Tagged: Saga

XO_1_Cover

War Is Coming In X-O MANOWAR #1

Your favorite new sci-fi epic begins in the pages of X-O MANOWAR #1

Do you like Seven to Eternity and Old Man Logan? Congratulations, the book you didn’t realize you’ve been waiting for is hitting shelves this week from one of the most critically acclaimed publishers in all of comics. From the mad genius of Matt Kindt (Grass Kings, Dept. H, Rai) and featuring the stunning art of Tomas Giorello, comes a new sci-fi western war epic that will enthrall you.

This is a master class in character-driven storytelling and world building. You owe it to yourself to follow the bloody rise of Aric of Dacia, on a world far from Earth, where he will rise up the ranks in a war he doesn’t want to fight in but will escalate with a weapon he swore to never use again.

Aric of Dacia fought against the brutal Roman Empire and became a warrior prince. He and his people were captured by a cruel alien race, made their slaves for what they thought was close to three years. Aric led his people home by bonding with a weapon of mass destruction sacred to his captors: the X-O Manowar armor. When they arrived home, his people discovered themselves trapped in the present, refugees of a forgotten civilization. He grew into a hero for the planet Earth. That was then…

Far from Earth on a new and primitive word, Aric is living a quiet life as a farmer. He’s distanced himself from his violent past and the power of the X-O Manowar armor. But this new world he has exiled himself to has one thing he cannot escape from: War. Conscripted into an army, he will be forced to fight once more and he will give show this world war unlike any they’d imagined…by bonding once again with the armor that made him an unstoppable force. Follow his journey as he begins as the soldier, topples armies to become a general, “unites” warring civilizations to become their emperor, and ignites an interplanetary conflict.

Pick up your copy today!

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01_HEATHEN_CVR_V1_Fowler_Front_SR-830x1276

Meet The New Mighty Viking In HEATHEN #1

You will fear her name!

Do you like Thor? Northlanders? Red Sonja or Conan? Do you want to see kick ass warriors? Maybe you’re a proponent for strong female lead characters in comics? Are you burned out on superheroes and want some good old fashioned demon battles and talking horses? Here’s the new series to scratch all of your itches but careful, this self-proclaimed heathen might draw a little blood.

At Forbidden Planet we like to root for the underdog. There are publishers big enough to make sure you know every character’s name, origin(s), and costume tweak. Then there are the indie companies who may not have the budget or the name recognition but what they do have are badass books. Heathen #1 is one such book.

Aydis is a on a mission to kill a god. Well, she’s on a mission to end the reign of a tyrant god-king called Odin. Killing him may or may not be possible. Aydis is all the things I mentioned earlier. She’s a viking badass warrior. She’s also an outcast, a heathen, and a friend to talking horses. Except her talking horse has a cool name, Saga (yeah they did). Aydis battles demons. She takes on crazy cool monsters. And yes, she’s a woman. She’s been born at a time where war is prevalent, suffering is universal, and women are treated as less than. This is her story as told by Natasha Alterici. It’s not the beginning but it is where you will join her journey if you give this new series a chance. We heartily recommend that you do.

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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.

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #35

First and foremost, a shameless plug!  I’m putting out a web comic that costs you all of zero dollars to read. It’s titled “In the Name of Thy Mother”, and I’m writing it with art by Ing. It’s exclusively on Tumblr for now, and if you like stuff in the vein of Sailor Moon but wish it was given a bit of a modern horror touch, you’re in luck. Thanks for reading that, let’s get to the review yes?

Saga_35-1Saga #35

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Come for the space hijinks, stay for BKV trying to figure out what to call Ghus fans ( Ghus-steppers is definitely a bad look man)! Also see Forbidden Planet NYC be called a “fine retailer”, which is 100% true, on the ad page for the Limited Edition TALKING Lying Cat plush, which you should totally pre-order right this minute.

Surprising no one, there’s a lot to like in Saga #35, the penultimate issue for this arc (something I was wrong about last month). My Ghus-feels aside, issue 35 offers the usual selection of wonder you would expect from this creative team: exotic locations with new characters (like a Lying Cat dressed as royalty!), sharp dialogue peppered with profanity, and stunning art by Fiona Staples. Which by the way, let’s talk about that cover for a minute. The composition is solid, really drawing you eyes towards the characters, and anyone who’s familiar with what the new tattoo symbolizes Saga35acan have themselves nice cry. Also the gray back ground is a nice choice to offset the more colorful characters.

Seeing these characters interact with each other. Here comes spoilers for anyone not caught up with volumes 4 & 5, but seeing Marko and Alanna bounce off of Prince Robot is hoot. Villains being forced to align with the heroes is nothing new to comics, but the Prince’s history with Marko and Alanna really sets it apart, especially once you consider he’s been in a situation similar to their’s.  It’s a nice bit of character growth, which makes him a little more likely, oppose to the Will, who’s definitely going down a dark path.

I’ve said it before, and I probably won’t stop saying it until the series is over, but I love all the various body types and characters that Fiona Staples creates. It really feels like no character is regulated to just a background role, not unlike the Simpsons. The facial Saga-35-i2-640x600expression she draws in this issue are also particularly striking, especially in the first few pages that involves the most stylish use of drugs I’ve ever seen. The fact that she colors and inks everything as well speaks of how extremely talented she is.

Saga #35 is another gorgeous issue in a series that rarely ever disappoints. Brian K Vaughan‘s dialogue is on point, as we ramp up to a battle that will probably make me feel really bad real quick. It’s business as usual, but in a way that I welcome, and rarely feels repetitive. It’s a another great issue of a great read, and I cannot wait to see how this arc ends next month.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #4 & The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

 

STK696446Saga #34

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image #34

Ohoho, what is this? A very cute Ghus cover?! 10/10! Next review!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

Alright, alright I’ll talk more about Saga. For the most part this arc has been pretty low key and lacking on the soul crushing, the later which I don’t mind at all. But with one more issue left in this arc, the pieces are now being moved to either set the cast up for several victories, or a ton of heartbreak.

Aside from Fiona Staples’ always amazing visuals, I really like how the book jumps around a checks on the vast majority of the big players in this story. Juggling nearly a dozen characters is no easy task for any writer, but Brian K Vaughan manages to do so with minimal effort. At 22 pages of content, the pacing for this book is fantastic, and manages to move the plot in several interesting directions. It’s a nice rebound after an issue that really didn’t work for me, and it’s nice to see the book back being as good as it has been in the past. Plus I really like any time that Fiona gets to draw animal people, even when they’re not named Ghus.

Saga #34 is the penultimate issue of this arc that could go either way for the cast. There’s even chance that we also may not any resolution at all, and that all the good stuff will go down in the next arc. Either way this comics is an enjoyable read, chock full of great and dialogue that’s also too clever, but never goes overboard.

Unbeatable_Squirrel_Girl_Vol_2_5_TextlessThe Unbeatable Squrrel Girl(s) #5

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Reniz

Marvel $3.99

Prepare for a weird complaint with this review.

While The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5 definitely sticks the landing of this 4 issue arc, it’s not exactly the cleanest of landings. This book is a bit overwhelming, as Ryan North doesn’t just go full Grant Morrison, but he manages to make me feel dumber in the process.

While I don’t mind comics trying to make me up my game, or hell being chock full of #content, I feel like this arc could of used another issue. A LOT goes down in this issue, and while it puts a nice little bow on this arc, I couldn’t finish this issue in a single sitting. And it’s only 20 pages. That being said while it’s a bit intimidating, there’s some REALLY good bits of dialogue and jokes that make for fun reading experience.

Visually, I have no complaints as per usual. Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi are a fantastic creative team, and they really go all out this issue. Henderson does some amazing things with her, cramming her pages with multiple panels and not cutting any corners. How she manages to draw this book and Jughead without taking any time off speaks volumes about her talent and dedication towards her craft. Also that cover is striking as hell.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5 may be a tricky read, but it’s a great one none the less. North, Henderson and Renzi craft a fun comic that shows off their talents in a multiple of ways. And considering the book is crossing over with Howard A Duck next month, the future is bright for Doreen Green.

 

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Order Your Lying Cat Talking Plush Toy From Forbidden Planet

Essential Sequential Saga Talking Lying Cat Plush Toy 19" Figure Brian K. Vaughan Fiona Staples

Forbidden Planet is pleased as punch to offer this beautiful talking plush figure from the #1 best-selling comic series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. At 19″ tall, Essential Sequential’s LYING CAT will be one of the most rad comic book collectibles we’ve ever sold!

Really, how cool is this???

You can be the first kid on your block with a Lying Cat plush by ordering yours from Forbidden Planet NYC here. The first production run of these is scheduled to ship for early May and will sell out, so get a move on it. As a thank you for buying yours from us, we’ll also be shipping you Saga issue #37 (which will continue the story following Saga TP Vol. 6) FOR FREE when it comes out later this year!

Not Lying,

Jeff Ayers
Manager/Buyer
Forbidden Planet NYC

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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.

 

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #31

tumblr_ntarc9gbIX1u6xizko1_1280Saga #31

Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

 

Hello once again Saga, I’ve too have missed you bunches!

While The Wicked + The Divine has been quite excellent at destroying me emotionally as of late, I’ve missed the pain I can only get from Saga, a type of pain I’ve grown to accept and love to an extent. Oh sure, Paper Girls is also a book that gives me some of that sweet sweet Brian K Vaughan cliffhanger love, but neither that or WicDiv have Ghus, the best character whom I’m mentioned several times before. Yes, tiny seal man/men are very important to me when it comes to comics, which I’m sure is a surprise to absolutely no one.

Saga #31 was a comic I was expecting to love from the get go. What I wasn’t expecting was that Hazel, the book’s narrator, and someone who’s gotten plenty of screen time as a plot point, as this issue’s lead. It’s nice to see an issue through the character’s eye off screen and on, as it freshens up the book a bit. Plus she’s cute as a button, which helps the reader overlooks some of the more tragic elements of this story.

Screen-Shot-2015-11-25-at-11.16.43-AMSo obviously this is another great issue of Saga, that goes without saying. But you may be asking yourself “Hey Chris, aside from Kindergarten shenanigans and the amazing creative team of Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan, two of some of the most creative people currently working in comics, why is this book so great?” That being a mouthful aside, let me tell you why dear readers. For starters, we’re 31 issues in and Saga still manages to surprise me in ways that never insults my intelligence, and shocks comes off as earned, not chills thrills. It’s a book where ultimately no one is safe, and the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. That being said, there’s also a ton of emotional moments in this issue thanks to BKV and Staples creating some deep and complex characters, so you’re genuinely invested in their story. Unless of course you’re some sort of soulless monsters who hates well crafted comics, which in that case, congrats, you’re the actual worst.

Saga 31 manages to stay fresh and interesting by introducing 2 new characters. Saga’s known for adding in new character every arc, but 31 introduces a character that demands to be noticed, signifying that they’ll be playing a role in this arc soon. And what I find most intriguing is that this new badass is extremely LGBT+ friendly in a way that has not be represented in the book yet. BKV and Staples have a pretty good track record when it comes to handling under represented queer characters, so I’m excited to see what they do with this new character, knowing that they’re being introduced in a way that fits the story, not as cheap heat. And if that’s not enough to at least peak your curiosity, the book ends on a cliffhanger that once again walks the thin line between being terrible and hilarious. Or it’s intended to be terrible, and I’m just a psychopath who find humor in the wrong thing. Can’t rule either out.

tumblr_nye1hbzRBN1ro3xdro1_1280Having Saga back on the shelves is always an exciting time for me as a comics reader, despite knowing it’s going to end in tear and me cursing the creative team names ( I prefer to yelling VAPLESSSSS instead of yelling their individual names for the record). It remains an inventive title that always manages to entertain while causing me great distress. Yrs, I’m well aware I sound like a mascogist, but trist me, Saga #31 is an excellent comic that you should already be purchasing by now. Assuming you’re of age, and do not plan on reading it in public.

 

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Thanksgiving Eve at Forbidden Planet NYC and, While I’m At It, Thanksgiving 2015

76194133395310101 Frank miller new Batman release Forbidden Planet NYC fpnyc.com

It’s Tuesday November 24th and we’re at the shop preparing tomorrow’s new comics, graphic novels and toys, like we do on Tuesdays, with our hands plenty full. 

The hard work’s well-worth it though. Traditionally, Thanksgiving Eve is one of my favorite days of the year to be working at Forbidden Planet. Lots of familiar faces come back in through our doors and it’s a pleasure to catch up with old chums. People need little presents for family members or a board game or something similar to occupy the weekend and from my customer service perspective it’s always a treat to recommend stuff that’s going to be enjoyed in such a manner.

And, oh yeah!, comics publishers and many toy manufacturers usually release a crap-ton of great new reading material and toys the day before Thanksgiving in advance of Black Friday/Cyber Monday. This year’s no different.

Whether you’re braving the horrors of the NJ Transit or the long flight to Walla Walla or the constant chug of the Staten Island Ferry or the bus to Philly or the subway home to your tiny NYC apartment… Wherever you’re off to, here’s some of this week’s highlighted new releases to get you through the trip.

Have fun! We’re closed on Thanksgiving. Mebbe I’ll see ya tomorrow or Friday?

(Dark Knight 3 pictured above and available 11/25/15)

Saga #31 – New Story Arc! Picks up after trade paperback Volume 5. Don’t forget your coupons and receipt (wink, wink) if ya got ’em!

Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Saga #31, forbidden planet NYC

 

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Highlighted New Releases for NCBD September 9th 2015

I’m gonna try to get back to regular posting on this blog. Here’s my first shot at it- a simple listing of personally recommended or otherwise notable new stuff available at Forbidden Planet NYC in-store and online for the week of 9/9/15. Here we go…

9781632154262

Descender TP Volume 1 – Jeff Lemire (w), Dustin Nguyen (a)

One young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. A rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey that pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling space opera from the creators of Trillium, Sweet Tooth, and Little Gotham.

Collects DESCENDER #1-6.

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Chris’ Comics: Saga #30

Saga_30-1_300_462Saga #30

Fiona Staples/Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

Hope y’all are ready for another 500 words of praise for Saga. It’s gotten to the point where it’s pointless to praise how good Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan is again, because we all know how excellent they are by now. Talking about their talents seems redundant in a way, so I rather talk about what worked for me in this issue, in great detail. Also spoilers. Heavy, heavy spoilers.

Saga volume 5 has been a high stake concept that started off relatively slow. Volume 4 saw Alanna, her mother in law and daughter abducted by a baby-kidnapping terrorist, forcing her husband Marko to forge an alliance with their enemy Prince Robot IV, and adorable seal man Ghus. MEANWHILE. Marko’s ex Gwendolyn, The Brand, Sophie, and the Lying cat have searching for a cure to get lovable scum bag bounty hunter the Will out of a coma, which lead to an incredibly lewd but dangerous adventure. Issue 30 wraps up both of these arcs, but not in the ways anyone was expecting. Or at ways I wasn’t expecting.

Screen-Shot-2015-07-08-at-12.05.44-PMStaples and BKV get a lot done in this issue, but not all of it is quite the happy ending I was hoping for. Issue 29 was insanely brutal, so while issue 30 isn’t as soul crushing, it’s definitely not an uplifting one in the traditional sense either. There’s several reunions, but not all of them are happy ones, and the one we want the most doesn’t happen. But that’s part of the beauty of this book. Nothing is gratuitous or feel cheap, and character moments are earned, not handed to us. It makes the loss all the more painful sure, but when we get a victory here and there, it feels more important.

This is where things are going to get super spoilery, so head’s up. But I want to talk about 3 moments that stood out to me. First, is the return of the Will. On one hand, the moment should be considered a victory as our squad of awesome lady bounty hunters and their pets manage to succeed on their, but not without losing the Will’s sister. Who’s DEFINITELY DEAD, as she was rip into two and partially eaten.  The Will is less than thrilled by this, and refers to one of characters by a nasty four letter word. In the hands of a lesser creative team, this would come off as hacky at best, offensive at worst. But this team still manages to make the Will feel sympathetic. It’s a rough scene to read, but something crafted flawless. It’s hard to see the fan favorite Lying Cat slink away upset, but it helps set the sense of regret and sorrow that these characters are feeling. It’s powerful scene, and the fact that BKV used such a negative word to make it some emotional only speaks of his talents.

 

img_20150710_000550On the lighter side of things, Marko and Alanna are finally reunited. It’s been 7 issues (which factoring the hiatus, nearly a year) since the two have been in the same setting and it’s a bittersweet reunion. Hazel’s still not back with her parents by the time  this issue ends, but the Marko/Alanna is fine enough without it. Staples’ nails the body language and framing perfectly, while BKV’s narration is perfect. It’s a highlight for the series, which says a lot given the overall quality of the past issues.

And then we have the final page. Which sees Hazel in Kindergarten. This absolutely adorable, hilarious given it’s drawn, and raises a bunch of questions since it’s clear some time has passed  between the final scene with the Will and this scene. This is where Saga is at it’s best. You get an insane amount of pay off, and then a great end of chapter cliffhanger that makes the hiatus less painful. It’s something you can appreciate a bunch as someone who reads the book monthly or in trade.

Issue 30 is a powerful read that’s nothing new for this book. But man, the fact that Saga has been this astonishing for this long is why it’s just won a another bunch of Eisners this back weekend at San Diego.

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Troy’s Toys, But with Comics: Called it Edition

WHAT DID I SAY?!?!

STK674294Saga #29

Fiona Staples/Brian K Vaughan

Image $2.99

IMG_5092

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DONE!

BRIAN K VAUGHAN IS A BAD BAD MAN. WORSE THEN KIERON GILLEN, WHO I GUESS IS A LESSER DEVIL NOW? I DON’T KNOW HOW DEVILS WORK AFTER A CERTAIN POINT.

So yeah, this issue of Saga is rough. Really rough actually, to the point where I have to think issue 30 HAS to end on good note for balanced karma. I mean he really owes us that after these last two issues being actual emotional war fare on the readers.

It’s not all violence and tears in this issue by the way. BKV and Fiona Staples, who is not at fault for this issue, inject this comic with some needed drama, action and comedy. There’s an amazing panel that leads into a better double page spread gag that will probably get this book banned from Comixology (again). When this book isn’t destroying me, it’s fantastic, especially when Vaughan’s dialogue is so natural, with a flawless flow.

And yes, Fiona Staples is on point once again. No one is shocked, as she’s always excellent. But her she’s given a lot to do in this in this particular issue, and she flexes her creative muscles and crushes it. Yes I just said crushes it, I’m wearing 3 polo shirts and drinking jaeger and pre-ordering the new Call of Duty as we speak. But it’s completely true, as a lesser artist may have failed at delivering the type of comic Staples has produced. ESPECIALLY  when it comes to the violence, which is not the most graphic thing, but the composition and character placement hits you like a freight train.

It’s been a while since an issue of Saga has been this devastating. Vaughan and Staples have created a comic that always creates Water-Cooler discussion moments, and they always feel earned, rather than relying on shock value. It’s a fantastic read, although an absolutely gut wrenching one. I expect no less from team Saga.

STK672338Gotham Academy #7

Becky Cloonan/Brenden Fletcher/Mingjue Helen Chen/Steve Wands

DC $2.99

Oh look, Gotham Academy is back, I can know what happiness is once again.

Issue 7 kicks off a few days after issue 6 wraps up, and focuses on my personal favorite character Maps. Maps, unlike the usual lead/narrator Olivia, offers a younger perspective, and is all hype and excitement, making for different yet equally enjoyable reading experience. Guest star Damian Wayne wasn’t a character this book necessarily needed to improve, but he’s a welcome sight none the less. The youngest Robin couldn’t be any more different than Maps, which results in some A+ hi-jinks, and some very funny gags.

Mingjue Helen Chen is the artist for this issue, marking the first time she gets to draw an entire issue by herself. Her style is plenty different than series regular artist Karl Keschel, but not any less great. It’s super expressive and whimsical, looking like a Pixar take on Gotham Academy, which makes sense given Chen’s day job working as an Disney animator. It’s looks unlike any other Bat-title out there, and nice to see DC giving such wonderful talent like this a shot on a book that supports such diversity.

Narrative wise, it’s back to business for Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher. They masterfully mix mystery with comedy, throwing little hints of romance in there resulting a fun, modern day Scooby Doo-esque script. My only complaints is that the art and the narration are at odds early in the book, which makes the big mystery reveal a tad confusing at the end. Luckily, it doesn’t take away from the rest of the comic, which is pretty perfect.

Gotham Academy #7 is a delightful done in one for all ages. The creative team is hella charming, thanks to visuals that make the $3 price tag a steal.

 

 

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Troy’s Troys But With Comics: Childhood Flashbacks editions

There are currently 12 unwatched episodes of Daredevil in my Netflix queue right now, please note that I took time to write this article instead of ODing on DD.

Saga_27-1_300_462Saga #27

Fiona Staples/Biran K Vaughan

Image Comics $2.99

I’ve been running out of ways to complement Saga. Each issue is a 20 page celebration of comics, with the creators doing their damnedest to show exactly  why they’re the best what this medium is capable of. This month’s issue is no exception, as Fiona Staples and Brain K Vaughan show off their full range of talents.

Issue 27 has Fiona Staples drawing everything from odd/unusual erotica, to grotesque violence, to absolutely adorable thanks to tiny sealman/my favorite character Ghus. Ghus in particular is an fine example of Staples’ artistic skills, as she manages to convey a lot of character and emotion in a character with a comparatively simplistic design. There’s also some really powerful emotional beats that Staples hit without the assistance of BKV’s words. While she’s never been anything less than impressive, this particular arc of Saga may be Staples finest work to date. I couldn’t think of a better artist to see their name listed before the writer’s name in the credits page.

Brain K Vaughan continues to be the very best at what he does when it comes to dialogue and the script, snikt. We get to take another glimpse of Marko’s past in this issue, and the stuff revealed in the flashbacks is brutal, but compelling none the less. He also injects some much needed humor in places that helps ease the tension, as well as remind us how delightful these characters are. Vaughan’s words are overshadowed by the art at times, but it never feels like he’s coasting on Staples talents.

Saga is still very much the best book on the market, and this issue is just further proof of that.

portrait_incredible (1)All New Hawkeye #2

Jeff Lemire/Ramon Perez/Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

AWWW, Fact: This is the 2nd Hawkeye #2 in which a/the Swordsman is a crucial element to the plot!

This 2nd issue of All New Hawkeye is a slight improvement over the previous issue, but I’m still a tad confused over the direction of the title. The book continues to be split between the past and present, but the present sections continue to feel like an after though. Ramon Perez and Ian Herring certainly do some cool stuff with this book’s visuals, but it genuinely does feel like writer Jeff Lemire prefers re-telling Clint’s origin than moving his Hydra/creepy-ass children plot forward.

To be fair, the Circus flashback segments are fairly enjoyable, even with the art being a little uneven in places. The sketchy art looks a tad incomplete at times, but Ian Herring’s colors really help enhance it a ton. The modern segments look slightly better, as Perez channeling David Aja suits his style better. Lemire is still struggling with the Hawkeyes banter, but it’s improving.

All New Hawkeye #2 is a much needed step in the right direction, although it’s not quite there yet. Hopefully the next issue will continue to improve in quality, and this book will be on par with the previous creative team’s efforts.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics: Squirrels and Seals Edition

saga-25-wraparound-cover-b8d91Saga #25

Brian K Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Image $2.99

Yay, Saga‘s back, time for another comic to destroy me emotionally yet again!

I kid, because as far as Saga goes, Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples produce an entertaining comic that doesn’t make everything hurt this time around. If anything, it sets up the 5th volume of the series quite nicely, and uses the 3 month vacation to age the book in real time.

While I could point out how BKV & Staples continue to produce the best comic on the market with the greatest of ease, I much rather point out that tiny seal person Ghüs has joined the cast on the regular, and I’m clearly thrilled about that. Also I’m saying this now guys, if something bad happens to him I will drop this book and cry myself to death. Tiny seals with accents are one of my jams, and I need a Lucky the Pizza Dog type pledge that this little fellow won’t be killed off.

Seal deals ( kill me) aside, issue 25 is pretty great on ever level. Fiona Staples art is incredible, and it’s cool to see her experiment with colors at the beginning of the book, as well as later one when there’s a need for much yellow. We’re also treated to more wonderfully bizarre characters designs, a thing that I am a fan of.

BKV makes great use of the large cast in new surroundings, fleshing them out in tiny, clever ways. Vaughan has a way of making even the evilest of his characters sympathetic, as if you need more proof of his talents. He also teases several things that will be happening in the nearest future, so I may have to go ahead and take that nothing hurts statement back soon.

A quieter return than what we’re use too, Saga #25 is a delight start for the story’s next chapter. I’m excited to have my heart broken again and again over the next few months.

portrait_incredibleThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi

Marvel $3.99

Note: While there is some Iron Man related shenanigans in this issue, there is zero surfing in this comic. The cover is full of LIES.

But that’s okay. After a super delightful debut issue, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2 continues to impress. Doreen attempts to join some college clubs, talk to a meghunk, oh and break into Stark Tower to stea  borrow an Iron Man suit so she can go to the moon and punch Galactus. Aka cementing it’s legacy as the best new Marvel comic of 2016.

Erica Henderson continues to impress me with every page of this comic. Her facial expressions  and body language really add an extra shot of comedic value to Ryan North‘s hilarious dialogue,  showing off how in sync these two creators are. It’s a dialogue heavy issue that lives and dies by it’s jokes, and luckily for us the reader, North and Henderson nails each and every one of them. Rico Renzi completes the package, making Henderson’s art crisp and bold, like a fine animation-esque quality salad. That’s a valid comparison yes?

Failed analogies aside, Squirrel Girl is rad and you should buy it to support fun and good looking comics. It’s a great read that super self contained, and the chances of a purple planet eater getting punched in the face remain high.

 

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What I dug in 2014 finale: Creator Owned Comics

This is me saving the best for last. While both Marvel and DC had solid years creatively (and sales wise I imagine, but I don’t have those numbers at my hands), the number of quality creator owned comics that dropped this past year was astonishing. Today will be the day I focus on those quality books, which is why I’ve titled this article as such.

comics-the-wicked-and-the-divine-2-coverImage Comics had arguably it’s bet year to date in 2014. Aside from “older” on-goings like The Walking Dead, Saga, Invincible, Umbral, Rat Queens, and Sex Criminals (as well as the end of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Fatale), we saw the debut of  a number of excellent new comics. Such books like the often discussed The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, Fuse ( Antony Johnston, Justin Greenwood) Shutter ( Joe Keatinge, Leila Del Duca, Owen Gieni, Ed Brisson), Bitch Planet ( Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine Del Landro) among a dozen others all debuted within the last 12 months, which is impressive to say the least. Image continues to be the premiere comics company for creator owned books, luring some of the top creators from Marvel and DC (see Scott Snyder, Mark Millar, Rick Remender) to put out some of their best work of their careers without having to use corporate owned IPs. Image put out some of my favorite comics of the past year, all without having to resort to crossovers and $5 gimmick books.

boombox_lumberjanes_002_aBut Image wasn’t the only comic company to have a good year with creator owned comics. BOOM Studios produced some top notched horror comics with James Tylion IV with The Woods and Memetic. Their BOOM BOX! imprint also had the debut of the excellent Lumberjanes comics, arguably one of the best all ages comics on the stands The book by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen and Maarta Laiho was originally announced as a 8 issue mini series, but it’s well deserved popularity got it bumped up to an on-going and is constantly delightful and visually stunning. Oni Press published Charles Soule & Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque’s sci-fi drama Letter 44, a book that deserves more hype and discussion, and the books Charles Bunn’s put out through the company has been nothing short of great.  And while not exactly creator owned, Valiant Comics continues to impress, with some best under the radar super hero/action books being put out on a monthly basis.

51kMcl9F-rL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_And finally, two of 2014’s biggest releases, creator owned or otherwise, weren’t even from traditional comics publishers. Seconds, by Scott Pilgrim‘s Bryan Lee O Malley, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll saw print this year, and both are must reads in my opinion. While Seconds may  not be made into a movie by Edgar Wright any time soon, it’s a phenomenal comic that feels like a Miyazaki movie meant for the Scott Pilgrim crowd. Through the Woods is by far the creepiest comic I’ve read in years, as Emily Carroll delivers some genuine terror with her work, which blends horror with folk tales. I can’t recommend either enough.

2014 was a terrific year for comic. There may have been some dumb stuff that went down with some professionals and publishers, but the amount of good that came from the industry easily triumphs the bad. I’m eager to see what 2015 offers, what with us being a few short days from Image Expo, the release of Squirrel Girl, and whatever DC has up their sleeves once the company is united in California.

 

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