Tagged: jeff lemire

ivx6_cover

The Final Battle Begins in IVX #6

The White Queen vs The Queen of the Inhumans! Only one will win. Can both survive?

When it was first announced there seemed to be a communal skepticism about Inhumans vs X-Men. It was an event series between two segments of the Marvel Universe that had been having a pretty rough track record as far as readers were concerned. Plus, with the new push for the X-Men in ResurrXion this whole event seemed poised to be just a means to a most certain end. We should have all had more faith in Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule. Now the cataclysmic conclusion has arrived to what has been a far superior series than Civil War II and, I daresay, Avengers Vs. X-Men. It will boil down to one last showdown on the snowy sleeps between Emma Frost and Crystal, the White Queen and the Queen of the Inhumans, in a war where it’s tough to call either side truly good or obviously evil.

The strength of this event has been the evenhanded approach to both sides of the conflict. The mutants want to avoid extinction and several of the Inhumans have switched sides to make that happy ending possible without the deaths of so many of both groups. While the adults have been resigned to slug it out for the “greater good” it’s been younger characters like Moon Girl and Cyclops that have tried to outthink the violent approach of their elders. But no matter how sympathetic both sides may be, there has to be a winner and a loser, right? I mean, at the end of the day one side’s going to lose a little less or gain a little more out of it. This is the part where we find out who will pay what cost for this clash between two groups of characters that Marvel is in need of a giving a good jolt to in 2017.

See how this chapter ends and maybe a tease of how the next one begins inside the oversized conclusion to the Inhumans Vs. X-Men event!

 

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Chris’ Comics: All-New Hawkeye #6 & Captain Marvel #4

2016-04-21-allnewhawkeyeAll-New Hawkeye #6

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Hey it’s the finale issue of All-New Hawkeye! Again!

This ending is FOR REAL though, as it’s apparently the last installment in this series by the team of Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring. And while I’ve found this run a little uneven at times, issue #6 (which is the 12th issue for this team, but you know, COMICS!) offers the reader a lot, and actually changes things up for Team Hawkeye in a major way.

While I haven’t been the biggest fan of the flashback material Lemire and Perez have been doing throughout this run, this issue completely justifies the use of that narration device. Exploring Kate Bishop’s past was a good call, and the events in this issue does something real fascinating with Kate that I dare not spoil. It clarifies some things that date back to Kate’s earliest appearances in Young Avengers, and  hopefully retcons something extremely outdated & problematic from those stories as well. This carries over to the present day stuff, which I imagine will be used to launch whatever the next incarnation of Hawkeye will be in the coming months.

If there’s been on constant thing about this team throughout the last 12 issues, it’s been Ramon Perez and Ian Herring’s work. The two artists have been great time and time again, and this finale really sees them come into their own as story tellers, mixing some cool silver age aesthetics in the flashback material with some lush and vibrant pages for the modern day sections of the book. Perez and Herring really had their work cut out for them coming into this book, and it’s been super enjoyable watching them grow and experiment over the last year.

We don’t know what lies in store for Team Hawkeye in the coming months, but All-New Hawkeye was a interesting exploration of the lives of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Lemire, Perez and Herring didn’t exactly have the critically acclaimed run their predecessors had, but it was a fun story none the less. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see the Hawkeyes in action again.

portrait_incredible (7)Captain Marvel #5

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Felipe Smith, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

It’s slightly ironic that we’re discussing Captain Marvel, and to a lesser extent Abigail Brand, on 4/26/16, aka Alien Day (#brands). Earlier issues of this arc definitely felt like a homage to the classic Sci-Fi property, and this issue has 2 female character very much getting their Elena Ripley on.

Captain Marvel #5 sees writers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters make Carol Danvers current scenario go from bad to worse, as Alpha Flight’s attempts to deal with this “new” alien threat don’t go so well. Oh and that pesky traitor is still in their ranks, mucking things up. What’s bad for Carol and company is great for readers, and we’re treated to 20 pages of high stakes actions, beautifully depicted by Kris Anka, Felipe Smith and Matthew Wilson. I don’t think I’ve seen two artist who manage to blend their respected styles as well as Anka and Smith, and Wilson’s colors are a sight to behold. I love how Wilson sets such vibrant characters against dark backgrounds, giving the book a refreshingly modern and sharp look.

The Elena Ripley comparison feels spot on with Carol and Abigail never say die attitudes. Both character, despite their VERY comic book genealogy, feel so human, but never weak. It’s inspiring in several ways, and makes for a pair of characters that are easy to root for. I particularly like a very Shonen Manga influenced scene, where Carol’s staff let their leader know they’re with her in this high risk scenario. It’s a nice upbeat moment that gives the reader something to rally behind as the crisis at hand gets worse.

Captain Marvel #5 is the type of penultimate chapter you want from a 6 issue arc. The stakes of raised to the point where it genuinely feels no one is safe. It’s an impressive feet, given how predictable cape comics and can often be, and it’s just another reason why Captain Marvel is one of the best super hero titles coming out from Marvel currently.

 

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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.

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Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #4

All-New-Hawkeye-4All New Hawkeye #4

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

It seems all too fitting to be talking about Marvel’s most famous archers on Valentine’s Day weekend. Granted talking about Deadpool on V-day weekend 2016 is also very fitting this year, I’ll save that anecdote for my Spider-Man/Deadpool #2 review.

All New Hawkeye #4 kicks off the “Hawkeyes” story arc, which delves into the past of Hawkeye Kate Bishop, while Hawkeye Clint Barton teams up with S.H.I.E.LD. in the present. While I wasn’t keen on the Hawkeye origin flashbacks in Volume 0, looking at Katie-Kate’s roots is concept I can get behind. It’s something few very writers have explored, and after Fraction dropped the bomb that her dad is kind of a criminal jerkface, it opens up some neat story telling possibilities for Jeff Lemire to use.

HAWKEYE2015B004_int2_4-932x1414Ramon Perez has been a fantastic artist on this title through and through, and this issue is no exception. I dig how all the characters except for Kate are drawn a little looser and sketchier, where as Ms. Bishop is more focused and refined. It’s a cool way of ensuring that reader realize that SHE’s the focus of the story, and it’s a inventive variant on what Perez did for the Clint flashbacks. Color artist Ian Herring doesn’t attempt anything new for these scenes, which is fine. There’s ZERO need to fix what’s not broken, and those water color style colors are still great. The modern era art looks great as usual, although I REALLY wish we could go an arc where one of the story lines isn’t set in a snowy area. That being said, I love how clean and bright it is, especially when it’s blended together with the flashback segments on the same page.

Getting back to Lemire, this is definitely one of his strongest issues to date.He’s finally begin to find his footing, and develop his own voices for these characters. He wisely sticks to the path laid out before him, which only makes sense. His Kate reads a lot like one tumblr_o2h897Ci4R1uozhf6o1_500would traditionally expect Lady Hawkguy to sound like (well read, sarcastic, and extremely mature for her age), and his Clint is the goofball with a heart of gold we’ve all come to love. Lemire is also beginning to inject more humor into his scripts, which I appreciate, and I hope to see more of it in the future. Lemire’s Hawkeye has a bunch of heart, but more humor and action is always welcomed. My only real complaint is the reveal regarding the Project Communion kid’s origins, because man I am real tired of Marvel forcing that particular thing down my throat.

All New Hawkeye continues to be an enjoyable read that finally delivers on a Kate Bishop focused story we were promised over a year ago. It’s clear that Lemire has had plans for the character for awhile, and it’s great to see the character as the focus again. Ramon Perez and Ian Herring’s art continues to find new ways to impress readers, and it’s amazing that they manage to switch things up for every new arc. “Hawkeyes” is off to a fun start, and the cover for issue 5 promises that this is going to be another great arc.

 

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Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #3

STK693569All New Hawkeye #3

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

I believe it’s safe to say that I can stop worrying about the future of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Both figuratively and literally, thanks to how this comic plays out.

 All New Hawkeye #3 wraps up the creative team of Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring’s 2nd arc, which sounds weird, but try to remember exactly how relaunch-happy Marvel is these days. It’s a great issue that shows how important the Clint and Kate are to each other, even though they’re not on speaking terms with each other for most of the issue. It also wraps up the future Hawkeye story, which was fun alternate future thing filled with a ton of cool ideas and designs.

At first glance, you could accuse Lemire at rehashing a lot of what Matt Fraction had done: ie, broke up and reunite Kate and Clint. It’s a fair complaint, but in Lemire’s defense, he handles it differently, and resolves it quicker. He also shows how much Kate needs Clint, HAWKEYE2015B003-int-LR2-3-4c025which is nice, even though he flat out stats that Clint needs Kate to be a proper Hawkeye. Which is true, as we probably wouldn’t have had nearly 30 issues of Hawkeye comics over the last 4 years if it wasn’t for the inclusion of Kate Bishop. It’s good to see Lemire finally getting more comfortable with the Clint and Kate dynamic, and finally establishing his own take on their relationship. He also does some wonderful things with Clint’s brother Barney, who makes a welcomed return to these pages. It’s a wonderful series of pages, which really works for me more than the Barney/Clint stiff from volume 0. Part of me wants more Barney and Clint bro times from Lemire, but given the character’s current status quo, I’d also be okay with him being left alone with his happy ending for him for the time being.

Ramon Perez has always been great on this book, and I’m impressed that he also manages to improve in some small way with every issue. In issue 3 for example, he draws more sound effects into his panels, and their pretty great. “Bro Hug” was a sound effect that sounds like something that would have shown up in Adventure Time, and its presence is tumblr_o0y1e7HNyt1sqep2mo1_1280welcomed. It’s such a minor thing, but the tiny words give the art an element of comedy that I appreciate. Aside from sound effect, I love his character designs for the future cast of characters, and how Perez composes some of his pages, especially the  Miss America Chavez and Kate Bishop page in which the panels act as mirror images.. All of this, in addition to the fact that he switches up his art style 3 different times in this issue, make him one of the most under appreciated artists at Marvel. Any issue of ANH that take primary in the present is better for it, and issue 3 is proof of that, thanks to Ramon Perez’s visuals, enhanced by Ian Herring’s brilliant choice of colors.

All New Hawkeye #3 puts my fears to rest and helps make this book one of my favorites again. I’m glad the team got their stuff together for this arc, and I’m now genuinely excited for this book in a way I haven’t been for months.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #2

4938440-hawkeye2015b002_dc11_lr-0All New Hawkeye #2

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Let it be known that I’m writing/editing this article with a fun little head cold. Big ups to the New York area weather being insane this month, also expect more typos and grammar errors than usual.

So let’s talk about Kate Bishop today! Katie-Kate is known for co-starring in Hawkeye with Clint these days, but before the excellent and often mentioned Fraction/Aja series, Kate only popped up in Young Avengers. As much as I like the Clint/Kate dynamic, I missed the relationship she had with her YA pals, and am thrilled to see it back in this issue of All New Hawkeye. Also hey, here come some slight spoilers.

The Hawkeyes are joined by Novarr/Marvel Boy and Ms. America Chavez in All New Hawkeye #2, which sees the future versions of Clint and Kate battle the Mandarin, while their current day counterparts deal with their failing out. It is not the upbeat Clint and Kate story we get from the Marvel Holiday special, but it’s a good comic none the less.

tumblr_nz3ljtGLhT1sy4rryo2_1280Much like Jeff Lemire steering his scripts away from the tone set by Fraction, artist Ramos Perez continues to make the Hawkeye visuals his own with every passing issue. I really like how more and more animated his art is getting when it comes to the modern day Hawk-stuff, which is best showcased when Perez is drawing Lucky the Pizza Dog, and the conversation between Miss America and Kate. The future stuff doesn’t look as good due it’s more sketchy style, but works well enough. Ian Herring’s colors are just as great, going a little more bolder and brighter when it comes to coloring the present day pages, and more experimental and psychedelic for the future stuff. I think by coloring those pages as such. Herring’s implying that the future isn’t set in stone by doing so, BUT I also may be reading into things too much.

Writer Jeff Lemire finally fulfills his claim that Kate is the co-star of this comic by giving the lady Hawkeye more of the focus this time around. While he can’t match Fraction in ttumblr_nz3ljtGLhT1sy4rryo3_1280erms of humor, he’s certainly managed to capture Matt’s tone when it comes to the more assertive and serious Kate Bishop. And there’s a bit of Kieron Gillen influence to his dialogue when it comes to writing the Young Avengers kids, which I dig. In addition to that, there’s a really interesting plot twist that goes down in the future portion of the comic that I’m now really excited to see play out.

The fully realized team of Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, and Ian Herring prove that the previous issue was not a lucky break, as All New Hawkeye #2 is a very enjoyable comic. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Hawkeyes work together again in the future, while trying to figure out their relationship in the present, which examines how emotionally dependent Clint is on Kate, and maybe the other way around too. I’m thrilled to see the creative team bounce back like this after that shaky first arc, and expect them to continue to thrive as they have on these last two issues.

 

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Highlighted New Releases for NCBD September 9th 2015

I’m gonna try to get back to regular posting on this blog. Here’s my first shot at it- a simple listing of personally recommended or otherwise notable new stuff available at Forbidden Planet NYC in-store and online for the week of 9/9/15. Here we go…

9781632154262

Descender TP Volume 1 – Jeff Lemire (w), Dustin Nguyen (a)

One young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. A rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey that pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling space opera from the creators of Trillium, Sweet Tooth, and Little Gotham.

Collects DESCENDER #1-6.

Continue reading

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: All New All Shameless Edition

So hey, before I start my weekly Hawkeye discussion/Comics Review, I wanted to make the FP Faithful aware of a few things

1)The DC Sneak Peeks from this week are pretty great, and if you don’t want to spend your money on Convergence tie ins, are available on Comixology and several other websites. My personal picks are We Are Robins Black Canary and Batgirl, but you should definitely track down the Starfire, Grayson and Gotham Academy ones as well.

2) Speaking of digital offerings, Fresh Romance is available on Comixology too. I kickstarted it, and man, I am glad that I did. It’s a cool return to romance comics featuring some fantastic stories by several rad up and coming creators. It’s 5 bucks for 30 pages, which I know is steep, but it’s a rare occasion where the price is justified by the quality of the content.

3)  June kicks off Summer Convention time, which means if you’re on the East Coast, you get to see me dressed up as a super hero in a crowded environment. I’ll be at Special Edition NYC, FLAMECON and Heroescon next month, and if you want to say hi or track my nonsense on social media, I’m on twitter & instagram @TheAnarCHris .

 

Alright, shameless plug theater is over, Hawk-talk begins now

All-New_Hawkeye_Vol_1_3_TextlessAll-New Hawkeye #3

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

When writing one Crapsack Tire Fire (aka Clint Barton), one way to keep my interest in the character is to have equal amounts of one Kate Bishop and one Lucky, the Eisner award winning pizza dog. It took Team Hawkguy 2.0 three issues to realize that, which makes issue 3 the best issue of All-New Hawkeye to date.

This time around, writer Jeff Lemire limits the Flashback/Origin-y stuff to one panel per page. It’s a neat storytelling technique, as most of these story allows artist Ramon Perez tell the story in mostly dialogue free scenes. It also allows the reader to see how these circus bits relate to the story that takes place in the present, which is treated as the A-side story this issue. Clint and Katie Kate has to deal with the fallout of their mission, and end up getting into more trouble as a Hawkeye tends to do.

With a few issues under their belts, Lemire and Perez read and look more comfortable on this title. Lemire’s dialogue flows better, and the Kate and Clint banter is great. Lemire’s Kate Bishop has noticeably improved with every issue, as his Clint. Perez’s art has also improved ten fold with the modern setting, and we’re treated to a double page multi-panel fight scene that is delightful as it is brutal.  Perez’s more traditional art style is a little more loose and animated than it has been in the past, and the book is all the better for it. It’s still relatively minimalist, but so expressive and energetic. And Ian Herring‘s wonderful colors give the book a nice since of depth despite being so flat like Matt Hollingsworth before him. There’s a sense of fun to this comic, something missing from the previous issues

With the rocky start  hopefully behind it, it appears All New Hawkeye has finally found it’s footing and is becoming a solid title.  I imagine those who are trade waiting it may not be as harsh as I have been as they get read the story in a single chunk. But as someone who reads it monthly, it’s nice to see this creative team improved steadily with every issue, and hope the team keeps it up.

 

 

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Childhood Flashbacks editions

There are currently 12 unwatched episodes of Daredevil in my Netflix queue right now, please note that I took time to write this article instead of ODing on DD.

Saga_27-1_300_462Saga #27

Fiona Staples/Biran K Vaughan

Image Comics $2.99

I’ve been running out of ways to complement Saga. Each issue is a 20 page celebration of comics, with the creators doing their damnedest to show exactly  why they’re the best what this medium is capable of. This month’s issue is no exception, as Fiona Staples and Brain K Vaughan show off their full range of talents.

Issue 27 has Fiona Staples drawing everything from odd/unusual erotica, to grotesque violence, to absolutely adorable thanks to tiny sealman/my favorite character Ghus. Ghus in particular is an fine example of Staples’ artistic skills, as she manages to convey a lot of character and emotion in a character with a comparatively simplistic design. There’s also some really powerful emotional beats that Staples hit without the assistance of BKV’s words. While she’s never been anything less than impressive, this particular arc of Saga may be Staples finest work to date. I couldn’t think of a better artist to see their name listed before the writer’s name in the credits page.

Brain K Vaughan continues to be the very best at what he does when it comes to dialogue and the script, snikt. We get to take another glimpse of Marko’s past in this issue, and the stuff revealed in the flashbacks is brutal, but compelling none the less. He also injects some much needed humor in places that helps ease the tension, as well as remind us how delightful these characters are. Vaughan’s words are overshadowed by the art at times, but it never feels like he’s coasting on Staples talents.

Saga is still very much the best book on the market, and this issue is just further proof of that.

portrait_incredible (1)All New Hawkeye #2

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

AWWW, Fact: This is the 2nd Hawkeye #2 in which a/the Swordsman is a crucial element to the plot!

This 2nd issue of All New Hawkeye is a slight improvement over the previous issue, but I’m still a tad confused over the direction of the title. The book continues to be split between the past and present, but the present sections continue to feel like an after though. Ramon Perez and Ian Herring certainly do some cool stuff with this book’s visuals, but it genuinely does feel like writer Jeff Lemire prefers re-telling Clint’s origin than moving his Hydra/creepy-ass children plot forward.

To be fair, the Circus flashback segments are fairly enjoyable, even with the art being a little uneven in places. The sketchy art looks a tad incomplete at times, but Ian Herring’s colors really help enhance it a ton. The modern segments look slightly better, as Perez channeling David Aja suits his style better. Lemire is still struggling with the Hawkeyes banter, but it’s improving.

All New Hawkeye #2 is a much needed step in the right direction, although it’s not quite there yet. Hopefully the next issue will continue to improve in quality, and this book will be on par with the previous creative team’s efforts.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Jeff Lemire Debut edition

Welcome to the article where I know I’m going to spell Lemire as “Lemiere” at least twice and not notice it until it’s pointed out in the comments section/Twitter.

Jeff Lemire, who’s had a big week, is a writer who’s stuff I haven’t touched in awhile, but I definitely liked is work in the past. His run on Animal Man was quite good, he did a pre-Flaspoint/New 52 Superboy book that was equally bizarre as it was charming, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of his creator owned stuff. This week, Lemire launches his new Indie book under Image, and relaunches my favorite Marvel comic (that’s yet to be completed).

Descender-01-6b1c3Descender #1

Jeff Lemire/Dustin Nguyen

Image $2.99

Ever since Saga took over comics, Image has had no shortage of comics involving space, children, crime or a combination of all three. Most of those book has also been amazing, so no one complains about it because otherwise the alternative is going back to Spawn or Witchblade.

As every review of Descender will tell you, Sony Pictures ponied up a ton of money to secure the films right to the comic, despite the fact it was still a month away from hitting the stands. Created by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, it is a GORGEOUS looking book, and  it reads like Chris Nolan directing a Pixar movie. If that’s now something you want in your life, I wouldn’t hold you breathe, also welcome to the nightmare that is being me. But yeah, Nguyen’s water colors look great, and Lemire’s writing is spot on. Despite this being another comic about a young boy by Lemire (see Blankets, Superboy, parts of his new Hawwkeye series,  Sweet Tooth), he introduces a weird  cast that’s helps suck you into this world that he’s co-created. It’s a surprisingly charming book, despite some really dark plot points and themes.

I went into Descender with a good feeling, and I ended up liking it a lot more than I was expecting. Robots and space are often my jams when it comes to media, and Descender uses them to tell an exciting new story I’m eager to read more of.

 

All-New_Hawkeye_Vol_1_1_TextlessAll-New Hawkeye #1

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Here we have the other great looking Jeff Lemire comic to debut this week. Sadly, I am not as happy with it as I was with Descender.

All-New Hawkeye is not a bad comic, but it just didn’t wow me like the yet to be completed Matt Fraction/David Aja book did. That book had a mission statement from day one (Show what Hawkeye does on his day off). This one starts off mostly set in the past, and cuts to the Hawkeyes doing some avenging in the present. While I appreciate Lemire taking the book in a new direction, it still needs a hook. All I got from it was “Hey, the previous Hawkeye series got Marvel a ton of buzz and acclaim, let’s keep this book going.” Hawkeye volume 1 issue 1 felt like a cool new indie book, where as ANH feels like more like a really good cover band messing up my favorite song. Lemire’s attempt to capture Clint and Kate’s banter is appreciated, but it’s something he needs to work on. It felt colder and nagging than it did humorous and playful.

Visually, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring couldn’t be better replacements for David Aja & Matt Hollingsworth. Perez’s art is the best thing about this book, and his painted illustrations for the flashback material are gorgeous. And when paired with Herring for the modern stuff, we get some solid action scenes, with Herring doing his best to ape Matt Hollingsworth flat color pallet. It works for the most part, because while Perez isn’t as strong as the veteran Aja, Herring’s bold colors help complete the visual experience. All New Hawkeye is a great looking book, and I’m glad Perez and Herring are able to deliver on the art end of things like Aja, Annie Wu and the other Hawkeye volume 1 artists before them.

In the new creative team’s defense, it was an almost impossible task to make me fall in love with this book like I did with the previous volume. Following up to that creative team is a huge  challenge, and they definitely tried to do their best with this issue. I have faith that Lemire can escape Fraction’s shadow sooner rather than later, but I’ll admit, it felt weird to read a Hawkeye comic that I didn’t fall in love with immediately. I hope that’s something that doesn’t happen again.

 

 

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FP Spotlight: Jeff Lemire

If you ask someone what their favorite book is, they usually have a passionate explanation for it. “The main character is just like me”; “It’s just so heartbreaking”; “It made me laugh until I cried”; and so on. No one holds up a copy of something that changed their life and says “I dunno, it looked really cool.” This emotional core is something that comics sometimes find themselves lacking, but a few writers and artists have mastered the art of really getting to their readers, and Jeff Lemire is first among them.

Lemire kicked off his career with LOST DOGS, a 24-hour comic-turned-graphic-novel with the assistance of a Xeric grant. It’s messy, but it’s got a lot of heart in its black-white-red story of a lumbering oaf just wanting to help. It’s a book that gets by a lot on its atmosphere, and the messy inks Lemire employs.

For his second project, rather than try to go the superhero route, or a book where magic is law, or some other high concept project, Lemire turned his eye to his beloved home county in the Great White North itself, and decided to tell the story of a county full of average Canadian people. The ESSEX COUNTY trilogy is one of the most heartbreaking and simultaneously uplifting books I could possibly recommend. It’s the Spoon River Anthology by way of Slap Shot, with lots of hockey, kids and adults who dream of escape, and people who are just doing the best they can to get by. It’s Steinbeckian, and it’s huge, without losing a sense of intimacy into what these people want–and how rarely they will get it.

2009 was a banner year for Lemire: it finally saw the publication of ESSEX COUNTY (which went on to be named one of the Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade); the publication of THE NOBODY, his retelling of The Invisible Man; and the beginning of his first creator-owned series, SWEET TOOTH. Sweet Tooth tells the story of Gus, a young boy with deer antlers and an incredible taste for chocolate. It went on for several years, and turned villains into begrudging heroes, gave fathers to wayward children, and told the secret history of the world. All this in a world where Mad Max could have been the guy who killed Bambi’s dad.

Since 2012, Lemire’s work has been mostly at Vertigo and DC. He launched some of the best New 52 titles during the company-wide relaunch in 2011, including ANIMAL MAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, and FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. For a man who’s able to move around in so many genres, the quality of his books never suffers from title-to-title, because he’s a master of the emotional core of a book. Animal Man is about a superhero protecting his daughter while she grows up too fast; Frankenstein is about a man making amends with his friends and his estranged wife in order to face their future. Add into this a standalone graphic novel, THE UNDERWATER WELDER, that reads like a lost Twilight Zone episode, and you’ve got a winning combo.

Most recently, Lemire returned to the drawing board for a longer form experiment, writing and drawing TRILLIUM, a ten-issue series about a WWI soldier recently returned from the war falling in love with a 30th century scientist. They both help each other heal and they get in plenty of spacetime continuum fights. Add into this his radical experimentation with form, making a House-of-Leaves-like experience out of reading a comic, and it’s just this side of genius.

Lemire is one to watch out for, still. After his exclusive agreement with DC expired last year, he was quick to jump onto THE VALIANT (available at our fine store–issue 4 coming soon!), and BLOODSHOT REBORN from Valiant. This week we’ve got ALL-NEW HAWKEYE (miraculously out before the finale of Regular old Hawkeye!) as well as writing a brand new series called DESCENDER, about a young boy robot illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. We thinks it’s going to be a visual delight as well as an emotionally satisfying read.

And refusing to ever take a break, Lemire will be illustrating a series written by Scott Snyder (his best friend/nemesis– best fremesis) in the near future, too!

So here’s to you, Jeff Lemire. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

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A Week late a dollar more

A solid week for trades, and a solid week from Oni Press. I guess all books are solid though. Their matter through chemical bonding, organic material, etc. Good thing books aren’t metal! Cause then I’d have to explain the Fermi Surface principle, and we really just don’t have time for quantum solids theory. But you can probably figure it out from this:

We’ll discuss it next week. Instead, here’s a book about a cat…

I Was the Cat by Paul Tobin and Ben Dewey– Last night, I had a dream I was a cat. Everything was cat perspective, but I was aware of myself as something I normally was not. It wasn’t a long dream; I just did a bunch of exploring and typical cat things, nothing special. But my journey doesn’t have to end. I can imagine myself as the best cat around thanks to a new hardcover book out this week from Oni Press. Imagine that every major event in history involved one cat living each of his nine lives hidden in between the pages of every textbook, and you get Burma the cat. Reaching the end of his life, he reaches out to journalist Allison Breaking to make his last mark in society. But there are some pieces he’d rather leave uncovered. Tobin has written more books than I can name, and the same can be said for artist Benjamin Dewey. But their collaboration is something is the beginning of a magical cat romp through life.

 

Henry and Glen Forever and Ever TP by Tom Neely– Neely, of course, isn’t the only credit in this book. A labor of love about two domestic lovers who labor over their mothers, defeating cults, and sometimes going to therapy to help keep their eternal rocking passion alive. If you’ve picked up the minis when then came out, or you’re just curious about what this curious little world is about, you can now HAVE IT ALL! I got to peep an early release one this past week in San Diego, and just the painted American Gothic cover is worth picking this book up. Plus, Neely is working on a new Image book, and will soon be the coolest kid in town, so get his stuff while you still can.

 

Steven Universe #1 by Jeremy Sorese and Coleman Engle– Rebecca Sugar has done amazing work making the titular cartoon network show a hit amongst the little tweens, and the older stoners who enjoy the colors and bubbliness of the show. Steven is the youngest in a family of universal guardians, and while he’s trying to figure out the superhero gig, he’s also trying to figure out his coming-of-age emotions and pains of getting older. But in his first comic, Steven is all about having fun, and riding bikes. Though nothing is ever simple for Steven, and he gets in over his head. The former Adventure Time writer set the stage for an amazing cartoon that will surely win over the hearts and minds of all my other childish contemporaries.

 

Trillium TP by Jeff Lemire– You’ve probably been following this story all along, which I have, but you probably haven’t seen the flipbook madness collected all in one place, which I have not. That’s why this trade is so important to pick up this week. Between the distant past, and the far future, Lemire weaves a half love, half adventure story that delineates the space-time continuum. And the literal flipbook he uses to visually illustrate just how far apart our protagonists are can only be put to better use in a full collection of their love story that seeks the end the universe.

Bunker TP by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari– Look. Let’s get real. Fialkov is one of the most inventive writers currently writing inventive books. And Infurnari compliments this inventiveness with dreamlike art that mimics the surreal landscape in which the characters of The Bunker must traverse; past, present, and future. Investigating the moral grounds of whether messing with the past will beget a brighter future, the characters of The Bunker are deeply flawed, all while trying to do the best they can to save humanity (and themselves) with only the information that has been left for them from the future. As a psychological thriller fan, this goes greatly in tandem with those who are fans of shows like The Leftovers, Under the Dome, etc. It’s really a comic perfect for anyone who enjoys a story, like a real story. A story that twists and turns, and leaves you with unexpected feelings of alliance and betrayal.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 5: Rebel Spaceships, Striking From a Hidden Base

I feel like I have been doing this column long enough now that you all must be dying for a behind the scenes peek at how the magic happens. It all starts around 1:30 AM on Sunday night/Monday morning. That’s around 4 hours after I am supposed to have emailed this in to Tyler, our lovely wizard/graphic designer. I sit down in a chair and make up a bunch of stuff about new comics. I then send it to Tyler’s cauldron of spells/email account. He then does some process I don’t understand, blah blah blah, now it looks nice to look at. Then someone does something so that some internet nerds make it a blog post and someone else or maybe the same person does something so that printing nerds make it a newsletter. Viola! And that’s how it works. Same as the New York Times. It’s like Arthur C. Clarke once said to me, “Any sufficiently advanced low level comics journalism/sales pitch is indistinguishable from magic.” Anyway, there is a surprisingly good amount of new stuff on shelves this week and I have wasted a lot of space making jokes that only I will find funny, so let’s get on with it.

First, a moment of sadness and thanks to the great Jeff Lemire who wraps up his brilliant post apocalyptic coming of age story Sweet Tooth this week in SWEET TOOTH #40. If you haven’t ever read Mr. Lemire’s work you should be ashamed. SWEET TOOTH vol.1 is one of the true great joys of comics in the twenty first century. RIYL: SANDMAN, THE ROAD, or Children Of Men.

Also well worth reading no matter your feeling on superhero books, or anything else really, is WONDER WOMAN. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are quietly sitting in their own corner of the DC universe taking one of the most beloved characters in comics history and telling new stories for her that feel exciting, fresh, and look about as good as a comic can look. Matthew Wilson’s coloring on this book will be studied for years to come as the correct way to have coloring not just serve the pencil art, but to make coloring it’s own art. You don’t have to know anything going in, nor do you have to care about the rest of the DC universe. You just have to like good comics. DC is finally putting out WONDER WOMAN vol. 1 & vol. 2 this week. This is about as good as superhero comics get so you should get them. RIYL: Wonder Woman stories on any level, Clash Of The Titans or any modern takes on mythology

DEVIL IS DUE IN DREARY #2 is also out this week. I really loved issue #1 of this series that felt like a perfect cross between the modern western elements of PREACHER and the foreboding tone of A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Add to that art that looks like a smoother Howard Chaykin and you have a really well made book. I know this is a book that will fly under most folks radars but that is a real shame. It has just enough uniqueness to make it stand out, just enough familiarity to be relatable, and is good enough to be a classic if people gave it a chance. RIYL: JONAH HEX or any modern westerns, FELL, PREACHER.

EERIE #2 hits shelves as well. I don’t hide my love for anthology comics and EERIE is a classic. Dark Horse’s relaunch of the series is off to a great start with weird short stories from Mike Allred (MADMAN, iZOMBIE, FF), Brian Clevinger (ATOMIC ROBO), and others. If you just want to read some fun & unusual stuff this is a no-brainer. Don’t be the guy or girl in your local comic shop who has to admit “I just like unfun & usual stuff.” RIYL: Old EERIE comics or other EC stuff, TWILIGHT ZONES, feeding your short attention span.

Peter Bagge is one of the modern legends of indie comics for his brilliant series HATE. When there is that much love and respect heaped on ones work it becomes easy for a lot of creators to shrink away from ever doing something substantial again. Fear of the followup or what have you. But Mr. Bagge has dived headfirst into new and brilliant projects one after another. From APOCALPSE NERD to YEAH! to OTHER LIVES his post HATE work has been varied and fun. It’s a different time for comics and it’s hard to get people as excited about a new book as it once was, but Mr. Bagge’s latest series, RESET, is maybe his best work since HATE and, if it were a different time, would be loved and talked about in much the same way. RESET is the story of a man who enters into an experiment that allows him to relive and change choices he’s made from his past. Weirdo stuff ensues. RIYL: Older Bagge stuff like HATE, the modern indie masters like Daniel Clowes or Charles Burns, or the idea of going back in time and messing things up like a creepy Marty McFly.

I don’t have much of an interest in Conan. Never did really. Some things aren’t for everyone. I know why people like it, I get that, it just wasn’t for me. Then Brian Wood wrote the excellent NORTHLANDERS series about badass vikings axing each other and whatnot and I immediately got the appeal. Apparently someone at Dark Horse did too because they snatched Mr. Wood up and put him on their CONAN book. I don’t know if that worked to bring new readers into the fold but it damn well should have. Mr. Wood is great at huge epics (DMZ, NORTHLANDERS), great at telling stories smarter than they need to be (COURIERS, CHANNEL ZERO), and great at working with amazing artists. For the beginning of his run, collected as CONAN vol 13: QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST he continues these trends. A smart Conan story that feels epic and has beautiful work by two of the more consistently interesting artists working today; BECKY CLOONAN (AMERICAN VIRGIN, DEMO vol II) and JAMES HARREN (B.P.R.D.). For those of you who have ever loved Conan and forgotten about it, this is the time to jump back on. And for those of you like me, who never saw the appeal, this is the comic that will make you fall in love with a barbarian with an ax. That’s a good thing.

RIYL: NORTHLANDERS, people using swords and stuff on each other, old pulp stories made relevant again.

END TIMES OF BRAM & BEN #1 is out this week. A buddy comedy set around the rapture. Image pumped out more good series debuts in 2012 than most people can afford to read and ETOBAB is their hope for their first big hit of 2013. This book is clearly gunning for the bookshelves of fans of smart and snarky comics and is definitely worth checking out if that is you. Co-writer James Asmus is a rising star over at Marvel but is also doing his time at Image on THIEF OF THIEVES with some nobody named Robert Kirkman. If you look for comics that have some action but really want to make you smirk this should fully be on your radar by now. RIYL: BATTLE POPE, CHEW, or the film Dogma.

My last recommendation is BETA TESTING THE APOCALYPSE. 10ish short stories from Tom Kaczynski that all play with the idea of exploring modern intangible concepts like capitalism or utopia and breaking them down into very tangible and very human stories. These are big ideas made very small and personal. Kaczynki’s style makes all the heavy stuff feel very immersive with out ever feeling oppressive. It is a delicate balancing act, and one that clearly he is comfortable with. BETA TESTING THE APOCALYPSE, like a lot of the Fantagraphics stuff from the last decade, is definitely one of those books that’ll please almost everybody who has the interest to pick it up and for a select few it will become a most cherished and prized possession. RIYL: J.G. Ballard, the more esoteric but personal stuff Fantagraphics puts out, CONCRETE.

Ok. I’m done.

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The Weekly Pulse – Drive Your Enemies Before You

Lots to look at today! A couple more number sixes trickled out in the form of Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Frankenstein, and Suicide Squad. Plus more of everyone’s favorite enmouthed Merc and enlobstered Johnson! Most exciting of all, a new Conan book from Becky Cloonan and Brian Wood! Throw is some Dark Matter, Scarlet Spider, Memorial, The Strain, and Thief of Thieves, (editor’s note: currently sold out.  New stock shipping march 14th) and you have a busy week of comics reading!

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