Tagged: Marte Gracia

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: Feel Good Inc.

 

Hell of a week y’all. Talking comics today is a welcome distraction after everything we’ve see go down over the last couple of days

 

STK644079All New X-Men #30

Brian Michael Bendis/Sara Pichelli/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

 

Call it a breather issue. Much like Chris Claremont before him, Brian Michael Bendis uses this issue of All New to do some character building, with Angel taking X-23 out on the town, Emma Frost beginning Jean Grey’s training and Kitty Pryde taking a holographic phone call from her kinda boyfriend Peter Quill. It’s a very cute script, and it’s something needed to cleanse the palette after all that time travel shenanigans.

 

With the previous issue seeing the departure of series regular artist Stuart Immonen (who’s stick around to handle this book’s cover), Bendis is joined by his former Guardians of the Galaxy artist Sara Pichelli. Immonen is a difficult artist to follow up to, but Pichelli, who has some experience drawing these characters, makes a strong debut. For a mostly taking heads issue, Pichelli’s facial expressions and body language really sells the book, especially with the few pages that are dialogue free. The one area she actually surpasses Immonen in is having this cast look like teenagers, something Stuart struggled with, especially when their older counterparts were also on the page. She’s a welcomed addition to this book, and I’m excited to see her draw more of it.

 

My only real beef with this issue is that the final page’s cliffhanger is tied into the last 2 issues of Uncanny X-men , and will probably play out over there instead of this book. If you’re like me and buy both Bendis X-books this isn’t much of an problem, but those not may be disappointed to have to track down a pair of issue that shipped before this one. Ultimately, I dug the hell out of this comic. It was cute, good looking and chock full of fun moments. These sort of one offs are appreciated, and it’s a nice break before another famous Bendis/Pichelli shows up next month.

 

 

sexcriminals_07Sex Criminals #7

Matt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky

Image $3.50

The letters section for this issue alone is worth the $3.50. There I just saved you 2 minutes of reading.

Oh you stuck around! Really? Did you not read what I wrote above? Oh you want more reasons? Yeah okay sure, I suppose I can help you there.

Sex Criminals is probably my wife’s favorite comic not called Saga. Which means my wife has great taste in both comics and men. But the opening sequence of this book really impressed her this week, as there’s something that Suzie, our female lead, is suffering from that my wife knew all too well. It’s a testament to both Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, who managed to hit the symptoms of said problem dead on, despite being dudes. It’s also a reason why this book is such a hit.

 

Issue 7 is a return to form for Sex Criminals. Not that issues 5 or 6 were bad, but they were heavier on the serious side. This one is chocked full of humor, including the use of a word that makes me giggle every time I read/hear it because I am 12. There’s even a bit of action and suspense too, making it a nice balanced read.

 

I’ve already sung Fraction’s praises plenty of times in the past between this book and Hawkeye, so I’m gonna talk Chip Zdarsky for a bit. First off, that cover. Extremely sharp and a very cool design. Zdarsky’s always been a bit experimental with the covers, and the results are great. But this is kinda next level for the ol Chipper, and I hope it continues. Then there’s in the interiors. I had to re-read some sections and few times just to catch all the gags hidden in the background. It’s a shame that some of this Easter eggs and gags are sacrificed for word balloons, but it’s nice to see Chip put so much effort into something a lot of people not named Matt Fraction aren’t going to see.

 

Sex Criminals seven is the result of 2 creators having a blast creating a comic. Which is great for the reader, because the ends results are stupendous. Combined with a first-class letters column that’s as insightful and hilarious as the interior, Sex Criminals #7 is another can’t miss comic from Fraction and Zdarsky.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics Belated edition part 1

Hey gang, sorry for the late of updates since Year Zero, but between Special Edition NYC and Heroescon (and the best BBQ), I haven’t been near a keyboard in awhile. Hopefully I’ll be all caught up with things by Wednesday.

sa4Secret Avengers #4

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

This month: Hawkeye, Nick Fury Jr, and a bunch of disposal SHIELD agents hunt a “The Fury” in a lawless Chinese City that disappeared 20+ years ago. It’s an Alien parody of sorts that’s high concept comics at its finest. Also Fury hunting the Fury sounds like slash fic, no I am not sorry for that joke.

While Ales Kot & Michael Walsh cut back on the comedy for an issue that’s more action-sci-horror, this comic is still entertaining as hell. There’s some laughs thanks to  MODOK mad science team  and the Hawkguy, but for the most part this comic plays it straight to help sell the horror/action aspects of the books. And it succeeds because the final product results in a brutal fight scene that also raises the question of how much Maria Hill and MODOK are the same in some aspects.  In terms of methodology, not so much visually. There’s also some weird stuff in this issue that SHOULD be considered a joke, but is played completely straight, making Secret Avengers that much more of interesting read.

While Kot continues to deliver top notch dialogue and plot, Walsh & colorist Matt Wilson continue to shine on this title. Kot channels some Chris Samnee this issue, and while the action scenes aren’t as dynamic and unique as the previous issue, they’re still strong enough to sell how creepy the Fury is. Wilson’s dark color palate really helps set the ton for this issue, primarily using blue, purples and blacks. Again, Aliens homage y’all.

Tradd Moore supplies another excellent cover to another excellent issue of Secret Avengers. While not as quirky as the last one, the stakes are raised with issue #4, which is another solid comic by this creative team.

 

portrait_incredibleAll New X-Men #28

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99 

Nothing says father’s day like the X-Men of the past fighting the Son of Charles Xavier right?

Daddy Issues aside ( J/K, this comic has a ton of them), this chapter continues to give more much needed characterization to the future brotherhood that could have helped improve the overall quality of Battle of the Atom. The Future Brotherhood’s motivations are fleshed out more, and amongst the reveals is how certain characters are alive, and why they’ve been acting the way they are. It’s some really good stuff by Bendis, who really gotten this book back on track as of late.

And while Bendis regains his footing, Stuart Immonen continues to impress. While his art has never really faltered at any point in this run, there is two particular pages, a double spread and the final page reveal that are great, and shows how well this creative team works together. The colors especially, because despite this book primarily drowning in red, are super sharp.

TLDR: Business as usual with this title. Which is good, because business is good comics.

 

 

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Toys Toys, but with Comics: #Ladies

Getting straight to the reviews this time around. Hope you enjoyed FCBD, I’m still salty there was ZERO Carol Danvers in that Guardians book. >:(

allnewxmen26cvrAll New X-Men

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Wade Von Grawbadger/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

I am pleased.

I’ve been on the verge of dropping All New X-Men as of late. As much as I like Stuart Immonen‘s art, the constant crossover left me burnt out, and Uncanny’s recent hot streak wasn’t doing its sister book any favors. However we’re back to basics with issue 26, and that’s a very good thing for fans of the book named Chris Troy, and probably some others I imagine.

This issue is very light on the action and heavy on the drama. Which may turn some people off, because let’s face it, it wouldn’t be the first talking heads Brian Michael Bendis comic. However, soap opera drama has always been a big part of the X-mythos (seriously where have you’ve been, how did you not know this, tsk tsk ), so seeing adult Scott talk to young Jean while X-23 pines for the absent young Scott works for me, despite being a tad creepy. Please note that Cyclops is like one of my top 3 Marvel characters, so this sort of thing is my jam.

There’s only so many ways I can point out how great Stuart Immonen‘s art is (So great, thanks to Wade Von Grawbadger and Marte Gracia), so I’ll just continue to point out what else I like about this issue. No wait, I lied, I want to talk about how perfect those first few pages are. There’s a nice Double Spread that kicks this issue off, which shows exactly how effective an artist Immonen can be. It’s haunting (the desire effect I imagine), and the use of colors really helps to sell the scene. From there, continuing to praise there’s some really solid use of darkness and light for the next few panels/pages that really help build tension. There’s also an impressive use of white space when it comes to a snow scene later one, which serves as how sometimes less is more with panel composition. Also man, peep that cover, and tell me the way Jean’s “new” powers is not dope.

With a great intro and a solid cliffhanger for an ending, the current story arc for All New X-Men is off to a great start!

 

 

KABOOM_Adventure_Time_2014_Annual_AAdventure Time 2014 Annual

Frank Gibson/Becky Dreistadt/Ian McGinty

KaBoom $4.99

DID YOU KNOW: I am a fan of people I like working on characters I like! See any discussion I’ve praising Fraction/Aja on Hawkeye, which is akin to a verbal and or written handjob for proof of this.

So when you take Frank Gibson and Becky Dreistadt of the webcomic Tiny Kitten Teeth , as well as Penny Arcade, and but then on Fionna & Cake, and then make the tiny adorable babies, I will throw money at you. Assuming you are a comics retailer what sell said comic, I don’t earn enough to be throwing money around like that.

Anywho, the 2014 Adventure Time annual is printed horizontally, much like those Marvel-vision annuals of the 2000s. Also quick sidenote, if you’ve never read one of those, make sure it involves Grant Morrison and the X-Men, otherwise you’re wasting your time. The way it’s printed, combinbed with Dreistadt’s beautiful printed art, give the book a Sunday newspaper feel, which is neat. And the story is super cute and super fun, focusing in Baby Fionna and Baby Cake’s first major adventure. The art reminds me a lot of the Paper Mario series of video games, and the writing remains faithful to Fionna and Cake’s established voices. It’s the perfect type of all ages story, and a tremendous example of how great comics as story-telling device can be.

 

Ian McGinty contribute 6 single page stories to the annual which are a hoot. His art is more in style to Adventure Time “house”-style than Dreistadt’s, and very charming. He’s able to tell a quick story in anywhere from 5 panels, to a more impressive 10 panels on a single page, and the use of supporting characters is some solid fan service for fans.

For $5, AT Annual 2014 is worth every penny. It’s a charming and fun read, and it looks great. Perfect for fans of the show, and people who like great comics.

 

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Troy’s Toys, But With Comics: Down Set Fuse

I am entirely too proud of that title.

the-fuse-01web-The Fuse

Antony Johnston/Justin Greenwood/Shari Chankhamma/Ed Brisson

Image/$3.50/ 30 pages

Weekly Chris Confession: I had every intention to skip over “The Fuse” this week, figuring I could trade wait it if it was ant good. But then the Twitter buzz for this book hit crazy levels, and I like Antony Johnston’s “Wasteland” series a ton, so I figured there was no harm in picking up the first issue at the very least.

Needless to say, I was very pleased with that decision.

First thing first: That cover. Simplistic, bold and VERY clever once you read the issue and figure out what it signifies. “Smart” is arguably the best way to describe this book;  a murder mystery set on a space station is a cool premise, and the actual execution is brilliant. It’s a good book, full of potential, and it reminds me a lot of “Powers” when that first came into the scene. So your typical Image debut issue in a way.

My only beef with this debut is the art. For the most part it’s pretty good, a more animated version of Sean Murphy’s art. It’s intentionally “ugly” which works for a crime book, and a lot of environments and character expressions are good,  but it’s disappointing when the scale and anatomy are off, or when things like eyebrows aren’t colored or inked properly or at all. Certain panels and pages look rushed at times, which really took me out of the story when I read it.

If you told me that “The Fuse” was originally published in 2000 AD or something, I would have believed it. Johnston states it’s an influence in the book’s final pages and it shows. My issues with the art aside, it’s a good debut, I’m just been spoiled by a ton of amazing #1s from Image over the last 2 years. Your mileage may vary,  and it’s a good read, but I’m going to the trade route with it.

3581036-all_new_x-men_23_keown_variantAll New X-Men

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Wade Von Grawbadger/Marte Gracia

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

For all of my problems with this crossover, I could deal with Stuart Immonen drawing the Shi’ar-related characters 5-EVER!

Part 3 of this crossover is here, and it’s kinda cliche. Now that our heroes are united, they’re attacked by their common foe, and something that’s been explained to us repeatedly is now explained to Jean Grey. It feels lazy and drawn out, despite it being really good looking. And prop’s to colorist Marte Gracia, the book’s colors look darker than usual, which makes a ton of sense given the fact that it’s in space and all that. It goes really well with the tone and the setting of the book, and it only does the pencil and ink art justice.

And to be book’s credit, the ending tosses in a neat twist (one that was immediately spoiled for me by the announcement of a new book debuting in May). And there are some good humorous bits in it too, but the character’s voices all lack variety. A familiar frustration that comes with Bendis-penned comics as time and feels super decompressed, something that could be resolved in 2 or 3 issues and not five. And like I said, a bunch of questions promised to be resolved at another time or in another book, it only adds insult to injury. We’ve seen better on this book, which is already suffering from crossover fatigue. We deserve better as readers.

Sorry for being a little late this week, holiday weekend and all that. I still have Oni Press’ “Down. Set. Fight” to read, and Toy Fair news to deal with. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on everything later this week though!

-The super behind schedule Chris Troy writes for Forbidden Planet on a weekly basis, and can be found on a variety of social media related thiniges @theanarchris

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics 1/22/14 edition

So we’re all on board for killing the winter/the snow yes? Because we need to.

hawkeye16658Hawkeye #16

Matt Fraction/Annie Wu/Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel, $2.99, 20 pages

Hawkeye‘s back this week! Sorta….David Aja still needed time to finish up issue #15, so we’re jumping ahead to #16 for another Kate Bishop adventure, which I’m of 2 minds about.

Kate’s new status quo in the book leads to another fun done and one, which sees Lady Hawkguy dealing with a pair of aged dueling pop stars.Matt Fraction’s channeling some of his Casanova work here with this premise, only there’s more way more humor and less trans-dimensional jumping, and arguably the best “Champions”-related joke in years. And we get to see more of Kate’s LA supporting cast, which is great is you’re a fan of world building.

IMG_00382My problem with this issue is that it’s very…disjointed at the end. There’s a solid gag or 2, but the pacing feels rushed, so the landing doesn’t stick. Again, far from a bad issue, it’s just stink that the issue kind of falls apart at the end.

What does work is the team of Annie Wu and Matt Hollingsworth. Their Los Angeles is bright, fill with various shades of blues and purples and is a stark contrast from Clint Barton and David Aja’s New York. And Wu’s Kate Bishop is awesome. Very expressive, trendy and fluid. She looks like a believable 18 year old vigilante.

Again, Hawkeye #16 is a good comic. I’m just spoiled by it being a GREAT comic for months.

MARVELCoverTemp copy.indtPretty Deadly #4

Kelly Sue Deconnick/Emma Rios/Jordie Bellaire

Image, 20 pages, #3.50

Damn this book is brutal.

Team Pretty Deadly continues to deliver the most intense fight scenes in comics since the 2nd issue, which doesn’t come as a complete surprise given how talented Emma Rios is. And paired with Jordie Bellaire’s amazing colors, the damage these characters take looks extra vicious, but never too grotesque. It earns it’s M for Mature rating.

Kelly Sue Deconnick and Team Pretty Deadly are crafting quite the tale. After a slow and vague start, this series has really ramped up in terms of progression, fleshing out the characters, building the world and answering questions. There’s still some weirdness to it, but it’s welcomed, as it’s very much the type of weird one would find in Sandman, rather than being weird for weirdness sake.

What started off as something as a revenge-driven  narrative  has definitely shown that there’s more life in this story, even with the first arc wrapping up next month. Pretty Deadly has been on fire for months, and much like it’s publisher.

backgroundAll New X-men 22.Now

Brian Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Wade Von Grawbadger/Marte Gracia

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

Stuart Immonen’s return aside, my expectations for this issue were pretty low. 22.NOW is the lead in for yet another crossover (SIGH), this time with Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy book. It’s worth noting that both of these books have movies coming out this summer, so the writings on the wall as to why, at least from an editorial stand point.

The books starts of with 6 pages of X-drama, and the remainder of the book is all action all the time. Immonen and friends pull no punches with their return on the art , as the book looks great. You’ll be surprised how much detail is crammed into a salad of all things! And Marte Gracia’s are great, as the book really pops on a visual level. Bendis, meanwhile delivers a solid script,  and his RUN D.M.C. love is noted.

While I’m still a little fatigued from Battle of the Atom, I’m definitely intrigued by the opening chapter of The Trial of Jean Grey. It only being 6 chapters definitely keeps my hopes up, and the artists attached to it certainly have me excited. Hopefully this one ends as well as it starts.

 

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Troy Toy’s But With Comics: Very fill in. Such Rush. Wow.

This is the last big release week in 2013, and man, it ended on kind of a downer comics-wise. 4 out of the 5 Marvel books I pulled had more than 1 artist attached to them, and the one with the correctly solicited team still involved a guest artist. Also Saga was kind of brutal. I suppose some explanations are needed.

dd34Daredevil #34

Mark Waid/Javier Rodriguez/Alvardo Lopez

Marvel, $2.99, 20 pages.

Javier Rodriguez came out swinging this week, which is exactly what Daredevil needed after the less than stellar art from last issue. He was a more than adequate fill-in for regular series artist Chris Samnee last time around, but man, Javier really stepped up his game since then  and it leads to some very strong framing sequences and panels in this issue. It’s a very Marcus Martin meets Annie Wu style, especially when it comes to facial expressions and body language. Add strong inks from Alvardo Lopez, with Javier coloring himself, you get a very strong final product. Mark Waid, remains flawless when it comes to dialogue, which surprises no one. This current arc of Daredevil has been impressive, mixing current headlines with obscure Marvel horror, and it’s hard to think who else but Waid could have pulled it off. This was easily the best book Marvel released this week, although it did some strong competition.

marvel-avengers-assemble-issue-22inhAvengers Assemble 22.INH

Kelly Sue Deconnick/Warren Ellis/Matteo Buffagni/Paco Diaz/Nolan Woodward

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

You can tell Warren Ellis has come aboard a title when the books starts off with “There are thing of yours I would very much like inside of me.”

That’s not a complaint mind you. Ellis works well with series regular Kelly Sue Deconnick, although the book feels a little more snarky and adult than usual. It’s still a delightful read, as it’s easiest the most fun and humorous Avengers book on the market. This Inhumanity tie-in arc started off on a great foot and the addition of Ellis has only made things better, especially since this story calls back to previous

The only downside to this issue is that Paco Diaz, the other artist attached to this title does not mesh well with Mattero Buffangi. I like Diaz a lot from his work on Daniel Way’s Deadpool, put his pages stick out like a sore thumb, despite Nolan Woodward’s excellent work on the colors. Still not a bad issue, it’s just stinks that some lesser art takes away from the final product. Speaking of which…

ANXMEN2012020-DC11-LR-e6953_latest_photosAll New X-men #20

Brian Michael Bendis, Mahmud Asrar,Brandon Peterson, Israel Silva, Marte Gracia

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

See above? Repeat that, but replace the names. Asrar and Peterson are both fine artists, but their styles could not be anymore different. And it doesn’t help that some of Asrar’s pages look extremely rushed, and both artists have their own separate colorists. It’s not a bad comic, but it’s certainly not as good as the book has been. Also ignore that cover, nothing like that even comes close to happening. Again, another good comic ruined by rushed art, something Marvel has excelled at this past week.

::: Also see Longshot saves the Marvel Universe #4 sadly 🙁 :::

saga-17-web-72Saga #17

Brian K Vaughn, Fiona Staples

Image, $2.99, 20 pages

This is Saga’s Red Wedding issue. Or it’s Walking Dead midseason finale if that first reference doesn’t make sense to you. It’s the type of issue that has people screaming about their feels on Tumblr, because oh god, it hurts, and chances are it’s not going to get better next issue.

BKV and Staples has been carefully crafting this moment since the 3rd volume began. It’s been pretty light on the action, focusing on building characters and relationships, all while the volume 2 cliffhanger remained mostly ignored, not falling into place until the last 2 issues. And then previous issues’ cliffhanger drops, and it turns out to be a massive swerve and GUH, THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD Y’ALL, ALTHOUGH IT’S ALL FOR THE WRONG REASONS, GAH!

So yeah, Saga’s still great, but MANNNNNNN, it hurts y’all. It hurts.

I still need to read Pretty Deadly #3, but what I saw I liked. So it’s fairly safe to seem it’s pull-worthy. And with that, that wraps up my 2013 pulls. The next 2 weeks are extremely light on comics, so I have something else in store. Plus maybe I’ll look at some new toys. Who knows, but happy holidays regardless FPNYC Faithful.

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