Tagged: Mikel Janin

Batman #26 Escalates Into War

Batman’s greatest defeat is beginning to take shape. Last issue we saw the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s confession. Now, the terrible war he could not stop is about to escalate. After the shocking alliance in part one, just what will two of the Dark Knight’s greatest foes do next? And how many lives will be in the balance?

The War of Jokes and Riddles” had a heck of a kickoff. The Riddler and The Joker are united. They have one goal: End the pointy-eared vigilante’s existence. It’s the only way they’ll laugh and riddle again. To do so, they’re about to take their feud to the next level. When the other villains in Gotham City are forced to choose sides no one will get out unscathed. Whose side will you be on? And will their be unexpected casualties in the crossfire? Bats is going to have to push himself beyond limits to keep civilians out of harm’s way.

Most definitely the core Batman title has been on an upswing. Each new story arc seems to be raising the bar for Tom King and his cadre of artists. Due to that, what began with a solid start has grown into a must-read saga.When a new creative team takes over on a title, there are questions. “Will this be the same character as I think of him?” “Is the next adventure be as good as the last?” “Can the book look the same or cooler?” Needless to say, following Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, Tom King and David Finch needed to have good answers.

King’s Batman is arguably more human. Therefore, he doesn’t deny that he has emotions. He isn’t insensitive to others’. Hence there’s almost something romantic in this exploration of the seventy-eight year-old character. That’s far from a bad thing. To see a new side of an older character is often rewarding. How the change effects him for the long-term when King and crew move on will be the real barometer of success.

One thing’s for certain, the creator’s Riddler and Joker have been exciting. This next chapter is chocked full of devastating potential.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson 16

 

Grayson01Grayson #16

Tim Seeley,  Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

This week, Grayson reaches new heights of awesome, some of which resulted in me almost losing my composure in public several times. Please note that I am a adult (legally), and that I will still sometimes react physically to comics when they’re THIS good.

Those of you who have reading this blog for the last year and a half or so know that I’m quite fond of the title. Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox (as well as the occasionally guest artist) have been kicking all sort of butt on this comic since day one, making it one of the best books coming out of DC, let alone the market in my opinion. While I wasn’t that big of a fan of the book being forced into to a crossover event last month, issue 16 more than makes up for, delivering one hell of an experience.

 

WARNING FROM HERE ON OUT, THERE BE SPOILERS YO!

Team Grayson has done an excellent job of taking obscure Wildstorm  and DCU characters and reintroducing them to the new 52 universe fully fleshed out. We’ve seen them work wonders on the Midnighter, who’s gone on to start in his own wonderful spin-off comic. This issue sees the similar discarded Grifter show up, amongst several other character being introduced for the first time/were starring in a book that got cancelled. As someone who got into WildCATS as a kid and gave his quickly cancelled on-going series a shot, I’m excited to see this team give ol Cole the treatment he deserves. Oh the once-before teased 5021674-gray_16_2Maxwell Lord shows up, which I’m sure won’t result in heartbreak, betrayal or any Blue Beetles getting shot.

This is also the issue where the creative team decided to go full Bond with the references. What does that mean exactly? Well first and foremost, it means Dick taking out a James Bond homage in front of several Bond lady tributes. It also means a montage designed as tribute to the Bond intro, complete with it’s own theme song as perform by Dick Grayson himself. Aside from it being one of the BEST running gags in the book, it looks amazing, as Janin draws Dick and his fellow deflected agent Tiger fighting spies in a variety of exotic locales. Jeromy Cox really shines in this section, giving the 2 double page spread outs some really trippy colors, giving it a 60s mod vibe. The combination of word class colors and line art continue to make Grayson a gorgeous book, well worth the $4 cover price.

And man, I love the banter Tiger and Dick have between themselves in this issue. Seeley and King have been really solid with the humor these last few issues, but the jokes in this particular issue, including said song, are really strong. They’ve done an excellent job of tumblr_o1mh53FBTc1sqep2mo2_1280poking fun of some of the more sexist troupes spy-fiction, and they continue to do so twice in this issue, while balancing a pretty serious plot that advances in an interesting direction. I absolutely adore the direction this book is going, especially when you tease me with a upcoming story called SPY WARS!

Grayson continues to be a delightful read, and this issue is ridiculously good. The creative team gives the reader a comic that delivers a generous amount of action, laughs and fantastic visuals, and it’s something I look forward to reading every month. Grayson #16 isn’t the BEST issue this team has done so far in this fun, but between the humor and what’s to come, it’s damn enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris’ Crossover Comics: Grayson #15 & Gotham Academy #13

tumblr_nyhq1sRENk1s2pnhbo1_1280GOTHAC_Cv13_55f367cf6faa42.56004071Grayson #15

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikkel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

 Gotham Academy #13

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

It’s ROBIN WAR time, which means….I’m not entirely sure what exactly. I kinda skipped over part 1, a $5 one shot that dropped last week, flipped through part 3 in the store, and got a general idea of what’s going on, kind of? I don’t know, there’s something going on with the Court of Owls, and the We Are Robin kids shooting a cop and there being a Robin ban? It’s a tad insane, and kind of unnecessary in my opinion, given the fact that we also have the excellent Batman & Robin Eternal weekly mini series going on.

4907323-5gray_15preview-4Grayson #15 is the 2nd chapter of the Robin War, where as Gotham Academy #13 is a tie in, which tries to set up the 3rd arc of the book while tying into this mini event. Both of these books are a bit of a mix bag quality wise, as is often the case when it comes to cross overs and tie ins.

Grayson #15 has the advantage of being handled by it’s established creative team, which mean the dozens of Robins look great under the art team of Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox. And to their credit, King and Seeley does a fantastical job of writing the various Robins WHILE moving the story forward. I have no  previous experience with the We Are Robin cast, but the Grayson team does a fine job of writing the lot of them as some really likable characters. And it’s nice to see them tackling the various Robins again, something we got a taste of a few issues ago. Where the book falters is explaining what happens between this issue and the last, assuming you read the first chapter of Robin War coming into issue 15. I did not, hence me being a tad lost. Luckily, even with the lack of recap/explanation, the book is still relatively solid, and the cliffhanger ending does peak my interest as to what’s going on with this event.

As for Gotham Academy #13, I can’t say the same about that book’s quality. It’s a tie in, so knowing the exact details of Robin War isn’t’ as crucial to the book as it was in Grayson, GA13-b-990x1522but the lack of series’ co-creators Becky Cloonan and Karl Kerschl is felt. And handing the art chores to Adam Archer, who isn’t quite on Kerschl’s level skill wise definitely does it no favor.While the book’s visual get better as the issue progresses, it’s incredible rough looking at first, and a lot the charm seen on the title in the past isn’t there. Sandra Hope and Serge Lapointe do what they can with the inks and colors, but they can only do so much with a comic that tries doing too much in 20 pages.

It’s hard to judge an entire event based on 1 chapter and 1 tie in, but the Robin War isn’t working for me. I don’t like buying crossovers for books I’m not already pulling, and it’s impact on these two books do nothing to make me think otherwise. Each of the book’s respected creative teams certainly tried, but ultimately the Robin War doesn’t do Grayson or Gotham Academy any favors.

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #12

Hey look it’s me, Chris, I’m back now. Rose City Comic Con was a delightful little show, and Seattle was a nice city that I’m sure Amazon will continue to ruin over the next few years. And now that I’ve dispensed some hot takes, let’s get to comics talk!

ff33f701f2ec2c8518ab96fd2acf9cc3Grayson #12

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin, Hugo Petrus, Juan Castro

DC $3.99

Every once in awhile I read a comic that ends with me standing up and doing and happy little boogey, or screaming something incoherent which results in my wife questioning as to why she married me. Grayson #12 resulted in both, because man, this comic was a hoot.

 

For most of this book’s existence, Grayson has resided in it’s own little corner of the Bat-universe by itself, only more recently having the title character show up in other books like that Batgirl annual from a few weeks back, random cameos in various Batman books and the  Midnighter spin off series. Aside from being a spy, a job that requires a low profile and less spandex, the main reason for Dick’s limited appearances was him “dying” in Forever Evil, a dumb comic you should not waste your time on unless you’re super into reading comics that were not particularly good. But now Dick is at a cross roads of sorts, and has decided it’s time to  go back to Gotham to catch up to the “family” he left behind, which of course is more complicated than he imagined. One being the fact that SPYRAL the espionage group Dick has been recently working for isn’t quite done with him yet,  and second, most of the family thinks he’s dead.  You know, typical comics drama.

 

grayson12_1While co-writer Tim Seeley has some experience writing the other Robins, Alfred, and Batgirl thanks to Batman Eternal, this is the first time we’ve seen Tom King handle the extended Bat-family. And it’s wonderful, as he manages to give each Robin their own distinct voices that captures their personality perfectly. Same with Batgirl, Alfred and the man who sent Dick to SPYRAL, but now has no recollection of doing so, or even who Dick Grayson is. It’s an bit of an emotional issue, light on the punching and heavy on the history of the character, and one that sets up the next arc of the book perfectly. And despite the new 52 world only being around for 5 years or so, Seeley & King draw upon Grayson’s 75 years of existence via the use of various dialogue from dozens and dozens of comics old and new.  It’s a wonderful use of continuity, giving long time readers some fan service without alienating newer readers, while explaining the bonds between these characters. It’s all very compelling and fun to read, and I really dug the Damian and  Dick reunion, especially after recently re-reading the Grant Morrison run on Batman and Robin.

 

GRAY_12_2Mikel Janin being as good as he is on this book comes as no surprise, but man his take on the Bat Family is stunning in a way I couldn’t have predicted. Everyone looks great, even the Robins with terrible costumes ( cough Jason and Tim ), and its fun too see Janin transition from sexy spy stuff to sexy super hero stuff. He has a great handling on the characters costumes old and new, and the body language his characters emote is fantastic. The coloring really empathizes the bright, fun colorful costumes, which contrast nicely with the mostly back background. Janin doesn’t get to experiment with layouts and positioning as much in this issue as he has in the past, but the brief action scenes still look amazing, and the talking head scene are as equally stunning. He gets some help with colors this month from Hugo Petrus & Juan Castrobut they ape his style so well you can’t tell. Janin and company continue to excel on this title, and the art he’s produced his book is arguably some of the best coming out of DC today.

 

GRAY_12_1I REALLY dug this Grayson #12. It was a brief but fun visit to Gotham, and I enjoyed seeing Dick interact with the other Bat characters for the first time in forever. The issue is chock full of fun little character moments, the return of a great gimmick from a previous issue, and a fun new M.O. for our lead character. It’s a fantastic done in one that showcases the entire creative teams talents, and a great start for what’s next.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #11

JUN150255Grayson #11

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

While never being a bad read, the last few issues of Grayson were not exactly up to par with the level of quality we were getting back during the pre-break. That being said, issue 11, the conclusion of the Nemesis arc, is arguably the strongest installment of the book in awhile. Writers Tom King and Tim Seeley put all their cards on the table and the revelations that ensue shake the book to it’s core.

It’s worth mentioning that while the plotting/writing in Grayson has been a bit uneven up to this issue (Too many butt jokes believe it or not!), Mikel Janin‘s art & Jeromy Cox‘s colors never saw a dip in quality. Grayson’s always looked incredible, and this issue is no exception. It’s an exceptionally brutal issue with a fair amount of blood, but also gorgeous in it’s owned twisted way. The “acting” in Janin’s fight scene is flawless, and perfectly emphasizes how raw and intense this battle is. Janin also experiments with layouts, playing up the book’s weird spy stuff and getting some fantastic results, as if J.H Williams was channeling Jack Kirby. And Cox’s colors really enhance the whole experience, and his ability to switch from black/blues to bright reds on the fly is worth commemorating. The backgrounds in this book are also fantastic, continuing the excellent use of locations in the title. Grayson is a book I’ve never regretted buying thanks to the art alone.

4759300-4-gray_11_4-5King and Seeley also deserve their fair share of praise for this issue. Aside from the aforementioned slick revelations and possibly shaking up the statue quo for the title character for awhile (which may help set up this fall’s Batman and Robin Eternal maxi-series), the dialogue in this issue is flawless. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a comic hero banter as well as Dick does in issue 11 (see the image to the left), and it’s genuinely hilarious. Dick Grayson is a character know for being a little goofy and light hearted, and this page/rant (which continues for another page or so) is a nice breath of fresh air in a relatively dark and serious arc. And I really like how quickly that little rant is soon turned on its head and turned into a character examination of Mister Grayson, all whle dropping hints to the identity of the Faux Dick ( hehehehe) running around. This arc may be a little back loaded in terms of quality, but it makes for all the more satisfying conclusion

It’s ridiculous how good Grayson #11 is. In a week where DC needs some good news, it’s great to see a book of Grayson’s caliber hit the stands. It’s a title that really feels like anything can change in an issue, which for a heavy espionage comic, is great. This book is flying without a safety net, which I imagine is how Dick Grayson would want it. While it’s not at all accessible for anyone who hasn’t been reading the series, fans of the title are definitely going to dig it once their hearts stop breaking.

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Chris’ Comics: All New Hawkeye #4 & Grayson #10

portrait_incredible (3)All New Hawkeye #4

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

Following in Hawkeye volume one’s footprints, All New Hawkeye is back after a slight delay. #BURN A reverse of the previous issue sees the bulk of the issue being dedicated to the drawn out Clint and Barney origins, with the final panel of the page being dedicated to the present, with Clint and Kate dealing with the three spooky children the Hawkeyes liberated from Hydra. Much like the previous issue, those panels are mostly dialogue free, and I find them the most interesting, as it feels more in the same vein as the previous volume, and Ramon Perez more simplistic style looks gorgeous. Ian Herring‘s colors perfectly capture the style used by Matt Hollingsworth for these scenes, yet his best stuff is saved for the flashback material. Here we see a lot of interesting uses of purples and blues clashing against a brighter color which clash nicely with the muted art work.

HawkeyeBWith the origin-story stuff taking the point again for this issue, I find myself slightly less invested with this issue. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great and genuinely do like what Jeff Lemire has set up with the brothers Barton. But ultimately it’s not a story I want to read. Clint’s origin is arguably one of the least interesting aspects of the character, because who wants to read about the circus in 2015 right? I applaud Lemiere and Perez doing something different, but I much prefer Clint and Kate arrowing it up in Brooklyn than I do Hawkeye babies.  Especially after 4 issues, or in Lemire’s case, a hunk of his career. Also it really clashes with the promise of more Kate Bishop, who’s barely in this issue.

All New Hawkeye #4 takes some neat artistic risks, but I’m tired of this origin story. The modern stuff is far more compelling, and hopefully there’s more of that after this arc.

 

Grayson-10Grayson #10

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

Grayson continues to be a god send to the character of Richard “Booty Booty Booty” Grayson. Ol’ Dick (heheheh) has been on bit of quality decline ever since the new 52 started, but his role as a spy has given him a much needed shot in the arm that Dick hasn’t seen since Grant Morrison and friends made him Batman. Grayson #10 is the second installment of the “Nemesis” arc, which finds that boy Grayson amiss of a murder mystery where he is the main suspect. Oh and Lex Luthor shows up, which is big, because Lex is one of the reasons Dick had to fake his death to begin with. It’s compelling stuff, with some really engaging dialogue from Tim Seeley and Tom King and the cliffhanger ending is spectacular.

Grayson-10-ViewOne of the advantages of turning Dick Grayson into a globe spanning hero is Mikel Janin being able to draw the hell out of a number of exotic locations in a single issue. Two moments that stand out to me visually were the scene in Madrid early in the book, and later when Lex and Dick meet in Corscia. Aside from drawing the prettiest of people, Janin draws some gorgeous scenery, beautifully colored by Jeremy Cox. Cox is also another fantastic artist, managing to mix channel travel brochure quality colors as well as Jim Steranko SHIELD era stuff. Coz is easily one of the most underrated colorists in the business and pairing him with Mikel Janin has produced some incredible looking art. Meanwhile, Seeley and King continue to provide a solid and entertaining script with some really smart and fun dialogue.

Grayson #10 is another fine installment of a book that got me back into DC Comics. It’s spy drama and super heroics at it’s best, and I’m glad to see the team’s first multi-issue storyline going so well.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Sassy Spies Editions

Yes, yes, I’m well aware Spider-Woman isn’t a spy anymore, but she’s still in Secret Avengers for the next 2 months so it works.

 

635544611181339292-SpiderWoman-coverSpider-Woman #5

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez

Marvel $3.99

NEW STATUS QUO! NEW COSTUME! NEW ARTIST! 5TH ISSUE IN!

Spider-Woman, not unlike Spider-Gwen, is done with Spider-Verse nonsense, done with the Avengers, done with Greg Land, and is hitting the streets with a new mission and a new slick look courtesy of Kris Anka. Writer Dennis Hopeless is now free to tell stories without having to worry about tying into Amazing Spider-Man, and the book’s all the better for it.

 

Land is replaced by former Daredevil colorist/Fill in Artist Javier Rodriguez, who reminds everyone that he can draw and color the hell out of a comic 5 pages into this issue. Rodriquez definitely picked up some tricks coloring Chris Samnee over the years, which explains why is layouts are so good. And of course, the coloring on this book is surreal. The way Rodriquez colors the rain almost make those panels feel 3-D. And man, that new costume looks amazing on Jessica. Inking him is Alvaro Lopez, who knows where to thicken his black lines and where to keep them thin. He’s a fine match for Javier.

 

Hopeless staying aboard on the title is A-O-K with me, as he’s a smart writer with a knack of coming up with unique premises on corporate comic characters. Jessica struggling with going solo is an interesting predicament for a super hero, and it’s a cool challenge for her to overcome. And the addition of Daily Bugle mainstay Phil Urich is neat, and gives Jessica a great character to interact with. Also Hopeless appeals to my loves of the recently completed Superior Foes of Spider-Man and brings in several Z-list Marvel villains for Jessica to harass.

 

Spider-Woman #5 is not unlike the Bab Tarring of Batgirl, which is fine because that was a smart move, and it’s certainly now working for J-Drew.   Between this, Silk and Spider-Gwen, you’d think the comics world would be sick of female Spider-ladies, but not that’s far from the case. Each one of these titles brings something to new to medium, and all of them are good comics.  Spider-Woman #5 is a VERY good comic that should have been a #1. I know the book got a nice sales boost launching and tying into Spider-Verse, but THIS is the debut issue the creators and characters deserve.

 

stk665635Grayson #8

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

This issue sees the end of season 1 wrapping up, as the book goes on hiatus for 2 months due to DC moving to the west coast and not replacing them with robots like I did (Hence I spell all good like always). In terms of endings, I don’t think this could have been any better.

Issue 8’s cover is pretty spot on, as SPYRAL finds a traitor in it’s ranks, and it’s up to Agent Grayson to save the day. It brings the cast of mostly new characters together in a fun and creative way, and ends on a brutal note. It’s spy comics done right, which has been this creative team’s MO since day 1, so this issue being as great as it is doesn’t come at that much of a surprise. Tom King and Tim Seeley deliver another fine script with some choice dialogue and neat twists, and Mike Janin and Jeromy Cox make the whole thing looks so pretty. Even when things get dark and violent, which says a lot about how I judge beauty.

Issue 8 is an issue that wraps up some plot-lines, starts new ones, and sees one of Dick Grayson’s student name each of his butt cheeks. It’s another great installment of comic that has been a crazy fun ride, and this slight break will make me miss it a ton.

 

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Everything is OKAY edition

PREVIOUSLY ON TTBwC: You may remember some of my recent reviews for DC’s Grayson and Batgirl have been either slightly negative, or concern about some of the content. This month, said books are released on the same week, and man I am no longer concerned about either title’s quality.

GRAY_Cv6_543db3662f95c5.33622396Grayson #6

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

After 6 issues, 1 Annual and one Editorial Mandatory Tie in Issue, Grayson gets an issues that isn’t a done in one. And man, the cliffhanger is everything I love about this book.

Grayson #6 is a return to form for the creative team, as Dick and the Midnighter final get to throwing down mano y spanish word for hand. Well technically this is like the 3rd time they’ve fought in this series, but this one takes up the bulk of the issue for a change. We also get some new insight on the SPYRAL organization and the people who run it, and the reveal of a new big bad, as well as some jokes. Great jokes at that, including at least 2 laugh out loud bits of dialogue.

There are a few deep cuts to both Pre and New 52 comics continuity in this issue, as Tom King and Tim Seeley really come through with this issue. It’s a smart fight book, that perfectly blends weird sciences with a great fight scene, complete with some superb dialogue. And artists Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox continue to amaze, which some really kinetic line work and some outstanding coloring. This book looks as good as it reads, if not better, especially with some of color choice’s Cox uses to really make the fight scenes pop. Especially with the throwdown’s location, the almost psychedelic color pallet has this book almost out Jim Sterankos your average issue of Secret Avengers.

Grayson #6 comes damn close to being a perfect comic. The creative team starts 2015 off on the right foot, and I’m eager to see what a full year of Grayson will bring us.

tumblr_ne60quQzFV1qfd9cso1_1280Batgirl #38

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

DC $2.99

Speaking of A+ plus coloring, Maris Wicks does some really neat stuff with this month’s issue of Batgirl. Wicks has been doing some dynamite work since this creative team took over the title, but the color in this issue really stands out. There’s several scenes, ranging from a confrontation in a alley way to a high speed motorcycle race that really pop thanks to Wicks’ skills.

Great coloring aside, Batgirl #38 finally raises the stakes with the plot, and moves the story in an interesting direction. Batgirl’s new boyfriend doesn’t approve of the vigilante in town, Black Canary doesn’t approve of her heavy social media presence or her behavior, and there’s still a large helping of jerk-ass white boys making Burnside not so great at times. Granted some of these elements may not seem like the boldest and most original, they’re blended together well enough to seem fresh and entertaining, especially given how well Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher write dialogue. Batgirl is very much a book that reads like it takes place in 2015.

Babs Tarr (with Cameron Stewart on breakdowns) is a beast with this issue. She crams pages with a numerous amount of panels (her average is about 7 in this book, where your usual comics is 5-6 at most), which a frightening amount of detail and expression. It’s impressive to see her talents grow with every issue, especially when she’s this new to the medium.

Batgirl #38 is another delightful issue from the creative team, with a cool mystery, fantastic character interaction and slicks visuals. It’s exactly what this book needed after some of the more controversial material from the previous issue.

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What I dug in 2014: DC Comics edition

It’s the end of 2014, which means it’s time for everyone to drop “Best Of” lists. Truth be told, there’s been a ton of acclaimed comics I didn’t read this year, so me complying one is kind of whack. HOWEVER, I’ve read a bunch of good comics this year, so I’m going to make 3 articles dedicated to some of my favorites from the past year. A solid cop-out if you ask me, #biased.

2012/2013 saw me drop a number of DC Comics titles, mostly due to the lack of interest in the direction DC editorial was heading. 2014 changed that, as  editor Mark Doyle came aboard the Bat-line and shook things up a lot, assigning some top notch creators to old and new titles. It’s resulted in me getting interested back in Dc’s catalog for the first time in a while, with the exception of one book I never really stopped reading.

Batman_Vol_2_31_Textless-1That exception is Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo‘s amazing run on Batman. This book has been constantly excellent since the beginning of the new 52, and this year saw the conclusion to the incredible Year Zero story line, as well as the fantastic Endgame arc. Snyder’s Batman has been a more human take of the character, way different from the Bat-god we’ve seen from Grant Morrison‘s run, and has been the most relatable take on the character in some time. Greg Capullo, inked masterfully by Danny Miki with amazing colors by FCO Plascencia, is doing some next level stuff with this book. His villains are grotesque, his Batman is a mix of iconic and pulp hero, and his Gotham varies from modern metropolis to nightmare-fuel garbagetown depending on the scene.

4008079-grayson01But Snyder and Capullo kicking ass isn’t anything new. What is new is Grayson, the spy thriller that saw Nightwing go from vigilante to spy who refuses to kill. Which is problematic given his new profession. Written by Tim Seeley and former actual spy Tom King, with  Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox, it’s been the most compelling Dick Grayson has been since he was Batman, and is a fun book that incorporates espionage with some weirder elements of the Batverse. While the book suffers the occasional misstep, it’s also incredibly smart and sexy when the book (in a non-insulting/offensive way) delivers. The Future’s End tie-in was easily one of the best editorial mandated tie-in book to an event I don’t read this past year, and would be the best single issue for the series if we didn’t have a surprisingly sweet issue involving a Manty Raid.

STK652755586cfd30a87203654de3e206e1093d7dI also can’t overlook the trio of female lead books set in the Batverse. Gotham Academy, but Brendan Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, Karl Kerschl and and a trio of amazing colorists ( Geyser, Dave McCaig and John Rauch) is Batman meets Harry Potter, and is a slick looking book I didn’t know I wanted, but now am incredibly happy we have. It reminds me of Jason Aaron‘s insanely charming run of Wolverine and the X-men, only with less mutants and more #Teens. Harley Quinn, by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Chad Hardin and Alex Sinclair, has became a massive hit for DC Comics, and while the book is pretty hit or miss to me, it’s hard to overlook it’s importance. It’s the closest DC has an book that truley appeals to the Deadpool audience, and when the book is good, it’s good. And finally there’s Batgirl, DC’s arguably most hyped book of the year. The book, seeing Fletcher joined by Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Maris Wick, set the internet aflame when it was announced, and has delivered ever since they creative team’s debut in October. It’s a much needed book that does some interesting things with Barbara Gordon, and much like Gotham Academy, it’s gorgeous and incredibly fun.

 

So yes, while DC has put out some incredibly bad books this past year (Forever Evil and the current run of Wonder Woman spring to mind), it seems they’ve finally found some books that match some of the gems Marvel has been offering as of late. I’m hoping this trend continues well into 2015.

 

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Lovable Rogues edition

Grayson_Vol_1-5_Cover-1_TeaserGrayson #5

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin/ Jeremy Cox

DC Comics  $2.99

Grayson #5 is arguably the most ambitious issue since the Future’s End one-shot. That being said, while issue 5 looks great, it’s arguably the weakest issue to date.

The premise of this issue is that a mission has gone off the rails, so Dick Grayson, Helena, the Midnighter and a new born child are forced to walk across 200 miles of desert to reach civilization. The purpose of this issue is to show the reader that Dick Grayson never gives up, is pretty much perfect, doesn’t afraid of anything, blah blah blah.

While I dig what Tim Seeley and Tom King are trying to do with this issue, it’s something that we’ve been seeing since issue 1: that Dick Grayson values life and will do whatever to protect it. This issue feels like it spinning it’s wheels a bit, instead of advancing the plot. Helena’s presence feels tacted on, and the ending is kind of a mess.

That being said, it’s still a gorgeous book. Mikel Janin does a excellent job of drawing sexy people in the desert, and I’m sure a ton of people are glad to see shirtless Dick Grayson run around with a 10 day year old beard. He also does a lot of interesting things with his story-telling with double page spreads and multiple panel work, And colorist Jeremy Cox really steps up this issue, showing how brutal the desert setting  is, and making the relatively simplistic backgrounds come to live.

Grayson #5 is a frustrating comic, that looks great but offers new in the narrative. It’s a rare misstep from a solid creative team.

Legendary_Star-Lord_Vol_1_6_TextlessLegendary Star-Lord #6

Sam Humphries/Paco Medina/Juan Vlasco/Davis Curiel/

$3.99 Marvel

WACKY DATE ISSUE, WACKY DATE ISSUE!

Legendary Star-Lord  #6 sees Kitty Pryde and Peter Quill go on their first date. Well sorta date, as Kitty is still on Earth, so it’s Kitty via hologram. Oh and there are still a bunch of people trying to kill Peter Quill, so that complicates things a bit, and ensures that this is a wacky date issue.

This is not the first comic that’s tried to do the date with a twist thing. It’s be done to death, and even by attempting it, risks being extremely troupey and cliche. That being said, the team of Sam Humphries and Paco Medina have made their run on Star-Lord incredibly fun, so it’s comes as no surprise that this issue is a hoot.

Humphries and Medina’s handling of Kitty Pryde in this series has been nothing short of excellent, so getting more screen time with her in this issue works in the book’s favor. She works well opposite of Star-Lord, and Humphries draws a lot of the character’s history to make her very compelling co-star. Also he and Paco and like the only dudes in comics that seem to remember Lockeheed exists, so seeing that little purple dragon pop up a bunch is a treat for me.

Speaking of treats, Paco Medina’s art is great. The details on his backgrounds are Jim Lee-esque, and his facial expressions and  character’s body language is superb. Star-Lord is a book that is very high energy and fun and is serviced well by Medina’s art, combined with excellent and clean inks from Juan Vlasco and bright & vivid colors by David Curiel.

Legendary Star-Lord continues to be a fun book with a ton of humor, romance, and action. It’s a nice homage to the space operas inspired by it, but not afraid to add some fun little twists to it. And with a cool mystery revealed and fun, exciting cliff hanger ended, I’m excited to see what the next issue brings.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: MANTY RAID!

portrait_incredibleLegendary Star-Lord #5

Sam Humphries/Paco Medina/ Juan Vlasco/David Curiel

Marvel $3.99

Looks like it’s time to get ready for editorial mandated crossover.

I know crossovers are proven money makers for Marvel and DC, but I’m not the type of guy who’s willing to start buying books I’m not already reading to get the complete story. Except with Battle of the Atom. And The Trial of Jean Grey. Okay, sometimes I’m that guy, but most times I’m not, really!

The Black Vortex (coming in February 2015 apparently) is introduced in this issue of Legendary Star Lord, after being teased in previous issues. While I’m less than thrilled that a multi-title crossover is almost upon us, I also really enjoyed this particular issue of Star-Lord.

Issue 5 sees Peter Quill grill a space horse (not Beta Ray Bill. A different type of space horsie unrelated to Thor) for info regarding said crossover inducing MacGuffin, and we’re introduced to a group of Anti-Guardians of the Galaxy in the form of the Slaughter Squad (not to be confused with Slaughter’s Marauders of G.I. Joe fame). We also get a appearance from Kitty Pryde, which I welcomed because I am a sucker for romance and all about this Kitty-Lord pairing. Apologies for me going all Tumblr there.

Despite the plot-twists for this issue coming a mile away, LSL is a really enjoyable comic. Sam Humphries, Paco Medina, and their artistic collaborators have been doing solid mostly done and one stories with an over-arching plot, something I enjoy a lot in comics. Star-Lord is the type of character that works best as being a light-hearted space action book, which is something the creators gets and use to their advantage. Also after GOTG made a hojillion dollars, why wouldn’t you channel Chris Pratt’s take on the character right?

Again, I’m less than thrilled this book is going to be pulled into a multi-series crossover, but I’m enjoying the ride there. Legendary Star Lord #5 is a great comic, and I intend to keep on buying it until I’m forced to pull several other books to get a complete story.

GRAY_Cv4_53ebb7b4b35e55.53061085Grayson #5

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin

DC Comics $2.99

Sidenote: Gotham Academy #2 also dropped this week, was great, I recommend you buy that as well.

As much as I’ve been enjoying Grayson since it’s premiere, the last couple of issues have been pretty dark. Not grimmdark, but still pretty “feels bad man”-type stuff, even though it’s been a great read. Issue 5 does not have this problem, and it’s all sorts of rad.

Grayson is book that is well aware of Dick Grayson’s fans, their tastes, and that they like his booty, they doooooooooo. The words “Manty Raid” are used in this issue, not just as dialogue, but as a plot point, and it’s delightful. And the way our shirtless hero deals with it isn’t just true to the character, it’s also a ton of fun.

And it’s okay a book that’s more than just fan service. Even with Mikel Janin’s art being gorgeous, Tim Seeley and Tom King provide a bounty of interesting subplots and character moments that make this book both incredibly clever, charming and surprisingly tense. It’s arguably the best portrayal of Dick Grayson since Grant Morrison made him Batman several years ago.

DC has been getting a lot of well deserved praised for books like Gotham Academy and Batgirl, and I feel Grayson deserves to be in that group as well. It’s a damn fine book, and super progressive even without a female lead or creators.

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Of Spies and School

It’s a DC heavy week you guys, the first time since…well I think ever. Making history y’all.

STK652755Gotham Academy #1

Becky Cloonan/ Brenden Fletcher/Karl Kerschl/Geyser/Dave McCaig

DC $2.99

Holy cats, that’s a lot of creators.

The minute Gotham Academy was announced a few month ago, I was instantly BOUT this book. As someone who enjoys quirky books about TEENS in weird schools somehow related to Superheroes (see Wolverine and the X-men), G-Academy sounded like the type of book that I needed from DC. It’s a fun and well crafted all-ages book by a bunch of underrated talents telling the types of stories usually not associated with Batman. I went into this book with high expectations (Expect to read this description again next week when Batgirl #35 drops by the way), which were met in some of the best ways possible.

 

First and foremost, this book is gorgeous. I’ve never seen art by Karl Kerschl that I didn’t like, so the good looking visuals didn’t exactly come as a surprise. But the colors by Geyser and Dave McCaig really complete the visual experience. I’m not used to seeing this side of Gotham, given how bright and colorful this book is, but it somehow fits into the larger Batman Universe without any problems. The visuals remind me a of very stylized hand drawn Disney film, with very bright and expressive characters against detailed and gorgeous background. There’s an brief action piece at the end of the book that looks gorgeous, quickly shifting from a tight dark environment to a bright, colorful environment. I can’t even begin to describe how refreshing this book is on a artistic level.

And while I can’t desrcibe how pretty the pictures in this funny book are, I can sing the praises of the writers Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher! I’ve been a fan of Cloonan for years, and really enjoyed a number of her past works, so seeing her and Fletcher (whom I only know from Twitter sadly) launch a new book in the proper DCU got me excited. And they cam through, introducing a bunch of awesome new characters, dropping some interesting mysterious and carving out a nice littler corner for themselves in Gotham.

With  female-written books like Lumberjanes and Ms Marvel becoming break out hits, it’s nice to see DC do something to appeal to the female audience and succeed for all the right reasons. Gotham Academy is a delight, and it’s the type of comic that makes me appreciate what the medium is capable of.

 

GRAY_Cv3_53bd7c6b2566a1.03372938Grayson #3

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC Comics $2.99

 Now that we’re done with crossovers and gimmick covers month, we’re back on track to addressing the fact that the former Nightwing is now a spy. Which means a member of the Bat-family has to get familiar with a gun, something very un-Batman like. Needless to say, drama ensues in Grayson #3.

In less capable hands, this book would have been a hot mess. Justifying gun violence in today’s society isn’t exactly the easiest job in the world, but writers Tim Seeley and  Tom King deliver a script that addresses that problem head on, and the results are great for the reader and bad for our hero.

 

This month’s “monster of the week” is also insane in the best sort of way. Grayson tends to riff/channel some Grant Morrison-type weirdness, but in the best sorts of way. I’m not sure if the insanity revolving around the villiain’s gimmick was intentionally over the top, but I certain think it is and enjoyed it. In addition to that, we actually get to see some other Spyral agent, expanding Dick’s cast a bit. Artist Mikel Janin’s art is perfect for this book, as he can adept at capturing both the sexier and weirder sides of this book incredibly well. Much like the writers, his in an important part of this comic, and the book is all the better because of his presence.

 

Grayson is a surprisingly smart and deep book that does a lot of different things right. It’s a little bit of high-octaine action mixed with some intrigue, with a dash of sexiness met with genuine human interactions. There’s even some room for debate that Dick’s constant flirting and making kissy faces with the ladies makes up for the void in his life formerly occupied by his Bat-family. Regardless if you buy into that or not, at the end of the day Grayson is an incredibly well crafted comic that shows just how well the comics coming out of the Bat-offices are these days.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Lovable Scamps Edition

Quick Movie Review: I saw Guardians of the Galaxy last week. It was very fun. You should see it too. Unless you hate fun. Then don’t I guess.

::: counts up word total and is upset that doesn’t count up 500 words :::

 

Dammit, I guess I should review some comics then.

3792239-starlord-#2-cover-finalLegendary Star-Lord #2

Sam Humphries/Paco Medina/ Juan Vlasco/ David Curiel

Marvel $3.99

Hey look a book starring on the characters from GOTG, check out my synergy! #toyetic

This second issue finds Star Lord pitted against a nasty bounty hunter, with a nasty pet, as well as the commander of the Spartax Royal guard. With Marvel announcing 3 new Star War titles at SDCC, the lack of a Han Solo project makes more sense with the release of Star Lord #2. There’s a monster who’s very much a Sarlacc Pit homage in this issue, although the twist to it is very cool.

And now that we’re living in a post-James Gunn GOTG movie world, we can see that  this Peter Quill is very much a Chris Pratt  (aka Burt Macklin) influenced version of the character.  Sam Humphries drops the word “man” into Star-Lord’s vocabulary a lot, there’s a bit involving his rocket boots and this version of seems a little more sneaky and underhanded than the more heroic version we’ve seen in the DnA and Bendis runs of Guardians of the Galaxy. This is not a complaint by the way, as comics starring dashing space rogues are my jam.

Paco Medina continues to do a solid job of drawing the hell out of this book, and the character designs he’s using are really solid. My only complaint is that the coloring in the print edition pales greatly to the digital version of LSL #2. I’m not sure if it’s a printing error in my copy or just something that’s lost when made a physical copy. Either way, if you don’t mind reading comics digitally, redeem that code ASAP. It does wonders to the work done by  Juan Vlasco & David Curiel.

Overall, Legendary Star Lord #2 is a fun read that will scratch your Peter Quill itch if you’re looking for more of the character after the movie.

portrait_incredibleThe Superior Foes of Spider-Man #14

Nick Spencer/ Steve Lieber/ Rich Ellis/ Rachelle Rosenberg

Marvel $3.99

And the best use of a corgi in the Marvel Universe goes to the Superior Foes of Spider-Man! Before we dive into the interior, let me start off by talking about the front of this book. Kris Anka‘s cover may come off as simplistic, but it does an excellent job of capturing the cast’s attitude and the overall Sinister 6 group dynamic. Also the coloring is insane.

Artist Rich Ellis returns to help Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber flesh out the back story of one of the Superior Sinister Six’s member, something this book has excelled at doing. Not all of the villains in the book had established backgrounds coming into this book, and the origins Spencer and friends have been providing them with have been clever, super entertaining, and very satisfying. In addition, the fate of Speed Demon’s corgi puppy is revealed in a heart warming story that consists of 3 wordless pages. It’s a testament to Ellis’ skills, as he manages to blend humorous and heart warming moments perfectly. Rachelle Rosenberg’s color help of course, and she does an amazing job with the crazy last 2 pages.

So yeah, even with adding another artist to the mix for an issue, The Superior Foes of Spider-Man remains flawless. I’m also glad we’re getting more comics where Marvel Hero’s masks are used as censor bars.

 

4008079-grayson01Grayson #2

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeremy Cox

DC $2.99

Yes good, more of this please.

As apprehensive as I was with Grayson when it was first announced, this book continues to impress. 2 months in and King and Seeley have taken several obscure elements from Grant Morrison’s run on Batman Inc, retooled a fan-favorite character, and most importantly focused on what make Dick Grayson one of the BEST characters to grace the page of DC Comics.

I don’t want to discuss the plot of issue two much, mostly because the hook is kinda cool in an incredibly gross sort of way, but it does make for a great read. There’s also some amazing interactions with Dick Grayson and the Batman, and a mention of a certain red head that gives me the Tumblr-type-feels.

And I think that’s why I’m digging Grayson so much. It’s a beautiful looking and smart book that actually strives to get an emotion response from the readers. It takes a lot of stuff from the Bat books from the last few years, add some cool elements together and blends everything together for a great read.  The cast in engaging and intriguing, and the big mystery to this title is super interesting.  The end result spy book than channels some weird 60s Marvel comics, with a lot of heart and pretty pictures. Grayson has done an excellent job of getting me back into buying a DC Comic on a monthly basis, something that hasnt been done since Snyder/Capullo’s Batman started up.

 

 

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