Tagged: kris anka

Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel #6

Captain-Marvel-6Captain Marvel #6

Ruth Fletcher Gage, Christos Gage, Kris Anka, Mat Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Civil War II is upon us, which means the bulks of Marvel’s books are now tying into the event for that sweet tie-in sales bump. As I’ve stated in the past, I have zero interest in the event, and there’s a chance books that rely too heavy on CW2 are properly getting dropped for the time being. Luckily for both Marvel and myself, Captain Marvel, who’s a prominent figure in this crossover, manages to tie into the mega-event without ruining the excellent narrative set up during the first arc.

Joining regular series artists Kris Anka, and Matt Wilson is a dude who has plenty of experience writing tie-in titles, Christos Gage, and his writing partner/wife Ruth Fletcher Gage, who has experience writing Marvel character in the excellent Netflix Daredevil series. Even after doing some research, I couldn’t tell you if the Gages are replacing the team of Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters permanently, or just for this arc. But fear 626351feaa7a3459b3c7caa99cde2dd4not, if you’re a fan of what Fazekas and Butters have done with the character, expect more of the same with this issue (although there’s quite the drop in Abigail Brand snark, which I miss).

Captain Marvel #6 takes place sometime between Civil War II #1 and #0 (I think), and sees Carol getting some much needed alone time with her boyfriend Jim Rhodes (War Machine), and dealing with the fallout of the events of the first arc. I LOVE the Gages manage to tie two different stories together so well, to the point where it leads like they were writing the title all along. Christos and Ruth bring in several new and obscure characters to the title, while tying the book into a story arc Christos co-wrote with Dan Slott on Amazing Spider-Man a few years back. While that may sound like a lot of prerequisite reading, the writers manage to present the material in a way new readers can enjoy without having the read several comics before this one.

On the art side of things, this is the first issue Kris Anka draws without any assistance in a few months, and it’s pretty swell! You get everything you expect from Anka in this issues, abs, fantastic facial expressions, dynamic fight scenes, and a pretty horrific page that’s not too grotesque, but still manages to do an excellent job of raising the stakes. Matt Wilson’s colors are 1ucsyigorgeous, as he manages to handle the setting changing several times in this book without missing a beat. I really wish I had more to say about these creators, but it feels redundant. as I’ve been singing their praises for months now, and they’ve yet to fail to impress on this book.

Captain Marvel #6 is a tie-in title done right. I doubt the events on this book will have much effect on Civil War II proper, but also I don’t care. The comics tells a good story while tying into the events, which is all I care about. Captain Marvel #6 is another fantastic issue in a great run, and I can’t recall a time I’ve been this excited to read about the character.

 

 

 

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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: Captain Marvel 3

portrait_incredible (6)Captain Marvel #3

Michele Fazeka, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Felipe Smith, Matthew Wilson, Joe Caramagna

Marvel $3.99

This volume of Captain Marvel never ceases to impress me in different ways with every new issue. This month, Kris Anka is joined by Felipe Smith (Ghost Rider) on art duties, and it was something I didn’t notice until re-reading the credits. I’ve seen Smith’s art before, and it’s amazing how much he changes his style for this issue to look like Anka’s.  I have no clue which pages he drew and which ones Kris did, as there’s art in this comic that looks more like Jamie McKelvie‘s than it does either of them. Of course that may be due to the fact that McKelvie’s usual colorist Matthew Wilson gets a little experimental with the colors in this issue, which is giving me some The Wicked & The Divine flashbacks. And props to letter Joe Caramagna for doing the same with his fonts, really tying the whole package together.

f916ecd5d21b90a9a98f67f314e85417._SX640_QL80_TTD_Wilson, by the way, is the MVP of this issue. Anka and Smith are all sorts of great, but Wilson’s colors do a fantastic job of bringing their art and wonderful designs to life. His choices in background colors are choice, giving the book the proper space/science fiction vibe it deserves, and I really like what he does with the “Flasback” segments of the issue. How Matt Wilson manages to be so inventive when he’s coloring so many books so well is beyond me, but I appreciate his contributions, and will not question that.

If the Kelly Sue Deconnick era was Carol’s Star War phase, the Fazekas/Butters is her Mass Effect era: Large supporting cast, light political intrigue, and some hardcore science fiction. It’s a change that really hasn’t explored Carol’s psyche or drive, but it’s something we don’t necessarily need. Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters have done an excellent job developing Carol’s supporting cast, stripping Carol down to her core self. Which is fine, because I don’t need to know why Carol is a hot headed badass who’s set out to do the right thing. We all know why by now, so just seeing her do it is all I need and want.

In addition to ramping up the mystery surrounding the weird alien ship and dealing with a possible traitor on Alpha Flight, the writers Screen-Shot-2016-03-17-at-1.44.41-PMfocus a little more on Abigail Brand in issue 3. You’ll hear no complaints from me, as these two handle the character as well as such creators like Joss Whedon and Kieron Gillen have in the past. I’m a fan of Brand, and having her be the straight woman to Carol is a genius idea.

Captain Marvel #3 is another exceptional issue from this creative team, one that manages to excel even with some help from a guest creator. From an intriguing plot, to some fun character designs, engaging dialogue and cool action set pieces, Captain Marvel has never been better. It’s definitely worth your time, and a great recommendation for anyone jonesing for the Agent Peggy Carter fix. We’ve entered a new Golden Age for comics featuring Carol Danvers, and Captain Marvel is leading the way by being constantly excellent.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel #2 & Paper Girls #5

portrait_incredible (5)Captain Marvel #2

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Matt Wilson, Joe Caramagna

Marvel $3.99

Come for the Captain Marvel meets Aliens premise! Stick around for Sasquatch-related romance drama!

Captain Marvel #2 sees the good Captain and her Alpha Flight pals investigate a seemingly abandon spaceship that bears an all too familiar emblem on it. Meanwhile, Abigal Brand finds herself back in a familiar role of dealing with alien tomfoolery. If you’re a fan of space politics and gross alien stuff, this is a comic for you.

As noted several times in the past,  Kris Anka is really good at drawing pretty people with huge muscles. While that is certainly a thing he does in issue 2, he also tosses some stuff at the reader that can be best described as  “fairly disgusting” and “slimy”. He does it quite well, which is a testament to his skills, but some of the imagery that Anaka and Matthew Wilson manage to create I could have gone without seeing in life. Also props to Wilson, who’s colors help give the early pages of the book a sense of Claustrophobia, really selling the how unnerving the alien ship is.

Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters do a great job of fleshing out some of the supporting cast this issue. Shifting the focus on Alpha Flight as Carol narrates shows just show strong of story tellers these writers are, letting the dialogue explain the character’s motives. They also excel in the Brand related subplot, which sees a few new twists and forces the readers to question some character’s motives. Captain Marvel’s new supporting cast grows on you real fast, and helps the book establish it’s own voice.

Captain Marvel #2 is an immensely enjoyable sci-fi super hero comic. Carol Danvers as a leader is an extremely fun reading experience, especially when the creative team is as good as this. It sits nicely next to Ms Marvel, The Ultimates, Spider-Woman and A-Force, letting readers know the character is in good hands without the guidance of Kelly Sue Deconnick.

PaperGirls_05-1Paper Girls #5

Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher

Image $2.99

Paper Girl #5 is a lot like Captain Marvel #2 in a lot of ways: Great art. Matthew Wilson on coloring and some grossness that I could have lived without seeing. That being said, this issue didn’t work for me as CM #2 did.

Paper Girls certainly get points for getting a lot of stuff done in a single issue. The creators dump a lot of info and potential new plot beats in this issue, not giving the readers much time to breathe. I applaud the decision by writer Brian K Vaughan and artist Cliff Chiang to make the book a dense read, but it’s definitely a little more than I was ready to handle in a single sitting.

Paper Girls art though, that never fails to please.. Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson both come through on the visuals, supplying the book with gorgeous art and fantastic colors. Chiang is an inventive story teller, so watching him tell this story with his illustrations choices is super fascinating, He’s so good at blending the period accurate material with the sci-fi stuff, giving the reader a lot to marvel at. And I love Wilson’s choices of colors, which feel retro in a way, but also perfect for the tone of this book.

A good, but not great issue of Paper Girls is still an solid read none the less. The visuals are the selling point this month, and hopefully the break will do the book some wonders.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Captain Marvel #1

Captain_Marvel_Vol_9_1_TextlessCaptain Marvel #1

Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

The record (aka this blog shows that I am a fan of the following things: Carol Danvers, Kris Anka, Matthew Wilson, and the Agent Peggy Carter TV series. Prior to the announcement of this creative team on Cap Marvel, these 4 things did not overlap, but thanks to Marvel editor Sana Amanat, they do now, and the results are good and great.

Captain Marvel #1 is arguably the BEST Captain Marvel debut issue we’ve gotten since Carol got her sweet new costume. Not to speak ill of the previous runs by the wonderful Carol Corps Queen Kelly Sue Deconnick and her artist pals, but pairing Kris Anka with colorist Matthew Wilson makes for some gorgeous visuals that are hard to compete with. This is the first time Anka has been put on book from the beginning, and he does his damnedest to make one hell of a first impression. Kris goes all out all, tweaking Carol’s costume, gives her a dope new air cut, and gives several fan favorite characters some overdue make overs, results in a fantastic looking debut issue. I love how toned and tumblr_o19bwo2f2j1sqep2mo2_1280muscular his Carol is, as she now looks like a powerhouse who’s really into punching things and/or people. I’ve been a fan of Anka’s style for awhile but pairing him with Matthew Wilson’s colors is brilliant move, giving Kris’ art a Mike Allerd-esque style that I really dig. I love how Wilson colors space, and gives the tech in the Alpha Flight Space Station a cool glow, giving the book a cool science fiction vibe. Together, the issue looks very bright, colorful and expressive, giving Captain Marvel a visually style the character’s never had before!

Writers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters do a wonderful job on their debut issue. Their experience show-running Peggy Carter definitely carries over here, as their Carol is also a no-nonsense bad ass that enjoys her work. Those afraid it would be a different beast from what Kelly Sue established have nothing to fear, as their characterization is very much in that style. That being said, they definitely have a different direction for the tumblr_o19bb0C6tg1sqep2mo1_500narrative, giving her a new supporting cast from the get go (with some cameos from a few old pals), a new M.O. and a new gig. All of it is pretty refreshing, as it attempts to do a lot of new things with the character without alienating readers who’ve stuck with Carol for awhile. And I love Fazekas and Butter dialogue, which is quirky, and gets to the point quick. Which is fine, as less is sometimes more, and frees up more space for the gorgeous artwork.

Captain Marvel #1 was a superb debut issue for this creative team, and I’m eager to read more from them. Everything was on point from the visuals to the pacing, and I’m glad too see Carol in such capable hands. With any luck, this creative team will be free to tell the type of stories they want to, and I’m really digging the new heavy on the sci-fi  status quo. Also more Brand please and thank you.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Uncanny X-men #600

UNCX2013600COVUncanny X-men #600

Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Mahmud Asrar, Stuart Immone, Kris Anka, Chris Bachalo, David Marquez, and Frazer Irving.

Marvel $5.99

If you want to know if Uncanny X-men is worth the $6, but also want a spoiler free review, then I’ll save you some time; it totally is. Granted it’s a tad pricey ( SIX BUCKS!!), the issue is well worth the money  if you are a fan of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ take on the X-men and want some closure from the last 3 years of X-comics.

If you want exact reasons as to why this book is worth your time, then I’ll give them to you, but beware, here lies spoilers.

The conclusion of the  long-running Revolution plot line in Uncanny X-men is brilliantly executed, as 2 long time creators says goodbye to one of Marvel’s most iconic franchises. Bendis and artist Chris Bachalo having Cyclops organizing a non-violent Million Mutant protest in Washington DC was a thing no one probably saw coming, and such an important moment for mainstream comics. Writers like Ryan North have been experimenting with non-violent methods to resolve super hero conflicts as of late, and it’s nice to see creators of this caliber follow suit. l. This may be the last issue of Uncanny X-men I’ll read after buying the book religiously for half a decade, so this relatively sweet moment made for a perfect ending of a run I’ve enjoyed for the most part.

1504366566587496519 That’s not to say the rest of the book isn’t brilliant. No, no, while the Bachalo and Bendis chapter is clearly my favorite, the rest of this comic is just as superb. Sara Pichelli kicks this issue off and tells a story that run  throughout the book, in which the X-men confront Beast about some of the reality-threatening nonsense he’s been pulling as of late. I love how diverse Pichelli’s X-Men look, especially the female characters, giving each X-Man a distinct look that most artists don’t consider that they draw them. It’s mostly talking head stuff, but the amount of emotion she gets from the character’s facial expressions is fantastic, and does and excellent job of selling Bendis’ dialogue. From there we have Kris Anka‘s , who pages are clean and sharp, making him a perfect fit for the comparatively light hearted story of reunion. Stuart Immonen‘s pages aren’t his best work, but it nice to see him come back to the All New X-men kids for a brief visit. which sets up the upcoming soft relaunch of the title. Mahmud Asrar‘s art is a tad uneven, but he manages to deliver on the anticipated Iceman sexuality story, making a a satisfying conclusion to that tale. I like how Bendis deals with Bobby coming out, giving it a bit of realistic edge. It’s far from perfect, uncannyxmen_600_pg15-x750but still really handled well, at least in my opinion. I feel bad about not discussing that segment more, but I feel there’s already enough said by people more qualified to. David Marquez swings by to help with the Beast confrontation and Frazier Irving wraps the issue up with some pages that are perfectly fine. But again, the biggest draw for me is  Bachalo’s final X-Men pages for the time being. Bachalo’s stuff is superb, cramming the pages with an army of mutants that he’s been associated with for the last few years.

Also worth nothing the inclusion of a old, I’m assuming rare solo Iceman story by Mary Jo Duffy and Georgr Perez. I’m not sure if it’s suppose to tie into the previously mentioned above Iceman tale, or just pad out the page count for this comic. Seeing Perez’s art is always welcomed though, and it’s a nice additional to the modern talents represented in this issue.

Uncanny X-Men 600 isn’t my favorite finale published this year, but it’s a strong ending to a pretty solid run of X-Men comics. Bendis gives the future creators plenty to work with, all while wrapping up his plot lines in a satisfying manner. Comics history should he kind to Bendis- he added a bunch of cool new toys to X-Men comics, touched upon some social commentary, and pulled off some Chris Claremont in his prime moments with a brilliant collection of amazing artists. I’ll be sad to see him go, and appreciate everything he’s done for Marvel’s mighty mutants.

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Memorial Day Lateness

4339743-uxm34Uncanny X-men #34

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

As I’ve said plenty of times in the past, the strongest issues of Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-men run have been the done in ones. UXM #34  is another done in one, so it’s safe to say you can another positive review from me for this title.

One of the things Bendis did early in his run was set up a cool Mystique Vs Dazzler feud. It’s something I’ve enjoyed because they’re 2 of my favorite mutants, and it’s lead to a cool Kris Anka (who draws this issue) redesign for Dazzler. With the Bendis run coming to an end soon October,  he uses this issue to wrap up that plot up in a satisfying way.

One of the reasons why this issue worked for me was it gave Dazzler some much needed focus and characterization. She joined the team shortly before the Charles Xavier retcon a go-go arc, but was quickly delegated to a background character role. She’s a lead character here, and Bendis gets a lot out of her in 20 pages. It also helps that Bendis get to bounce her off of Maria Hill, a character he co-created and has a massive amount of experience writing. His take on Mystique is also rad, as he handles her with a certain degree of sympathy that makes the character relatable even though she’s a bit of a monster. Aside from the Dazzler & friends related business, we get to  check in on the new students who are currently without a school. Bendis drops some hints that he has some plans for them to be revealed soon, and I’m curious to see what they are. It’s been a bit of a challenge to get new mutants to stick around for an extended period of time, and I’m curious to see if Bendis has any ideas on how to change that with his generation of  “X-kids”.

Kris Anka was the best choice to draw this issue, as he is great at drawing female characters and can convey the proper emotions needed for this story. His body language is really strong, and it shows in this issue, especially since there’s a lot of scenes involving 2 or more character standing/sitting around chatting. Anka’s work is exceptionally clean, and Marte Gracia‘s coloring keep the book looking fresh, giving Anka’s minimalist style a much needed sense of dimension.

Uncanny X-men 34 is another fine single issue that tell a story within 20 pages and will warrant an immediate re-read. It’s not the best this run has seen, but it’s definitely worth the price of admission if you’ve been enjoying this incarnation of X-men

Kaptara_02Kapatara #2

Chip Zdarsky/Kagan McLeod

Image, $3.50

Kaptara #2 is a fine comic, but I’ll be honest: the art is wasted on the monthly format. Artist Kagan McLeod‘s work is so good, it begs to be put in one of those oversize albums (Hardcovers as their known as in the States) the European market gets because they appreciate the medium better. This  absolutely bizarre but incredible looking take on the Masters of the Universe universe deserves an over-sized hardcover at the very least. McLeod’s art, especially his character designs, are hard to describe properly. They’re extremely odd, but are flowing with creativity that it’s worth admiring. Everything from the body language, to the layouts to the environments are so unique, and have just the right amount of comedy to remind you that this is not exactly the most serious book. The best way to describe it would be those old  Sunday morning newspaper strips with a modern Adult Swim twist.

Writer Chip Zdarsky‘s second efforts on this book are a improvement from the previous issue. The main character Keith is given some much needed drive, and the characters from the previous issue also get their fair share of development. Chip and Kagan also introduce several new characters that are also as equally amusing and well designed, expanding the cast quite a bit. Now that the general premise is explained, Chip gets a little more room to breath, and the book benefits greatly from it.

Kaptara #2 is insanity on paper, but also gorgeous. It’s unpredictable, hilarious and something genuinely unique, which something both the readers and the industry benefits from.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Date Night Edition

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_33Uncanny X-men #33

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka/ Antonio Fabela

Marvel $3.99

Note: Despite Kitty Pryde and Magik being the focus of the issues, there is zero actual dates in this issue.

This particular issue works on a number of levels. Brain Micahel Bendis uses Marvel continuity to his advantage. Uncanny X-men #33 focuses on Kitty Pryde and Illayana Rasputin’s friendship, while setting the issue on MONSTER ISLAND, which is the best island location in the Marvel Universe. Bendis expertly draws upon both the character’s pasts to tell a compelling story that’s been done a million times before in X-men comics, but everything’s so good the reader doesn’t notice. His voices for these characters ring true and natural, to the point that this may be the best done in one he’s done on Uncanny.

Art wise, the book couldn’t look better. Kris Anka returns to draw this issue, and he’s the perfect fit for it. His Kitty and Magik look great, thanks to Anka’s clean line work and Antonio Fabela‘s flawless colors. Anka’s super expressive faces also help with the emotional beats of Bendis’ scripts, making the whole thing feel so genuine and Chris Claremont-esque. MOST IMPORTANTLY, he channels some serious Wally Wood/Jack Kirby when it comes to drawing the massive residents of Monster Island. He’s a great enough talent that he can mix those gold and silver age era character designs with the modern age looks of Kitty and Magik  and have it look natural. Well as natural as you can get in an X-men comic.

This particular issue of Uncanny X-men rewards you based on how long you’ve been with the franchise. There’s some calls back to the book’s earlier days, and it definitely has that nice, Claremont era vibe to it, without feeling too much like fan fiction. It’s fun read that now only showcases some great art, but shows how good Bendis is when he focuses on a dense done in one issue.

Ms.-Marvel-14-CoverMs Marvel #14

G Willow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

NOTE: This issue very much has dates and emotions, justifying the title of this article.

It’s been a few months since I’ve wrote about Ms Marvel, but it’s not like I stopped reading the book. It’s been consistently excellent, but much like Saga, it was getting to the point I was running out of ways to praise it. This month’s issue isn’t any less excellent that those non-reviewed issues, but there’s a particular scene I want to talk about.

Said scene is between Khamala’s older brother Aamir, and her bff/boy with a secret crush Bruno. SPOILERS, said moment involves both males discussing Bruno’s crush on Khamala, her new male friend who she’s clearly sweet on, and why it would never work between Ms Khan and her bestie. It’s scene we’ve seen before in all sorts of media, but writer G Willow Wilson brings a cultural spin on it that makes for a really compelling 2 pages. It gives a good reason for it to not happened, which in turn makes it all the most fascinating.

That is not to say Khamala is a no factor in this comic. Our spunky lead is dealing with her first crush, and it results in her being dragged closer to the shared Marvel Universe. Fill in artist Takeshi Miyazawa  (who ironically was also the back up artist on regular series artist Adrian Alphona’s run on Runways) line work is great, slightly more focused and manga-esque than Alphona’s but beautiful none the less. Ian Herring‘s superb colors helps Miyazawa’s art stay in constant with how the title looks normally, without taking away from his particular spin on Ms Marvel and her cast.

Ms Marvel #14 is another delightful issue from one of the best comics on the stand today. It’s a wonderful series that never disappoints and constantly entertains, and it will be interesting to see if this issue’s cliffhanger will play out next month.

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Solo X-Men

It’s a rare week for me, one where more trades of note dropped than books I buy, thanks to scheduling and delays. So welcome to the article where I dedicate 500 words to a single issues of Uncanny X-men.

 

portrait_incredibleUncanny X-men #28

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka

Marvel $3.99

Recently, Newsarama blogger Jim Mclauchlin wrote an article on said site putting comics journalism on blast. One of the things he stated  was that reviewing single issues of comics was unfair to creators, as it’s only focusing on one chapter of a story, which is something you wouldn’t see in a literary review . While there were several points in that article I agreed with, Jim also writes for a site that does Top Ten lists daily, and it’s totally fair to review comics on a issue to issue basis, because that is how they are sold. If Marvel or DC want to do single story graphic novels only, I would be all about that, but since they don’t, Imma do me and review their books as they hit the stands.

 

Which brings us to this month’s installment of Uncanny X-men, which is the latest chapter of the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier retcon arc. It’s worth starting off that the cover credits Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend on the art side of thing for this issue (obviously Brian Michael Bendis is credited as the writer correctly) , which is incorrect because Kris Anka handles that. The cover also implies a Magneto Vs Cyclops thrown down (again), which is also incorrect because Mags appears for all of one page. What I’m saying is that trusting Marvel is risky business.

Jokes aside, Uncanny X-men 28 is a solid issue. The quick recap is  that Scott Summers, the least pursued #1 terrorist in the Marvel Universe, is  trying to get walking macguffin Matthew Malloy to join his revolution. You know, the revolution that’s really not taken off after 30 issues. It’s a dialgoue heavy issue that sees 3 X-men’s faith in Charles Xavier’s teaching tested, and how differently they react to it. Oh and a lot of close ups of people’s faces, explosions and teleporting.

While the dialogue is pretty much by the numbers, with some cool callbacks to the X-men’s history, Kris Anka’s art work continues to wow me. Thanks to Bendis’ callbacks, we get to see Anka’s interpretations of the X-Men throughout time, ranging from the silver age to the modern age, and most importantly including the beloved Jim Lee designed 1990s roster. Marvel, if you do not publish a X-men’92 book with at least covers by Anka you are leaving money on the table.

Another thing that impressed me is a sequence in which Anka apes several different artists’ styles in a flashback of sorts. It’s not the first time I’ve read a comic where an artist changes his style in reference to another story arc, but it’s still really neat to see Anka channel a wide variety of artists like John Byrne, Joe Madureira, the Kubert bros and Oliver Copiel, among others.

Combine this with Anka’s flat, yet still bold, color pallet, and Uncanny X-men is a beautiful looking book. It’s not the type of book I would recommend to anyone not interested in X-Men comics to, but for those of you already fans of Marvel’s mutants, it’s a good read.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Spider-Gwen, X-men, and The Wicked + The Divine

4049035-edge_of_spider-verse_2_coverEdge of Spider-Verse #2

Jason Latour/Robbi Rodriguez/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

As someone who got into comics when he was younger due to Spider-Man, it’s funny how very little I actually read about the Wall-Crawler these days. I haven’t bought a physical issue of a Spider-book in some time, and I’m only catching up on Superior Spider-Man now via the Marvel Unlimited app.

That being said, when Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman was first announced, I was more than ready to spend money on this comic. The design by Robbi Rodriguez was hot to death, and the concept of having Gwen get bit instead of Peter really appealed to me. I’m not to interested in Spider-verse all that much, but I figured picking up this one shot couldn’t hurt.

Now that I have the issue in my hand and have read it a few times over, I have to admit I’m a little disappointed by it. I hate to toss shade at writer Jason Latour, but he played it a little too safe this debut issue. There’s a lot of cool stuff introduced and I lot of concepts I like, I’m just bummed out that we may not see any of play out fully in the near future. I know Spider-Gwen is going to be popping up all over the Spider-Verse event and the tie ins, but I want to know more about her world. It’s a good script, and it did a find job of leaving me wanting more, I just wish I was a little more satisfied with what I got to begin with.

That being said, visually the book looks great. Robbi Rodgriguez and Rico Renzi were the perfect artists to handle this one shot, as this story has all the pop and flair you want form a Spider-book. Gwen looks fantastic in action, and her amazing (UGH BAD PUN) costume really stands out. On a visual level I couldn’t be more satisfied with EoSM 2.

But yeah. Edge #2 is a good comic, but I was expecting a great comic. Hopefully Latour, Rodriguez & Reniz will have a chance at Spider-Gwen again sometime in the future.

portrait_incredible (2)Uncanny X-men #26

Brian Michael Bendis.Kris Anka

Marvel $3.99

Chris Bachalo‘s cover is easily one of the best UXM has been grace with since this 2013 relaunch. I really like it,(it serves as an excellent looking methaphor for the inner demons Cyclops is battling), so it may sound weird that I’m about to say that I’m glad he didn’t handle the interior art for this issue.

Uncanny X-men #26 addresses the fallout from 25 and how it’s gonna haunt the modern X-men. An uneasy alliance form, and questions and doubts rise in a really emotional issue of Uncanny X-men.

Which is why I’m glad Kris Anka drew this issue. Anka’s the type of artist you want to convey emotion in your comic, and he does a great job of selling Brian Michael Bendis‘ dialogue. He managed to hit the action pieces just as well, and the end result is a finely crafted comic, especially when you factor in how great the coloring is too.

Bendis by the way does an excellent job of writing an side of Bobby Drake we’ve never seen, as well as a Cyclops at his lowest. This was the sort of emotional baggage that should have been addressed sooner, but with Anka and Bendis handling it so well now, I’m okay with the wait.

If you hit the shop this week you may noticed that All New X-men dropped as well. I’m done with the book for this time being opting to go the trade route with it. Uncanny X-men, on the other hand, has become the X-book I don’t want to trade wait for. Between the 2 different art teams and Brian Michael Bendis’ solid scripts, it’s easily the superior X-book on the stands.

tumblr_inline_nc1v0wN2sX1r77eonThe Wicked + The Divine

Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson/Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

Getting real tired of coming up with ways to praise this book. Part of me just wanted to leave it at “buy this book I already hit 500 words, just trust me”, but that’s kinda half assing things. So instead I’ll do a handy little checklist as you why you should read it if you’re not.

Is Wicked+ Div still a gorgeous looking book thanks to the talents of  Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson? YES

Is Kieron Gillen‘s dialogue still incredibly clever and hilarious? YES

Is Wic+Div still the type of book that asks a little more from it’s reader instead of dumbing it down for mass appeal? YES

Is the murder mystery involving gods still incredibly compelling? Also are said gods also super interesting and insanely well designed? YES, although this issue is heavy on the Tron homage.

So yeah, The Wicked + The Divine is still great, in case I wasn’t clear enough above. It’s American Gods meets Phonograms, which is the type of mash up I live for. It arguably has the most diverse cast in comics outside of Saga or Mighty Avengers, and some of the best character interactions in comics today.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics-Shorty got Low Low Low (and some other books)!

I could easily talk about the new issue of Hawkeye in 500+ words. But I won’t because this was a damn fine week for comics, and the other books that I pulled are also worth discussing. Plus Hawkeye’s return may warrant a separate review column (spoilers: it will!).

Uncanny-X-Men-24-cover-artUncanny X-men #24

Brian Michael Bendis/Kris Anka

Marvel, $3.99

A few weeks ago, Kris Anka spoke about this very issue of UXM on Pat Loika’s Loikamania podcast. During the podcast, Anka pointed out that there’s a moment that Emma Frost has a reaction that she’s only capable of having that was a delight to draw. I’m not saying that specific moment is worth the $4, but it’s easily the best 2 panels in this issue, so yeah, it really is the best reason to drop $4 on this book.

After what I felt was a phoned in issue from Brian Michael Bendis last time around, he and Anka deliver the goods with issue 24. The script is a vast important, as one of the promised SEKKKKRETTTSSS of Charles Xavier is relieved and it’s a massive one. Bendis actually hinted at it a few months ago over in All New X-men, and this reveal takes away the grossness of that scene, clearing things up nicely. You can tell Bendis has been influenced by the last 2 X-films, and what element from the films he chooses to incorporate should lead to some interesting stories.

The only thing that irks me about UXM #24 is the handling of Dazzler’s new ( and awesome) look. The motivation behind it last issue explains why she’s now all faux-hawked out, but there’s no explanation as to how she got a new costume, and there’s zero reaction from the other X-men she’s been hanging with. Considering it’s the focus of the cover, not addressing it at all is kind of a cop-out in my opinion. That being said, I’m glad to see thing improve all over this issue, and I’m excited for issue #25 and how the big reveal is going to play out.

portrait_incredible (4)Secret Avengers #6

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel, #3.99

Oh look, another Marvel book that double shipped this month, goodbye money.

Coming off of a relatively dark issue #5, issue 6 is a step back in the fun, action direction the earlier issue of Secret Avengers were. This incredibly dense issue sees an awesome Black Widow/Lady Bullseye rematch (and yes, the video game motif returns this time it’s fighting games), Hawkeye step up for Maria Hill, and most importantly, MODOK rocking a monocle.

Another beautiful issue under Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson, writer Ales Kot does some really cool things with the narration boxes and editorial notes. They kinda break the 4th wall a bit, but it all makes sense once the issue wraps. I dug it a bunch, as it’s tricky technique that actually works here, given one of the characters involved.

I really feel bad for the creative team on Secret Avengers. It’s a really smart and fun book that doesn’t get enough hype for whatever reason. I urge anyone who digs Marvel’s quirkier tittles to give this book a chance. If you’re down won over by M.O.D.O.K. discussing sex with one of his minions, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Low_01-1Low #1

Rick Remender/Greg Tocchini

Image $3.99

The last time I read a story by Rick Remender & Greg Tocchini, it was a relatively underwhelming arc of Uncanny X-Force from a few years back. I always felt Tocchini was a little mismatched for the spandex world, and this debut issue of Low is proof of that.

Low is a gorgeous looking book that benefits from Tocchini inking and coloring his own art. It reminds me a lot of Sean Murphy on  The Wake in a way, given that their both heavy on the aquatic stuff,  but ultimately it’s a different type of beast all together. Both artists are heavy on the inks, but Tocchini’s style is smoother and cleaner overall. It reminds me a lot the Bioshock video game series in away, which is good, because I love those games.

Despite the relatively grim premise of the book, (Mankind is forced to live under the sea after the Sun goes supernova, and the search for a new planet to live on isn’t going well) our female lead Stel Caine is an eternal optimist determined to work everything out. Upbeat female leads is something Rick Remender hasn’t done at all in his creator owned books, and it’s a nice alternative from the usual grizzled and jaded male character that stars in his creator owned stuff. He’s caught some flack with his handling of female characters as of late, and it’s nice to see address them in the best manor possible: by creating great comics.

Low is off to a great start, continuing Remender’s creator owned hot streak at Image. It’s a beatiful looking book, and I hope this level of quality continues throughout the series.

 

 

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: The Wicked + Doge

Before I start yakking about comics, I just wanted to say I also picked up Secret Avengers #5 this past week and dug it. But I’m saving the proper review for next week, as Saga’s the only book I’m picking up, and I would like to talk more than just one book.

 

detailMs. Marvel #6

G. Willow Wilson/Jacob Wyatt/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Behold, the first use of the Doge meme in a Marvel Comic.

Jacob Wyatt swings by to lend a hand with the art this arc, where Ms. Marvel takes the fight to her new arch nemesis The Inventor. We get some answers as to WHY the Inventor is exactly is the way he is, and I could not be happier with the answers. Over the top super villains are my jam, and this is VERY much an over the top super villain which an insane origin.

Kamala also has her first big-time team up with a major Marvel hero, and responds in the most adorable fan girlish way possibly. For hints as to who this character is, buy the comic, or IDK, google the cover for issue #7. And without spoiling much, I like the reasons why said hero is here, and the chemistry written between the two of them is perfect. As is the such of said Doge meme, which is the most Reddit comment I could make.

Wyatt and series regulars G. Willow Wilson and Ian Herring continue this book’s hot streak, perfectly blending our heroes’ personal life with PUNCHING EVIL ALLIGATORS. Wyatt’s art is a little different from what we’re used to, but it’s still very expressive, with detailed backgrounds and very animated characters. It’s very much another indie/alt comic vibe that Marvel has been excelling at for the last couple of years. Herring’s color pallet keeps the book looking good as per usual, and Wilson’s script hits all the right notes, being equal parts charming, sincere and action packed.

I’m once again finding myself at a lose of words when it comes to finding new ways to praise Ms. Marvel and it’s creative team. It may end up surpassing Hawkeye and Superior Foes of Spider-Man as the best book Marvel puts out if it can continue to maintain this level of quality.

comics-the-wicked-and-the-divine-2-coverThe Wicked + the Divine #2

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Image $3.50

WEEKLY CONFESSION: I was willing to wait for the first volume of Wic+Div to hit trade, as that’s what I did with Phonograms, but then Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals) went and did the variant covers for issue 2, so…..

And I’m glad I did! Issue 2 contains some AMAZING dialogue by Kieron Gillen that can’t help but make you fall in love with the cast. Luci (aka Lucifer) shines the brightest among the cast. There’s a scene in particular that takes place in a prison that contains some hilarious dialogue, and does a great job of fleshing out the character that’s justifies the $3.50. One of the reaosns it works so well is the fantastic art from Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, that’s up there with their Young Avengers stuff. There’s a few pages in the book where McKelive and Wlison experiment with colors and layout that are fresh and amazing looking, and I’m  glad to see them to continue to experiment and innovate with their styles.

But ultimately what wins me move over with this title is how refreshing and honest it is. It’s about people and gods in a terrible world doing things that they didn’t entirely think out, and will have to eventually answer for them. It’s fantastic, and the type of comics I’m not surprised is coming out from Image and this particular creative team.

uncx2013023-dc11-page-001-102321Uncanny X-men #23

Brian Michael Benid/Kris Anka

Marvel $3.99

This is going to sound harsh and a bit manchildish, but ugh, what a waste of Kris Anka.

Anyone who’s been reading this column for the last year can confirmed that I’m bee quite ‘BOUT Uncanny X-men as of late.  Brian Micahel Bendis and his art team have been  moving the story along quite nicely. But this issue man. Ugh.

And again, I place the blame entirely at Bendis’ feet. Anka’s art was great, especially the bit where Dazzler is having a mental breakdown in a bathroom. But this script is a mess. The cover implies that this is a Original Sin tie-in, and the solicit promises an earth shattering change to the X-men.

And despite Emma Frost actually appearing in the proper Original Sin book, there’s nothing that ties this is issue into it. And there’s no reveal of any sort regarding this will, except for a weak as hell cliffhanger. Instead we get the introduction of a new character complete with a cliche origin story, an extended She Hulk cameo and teasing some other mysteries without any resolve. It’s something that Bendis has been guilty of in the past and I find it quite irksome. I’m not saying the book has to be slavishly devoted to the solicitation, but c’mon, this was nearly a completely book than what we were promised.

So yeah, Uncanny looked better than it read. A shame, and hopefully something that will be fixed next issue.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Small Week.

QUICK REC: I’m not sure how much you, the reader, may or may not be interested in WWE wrestling (aka “The Wrestle”), but if you are, you NEED to flip through WWE Superstars‘ debut this week. That book is insane, in the best sorts of ways, and I assure you, it’s good for a few (unintentional) chuckles. People who aren’t into the “sport” should look away, but I believe in the Shield and I was not disappointed with what I got. Now to to comics definitely worth buying.

 

UNCX2013015-DC11-LR-3a1a4Uncanny X-men 15.Inh

Brian Michael Bendis/ Kris Anka

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages.

NOTE THE .INH! DON’T WORRY, IT’S NOT TOO HEAVY ON THE INHUMANITY THINGS, AND IT CAN BE ENJOYED REGARDLESS IF YOU CARED ABOUT INFINITY OR NOT.

Uncanny 15.INH was another solid done-in-one by Bendis and guest artist Kris Anka. Anka reminds me a lot of All New X-Men’s Stuart Immonen, only his character’s facial features seem a little softer. Which is not an insult mind, and is good seeing how this is a very female heavy issue. Anka does a fantastic job on this issue and I hope he comes back from time to time. His body language is great, his fashion sense is superb, and the very expressive art really helps to sell the humor Bendis injects into the script.

Bendis needs to pay extra attention to a name in this issue, as there’s a HUGE easter egg/gag referring to one of his most hated moments from his STILL on-going Ultimate Spider-Man run. And it works, given the X-Men played a role in THAT particular story. Clever nods to his past works aside, the issue is great. Ton of characterization, some really funny moments, a splash of action and a nice use of the greater Marvel universe to tie it all together. These last 2 issues of Uncanny X-Men have been the best the series has seen, which is exactly what this title has needed to even the playing field with it’s sister books.

Superior_Foes_of_Spider-Man_Vol_1_6_TextlessThe Superior Foes of Spider-Man #6

Nick Spencer/Steve Lieber/Rachelle Rosenberg

Marvel, $2.99, 20 pages 

“I wand you to draw Doom…like one of your French Girls.” G.P.O.Y. Y’ALL!

The Superior Foes… is pretty much the Marvel equivalent of an F/X (or is it FXX these days?) comedy. The cast is pretty unlikeable for some reason (or several), but occasionally do some things that makes them enjoyable, and then karma kicks them in the face and we have a good laugh. This issue starts off with a date, which makes you want to cheer for Boomerang at points, but then you remember that he’s kind of a scumbag. And then you find out what exactly his past actions have done to the other members of the Sinister Six, Speaking of endings, man the one for this one is a doozey.

Spencer and Lieber continue to wow me every month with this book. The humor is the best thing about this title, ranging from quick  little throwaway gags to some amazing panels that are laugh out loud funny. You may think a sad, drunk Doctor Doom isn’t canon, but I think it’s great and I’m sure I’m not the only one who does so. And the creators have done an excellent job of making a bunch of B-list villains both enjoyable and likeable, without ignoring the fact that they’re criminals. Which I like, because some bad guys are cool because they’re evil and it sucks when they’re watered down (see 90s Marvel). Superior continues to excel, and I hope this book sticks around, as it’s a complete gem of a title.

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