I Am Groot #1 is as close to a cheat as Marvel can get. I mean, come on, it’s Baby Freakin’ Groot. Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Based on the box office receipts, the odds are you have. So, yeah, you get the idea and you know how stupidly cute this little guy is. And you’ve got a kid or niece or nephew or little cousin that you’re going to want this for. Does the story even matter? Is anyone going to do more than stare at the images of the baby sprite that constantly refers to himself in the third person? Probably not. But hey, here’s a little something for you to claim to care about…
It’s a case of lost in translation for the teensy weensy heavy hitter of the Guardians of the Galaxy. When the team gets caught in a wormhole, their cutest and most difficult to communicate member gets stranded on an unfamiliar planet. Separated billions of light-years away, Baby Groot has found himself among strange creatures and societies who can’t understand his, unique, way of speaking. Without his friends or a way to effectively figure out what he needs to do to be reunited with them, Baby Groot will need to find a way to get to the center of this world if there’s to be any hope. It’s sure to be an adorable action adventure story with everyone’s favorite Guardian. Don’t believe me? You stopped reading after the headline. Seriously, I could say anything right now and you wouldn’t even know it. For example, CENSORED died in CENSORED #2. See, nothing…Darn it, I’m buying three copies. I mean look at him, he’s too cute. Stupid Marvel…
Adam Gorham is a rising star in comics. Don’t believe me? What else would you call someone who’s being shot straight to the stars by drawing one of Marvel’s highest profile characters with a movie coming out? Plus, the fact it’s a cosmic character with space crime overtones. Adam Gorham’s a model of work ethic and determination, not to mention humility. He gives us a rough outline of his journey thus far, what we can expect from the upcoming Rocket #1 out on May 10th and offers sage advice to artists drawing their own path in the industry.
MK: Adam, thank you so much for having a Creative Conversation with me today. One of the questions I always like to start with is, do you remember the first comic you owned or the first one that made an impression on you?
AG: the pleasure is mine! I’m excited to talk about Rocket with my pal Matt Klein!
MK: Nice rhyme.
AG: Totally unintentional. I amaze myself (laughs). The first comic I owned and really cherished, and has left an impact on me to this day, is Batman: The Cult, the graphic novel. My father got it for me, probably without even looking inside of it. This was when comics were at their height in the 90’s and the local newspaper and cigar shop sold comics. Bernie Wrightson’s work was my first major influence.
MK: I freaking love that book. I mean, Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson, it’s a gem. In talking with people in shops that’s an often undiscovered gem. You mentioned Bernie Wrightson as your first major influence, who were some others at different points in your journey to today?
AG: Well, I loved comics as a kid, but rarely read them. I liked them for the art and would draw what I saw. All the mythos and lore I got loosely from 90’s cartoons like [Batman: TAS], Spider-Man, X-Men, etc. so without knowing many names at the time, I was certainly informed by the heavyweights of the 90’s. However, I fell out of comics around ten or so, about the time when kids let go of their “kids stuff”. I didn’t get back into loving comic artwork until eleventh grade, and that was after discovering Alex Ross, particularly Kingdom Come.
MK: So good!
AG: It was a revelation for me. Ross’ work was the first time for me that comic art felt like classic works of art that could be hung somewhere. When I started getting back into it, I was in love with what Bryan Hitch was doing on The Ultimates. In fact, I really liked Ultimate Marvel at the time. Leinil Yu was another favorite.
MK: There was a ton of top talent working on Marvel’s Ultimate Universe at that point. Do you have a favorite Ultimate Universe run or story?
AG: Well I really liked the Ultimate X-Men stuff for a while. The first arc was epic. I enjoyed most of Return to Weapon X. Ultimates 2 probably stands apart though as the height of those titles.it took FOREVER for it to come out, but in the end it was pretty satisfying
MK: Great art can be worth the wait. How did you come to the decision that working in comics was what you wanted to do?
AG: I drew all my life. That’s not saying much. Most kids love to draw. However, I was always applauded for how well I drew for my age, so I grew up with drawing as “my thing.” And for a long time that was enough. I didn’t have a direct application or career in mind for it, but I excelled at drawing superheroes, so comics seemed an obvious choice. The only thing is, I was a terrible student with no ambition. Drawing comics as a career was an easy thing to talk about, but pursuing it was murky and not always tangible. I did go to art school and flamed out because, as I say, terrible student. Ultimately, after a few years of working one dirty job or another, my partner dragged me to my first comic convention and really opened up my eyes to this world I’d previously only known through Wizard magazines and comic shops. I was working in a grocery warehouse. Things with my significant other were getting serious. We wanted to start a new chapter in our lives and it became clear I needed a new goal in life. Or a goal in life. So when I left the warehouse job, I went for broke and looked for a job illustrating. I found one off Craigslist (laughs).
MK: What was the job?
AG: My first ever gig drawing comics was a 128-page graphic novel, written by a Canadian film director who wanted to adapt his indie vampire movie into a comic. Before that I had drawn a few scant pages for my own ideas. And once I started there was no looking back.
MK: That sounds a bit like you jumped into the deep end with a 128 page project right off the bat!
AG: Totally. It was the first opportunity I found and I seized it. I didn’t know how or where else to find work. In the past I had sent submissions to publishers, back when most publishers still took open submissions. I have a polite and informative rejection letter from Marvel, actually.
MK: That’s freaking awesome though! You talked about going to a convention kind of blew open your mind about comics and the industry. As an artist, how do you like conventions now being on the other side of the table? because I remember that’s how we met and i bugged you for a sketch that i recently proudly showed off to io9.
AG: Going as a fan and going as part of your job are two very different experiences. Pros and cons to each side. When I went as fan all I could think about was getting comics signed and saying, “Hi” to people I admired. I put myself through crazy lines and jumped through hoops to meet creators like Alex Ross, Brian Bolland and so on. It was fun but exhausting. You really invested a part of yourself. As soon as I started tabling, that was out the window. It’s not like I made a conscious decision to regard conventions differently. It’s just that creating a book and taking it to market changes your priorities.
MK: it’s part of your business. you’re a brand now with obligations.
MK: Do you have any memorable requests from fans at conventions? Or any favorite sketches you’ve done?
AG: I’ve never had a bizarre request. Everything I’ve been asked to draw has been pretty fun, although I think I’ve only recently started drawing well at conventions. The past couple years I’ve improved, whereas drawing at a table was an uncomfortable experience. I got the hang of it though. So anything beyond a year or two ago I look back on and cringe. Your Man-Bat is a favorite of mine. I did a Frank Miller Dark Knight at NYCC that was very nice.
MK: if you could go back some years, what advice would you give yourself about being a comic book artist?
AG: With hindsight there’s so much I would impart. My problems starting out was, I thought I knew just how much work was involved with making comics. I would go back and tell myself “Nope. Work harder.” One thing I tell others is not to feel beholden to any one thing they’ve drawn. Draftsmanship is so very important. teaching yourself to draw things over and over, refining, and not being precious about something because you spend an hour on it. Your ideas and skill will always improve with every pass if you put in the effort, so it’s crazy to me to draw something once and thinking, “Well, I can see this is off, this other thing is wonky, but I just spent two hours drawing it, so good enough.” I’ve redrawn entire pages because a better idea struck me while I was driving home or at the store or on a walk.
MK: How many hours a day do you draw?
AG: I draw every day. Working constantly. Some days I work eight hours and others twelve or sixteen. Depends on where I’m at. I have two kids that, once they’re home, I can’t do anything else until they’re in bed. So I don’t always draw as much as I want to in a work day. But I try to make up with time later
MK: That’s incredibly intimidating and inspiring at the same time (laughs). Let’s pivot real quick to your ridiculously exciting new series coming up. So, congratulations on being the artist on the upcoming Rocket #1 with Al Ewing. It seems like a pretty awesome moment to be working on this character with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 coming out so close to the release of the series. When you got the gig, how was the book described to you?
AG: It was a thrilling experience for me because of the sheer amount of suspense involved.
AG: I was worried what I’d move on to. Like, I had some options, and I had some ideas of what step to take next. I was gutted, to be honest, because i wanted The Violent to carry on. Ed [Brisson] had this great idea for the next chapter and I was ready for it. So, I was sweating it a little. Then later one afternoon while I was at the supermarket Ii got an email from Marvel asking if I was interested in working for them. That alone was very exciting, but it could’ve meant anything from a cover to a tie-in or whatever
AG: But naturally I said yes. they told me they’d have some information in a couple days. For two days my mind went WILD with possibilities
MK: Was Rocket Raccoon on that list of possibilities?
AG: Ha! No. I figured since I had just done a street level crime comic, something like Punisher or whatever would be the obvious route. I met with a good friend of mine, Michael Walsh, who was doing Rocket and Groot at the time. We were giddy over what it could be, no matter how small. When Marvel offered me a new #1 ongoing, I was intoxicated. Like, it wasn’t even that it was Rocket. At the time, we were calling it something else. The change of name was also in the cards. But the fact I’d be coming on with such a great opportunity was unreal. Anyway, when we finally got talking about what the book would be, my place as an artist began to make sense.
MK: How so? And this is an interesting pattern here, your first comic is a 128 page book, your first gig at Marvel is an ongoing for one of the most publicly recognized characters! You’re really seizing these opportunities that not everybody gets. It’s inspiring.
AG: I forget who exactly gave me the lowdown, but they said the vision for this book would be Rocket in his element pulling heists in space. In conversation we compared it to Parker graphic novels. Al [Ewing] had this idea to use prose, reinforcing the theme of a hard-boiled thriller. So right away we talked about how pages would be structured to accommodate Al’s prose. and how Rocket’s default outfit in this series would be a suit, open collar, no tie. Parker, even Daniel Ocean make good comparisons, but our Rocket has a broken heart that reminds me more of George Clooney’s Jack Foley from “Out of Sight.”
MK: You just named one of my top 10 favorite films of all time!
AG: IT’S SO GOOD! Fun story about that movie. When I was a kid I was grounded. I forget why, but I know I earned it. My parents left to get groceries one saturday afternoon. While they were out my friends called asking if I’d go to the movies with them. Somehow I thought I could sneak out, see a two hour movie, and bus it home before they ever got home. The only thing playing at the theatre was “Out of Sight” which I had seen ads for but wasn’t the type of movie I was rushing to see at the time. Man, oh man, it was the coolest thing I ever saw at that point.
MK: Uh, yeah! Seriously, anybody reading this who hasn’t seen “Out of Sight” needs to immediately go watch it!
AG: And I felt like such a smooth operator for sneaking out to see this slick flick. I was like, twelve or thirteen at the time. I can’t recall. But I walked out of the theatre like, “Look at me now, world!”
MK: Did you get busted?
AG: Oh, of course! My parents were out of the house for maybe an hour, discovered I took off, and had three hours to sit and plan my punishment. I walked into verbal cannon fire.
MK: That’s epic. Okay, we’re in the home stretch here. If someone’s been living in a bubble for the last few years and has no idea who Rocket is, how would you describe your new series to them?
AG: First off, congratulations on leaving your bubble. Let me introduce you to Rocket: he’s a scruffy outlaw, a lost soul, a space raccoonoid looking for his place in the galaxy when he’s not saving it with the Guardians. That place usually ends up being a dangerous one, where he’s risking it for, surprisingly, a chance at love lost. If that doesn’t work out, then cold revenge.
MK: Who is on your Mount Rushmore of comics?
AG: I forget how many heads are on Rushmore, but let’s say four, and my Rushmore of Comics is comprised of: Frank Quitely, Alex Ross, Bernie Wrightson, and Moebius.
MK: That’s an eclectic looking Mount Rushmore!
AG: Rushmore is really weird, when you think about it.
MK: Last but not least: If you meet someone that’s never read a comic before, what 5 reads would you tell them to pick up?
Now, for fans of the House of Ideas, this week is the start of a hotly debated event. There’s a lot of heat in the discussions for many reasons, but one started a while back in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, where it was revealed that “Old Reliable” himself is in fact an undercover agent of Hydra. A lot of readers were left shaking their fists while others were scratching their heads.
From there, the nature of Steve’s history having been altered by the Red Skull tweaking with a cosmic cube filled in some back story but the path to Cap and Hydra’s endgame was unclear. Like DC did with their DC Universe: Rebirth #1 one-shot, Marvel used a tentpole release to further build the foundation for this company altering event. As the dust settled on Civil War II, Steve Rogers was appointed the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and thanks to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Act, he now has more authority than any director before him (sorry, Nick Fury!).
Meanwhile, Cap’s been orchestrating a Chitauri invasion of Earth which, based on the preview pages released, looks like will be a focal point in Secret Empire #0. Add in the death of Jack Flag, the trial of Maria Hill, and the dispatching of the Red Skull in his series’ last issue, and Steve Rogers is set to run the table all in the name of Hydra. Who can stop, arguably, the former greatest and most beloved hero in the history of the Marvel Universe? Apparently, it’s going to take everybody!
Rumors run rampant about what Marvel’s status quo will be after the Secret Empire’s saga is done. Will Steve Rogers be returned to the good ole Captain America he once was? So soon after the casualties from Civil War II, could other beloved characters be sacrificed or terminated with extreme prejudice? Will Ulysses’ vision of Hydra’s dark reign over the world come true? Or will this lead to something even more game changing than even Secret Wars did less than two years ago? Is their Rebirth or a “New 52” style reboot?
The journey to all of our answers will begin in this special zero issue from Steve Rogers scribe Nick Spencer and artists Daniel Acuña and Rod Reiss. Marvel fans, are, you rrrrrrrrready?
*Forbidden Planet’s DAILY DEALS are updated every morning. Prices are valid in-store til the shop concludes its business day (10pm or 12am, depending on the day) and online for roughly 24 hours. Prices are valid while in-stock supply lasts.
Skype is offering local Forbidden Planet Twitter followers a chance to attend a NYC premiere screening of Guardians of the Galaxy on July 21st. Winners will be offered two tickets to see the film ten days before its release!
All you’ve gotta do to enter is follow us and tweet the following:
Sign me up for exclusive #GuardiansOfTheGalaxy tickets! @fpnyc sent me. #NYpremiere #SkypeMarvel
Oh sure, it’s super grey outside at the moment, but spring is finally here! It’s in the 40s, the cat is growling at birds it can’t get at and I get to be mad at the Yankees in real time in 2 days. I’ll gladly take subpar baseball over snow any day.
Before we get into comics, let me state that the first Rat Queens collection dropped this past week, and it is excellent. I usually try to stay on top of new Image debuts, but this one missed my radar somehow. So I dropped the $10 and bought the first trade and am more than pleased with it. I’ll try to do a proper review during the week, but this book is buy on site great.
OTHER BOOKS WHAT SHIPPED THAT YOU MAY LIKE:
Empowered Special #6
Might MGMT #20
Tomb Raider #2
Adventures of Superman #11
Sandman Overture #2
Legends of Red Sonja #5
Rocky and Bullwinkle #1
Deadly Class #3
Walking Dead #124
All New Ghost Rider #12
Amazing X-men #5
Superior Spider-Man #30
Bravest Warriors #18
All New X-men 24/Guardian of the Galaxy 13
Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Sara Pichelli/David Marquez
Note- All New X-men 24 shipped 2 weeks ago.
Despite my problems with the earlier chapters of this crossover, the final 2 chapters of “The Trial of Jean Grey” were very much what I wanted from this event. Heavy on the action, some genuinely excellent interactions between the 2 casts and amazing visuals by Immonen, Pichelli and Marquez make this the type of crossover I wanted to read.
That being said, this mini-event still has some problems. The announcement of the new young Cyclops on-going series really spoils the impact of the last 3 pages, which is a shame. Also despite this being a crossover, it really felt more like an X-event guest starring the Guardians. Maybe something from this event will affect this title more down the road, but chances are I won’t be reading GoTG to see it play out. And truth be told, this could have done in 4 issues, opposed to 6.
The Trial of Jean Grey wasn’t the worst thing I read in recent history, but All New X-men really tired from back to back crossovers. There’s been more than enough new ideas and concepts introduced in this book that need to be fleshed out more. Hopefully with the next few issues can get the book back to being as good as it was when it first debuted, otherwise I’m dropping it.
Avengers Assemble 25
Kelly Sue Deconnick/Warren Ellis/Matteo Buffagni/Neil Edwards/ Raffaele Ienco
Nothing detracts from one’s enjoyment of a comics more than bad art, which brings us to the final issue of Kelly Sue Deconnick’sAvengers Assemble run. It’s a shame, because the script and dialogue written by KSD and Warren Ellis is fun, clever, and puts a nice little bow on this run. Sadly, it’s ruined by 3 different artists, who are very different stylistically. The usually relibale Matteo Buffagni’s pencils look rush and overly-simplistic, as does Neil Edwards, who’s Bryan Hitch-esque art couldn’t be any more different than Matteo’s. Raffaele Ienco‘s art is easily the best, but he only draws the final 2 pages. A shame, as DeConnick and Ellis deserved better for their final issue.
Matt Fraction/Annie Wu/Matt Hollingsworth
Well that escalated quickly!
Kate Bishop’s California adventure has taken a turn for the worse in issue 18, as we finally learn more about the mysterious cat food man. It’s a brutal issue, as Annie Wu really steps up her visual game. Her art on this book has been nothing short of great, but Wu really out does herself in this issue, especially in the facial expression area.
Aside from looking great, Hawkguy 18 touches upon some seed planted earlier in the book, as the story arc becomes full circle. Once again, Kate finds herself in scenario that’s entirely on her, which was the type of thing she left NYC to avoid. Seeing her Clint Barton-free life parallel Clint’s has been really funny so far, but that red in their collected ledgers (GET IT, IT’S AN AVENGERS REFERENCES!) is beginning to cost people their lives. It’s fun to see Matt Fractionbring everything full circle, in what will probably result in one hell of a showdown in a few issues.
A few days ago, Image Publisher Eric Stephensmore or less called out the greater comics publisher community for reasons I don’t and do agree with. Said speech went down at retailer’s meeting ComicsPRO, and the full details can be seen here.
I agree with Stephens that $5-$8 comics are not the future of the industry. Put those comments regarding licensed books is kind of dickish, especially with the quality of the KaBOOM Cartoon Network books. It’s definitely worth a read though, and again, while I don’t agree with everything Stephens says, he does raise a lot of good points.
Mind MGMT #19
Tomb Raider #1
Lois Lane #1
Black Science #4
Deadly Class #2
Rat Queens #6
Walking Dead #122
Mighty Avengers #7
Uncanny Avengers #17
Wolverine and the X-Men #42
Avengers Assemble #24
Kelly Sue Deconnick/ Warren Ellis/ Matteo Buffangi/ Ruth Redmond
Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages
Matteo BuffangiI want to love you, but you gotta stop drawing Hawkeye with those James Worthy-esque goggles. Or start drawing him riding a snowboard every time he’s on panel. (( Call me Marvel, I have ideas! ))
My nitpicking aside, it’s another fun issue of Spider-Girl teams up with an Avengers. Having Warren Ellisand Kelly Sue Deconnick writing Iron Man is the closest we’ve seen a Robert Downey Jr-esque Iron Man on page for awhile, which I imagine is what a LOT of people want when it comes from the character. And him teaming with Spider-Girl is a fun follow up to the previous’ issue Wolverine team up. It’s a fun, bright and good looking (sans Hawkgoggles) Avengers book that ramps things up for the book’s end next issue. I’m going to be sad to see it go, as the Ellis/KSD/Buffangi/Redmond team have turned AA into extremely satisfying must-read every month.
Matt Fraction/ David Aja/Matt Hollingsworth/Chris Elliopoulous
Marvel, $2.99, 20 pages
Oh god everything hurts and nothing will be okay ever again.
It’s been entirely way too long since we’ve seen the Matt Fraction/ David Aja team on Hawkeye. So while I’m glad to see them back, the ending of this book has me cureled up in a corner weeping. And it’s not a quality thing. Oh no, far from it.
Why I complained about the delays in the book, it’s easy to see why it takes a little longer to come out, and the end result is worth it. The majority of the pages are crammed with perfectly crafted art, enhanced with Matt Hollingsworth’s colors and Chris Ellipoulos‘ word balloons. There’s even so great used of the white between panels. This book works even without Fraction delightful dialogue, and you can easily follow the story without paying attention to the dialogue.
Also, much like Fuse #1, the cover in so well designed and clever that you’ll appreciate it much more once you read the issue.
It’s a brutal issue of Hawkguy, as the brothers Barton learn what the say about good intentions. And the cliffhanger comes with a price , because I don’t think we’re getting any more of Clint’s story until May at the earliest. So yeah, brb, running into the ocean.
Guardians of the Galaxy #12
Brian Michael Bendis/Sara Picehlli/Stuart Immonen/ Wade Grawadger/Justin Ponsor
Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages
Once again, I find myself torn with this crossover. Bendis’ dialogue is not at it’s best, and why there’s some solid pieces here and there, overall it’s fairly average. But visually. Damn, just damn
Sara Pichelli delivers when it comes to several highly emotional scene in this issue. It’s a dialogue heavy issue, with a few powerful moments that Pichelli draws beautifully. Justin Ponsor‘s color definitely deliver, especially when the book shifts from deep space to the Shi’iar home planet.
And while Pichelli not being able to draw the entire book irks me a tad, having Stuart Immonen pitch in is more than fine. He and Von Grawbadger are handling the art for the X-Men side of things anyway, so it works, especially given how talented they are.
These crossover is getting better, so hopefully the last 2 chapters deliver. Bendis has two amazing art team working with him, so hopefully his scripts will perform as well as Sara and Stuart are.
Upon writing cats on cats I realize that there’s several ways in which that can be taken.
Whelp, Imma keep it, because I hope people’s mind won’t go directly to the gutter (HAH!) and more importantly, I’m lazy. So fingers crossed
With that out of the way, I’m going to change the format up a bit this week, as this is 2014, and that sounds like a thing you should do in a semi-new year. Aside from the 2-4 books I usually review (4 this week!), I’ll name drop/highlight a few other books of note you may want to check out every week because….reasons?
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES THIS WEEK:
Furious #1, Dredd: Underbelly #1, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1, Adventures of Superman #9, Batman and Robin Annual #2, Fables #137, Bad Ass #1, Black Science #3, Five Weapons #6, Invincible #108, Inhumanity #2, Uncanny Avengers #16, Uber #9, WWE SuperStars #2
Bravest Warriors: CATBUG 2014 Annual #1
Kate Leth/Coleman/Monica Ray/Sloane Leong
KaBOOM Studios/$4.99/30 pages
As someone who’s a big fan of Cartoon Hangover’s Bravest Warrior, as well as the comics coming out of KaBOOM Studios’, the Catbug Annual was a no-brainer for me. The breakout star of the hit Youtube series is very appealing to me(Yes, of course I own a Catbug t-shirt), and seeing a bunch of awesome indie creators craft tales starring Catbug is a good way to me to give someone $5.
Kate Leth, a KaBOOM & Comics Alliance regular, leads the annual off with a cute 8 page story that has said Bug that is also a Cat covering the alpahabet. Sloanne Leong also puts a Catbug twist on a familiar story, and her slightly off-model take on the cast works for me. Coleman Engle‘s story is a tad weak compared to the other stories in the annual, but the art reeks of charm, and the colors are fantastic, so it’s all good. Monica Ray‘s story really captures the feel and the look of the show the best, mixing the type of cute and horror you expect from Bravest Warriors. I dug it a ton.
My only beef with this annual is the price point, as it’s not even a double sized issue for $5. Then again I am old, and remember that $5 use to get you a lot more comic for that price. Regardless of my old man problem, the Catbug Annual is a delight for all age reader/fans of the show, and I urge you to buy the hell out of it.
Guardian of the Galaxy #11.NOW
Brian Micahel Bendis/Sara Pichelli/Justin Ponder
Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages
As someone who was a big fan of the DnA-era Cosmic Marvel, I’ve accepted that Brian Michael Bendis‘ take on cosmic Marvel is a different beast. And seeing how I’m really digging Bendis’ take on the X-titles he’s writing, I went into the 2nd chapter (the cover says part 1 for some reason) of the Trial of Jean Grey with an open mind.
Sadly, the book is kind of a mess on the narrative side of things. Bendis attempts to play catch up with any potential new readers who’ve come over from the X-neighborhood (S’up), while progressing the story he’s been telling for nearly a year now. Sadly that’s a lot to cover in 20 pages, and it doesn’t mesh as well as it should in the end. Which is a problem with crossovers and event-tie ins, something BOTH titles are coming from.
Luckily for everyone, Sara Pichelliis on art duties, so the book looks fantastic. And with the introduction/catch up done, hopefully the next installment on the GOTG side of things will be an improvement. But if you’re like me and not a completionist/ buying Guardians on the regular, you can skip this issue.
Avengers Assemble #23.INH
Kelly Sue Deconnick/Warren Ellis/Matteo Buffangi/Nolan Woodward
Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages
I could read snarky Avengers team up forever Marvel, please take note.
Spider-Girl’s quest continues on this month, this time seeing her teamed her up the the omni-present Wolverine. Ol’ Bubsnikt is at his best when he’s cranky and forced to team up with teenagers (See: The last 40 years of X-men comics), and with KSD and Warren Ellis on writing duties, it’s no surprise how much this book is as drenched is banter and snark. It’s a solid and dense read, and Matteo Buffangi & Nolan Woodward do a fine job on art duties (with no assists this month, yay), providing slick, fluid, and bright visuals. It’s a shame that the book is ending in March, as it’s been a delightful read post-Infinity.
Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples
Image, $2.99, 20 pages
Maybe you’re not hip to Tumblr. Maybe the term “Feels” is foreign to you. Allow me to help! “Feels” is shorthand for “Feelings” that you may get from a comic, video game, or overrated niche genre show (#shotsfired). With that being said, I now fully expect everyone to know what I mean when I say Saga #18 had me DROWNING in feels.
The final chapter of what will make up the 3rd volume of Saga is flawless. It’s rare for me to actually choke up in response to the contents of a comic book (Grant Morrisonwriting Superman aside), but there were several moments in this book that gave me the wibbles. It’s a beatiful book, and THE comic to be ready right now. Several plotlines are resolved, 2 characters fates are revealed, and there are confrontations and answers a plenty. Both Vaughan and Staples are on top of their respective games, and it’s hard to imagine this book being as good as it is with any other creators involved.
The only downside to Saga is that we’re not getting another issue until probably May, which is brutal, given how this book ends. But at least it’s a clean break, and has me excited for the future.
That wraps up this week. Next week, THE most important mainstream comic of 2014 drops, and Steve Lieber returns to Superior Foes of Spider-Man. GET HYPED, ALSO GO HAWKS!
-Chris Troy writes weekly for Forbidden Planet NYC, and can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr @theanarchris
The reviews are in! I was told this week that my column is mostly me “talking about yourself for 2 pages and then recommending a book.” While technically that is more of a synopsis than a review, the point still stands. I talk a lot about myself in this thing. There is a good reason for that though. I am a weirdo recluse who reads too many comics and can’t relate well to other people. I tend to wall off my emotions for fear of burdening others with my problems and I put on a big, farcical parody show of my own existence so that people will like me. I do this by talking about myself too much. My only real friend in life is Forbidden Planet’s Tech Wizard/Fresh Eater, Tyler, who I think hates me. I don’t value my own ideas and opinions so I try and build myself up into this larger than life character that is always trying to keep people entertained. This is why I have and how I rationalize having a column when I feel this deep rooted personal inadequacy. It’s a shell game, a distraction, using humor and long-winded anecdotes to keep people at arms length so they can’t realize that I don’t really have anything of substance to offer them. Thanks for bringing that up. Your criticism (synopsis) has been taken to heart. So this week we are going to TRY SOMETHING NEW. I am just going to write about some comics and remove myself from the dialogue entirely. I am bringing the integrity back to this column, this store, and comics journalism everywhere. I apologize for all the minutes of your life I have wasted with my sad, self aggrandizing charade and I hope you, my loyal-ish readers, will appreciate the new format.
First review: FIVE WEAPONS is a new 5 issue monthly comic book mini-series. FIVE WEAPONS is published by Image Comics Inc. FIVE WEAPONS is written by Jimmie Robinson. FIVE WEAPONS is pencilled by Jimmie Robinson. FIVE WEAPONS is colored by Paul Little. FIVE WEAPONS is lettered by Jimmie Robinson. FIVE WEAPONS is 32 pages, including ad materials. FIVE WEAPONS is full color, printed on 70 lb. low gloss stock with self cover. FIVE WEAPONS is rated T for Teen. FIVE WEAPONS is the story of a boy who is not properly equipped yet still attends a school for deadly assassins. FIVE WEAPONS is a spinoff of Jimmie Robinson’s semi-popular BOMB QUEEN series. In recent years Image Comics Inc., the publisher of FIVE WEAPONS, has had a higher than average success, rated against other independent comic publishers over the same period, of launching new intellectual property. Often times first printings of Image Comics Inc. #1 issues sell out at the distribution level and yield an average appreciation of 221% on the secondary market within a fiscal year. It is speculated that Image Comics Inc.’s sellout issues and surrounding media attention are, in part, based on the companies refusal to print overstock beyond the initial orders placed by Diamond Comics Distribution LLC at time of F.O.C. This leads to what some analysts deem to be an artificial scarcity that could be creating a “false” appreciation in value. The sustainability of that appreciation outside of the “speculation bubble” is based, in large part, on the intellectual properties options being picked up for development in a secondary medium. At the time of this writing FIVE WEAPONS has not been announced to have been optioned. Image Comics Inc. has recently stated that they are changing their policies in regards to overstock printing. How this will affect the secondary market for upcoming titles remains to be seen. Consumers looking to purchase a new story about superpowered assassins or looking to invest in a new property with sizable fiscal growth potential would do well to purchase FIVE WEAPONS #1 on or near Wednesday, February 27th.
Blaaaaaah. Barf. Snooze. The new format sucks. Integrity be damned. Actually just talking about books is boring. Sorry. We are going back to the old format of me talking about me talking about books. Sorry if it bums you out anonymous reader, but I don’t get paid to do this so I am beholden to no one but myself. Say it with me crust punks on St. Marks Place who only come to Forbidden Planet to try to charge their cell phones- “No gods! No Masters!” I might up the ante here and talk about me talking about me talking about books. I may already be doing that. We are getting meta here. I might pull a Grant Morrison and start making appearances in the comics in my columns. I might start lying about what the comics are about. I might start reviewing books that only exist in my head. Next week’s column is going to be called TRY SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT NOW NOR EVER WILL EXIST. It will serve no purpose other than to amuse me and abuse you, disloyal reader. And when I see you stop reading it in disgust in the store I will match your disgust with my own and I will follow you home and read it out loud to you until you beg me to stop, until you vomit. Who is the narcissistic self obsessed weirdo now, huh? Ok. Now let’s get back to sort of talking about comics.
I am going to cram a three-fer of Marvel books into one paragraph. Why? 2 reasons. 1. When I post my reviews of Marvel books Marvel staff don’t ever tweet or post about it. They are too busy “complaining” about Bleeding Cool talking about their books to bother to support small blogs of large comic book stores (not bitter). 2. But these books are something new from Marvel though so I should be covering them and you should be giving them a chance. The compromise? Less column space. First up- GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #0.1 (Oh WTF Marvel?!? What the Holy #&<@ is that? Use whole numbers!). Guardians is a funny one. A few years ago Marvel couldn’t pay you to give a $#!% about their “cosmic” books even though they were, for the most part, very good. Then they decided to make a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie so they pumped a lot of money into telling you you like Guardians Of The Galaxy and you believed them. Lucky of all of us the new book is really good. Successful cultural brainwashing! 2. ULTIMATE X-MEN #23 (A whole number! Yay!) Ultimate X-Men has been a Bermuda triangle for brilliant comic writers for years. Bendis, Millar, Vaughan, Kirkman, Carey, etc have all done some of their worst work there. For some reason Brian Wood didn’t notice this and launches his brand new arc this week. It isn’t just the best Ultimate X-Men has been, this is some of the smartest stuff Marvel has published in years. Read it. 3. X-TREME X-MEN Vol. 1: XAVIER MUST DIE. Marvel’s EXILES book was a brilliant and fun way to turn nobody characters into compelling leads. It worked well because the throw-away nature of the characters meant that the stakes always felt higher and the characters and writing reflected that. Marvel basically relaunched EXILES but wanted a much worse name that reminded us of awful 90’s comics, Mountain Dew, and rollerblading. Hence; X-TREME X-Men. Despite their best efforts to make something unappealing this book is quite fun. If it goes on long enough and writer Greg Pak is allowed to cut loose and chart his own course this book could be something worth really cherishing. It is off to a great start.
BART SIMPSON #80. The shocking “The Death of Bart” storyline wraps up in this issue with a brutal and heartbreaking conclusion. Bongo has done a great job of making Bart’s descent into the murky underworld of Springfield’s drug and human trafficking rings feel visceral, frightening, and most of all compelling. Bart is a real character pushed too far and the things he has had to do, while not morally acceptable, are understandable to the reader. He has made himself a pariah, but he has also made himself the last honest man. Much like Hamlet, when you started reading The Death of Bart arc you knew it had to end with his murder, but it doesn’t make it any less harrowing. When Bart finally meets his end the tragedy of the moment comes with something else, a palpable sense of relief that a life lived too hard can finally come to rest. Like the gun barrel he slowly puts in his mouth, we as readers are now participants in a crime that is equal parts heinous and catharticly beautiful. And, in Bart’s passing, Springfield itself dies a little too. When his limp body, battered, broken, and abused, is pulled from the river, for the first time in years we see Bart as the child he always should have been but never could be. And as the stonefaced residents watch Marge breaking down and clawing at her own skin, each resident of Springfield knows their role in the death of a boy who never stood a chance. Bart has always worked well as a metaphor for the working classes struggle to define itself and for America’s ability to cannibalize it’s own young for the sake of some poorly defined idea of progress. In that, the death of the last boy in Springfield, USA is the death of us all. A beautiful and tragic conclusion to one of the great cartoons of all time. Ay Caramba, Bart. Ay Caramba.
Valiant‘s stunningly good relaunch continues with BLOODSHOT Vol. 1: SETTING THE WORLD ON FIRE. An inverse of Captain America, Bloodshot is the story of a government super soldier program gone horribly wrong. The Valiant books are as smart and pretty as almost anything at the Big 2, but the fresh characters give the stories a chance to cut loose and provide twists and turns you won’t see coming. X-O Manowar and Harbinger have already released their first trades and are fast becoming fan favorites for the superhero set and I expect Bloodshot to follow suit. For anyone who feels like some of their “people punching people” books have started to become stale, Valiant is trying really hard to give you a fresh alternative. And at $9.99 for the collection why wouldn’t you buy it?
It’s a new year. What better time to set new resolutions, try new things, and, most importantly read new comics. That’s where I come in. Other holidays have their mascosts; Santas and bunnies and…turkeys… and cherubs I guess… And now me. I am the Ghost of Good Comics That Will Be Canceled if You Don’t Read Them. I am your Jacob Marley. I am your conscience. Now I am going to bully you into trying a new comic you will love. You’re welcome.
Let’s start it off with the basics. You probably like comics because they are great. You probably like Spider-Man because he is amazing (or superior). You probably should be trying a new book because that is a moral imperative. While Dan Slott and co. make you wait for the debut of their new SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN, Marvel newcomer Joe Keatinge gives one of Spidey’s most fun pseudo-villains a series of his own. MORBIUS THE LIVING VAMPIRE #1 comes out today. Mr. Keatinge has been working on comics for years but has really made a name for himself in the past year with Image books like HELL YEAH! and GLORY. Morbius on the other hand has been kicking around the Marvel Universe for decades while rarely getting his proper due. He is an interesting character and Mr. Keatinge is an interesting writer, making this one a no brainer for the superhero set. These last 10 years have seen the big 2 companies face a nearly impossible battle of trying to diversify their titles. Great characters like Guardians of the Galaxy, Secret Six, Sentry, OMAC, and tons more have withered on shelves because readers won’t branch out. If you have ever been in a comic shop and said to yourself “why does every book have “BAT” or “SUPER” or “X” or “AVENGERS” in the title?” the answer is that you won’t buy books like Morbius. Do us all a favor and give an interesting book a chance. Or wait patiently for Marvel to make a book called X-Avengers. RIYL: SPIDER-MAN, GLORY, or any new characters ever getting books at the big 2.
BLACK ACRE #1 was an interesting idea. Private, walled-off cities that weathered an apocalypse and now stand on the brink of collapse in the wastelands of America. Well, BLACK ACRE #2 hits this week. Comics is a difficult medium because it is episodic so it requires a series to open with a bang and really grab you. Some of the classic ones can do it on page one. Some of the others take a full 22 pages. Here’s the thing, BLACK ACRE never grabbed me like that at all. It is smart, well written, has a great setting, and nice art. It doesn’t have that hook though. It feels a lot like a movie, a whole lot of setup that seems like it is building towards something, but it isn’t there in the opening. It is hard to quantify why though. I put down issue #1 fully entertained and satisfied, but not at all curious. Now a month has passed and I find myself pretty excited for #2. And I think that is what BLACK ACRE has and why it shines. It isn’t playing a lot of the games other books are playing. It does it’s own thing and it’s clever enough to know that should be enough to keep you coming back. And here is the book I thought I had forgotten, worming it’s way to the top of my pile. RIYL: Smart dystopian sci-fi like JUDGE DREDD or WASTELAND, or near future action stuff like DMZ, or films like ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.
FATALE vol. 2: THE DEVIL’S BUSINESS comes out this week. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have spent a few years chipping away at the title of best creative team in comics. They pretty much have it in the bag but they want to put a bunch of FATALE out to make everyone else look stupid. In the realm of crime writers Brubaker now stands nearly alone in terms of quality. And in the realm of noir-ish cartoonists Phillips has very few challengers. After SLEEPER, and CRIMINAL, and INCOGNITO, these two have done some of the best crime comics ever made. FATALE is their crime comic cum Lovecraft. It’s Cthulu noir. It is better than everything else and if you didn’t buy the first one you made a horrible mistake. Buy the second one with the first one now. This book gets all the recommendations I have to give. RIYL: Crime. Horror. Good things.
47 RONIN #2 is also out now. Mike Richardson is the founder of Dark Horse comics and has done more to raise the quality of comics than everybody but a very select few. Stan Sakai has been drawing and writing USAGI YOJIMBO for 2+ decades. The legend of the 47 Ronin is one of the most beloved and badass legends in all of human existence. Richardson & Sakai are teaming up to do a very authentic and faithful retelling of this story and it is really entertaining. Most importantly they are taking a hundreds of years old legend and making it feel relevant and fresh. Unless you read a lot of manga a book like this will be like a slap in the face, in the best possible way. Best part of all, it looks like USAGI YOJIMBO with humans… and that is just weird fun. RIYL: USAGI YOJIMBO, manga like LONE WOLF & CUB, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, or SAMURAI EXECUTIONER, and classic tales on the level of Homer or Brother’s Grimm.
RED TEN #1. A new take on Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, this is a superhero revenge and murder mystery from the folks at upstart publisher Comixtribe. The big guys in superhero comics like to borrow liberally from the great stories of western culture and act like it’s theirs, and here Tyler James and Cesar Feliciano do the same only these guys believe in their work enough to site their influences openly and know that RED TEN still stands up on it’s own. Basically self published, put together because they care and believe the story is good and matters, and fought and hustled all the way on to comic shop shelves, this book is nothing if not a product of pure passion. Reward the creators who are fighting hard to get their stories out there for you. Pick up RED TEN and let them know that you appreciate it. RIYL: Whodunnit style superhero mysteries like BATMAN: HUSH, high stakes superhero events like SECRET WARS, or fans of BATTLE ROYALE style mayhem.
COUNTRY ASS-WHUPPIN’ is an awesomely named new anthology from the usually quite good folks at 12-Gauge Comics. This single issue is full of a variety of weird and fun tales by some of the better southern gentlemen & lady creators in comics. Jason Aaron (SCALPED, WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, THE HULK), Cully Hamner (R.E.D., DETECTIVE COMICS, GREEN LANTERN), Rebekah Isaacs (ANGEL & FAITH, DV8, HACK/SLASH), and a bunch more all throw down solid stories. Best part of the whole thing? Proceeds are donated to the Red Cross tornado relief fund. You get good comics by great creators and help people in the process. It is quite possible if that doesn’t interest you that you may be a bad person. Think about it. RIYL: DARK HORSE PRESENTS, the Vertigo anthology books, helping people in need.
And that’s it for me. I am sure there is a lot of other good stuff worth grabbing this week, just make sure you get something. Happy new year. Love, GGCTWBCYDRT
FIRST SHAMELESS PLUG OF 2012!!: Hey FP Faithful, on April 15th, I’ll be out in Chicago at C2E2, speaking on a panel titled “Cosplay: What You Didn’t Want to Know and Didn’t Quite Ask”. I’ll be up there with my wife and friend Kenneth making an ass of myself and discussing costumed things, so if you’re in Chicago that weekend for the convention and don’t want to hear J.M.S. talk about some comics he didn’t finish, come by and watch me make an ass of myself.
This week we’re gonna start off looking at 2 new Play Arts Kai figures we got in recently. The 1st would be the Joker figure I mentioned a few weeks back when I was looking at the P.A.K. Batman figure from the Arkham Asylum line. Much like the Batman figure, the Joker is well sculpted and super articulated, especially when it comes to the detailing on his suit, as well as his facial expression and manic hair. In terms of accessories, the Joker comes with a set of Wind-Up Joker teeth (this makes sense if you played the game), a gun, a variant closed left hand, as well as a variant right hand that can grip said gun. Much like the Bat, the Joker goes for about $60, and will make a great companion to the Batman and eventual Harley Quinn figure Square has/will put out.
On the more Final Fantasy side of things, we have Lighting as she appears in the recently released Final Fantasy 13-2. I haven’t played FF13-2, but this a dope figure, and I REALLY like the fact that Square has sculpted her hair in translucent plastic. Then again, the entire figure is well sculpted, as there’s some crazy detail in that armor, as well as that feather-half skirt she’s rocking. Accessory-wise, Lightning comes with a pair of variant hands, shield and sword(Really wish these figures came with stands still). She retails for $55 and will be joined by her sister Serrah in the coming months. We’ve actually sold out of this figure a few times this year, so if you want her and see her on our shelves, pick it up immediately!! Continue reading →