3-600x462Dick Grayson.

Not unlike the Gotham Academy Yearbook arc and Batgirl #50 , Grayson Annual 3 is an anthology comic that has regular replacement series writers  Jackson Lanzing and Colin Kelly and replacement artist Roge Antonio joined by an array of newer talent that focuses on a specific character. Natasha Alterici draws and colors the John Constantine tale, which sees the duo deals with Vampires with far more sexy imagery than I was excepting. Christian Duce and Mat Lopes handle art duty the Azarel story, which fits nicely into the events of Batman and Robin eternal. Flavario draws and colors the Harley Quinn portion, and Javier Fernandez & Chris Sotomayor  closes things out with the Simon Baz portion of the book. Jeromy Cox, who I believe colored all of Grayson, returns as well, and for the most part is solid, but makes a relatively big mistake by miscoloring Harley Quinn.

Kelly and Lanzing did an excellent job of mimicking the tone of Tim Seeley and Tom King established in the regular series, but were tasked with getting a lot done in the span of 3 issues. Here they’re given some more room to breathe, and tell an extremely fun done and one that does the series justice. With Alterici, they’re allowed to get sexy with the undead CmILJ2dWkAgpAEvand John Constantine. As someone who generally dislikes it when John interacts with the spandex side of DCU, I had a blast with him and Dick trading quips, and John getting hot and bothered. With the Azarel story, the writers remind us that Grayson is good dude even as a spy, and they handle the more stoic aspects of Azarel quite well. The Harley Quinn section is my favorite, as Flavario reminds me a lot of Babs Tarr’s style, which lends itself well to a story co-starring Harley, who steals nearly every scene she’s in. The Baz story is solid, as Fernandez does a good job blending cosmic elements with the more street level aspects you get from a Bat book.

Grayson #3 doesn’t do anything to improve the relatively rushed ending of Grayson, but it allows the writers and Roge Antonio to give themselves a proper send off.  It’s an extremely clever script that does the many aspects of the character justice, and ends on a super sweet note. I wished it would have dropped before the DC Rebirth one-shot, but that doesn’t take away from the experience. Grayson 3# is a GREAT celebration of Dick Grayson, and is an impressive comic for a team that was brought in relatively last minute.  Anyone who enjoyed Grayson and needs a Dick fix (phrasing) before that Nightwing Rebirth one shot needs to pick up this comic sooner rather than later.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris Comics: Putting The New 52 to rest with Grayson and Batgirl

Grayson-20Batgirl-52-variant-cover-by-Babs-TarrGrayson #20

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

Batgirl #52

Brenden Fletcher, Elenora Carline, Minkyu Jung, Serge Lapointe, Steve Wands

DC $2.99

Now that DC Rebirth is up and running, May sees the end of several DC titles before they get rebranded and relaunched with new creative teams. Which means both Batgirl and Grayson have come to an end, which is a shame.

Batgirl #52 wraps up the Brenden Fletcher-verse crossover, and sets up the next chapter of Barbara Gordon’s life for the creative team of Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque. Grayson #20 ends Dick’s run as a spy, puts the genie back in the bottle in regards to his secret identity, and gets him back in the Nightwing costume in time for Tim Seeley‘s return to the character. Despite neither storylines wrapping up with their original creative teams attached (Fletcher on Batgirl being the exception), both stories wrap up nicely, with only a few missteps.

As I’ve said several times in the past, Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly read exactly like image-117Tim Seeley and Tom King do on this book and that’s excellent. I’m sure they studied the notes left by those writers to a T, which I appreciate, especially when they were brought on the book so late in the game. Not only do they close out one of the most interesting status quos for Dick Grayson on an extremely high note, but they set things up for Helena Bertinelli’s role in the upcoming Batgirl and the Birds of Prey book flawlessly. And Roge Antonio’s art improves tenfold this issue, drawing an incredibly compelling action final fight scene between Grayson and Otto Netz for the bulk of the issue. He does a superb job of keeping in the spirit of the trippy art direction established by previous series artist Mikel Janin, while doing his own thing. Jeromy Cox has been fantastic on this title since issue one, and he’s just as great here. I HATE to see Grayson end, but man, this was a real solid ending by this team.

Batgirl #52 on the other hand, feels rushed, as there are a number of grammatical and spelling errors that plague this issue. The art from Elenora Carline & Minkyu Jung,  is okay, but there’s a lot of stiff posing and flat looking characters despite some excellent colors from Sergio Lapointe. Even Brenden Fletcher’s dialogue is extremely disappointing at times, reading more like a cheesy all ages comic more than the fresh and relevant to today’s audience stuff we as readers have been used to. Which is odd, given how good a solo Fletcher can be, as seen in Black Canary and Batgirl_52_01Gotham Academy.

I also find it odd to remove Barbara Gordon from her company so early in the game. I know WHY it needed to happen (new creative team and with a new MO), but to do 2 issues after the company’s up and running feels really out of place. It feel likes it was more than an editorial call rather than something Fletcher elected to do, although I have no evidence of such.

At the end of the day, we have 2 books I’m sad to see end, for entirely different reasons. With Grayson, it’s an end of an era that I really enjoyed, but know that the character’s in good hands. With Batgirl, it feels like the character is being forced into a more traditional role, rather than allowing her to exist in a status quo that very few, if any, female characters get to inhibit. I’ll be reading both characters once their reintroduced in Rebirth, although there’s no guarantee I’ll be sticking around for the long haul.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #51 & Grayson #19

STL001391Batgirl #51

Brenden Fletcher, Elenora Carlini, Minkyu Jung, Roger Robinson, Serge Lapointe

DC $3.99

I applaud what Brenden Fletcher did with this 51st issue of Batgirl. With Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart off the title and more or less done with DC Comics for the foreseeable future, Fletcher has 2 issues of comic to write before the new creative team takes over this summer. It appears he’s using these issues to do a low key crossover, using a plot line from the third Batgirl Annual he worked on to bring together the worlds of Batgirl, Black Canary and Gotham Academy. Aside from the slight fan service, Fletcher also has Barbara Gordon dealing with her new status quo, something he helped set up, which is a fun inverse of the super hero who also has to deal with running a company trope.

Oddly enough, having 3 artists on this book didn’t take away from my enjoyment on this book as much as you’d assume it would. Elenora Carlini & Minkyu Jung’s styles blend well together, channeling the same energy Stewart and Tarr brought to the book’s visuals. Roger Robinson is the odd man out here, with a style that’s less exaggerated and more traditional in a sense. His art isn’t bad per say, but it’s comparatively plain once stacked up against the other artists on the book. Serge Lapointe‘s colors are great as per usual, continuing to do some fantastic stuff on the Bat-books his colors.

Batgirl #51 is a fun read and feels like a cool little mini-event. The lack of Tarr and Stewart is felt, but if you’re a fan of the books Brenden Fletcher worked on during his time at DC, you’ll enjoy this issue.

GRAY-Cv19-6d216-7296dGrayson #19

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

The highest praise I can pay Grayson #19 is that if you told me that former writers Tim Seeley and Tom King wrote this issue, I would have believed you. Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly do a superb job and matching the tone set up by those 2 writers, making for an extremely fun read that sees Dick Grayson deal with a massive betrayal. It’s something that’s all too common in spy fiction, but because the creators involved are so talented, it comes off as a complete surprise.

Like the writers, artist Roge Antonio’s really steps up this issue and attempts to pay homage to the creators who came before him, His Dick Grayson may not be the prettiest, but Antonio excels at drawing some really solid action pieces, as well as getting a little trippy with the layouts at times. Having regular Grayson colorist Jeromy Cox color his art definitely helps with the experience, as his contributions really help set the mood and bring the art to life.

With next issue being the last, Grayson #19 ends with an encounter fans have been expecting/dreading. It’s a shame we already know who’s on this new Birds of Prey roster, because it definitely takes some of the suspense away from this encounter. But that’s on editorial/marketing, not the creators, so it’s hard to fault them. Regardless of quasi-spoilers, Grayson #19 is an thrilling comic, one that hopefully will be serviced by a fantastic ending next month.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #5 & Grayson #18

All-New-Hawkeye-5-2016-coverAll-New Hawkeye #5

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

It’s the penultimate issue of All-New Hawkeye! Which is a surprise to me, as I have no clue if this is the last time we’re going to see Clint and Kate in an on-going for a while or not. Yay Marvel Comics stealth cancellations!

All-New Hawkeye issue 5 sees Kate discovering the truth about her father in the past, while Clint makes an attempt to save the Project Communion kids in the present. Why this was solicited as Hawkeye vs Hawkeye (which the cover seems to imply as well) is beyond me. But we’re here to discuss the comic itself, not its marketing.

Ramon Perez & Ian Herring are SO GOOD on this book. As I said last review, I really like how Kate Bishop remains the only defined character in the flashbacks. But this issue sees Herring and Perez do something neat when Clint removes his hearing aid. The book goes from colored to black and white, symbolizing how isolated Hawkeye is without aid. It’s a nice way to show how deafness works, without stating the obvious. Sadly, I’m not feeling the flashback material all that much with issue 5. While the present day stuff definitely works for me, the Kate “origin” stuff seemed to dominate more of the issue, forcing the modern day material to be rushed.

All New Hawkeye #5 isn’t worst issue issue by this creative team, no, not by a long shot. But it’s best? Sadly no again. Wrapping up the series with the next issue may be for the best, and hopefully whoever inherits the Hawkeyes next will be able to tell some stories that don’t stall out as much.

Grayson_Vol_1-18_Cover-1_TeaserGrayson #18

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Geraldo Borges, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

So apparently 2 issues ago was the final issue of Grayson for the King/Seeley/Janin team. Which means this book is wrapping up with an entirely different creative team, because LOL DC COMICS. Granted Tim Seeley will be returning this summer to write Nightwing, it strikes me as odd to bring in an entirely new creative team to wrap us this book. I personally find it a bit insulting to readers who have become invested in the character because of the creative team, and it feels like DC Comics editorial thinks we as readers will buy the book because of the character/IP, not the talent behind it.

That being said, editors Rebecca Taylor & Mark Doyle usually does a solid enough job of finding guest creators for their books. Taking over writer duties from Seeley and King are  Jackon Lanzing &  Collin Kelly, who’s previous comics works I’m unfamiliar with. They definitely do a solid job of getting the tone of Grayson down, which is impressive given the fact that they have to juggle such a large cast. There’s not much done in terms of character development sadly, as this issue is heavy on the action and reveals. Still it could have been much worse, and the two writers manage to replicate the voices King and Seeley have established quite well.

Sadly, while the art by Roge Antonio & Geraldo Borges isn’t bad per say, it’s definitely not something to praise. I did enjoy the last few pages, which set up a cool new status quo for one of the supporting characters, but aside from that and a solid splash page, there lack of sexy and trippy we usually get from Mikel Janin is noticeable. Colorist Jeromy Cox does an admirable jobs with the colors, but he can only do so much with the art when it’s muddled and rush.

Grayson #18 is a comic that succeeds despite have the odds stacked against it. It’s just a shame I couldn’t go into this comic with the usual confidence I have when reading an issue of Grayson.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Grayson #17

tumblr_o17r1mABBV1r2kdz1o1_500Grayson #17

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Jeromy Cox

DC, $3.99

The previous issue of Grayson teased 2 characters I was very excited to see making an appearance in this title. The homies Tom King and Tim Seeley continue to do me right, as we get to see this pair of characters fight Dick Grayson this month, making for a excited and once again, very much pleased, Chris Troy.

Even with a great premise, Grayson #17 faces the problem of not being drawn by regular series artist Mikel Janin. He’s replace by veteran penciler Carmine Di Giandomenico, which is a artistic choice I’m more than okay with. His style is much Grayson05more suited for a comic that’s heavy on the action, as this is issue is,  and Carmine absolutely delivers on an issue that’s chock full fight scenes. While he doesn’t do sexy or psychedelic as well as Mikel, he manages to capture his ability to meet the writers demand to draw some creepy as hell creatures (Cthulhu Monkeys!) while fists and plot twists are thrown about. Di Giandomenico  manages to capture the brutality one would expect from an all-out spy fight, while drawing some lush and detailed scenery. My only complain is that since it’s the first time he’s working with colorist Jeromy Cox, the art doesn’t pop as much as it did under Janin. Hopefully that will change as the pair get more experience working togther. I believe Carmine is the artist on the title until this DC Rebirth stuff goes down and this book becomes Nightwing again (insert profanity filled rant here), which again, I’m fine with if this is what the book is going to look like for the next few months.

On the narrative end of things, Seeley and King continue to mix humor and drama incredibly well, making for a fun read. The pair do spy drama really well, which is no image-151surprise given King’s history with the C.I.A., so when this month’s plot twist drops, there’s some “Oomph!” to it. And I really dig how much fun they’re having with the title character. Espionage comics often risk being too serious and dry for my liking, but with Grayson, Dick’s an incredibly charming and fun lead, who isn’t afraid to crack wise here and there. It rings incredibly true to the character and his history, which is why I love I love the book so much. It remains a new direction and situation for a decades old character, while respecting and building upon his established history. Also again Dick Grayson vs. Frankenstein’s monster, what’s not to love about that.

Even with a new artist attached to the title, Grayson #17 is another strong issue in the series. The creative team continues to tell and intriguing tale using a number of obscure and forgotten DC characters, giving older DC fans plenty of Easter eggs to appreciate, without losing newer readers by making  too many deep cuts. It’s a spy comic that invites readers to laugh along with the tropes the genre has created, while giving them a incredibly satisfying read.  King, Seeley and Di Giandomenico continue to keep us on the edge of the seat, without ever going too dark, or too slapstick. All in all it’s another great in a series that continues to impress.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Grayson 16

 

Grayson01Grayson #16

Tim Seeley,  Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

This week, Grayson reaches new heights of awesome, some of which resulted in me almost losing my composure in public several times. Please note that I am a adult (legally), and that I will still sometimes react physically to comics when they’re THIS good.

Those of you who have reading this blog for the last year and a half or so know that I’m quite fond of the title. Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox (as well as the occasionally guest artist) have been kicking all sort of butt on this comic since day one, making it one of the best books coming out of DC, let alone the market in my opinion. While I wasn’t that big of a fan of the book being forced into to a crossover event last month, issue 16 more than makes up for, delivering one hell of an experience.

 

WARNING FROM HERE ON OUT, THERE BE SPOILERS YO!

Team Grayson has done an excellent job of taking obscure Wildstorm  and DCU characters and reintroducing them to the new 52 universe fully fleshed out. We’ve seen them work wonders on the Midnighter, who’s gone on to start in his own wonderful spin-off comic. This issue sees the similar discarded Grifter show up, amongst several other character being introduced for the first time/were starring in a book that got cancelled. As someone who got into WildCATS as a kid and gave his quickly cancelled on-going series a shot, I’m excited to see this team give ol Cole the treatment he deserves. Oh the once-before teased 5021674-gray_16_2Maxwell Lord shows up, which I’m sure won’t result in heartbreak, betrayal or any Blue Beetles getting shot.

This is also the issue where the creative team decided to go full Bond with the references. What does that mean exactly? Well first and foremost, it means Dick taking out a James Bond homage in front of several Bond lady tributes. It also means a montage designed as tribute to the Bond intro, complete with it’s own theme song as perform by Dick Grayson himself. Aside from it being one of the BEST running gags in the book, it looks amazing, as Janin draws Dick and his fellow deflected agent Tiger fighting spies in a variety of exotic locales. Jeromy Cox really shines in this section, giving the 2 double page spread outs some really trippy colors, giving it a 60s mod vibe. The combination of word class colors and line art continue to make Grayson a gorgeous book, well worth the $4 cover price.

And man, I love the banter Tiger and Dick have between themselves in this issue. Seeley and King have been really solid with the humor these last few issues, but the jokes in this particular issue, including said song, are really strong. They’ve done an excellent job of tumblr_o1mh53FBTc1sqep2mo2_1280poking fun of some of the more sexist troupes spy-fiction, and they continue to do so twice in this issue, while balancing a pretty serious plot that advances in an interesting direction. I absolutely adore the direction this book is going, especially when you tease me with a upcoming story called SPY WARS!

Grayson continues to be a delightful read, and this issue is ridiculously good. The creative team gives the reader a comic that delivers a generous amount of action, laughs and fantastic visuals, and it’s something I look forward to reading every month. Grayson #16 isn’t the BEST issue this team has done so far in this fun, but between the humor and what’s to come, it’s damn enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Crossover Comics: Grayson #15 & Gotham Academy #13

tumblr_nyhq1sRENk1s2pnhbo1_1280GOTHAC_Cv13_55f367cf6faa42.56004071Grayson #15

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikkel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

 Gotham Academy #13

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

It’s ROBIN WAR time, which means….I’m not entirely sure what exactly. I kinda skipped over part 1, a $5 one shot that dropped last week, flipped through part 3 in the store, and got a general idea of what’s going on, kind of? I don’t know, there’s something going on with the Court of Owls, and the We Are Robin kids shooting a cop and there being a Robin ban? It’s a tad insane, and kind of unnecessary in my opinion, given the fact that we also have the excellent Batman & Robin Eternal weekly mini series going on.

4907323-5gray_15preview-4Grayson #15 is the 2nd chapter of the Robin War, where as Gotham Academy #13 is a tie in, which tries to set up the 3rd arc of the book while tying into this mini event. Both of these books are a bit of a mix bag quality wise, as is often the case when it comes to cross overs and tie ins.

Grayson #15 has the advantage of being handled by it’s established creative team, which mean the dozens of Robins look great under the art team of Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox. And to their credit, King and Seeley does a fantastical job of writing the various Robins WHILE moving the story forward. I have no  previous experience with the We Are Robin cast, but the Grayson team does a fine job of writing the lot of them as some really likable characters. And it’s nice to see them tackling the various Robins again, something we got a taste of a few issues ago. Where the book falters is explaining what happens between this issue and the last, assuming you read the first chapter of Robin War coming into issue 15. I did not, hence me being a tad lost. Luckily, even with the lack of recap/explanation, the book is still relatively solid, and the cliffhanger ending does peak my interest as to what’s going on with this event.

As for Gotham Academy #13, I can’t say the same about that book’s quality. It’s a tie in, so knowing the exact details of Robin War isn’t’ as crucial to the book as it was in Grayson, GA13-b-990x1522but the lack of series’ co-creators Becky Cloonan and Karl Kerschl is felt. And handing the art chores to Adam Archer, who isn’t quite on Kerschl’s level skill wise definitely does it no favor.While the book’s visual get better as the issue progresses, it’s incredible rough looking at first, and a lot the charm seen on the title in the past isn’t there. Sandra Hope and Serge Lapointe do what they can with the inks and colors, but they can only do so much with a comic that tries doing too much in 20 pages.

It’s hard to judge an entire event based on 1 chapter and 1 tie in, but the Robin War isn’t working for me. I don’t like buying crossovers for books I’m not already pulling, and it’s impact on these two books do nothing to make me think otherwise. Each of the book’s respected creative teams certainly tried, but ultimately the Robin War doesn’t do Grayson or Gotham Academy any favors.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Grayson #14

Grayson-14Grayson #14

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Stephen Mooney, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about Grayson is seeing writers Tom King and Tim Seeley  pull unused characters and concepts from the DC and now defunct Wildstorm Universes . It’s lead to the best use of Midnighter since Warren Ellis wrote The Authority, in addition to a ton of cool toys Grant Morrison created when he had his Batman Incorporated run.  Issue 14 of Grayson sees the team of King and Seeley do it again, working wonders on Ladytron, another remnant of  Wildstorm Comics, as well as the duo putting their own spin on the Spyral mythos. It’s a cool bit of world building done via a neat framing device, and it results in fleshing out two characters a bit via explaining their origins. The pair have done a wonderful job of building upon material established by other Bat-creators before them, while adding a ton of new content, making the Grayson cast one of the most diverse and interesting casts in DC Comics. Also their take on Ladytron is very much in the same of Machine Man in Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen‘s Nextwave, which is something I absolutely adore.

Rejoining the writer’s on art duties this month is Stephen Mooney, who does a decent Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.42.39 PMenough job on the art side of things. Sadly Mooney isn’t capable of reaching series artist Mikel Janin levels of sexy or psychedelic, but his Bryan Hitch-style art works more times than not. Mooney certainly has good eye for action scenes, and his successfully captures some of the more creepier elements of the books. It’s just unfortunate that some of his art looks rough or even in some panels. Jeromy Cox‘s colors are great as per usual, so at least the art has that going for it when it’s not at it’s best. This is not the worst looking issue of Grayson, but it’s noticeably different that’s what come before it.

Art issues aside, I really like what Tom King and Tim Seeley brought to script/dialogue aspects of this issue. For the most of the book’s existence, a lot of the humor revolved about Dick Grayson being sexy, which is something I don’t mind, but the joke was beginning to become played out. It also doesn’t work as well without the presence of Janin’s gorgeous art. Luckily, King and Seeley went into this issue seemingly aware of their disadvantages and use Ladytron’s dialogue as a source of most of the book’s humor, freshening things up a bit. In addition to that, I really like how they’ve given Spyral a sense of history in this new DCU, giving the organization some really cool origins, and then image64using these revelations to completely change the direction of the book. Granted it’s something the writers have been hinting at for the last few issues, so it does feel like the book is spinning its wheels in place a bit. But we’re also looking at a editorial mandated tie-in issue next month, so I can see why King and Seeley wanted a clean finish for this issue.

This issue of Grayson is far from the best the book has been, but it’s very enjoyable none the less. The creative team produces a book that worth the cover price for loyal readers, but it’s not something that’s going to bring in any new ones.  It remains a clever and exciting read none the less, and I’m eager to see where the book is headed next once Robin War is over.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #45

Batgirl_45_coverBatgirl #45

Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, Serge Lapointe

DC, $2.99

Batgirl #45 is a comic with 0 super villain punching and 100% romance and relationship-based plots. That may sound less than ideal for a super hero comic, but you also have to factor in there’s also a 100% increase of Dick Grayson in this month’s issue; which is important to me obviously, making it the lack of costumed violence more than okay.

 

But before I start gushing over a Babs Tarr drawn Grayson (aka the best thing), let me start off by saying that this issue is actually a pretty big moment for mainstream comics. Early in the run, the Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.34.41 PMcreative team made an error that could be viewed as transphobic. While it was not their intent, the team apologized, promised to do better, and made sure the digital and collected version of the story were fixed to be less offensive. This issue illustrates that the team has continued to make good on their promise, as we see a trans character get married to her girlfriend, without one of them being a Skrull or super villains showing up to crash wedding. As far as I can tell, this is the first trans-wedding in mainstream comics, which is great, as it shows Big 2 comics creators striving to be more inclusive and mature about LGBTQ issues. It’s also nice because it feel genuine, not a marketing stunt, and chances are we don’t have to worry about these characters being fringed anytime soon. It’s also nice to see a wedding happen in comics that’s not full of shenanigans, but that’s less impressive, at least comparatively speaking.

Okay, back to me gushing over Dick (PHRASING). Babs Tarr is back on solo layouts and finished pencils for this book, and the results are pretty great. I really dug the portrayal of Grayson under Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, who write him as more of a (incredibly handsome) jerk than the Screen-Shot-2015-10-29-at-12.31.32-AMteam over in Grayson do, but given the history between the two, it makes sense, and doesn’t really damage the character in any permanent way. Their relationship is flirty and playful, and respects each of the characters new histories in this newer DCU. I also really appreciated the creators allowing male characters pining over the female lead in a way that reverses gender stereotypes, showing some vulnerably we usually don’t see from male super heroes.

I’ve stated that Tarr has drawn Batgirl with a shoujo manga influence in the past, and issue 45 allows the artist to go all out in that style. Colorist Serge Lapointe gets in on this, using a lighter palette, heavy on the pinks, purples, and whites. Of course given the wedding theme of the issue, it make totally sense, and I like how Lapointe drops the Shoujo filter a few times, going with bolder, crisper palette for the more intense, non-smooching-related scenes. It’s a neat technique, and it’s cool to see an artist experiment like that.

Batgirl #45 may be my favorite issue of this team’s run to date. It’s a fun issue with a lot of fun character moments, and focuses on my 2 favorite DC characters. Babs Tarr’s art couldn’t be better, and the writers inject the book with some stellar dialogue, while doing some really progressive stuff. Plus it’s nice to see someone do take on romance comic that’s not from Rosy Press. Pick it up if you have feeling/opinions on Batgirl and the Robin formerly known as Nightwing, or if you just like refreshingly modern romance comics.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Grayson Annual #2

Hey FPNYC Faithful! Today we’re going to look at Grayson Annual #2, also known as the comic that lead to a review that will definitely get me accused of being on DC’s payroll at some point in the near future.

c605f48685e9ad51a71938ba3f74ee18Grayson Annual #2

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandex, Jeromy Cox

DC, $4.99

It hard to think of a comic that’s been unintentionally directed solely at me and my interests in recent history.  Directly following up to the recent events in Grayson (as well as some recent shenanigans and revelations over in the Superman titles), this comic sees Dick Grayson encountering Superman for the first time since his “death”, and defining what their relationship is like in the current DC Universe. When this book was first solicited, the cover implied some fun team up times, which I’m about. But what I wasn’t expecting was a sly shout out to the Chuck Dixon/Scott McDaniel Nightwing run of the 90s, which was my first real exposure to the character. Schilling alert: This is where I start gushing about this comic.

329f976b4ebe90282f0b04c8bb8f7c22Last week’s Grayson was light on the punching and heavy on emotional assault (the Feels, if you will). This time around, writers Tim Seeley and Tom King flip the script around a bit, giving us some pretty happy emotional beats, and ton of high octane action. There’s definitely a sense this book was written shortly after the writers saw the recent Mad Max movie, which is fine with me, as Fury Road is on my short list of things I’ve loved about this past year. And much like said week old comic, the pair of writers manage to establish a half-decade long history in the span of a single issue with ease. The book starts off with a fun flashback showing that Dick Grayson (as Robin) thinking Superman is the coolest thing, and Superman is definitely down with Batman’s little buddy. King and Seeley also put their spin on the whole “Nightwing got his handle from Kryptonian  lore”, which is a fun little bit of comics history that I’m a fan of. Once again the writers incorporate a bunch of material established before the reboot 4 years again, and once again I am loving it. The dialogue is also fantastic, as King & Seeley give our heroes some fun back and forth banter, and absolutely nail the voice of the OTHER book’s guest star, who’s identity I won’t spoil here.

I’ve done a pretty crappy job of not mentioning the book’s art yet, so let’s change that.  Mikel Janin, Grayson’s regular artist, only handles the cover on this book, which is a tad creepy dude to Clark and Dick suffering from same face syndrome. The interior art is actually handled by Alvaro Martinez, whose’s previous work I’m unfamiliar with, but has done a Comics093015-Graysonnumber of one shots and single issues for DC over the last 2 years. Martinez reminds me a lot of legendary artist Alan Davis, given how clean and straight forward his art is. Having to follow up to an artist like Janin who’s art reeks of sexy isn’t an easy task, but he does a serviceable job on putting his own spin on the characters. Ultimately, Martinez’s work is perfectly serviceable, although I wish he made Superman look a little older than Robin, and some of his poses weren’t as stiff as they were. But overall, it’s good stuff, especially with Raul Fernandez‘s inks being so clean and Jeromy Cox‘s colors being on point.

Grayson Annual #2 is the best issue of the Brave and the Bold we’ve gotten in years. It’s a fun book that ties nicely into the current on-going of the proper title, but it’s something you need to caught up on to enjoy. It’s old school execution, but feels fresh and fun. It’s a must read if you’ve been enjoying Grayson, Action Comics, or Superman, or just enjoy fun DC comics.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Grayson #12

Hey look it’s me, Chris, I’m back now. Rose City Comic Con was a delightful little show, and Seattle was a nice city that I’m sure Amazon will continue to ruin over the next few years. And now that I’ve dispensed some hot takes, let’s get to comics talk!

ff33f701f2ec2c8518ab96fd2acf9cc3Grayson #12

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin, Hugo Petrus, Juan Castro

DC $3.99

Every once in awhile I read a comic that ends with me standing up and doing and happy little boogey, or screaming something incoherent which results in my wife questioning as to why she married me. Grayson #12 resulted in both, because man, this comic was a hoot.

 

For most of this book’s existence, Grayson has resided in it’s own little corner of the Bat-universe by itself, only more recently having the title character show up in other books like that Batgirl annual from a few weeks back, random cameos in various Batman books and the  Midnighter spin off series. Aside from being a spy, a job that requires a low profile and less spandex, the main reason for Dick’s limited appearances was him “dying” in Forever Evil, a dumb comic you should not waste your time on unless you’re super into reading comics that were not particularly good. But now Dick is at a cross roads of sorts, and has decided it’s time to  go back to Gotham to catch up to the “family” he left behind, which of course is more complicated than he imagined. One being the fact that SPYRAL the espionage group Dick has been recently working for isn’t quite done with him yet,  and second, most of the family thinks he’s dead.  You know, typical comics drama.

 

grayson12_1While co-writer Tim Seeley has some experience writing the other Robins, Alfred, and Batgirl thanks to Batman Eternal, this is the first time we’ve seen Tom King handle the extended Bat-family. And it’s wonderful, as he manages to give each Robin their own distinct voices that captures their personality perfectly. Same with Batgirl, Alfred and the man who sent Dick to SPYRAL, but now has no recollection of doing so, or even who Dick Grayson is. It’s an bit of an emotional issue, light on the punching and heavy on the history of the character, and one that sets up the next arc of the book perfectly. And despite the new 52 world only being around for 5 years or so, Seeley & King draw upon Grayson’s 75 years of existence via the use of various dialogue from dozens and dozens of comics old and new.  It’s a wonderful use of continuity, giving long time readers some fan service without alienating newer readers, while explaining the bonds between these characters. It’s all very compelling and fun to read, and I really dug the Damian and  Dick reunion, especially after recently re-reading the Grant Morrison run on Batman and Robin.

 

GRAY_12_2Mikel Janin being as good as he is on this book comes as no surprise, but man his take on the Bat Family is stunning in a way I couldn’t have predicted. Everyone looks great, even the Robins with terrible costumes ( cough Jason and Tim ), and its fun too see Janin transition from sexy spy stuff to sexy super hero stuff. He has a great handling on the characters costumes old and new, and the body language his characters emote is fantastic. The coloring really empathizes the bright, fun colorful costumes, which contrast nicely with the mostly back background. Janin doesn’t get to experiment with layouts and positioning as much in this issue as he has in the past, but the brief action scenes still look amazing, and the talking head scene are as equally stunning. He gets some help with colors this month from Hugo Petrus & Juan Castrobut they ape his style so well you can’t tell. Janin and company continue to excel on this title, and the art he’s produced his book is arguably some of the best coming out of DC today.

 

GRAY_12_1I REALLY dug this Grayson #12. It was a brief but fun visit to Gotham, and I enjoyed seeing Dick interact with the other Bat characters for the first time in forever. The issue is chock full of fun little character moments, the return of a great gimmick from a previous issue, and a fun new M.O. for our lead character. It’s a fantastic done in one that showcases the entire creative teams talents, and a great start for what’s next.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Grayson #11

JUN150255Grayson #11

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

While never being a bad read, the last few issues of Grayson were not exactly up to par with the level of quality we were getting back during the pre-break. That being said, issue 11, the conclusion of the Nemesis arc, is arguably the strongest installment of the book in awhile. Writers Tom King and Tim Seeley put all their cards on the table and the revelations that ensue shake the book to it’s core.

It’s worth mentioning that while the plotting/writing in Grayson has been a bit uneven up to this issue (Too many butt jokes believe it or not!), Mikel Janin‘s art & Jeromy Cox‘s colors never saw a dip in quality. Grayson’s always looked incredible, and this issue is no exception. It’s an exceptionally brutal issue with a fair amount of blood, but also gorgeous in it’s owned twisted way. The “acting” in Janin’s fight scene is flawless, and perfectly emphasizes how raw and intense this battle is. Janin also experiments with layouts, playing up the book’s weird spy stuff and getting some fantastic results, as if J.H Williams was channeling Jack Kirby. And Cox’s colors really enhance the whole experience, and his ability to switch from black/blues to bright reds on the fly is worth commemorating. The backgrounds in this book are also fantastic, continuing the excellent use of locations in the title. Grayson is a book I’ve never regretted buying thanks to the art alone.

4759300-4-gray_11_4-5King and Seeley also deserve their fair share of praise for this issue. Aside from the aforementioned slick revelations and possibly shaking up the statue quo for the title character for awhile (which may help set up this fall’s Batman and Robin Eternal maxi-series), the dialogue in this issue is flawless. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a comic hero banter as well as Dick does in issue 11 (see the image to the left), and it’s genuinely hilarious. Dick Grayson is a character know for being a little goofy and light hearted, and this page/rant (which continues for another page or so) is a nice breath of fresh air in a relatively dark and serious arc. And I really like how quickly that little rant is soon turned on its head and turned into a character examination of Mister Grayson, all whle dropping hints to the identity of the Faux Dick ( hehehehe) running around. This arc may be a little back loaded in terms of quality, but it makes for all the more satisfying conclusion

It’s ridiculous how good Grayson #11 is. In a week where DC needs some good news, it’s great to see a book of Grayson’s caliber hit the stands. It’s a title that really feels like anything can change in an issue, which for a heavy espionage comic, is great. This book is flying without a safety net, which I imagine is how Dick Grayson would want it. While it’s not at all accessible for anyone who hasn’t been reading the series, fans of the title are definitely going to dig it once their hearts stop breaking.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #4 & Grayson #10

portrait_incredible (3)All New Hawkeye #4

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Following in Hawkeye volume one’s footprints, All New Hawkeye is back after a slight delay. #BURN A reverse of the previous issue sees the bulk of the issue being dedicated to the drawn out Clint and Barney origins, with the final panel of the page being dedicated to the present, with Clint and Kate dealing with the three spooky children the Hawkeyes liberated from Hydra. Much like the previous issue, those panels are mostly dialogue free, and I find them the most interesting, as it feels more in the same vein as the previous volume, and Ramon Perez more simplistic style looks gorgeous. Ian Herring‘s colors perfectly capture the style used by Matt Hollingsworth for these scenes, yet his best stuff is saved for the flashback material. Here we see a lot of interesting uses of purples and blues clashing against a brighter color which clash nicely with the muted art work.

HawkeyeBWith the origin-story stuff taking the point again for this issue, I find myself slightly less invested with this issue. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great and genuinely do like what Jeff Lemire has set up with the brothers Barton. But ultimately it’s not a story I want to read. Clint’s origin is arguably one of the least interesting aspects of the character, because who wants to read about the circus in 2015 right? I applaud Lemiere and Perez doing something different, but I much prefer Clint and Kate arrowing it up in Brooklyn than I do Hawkeye babies.  Especially after 4 issues, or in Lemire’s case, a hunk of his career. Also it really clashes with the promise of more Kate Bishop, who’s barely in this issue.

All New Hawkeye #4 takes some neat artistic risks, but I’m tired of this origin story. The modern stuff is far more compelling, and hopefully there’s more of that after this arc.

 

Grayson-10Grayson #10

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

Grayson continues to be a god send to the character of Richard “Booty Booty Booty” Grayson. Ol’ Dick (heheheh) has been on bit of quality decline ever since the new 52 started, but his role as a spy has given him a much needed shot in the arm that Dick hasn’t seen since Grant Morrison and friends made him Batman. Grayson #10 is the second installment of the “Nemesis” arc, which finds that boy Grayson amiss of a murder mystery where he is the main suspect. Oh and Lex Luthor shows up, which is big, because Lex is one of the reasons Dick had to fake his death to begin with. It’s compelling stuff, with some really engaging dialogue from Tim Seeley and Tom King and the cliffhanger ending is spectacular.

Grayson-10-ViewOne of the advantages of turning Dick Grayson into a globe spanning hero is Mikel Janin being able to draw the hell out of a number of exotic locations in a single issue. Two moments that stand out to me visually were the scene in Madrid early in the book, and later when Lex and Dick meet in Corscia. Aside from drawing the prettiest of people, Janin draws some gorgeous scenery, beautifully colored by Jeremy Cox. Cox is also another fantastic artist, managing to mix channel travel brochure quality colors as well as Jim Steranko SHIELD era stuff. Coz is easily one of the most underrated colorists in the business and pairing him with Mikel Janin has produced some incredible looking art. Meanwhile, Seeley and King continue to provide a solid and entertaining script with some really smart and fun dialogue.

Grayson #10 is another fine installment of a book that got me back into DC Comics. It’s spy drama and super heroics at it’s best, and I’m glad to see the team’s first multi-issue storyline going so well.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Sassy Spies Editions

Yes, yes, I’m well aware Spider-Woman isn’t a spy anymore, but she’s still in Secret Avengers for the next 2 months so it works.

 

635544611181339292-SpiderWoman-coverSpider-Woman #5

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez

Marvel $3.99

NEW STATUS QUO! NEW COSTUME! NEW ARTIST! 5TH ISSUE IN!

Spider-Woman, not unlike Spider-Gwen, is done with Spider-Verse nonsense, done with the Avengers, done with Greg Land, and is hitting the streets with a new mission and a new slick look courtesy of Kris Anka. Writer Dennis Hopeless is now free to tell stories without having to worry about tying into Amazing Spider-Man, and the book’s all the better for it.

 

Land is replaced by former Daredevil colorist/Fill in Artist Javier Rodriguez, who reminds everyone that he can draw and color the hell out of a comic 5 pages into this issue. Rodriquez definitely picked up some tricks coloring Chris Samnee over the years, which explains why is layouts are so good. And of course, the coloring on this book is surreal. The way Rodriquez colors the rain almost make those panels feel 3-D. And man, that new costume looks amazing on Jessica. Inking him is Alvaro Lopez, who knows where to thicken his black lines and where to keep them thin. He’s a fine match for Javier.

 

Hopeless staying aboard on the title is A-O-K with me, as he’s a smart writer with a knack of coming up with unique premises on corporate comic characters. Jessica struggling with going solo is an interesting predicament for a super hero, and it’s a cool challenge for her to overcome. And the addition of Daily Bugle mainstay Phil Urich is neat, and gives Jessica a great character to interact with. Also Hopeless appeals to my loves of the recently completed Superior Foes of Spider-Man and brings in several Z-list Marvel villains for Jessica to harass.

 

Spider-Woman #5 is not unlike the Bab Tarring of Batgirl, which is fine because that was a smart move, and it’s certainly now working for J-Drew.   Between this, Silk and Spider-Gwen, you’d think the comics world would be sick of female Spider-ladies, but not that’s far from the case. Each one of these titles brings something to new to medium, and all of them are good comics.  Spider-Woman #5 is a VERY good comic that should have been a #1. I know the book got a nice sales boost launching and tying into Spider-Verse, but THIS is the debut issue the creators and characters deserve.

 

stk665635Grayson #8

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

This issue sees the end of season 1 wrapping up, as the book goes on hiatus for 2 months due to DC moving to the west coast and not replacing them with robots like I did (Hence I spell all good like always). In terms of endings, I don’t think this could have been any better.

Issue 8’s cover is pretty spot on, as SPYRAL finds a traitor in it’s ranks, and it’s up to Agent Grayson to save the day. It brings the cast of mostly new characters together in a fun and creative way, and ends on a brutal note. It’s spy comics done right, which has been this creative team’s MO since day 1, so this issue being as great as it is doesn’t come at that much of a surprise. Tom King and Tim Seeley deliver another fine script with some choice dialogue and neat twists, and Mike Janin and Jeromy Cox make the whole thing looks so pretty. Even when things get dark and violent, which says a lot about how I judge beauty.

Issue 8 is an issue that wraps up some plot-lines, starts new ones, and sees one of Dick Grayson’s student name each of his butt cheeks. It’s another great installment of comic that has been a crazy fun ride, and this slight break will make me miss it a ton.

 

Post to Twitter