Tagged: Jimmy Palmiotti

Chris’ Comics: Starfire #2

 

STARF_Cv2_552d9445eac847_14180805Starfire #2

 

DC $2.99

Starfire #2 is an interesting comic. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are attempting to do something new with the character, which is an admirable task given how bloated the super hero market is, not to mention an alien trying to fit in on earth is ALSO the premise to one of DC’s most iconic characters. Setting the book in a small Florida city gives it a unique hook and a unique look thanks to artist Emanuela Lupacchino. That being said, why I’m a fan of a the concept of this issue, the actual execution wasn’t as good as I was hoping.

Comics-070915---Starfire-02Case in point: Starfire vs. an actual hurricane (Named Betty incase you were wondering) is an interesting premise. Kori isn’t an exactly a Superman level character ( Well neither is Superman these days but ignore that for now), so it actually poses a threat to the character. The downside to this is that all the emotional beats (AKA characters who are actually expendable) are tied to a lot of characters too new to feel any real attachment too. It is nice to see Starfire actually be an actual hero and try to save everyone, so the book has that going for it. And good for the creators involved for putting out 2 issues of a super hero comics that hasn’t resulted in a slugfest yet. It’s an refreshing alternative to the usual fisticuffs, and it’s cool to see Amanda and Jimmy continue to push Starfire closer to her animated counterpart. The cheesecake from the first issue is also turned down significantly which is good, as the events of this issue really don’t allow for it.

But continuing my roll as a Negative Nelly, something else that irked me slightly about this book was the humor. Granted humor is subjective, a the vast majority of the jokes in this issue didn’t work for me, including a few I wasn’t sure if we’re jokes or plot points. But I’m glad the “Starfire doesn’t understand that word or phrase gag with cute visual cue” has been overused yet, as its one of the jokes in this book that works for me still.

sf-2-panelsI also have ZERO complaints about the visuals. HI-FI‘s colors really sell the sense of danger of this hurricane, and the use of black and blue backgrounds work nice against Starfire’s skin. The book still retains its tropical vibe thanks to HI-FI and Lupacchino, which is something that could have been easily overlooked. And Ray McCarthy deserves some praise for some really clean inks, tying the art package together nicely.

Despite some disappointing aspects, the second issue of Starfire is a light, but fun read. The creators are striving to do something with this book, even with a VERY obvious callback to their run on Powergirl. Even though it didn’t succeed on every level, Starfire deserves praise for being a very different type of super hero book, and for that I am grateful to the creators and the editorial staff involved.

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(Late) Review: Starfire #1

So yeah, doing 3 shows in 3 consecutive weekends has caught up to me. Flamecon was a wonderful one day show that I’m glad I funded/attended, and Heroescon was rad as always. But it’s taken a hit on my writing time, not to mention drained me physically (and financially). So the reviews are coming, they’ll just be a mixture of new stuff, slightly old stuff, collected stuff and one advance review. Give me 2 weeks and everything will be back to normal. Well as close to normal you can get around these parts. First up, a dated review on a book that I’ve really enjoyed recently.

Starfire-1-CoverStarfire #1

Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti/Emanuela Lupacchino/Ray McCarthy/Hi-Fi

DC $2.99

I’ll start this review off with a confession: I never really cared much for Starfire, even though I’m a pretty big Dick Grayson fan. Ir’s probably because I missed her heyday as a member of the Marv Wolfman/George Perez New Teen Titans. And aside from a few random Teen Titan revivals from the 90s/00s, my biggest exposure to the character was from the animated TT animated series, which I liked enough, but wasn’t super into.

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti however, are 2 creators I’m very much familiar with and dig. Their run on Power Girl was a blast, and I like what I’ve read of their Harley Quinn run. Putting them on a character like Starfire, who was very much in need of some direction after appearing in that ROUGH Red Hood and the Outlaws book, was a smart choice

4619905-starf_1_4Conner and Palmiotti’s Starfire is wisely located in Key West, which makes for an unusual locale for a super hero comic. The most southwestern point in the US, this tropical locale isn’t exactly full of crime and super baddies. But Starfire isn’t exactly a traditional super hero book; it’s more a comedic character exploration piece. Kory is trying to figure out her identity in Key West, not unlike how the writers are trying to find her a play in this relatively new DC. The pair of writers give her a nice cast of characters to work with, giving  the book a delightful sitcom-esque supporting cast. Amanda and Jimmy do some really solid world building in 20 pages, and I’m curious to see what they can do now that the introductions are done.

Starfire-2Emanuela Luppacchino is the penciler on this book, and he’s a perfect fit for the comic. He’s more Ivan Reis than Amanda Conner, and he manages to capture the beauty of the setting and the book’s lead perfectly. His characters are sexy, with hints of cheesecake here and there, but nothing super objectifying. And the humor is done justice with the cute little thought balloons Starfire has whenever she’s unfamiliar with earth terminology. Trever McCarthy‘s ink are clean and straightforward, with Hi-Fi making the book looking bright and vibrant.  Starfire herself is a prime example on how good the art sides of things are,  with her cool hair-flame effect never clashing with her orange skin. It’s a pretty accurate recreation of Key West, right down to the drunk bros.

Starfire #1 is the perfect introduction for people familiar with the character from the character, or didn’t care for her previous handling. It’s a little to sexy for younger reader, so maybe we keep the kids are the Teen Titans Go! audience from it until their older. But for anyone over 13 who wants a more iconic take on that character, or something that’s just fun and great looking, this is the book you want to be reading. If you like Conner/Palmiotti’s past work, or offbeat female lead titles like Squirrel Girl and Rat Queens, this is the book for you.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Smells and Sagas

harley-quinn-vol-2-annual-1-cover-1-teaser-107613Harley Quinn Annual 1

Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmotti/John Timms/ Paul Mounts/Others

DC $5.99

This comic stinks….literally!

::: Pats himself on the back and calls it a day for being the best. :::

Now that the premature congratulations are over, DC has revived (?) scratch and sniff comics for the $6(!) Harley Quinn Annual! This is the first issue of Harley’s series I’ve read, and at $6 I probably could have chose a better and cheaper jumping on point, but a poly-bagged comics with scratch and sniff pages is the stupidest of gimmick, which I am very weak against.

 

In my impulse purchasing defense, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are a pair of creators who are fully capable of pulling this gimmick off. I loved their work on their fan-favorite Power Girl series from a few years back, so I figured if anyone could do this weird cash-grab gimmick justice, it would be them. Turns out for the most part, I was right.

The comic revolves are Harley trying to break out her BFF Posion Ivy from Arkham Aslyum, not knowing there’s more going down than expected. My problem with this book is that for a lack of better words is that its “try-hardish”. Connor & JP makes several ham fisted attempts to offend, amuse and educate throughout the comic, and at times it’s groan worthy and bloated. I appreciate the effort, but it’s as graceful & subtle as a bad Deadpool comic. It could use about a less 1/4th dialogue, and about 95% less social commentary.

That being said, the book excels when it aims to offend. The scratch and sniff panels work more than miss, and the art is fantastic. This is my first exposure to John Timm’s work, but he’s easily one of the best artists to work on Harley, and all of the guest artists all deliver on their short contributions.

The Harley Quinn Annual sounds a little weird on paper, but the execution is phenomenal. It’s a fun done in one with some great art and some fantastic character moments. As a guy who finds Harley hella problematic in general, I couldn’t recommend this book enough as an entry point into the book, but  will understand if you prefer to grab that first volume hardcover instead.

 

 STK652827Saga #24

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

 ::: Insert Chris’ Quarterly Saga Hiatus Withdrawal rant here:::

I really want to end the review there and go back to playing video games. But I don’t think I hit 500 words yet so I guess I should do some explaining.

 

Saga #24 in a single word, is incredible, not unlike the last 23 issues. 18 of the 20 pages focuses on characters we haven’t seen since volume 3, and its compelling as hell. 3 characters who was previously a 1 panel gag gets a ton of fleshing out , and we get caught up with several slightly more familiar  and it’s completely delightful. And of course the final 2 pages hit like a ton of bricks, but in the best ways possibles. BKV and Fiona Staples do some things NO ONE was expecting, and man it only makes the build up for chapter 5 more incredible/painful.

It’s business as usual for Saga, which is great, because Saga’s business is the best.

 

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 13: To Destroy An Entire Planet!

I am in Seattle for Emerald City Comic Con as I write this. ECCC is the beginning of the 9 months the comics industry affectionately refers to as “Con Season.” 9 month seasons. Not so bright. Comics Industry- ok at making comics, less ok at everything else. Anyway, I flew in on the Forbidden Planet jet on Thursday night. Not the nicest private jet I have ever been on but that’s alright. I was just happy the doors closed all the way and the heat worked.

So after 4 days of intensive comics immersion in the form of announcements, chatting, gossip, snooping, and spying, what have I found out for you all? Comics people really like donuts and beer. I tried to find out other stuff but that’s all anyone really talks about. There was some cool stuff though. I saw a guy cosplay as Leeloo Multipass and that made me question my sexuality and vomit in my mouth at the same time. I saw a a bar fight where one man choked another man for 2 minutes and then both walked away like nothing happened. James Robinson called me Patrick for no discernible reason. I found out if you put Adventure Time on stuff you can probably take Scrooge McDuck style money baths. Someone who clearly doesn’t have parents or friends thought it was a good idea to cosplay as Geordi LaForge in blackface. I guess maybe some of the comic writers and artists are doing new books or redoing old books or something. I wasn’t paying attention to that. I am pretty sure there are comics planned through at least June of this year. After that, who knows?

But let’s talk about this week. Since I’ve been around a ton of comics all weekend and I’ve decided I really like ’em I am going to TRY SOMETHING NEW. In an attempt to trick you into buying more stuff and save me the effort of thinking up more jokes, we are going to do this rapid fire style. I am going to call out some books than usual that are good, write a sentence or two, and you are going to buy them. Simple and elegant. GO!

REPTILE MUSEUM #1 & #2. Only issue #2 of Reptile Museum just came out, but consulting my trusty comput-o-tron tells me that it is statistically impossible that you read issue #1 so I will review both right now. Published by Ray Ray Books which, for all I know, is either a dude in his parents basement or a division of Newscorp, Reptile Museum is what we call an indie, mini, or self-published comic. This is annoying because technically everything but Marvel and DC are “indie” so that word is meaningless. Sometimes minis are huge so that word is meaningless. And like I said before, I have no idea if Cody Pickrodt published this or Rupert Murdoch, so self-published is a difficult label to use. Either way, Reptile Museum is great. A clever post apocalyptic story that answers questions and creates them at an equal rate. Two issues in and I have no real grasp of the world at all and I love that. A unique dystopian tale, Reptile Museum spends much more time on it’s characters than it does explaining it’s world. We follow as a character reenters the folds of a mysterious organization and shows himself to be a true badass. That’s really it. But it’s great. This is a huge story scaled down and made small and personal. Mysterious and exciting, this book is well worth your support. Buy it now because you may not easily get another chance.

ALL-STAR WESTERN vol.2- WAR OF LORDS AND OWLS. DC’s most consistently great book is All-Star Western. Jonah Hex is a brilliant character, Palmiotti & Gray handle him in a way that makes it almost impossible not to love and loathe him. Someone at editorial decided to make a book that takes place in the 1880’s cross over with Batman and it isn’t horrible and stupid, it’s actually quite fun. The art is great. It’s one of 3 westerns on store shelves. Go buy it.

SLEEPER Omnibus. Ed Brubaker does superhero crime noir comics. A deep cover superhero begins to lose his identity. Do you like stuff like The Departed, Infernal Affairs, or Donnie Brasco? Well this is better. $75 gets you 2 volumes of Sleeper, the Point Blank prequel, and a ton of bonus stuff. There isn’t much more that I can say other than fans of crime, superhero, great writing, or beautiful art must own these books.

Grant Morrison writes 50% crazy nonsense that is almost impenetrable. Then he writes 50% next level brilliance that is untouchable, fun and smart. Sean Murphy is one of the best artists in comics today. They teemed up on JOE THE BARBARIAN to tell the story of a little boy getting lost in his own fantastical mind. It is the best thing either of them has done in many years. These are the best guys in the business doing their best work. Buy the paperback version out this week and lock yourself in a room so you can read though it a few times.

I don’t care about the Rocketeer. Jennifer Connelly isn’t in the comics so 12 year old me doesn’t make adult me buy them. But then Mark Waid goes and does his thing of taking old things, getting rid of the excess, and making them fun again. Then Chris Samnee comes in and does his thing of making comics that are so pretty they make everything else seem like ugly, busy, squiggles. Both men make ROCKETEER: CARGO OF DOOM a must own book for fans of pulp stuff or inventive ways to make action heroes feel fresh and familiar at the same time.

I just want to run the copy for LOST VEGAS #1 because either they have my sense of humor exactly and the notes to the editor are brilliantly funny OR someone really didn’t do their job. Either way Jim McCann and Janet Lee made RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN which is probably the most brilliant kids book in recent memory. Lost Vegas isn’t a kids book but it looks like it might be as brilliant. So, without further ado, the weird solicitation text for LOST VEGAS #1- The EISNER AWARD-WINNING team of JIM McCANN?& JANET LEE reunite to create a universe filled with intrigue as one gambler-turned-slave has 24 hours to go all in and pull off the greatest heist the universe has seen. (in this next section, can it be like a brochure, like a different font? If not, italics is cool) WELCOME TO LOST VEGAS! Aboard this luxurious casino-filled traveling space-station you will find the highest stakes games from every corner of every planet, unheard-of winnings, and the greatest attractions anywhere!* (Can the below section be a smaller font size?)*the fine print- those who bet it all and lose must work it off as indentured servants to the casino. Escape is not possible. No one is exempt from these rules.

Joe Casey is a great writer. He can do almost anything with style, heart, and humor. None of that matters because his new Image series is called SEX. He wins. SEX #1 is on shelves now. Buying any other comic instead of SEX makes you look stupid.

Cullen Bunn may be getting famous for his work over at Marvel but if there were any justice in the world he would already have been famous for his brilliant western series SIXTH GUN. He returns with a new series called HELHEIM launching this week. Vikings, the undead, gods, and monsters come together in what may be the most fun book of the year. I was lucky enough to see Joëlle Jones art for HELHEIM #1 this weekend and it is quite clear that Ms. Jones has just launched herself into the top tier of comic artists working today. With an art style that falls somewhere between Luther Strode‘s Tradd Moore and B.P.R.D.’s Tyler Crook but feels completely fresh at the same time, this book is painfully beautiful, which is what you want when you are dealing with swordsfights and beheadings.

I seem to do it every week so here I go to do it again. ARCHER & ARMSTRONG Vol 1 MICHAELANGELO CODE is out now. The Valiant relaunch books are great. Archer & Armstrong is buddy cop stuff done pitch perfect. A “struggling with his faith” teenager and a perpetual screw-up immortal are forced to work together to save the world from a problem that is both somewhat their doing. This isn’t life changing stuff, but it is the kind of comic you might fall in love with. This is super hero stuff that feels fresh. This trade is $9.99. If you read superhero books and someone as smart as me tells you that some of the best new ones are only $9.99 for volume #1 you really should buy it. Valiant are leaving cash on the table in order to offer books like this at “TRY ME!” prices. They believe in their books that much, and that should be enough for you.

OK, I wrote the last 2 paragraphs while snoring. I am going to go to sleep and regret not cosplaying as Spoonman or Niles Crane.

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