Tagged: Matt Fraction

Chris’ Comics: The Top 4 (and a Hawkguy) Finale

At last, it’s time for my final article for the Daily Planet. Instead of reviews, I’m going to recommend 4 series to you (plus Hawkeye, because we all know that’s coming) that are some of my favorite comics. There’s a few “well duh” choices on the list, but hopefully someone will find a new favorite on this list, or at least think I have excellent tastes in comics.

DCD5297571) Batgirl: Year One (Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Marcos Martin) The only way you can buy Batgirl: Year One these days is in a trade packaged with the also great Robin: Year One. But Batgirl: Year One is arguably my favorite story featuring my favorite DC character. It’s a nice re-imagining of her origin from pre New 52 times, from a writer who wrote a good portion of the best Babs Gordon stories in the 90s. Marcos Martin later blew up on books like Spider-Man and Dr. Strange: The Oath, but this is where the Martin hype train officially began. A gorgeous story that does wonders for one of the most iconic superheroes out there, Batgirl: Year One is the one DC story I can’t recommend enough.

DCD4061942) Phonogram: The Singles Club  (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson). While I absolutely adore this team’s work on The Wicked + The Divine and Young Avengers, P:TSC is my next pick, which was the first time Wilson joined Gillen and McKelvie on a creator owned joint. Set over the course of a single night, each issue in this trade tells a different story, focusing on a different character, and occasionally crossing over. My personal favorite of the various stories is the finale, a relatively silent story that focuses on Kid-With-a-Knife, one of the more simplistic but exciting characters in the series. While it’s technically the second part of the Phonogram trilogy, it’s by far the most accessible, and an excellent entry point for Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson’s indie work.

15958246263) The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, Becky Cloonan). I really wanted to throw a Grant Morrison penned story on this list, but honestly, there’s enough best of/recommendation lists out there featuring his work on All Star Superman, JLA, Doom Patrol, etc. Instead I’ve opted for a comic featuring a character played by Morrison in the My Chemical Romance music videos this comic series is based on/a sequel to. While being familiar with said music videos/album helps. Killjoys is good enough to enjoy on it’s own, thanks to Cloonan’s gorgeous art, and Way’s sensational and kinda out there scripts. While you can make an argument that both creators have stronger work on the market, this is a favorite of mine, and it’s definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of either creators.

07851983934) NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. (Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen) Also known as my favorite comic series before Hawkguy was a thing. Warren Ellis’ funniest book to date, in which his team of super hero pirates fight an evil corporation profiting from a war they’ve created. A cult favorite that’s influenced so many books, NEXTWAVE was at one point the weirdest but also one of the best looking books Marvel had ever published thanks to Stuart Immonen’s art. Assuming you haven’t read it, you should, unless you hate nuclear puppies, flesh eating koalas and dragons that wear shorts.

 

 

0785192190Hawkguy) Hawkeye (Matt Fraction, David Aja, Annie Wu, Matt Hollingsworth, and various) And here it is, my obvious favorite that I’ve never shut up while writing for Forbidden Planet NYC. Hawkeye was a game changer for Marvel, and is easily the best for-hire work Fraction and Aja have done, possibly ever. The creative team makes walking dumpster fire Clint Barton one of the most relatable characters in comics, while making Hawkeye Kate Bishop a break out star. From the Pizza Dog issue to the Sandy relief issue, there’s some many amazing, genre defining comics that show that you can do big 2 comics with an indie comics sensibility. No comic series has affected as much as this book has, and there’s never going to be a time where I won’t recommend it.

And with that, I take my leave. I’d like to thank everyone who’s read my work, my fellow contributors, and the fine folk at Forbidden Planet for giving me a stage over these last years to talk about comics, and toys. I’ve had a blast, and if you care to see what I’m doing post Forbidden Planet, give me a follow on twitter (@theanarchris). Thanks for the memories FPNYC faithful!

 

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Chris’ Comics: Sex Criminals #14

SexCriminals_14-1Sex Criminals #14

Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

Image $3.99

Finally, the David Bowie tribute comic no one was asking for!

As someone who’s been championing t3h Sex Crimz since its debut, I’m more than willing to admit that the third arc has not been the smoothest. While the quality really hasn’t dropped much, the delays between issues have definitely made it difficult to remember exactly what has happened during this storyline resulting digging through the old long box. Granted we did get that one issue that wonderfully discussed being asexual, the other 2 issues have been kind of a blur for me.

That being said, issue 14 feels like a return to form. At least in terms of humor, as we get some fantastic jokes this issue. There’s a 4 page gag in which the chums Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky channel Chuck Jones in most chum-like fashion. It’s a play on a gag they used in an earlier issue, but ramped up to the next logical level. The payoff is sexcriminals14-review06_180_277_s_c1incredible and it shows how the creative team successfully dealt with a potential problematic plot point without scrapping it. It also highlights exactly what each creator brings to the table, be it incredible dialogue, or sensational art, and how their bond makes for some fine comics.

And while that particular gag is definitely my favorite thing about this issue, it’s far from the only good thing about Sex Criminals #14. The issue starts off with a really great sequence that showcases how great of an artist/colorist/letter Zdarsky is. The delays in Sex Criminals, while disappointing, are usually the product of Chip trying to cram as much into a single panel as possible. His dedication to his craft is admirable, and we the reader benefit as we’re treated to some fantastic line work, hidden jokes crammed into the smallest of places and some genuinely amazing coloring. I dislike it when my funny books are late, but when the creators are as good as Zdarsky, it certainly makes up for it.

Matt Fraction is okay too, I guess.

That was #JOKES. It’s been months since I’ve been able to enjoy the Notorious M.A.T.T.’s writing, as this issue serves as a fine example of what he’s capable of bringing to that table. Fraction is not unlike Brian K Vaughan in that he excels at that his characters sound sexcriminals14-review07-68677natural when they speak, even though no one can actually talk as perfect like that in the real world. There’s also something so genuinely in the way Fraction writes his characters, and granted maybe some of it also comes from Chip, but the final few pages of the comic read like some of Fraction’s strongest stuff. Sex Criminals is often at its best when it’s grounded in reality, and I really dig how Matt handles the cast and their dialogue in this issue.

Sex Criminals #14 is a great comic. There’s some strong character work from two creators who are known for writing compelling characters in the medium. Sex Criminals is unlike any other comic out there not just because of its plot, but because Matt and Chip are unlike any other creative team currently working in comics.

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Chris’ Comics: Sex Criminals #13

SexCriminals13_CvrSex Criminals #13

Chip Zdarsky, Chip Zdarsky, Chip Zdarsky, Matt Fraction,

Image, $3.50

So it’s been awhile since I’ve talked about ol’ Sex Crimz, be it due to delays, the fact that I’ve written about Fraction and Zdarsky a ton these last few years, and that the current arc has been great, but hard to talk about due to some of the NC-17 content. Luckily, issue 13 changes that, due to an incredible joke, and a important and fantastic discussion about being asexual.

First the joke. For all of you not in the know, The Harvey awards nominated Chip Zdarsky and only Chip for Sex Criminals in their Best Humor Book category. That lead to some things, which you can read about here. But that’s not the end of the story, oh no. Matt Fraction decided to continue to go to bat for his chum, in which you can see on the book’s cover credits. There’s also a page in the middle of the book decided to it, involving the creators in a way I dare not spoil. You can make an argument that it’s a bit excessive, BUT the joke works even if you’re not aware of the team SexCrimz/Harvey Awards beef. Anyone, let’s talk about something with a little more substance now yes?

7c0ead5d861f6ddf87bc041845cbf4d6._SX640_QL80_TTD_Sex Criminals was the first big name comic to discuss modern female sexuality in depth when it debuted, and since then, they’ve always managed to have an issue that’s very intelligent and educational, giving the reader something to think about when they’re done with the comic (aside from the contents in the letter page). This issue, as I said above, we’re introduced to a character who’s asexual. I’m 90% certain neither Matt nor Chip are, so what they do with this issue and this character in fantastic. Alix is a completely believable and fantastic character who’s portrayed in a positive light. Yes she gets some crap for being asexual, but it’s never as the butt of the joke, but more so to show what sort of garbage some people have to endear with in their lives.

I don’t want to make the claim that this is the best issue Chip Zdarsky has drawn to date, but man, there’s a lot to like about Chip’s art here. There’s a gorgeous double spread early on, an interesting and hilarious use of Carl Sagan, some fantastic execution of 16 panel pages, and of course the fine use of Manime, the break out character of the year. Fraction is on point as usual, giving us some really smart, insightful dialogue while slipping in a joke or two. Like Brain K Vaughan, Matt has nailed the flow of comics dialogue, making all his character sound incredibly realistic, even the hard to nail #TEEN characters.

 

Sex Criminals is not unlike this week’s Wicked and the Divine where the theme/topic at hand is both modern and handle incredibly well. Fraction and Zdarsky focus on something I’ve never read about before in comics, and the duo treat the subject matter with the utmost respect, while telling the tale of 2 characters who freeze time after making whoopie. It’s a fantastic issue by two creators on top of their games who are clearly having a ton of fun making comics.

 

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New and Recommended – New Comic Book Day September 16th 2015

Here’s a a simple listing of personally recommended or otherwise notable new stuff available at Forbidden Planet NYC in-store and online for the week of 9/16/15.

DC-Collectibles-Arkham-Knight-761941326788

 

Batman Arkham Knight Action Figure – DC Collectibles

After a long delay (the other figures from this first wave of Arkham Knight figures have been out for months) we finally receive the game’s big big baddie. Don’t blow his identity to me- I haven’t played it yet!

Scott Snyder Joker Endgame Batman Death

Batman HC Vol 07 Endgame – Scott Snyder (w), Greg Capullo (a)

The Joker is back in these stories from BATMAN #35-40! For years, The Joker has regarded Batman with a sick, twisted love. But now, the Clown Prince of Crime is done playing. He’s going to kill Batman. And he’s going to do it using those whom Batman loves the most: the Justice League. The Joker returns to Gotham City with a deadlier agenda than ever before, using every tool at his disposal to finally kill the Dark Knight. That includes turning Batman’s allies against him in the bloodiest brawl that he’s ever had to survive.

One of the most anticipated, exciting and buzzed-about Bat-storylines in years.

Continue reading

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Chris’ Comics: Batgirl #42 & Sex Criminals #11

STK674518Sex Criminals #11

Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

Image, $3.99 (or $4.69 for the XXX variant, which you should not open in public or your place of work.)

 

After a number of crazy delays, Sex Criminals returns to the stands, and we are richer for the experience. Fraction and Zdarsky give us a new character in this issue, and said character seem like a nice new person who loves their mother a bunch. Oh and they also have freaky sex powers, what a world. Issue 11 also changes the location for the book, which is revealed in a hilarious montage one would expect from the genius of Chip Zdarsky. And while we’ve seen plenty of quality Chippage as a late from both Kaptara and Howard the Duck during the Sex Crimz hiatus, having a comic he drew just feels right. Mostly because he’s co-created some incredible endurable characters I’ve missed, but also because NO ONE does sight gags and easter eggs as well as him. It’s incredible how much humor he can pack into the background of these books, never overcrowding them and distracting readers from what we’re suppose to be focusing on with the narrative.

As someone who’s met and talked to Chip and writer Matt Fraction a number of times over the past year and a half ( no restraining order yet, whooo), it’s freaky how much this books feels like an extension of their friendship. There’s a bit where Fraction breaks the forth wall and explains why there text there instead of dialogue (due to Chip’s talents ironically), and it feels like something he would be screaming about during a panel. It’s hilarious and it shows how confident and comfortable these two creators are with each other. Fraction’s words as still sharp as ever, blending pop culture jabs and jokes with engaging dialogue. His characters read very realistic, despite you know, the whole freezing time thing.

Sex Criminals‘ return is a mostly talking heads issue which pushes the plot forward a bit. The biggest reveal is hilarious, and it’s nice to see the book return hitting the floor running. This book being as good as it is surprises no one, and I’m glad to have it back.

BG_Cv42 Batgirl #42

Babs Tarr/Brenden Fletcher/Cameron Stewart/Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

 Batgirl #42 sees artists Jake Wyatt & Michel LaCombe helping Babs Tarr with breakdowns. On one hand this is good, because Wyatt’s style is a little tighter than Tarr’s giving the book a look similar to when Cameron Stewart was assisting Babs. However, it loses some of the energy she brought to the book last issue with her dynamic layouts. Oh sure, we only got an issue with her working alone on the book, but I really like the results, and was hoping for more. The book still looks great though, so don’t expect any sort of dip in quality on the art end. There’s still a lot of energy to these pages, and Serge Lapointe‘s bright colors are fantastic. And Tarr’s Burnside is great, full of energy and sexy and confident Batgirl dealing with a new Batman and the new 52 incarnation of Livewire.

Batgirl #42 is a comic I dug a lot. The premise is neat: An experiencde Batgirl teaming up with a inexperienced Batman who’s also her dad is something new, and a fun exploration of the daughter/father superhero dynamic. Writers Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher having Babs take point in their battle against Livewire makes a ton of sense given how she’s slightly more experience with dealing with super-crazies directly than her dad it, and it does so without making the Jim Gordon Batman look inept. The pacing is great, and the balance between time spend on Barbara as a grad student and as Batgirl is appreciated. Plus the team brings back a great supporting character from the Gail Simone run of this book, and ends the book on happy little cliffhanger. Batgirl remains a refreshing and fun book, with great visuals and a pleasant blend of drama and action.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Hawkeye #22

4677223-hawkeye2012022_dc11-0Hawkeye #22

Matt Fraction/David Aja/Matt Hollingsworth/Chris Eliopoulos

Marvel, $4.99

::: Inspiring quote and or song lyrics tangentially related to Hawkeye’s ending goes here :::

 

RIGHT?!?! HOW RELEVANT IS THAT?

After various delays, 2014’s hottest comic has finally made it into my hands, with the 2015 hot Marvel price of $4.99. To be fair, it’s double sized, AND ALSO FANTASTIC. It’s also (probably) the last time I’ll be spending $5 on a Marvel comic anytime soon I imagine, but that’s a different rant for a different day.

4633438-h2David Aja, Matt Fraction, Matt Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos’ final issue of Hawkeye sees all the key players reunited in Bed Stuy for the last time. It’s the freshly united Hawkeyes, Clint’s neighbors, and Lucky the Pizza Dog vs the Tracksuit Draculas and the Clown for a brutal, but never too graphic, final throw down. This issue is gorgeous, as David Aja goes to town on the visuals, incorporating so many cool nods to past issues without it being too overboard with the references. We get Aja showing off his full range of talents, making this one of the most impressive issues in the series on a technical level. Re-reading these pages invokes memories of modern awesome ultra-violent action flicks like John Wick, Nightcrawler and Drive, all while maintaining the originality and style Aja is known for. I cringed a few times reading this due to the cast taking some nasty hits, but Aja’s excellent framing and some great use of colors from Hollingsworth never made things too graphic. Eliopoulos’ masterful position of work balloons and font choices really ties the whole package together, as it moves the narrative along without interrupting the art. Marvel deserves a lot of credit for letting this team tell it’s story relatively uninterrupted, despite massive shipping delays. I imagine the collected version of this book are going to look amazing over the coming months.

4633437-h1Hawkeye #22 gives us a relatively quiet Matt Fraction. Oh sure, it’s difficult to tell who contributed what with this issue given both Fraction and Aja being listed as Storytellers instead of writer/artist. But it feels Fraction held back on some dialogue to let Aja go nuts on the action. Which is great, because at this point, exposition and banter would only take away from the experience. Hawkeye was always a low stakes book compared to the rest of the Marvel offerings, but thanks to the talent involved in this book, it feel like the most important thing. Fraction still manages to sneak if a few running gags/reoccurring narrative tricks into this script, but this ultimately feels more like David Aja’s show than Fractions. And another upside to this is that when someone speaks, it feels important. Clint drops 2 Die Hard-esque zingers that work way better thanks to Fraction dialogue restrictions, making less ultimately more.

Hawkeye #22 ends arguably one of the most important runs in comics in some time. This book redefined Marvel (see Marvel Now and it’s various incarnations), gave Matt Fraction’s career a well-deserved shot in the arm, and reminded everyone just how good of an artist David Aja is. It in brought people who usually didn’t read Marvel to the company, and gave people interested in comics thansk to the 2012 Avengers film the perfect entry way. It’s a damn fine comic, arguably my favorite, and I hate to see it over. But I’m glad to have an ending on a high note, and am eager for more content from Fraction and Aja and friends in the future.

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Arrow’d

54c2825aaaa9dHawkeye #21

Matt Fraction/David Aja/Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel $3.99

I wanted Marvel‘s Hawkeye ongoing back more than anything.  As good as Secret Avengers and Hawkeye vs Deadpool were, what Matt Fraction and David Aja ground breaking series has been doing with Clint Barton and comics in general is hard to replicate. So when the 21st issue of this series was solicited with a 100% guaranteed to ship date, I was excited. I thought I was ready to handle part one of what will be the end of the oft-delayed Fraction/Aja/Matt Hollingsworth run.

3 pages into this issue and those creators made a liar out of me. I was not ready. I was a hot mess of emotions by the time we got the the brutal 19th page of comic, and then I hit page 20 and nearly lost my composure at the shop. It would have been an messy bout of ugly crying, but one that was warranted given everything that goes down.

4360109-hawkeye2012021_int2-1Hawkeye #21 aka, Rio Bravo part 1, begins the battle of Bed Stuy. Clint, Barney and their neighbors battle the Tracksuit Draculas for their apartment building, something that was brewing since issue one. And while it doesn’t sound like the highest of stakes in a Marvel Comic, that doesn’t matter. Hell, if you remember that ol’ Hawkguy is Avenger, you may ask yourself why he just doesn’t call in Iron Man or Thor to help save the day. But that’s all part of the charm of the book. This is suppose to be showing what Hawkeye does on his days off, and bringing in such high-profile characters would do more damage to the book, despite being the more logical choice. Like Clint says, you gotta make your stuff work, and that means not calling in for help ( Luckily for Clint, not everyone believes in that).

4360108-hawkeye2012021_int2-0After 21 issues, what else is there to say about the team of Matt Fraction, David Aja (with assistance from  Raul Allen),  Matt Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos, he types, realizing that’s super cliche of him to say. But it’s true, this team has banged out some amazing work over the course of 20 issues (with some help), and 21 is another fantastic issue. Fraction’s dialogue is so natural, making nods to past events and in-jokes from the series. He doesn’t go crazy with the dialogue with this issue, taking the back seat to the talents that are David Aja and Raul Allen. With Allen helping out with background, Aja is given more time to focus on cramming a year’s worth of art on 20 pages, each with an insane amount of panels with page. Combine that with Hollingsworth limiting his patent for dramatic effect (which works mind you), we get some fantastic art from creators on top of their game.

This team of artists have nothing to prove that this point, given how excellent this series has been.  They just need to end this story, which if word on the street is true, will be done by end of the month. Which means the chance of my being over emotionally in a comics shop this month is good. Hawkeye may have taken it’s sweet time wrapping up, but as it comes closer to the finishing line, it’s hard to sing it praises over the constant delays.

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Secret Criminals Edition? Yeah I guess that works

I would read a book called Secret Criminals FYI.

SECAVN2014012CVR-659x1000Secret Avengers #12

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel/$3.99

Secret Avengers #12 can be best described as “Nextwave meets True Detective“, which is the best description for any comic, and I don’t care if you disagree with me.

I love it when Marvel has a book that features fairly iconic characters and allows it to operate under the radar. Like MODOK drunk texting Deadpool (complete with the use of the word “Bae”), or Hawkeye dropping the phrase “Resident Terrorist Sex Horror Advisor”, which is something we’ll probably not be hearing in a movie anytime soon. There’s also a killer gag involving ring tones, which only proves that I’m a big fan of phone-based jokes apparently. It makes for a fun read, and it’s nice that not everything has be average Disney XD viewer friendly.

But this book isn’t all jokes mind you. Spider-Woman and Maria Hill find themselves in a bit of a pickle, and their interactions ring true to their characters. Ales Kot‘s Maria Hill is a no-excuses workaholic, and she bounces off his equally determined but more sarcastic Spider-Woman quite nicely. We also have Kot writing Black Widow and Lady Bullseye in a cosmic horror setting, which is something I didn’t know I wanted, but glad I’m now have. These character interactions are a key part of which I enjoy this title so much, as Kot has a gift for dialogue. His jokes hit hard, and there’s so much subtext in some throw away lines that it warrants multiple re-readings. It’s a smart book wrapped in some crazy circumstances, beautifully illustrated by Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson.

Secret Avengers remains one of the craziest and surreal books Marvel’s been putting out for the last year. If this is the final incarnation of this book, I’ll be glad, because it will be an hard act to follow up on.

SEXCRIMINALS_10Sex Criminals #10

Matt Fraction/ Chip Zdarsky #10

Image $3.50

Chip Zdarsky draws hella genitals in this issue, be warned if you’re squeamish. Also if you’re squeamish, what’s wrong with you, Sex Crimz is not for you.

A Tinder’s worth of crotch pics (or Grinder I suppose) aside, this is another brilliant installment of Sex Criminals. Writer Matt Fraction has never shyed away from discussing the importance of mental help, and he’s handling of Jon seeing a therapist is nothing short of inspiring. Sex Criminals has always managed to channel genuine human emotion despite it’s lewd premise, and this issue is proof of how good it can be.

Chip Zdarsky is a funny dude, no one is surprised by this statement. But ol’ Zdarkseid manages to use sound effects in a particular way this issue that had my dying as I read it. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but if it is, it’s fantastic. His timing and structure couldn’t be any better for setting up these little sound effect gags, and the use of all lowercase letter had me dawing as well as loling. And yeah, I just used “Daw” and “Lol” as actions, what of it?

There’s also  a bit in this issue that is very Scott Pilgrim esque, only with a lot more genital talk. I didn’t think I could love this series anymore than I have bee, but(t) here we are. Also is you think the last 200 words were mastubatory, let me make you aware of the fact that Hawkeye drops next week and it will get worse.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Troys, but with Tiny Pink Books: Just the Tips

just_the_tips-cov1corJust the Tips

Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

Image, $12.99, RATED M/Mature

I grew up with an aunt who loved having small little humor books for her coffee table. A bunch of them contained content that I didn’t get at the time, nor should have been looking at to begin with, but the jokes I did get were pretty funny, I guess. So to see the guys behind Sex Criminals do something in that vein with their new book, Just the Tips, brings up some weird nostalgia in me. More importantly though, it makes me laugh quite hard, and I wish I phrased all of this better, hashtag yikes.

Just the Tips, for those of you not in the know, is a mix of new and older material from Sex Crimz, and on paper is a book in which Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky help you be better at sexy times. There’s nothing in this book that affects the narrative in the proper Sex Criminals comic, so if you’re expecting that sort of thing, you may be slightly disappointed. Speaking of disappointing, I was talking to your lady friend and-I’m sorry, I’ll stop.

Tips02That being said, if you’re just here for laughs and questionable imagery, you’re fine. Sure you’ll fine some letters and SEX TIPS from the generally excellent reader’s letters column reprinted here, but none of the smart  and thoughtful ones. It the gross and funny ones, don’t worry you won’t actually learn anything, which is all a part of the joke anyway.

Aside from the reprinted Sex Tips, positions and letters, Matt and Chip gifted the reader with a bunch of erotica, pick-up lines, dirty talk, and my personal favorite movie reviews of sex parody movies that they’ve created. Oh and the entire things kicks off with an introduction from the President himself of the Unite States himself, Barack Obama. Yeah, I’m surprised they got him for this book too, but Chip and Matt are pretty popular these days.

Chip Zdarsky and Matt Fraction telling terrible, dirty jokes, is the selling point of this book, and it’s the main reason it works out so well. Their personalities and humor have made them 2 of the most in-demand and beloved creators currently in comics, so them spending 92 pages making dick jokes is the type of book that would only work for them. Well them and Howard Chakyin, but that’s a difference talk for another day.

tips-panelDesign wise, Just The Tips is simplistic, but attractive, mostly consisting of float 2 color pages. A lot of black and pink, ensuring that this book looks like a sex toy, which I’m sure is intentional. Any of Zdarsky’s art that appears in here isn’t as refined as what appears in Sex Criminals proper, but it’s still charming in it own special way. Well  as charming as the topic can be. Be prepared to have the solar system ruined for you half way through this book.

Over the last year Sex Criminals has proven to be one of the most unconventional successes in comics, with it’s original premise, and it’s honest and hilarious look at sex. Just The Tips isn’t as thought provoking or insightful, but it isn’t meant to be. It’s 92 pages of adult humor and apologies, and the perfect thing to make for awkward conversation if read in public. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a Brimper, or know someone who’s down with Brimping.

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Mindtrip

Happy Turkey Day weekend. Assuming you weren’t trampled on Friday via stampeding crowds looking for hot dealz.

ODY-C-1-CoverODY-C #1

Matt Fraction/Christian Ward

Image $3.99

OY-C is a comic that….I…um….that is to say…

:: Stares at keyboard for several minutes at a lost for words ::

ODY-C is kind of a weird book y’all. A different type of weird that I’m use to from the writer. In the outro, Matt Fraction describes the book as a retelling of the The Odyssey with a Wonder Woman meets Barbarella filter. Which it definitely achieves, channeling some 4th World Jack Kirby with a dash of Blizzard’s Starcraft designs as well. But to be honest, Fraction’s writing left me a little cold with this debut. There’s hints of his brand of humor and dialogue sprinkled around the comic, but his dedication to the source material rubbed me the wrong way a few times. It’s far from bad, and impressive that Fraction managed to balance new dialogue all while paying homage to the original Odyssey, but I just didn’t connect to this comic like I did previous Fraction written debuts.

Visually, this book looks  like nothing else on the market. Christian Ward‘s visuals are as trippy as they are beautiful,  and his use of colors and the choice of palette is fantastic. My favorite moment comes from a multi-panel fight scene that’s coated primarily in shades of  red, with the only contrasting color being white. It’s an insane visual trick that really makes the art pop out. And Chris Eliopoulos‘ lettering couldn’t be better, doing this epic justice.

In addition to Ward’s gorgeous art, there’s an 8 page double sided fold out that kicks this comic off. There’s an insanely detailed battlefield image by Ward on one side, and the other is map/timeline that was done with help from one Drew Gill. It’s a dense read that sets the stage for the book, almost drowning the reader with information.

I applaud Fraction and Ward for making one of the most visually interesting books on the market with a female heavy cast.  I’m going to give the series another issue to see if it’s pull  worth of if I’m better waiting for trade. Regardless of my buying preference, ODY-C is a different type of comic, something that deserves to be read based on it’s boldness alone.

 

backgroundSecret Avengers #10

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of weird looking books that look good, this issue of Secret Avengers is arguably the best the book’s looked all year.

I don’t want to take away from Ales Kot‘s contributions to this book. Kot’s work on this title has been important, managing to combine some genuine humor into a exciting espionage thriller that’s pretty dark and very weird. But ultimately, it’s the team of Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson that made fall hard for this issue.

Allow me to explain why: the final 5 pages of this comic take place Venzuela, amiss of a downpour. Spoilers, if only you didn’t look at this book’s cover, it involves Hawkeye and Agent Coulson having a stare down  and it looks fantastic. Walsh’s body language, facial expressions, panel composition are great, and look amazing thanks to Wilson’s black and grey pallets. And the final page is equally hilarious and dreadful, setting up for the third and final arc of this series. Capped off by another fantastic Tradd Moore, Secret Avengers makes me a happy reader once again.

It’s hard to say if this book is coming to an end because of low sales, or if it had a plan ending from the beginning. Hopefully it’s the later, because it’s easily the best the book’s been since Warren Ellis‘ brief run. Either way, I’m excited to see how this all ends, despite the fact that and another wonderfully weird Marvel book will be over.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Trades!

Those invested in this blog’s continuity (WHY?!?) , you may have recalled that I only reviewed one single issue this past week.

That being said, Image, a publisher I have not shut up about at all this year, has released a number of super impressive hardcovers this past week (and a trade I’m tossing in there because I can). So I’m going to spotlight them here, because they’re all good reads that may or may not be under your radar, or you need some gift ideas for Black Friday.

CasanovaVol1HC_CoverFirst we have The Casanova Complete Edition Volume 1: Luxuria. Casanova is arguably the most Matt Fractiony Matt Fraction book and largely considered to be the book that made him stand out and be notice. It’s the third time this book’s been re-release and the 1st to be released by Image in color and in a fancy hardcover.

The easiest way to describe the book is a multidimensional spy thriller starring Secret Agent Mick Jagger who has some major daddy issues. That probably doesn’t clarify much, but such is the way in Casanova. It’s a book that requires you too devote your entire self to get comprehend, and if you do, you’ll be rewarded with an great read with gorgeous art work. Artists and brothers Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon channel a lot of Mike Mignola in their art, only trading in scares for trippy sci-fi tech and beautiful people. Having the art increased allows the reader to appreciate how much work they put into their art. While the $30 is a lot to ask for 4 comics, you’ll also get a ton of bonus content. It’s a must for Fraction fans, especially with the long await Volume 4 debuting in January.

 

51DjHOqStyL._SL500_AA300_The other massive re-release of collected material is Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples Saga. The deluxe hardcover collects the first 3 trades worth of material ( 18 issues to be precise) plus bonus material that was never put in the bare bones trades. Also a new cover, poking fun of some controversy the book faced by some people with dumb opinions. This Romeo and Juliet meets Star Wars comic is cheaper to buy in single trades ( $40 vs $50), but if you’re new to the book or want to double dip, I can’t recommend going with the hardcover enough. Staples art looks fantastic blown up in this oversized hardcover, and it’s probably the closet we’ll ever get to seeing Saga in the children’s book format that it draws its inspiration from. I know this isn’t much of a review, but I’ve talked about this book A LOT in the pass, so you should know my feelings towards it by now.

TheWickedAndDivine_vol1-1And while not in a snazzy hardcover, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine also gets its first trade paperback. This is the newest of the 3 Image collections to hit the stands, and tells of the tale of a fan obsessed with pop icons who are actually reincarnated gods, and looking super pretty while dealing with their moralities. Not exactly the cheeriest of books I know, but I’m a fan of Team Gillen/McKelvie/ Matthew Wilson, and cannot recommend the trade enough if you’ve dug any of their past works. The trade collects issues 1-5 of the hit series, but a cover gallery. Well worth the $10 price tag, especially given the level of quality in the book.

 

These three, along with the excellent delux edition of Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark are all excellent introductions to some of the best books available today. I recommend picking up all of them, or having someone do so for you as soon as possible.

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Girls and their dogs

ms-marvel-8-cover1Ms. Marvel #8

G. Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona/Ian Herring

Marvel $2.99

Look at that cover. It is a cover that is made of 100% pure joy, as well as paper and probably some chemicals.

Ms. Marvel has been a delight since day 1, but issue 8 may just be my favorite issue to date. As you can tell from the cover, Lockjaw of the Inhumans shows up, possibly in the most amazing and adorable fashion. Which I think is ultimately why I liked this issue so much, because it is the cutest thing to ever cute a cute. G Willow Wilson has done a lot to make Kamala not a stereotypical teenage girl character, so seeing the new Ms Marvel actually go head over feet for her new pet is more of a delight than it is insulting. Her Ms Marvel is a character that’s very 3 dimensional, so seeing her a different side of her every so often is fun.

Issue 8 also sees the return of artist Adrian Alphona, who absolutely owns his return. The book’s art certainly didn’t suffer during his break, especially with master colorist Ian Herring on colors but Alphona’s style is unique, so having him back just feels right. And we as readers are rewarded to some great art that’s beautifully weird, and packed full of small details and hidden jokes. It’s also great to see how Adrian illustrates the use of Ms Marvel’s powers, leading to some cool and hilarious visuals.

Ms Marvel continues to be one of the best books on the stands today, and it’s mostly due to the level of talent and dedication the creative team brings to this book. From cover to cover, the book is a refreshing alternative to most super hero books and is a ton of fun.

hawkeye-020-001Hawkeye #20

Matt Fraction/Annie Wu. Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel $3.99

🙁 🙁 🙁

With the release of issue 20, we only have 2 issues of Hawkeye left. I am the saddest of Chris’ over this fact. The 3 sad faces above prove that.

Issue 20 is artist Annie Wu‘s final issue on the series, and ultimately wraps up Kate Bishop’s California adventure. A lot of questions are resolved and a few reveals are had, making for a satisfying, but not necessarily the happiest of endings.

While the book is a bit of a downer at times, the creators do a fantastic job on this comic. Annie Wu’s art is super expressive, and the range of emotions she can put into her characters and environments is impressive. Poor Kate Bishop takes a beating in this issue, and Wu does a bang up job of showing it, with some nasty bruises, bandages and messed up hair. But her Hawkeye is a warrior, and the final 2 pages show how much of a bad ass Katie-Kate can be when push comes to shove. Matt Hollingsworth’s colors really do Annie Wu pencils justice, mixing a lot of bright colors you’d associate with California with the traditional Hawkeye purple. It’s the same flat coloring style you see when David Aja is drawing the book, but it’s different enough to compliment Annie Wu’s style in all the right ways.

Matt Fraction‘s script of course brings the entire package together. His dialogue is sharp,  the reveals he drops land and nothing feels out of place. It’s impressive to see how much he got out of Kate’s “new” supporting cast in such a brief period of time spent with them, but they all feel so fleshed out. And his Kate also remains a fun character that you can help but cheer for, especially when some of the shit hits the fans. He’s done wonders for the character, and I consider him the definitive voice of Kate, despite having nothing to do with her creation.

With this and Superior Foes of Spider-Man wrapping up soon, I’m really bummed to see 2 of my favorite books come to an end. However much like SUP FOES, Hawkeye’s ending seems like it’s coming to a natural ending point, and I’m sure the creators will stick the landing. The Kate Bishop California adventure does suffer a bit due to countless delays, but ultimately it does it’s job of ending one story and setting up the final story. I don’t want this book to end y’all, but I’m eager to see what Fraction, Hollingsworth and David Aja do with the final 2 issues after this issue.

 

 

 

 

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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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Review: Hawkeye #19

HAWKEYE2012017_COVHawkeye #19

Matt Fraction/David Aja Hollingsworth

Marvel $3.99

WARNING: This review will continue spoilers for previous issues of Hawkeye, as well as this one. Read at your own risk.

So yeah, remember back in 2013 when Hawkeye #11 dropped and everyone one was like “WHELP, here’s an Eisner winner in 2014”? And then that happened? Replace #11 with #19 and the year 2015, because it’s going to happen again.

10527365_10100404509314752_8992801137704805022_n-300x160The last time we saw Clint Barton and his brother Barney(back in like…March? Possibly April, it’s been awhile), they were shot up pretty bad by an assassin. This issue is the fallout of said shooting, and we find that Barney can’t walk and Clint’s deaf. The deaf thing (apologies if that’s offensive by the way, I not exactly sure what the correct terminology is to be honest)  by the way is a nice reference to the character’s history, something older fans would know and newer fans are brought up to speed with via flashback early in the issue. This leads to most of the interactions between Clint and Barney being done through sign language, something not seen in a lot of comics, but makes for some rather interesting results given how comics is kinda a visual heavy medium.  Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth being the creative tour de force they are, consulted with specialist Rachel Coleman and Dr. Larry Thomas to ensure that the signing was correct, which leads to David Aja drawing a lot of signing charts. This sort of dedication to detail is why Aja and Fraction win Eisners people.

It’s also not the first time we’ve seen the team experiment with language in comics. There’s the Tracksuit’s “Bro”-usage, and the award winning Pizza Dog issue, in which the story is told via a Dog’s POV. It’s interesting that Hawkeye of all books is the comic experimenting with language in comics.

 

Hawkeye #19 Page 2Aja’s art is stunning. The way the characters “act” and their body language comes across so genuine and real. The guilt and pain Clint carries in the early part of this issue is clearly expressed on his face, as is the anger Barney shows towards his brother stubbornness. Aja even goes as far as to letter some of his own art, and is so skilled at it I couldn’t tell what he contributed and what series regular letterer Chris Eliopoulos did. It’s damn good, and the end result made the delays for this book well worth the dollar increase in price.

As for the story, it’s the typical act 3 of any Western/Action movie you’ve seen. The hero (Clint) is at a lost, buried in guilt and defeat, despite having plenty of people to turn to for help. Hawkguy’s stubbornness has been a theme for most of this book, and it plays off of the plot of issue 17’s Christmas special. And much like that issue, Clint gets some sense knocked into him (literally) and he gets his stuff together, rallies the troops and goes on the offensive. It may be a bit cliche, but Fraction and Aja handle it so well, you can’t help but find yourself pumped up by the end of the issue.

imagesAnd that’s what ultimately makes Hawkeye as good as it is. The Matts and David make you emotionally invested in these characters, so that when they actually get a win, there’s a genuinely sense of happiness the reader gets from the book. It’s an incredible feeling, and speaks a lot about the talent the creative team posses .

Hawkeye seems to be coming to in a end in a few issues, and I’ll be sad to see it go. Aside from it being my favorite comic from one of my favorite creative teams working in comics today, it’s book I can always rely on to being nothing short of amazing. I’ll be sad to see it go, but excite to see how everything wraps up over the upcoming months.

 

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics Belated Edition part 2

wicked-and-divine-620x400The Wicked + The Divine #1

 Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson

Image, $3.50

Despite not being familiar with half the bands mentioned in the comic, I REALLY dug Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s 2 installments of Phonograms. And now that they’re done with their 14 issue run of Kate Bishop an her cosplay friends ( aka Young Avengers),  the pair have returned to Creator Owned Comics with Wicked + The Divine.

 

W+ t D is the tale of reincarnated gods and pop stars. So yeah it’s A LOT like Phonograms in a way, at least in concept.  Hey even Gillen admits that’s in his letter at the end of the issue, but the actual execution of the material makes all the difference. Unlike the casters that cling to the shadows in Phonograms, these gods are out there in public, letting the world know that they’re out there and operating on another level.

 

Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson are arguably 2 of my favorite artist/colorists working in comics today, and they are absolutely divine (HAR HAR) in this kick off issue. McKelvie’s line work is fabulous, and his facial expressions and the emotion he can get his characters to convey are all top notch, as usual. But it’s Matt Wilson who’s really upped his game here. Between the results of what happens when Luci snaps her fingers and how the character’s makeup and eye liner looks, it’s hard to name a colorist as skilled as Wilson working in comics today.

 

As for writer Kieron Gillen, he’s nothing short than brilliant. His dialogue is sharp, giving each of the characters a distinct voice that makes them stand out a bit. And while the plot is fairly straight forward, it’s incredibly engaging and ends on a solid cliffhanger. This is Gillen at his strongest, and it’s something that readers benefit from.

 

Wicked + The Divine is a stellar debut by one of the best creative teams with a working relationship in comics today. Anyone who loved Phonograms & Young Avengers, or was stupid enough to skip over them, needs to read this book immediately.

 

3898273-sex+criminals+02Sex Criminals #6

 Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Image $3.50

Sex Crims is back, in what is arguably the most Matt Fraction issue to date. What the means is that there’s a lot of self depreciation,  paranoia and some bleakness to this issue. Not exactly what you’re expecting from a sex comedy, but something that only helps the narrative and help flesh (HAR HAR 2) out the characters.

 

On the joys of Sex Crims that while it’s an extremely lewd funny book, it’s also incredibly honest and smart. This issue really shows that, as Jon, our male lead steps into the spotlight. Despite being a man who poops in plotted plants and freezes time every time he climaxes, he’s also a man suffering from most realistic difficulties, that help make his easier to sympathize with.

 

This issue isn’t all doom and gloom tho. While Chip  Zdarsky can sell the more dramatic bits of comic with the greatest of ease, he’s also a gifted cartoonist who can hide a ton of jokes hidden in the panels. At this weekend at Heroescon, Fraction described the process as MAD magazine esque and there’s no better description of it.The letter column remains something crucial to one’s enjoyment of Sex Criminals. It’s a fascinating look at what kind of community has been built around this book, and is something genuinely enjoyable.

I’m glad to have Sex Criminals back, and I’m curious as to what direction the book is taking with this volume seemingly focusing on Jon.

 

300px-Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_22Uncanny X-Men #22

Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend

Marvel $3.99

 

Gah. This issue comes so close to be a perfect end to the X-Men Vs SHIELD arc, but it hampered by a guest colorist who’s style is lighter than what we usually get with Chris Bachalo. It clashes with Bachalo & Tim Townsend’s (and like 4 other dudes) heavy black style, and does not compliment it as well as it should.

 

It’s a real shame, because everything else about this issue is great. We finally get some answers to some long brewing questions, and 2 other characters get a nice return to form. It’s a rewarding book for long time readers, and it definitely sets up the potential for some cool stories for the future.

 

As for the reveal as to who has been sending Sentinels after Cyclops’ renegade X-Men, it works in terms of the actual identity. The execution is a bit lacking, as the motive for said villains is a tad lacking. Of course Brian Michael Bendis could be planning to touch upon that in a future issue, it’s just a little weak at this moment.

 

Overall the X-Men Vs SHIELD story arc was a fun little romp.  Nothing ground breaking, but a fun story that looked great and read well. A shame about the colors in that final issue, but overall a good time.

 

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