Tagged: Rico Renzi

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11

Got some bad news for you, the Forbidden Planet Faithful (or good if you’re a jerk!). This article is the one of the last three I’ll be writing for the ol Daily Planet, as the day job has The-Unbeatable-Squirrel-Girl-11-2016offered me a ton of a money for a new gig that’s going to eat up a lot of my time. I’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading my cra  content over the years, and I hope whoever replaces me is a bias towards Matt Fraction comics as I am.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11

Ryan North, Jacob Chabot, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

This month, regular series artist Erica Henderson is off due to working on the upcoming graphic novel “Squirrel Girl Vs. The Marvel Universe”.  Artist Jacob Chabot joins Ryan North and Rico Renzi for an issue is about Doreen Green facing off against Nightmare. Oh and a TON of computer science, which is par for the course for a book written by Ryan North. But hey, how many other 1pdopysuper hero book can actually claim they’ll teach you something educational?

Squirrel Girl fighting a bad guy in her sleep while using computer sciences facts is a weird premise, but Squirrel Girl is a book that’s always played by it own rules. Seeing SQ teach Count Nefari, (“Who?” in her own words) how to 31 on one hand is arguably one of the funniest moments in comics this year, thanks to North’s comedic timing and Chabot excellence body language. Having to fill in for Erica Henderson can’t be an easy job, but Chabot is absolutely wonderful on this issue. His style is as expressive as Henderson’s but with tighter pencils, and a better handling of more traditional looking super heroes. His art is also detailed back, putting some great visuals gags in panels that are already pretty humorous on their own ( see the page with KRAVEN THE COLLEGE ADMINISTRATOR for example). He also draws the most metal looking comics page featuring Venom and squirrels to date, so if that’s a selling point for you, be excited.

Even without his usual partner in crime, Ryan North is fantastic on this book. Hell I might go ahead and say this is his best single issue to date, excluding the wonderful choose your 182867_1000013_8own adventure issues. Not too many creators can balance humor, action and still make a comic educational, but North manages to do so with little effort. It’s a comic that’s very smart, but never in a way that’s overwhelming. And his dialogue is always hilarious, be it Squirrel Girl wishing she was throwing down with Puppy Man, or peppering up the bottom of his pages with great alt text.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11 is another fantastic done in one that will delight and educate you.  As someone who finds himself pulling less and less Marvel book each much due to a variety of reasons (mostly due to Civil War 2 though), this title remains a must read due to it being such a quality comic. Easily one of the smartest comics I’ve read in my life, this issue of Squirrel Girl should be taught in classrooms, let alone belong in your pullbox.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 & X-Men ’92 #5

RCO001_1469630922The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Tom Fowler, Rico Renzi, Kyle Starks

Marvel $3.99

Readers, please take note of the wonderful cover that graces this month’s issue of Squirrel Girl, as I’m sure it will be winning whatever fake internet award I’ll be handing out come December.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a book that has never fails to impress me in some manner, and this issue continues that streak. Our lead has to deal with a love-stricken Mole Man, who’s abducted key landmarks around the world in order to get Doreen to go on a date with him. Squirrel Girl dealing with toxic masculinity may not some like a good premise for a comic, haha that is a joke, it totally is, and the execution is nothing short of genius. I saw this as the ending for this issues sees our hero do the unthinkable, yet manages to not undo all the effort done by this team to make her an unstoppable and incredibly well rounded force for good. Also there’s another scene involving squirrels in Iron Man armor, which is something I’ll never grow tire of.

SQGIRL2015B010_int2_2-932x1414Ryan North. Erica Henderson, & Rico Renzi are a creative team I adore & adding Tow Fowler as an inker was fantastic move. This month we see Kyle Starks of Sexcastle (aka the greatest comic) swing by for a 3/4th page cameo, continuing the trend of a guest contributor knocking it out of the park. As per usual, the writing and art are impeccable, as North and Henderson continue to offer dialogue and art that are beyond unique.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #10 is another fabulous issue that once again says something important while being an incredibly fun read. This may very well be my favorite arc to date, and even as a dude in my early 30s, I’m glad this book exist for the lessons it attempts to teach it’s young audience.

 

 

 

portrait_incredibleX-Men ’92 #5

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Cory Hamscher, Matt Milla

Marvel $3.99

Speaking of surprises, this issue of X-Men ’92 ends by bring back some characters who haven’t been seen since the 90s. Chris Sims and Chad Bowers continue to do a bang-up job of making references to some of the most obscure corners of the 1990s X-universe, including a X-men board game I remember begin advertised like crazy in the back of Marvel comics when I was a wee millennial.

Issue 5 checks in with Cyclops and Jean Grey, whom haven’t been seen in the title since the Secret Wars mini-series. The couple are quasi-retired, but that makes for a boring super hero comic, so they find themselves dragged to the future by Rachel Grey. For long time X-fans, Scott + Jean + Future usually means one or two other character showing up, and they do. But Sims and Bower embrace the hell out of it, making for a strange but be873c68c1f206db75af43465f803c1b._SX640_QL80_TTD_wonderful read that riffs on a few different 90s X-stories.

Cory Hamscher is on art duties this month, and his style is a great fit for this tyle. He riffs on the Kuberts/Whilce Portacio look that was so famous in the 90s, while being a competen story teller in his own right. It’s good stuff.

X-men ’92 is another fun installment a series that’s been a constant delight. It’s the type of book that both satisfies readers looking for a less complicate super hero book, while giving long time X-fans plenty to enjoy.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9

5283868-sqgirl2015b009_dc11-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, David Malki, Tom Fowler, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is that it’s a book that always keeps the readers on their toes. Issue 9 is no exception, as an arc that started off about DATES has turned into a story about a love smitten Mole Man who may have goes full “Nice Guy”. It’s something you wouldn’t see in any other Marvel book (well okay maybe Howard the Duck or Gwenpool, but no where else!), yet it makes sense in the pages of Squirrel Girl.

Joining the Unbeatable team of Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi this month is inker Tom Fowler, who’ s a great fit for this title. With Henderson working on this book, finishing up her run on Jughead, and working on the upcoming Squirrel Girl graphic novel, it makes sense that she get’s some help with something on this title. Fowler is great, covering Henderson’s pencil in nice crisp inks, and giving the pages a more finished and 5283872-sqgirl2015b009_int2-2less rushed look. Fowler compliments Henderson well, and I hope he sticks around on the title for awhile. In addition to Fowler, David Malki comes by to draw a page to explain why Mole Man is mad this month. The best way to describe that page is “Old Timey” and it’s something that you need to understand WHY it’s so great.

Speaking of great, Ryan North and Erica Henderson continue to be pair of amazing creators. North, who already has written the best Kraven the Hunter story since the classic “Kraven’s Last Hunt” story, does the same for Mole Man. His ability to turn the Fantastic Four’s first villain into a sympathetic character is crazy impressive, and it’s a very clever interpretation of the character. I thoroughly enjoyed Mole Man talking like someone from the silver age, and North commenting on it via Doreen Green, and the alt text on the bottom of the page. We also get more of Brad, the Super Hero truther, who’s my new problematic fave. Henderson’s art is fabulous as always, and it’s great to see her work her magic on some old Kirby monsters.  And it’s neat to see how expressive she can get with a character who’s’ eyes and 5283874-sqgirl2015b009_int2-3constantly blocked off by glasses. With Inks by Fowler and great colors as per usual by Rico Renzi, Squirrel Girls continues to read as good as it looks.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9 continues to be the most unique comic on the stand. Romance in super hero books usually plays out in the most clichéd ways, but here North and company provide some solid commentary on how NOT to treat someone, while casually mentioning a sad mutant killing robot. Given how young some of the book’s readers are (see the genuinely wonderful letter section), it’s an important lesson to be taught. Also, for an issue that’s smack dab in the middle of an arc, it’s impressive how accessible the comic is! The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl continues to be the golden standard of Marvel comics, and by far the company’s most constantly amazing title as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

IMG_0124The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Welcome to the issue of Squirrel Girl where our heroine tackles her most difficult foe yet: ONLINE DATING.

The team of Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi kick off a new arc with issue 8, that starts of with Squirrel Girl teaming up with her New Avenger chums and ends with a super hero truther & dealing with the Mole Man. This is pretty on brand for this title, and much like every previous issue, and absolute hoot.

What I love about this creative team is that Ryan North and Erica Henderson will always go out of their way to educate you while reading this book. I had no idea Tree Lobsters were a thing, and not only does this issue start off with the Avengers dealing with a giant one, but the creative team makes sure to give reader an history lesson about said insects that helps push the story along in a natural way. It’s not anything new for this book, but it’s something that pops up from time to time that I’ve genuinely enjoyed about the title. A little less high brow is a double spread of Squirrel Girl attempting to date, which has a bunch of sights gags and funny dialogue that’s pretty great in my opinion.

Also Erica Henderson draws the best outfits in comics, and getting to see how fashionable Doreen and her friends are in this issue is a personal highlight.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Gil #8 is another excellent issue by a creative team that’s never failed to amazed. Romance plotlines can make or break a comic, and North, Henderson and Renzi succeed, while making the title feel like one of the most fresh and relevant books on the stands

STL004332Spider-Man/Deadpool #5

Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith

Marvel $3.99

One of the reasons I enjoy Spider-Man/Deadpool so much is that it feel like Joe Kelly returning to Deadpool again, telling stories that mash up the work he did with the character while building upon all the great stories Gerry Duggan wrote. Also these stories co-star Spider-Man, arguably the best super hero, which is something I am also all about.

Issue five of this series sees Deadpool dealing with the aftermath of murdering Peter Parker, which apparently wasn’t a fake out. Aside from being out of a co-star, it turns out he was mistaken about Peter Parker, and that means Deadpool’s got fix the mess he’s made.

It also means artist Ed McGuinness gets to draw some characters associated with the supernatural side of Marvel, which is welcomed, as he rarely gets to do spooky stuff. There’s some stuff, wonderfully inked and colored by Mark Morales and Jason Keith that’s genuinely terrifying , including a re-imagining of a Spider-foe who’s usually pretty goofy looking. It’s also see the team reference an infamous Spider-Man story,  which is one of several things that I can’t quite tell are just little nods, or if Kelly and McGuinness are planting the seeds for future stories.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #5 puts a nice little bow on the first arc, while setting up the next one quiet nicely. I’m glad the team is only off the book of 2 months, because the type of comics they’ve been making are the type of comics I adore.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 & Saga #36

ofcqtec1mz6l9xiwi8lgThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 isn’t writer Ryan North’s first attempt at “Chose Your Own Adventure” fiction, but none the less it’s one of the most technical impressive comics of this year so far. North dabbed in the subgenre a few years back with his choose your own adventure take on Romeo and Juliet, and it hilarious, much to no one’s surprise. This month, he and artist Erica Henderson swap out Shakespeare for Squirrels and the Swarm, a move that I fully support and dare call brilliant.

Henderson and Rico Renzi deserve a lot of praise for this issue, as the choose the story narrative demands numerous panels that require a ton of variation. And while you can see the demand take it’s toll on the art towards the end of the issue, the bulk of this comic is drawn extremely well. Considering this team is also working on several projects, it’s perfectly fine to overlook them taking some shortcuts here and there.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 is a genius comic that experiments with how to tell a story in this medium. It’s the perfect done in one that showcases this creative teams talents, and should be read for (successfully) taking such a risk.

Saga_36-1Saga #36

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Ah Geez, Saga’s gone and made my all emotional in the face this month.

The conclusion of this current arc is an assault on readers and their emotions. Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan give readers a moment we’ve been waiting for months, as well as a development no one saw coming, and it is a massive game changer. In addition to all of that, we get to see my personal favorite Ghus leap into action for the first time, and the results are shocking to say the least. I wasn’t prepared for the mixture of brutality and cuteness from that particular fight, but that’s what I got and I LIKE IT!

Fiona Staples remains an incredibly artistic tour de force. Nothing new on that front, but the way she does so much with seemingly such little effort is absolutely mind blowing. There’s 2 panels involving Prince Robot in towards the end of this issue that show some incredible growth for the character, with none of the dialogue pointing it out, just letting the body language do all the work. Not only does it show how impressive of a story teller she issue, but it shows how much BKV trusts her to convey these emotions to the reader.

That being said, if you don’t tear up come page 12, something is wrong with you.

BKV is real good on putting word on paper, this is fact. But God, he’s on top of his game with this particular issue. As great as Staples art is, the dialogue and narration he provides for this issue really enhance the emotional beats, especially on pages 10 and 11. These two creators are fantastic, and Saga’s repeatedly excellence is due to the bound these two have.

Saga #36 is a fantastic finale to this volume. It manages to surprise readers by being incredibly upbeat, something we as readers aren’t use to, and takes the book in an absolutely fascinating direction. For once I’m glad for break, because I want to take some time to enjoy this comic, before Vaughan and Staples do something to get me mad and or sad again.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

portrait_incredibleThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

Ryan North, Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, Joe Quinoes

Marvel $3.99

I’ve never thought I’d be excited to read a comic featuring Kraven the Hunter, yet here we are.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 sees our heroine reunited with the villain from her very first issue one, which crosses over with this month’s Howard a Duck. I have not been purchasing the current volume of Howard, because I refuse to pay $5 for Gwenpool, so having Howard, his writer Chip Zdarsky and van enthusiast Joe Quinoes pop up in this book is quite welcomed. Issue 6 is part one of two issue crossover, something BOTH creative teams wanted to do something fierce, making it the type of crossover I could get behind.

While Batman and Superman are doing battle for incredibly dumb reasons in the DC Movie Murderverse (shout out to Rob Bricken!), it’s nice to have a team up featuring 2 character who tolerate each other at best. The premise for this issue is simple enough: Howard is a cat racist, accidentally abducts Mew, Squirrel Girl intervenes, and somehow a dope Kraven the Hunter themed van and cosplay are also involved. This is very much the IMG_0121product of Canada writers/madmen Ryan North and (( insert the misspelling of Chip Zdarsky’s name here because that is clever and not at all overdone at all by now, nope)), and could not be any happier. The #JOKES are everywhere, including dual commentary on the bottom of the page, which makes for a very fun read.

The quips and one-liners are non-stop, and range everywhere to Howard’s “relationship” to Disney, Doombot Cosplay, and Squirrel Girl trying to explain similarities in different species to Howard (more on that later).

And while the barrage of jokes is non-stop, the dialogue is super sharp. Chip and Ryan play with the “heroes meets heroes, fight and then team up” trope in an incredibly neat way, and the dynamic between the two leads is fantastic. Howard’s more cynical and bitter outlook clashes perfectly with the Unbeatable one’s more chipper and upbeat personality, which the writers play up in the best possible ways. There’s also a genuine heartfelt IMG_0122moment or two between 2 characters, which is always appreciated and break ups the jokes a bit. What I’m saying is if you’re expecting a super serious hero team up, you’re wasting your time here, also do you not know how these characters work?

Aside from the debut of the best new vehicle in comics, not to mention a guest artist for a very special Deadpool card, the art for this issue is handled by Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi as per usual. And as per usual, it is GREAT! Henderson is a perfect fit for a character like Howard thanks to her very expressive and animated Style. I hope this doesn’t come across as me saying Henderson should only draw funny animal books, but her style definitely lends itself well to a character like Howard. Case in point, the page where Doreen is getting her science on, and Howard is getting more upset in every other panel. She’s also experimenting with layouts more, as seen in a page where it’s structure as SG kicking through panels. Henderson has been fantastic on this book since day one, and I appreciate her experimenting more with her layouts and use of white space. Rico Renzi’s colors remain just as great, and sets the tone for the light heartedness of this comic perfectly.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl  #6 is a hilarious and fun comic in ways so many other books aren’t. And it’s great to see creators actually come together and pitch a crossover like this, as their excitement really shines through. It’s the way crossovers should be done in my opinion, especially if wicked vans are involved.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Saga #33 & The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4

Saga_33-1Saga #33

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Finally, a issue of Saga that isn’t a ground breaking reinvention of the medium, but one that’s simply good! Granted it’s a little disappointing as a reader, it makes my job as a critic slightly more easier!

Issue 33 sees the return of the reporter and photographer duo of Upsher and Doff (Upsher reminds us that the “Writer gets the first byline”), in a story that acts a bit like a series recap for the first 11 pages. It’s a neat way to get people caught up, but also not exactly the most exciting thing to read. The rest of the book DOES see the return of fan favorite character, which helps pick things up, and end the issue on the high note. I applaud Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples trying something new with the recap, as both the dialogue and art are solid, but it does feel like the first half of the book is spinning it’s wheels. It was nice to check in on a few minor supporting characters, and even get to witness a little sexy time, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen this creative team do before and it’s not even that great of a recap to be honest.

With the potential for more intriguing things to come, Saga #33 was a good issue from a series that usually gives us great issues. It sounds like a nitpick sure, but when your exceptions are set so high for series, anything less does feel a little off. It’s still worth your time as regular reader, but you should lower your expectations a bit going into it.

5013574-sqgirl2015b004_dc11_lr-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girt #4

Ryan North, Erica Henderon, Rico Renzi, Clayton Cowles

Marvel $3.99

Dear Erica Henderson, I appreciate the hell out of the Katamari Darmancy homage on the cover, great job, your pal Chris.

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is that the creative team does a fine job of making the threats Squirrel Girl face quite creditable. Granted she’s Unbeatable, Ryan North has constantly forced the characters to overcome their problems mostly through non-punching means, which helps build tension and makes for a more interesting read.

Issue 4 is unique because it’s technically a fight that Squirrel Girl has already lost. Time travel shenanigans has old timey Doctor Doom already triumphant in the present, so Ms. Doreen Green and her pals got to figure out how to stop him the past. The problem is this incarnation of Doctor Doom may be too much for SG in direct combat, so the sophomore CS students got to figure out a way past him.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4 gives the reader everything they would expect from this proven creative team. Ryan North gives us smart, engaging dialogue that’s hilarious and reads unlike anything else coming out from Marvel. If Erica Henderson’s art isn’t isn’t you thing, it’s your loss, because her energetic lines and super expressive characters on detail backgrounds are fantastic. Rico Renzi‘s coloring is fantastic as usual, especially  when it comes to portraying energy and heat.

I have zero complaints about the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl once again, because this book is entertaining as hell. North, Henderson and Renzi manage to impress me in new ways with every issue, and I’m glad to see this book survive as long as it has in today’s market.

 

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3

tumblr_nz76e2ubbQ1uxdbsko1_1280The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is seeing our heroine finding alternative methods to violence when it comes to dealing with super villains. While I’ll have generally have no problems with solving criminal-related problems with fisticuffs, it’s refreshing to see super crime being dealt with in new ways from time to time. Variety is the spice of life after all, and if I want to get my punch on, there’s still the vast majority of super hero comics to consume.

With that being said, seeing an actual super power thrown down occur in this month’s issue of TUSG feels like something different, especially since it deals with long time, well established Squirrel Girl/Doctor Doom beef. There’s also some more cerebral elements to the book as well, but it’s cool seeing Erica Henderson drawing an actual fight scene. It’s VERY old school Looney Tunes in a way, given her style, but Doom still looks rad as hell, as Henderson channels some serious Jack Kirby when drawing him. I also enjoyed seeing tumblr_nzh2uakRJr1sqep2mo1_500Henderson draw one of her favorite Marvel characters in this book, leading to a cute gag involving cosplay and another hilarious cameo from an established Marvel character. Henderson is fantastic as always, and she gives the readers so much to enjoy on a visual level. Colorist Rico Renzi‘s skills once again compliment Henderson wonderfully, although once again my print copy of the book looks way worse than the digital one. This is the 2nd time this has happen to me, meaning that I may be curse and that Marvel needs to hire better printers.

 

Speaking of Doom, you may be wondering how Doom is appearing in this book if you’re also reading Invincible Iron Man and/or The Secret Wars. Without spoiling things, it’s explained, and it make sense….well it makes sense for issue of Squirrel Girl. I really dig writer Ryan North’s voice for Doom, which reads as one would expect Victor Von would, and makes him the straight man to hi jinks in this book, while still making him a credible threat. Doom’s one of the best villains in comics, but there’s something about the character constantly referring to himself in the third person that can be used for some really strong comedic tumblr_nzjv5xSt1N1uhus87o1_500bits. North capitalizes on it well, without “ruining” in the character for purists. I didn’t know I wanted Doom to play off of Nancy Whitehead, but much like Nancy and Loki, this is a fantastic series of interactions.

Once again Henderson, North, and Renzi give us an super enjoyable issue of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, which mixes some quality humor with some high stakes action. I love how this creative team constantly raises the stakes for Doreen Green, but the book never takes itself too serious. My only problem with it is that it sometime goes a little to tech/computer talk heavy and loses me a bit because I am dumb. But that aside, it’s a fantastic comic, that’s a ton of fun to read, and something I wish the Big 2 would put out more of.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

IMG_0109The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Time Travel was something that was bound to happen in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl sooner or later. The signs were all there: Ryan North’s relationship with Back to the Future, Squirel Girl’s beef with Doctor Doom, who owns a time traveling platform, the fact that this comic was solicited as a time travel story. All subtle hints letting the reader know that a time travel arc would be happening sooner or later.

Time travel is something that can either make or break a comic for me. I love alternate time lines and futures, but when a time travel story gets caught up in own rules it and starts focusing on that instead of the plot, it can go downhill. Which explains my complex relationship with 90s X-men comics. Luckily, North and Erica Henderson inject a ton of humor into this time travel story, which sees our hero and her pal Tippy Toe dragged back in time to the year 1962. It appears someone is trying to wipe out Squirrel Girl from existence, and it’s up to Nancy Whitehead, whom seems to be the only person who remembers who Doreen is in the present, to figure out exactly what exactly the haps is.

IMG_0110Erica Henderson, who is reaching Zdarsky/Fraction number in terms of being mentioned on this blog, is absolutely wonderful on this issue, and on this book in general. With Rico Renzi handling the colors on TUSG,  we get art from Henderson that’s very animated and clean. She’s SO GOOD on capturing the fashion of the 60s, and the facial expressions she can give the characters are THE BEST out of anything coming from the Big 2. How she manages to work on 2 monthly books of excellent quality at the same time is beyond me, but I’m glad that I have them. Also Rico Renzi’s colors are prime time animation good, especially come the final page of this issue.

Aside from Ryan North being one of the funniest dudes currently working in comics, he’s also one of the smartest. Which means him tackling the concept of time travel is pretty great. While the concept of a hero being erased from the timeline isn’t the most original, North handles it in a way that feels fresh. Having Squirrel Girl remain calm and collected while dealing with the scenario makes the whole thing come across as ton of fun, with some genuinely great jokes and clever ideas be conceived how to solve the problem. It’s IMG_0111these details that really help the story feel original, even when it’s been done to death before.

Opening on an amazing running gag involving cat fan fiction and Iron Man on the Twitter-style recap page and ending on DOOM, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2 is a hilarious and really clever comic, which seems to be the norm for this book. It’s scary how consistently excellent this book has been, especially with the creative team never skipping an issue while working on multiple projects. If the North, Henderson and Renzi team are the future of Marvel Comics, then both the company and the medium are in very good hands.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

SQGIRL2015B001_CoverThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

DID YOU KNOW: You can prevent me from being disappointed by your book’s lack of CAT THOR by coming up with a food court filled with establishments that have hilarious super-hero related names.?! Keep that in mind all you non- Ryan North and Erica Henderson creators out there!

 

Now that Secret Wars is over, ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT MARVEL has started, books that were on hiatus are back, and that’s great for anyone who was enjoying Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (AKA me). The book is back, and not much has changed, which is fine, because nothing was broken to begin with. Well that’s not exactly true, as our hero is now an Avenger (see here and here), which means she has a sweet teleporter which I’m sure will lead to hilarious mishaps sooner rather than later.  Oh and North and Henderson have used the editorial mandated 8 month gap to make Doreen Green a 2nd year college student, and move in her cat enthusiast BFF Nancy Whitehead, which is a nice way to please both the powers that be and fans of the book who don’t care about big event comics.

tumblr_nwxjdvM1A31qetjcco1_1280Those changes aside, it’s business as usual, and the business of kicking butts and eating nuts is booming. Ryan North is still writing genius scripts, and this month gives us such gems as a super obscure robots villain, more fun with computer science,  and the introduction of Squirrel Girl’s mom Maureen Green. Maureen (which rhythms with Dorren!) is a super likable character from the get go, and a bit of a rarity; she’s a mother well aware of her daughter’s life, is a fan of her life choices, loves her new bestie,  OH AND IS ACTUALLY ALIVE AND PROBABLY NOT IN DANGER OF GETTING KILLED OFF ANYTIME SOON. All of it is refreshing, and handled with the level of excellence-meet-insanity North has been known for from this series.

 

Equally as rad is the art team of Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi. While Henderson’s work on this title has always been solid, this issue feels clean and more expressive than previous ones. What she does with her character’s body language is superb, and the range of emotions she can put into the cast’s acting is impressive. Also she’s definitely on North’s level when it comes to making the book funny, as she inserts a number of gags all 4throughout the book. And the new costume she gives Squirrel Girl is super adorable, and I’m excited to see who cosplays it first next year. Colorist Rico Renzi colors are fantastic, starting the issues off with a cool moody intro that plays off the intensity of the flames quite well, and then switches it up for a bright, animated look for the rest of the book. I dig it, as it set the moods from ultra-heroics to slapstick humor well, and pairs well with Henderson’s pencils and inks.

With great cartoon-esque visuals and some really fun and intelligent writing, Unbreakable Squirrel’s second #1 of the year is as great as the one we got back in January. It’s a delightful romp that joins Ms Marvel as a book that truly feels like an all ages book without looking down the young readers. I’m glad it’s stuck around for this long, and kept it’s killer creative team, and I hope they have the chance to continue telling these types of stories.

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

4741279-09Gotham Academy #9

Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe, Msassyk

DC $2.99

For the most part, Gotham Academy has been a delightful romp with some teen angst and a bunch of neat little shout outs to obscure Batman characters. Issue #9 is the first issue where I genuinely felt overwhelmed by a continuously growing cast, to the point where I wasn’t able to follow the plot. In this issue alone there’s our 5 members of the mystery team, 2 faculty members, a man-bat-boy, and at least 3-4 newer characters making cameos. That’s A LOT for a reader to follow, especially when there’s at least several different subplots going down in a 20 page book.

One thing the writers (Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan) managed to keep a good handle on up to this issue was making the teenage characters sound like teenagers. This isn’t the case for this issue sadly, as some really dated pop culture references make the Gotham Academy kids sounds like tiny adults instead of #TEENS. I’m sure it was more of a fluke than anything else, as any creator is capable of making a misstep every so often.That being said, Gotham Academy continues to look superb, thanks to Karl Keschl‘s excellent art, and Sergio Lapointe & Msassyk’s equally excellent colors. Keschel’’s line work is always clean and dynamic, but the coloring really brings it to the next level, especially when it comes to effects such as fire, flashlight lighting and fog. The art makes up for the subpar writing, elevating the book to a decent read instead of something skippable.

While I applaud the writers for attempting to cram as much content into Gotham Academy as possible, issue nine ultimately feels bloated, while looking great. I’m sure it won’t happen again, it’s just disappointing to see it happen in a book I’ve been enjoying a lot as of late.

 

portrait_incredible (4)The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Once again, Secret Wars ends another book that was launched this calendar year. And much like the also concluded for now Howard the Duck, the 2nd arc of The Unbeatable Squirrel girl is absolutely wonderful. The book opens on arguably THE BEST note, involving a long mention running gag that actually ends up being incorporated into the plot in a major way. It’s absolutely ridiculous by the way, but Ryan North and Erica Henderson are so smart and talented make it work so well.

One of the things that I really like about USG is that it’s a book that seems like it wouldn’t fit in with the rest of Marvel’s publishing catalog, but North and Henderson skate along the thin line of ridiculous and high stakes so well, the character, her presence and her actions make perfect sense. North’s sense of humor and clever dialogue makes him a perfect fit for handling mythological characters from the Thor side of the tracks, and Erica Henderson’s art fares better with these characters than more traditional spandex folk like spider-Man. Rico Renzi‘s colors are back on track after last issue, giving me literally nothing to complain about.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8 is the perfect ending for this chapter. The wait for October for this book’s return is going to be rough, but I’m fairly certain it will worth it.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Howard the Duck #5

4730614-howard2015005_dc11-page-001Howard the Duck #5

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Joe and Paolo Rivera, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Oh Howard A Duck, you are a gift.

Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones and Rico Renzi’s first arc/volume (NEW HAT THOUGH!) wraps up with a massive super hero fight in Manhattan for the fate of the world, a concept Chip and Joe claim they were the first to come up with. In case you don’t know how #JOKES work, that is one and an example the A+ comedy one gets from a Chip Zdarsky penned comics.

tumblr_nt0y86mP6j1qeeerco2_1280There’s a lot to like in Howard the Duck #5. First and foremost is Joe Quinones drawing a massive amount of of Marvel’s NYC-based heroes, and them looking fantastic/amazing/marvelous/other puns. Quinones’ style is clean and detailed, and his takes on all these characters comes across as looking quite iconic. His commitment to to his craft results in some fine looking lay outs, mashing up some of Marvel most beloved, as well as some of their newer, heroes up against the ridiculous threats he and Chip Zdarsky have conceived. I like what Joe does with facial expressions, as several maskless character perfectly express the absurdity of the whole scenario, especially on the final page with has arguably the best drawing of the Human Torch and Spider-Man in some time. Assisting Quinones on art duties is the brilliant father and son inking team of Paolo & Joe Rivera, giving Quinones’ work the clean, thin lines it deserves. Rico Renzi’s colors pop off the page, completing the art package, and giving Howard a high quality look you wouldn’t expect coming from a comedic book.

Earlier this year writer Chip Zdarsky joked that he was cramming in a lot of content and guest appearances in Howard the Duck as he was expecting to be fire after every issue came out. Howard #5 won’t be Chip’s last ride with the character, but you’ll definitely get you 4 dollars worth from it. This issue wraps up the arch, reveals a supporting character’s secret, and makes several intriguing hints regarding the future of the this book. Oh and is absolutely hilarious as well. We get more “Inconsolable Spider-Man” jokes, editor notes for hilariously titled comics that never existed, several deep cut Marvel jokes and a subplot involving a rather obscure Marvel book that results in Howard freaking out. It’s not all jokes either, as Chip and Joe do some cool stuff with the Howard and Tracy relationship, injecting some heart warming material into the book. Again, a lot of stuff goes down in this book, but it never feels over crowded or bloated.

tumblr_nsznomBLdn1sajkn0o1_400Howard the Duck #5 is a great ending for a fantastic first arc. Howard is easily up there with Superior Foes of Spider-Man and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl in terms of being some of the best modern Marvel humor books, and the star power behind it should hopefully ensure that it sticks around for quite awhile. You can tell Zdarsky & Quinones definitely love or at least heavily appreciate the classic Steve Gerber era Howard, and embrace it while pushing the character forward. Howard the Duck is book I’ll continue to buy when it returns later this year, especially if the creative teams continues to put out this level of quality comic month after month.

 

Post to Twitter

Chris’ Comics: Nuts about Squirrel Girl edition

Unbeatable_Squirrel_Girl_Vol_1_7_TextlessThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi Marvel $3.99

 

Squirrel Girl #7 is here and judging from the cover, she’s in a bit of trouble. No wait, the book is called The UNBEATABLE Squirrel Girl, she’ll be fine. Also that’s a dope cover. I really like how the excessive amount of negative space forces the reader to focus in on the characters centered in the middle, and how the logo is also used as an environment. It’s nice to see artist Erica Henderson switch up styles, something she’s she been doing a lot of as of late ( See: Issue 4’s Video Game style cover, and issue 5’s interiors where she paid homage to several Marvel artist from various “ages”). Issue seven is an incredible dense issue, which I dig, as I paid $4 for it and I want my money’s worth dangit.   Writer Ryan North, who’s yet to deliver a disappointing issue, crams a lot of subplots, jokes and cute little character moments into this issue, and it’s maddening how he seems to do it with such ease. And on top of quality comics action, 19 of the 20 pages has hilarious “Alt-text” on the bottle of it. I really like how this book does not shy away from the humor and strangest of being in the Marvel Universe, as well as being incredible clever at time. You WILL learn something from this book’s script, and I don’t mean a fun fact from the Deadpool trading cards, who are surprisingly absent this issue.   Back to Erica Henderson. The book looks pretty good this month, which is actually a step down from the usually amazing Henderson. She does a LOT to fill the book with cool backround gags and references, but some of her some of the human characters in this book look rushed. Also when the Avengers appear in the comic, they look a bit off, especially Spider-Man, who’s a bit on the lumpy side of things. It also doesn’t help that colorist Rico Renzi changes Hawkeye’s hair color from blonde to brown in the span of two pages, which is an odd error. That being said, a “weak” looking issue of Squirrel Girl is still a terrific looking comic. Henderson’s face expressions and panel composition are still on point, and really help elevate the overall quality of the book. Same with Renzi, who’s on point with the rest of the issue. It’s just a less awesome than usual Henderson and Renzi is a bit noticeable, and it’s proof that Marvel should adopt Image‘s method of giving the creators time off between arcs so that the book’s quality doesn’t take a hit ( IE the Saga method).   The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7 is a fun comic that manages to raise the stakes for our heroine and her fellow animal themed pals quite a bit. It presents the character with a challenge worthy of the unbeatable one, although we know she’s totally going to save the day in the end. It’s the type of book you want more publishers to put out, which requires a creative team on par with North, Henderson and Renzi, which is difficult I imagine. As with every other issue of Squirrel Girl, issue seven is a book that worth buying on sight, unless your a dude who suckkkssssssss!

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys But with comics: Special Edition NYC edition!

IMG_5060

So hey, Special Edition NYC happened over at Pier 94 this past weekend, and while I wasn’t the biggest fan of the venue or the panel areas, the show was still pretty good. The quality of guests were solid, the amount of diversity present in the panels were nice, and I saw this adorable Ghus cosplayer when I arrive at the con. It was a fun show if you’re a fan of all comics convetions, as it’s very much in the vein of MoCCa and Heroescon. I fully recommend it if you’re a fan of those shows, or NYCC’s artist alley!

With that mini-convention review done, let’s get to the part where I review the comics I bought last week, yes?

 

4590451-sqgirl2015006_dc11-0The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

Ryan North/Erica Henderson/Rico Renzi

Marvel, $3.99

I love the Squirrel Girl creative team, but I think writer Ryan North may be a 100% real life crazy person. That’s fine though, as he’s using his powers of crazy for the forces of good on this book, co-creating a title that’s hilarious and fun for all ages, while drowning in words and insanity. So I guess North is also a bit of a genius. That line is extremely blurred.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 sees our heroine deal with other animal-themed heroes named after the animals they can talk to & both of them very familiar to her, for reasons she can’t figure out why. Meanwhile, North claims to quit writing heroes with rhyming names in the text at the bottom of the page. We  also get rampaging animals, and a rampaging animal-turn-human-animals, and North quickly abandoning that claim . This book sounds like a fever dream as I describe it, but it is very good, despite sounding nuts, and…really nuts? That’s what I wrote for real? Now I hate myself for making that (unintentional) pun.

While North may be madness incarnate, but Erica Henderson is a gift. That is the best way to describe her all too important contributions to this book. Squirrel Girl’s visuals may be too cartoonish for some, but those people are dumb and shouldn’t be heard/ allowed to have nice things. TUSQ benefits from having a non-traditional super hero comic look, especially when it’s very much a humor title, and Henderson’s pencils are a perfect fit for North’s constant barrage of jokes. It’s super expressive and exaggerated, helping sell the book’s humor. The coloring from Rico Renzi is crisp and clean, doing Henderson’s art justice and completing the package.

The 2nd major arc for Squirrel Girl is off to a wonderful start. Henderson and North have delivered the best all-ages Marvel title since Thor the Mighty Avenger, and the funniest Marvel comic since Nextwave. This is some career defining stuff for these creators and well worth your time.

 

Spider-Woman-8-Cover-e1433537865998Spider-Woman #8

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez/Muntsa Vicente

Marvel $3.99

Spider-Woman wraps up her first non-crossover arc, and man, the big fight scene is this issue absolutely brutal. While the violence is kept at a Teen + level (which I think means PG??), Javier Rodriguez‘s art make the feel more brutal. As you can tell from the cover, J-Drew fights a woman in a power loader, and it does not go well for her. Rodriguez doesn’t shy away from making Spider-Woman take some solid hits, but she never looks weak or timid. This is an experienced Spider-Woman, who can take some damage and keep fighting the good fight. Rodriguez’s layouts are phenomenal, with scenes bleeding into other panels or taking place in sound effects. Alvaro Lopez‘s inks are also crazy good, using heavy inks in just the right areas to main the wounds look all the more devastating and painful. VC’s Travie Lanham has some of the most creative lettering and sounds effects I’ve seen in some time, and Muntsa Vicente’s colors and bold and bright, helping this book look very stylistic.

While the art is the best reason to pull this book, Dennis Hopeless does a outstanding job on the script. He keep the dialogued limit in the fight scenes, but when the time for exposition and plot is needed, he absolutely nails it. He does a find job of making the book’s big bad incredibly sympathetic, and more importantly he writes and fantastic Spider-Woman.

Spider-Woman #8 ends with the solid new direction for the book that looks to be a fun read. Hopeless, Rodriguez and their friends have created a title that feels like a classic 70s Marvel book in a way, but also refreshingly modern. This take on Spider-Woman has done wonders for this book, and the character, who’s really come into her own there last 4 issues. It’s nice to see a female lead for Marvel who’s more of an experienced ass kicker, and it pairs well with other action oriented female lead Marvel books like Black Widow and Captain Marvel. Buy on sight.

 

 

Post to Twitter

Troy’s Toys but with WAUGH: Howard the Duck #3 edition

DIG057129_1Howard the Duck #3

Chip Zdarsky/Joe Quinones/Joe Rivera/Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Things I didn’t know I wanted from comics: Howard the Duck teaming up with Aunt May.

Things I now have from comics: Take a guess genius, and then read 500 words about Howard the Duck #3, which is easily the funniest comics numbered 3 that I’ve read this year.

Creators Zhip Cdarsky (spelling Chip’s name wrong is always cool and funny according to Sex Criminal Solicits and Tumblr!) and Joe Quinones’ take on Howard the Duck continues to impress with this third issue, in which said Duck and said Aunt attempt to solve some crime after the time honored traditional fight/robbery at gun point (I swear that all makes sense in context, read the book and see how right I am). This collaboration involves going under cover, fighting the elderly, and more Spider-Man crying, three things that continue to make this book sound like a fever dream, but are real and also quite enjoyable.

Joe Quinones is a talent artist who I’ve seen drawn many a pretty lady throughout his career, but apparently he’s also good at drawing old people, all types of  ducks and Z-list Marvel villains. It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that his talents allow him to blend all these things together without anything sticking out, but it’s constantly impressive. Quinones usually handles pencils and inks by himself, but he’s joined by Joe Rivera this month, something I wouldn’t have know if it wasn’t listed in the credits. Rivera’s matches Quinones’ style perfectly, and I could not tell who inked what. Rico Renzi’s coloring is also fantastic, giving the characters a cool 3-D effect that makes them pop out from the pages a bit, and stand out from their environments.

This month they’re joined by Jason Latour, who also did some fun stuff with Aunt May this month (FYI I resisted making so many May puns) in Spider-Gwen last week. Jason draws a backup story that’s so New York you would swear it was written by a Gothamist columnist. Latour’s style is a lot more pulp and abstract compared to Quinones, but is great looking none the less. Also his take on a certain iconic Marvel character is rad as hell, and I want to see him draw him more in the future.

Chip Zdarsky is a NICE boy who is also hilarious and Canadian. His comedic writing skills are in full force here, giving the readers a ton of content to digest. There’s a ton of humor and character development crammed into this book, but none of it feels forced. We’re beginning to see some running gags form, and they still seem fresh, even though some of them are related to some deep cuts from Marvel’s past.  Chips shows some amazing amount of restrain, even with everything coming at the reader so fast, and the comic is better for it.

Howard the Duck is not unlike Chip’s other big book Sex Criminals in a few ways, as both are great looking, hilarious, and have a surprising amount of heart at times. Oh as of issue 3, lead characters who are often naked. It’s well worth your time and money, despite how I’m making the wholw thing sound.

 

Post to Twitter