Tagged: Steve Wands

Chris Comics: Putting The New 52 to rest with Grayson and Batgirl

Grayson-20Batgirl-52-variant-cover-by-Babs-TarrGrayson #20

Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Roge Antonio, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

Batgirl #52

Brenden Fletcher, Elenora Carline, Minkyu Jung, Serge Lapointe, Steve Wands

DC $2.99

Now that DC Rebirth is up and running, May sees the end of several DC titles before they get rebranded and relaunched with new creative teams. Which means both Batgirl and Grayson have come to an end, which is a shame.

Batgirl #52 wraps up the Brenden Fletcher-verse crossover, and sets up the next chapter of Barbara Gordon’s life for the creative team of Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque. Grayson #20 ends Dick’s run as a spy, puts the genie back in the bottle in regards to his secret identity, and gets him back in the Nightwing costume in time for Tim Seeley‘s return to the character. Despite neither storylines wrapping up with their original creative teams attached (Fletcher on Batgirl being the exception), both stories wrap up nicely, with only a few missteps.

As I’ve said several times in the past, Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly read exactly like image-117Tim Seeley and Tom King do on this book and that’s excellent. I’m sure they studied the notes left by those writers to a T, which I appreciate, especially when they were brought on the book so late in the game. Not only do they close out one of the most interesting status quos for Dick Grayson on an extremely high note, but they set things up for Helena Bertinelli’s role in the upcoming Batgirl and the Birds of Prey book flawlessly. And Roge Antonio’s art improves tenfold this issue, drawing an incredibly compelling action final fight scene between Grayson and Otto Netz for the bulk of the issue. He does a superb job of keeping in the spirit of the trippy art direction established by previous series artist Mikel Janin, while doing his own thing. Jeromy Cox has been fantastic on this title since issue one, and he’s just as great here. I HATE to see Grayson end, but man, this was a real solid ending by this team.

Batgirl #52 on the other hand, feels rushed, as there are a number of grammatical and spelling errors that plague this issue. The art from Elenora Carline & Minkyu Jung,  is okay, but there’s a lot of stiff posing and flat looking characters despite some excellent colors from Sergio Lapointe. Even Brenden Fletcher’s dialogue is extremely disappointing at times, reading more like a cheesy all ages comic more than the fresh and relevant to today’s audience stuff we as readers have been used to. Which is odd, given how good a solo Fletcher can be, as seen in Black Canary and Batgirl_52_01Gotham Academy.

I also find it odd to remove Barbara Gordon from her company so early in the game. I know WHY it needed to happen (new creative team and with a new MO), but to do 2 issues after the company’s up and running feels really out of place. It feel likes it was more than an editorial call rather than something Fletcher elected to do, although I have no evidence of such.

At the end of the day, we have 2 books I’m sad to see end, for entirely different reasons. With Grayson, it’s an end of an era that I really enjoyed, but know that the character’s in good hands. With Batgirl, it feels like the character is being forced into a more traditional role, rather than allowing her to exist in a status quo that very few, if any, female characters get to inhibit. I’ll be reading both characters once their reintroduced in Rebirth, although there’s no guarantee I’ll be sticking around for the long haul.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Gotham Academy #14

GOTHAC_Cv14_PREVIEWS_R1_5616b1b7728111.33337671

Gotham Academy #14

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Steve Wands, Katie Cook, Dustin Nguygen, Derek Fridolfs, Hope Larson, Kris Mukai

DC $2.99 

So yeah, I’m still worried about the fate of this title. Karl Kerschl left 2 issues ago, and Becky Cloonan has been M.I.A. since issue that issue. Hopefully this month’s round of solicitations will answer some questions, but I’m assuming the worse for this title but the time is said and done.

That depressing intro now out of the way, let’s focus on the fact that Gotham Academy #14 is wonderful. Here, the original creator standing Brenden Fletcher and the possibly new creative team of  Adam Archer and Sandra Hope are joined by a insanely talent roster for the first part of the “Yearbook” arc. This story seems to be a guest creator jam session, which I’m very cool with, if this issue is any indication of what we’ll be getting.

GOTHAC_14_3The framing sequence by Fletcher, Archer and Hope is solid enough, but Archer is still struggling a bit with character faces. The team is limited to 4 pages, which is good, because the real meat of the story comes from the guest creators. Leading things off is Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen, 2 creators I didn’t know I wanted to tell a Gotham Academy story, but now am glad I  got one. Prank enthusiast and general troublemaker Colton Rivera is the focus of this story, which has our lead deal with one of Kirk Langstrom’s bizarre subjects. It’s fun little chase story that looks amazing thanks to Nguyen’s gorgeous water-colored art. The humor these creator inject into this story is great, really capturing the tone you would expect from Gotham Academy. The final page of this story is AMAZING, and I would definitely assault a hobo with a wiffleball bat to see Nguyen draw these characters again.

From there it’s Katie Cook drawing a Maps and Olive story, which is by far the cutest incarnation of these characters to date. Cook’s style is perfect for a tale that involves mid control via Glee Club, and I believe it’s the first we get a DC Comics story revolving around cat tumblr_o0x790kQfg1rj45a8o1_1280videos.  Cook’s style is absolutely adorable, her sense of humor is fantastic, and this story was an absolutely treat.

Wrapping up the issue is Hope Larson and Kris Mukai focusing on Gotham Academy professor Isla Macherson in her teen years. If you want to see what the 1980s looks liked because you’re a stinking youth or some such, this is the comic to look at. It’s arguably the most well rounded tale of the bunch, mixing fantastic visuals with a really sweet story. It manages to avoid teen drama cliches by embracing the fact that it takes place in a city where Batman is a thing.

An jam issue with multiple creators sounds more like a special or an annual then a proper arc, but it’s hard to hate when the creators involved are this good. Gotham Academy #14 could be accused of staling, but frankly I don’t care. It’s a fun issue that allows a number of talent folk to play in one of the best new sandboxes in the DC Universe. If this is a proper taste of what to expect from this arc, consider me excited.

 

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Chris Comics: Batgirl #44

4815993-bg_cv44_dsBatgirl #44

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Bengal, Serge Lapointe

DC, $2.99

I’m not entirely sure if it’s a coincidence or the work of Bat-Group editor Mark Doyle, but I can help but notice that the 3 DC books I read every month have really great alternative artist to fill in for their respect books. Bengal, previoulys seen on the Batgirl: Endgame one shot and the lead story in this year’s often-mentioned-by-me-Batgirl Annual, fills in for the first time on Batgirl proper, and delivers some fantastic visuals. While he’s not as experimental or fashion savvy as regular series artist Babs Tarr, Bengal’s more traditional lay outs and strong body language make for a good looking comic none the less. Bengal’s style is comparable to Tarr’s in that they’re obviously from a generation of artist raised on anime and manga, but where as Babs is Shoujo Manga/Anime, Bengal is very much shonen. This is evident in the big fight scene in the issue, which is the bulk of Bengal’s best art is present thanks to incredibly well choreographed panels. And even though some of the character heads are a little too lumpy or round at times,  my biggest fault with the art doesn’t lie with Bengal. I felt the pale colors provided by usual on point colorist Serge Lapointe take a bit away from the visuals. Batgirl has been a book which has been visually define by being kinetic and bright, but the muted colors take things back a notch this time around.

 

4815995-bg_44_2Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart (as well as previous series writer Gail Simone) deserve a decent amount of praise for giving Babs a wonderfully diverse cast of supporting characters. Despite living in the fictional area Burnside, based on super gentrified real life areas like Portland and Brooklyn, Fletcher and Stewart have surrounded Babs with some wonderful characters from various walks of life, and quickly made them stand out in a number of fascinating ways. It’s a shame the same can’t be said about this month’s villain, who felt rather disposable and a bit of an afterthought. I understand it’s hard to build upon on of the strongest collection of villains in comics when you’re NOT Grant Morrison, and that the team is channeling Batman 66 as well as Batman The Animated Series, but it would be nice to see Batgirl face a more formidable foe instead of another throw away villain who wears an absurd amount of eye shadow. My issues with the Velvet Tiger aside, the writing in this comic is still pretty great. Barbara’s various relationships with her friends all fell genuine thanks to the superb dialogue, and while there’s plenty of talk, it never feels like too overbearing. Fletcher and Stewart also know when to dial back and let Bengal and letterer Steve Wands handing all the heavy lifting with the fight scenes, leaving the slick action sequences relatively uncluttered.

CQAMp_kUcAA1KmPDespite my various critiques/nit-picks with the comic, Batgirl #44 is ultimately another fun issue of this great run. Bengal’s art is quite solid, and the writing is on par as usual, and I really felt like I got my $3 bucks worth with all the content crammed into 20 pages. Between this and the previously reviewed stellar Grayson installment, it was a good week for Bat-Family fans.

 

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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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