Tagged: Stuart Immonen

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Creative Conversation: Ibrahim Moustafa

Welcome to a Creative Conversation with creator Ibrahim Moustafa. Here we give you a chance to get inside the mind, learn some in depth background, and discuss the creative process of some of comics’ best writers and artists. In our first Creative Conversation I had the opportunity to speak with the artist behind Vertigo’s smashingly good new series, “Savage Things.” If the Bourne franchise went down the horror route, you have an inkling of what’s in store for you with this book. Ibrahim gives a better sum up a little further down. We talked about first comics, must reads, stories that stick with us as young comic fans, how this new series came about and who would be on Ibrahim’s own personal Mount Rushmore of comic book artists. Agree? Disagree? Find out!

MK: So let’s start with a little background because in all our conversations I’m not sure I know this: How did your journey lead you to working in comics?

IM: I was always drawing as a kid, and some of my earliest memories are of watching the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies. Not long after that I discovered the Ninja Turtles and Batman 66 TV shows, and was obsessed with them all. I had and read a few comics as a kid and was always drawing the aforementioned. I got much more into collecting and reading comics when I discovered the X-Men cartoon in the early 90s, and I would hoard those Fleer Ultra 93 and 94 X-Men cards sets as a kid.

I fell out of comics for a long time as I got into sports a bit. And then in high school I was heavily into drawing graffiti art and breakdancing. When I was a Junior, “Smallville” had come out and rekindled my love of Superman. Someone gave me a book called “The Complete History Of Superman” and it had a few Alex Ross paintings in it, which completely blew my mind. I had no idea you could do *that* with superheroes.

That sent me down the rabbit hole of “Who is this guy? How is he doing this? What is he painting with? What else has he done?” From there I found “Kingdome Come” and started going to the comic shop, and that ignited my interest in drawing superheroes again. After a short while I realized that people were drawing comics for a living, and I began a very disciplined, regimented plan to make that my reality as well.

It worked (laughs)!

MK: That’s epic! What was your local comic shop when you were getting heavily into it?

IM:The first one I wandered into was a small one-off called Hidden Treasures or something to that effect, but they closed down shortly after. Then a friend that I worked with told me that there was a place called Things From Another World that was literally blocks away from our job. And they became my regular supplier in the formative era of my comics addiction, haha.

MK:They’re a great operation out in the Portland area. Other than Alex Ross, who were some other artists that got you jazzed into drawing superheroes and comics again?

IM: There have been SO many, but the ones that have stayed an influence/inspiration regardless of my changing interests are probably Stuart Immonen, David Mazzucchelli, and Lee Bermejo. As I’ve burrowed deeper into comics and it’s artistic masters, I’d say my Mount Rushmore consists Alex Ross, Stuart Immonen, Alex Toth, and Jorge Zaffino.

MK: That’s an eclectic looking Mount Rushmore.

IM: It is!

MK:I dig it. Before we go too far off topic: Favorite X-Men character?

IM: Cyclops (I know), Wolverine is a close second, though. You?

MK: I feel like Wolverine is everybody’s top one or two but personally, especially since Grant Morrison brought her into the mix I’m an Emma Frost man. Which doesn’t make me a “real” X-Men fan in most folks’ eyes but it is what it is. What is it about Cyclops for you?

IM: 1) You can like whichever X-Person you want and damn anyone who tells you otherwise!

MK: Thank you!

IM: 2) Honestly, I think Cyclops was the most like Superman, aesthetically, and that really appealed to seven year-old me when I discovered the show; he was the do-good leader, he had red blasts from his eyes, and he wore all blue with yellow and red (laughs).

But there was something about the idea that he was encumbered by his power that really hit me as a kid. The fact that this thing he could do made him an outcast and made his life difficult, but he used it to help people anyway…That always got me.

Also, his mutation didn’t cause him to have a drastically different outward appearance, but it was enough to make him an other. And growing up half-Egyptian, I experienced a lot of cultural differences from the kids around me. Questions like, “Why can’t you eat pork?” are a lot like, “Why are you always wearing sunglasses?” So, I think that appealed to me about Cyclops as well.

MK: Take that Cyclops haters! That’s really inspiring how you were able to have that relation to Cyclops. For you, do you think comics has a special place as far as storytelling in a way that movies, TV, theatre, or other mediums don’t quite?

IM: I do, absolutely. I think that there are more opportunities to play with the passage of time visually on a comics page than with other mediums. In comics, for example, you can have a splash page of a scene that is split into four different panels across a single image of say, a park. And each panel can represent the four seasons in a year.

Comics also allow for opportunities to echo imagery from one page or one sequence to another. So let’s say you have a page where a character is a child, and they’re playing, and they fall down and scrape up their knee. Then, you cut to them as an adult in a few chapters and they’re in a completely different scenario, but they go through a similar accident, and you’re establishing that they’re prone to this kind of thing in their life.

In comics, seeing all of those panels in one page as a whole creates a different experience than film or TV where you would see that happen one shot at a time. You’re taking in the gestalt of the moment on a page rather than the disparate parts that make the whole. Symbolism, the efficiency afforded by narration paired with a parallel image to the text, the pacing of a page-turn into a splash. There are tons of cool ways to deliver a moment in a comics page that are unique to the medium, and that’s probably what I love about it the most.

MK: That’s an amazing answer. Thank you for that. To switch gears a little, let’s talk about your new series out which I think definitely displays some of those elements you’ve so eloquently discussed. “Savage Things” which you draw, and is written by the one and only Justin Jordan, hit shelves on March 1st. Did you and Justin know each other much prior to working on the book? Was it an arranged marriage by Vertigo? How did your collaboration come about?

Savaeg_Things_1
Savage Things #1

IM: Justin and I had met here in Portland back in 2012 or so at a great indy comics show we used to have here called Stumptown. We’ve bumped into each other a few times since then on Twitter, and I’ve been a fan of his work since I first read “Luthor Strode” but when our editor Jamie S. Rich reached out to me to draw the book he facilitated a wonderful reunion for the two of us. So, pretty much an arranged marriage and the dowry was a super-dope book that I get to draw

MK: I love it when an arranged marriage blossoms into true love and kick ass action sequences.

IM: (Laughs)

MK: If someone asks you to describe “Savage Things,” what’s been your favorite answer to give?

IM: “Savage Things” is what you get when a bunch of Dexters are kidnapped and raised by the government to be Jason Bourne.

MK: That’s maybe the most badass way of summing up a book I’ve ever heard. Here’s a two-parter: What’s been one of the most challenging and what’s been your favorite thing to draw so far for the series?

IM: The book is full of excellent opportunities to create cool action sequences, and I think that’s been my favorite part so far. There have also been a few types of locations I’ve never never drawn before (a hospital, a power plant, a few others) so that’s been a fun challenge.

The most difficult thing has been figuring out how to draw expressive faces on sociopaths (laughs).

MK: That seems like a challenge on several levels (laughs). Can you perhaps tease us about something readers should be super excited to discover in issue two and beyond?

IM: Yes! The next few issues pitt our lead character, Abel, against six of the other sociopathic, trained murderers that he grew up with. So as you can imagine, issue one was just a tease at some of the brutality that these guys are capable of, especially toward each other. By the end of issue three, we pull back the lens and broaden the scope of the battle quite a bit. I’m very excited!

MK: Man, I can’t wait to see how you and Justin up the ante! Final two questions before our time’s up:

1) For someone new to comics, what are five essential must reads you’d recommend?

2) For all things Ibrahim Moustafa, “Savage Things,” and your ridiculously amazing James Bond posters, where can fans keep up with you on social media and the web? (Seriously, his James Bond posters kind of cray cray. Don’t believe me, click here!)

IM: 1) This is a tough one! These are certainly slanted toward things that I love, so your mileage may certainly vary.

Scalped” is my favorite book of all-time. It’s a crime drama a la “Breaking Bad” or “The Wire.” Anyone can dive right into it.

“Kingdom Come”: I read this pretty early on and loved it. There are a ton of references and characters in it, but as long as you know who Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Shazaam are, the rest falls into place.

The Losers” is a great book if you love action movies with fun characters, a cool story/lots of intrigue.

Old Man Logan” is almost a companion piece to “Kingdom Come” in that it’s a look at a possible future, full of cool stuff and references but mainly if you know the X-Men and the Avengers, you’re solid.

Batman: Year One.” One of the greatest comics ever made and a perfect primer for Batman fans looking to give the comics a try.

2) I’m on twitter at: @Ibrahim_M_ and my official site is http://theartofibrahimmoustafa.blogspot.com/

MK: Ibrahim, you’re a class act, thank you for being so generous and gracious with your time in joining me in our first Creative Conversation.

Check out “Savage Things #1” now and get ready for “Savage Things #2,” on shelves Wednesday, April 5th, 2017. Stay tuned for our next…Creative Conversation.

Please send love/hate messages to Matthew via Twitter @matthewklein316 and on Instagram. Matthew loves all things Batman, Valiant, and pro-wrestling related. He’s also pretty sure that it’s not recommended to spend more waking hours watching reruns of “Chuck” than sleeping but hasn’t been able to prove this theory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. Ultimate collection

51mCJ6NnvVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E., The Ultimate Collection

Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger,  Dave McCraig

Marvel $34.99

It’s rare for me to cover a re-release of material that isn’t too hard to track down, but NEXTWAVE is a rare exception. Originally released in 2005, this 12 issue maxi-series was part parody part…..well okay it was all parody, but even so, it managed to be one of the best super hero books Marvel published around that time, and probably ranks in the top 20 off all time. For a book that Marvel tried sweeping under the rug continuity for a number of reasons, it certainly had it share of influences, as seen as recent as both Secret & Mighty Avengers and helped launched the career of the already talented but underrated at the time Stuart Immonen. Nextwave is arguably my favorite work of writer Warren Ellis, which says a lot, give my love of his massive library of comics material, but there’s some so fun and simple about the book that makes it very appealing to me.

For those of you who sicken me and have not yet read NEXTWAVE, allow me to sell you on the book. NEXTWAVE is the tale of 4 D-list super heroes and the Captain, who was created just for this series, who find out their employers H.A.T.E, is also funded by the same company backing the terrorist group S.I.L.E.N.T. . Our heroes, consisting of Elsa Bloodstone, Machine Man Aaron Stack, Boom-Boom and one time Avengers leader Monica Rambeau, decide to go rogue and put and end to the Beyond corporations doing, only to face some of the weirder elements of the Marvel Universe, both old and original. Their chief antagonist is one Dirk Anger, who’s as you can tell from the name is a Nick Fury stand in with a couple dozen screws loose. He’s kind of the best, but I won’t post any panels featuring him, as I would like any potential new readers to go into this book blind and witness his glory unspoilied.

next-wave-11-001Drawing Nextwave is Stuart Immonen, who would go one to replace Mark Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man after this, and is now drawing Star Wars. This isn’t Immonen’s finest work, as he’s constantly improving as an artist,  but its the first instance of him getting a little more looser and animated with his style. Immonen’s art is none the less perfect for this book, as he captures the insanity that Ellis’ script demands perfectly, giving us everything from Sentiment Broccoli men to X-men dinosaurs. Nextwave’s semi-cartoony look is perfect for the type of story being told, and still holds up after a decade. Inking Immonen is long time his someone who’s inked most of his work over the last few years, Wade Von Grawbadger, who kept the book looking bold and clean, and managing to keep all tiny  details From Immonen’s pencils in. The book was colored by Dave McCraig, who keeps the book looking bright and fun, despite the horror his collaborators induce..

Nextwave-1Warren Ellis’ writing is unmistakable on this title. Everything from the humor, to the violence to the insanity of some of the concepts are SO Warren, that it’s amazing that Marvel let him get away with what he did. The script and dialogue is a nonstop assault on you eyes, tossing out jokes in nearly every other panel or letting the art’s amazing visuals blow your mind. There’s also some genuinely DARK moments towards the end of the run that will catch you off guard, and are resolved in way that would feel lazy with any other writer, but works given what Ellis has established over the previous issues. While NEXTWAVE isn’t as complex as some of Ellis’ creator owned works, allowing him to play with Marvel’s toys for only 12 issues with some set rules also results in some of his finest work.

Before there was a Hawkeye or even an Immortal Iron Fist, NEXTWAVE was proof that some of Marvel’s best material is a result of just letting creators do their own thing. It’s a book that feels a lot like that fantastic Bruce Timm Justice League animated series, only with no name characters and slightly more mature content. If you’ve never read it, I can’t recommend it enough, as you can go with without knowing nothing about the characters, and still enjoy the whole thing. It’s a fantastic read that’s aged, quite well, and definitely one of my favorite comics. #RIPSpecialbear

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics Belated edition part 1

Hey gang, sorry for the late of updates since Year Zero, but between Special Edition NYC and Heroescon (and the best BBQ), I haven’t been near a keyboard in awhile. Hopefully I’ll be all caught up with things by Wednesday.

sa4Secret Avengers #4

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

This month: Hawkeye, Nick Fury Jr, and a bunch of disposal SHIELD agents hunt a “The Fury” in a lawless Chinese City that disappeared 20+ years ago. It’s an Alien parody of sorts that’s high concept comics at its finest. Also Fury hunting the Fury sounds like slash fic, no I am not sorry for that joke.

While Ales Kot & Michael Walsh cut back on the comedy for an issue that’s more action-sci-horror, this comic is still entertaining as hell. There’s some laughs thanks to  MODOK mad science team  and the Hawkguy, but for the most part this comic plays it straight to help sell the horror/action aspects of the books. And it succeeds because the final product results in a brutal fight scene that also raises the question of how much Maria Hill and MODOK are the same in some aspects.  In terms of methodology, not so much visually. There’s also some weird stuff in this issue that SHOULD be considered a joke, but is played completely straight, making Secret Avengers that much more of interesting read.

While Kot continues to deliver top notch dialogue and plot, Walsh & colorist Matt Wilson continue to shine on this title. Kot channels some Chris Samnee this issue, and while the action scenes aren’t as dynamic and unique as the previous issue, they’re still strong enough to sell how creepy the Fury is. Wilson’s dark color palate really helps set the ton for this issue, primarily using blue, purples and blacks. Again, Aliens homage y’all.

Tradd Moore supplies another excellent cover to another excellent issue of Secret Avengers. While not as quirky as the last one, the stakes are raised with issue #4, which is another solid comic by this creative team.

 

portrait_incredibleAll New X-Men #28

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99 

Nothing says father’s day like the X-Men of the past fighting the Son of Charles Xavier right?

Daddy Issues aside ( J/K, this comic has a ton of them), this chapter continues to give more much needed characterization to the future brotherhood that could have helped improve the overall quality of Battle of the Atom. The Future Brotherhood’s motivations are fleshed out more, and amongst the reveals is how certain characters are alive, and why they’ve been acting the way they are. It’s some really good stuff by Bendis, who really gotten this book back on track as of late.

And while Bendis regains his footing, Stuart Immonen continues to impress. While his art has never really faltered at any point in this run, there is two particular pages, a double spread and the final page reveal that are great, and shows how well this creative team works together. The colors especially, because despite this book primarily drowning in red, are super sharp.

TLDR: Business as usual with this title. Which is good, because business is good comics.

 

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Of Puppycats and X-men

NOTE: In  addition to the books I’m taking a look at this week, I also picked up the second issue of Boom’s Lumberjanes. It’a  great book, but real life hasn’t given me much time to write comics this weekend. Expect a proper review next weekend.

 

portrait_incredibleSecret Avengers #3

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

 

A “True Detective” reference Secret Avengers? Oh you shouldn’t have (That is a lie, always cater towards my interests please.).

 

Now that our team is assembled, the Secret Avengers are free to begin saving the world (in secret obviously). Not exactly a ground breaking concept I know, but what that actually means is that the team can now make fun of Hawkeye (“The Troubled One” as described by Maria Hill), throw down with Lady Bullseye, and make friends with sentient bombs. Yes, I’m well aware that last part sounds a little crazy, but keep in mind, this is a book with MODOK in it, so it’s not that bizarre if you really think about it.

 

Michael Walsh’s art is an absolute delight in this issue, and one of the reason it works so well is thanks to Matthew Wilson coloring. There’s some panels where only one color is used (the first page of the comic, several panels during the Black Widow/ Lady Bullseye fight), and it’s really striking. Walsh is no slouch either mind you, and the pages inspired by old school video games and really really cool. The art works we’ll with Ales Kot script, which is equally clever and humorous. And Tradd Moore’s cover is perfect, really highlighting the madcap atmosphere of this comic.

 

Secret Avengers continues to be the perfect book for fans eager for books that similar to Hawkeye, as well as ones that maintain the charm of the cinematic Marvel Universe. More comics could benefit with having talking bombs in their cast.

 

 

Bee-and-PuppyCat-Cover-ABee and Puppycat #1

Natasha Allegri/Garret Jackson/Madeleine Flores

KaBoom, $3.99

I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m a little let down by Bee and Puppycat’s comic debut. The animated short from last year was a delight, and the announcement of this mini series had my hopes set high, especially with Natasha Allegri involvement. Allergi’s comics debut with last year’s Fionna and Cake mini-series was excellent, but I found the first issue of Bee and Puppycat suffered from some awkward pacing and a bit of the ol’ decompression.

That being said, the book looks great, and the humor is swell. Bee, our magical girl temp worker, is a hot awkward mess of an adult, and it’s something that Allegri manages to capture perfectly in the comic. Puppycat, her magical dog-cat, is as cute as it’s animated counterpart, but without the audio element of the show in this book (animated Puppycat is voiced by the Japanese Vocaloid synthesizer program, which is super cute), it loses some of its charm. And again why the humor and visuals are great, I found the plot kind of dragging, paling to the narrative of the back up story. The backup story, by Madeline Flores, is excellent, and is a cute follow up to the animated short. Flores’ art is very expressive, and her choice to keep Puppycat silent works well. I’m actually more excited to see how that story wraps up than I am with the main.

Bee and Puppycat isn’t a bad comic but it pales to the recent released Fionna and Cake themed Adventure Time annual, and this week’s issue of Lumberjanes. Fans will find some enjoyment in it, but there’s little to sell people on not familiar with the property aside from the art.

All-New_X-Men_Vol_1_27_TextlessAll New X-Men

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Wade Von Grawbager/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

An incredibly DENSE issue from Bendis and Immonen, this issue of All New X-Men does a lot right.  Two of the underused characters introduced in last year’s Battle of the Atom event are fleshed out in a flashback, there’s another mystery plot line touched upon and a ton of action as the X-men find them under attack. It’s a lot for 20 pages of content, but Bendis paces it well, letting Stuart Immonen’s pencils to the talking when need be, and saving the large chunks of dialogue he’s known for the break from the action. The colors from Marte Gracia, in conjunction with the heavy black inks from Wade Von Grawbadger mix well, and help Immonen’s art give the sense of urgency and chaos this issue needs.

All New X-Men has really found its footing after dragging its heels for a few months. I’m really glad to see it, and hope this kind of quality continues to be present in the series.

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Toys Toys, but with Comics: #Ladies

Getting straight to the reviews this time around. Hope you enjoyed FCBD, I’m still salty there was ZERO Carol Danvers in that Guardians book. >:(

allnewxmen26cvrAll New X-Men

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Wade Von Grawbadger/Marte Gracia

Marvel $3.99

I am pleased.

I’ve been on the verge of dropping All New X-Men as of late. As much as I like Stuart Immonen‘s art, the constant crossover left me burnt out, and Uncanny’s recent hot streak wasn’t doing its sister book any favors. However we’re back to basics with issue 26, and that’s a very good thing for fans of the book named Chris Troy, and probably some others I imagine.

This issue is very light on the action and heavy on the drama. Which may turn some people off, because let’s face it, it wouldn’t be the first talking heads Brian Michael Bendis comic. However, soap opera drama has always been a big part of the X-mythos (seriously where have you’ve been, how did you not know this, tsk tsk ), so seeing adult Scott talk to young Jean while X-23 pines for the absent young Scott works for me, despite being a tad creepy. Please note that Cyclops is like one of my top 3 Marvel characters, so this sort of thing is my jam.

There’s only so many ways I can point out how great Stuart Immonen‘s art is (So great, thanks to Wade Von Grawbadger and Marte Gracia), so I’ll just continue to point out what else I like about this issue. No wait, I lied, I want to talk about how perfect those first few pages are. There’s a nice Double Spread that kicks this issue off, which shows exactly how effective an artist Immonen can be. It’s haunting (the desire effect I imagine), and the use of colors really helps to sell the scene. From there, continuing to praise there’s some really solid use of darkness and light for the next few panels/pages that really help build tension. There’s also an impressive use of white space when it comes to a snow scene later one, which serves as how sometimes less is more with panel composition. Also man, peep that cover, and tell me the way Jean’s “new” powers is not dope.

With a great intro and a solid cliffhanger for an ending, the current story arc for All New X-Men is off to a great start!

 

 

KABOOM_Adventure_Time_2014_Annual_AAdventure Time 2014 Annual

Frank Gibson/Becky Dreistadt/Ian McGinty

KaBoom $4.99

DID YOU KNOW: I am a fan of people I like working on characters I like! See any discussion I’ve praising Fraction/Aja on Hawkeye, which is akin to a verbal and or written handjob for proof of this.

So when you take Frank Gibson and Becky Dreistadt of the webcomic Tiny Kitten Teeth , as well as Penny Arcade, and but then on Fionna & Cake, and then make the tiny adorable babies, I will throw money at you. Assuming you are a comics retailer what sell said comic, I don’t earn enough to be throwing money around like that.

Anywho, the 2014 Adventure Time annual is printed horizontally, much like those Marvel-vision annuals of the 2000s. Also quick sidenote, if you’ve never read one of those, make sure it involves Grant Morrison and the X-Men, otherwise you’re wasting your time. The way it’s printed, combinbed with Dreistadt’s beautiful printed art, give the book a Sunday newspaper feel, which is neat. And the story is super cute and super fun, focusing in Baby Fionna and Baby Cake’s first major adventure. The art reminds me a lot of the Paper Mario series of video games, and the writing remains faithful to Fionna and Cake’s established voices. It’s the perfect type of all ages story, and a tremendous example of how great comics as story-telling device can be.

 

Ian McGinty contribute 6 single page stories to the annual which are a hoot. His art is more in style to Adventure Time “house”-style than Dreistadt’s, and very charming. He’s able to tell a quick story in anywhere from 5 panels, to a more impressive 10 panels on a single page, and the use of supporting characters is some solid fan service for fans.

For $5, AT Annual 2014 is worth every penny. It’s a charming and fun read, and it looks great. Perfect for fans of the show, and people who like great comics.

 

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Troy’s Toys, But With Comics SPRINGGGGGG!

Oh sure, it’s super grey outside at the moment, but spring is finally here! It’s in the 40s, the cat is growling at birds it can’t get at and I get to be mad at the Yankees in real time in 2 days. I’ll gladly take subpar baseball over snow any day.

Before we get into comics, let me state that the first Rat Queens collection dropped this past week, and it is excellent. I usually try to stay on top of new Image debuts, but this one missed my radar somehow. So I dropped the $10 and bought the first trade and am more than pleased with it. I’ll try to do a proper review during the week, but this book is buy on site great.

OTHER BOOKS WHAT SHIPPED THAT YOU MAY LIKE:

Empowered Special #6

Furious #3

Might MGMT #20

Tomb Raider #2

Adventures of Superman #11

Aquaman #29

Sandman Overture #2

Wake #7

Legends of Red Sonja #5

Rocky and Bullwinkle #1

Deadly Class #3

Fatale #21

Sex #12

Walking Dead #124

All New Ghost Rider #12

Amazing X-men #5

Deadpool #26

Superior Spider-Man #30

Bravest Warriors #18

Hacktivist #3

 

REVIEWS

portrait_incredibleAll New X-men 24/Guardian of the Galaxy 13

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Sara Pichelli/David Marquez

Marvel $3.99

Note- All New X-men 24 shipped 2 weeks ago.

Despite my problems with the earlier chapters of this crossover, the final 2 chapters of “The Trial of Jean Grey” were very much what I wanted from this event. Heavy on the action, some genuinely excellent interactions between the 2 casts and amazing visuals by Immonen, Pichelli and Marquez make this the type of crossover I wanted to read.

That being said, this mini-event still has some problems. The announcement of the new young Cyclops on-going series really spoils the impact of the last 3 pages, which is a shame. Also despite this being a crossover, it really felt more like an X-event guest starring the Guardians. Maybe something from this event will affect this title more down the road, but chances are I won’t be reading GoTG to see it play out. And truth be told, this could have done in 4 issues, opposed to 6.

The Trial of Jean Grey wasn’t the worst thing I read in recent history, but All New X-men really tired from back to back crossovers. There’s been more than enough new ideas and concepts introduced in this book that need to be fleshed out more. Hopefully with the next few issues can get the book back to being as good as it was when it first debuted, otherwise I’m dropping it.

avengers_assemble__25_by_zurdom-d71ie6xAvengers Assemble 25

Kelly Sue Deconnick/Warren Ellis/Matteo Buffagni/Neil Edwards/ Raffaele Ienco

Marvel $3.99

Nothing detracts from one’s enjoyment of a comics more than bad art, which brings us to the final issue of Kelly Sue Deconnick’s Avengers Assemble run. It’s a shame, because the script and dialogue written by KSD and Warren Ellis is fun, clever, and puts a nice little bow on this run. Sadly, it’s ruined by 3 different artists, who are very different stylistically. The usually relibale Matteo Buffagni’s pencils look rush and overly-simplistic, as does Neil Edwards, who’s Bryan Hitch-esque art couldn’t be any more different than Matteo’s. Raffaele Ienco‘s art is easily the best, but he only draws the final 2 pages. A shame, as DeConnick and Ellis deserved better for their final issue.

 

1000093043Hawkeye 18

Matt Fraction/Annie Wu/Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel, $2.99

Well that escalated quickly!

Kate Bishop’s California adventure has taken a turn for the worse in issue 18, as we finally learn more about the mysterious cat food man.  It’s a brutal issue, as Annie Wu really steps up her visual game. Her art on this book has been nothing short of great, but Wu really out does herself in this issue, especially in the facial expression area.

Aside from looking great, Hawkguy 18 touches upon some seed planted earlier in the book, as the story arc becomes full circle. Once again, Kate finds herself in scenario that’s entirely on her, which was the type of thing she left NYC to avoid. Seeing her Clint Barton-free life parallel Clint’s  has been really funny so far, but that red in their collected ledgers (GET IT, IT’S AN AVENGERS REFERENCES!) is beginning to cost people their lives. It’s fun to see Matt Fraction bring everything full circle, in what will probably result in one hell of a showdown in a few issues.

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Troy’s Toys, But With Comics: Down Set Fuse

I am entirely too proud of that title.

the-fuse-01web-The Fuse

Antony Johnston/Justin Greenwood/Shari Chankhamma/Ed Brisson

Image/$3.50/ 30 pages

Weekly Chris Confession: I had every intention to skip over “The Fuse” this week, figuring I could trade wait it if it was ant good. But then the Twitter buzz for this book hit crazy levels, and I like Antony Johnston’s “Wasteland” series a ton, so I figured there was no harm in picking up the first issue at the very least.

Needless to say, I was very pleased with that decision.

First thing first: That cover. Simplistic, bold and VERY clever once you read the issue and figure out what it signifies. “Smart” is arguably the best way to describe this book;  a murder mystery set on a space station is a cool premise, and the actual execution is brilliant. It’s a good book, full of potential, and it reminds me a lot of “Powers” when that first came into the scene. So your typical Image debut issue in a way.

My only beef with this debut is the art. For the most part it’s pretty good, a more animated version of Sean Murphy’s art. It’s intentionally “ugly” which works for a crime book, and a lot of environments and character expressions are good,  but it’s disappointing when the scale and anatomy are off, or when things like eyebrows aren’t colored or inked properly or at all. Certain panels and pages look rushed at times, which really took me out of the story when I read it.

If you told me that “The Fuse” was originally published in 2000 AD or something, I would have believed it. Johnston states it’s an influence in the book’s final pages and it shows. My issues with the art aside, it’s a good debut, I’m just been spoiled by a ton of amazing #1s from Image over the last 2 years. Your mileage may vary,  and it’s a good read, but I’m going to the trade route with it.

3581036-all_new_x-men_23_keown_variantAll New X-Men

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Wade Von Grawbadger/Marte Gracia

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

For all of my problems with this crossover, I could deal with Stuart Immonen drawing the Shi’ar-related characters 5-EVER!

Part 3 of this crossover is here, and it’s kinda cliche. Now that our heroes are united, they’re attacked by their common foe, and something that’s been explained to us repeatedly is now explained to Jean Grey. It feels lazy and drawn out, despite it being really good looking. And prop’s to colorist Marte Gracia, the book’s colors look darker than usual, which makes a ton of sense given the fact that it’s in space and all that. It goes really well with the tone and the setting of the book, and it only does the pencil and ink art justice.

And to be book’s credit, the ending tosses in a neat twist (one that was immediately spoiled for me by the announcement of a new book debuting in May). And there are some good humorous bits in it too, but the character’s voices all lack variety. A familiar frustration that comes with Bendis-penned comics as time and feels super decompressed, something that could be resolved in 2 or 3 issues and not five. And like I said, a bunch of questions promised to be resolved at another time or in another book, it only adds insult to injury. We’ve seen better on this book, which is already suffering from crossover fatigue. We deserve better as readers.

Sorry for being a little late this week, holiday weekend and all that. I still have Oni Press’ “Down. Set. Fight” to read, and Toy Fair news to deal with. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on everything later this week though!

-The super behind schedule Chris Troy writes for Forbidden Planet on a weekly basis, and can be found on a variety of social media related thiniges @theanarchris

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Troy’s Toys But With Comics 1/22/14 edition

So we’re all on board for killing the winter/the snow yes? Because we need to.

hawkeye16658Hawkeye #16

Matt Fraction/Annie Wu/Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel, $2.99, 20 pages

Hawkeye‘s back this week! Sorta….David Aja still needed time to finish up issue #15, so we’re jumping ahead to #16 for another Kate Bishop adventure, which I’m of 2 minds about.

Kate’s new status quo in the book leads to another fun done and one, which sees Lady Hawkguy dealing with a pair of aged dueling pop stars.Matt Fraction’s channeling some of his Casanova work here with this premise, only there’s more way more humor and less trans-dimensional jumping, and arguably the best “Champions”-related joke in years. And we get to see more of Kate’s LA supporting cast, which is great is you’re a fan of world building.

IMG_00382My problem with this issue is that it’s very…disjointed at the end. There’s a solid gag or 2, but the pacing feels rushed, so the landing doesn’t stick. Again, far from a bad issue, it’s just stink that the issue kind of falls apart at the end.

What does work is the team of Annie Wu and Matt Hollingsworth. Their Los Angeles is bright, fill with various shades of blues and purples and is a stark contrast from Clint Barton and David Aja’s New York. And Wu’s Kate Bishop is awesome. Very expressive, trendy and fluid. She looks like a believable 18 year old vigilante.

Again, Hawkeye #16 is a good comic. I’m just spoiled by it being a GREAT comic for months.

MARVELCoverTemp copy.indtPretty Deadly #4

Kelly Sue Deconnick/Emma Rios/Jordie Bellaire

Image, 20 pages, #3.50

Damn this book is brutal.

Team Pretty Deadly continues to deliver the most intense fight scenes in comics since the 2nd issue, which doesn’t come as a complete surprise given how talented Emma Rios is. And paired with Jordie Bellaire’s amazing colors, the damage these characters take looks extra vicious, but never too grotesque. It earns it’s M for Mature rating.

Kelly Sue Deconnick and Team Pretty Deadly are crafting quite the tale. After a slow and vague start, this series has really ramped up in terms of progression, fleshing out the characters, building the world and answering questions. There’s still some weirdness to it, but it’s welcomed, as it’s very much the type of weird one would find in Sandman, rather than being weird for weirdness sake.

What started off as something as a revenge-driven  narrative  has definitely shown that there’s more life in this story, even with the first arc wrapping up next month. Pretty Deadly has been on fire for months, and much like it’s publisher.

backgroundAll New X-men 22.Now

Brian Bendis/Stuart Immonen/Wade Von Grawbadger/Marte Gracia

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

Stuart Immonen’s return aside, my expectations for this issue were pretty low. 22.NOW is the lead in for yet another crossover (SIGH), this time with Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy book. It’s worth noting that both of these books have movies coming out this summer, so the writings on the wall as to why, at least from an editorial stand point.

The books starts of with 6 pages of X-drama, and the remainder of the book is all action all the time. Immonen and friends pull no punches with their return on the art , as the book looks great. You’ll be surprised how much detail is crammed into a salad of all things! And Marte Gracia’s are great, as the book really pops on a visual level. Bendis, meanwhile delivers a solid script,  and his RUN D.M.C. love is noted.

While I’m still a little fatigued from Battle of the Atom, I’m definitely intrigued by the opening chapter of The Trial of Jean Grey. It only being 6 chapters definitely keeps my hopes up, and the artists attached to it certainly have me excited. Hopefully this one ends as well as it starts.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Top 5 for 2013 part 1

Happy post-whatever you celebrated/are celebrating “dear” reader. The Santa-man was pretty good to me this year, which was nice because Christmas is expensive y’all.

So yeah, it’s the final week of 2013, and my video game cup run overfloweth. Which means time to crap out one of those best-of lists. I’ve usually done such for action figures and toys, but it’s been a pretty lackluster year for me and toys. Let’s just say that Armored Red Power Ranger was the best toy to drop, kay?

 

2013 for comics however, was great. Super great in fact. I could have easily made this a top 10 and coasted on a list for like 4 weeks. You should expect a runner’s up list at some point though. Because lazy. Anyways, let’s get show on the road.

 

jul1309615) Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake

by Natasha Allegri (Boom Studios) and a whole bunch of rad people.

Boom Studios is doing all-ages comics right with their Cartoon Network/Cartoon Hangover books, successfully merging indie & webcomics talent with popular properties. And honestly, from a quality standpoint Regular Show, Adventure Time or Bravest Warriors could have taken this spot, but I connected with the Fionna & Cake in ways I haven’t with those titles. And given the success of this book and the popularity of Fionna and Cake, I’m probably not the only one.

7dd7fd82a640bbc00cfddffff5c1efa3It’s all thanks to animator Natasha Allegri, who you may know from her recent and super successful Bee and PuppyCat Kickstarter. Aside from creating the pair, she handles writer/artist duties on the main stories in this mini  and her work is phenomenal. Not unlike Saga, her layouts are more like a children’s storybook than a comic books, and the range of emotion she displays in her characters is fantastic. I know saying “So cute!” may sound like I’m doing this book a huge disservice, but I swear it’s not, despite wanting to hug several of the cast member. Just flip through the book and look at the thing Allegri does with Cake the Cat’s expression and form to be amazed. It’s also legitimately hilarious and sweet, a credit to Allegri’s talent.  That’s not to saying that the the back-up comics aren’t also fantastic, it’s just Natasha is playing on a whole different level here with the main plot, which involves a diminutive flame prince, some boys, and evil ice queen and a prince who is both lumpy and from space . The end result is a fantastic bunch of comics, which is a win for everyone.

A simple thing like changing the gender of the cast usually doesn’t end in results like these, but Natasha is damn good, and does more than just tell stories that are all “THEY’RE GIRLS SO LOL BOYS, FLOWERS AND SHIT”. The source material is very progressive and so is this comic, to the surprise of no one I imagine. Which is just another reason why it’s the BEST mini-series in 2013, at least to me.

all-new-x-men-covers4) All New X-men/Uncanny X-men

Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Chris Bachalo and others (Marvel Comics)

On paper, All New X-men sounds like a hot mess (despite the guarantee that X-books will always sell) . Taking the original Kirby/Lee era X-men and dragging them to the modern Marvel era sounds lazy, and at best maybe good for a few issues before the continuity baggage ways the book down. I had my reservations going into this book, aside from the art because Stuart Immonen and Chris Bachalo always delivers.

And then I was proven wrong. So very wrong, and that’s fine, because that’s okay.

UNCANNYXMEN1Teaser_cropWe don’t get New Avengers-era Bendis/Immonen here. It’s Ultimate Spider-Man level quality here, only thing time set in the 616 with the entire X-universe at it’s disposable. Which means heavy on the Kitty Pryde and the snark, which I am so okay with. It means Stuart Immonen being the best at what he does, which is draw the living hell out of the Marvel Universe.  It also means Brian Michael Bendis has a whole bunch of new toys to play which, some of which are the best that Marvel has to offer. It also means we get Uncanny X-men, which sees Chris Bachalo and Bendis take on Cyclops, his renegade X-men and a whole slew of new mutants, and it’s GREAT.

For the most part, Marvel NOW! was a huge success for Marvel by shaking things up creatively. None have benefitted better than the X-men under Bendis, which is true because Hawkeye and Daredevil weren’t rebooted. These books are giant love letters to the likes of Kirby, Claremont, Cockrum, Byrne and a few dudes who have the last name Lee, without being clever rehashes. They’re loud, funny and over-dramatic, like any good X-book. And under Immonen, Bachalo and the occasional guest artist, they’re some of the best looking books coming out from Marvel. They’re a ton a fun to read, and I’m geniunely excited to see where Bendis and company take their characters next.

 

That wraps up part 1. Expect Part 2, aka “The Matt Fraction Power Hour” to go live within a day or 2.

 

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Troy’s Toys, but with Comics: Triple X Edition

Obviously yes, I am still experimenting with titles for this thing.

Amazing_X-Men_-1Amazing X-men #1

Jason Aaron/Ed McGuinness

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

I’ll admit, I’m a little late to this party, mostly because I initially overlooked this title last week. I’m already pulling a ton (2) X-titles on monthly basis, so I figured I could trade wait Amazing. But then I got a free digital code for it, and decided to check it out, because free is great.

With that explained, let’s me start off with saying the Ed McGuinness‘ art is PERFECT in this book. His style, a mixture of classic John Byrne and 90s Capcom, really captures the script well, the character looks iconic and fresh. Also his BAMFS are super cute. The strong inks and colors only improve it, and Amazing is already on par with it’s sister books, which says a lot given the talent attached to those books. It’s nice to see Ed given a chance to work with a writer I really dig, sorry not sorry Jeph Loeb.

Veteran X-writer Jason Aaron‘s script is also flawless, mixing action and comedy for a perfect first issue. Bringing back a beloved fan-favorite character like Nightcrawler is no simple task, but these creators definitely meet and surpass those expectations. With Wolverine and the X-men ending in a few months, Amazing X-men is positioning itself quite well as the heir to the most dynamic X-book on the stands.

 

All-New_X-Men_Vol_1_18_TextlessAll New X-men #18

Brian Michael Bendis/ Stuart Immonen

Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages

Kitty Pryde and the original X-men find themselves in a new school, new uniforms and new classmates this week in ANXM. Fresh from Battle of the Atom, Benis and Immonen use this issue to set up the new status quo, as the X-kids deal with the insanity that’s gone down  over the last few months. This also means an insane amount of drama and a ton of dialogue, which is to be expected from a Bendis-penned X-book.

Stuart Immonen is probably my favorite artist working at Marvel at the moment, as the level of talent he brings to this book is crazy. He’s tasked with drawing an insane amount of X-men, and each of them are unique (well except 2 of the triplets, which is kind of the point) and dynamic, despite most of the issue involved mutants standing around and talking. The new uniforms, something my wife described as Power Rangers-esque, are really neat, although  would have preferred to see Jean in White and Gold instead of White and Green. Apparently I’m a costume fashion snob.

 

Brian Bendis’ script is a very by the numbers talking-heads-Bendis script. Which isn’t a bad thing mind you, as the title is coming off a crossover and needs some time to breathe. It’s just something we see a lot from Bendis. Regardless of what my snark may imply, it’s a cute issue to start off year 2 of ANXM, and I’m excited for the new issue dropping in a few short weeks.

portrait_incredible (2)X-Men Gold

Chris Claremont, Bob McLeod, Stan Lee, Louise and Walter Simonson, Roy Thomas, Pat Ollife, Len Wein, Fabian Nicieza, Salvador Larroca

Marvel, $5.99, 60 pages

X-men Gold is a one shot in honor of the X-men’s 50th Anniversary, and is basically classic X-men continuity porn.

Let me be honest, if you haven’t read a X-men book before Grant Morrison started writing for the franchise in 2001, this is not the book for you. The “newest” story in this book canon-wise is a Fatal Attractions tie-in/Onslaught prequel. Which kids, are events that happened in the mid 90s. It’s definitely a old-school throwback, and at times, not even a good one, at it comes across a tad sexist and racist depending on the story. And it’s worth noting that at least 14 of the 60 pages are previews for Amazing and All-New X-men. It’s not for everyone, and even the intended audience may have some problems with this one.

detail (1)Superior Foes of Spider-Man #5

Nick Spencer/Steve Lieber

Marvel $2.99, 20 pages

This book is perfection.

It really is! Everything from the cover to the last page is great, without a misstep in site. Spencer and Lieber’s formula is no different than the one BKV and Fiona Staples use over in Saga; start off awesome, and end with a crazy, shocking (no pun intended) cliffhanger. I don’t think I’ve read a heist in comics before this insane, nor hilarious. And the intro for this issue is CRAZY tense, and kind of gross, but in a good way.  This book is a blessing, and it’s gone from great to can’t miss in the span of 5 issues. This book is up there with Hawkeye and Daredevil in terms of quality, something I know I’ve said a number of times before, and will continue to say until sales and morale improves. I mean c’mon it’s like Forever Evil, only no I suppose not come to think of it, and actually good!

 

NEXT WEEK! SEX CRIMINALS, PROBABLY ANOTHER X-MEN BOOK, AND OH BOY, DAREDEVIL!

 

 

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Here I have bought some comics and NEW YORK COMIC CON WEEK!

In case you’re new here, it’s been established that I have much love for the hometown show known as NYCC. Granted PAX East and Heroescon are probably my favorite shows, NYCC is all the HYPE of SDCC and is only a subway ride away, making it TON more easier to get to than it’s west coast counterpart. More importantly, I’ve always had a great time at NYCC, so I’m excited for Thursday obviously! But we still have 4 days, so let’s take a look at what I dropped cash monies on this week. (Also make sure you swing by the store for the numerous signings and events we’re having over the next 7 days!)

3345294-17a

All New X-men 17

Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen

$3.99, Marvel, 20 pages

One of the biggest joys I’ve gotten out of Battle of the Atom is watching my wife read this event. She’s still new to cape comics/events in the 616, and seeing her lose her collective sh*t over BotA has been great, considering I’m jaded towards these sort of things, even the ones I like. Chapter 6 of BotA plays off of the reveal from Chapter 5, doing some world building for the X-men of the future. Bendis had been hyping up the issue on twitter for a week, and while you can argue it living up to said hype or not, it’s still a fun read. Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Marte Garcia are still doing some of the best work in their careers, as this book continues to be a visual treat. And if you’ve been reading the X-books for a awhile and there’s a nice little homage to Jason Aaron‘s first Wolverine and the X-men story, which I enjoyed . The 2nd month of Battle of the Atom is off to a strong start, and I can’t wait for Chapter 7 to drop on the eve of NYCC.

Superior_Foes_of_Spider-Man_Vol_1_4_Textless

 Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4

Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber

Marvel, $2.99, 20 pages

Superior Foes continues to impress, as the Sinister 5 run into the Heroes for Hire, and things do not go well for our leads. Which is good, because they’re villains and they’re not supposed to have good things happen to them, right? I may be confused about that.

Spencer and Lieber are still firings on all cylinders here, and 4 issues in, we can see/enjoy a few fantastic running gags these 2 have established. If you would have told me that Boomerang was going to be one of the breakout characters of 2013 before this book dropped, I would have laughed at you. Now I couldn’t agree that statement anymore, although I do have some love for the female Beetle as well. And if you’re expecting some nods to Luke Cage and Shocker’s run in the Thunderbolts, you’ll get it. And the 2nd half of this book is fantastic, fleshing out Boomerang a ton, only to throw a hilarious black-humor swerve on the final page. Again, if you like Hawkeye and Daredevil or B/C-list villains you need to be reading this. book.

 

9780785166580_p0_v2_s260x420

Avengers Arena Volume 2: Game On

Dennis Hopeless, Kev Walker, Jason Gorder and Riccardo Burchielli

Marvel, $15.99, collecting issue #7-12

The 2nd collection of Avengers Arena answers several questions the ultra violent series raised in the first volume, all of which are brilliant in their own ways. But then several more are raised,  delivering a twist that could change how we’ve all looked at the series this far. Hopeless is blessed with 3 different and VERY talented artists for this volume, all who maintain a fairly similar art styles, which is nice if you’re a fan of consistency. And with most 2nd tier/new characters being used, it’s nice that the stakes in this death game still remain high. Marvel’s teasing a 2nd season of this title under a new name (which should be revealed at NYCC this week). Possibly the most violent Marvel title not being published under the MAX label, Avengers Arena remains a delight, assuming you don’t mind a book with high body count.

 

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I have bought some comics, and now I’m taking a vacation

Little bit of news FPNYC Faithful, I’m going to Europe from 9/10-9/20. Meaning I’m not going to be talking comics with y’all for 10 days. Which means you’ll have to go to one of those other hundred websites that talk about Marvel comics, I KNOW, I’N SCARED FOR YOU TOO, BUT SOMETIMES LIFE IS HARD YOU GUYS.

It was a big week for the X-books as the first 2 chapters of “Battle of the Atom” dropped. Originally I was going to sit this one out and wait for the trade, but I’m an addict of sorts, so I figure I might as well pick up the first 2 issues to hold me over to December/January. And I’m glad I did, because they’re really solid. Chapter 1, the Battle of the Atom (Marvel, $3.99, 32 pages) one-shot is written be Brian Michael Bendis and joined by Frank Cho and Stuart Immonen, and Benis and Immonen handled chapter 2 as well over in All New X-men (Marvel, $3.99, 20 pages) . Props to Stuart Immonen who managed to bang out 24 pages between 2 books, as Cho couldn’t finish the BotA one-shot by himself. Regardless of art assists, the books look fantastic, as Cho doesn’t go too cheesecake (something he’s famous for) with part 1, and Stuart remains one of Marvel’s best artists, drawing dynamic page after dynamic page. Bendis isn’t a slouch either, his scripts are action packed, but don’t skimp out on the humor or drama either. BMB juggles the 4 teams quite well, and despite 50 years of X-comics, these books are super accessible.  Both these books are worth the $4, so if you’re not a X-men fan but want to check em out, I wholly encourage you to do so. And yes, unless you’re anti-Bendis or some nonsense, there’s plenty to enjoy if you’re a veteran X-fan too.

In non-X-Men Marvel news, the 3rd issue of the Superior Foes of Spider-Man (Marvel, 20 pages, $2.99) has been released and we’re all better for it. Hawkeye did not drop in August, and chances are we’ll be Hawkguy impaired in September as well, which sucks. SFoSM however has done a great job of filling the Hawkeye-sized hole in my heart, as the 3rd issue of this fantastic issue is comedic delight. Boomerang, our lead for this series,  manages to fill us in on the life of a low-tier Spider-Man villain, gets thrown out of his crew, hits up a meeting for Super Villains anonymous and gets a little revenge on his old “friends” all within 20 pages. Nick Spencer KILLS it with this book, as the humor is fantastic, and he gives Steve Lieber plenty of quality stuff to work with. And Lieber delivers too, as his expert pencils give us excellent visual gags that only enhance Spencer’s jokes. I know there’s no shortage of fantastic books at Marve these days, but Superior Foes is quickly making a name for itself amongst it’s peers, and is one of the most funs books Marvel’s been putting out as of late.

Oh hai Mark, it’s been awhile.

Released a week about, the latest Invincible collection dropped, collecting the landmark 100th issue of Robert Kirkman/Ryan Ottley‘s fantastic series. I use to buy this title monthly, but decided to go back to trade-waiting when I felt the book was getting a little stale. And I’m glad I do so, because coming back to it after a brief break only made me love this title again. Ryan Ottley is probably my favorite monthly artist on the stands these days, and watching him grow on his book over the year (artistically) has been a treat, as his action bits (and violence) are second to none. And Kirkman is great as well, reminding us all that the joys of a creator owned book mean the status quo can change on the dime. If you’re a fan of super hero books, there’s no excuse not to buy Invincible (unless you don’t like excessive violence, then yeah, I can understand why you may not be reading it). Even with it be being 100 issues deep, there are a ton of collection/omnibus’ in existence that can help you get caught up ASAP. I advice you do so.

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I have bought some comics, and some of them have won awards!

San Diego Comic Con is going down, and I am not there, but in hot-ass Brooklyn instead. Part of me is jealous of the dozen or so people I know who are in attendance, but then I realize it would cost me at least a grand for a hotel, flight and badge. Also Twitter enables me to follow the big announcements, sans the 30 second previews or what have you attached to them, so there’s that. It is a collection of mix feelings that happens annually, which I’ve yet to get over.

Oh look  Avengers: Age of Ultron is the sequel to the Avengers film. Huh, I guess Thanos is Act 3? :: shrugs ::

Anywho, the Eisners went down on Friday night, and several ( well, more like 4) books I pull took home awards. David Aja, artist on Hawkeye, took was awarded 2 of the industries’ highest achievements, AND HEY , LOOK, VOLUME 2 OF HAWKEYE IS AVAILABLE TO BUY, HOW WEIRD IS THAT TIMING?!

::: Puts on his king of the segues crown :::

Volume 2, in a word,  is amazing. Aside from the fantastic Pizza Dog issue, it also collects 2 of my favorite single issues, #6 (The Christmas issue) and #7 (the Hurricane Sandy issue). This trade is also BRUTAL, as the party is over for ol’ Hawkguy, as his actions from Volume 1 begin to catch up to him, and things are a lot worst for Clint by the time the trade ends. Matt Fraction continues to weave a wonderful narrative, and the always amazing David Aja is joined by talented artists like Annie Wu, Steve Lieber, Jesse Hamm and Francesco Francavilla. I think we’re all aware how much I like this book, and encase we’re not, there’s an annual dropping next week that I will definitely talk about in great detail.

Moving onto more recent single issue releases, Adventure Time #18 dropped this past week, and is another book that took home an Eisner. With good reason mind you, it’s easily the best all ages book on the market, with Ryan North, Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb all doing an excellent job capturing the feel and the look of the show. This issue is one of the densest issues to date, and fair warning, there’s a lot of callbacks to the newer episodes in the series. So if you’re not caught-up, you may be a little lost. It also ends on a hell of a cliffhanger, one that is equal parts disgusting, horrifying and a even little funny if you’re a sociopath like me. The back up by Rachel Edidin and Kel McDonald is also a delight, with McDonald’s art giving the AT cast a unique look, and Edidin’s story ends on amusing twist. Adventure Time remains a great, funny book, and is one of the few books I don’t mind pay $4 for.

Speaking of $4 books :: points to crown :: both Avengers Assemble #17 and All New X-men #14 have dropped, and these are both books that live and die by their artists. The AA/Captain Marvel crossover “The Enemy Within” is now almost over, and the AA chapters are easily the weakest, thanks to some unsatisfying art by Matteo Buffangi and Pepe Larraz. Which is a shame, because Kelly Sue Deconnick’s script is fine, and there’s a ton of stuff that goes down this issue. But it’s ultimately ruined by some less than stellar pencils, which is a shame, because we’ve seen how much a KSD script can shine with the right creator with the earlier issues of this run, not to mention Captain Marvel. Hopefully the whole thing will read better collectively, but if not, at least I have Barry Kitson to look forward to in the near future. Kelly Sue deserves better honestly, given how well she handles these characters, ranging from the A-listers to some more obscure guest stars. respecting their proper “voices” and making it a fun engaging read. Hopefully someone at Marvel will recognize that sooner that later.

Meanwhile, Stuart Immonen is INCREDIBLE over in All New X, as a mostly fight issue wraps up the 2nd chapter of this book. I know it’s not fair to compare this book to AA, especially when Brian Michael Bendis and Immonen work so well together, but it’s hard to ignore the difference in quality between the 2 books. All New X-men blends the required action and drama the franchise is known so well with Bendis’ great sense of comedic timing, and the final result is wonderful. Hell, even the Uncanny Avengers come off a light more delightful here than their own book. While Bendis’ Uncanny has been hit or miss at times, All New is probably the biggest surprise for me out of Marvel Now in terms of personal enjoyment.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 17: That Can Save Her People…

Funny story. My column ran long last week and Unkie Dev’s space got cut. Since then I have been wracked with guilt and completely unable to function in my daily life. I am overwrought with worry thinking about all you Unkie Dev Dev-iants who missed his thoughtful words and gentle demeanor. I have completely rethunked my whole column to try and make amends. Also the numerous death threats helped me see the issue more clearly. For this week I am doing a very special, micro-machines man-esque, super speed version of TRY SOMETHING NEW. Without further ado…

THE MASSIVE #1 is being rereleased for $1. Frontrunner for book of the year, Brian Wood does realistic global disaster from the POV of a radical environmental group hunting for a missing boat. There’s nothing like it on shelves and if you like the $1 issue you can buy the whole trade for just a bunch of dollars more. I know nobody wants to hear that this book has some light environmentalism themes so I won’t mention that. People shoot at each other though, you all like that. Read also: DMZ.

SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY. A friend of mine who works at Marvel lent me this and said it was the best Superman book of all time. That’s how good it is. It almost brokered the Marvel/DC peace accords. He was wrong though. ALL-STAR SUPERMAN is the best, but this is up there. A surreal tale of a young Clark Kent that will keep you guessing. Kurt Busiek can find the humanity in superheroes better than almost anyone, and Stuart Immonen can draw that just as well. Read also: ASTRO CITY

PUNK ROCK JESUS. Sean Murphy steps out of his own artistic shadow to become a powerhouse writer. The story of a clone of Jesus who quits his reality TV show and fronts a punk band may make you cringe, but Murphy handles it with aplomb. His art, as always, is brilliant. This one may not be for everyone but if it seems interesting to you now you will probably dig it. I think the ratio of people with mohawks in comics to people with mohawks in real life is crazy. This book doesn’t help that. Read also: AMERICAN JESUS vol. 1

MISS FURY #1. It seems like something changed over at Dynamite and their relaunched character books have either been getting much better or people are finally caring about them. Now they launch Miss Fury, a hero who ends up moving through alternate timelines after WWII. She may be lost, she may be crazy, she is definitely angry (Dynamite, call me. I can make this $#!% up all day: 212.473-1576). This book is good too because if you squint you can pretend you are reading Catwoman. Read also: CATWOMAN

MICE TEMPLAR vol. 4 #1. How &*(%!#@ weird is it that there is more than one book about mice with swords? I think it’s absolutely insane. It makes me feel like I am losing my mind. It’s hard to find comics with black characters in them and there are two books with sword wielding mice?!?! Both sword/mice books are good. This one has some great Michael Avon Oeming art. Read also: MOUSE GUARD (obviously…)

THANOS RISING #1. I once went on a long and moderately well received rant about how I think in some ways comic writers are too sheltered. Many just lack crazy life experiences and it shows in their writing. I said something about how I don’t want to read comics from anyone who has never been in handcuffs, or slept with a stranger, or been knocked unconscious, or had a gun pointed at them, or woken up on a strange floor, or seen a dead body, or crashed a car, etc… Rantings of an idiot, but my point remains. I don’t know if Jason Aaron has done any of those things but he sure writes like has. Now he is writing a Thanos origin story. I don’t know who thought a Thanos origin story was necessary but here it is. Read it and everything else Jason Aaron writes. Read also: SCALPED

UBER #0. There’s a lot of Nazi stuff in comics. Nazis are like mice with swords, they’re everywhere. Except in MAUS where the mice aren’t Nazis at all and there are no swords. Confusing. Most of the Nazi stuff I find to be boring and cliché. Heck, this is my second Nazi stuff book of this column, and this column only has stuff I like in it. But Kieron Gillen is a good writer and can take a tired cliché and shake it up enough to make it feel fresh and exciting. His new series finds Nazi superheroes entering the last days of WWII to CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY! Whoa. If that doesn’t excite you you should probably stick to books with mice and swords. Read also: PHONGRAM

HARBINGER WARS #1 is a crossover between Harbinger and Bloodshot. Both of those books are among the better offerings in superheroics right now. This, the first crossover of the Valiant Comics relaunch, is all set to be epic and hopefully gamechanging. If you have been reading both main books then this event is a no-brainer. If you haven’t then I don’t know why you would start here. The trades of both individual series are only $10 each. Start there. Read also: HARBINGER, BLOODSHOT.

50 GIRLS 50. Fantagraphics has been re-releasing old EC stuff in these really nice hardcovers. Now they are taking a shot at Al Williamson’s work. Ranging from sci-fi & fantasy, to horror and crime, this stuff is almost infinitely fun and readable. There are some Ray Bradbury stories in here, as well as some stuff that Frank Frazetta drew. All with great notes on EC and Williamson. This book is equal parts truly classic comics and amazing history lesson. Come for the arts, stay for the smarts. (Again, Fantagraphics, I will write taglines like this for you. I make up stuff this good like every day.) Read also: CORPSE ON THE IMJIN

‘TAIN’T THE MEAT…IT’S THE HUMANITY. I could write about how this is Fantagraphics collection of all of Jack Davis’ Tales From The Crypt stuff but instead I will just direct you to the title. Now I offer the theory that anyone who does not own a book called “’Tain’t The Meat… It’s The Humanity” deserves nothing of value in their lives. This stuff is funny, gross, creepy, and like nothing that has come since, but mostly it just has the single greatest title of all time. Ever. Including the future. Read also: CAME THE DAWN

Well that’s all for me now. I just got a tip from a friendly lady cop I used to run with that a guy matching the description of tech wizard/crazed mole person, Tyler, has been spotted in the abandoned Fulton Fish Market building. I just hope I can get to him before they do. Pray for us.

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