Tagged: Tom King

Batman Rebirth 25

Batman #25 Oversized With Old Favorite Foes

Batman‘s greatest failure is on display in this super-sized milestone, Batman #25.

DC Rebirth‘s primary series about the Dark Knight, scribed by Tom King, has been mostly on a steady incline in quality. We’ve had touches of a lot of great villains throughout the run bringing in heavy favorites with the likes of Catwoman, Bane, and Scarface. Now though, the series is ready to touch on a couple cornerstones of Batman’s rogues gallery with the new arc, “The War of Jokes and Riddles.” The title should give you a couple of the unsubtle hints as to who we expect will be the Big Bads of this latest story in Batman’s seventy-six year history. However, what we’re being promised isn’t just the next Joker or Riddler scheme, the creators are going to take us back and explore one of Batman’s worst moments in his career.

Last issue featured the a major development in the life of both Bruce Wayne and his vigilante name. Will this prove to be the perfect time to go down a trip of memory lane? What is causing the Caped Crusader to hit the pause button on moving forward? What will he hope to learn and what lessons will we want to take from revisiting this part of his past?

In his own voice, Batman will be narrating this, at least first, chapter of a story meant to invoke classics like Year One and The Long Halloween. If we are indeed going back to the more formative years of Batman’s time as the protector of Gotham then that should well be cause of celebration. While it hopefully won’t be as dense on a month to month basis as Zero Year was, it will be interesting to see what new aspects of Batman’s early days that DC Comics will allow King to expose. One thing’s for sure, if it’s as good as we hope this issue will be then the bi-monthly shipping schedule will definitely make the wait bearable for the next chapter.

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“The Button” Unites Batmen of Two Worlds In Batman #22

A Bat-family reunion across continuity in Batman #22

We’re halfway there. “The Button” has kicked into the next gear after the events of Flash #21 last week. What began in one Batcave has traveled to another’s via cosmic treadmill. The murder of Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, is taking the two greatest detectives in the DC Universe back to the timeline that kicked off the New 52 in the first place. Yup, it’s not Groundhog’s Day, it’s just Flashpoint. You’d think Barry Allen would have learned to quit tempting fate by traveling through time. You’d be have thought WRONG. Now, with Batman and Batman and Flash coming face to face to face, what secrets will be unveiled after the tantalizing final line of last week’s Flash #21?

 

The endgame isn’t anywhere close to clear yet. However, the journey’s been entertaining so far and we’re definitely on pace for a well executed next step as the world of Watchmen inches closer to the DC Universe. There’s no question that fans’ expectations have been high and rightfully so. There’s also little doubt that this story still has a lot in store for us, dear readers. The idea’s always been a fun one to play with since the possibilities of tying the two worlds together were inextricably linked back in DC Universe: Rebirth #1. The question is: What will Batman #22 have in store for us to keep the faith that DC’s grand plan is one we can continue to trust in? There’re no shortages of stories that promise consequences across shared universes but are we truly on the edge of such a tale? There’s really only one right way to find out: Keep reading.

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DC Rebirth’s Ticking Clock Starts As “The Button” Begins In Batman #21

DC’s two greatest detectives come together in Batman #21 as the mystery of “The Button” begins!

A good slow build is something we comic book readers don’t always appreciate nowadays. We’re becoming a culture of bingers who want the whole story on demand. It has to be on our time and oftentimes that means publishers rush through the journey. With “The Button” storyline that will take place across Batman and Flash over the next four weeks, DC Comics is looking to prove that sometimes the best things are ones we can endure waiting for.

At last, the next major step forward from the revelations of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 about the iconic smiley face button that appears in the Batcave will be explored! Will it bring the DCU that much closer to confronting the world of Alan Moore’s Watchmen? Well, we’ve been marching there all along haven’t we?

Rooted from last FCBD’s DC Rebirth story, then continuing with continuity-threatening revelations from DC Universe: Rebirth #1, this story has been building across several titles in DC for a year. Think about it, Mr. Oz and the events of the recent Superman Reborn storyline, the implications about Eobawd Thawne and Flashpoint-Batman, Thomas Wayne in Flash #19, the importance of Psycho-Pirate’s ability to remember all previous DC continuities throughout Tom King’s current run on Batman, it’s all building to this next major turning point.

Thawne, Thomas Wayne, and Psycho Pirate will be part of the mystery that Batman and Flash will be investigating. Time altering implications have been promised. This is the next major step forward in the two year epic that DC’s said will carry on across their entire publishing line. It’s no secret that after this story, Batman will realize that war is imminent. But war with who or what?

A kudos to DC, it’s not easy anymore to make us wait for all the answers but based on the quality of the breadcrumbs they’ve been leaving us, it definitely feels like the answers we’re about to get could be very satisfying. Of course, everything won’t be revealed over the next four weeks. After all, where’s the fun in that? Hey, maybe I’m wrong though, maybe what a Comedian once said is true, “This is a joke. This is all a joke.” If it is, will we be laughing or cringing when it’s done?

We’ll begin to find out in Batman #21.

 

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Graphic Spotlight: THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON VOL. 2: POW. POW. POW.

sob2

Deals with the devil rarely go right. See how the web of terror and intrigue ends in one of 2016’s best received series.

Chris came to Iraq after the 2003 American invasion to recruit and train a new generation of post-Saddam police. The murder of a recruit forced the Florida cop turned military consultant into an investigation that tangled the old government, new government, the jihadist network, the criminal underground, and American military machine together in a surefire suicide mission. Fortunately, Chris wasn’t alone chasing down the killer amidst the layers of lies and hidden agendas.

Aided by a Baghdad cop, Nassir, and the politically savvy Sofia, Chris thought he’d found the people responsible for the crime. Now, with Nassir captured, the stakes are ramping up as one man’s murder has dug Chris and everyone around him into a much deeper hole. In the violence’s aftermath, everybody’s lost something and now a debt must be paid even if it’s in blood. They say never trust a deal with the devil. In Baghdad, those kinds of deals can be explosive.

Written by one of 2016’s breakout comics writers and CIA veteran Tom King (Batman, The Vision, Omega Men) and gorgeously illustrated by Mitch Gerads (Batman, The Punisher) THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON VOL. 2: POW. POW. POW. brings one of the decade’s most critically acclaimed series to its stunning conclusion. Collects issues #7-12.

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #17

tumblr_o17r1mABBV1r2kdz1o1_500Grayson #17

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Jeromy Cox

DC, $3.99

The previous issue of Grayson teased 2 characters I was very excited to see making an appearance in this title. The homies Tom King and Tim Seeley continue to do me right, as we get to see this pair of characters fight Dick Grayson this month, making for a excited and once again, very much pleased, Chris Troy.

Even with a great premise, Grayson #17 faces the problem of not being drawn by regular series artist Mikel Janin. He’s replace by veteran penciler Carmine Di Giandomenico, which is a artistic choice I’m more than okay with. His style is much Grayson05more suited for a comic that’s heavy on the action, as this is issue is,  and Carmine absolutely delivers on an issue that’s chock full fight scenes. While he doesn’t do sexy or psychedelic as well as Mikel, he manages to capture his ability to meet the writers demand to draw some creepy as hell creatures (Cthulhu Monkeys!) while fists and plot twists are thrown about. Di Giandomenico  manages to capture the brutality one would expect from an all-out spy fight, while drawing some lush and detailed scenery. My only complain is that since it’s the first time he’s working with colorist Jeromy Cox, the art doesn’t pop as much as it did under Janin. Hopefully that will change as the pair get more experience working togther. I believe Carmine is the artist on the title until this DC Rebirth stuff goes down and this book becomes Nightwing again (insert profanity filled rant here), which again, I’m fine with if this is what the book is going to look like for the next few months.

On the narrative end of things, Seeley and King continue to mix humor and drama incredibly well, making for a fun read. The pair do spy drama really well, which is no image-151surprise given King’s history with the C.I.A., so when this month’s plot twist drops, there’s some “Oomph!” to it. And I really dig how much fun they’re having with the title character. Espionage comics often risk being too serious and dry for my liking, but with Grayson, Dick’s an incredibly charming and fun lead, who isn’t afraid to crack wise here and there. It rings incredibly true to the character and his history, which is why I love I love the book so much. It remains a new direction and situation for a decades old character, while respecting and building upon his established history. Also again Dick Grayson vs. Frankenstein’s monster, what’s not to love about that.

Even with a new artist attached to the title, Grayson #17 is another strong issue in the series. The creative team continues to tell and intriguing tale using a number of obscure and forgotten DC characters, giving older DC fans plenty of Easter eggs to appreciate, without losing newer readers by making  too many deep cuts. It’s a spy comic that invites readers to laugh along with the tropes the genre has created, while giving them a incredibly satisfying read.  King, Seeley and Di Giandomenico continue to keep us on the edge of the seat, without ever going too dark, or too slapstick. All in all it’s another great in a series that continues to impress.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson 16

 

Grayson01Grayson #16

Tim Seeley,  Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

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

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

 

WARNING FROM HERE ON OUT, THERE BE SPOILERS YO!

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

tumblr_nyhq1sRENk1s2pnhbo1_1280GOTHAC_Cv13_55f367cf6faa42.56004071Grayson #15

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikkel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

 Gotham Academy #13

Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Serge Lapointe

DC $2.99

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

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

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

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

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

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #14

Grayson-14Grayson #14

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Stephen Mooney, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about Grayson is seeing writers Tom King and Tim Seeley  pull unused characters and concepts from the DC and now defunct Wildstorm Universes . It’s lead to the best use of Midnighter since Warren Ellis wrote The Authority, in addition to a ton of cool toys Grant Morrison created when he had his Batman Incorporated run.  Issue 14 of Grayson sees the team of King and Seeley do it again, working wonders on Ladytron, another remnant of  Wildstorm Comics, as well as the duo putting their own spin on the Spyral mythos. It’s a cool bit of world building done via a neat framing device, and it results in fleshing out two characters a bit via explaining their origins. The pair have done a wonderful job of building upon material established by other Bat-creators before them, while adding a ton of new content, making the Grayson cast one of the most diverse and interesting casts in DC Comics. Also their take on Ladytron is very much in the same of Machine Man in Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen‘s Nextwave, which is something I absolutely adore.

Rejoining the writer’s on art duties this month is Stephen Mooney, who does a decent Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.42.39 PMenough job on the art side of things. Sadly Mooney isn’t capable of reaching series artist Mikel Janin levels of sexy or psychedelic, but his Bryan Hitch-style art works more times than not. Mooney certainly has good eye for action scenes, and his successfully captures some of the more creepier elements of the books. It’s just unfortunate that some of his art looks rough or even in some panels. Jeromy Cox‘s colors are great as per usual, so at least the art has that going for it when it’s not at it’s best. This is not the worst looking issue of Grayson, but it’s noticeably different that’s what come before it.

Art issues aside, I really like what Tom King and Tim Seeley brought to script/dialogue aspects of this issue. For the most of the book’s existence, a lot of the humor revolved about Dick Grayson being sexy, which is something I don’t mind, but the joke was beginning to become played out. It also doesn’t work as well without the presence of Janin’s gorgeous art. Luckily, King and Seeley went into this issue seemingly aware of their disadvantages and use Ladytron’s dialogue as a source of most of the book’s humor, freshening things up a bit. In addition to that, I really like how they’ve given Spyral a sense of history in this new DCU, giving the organization some really cool origins, and then image64using these revelations to completely change the direction of the book. Granted it’s something the writers have been hinting at for the last few issues, so it does feel like the book is spinning its wheels in place a bit. But we’re also looking at a editorial mandated tie-in issue next month, so I can see why King and Seeley wanted a clean finish for this issue.

This issue of Grayson is far from the best the book has been, but it’s very enjoyable none the less. The creative team produces a book that worth the cover price for loyal readers, but it’s not something that’s going to bring in any new ones.  It remains a clever and exciting read none the less, and I’m eager to see where the book is headed next once Robin War is over.

 

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson Annual #2

Hey FPNYC Faithful! Today we’re going to look at Grayson Annual #2, also known as the comic that lead to a review that will definitely get me accused of being on DC’s payroll at some point in the near future.

c605f48685e9ad51a71938ba3f74ee18Grayson Annual #2

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandex, Jeromy Cox

DC, $4.99

It hard to think of a comic that’s been unintentionally directed solely at me and my interests in recent history.  Directly following up to the recent events in Grayson (as well as some recent shenanigans and revelations over in the Superman titles), this comic sees Dick Grayson encountering Superman for the first time since his “death”, and defining what their relationship is like in the current DC Universe. When this book was first solicited, the cover implied some fun team up times, which I’m about. But what I wasn’t expecting was a sly shout out to the Chuck Dixon/Scott McDaniel Nightwing run of the 90s, which was my first real exposure to the character. Schilling alert: This is where I start gushing about this comic.

329f976b4ebe90282f0b04c8bb8f7c22Last week’s Grayson was light on the punching and heavy on emotional assault (the Feels, if you will). This time around, writers Tim Seeley and Tom King flip the script around a bit, giving us some pretty happy emotional beats, and ton of high octane action. There’s definitely a sense this book was written shortly after the writers saw the recent Mad Max movie, which is fine with me, as Fury Road is on my short list of things I’ve loved about this past year. And much like said week old comic, the pair of writers manage to establish a half-decade long history in the span of a single issue with ease. The book starts off with a fun flashback showing that Dick Grayson (as Robin) thinking Superman is the coolest thing, and Superman is definitely down with Batman’s little buddy. King and Seeley also put their spin on the whole “Nightwing got his handle from Kryptonian  lore”, which is a fun little bit of comics history that I’m a fan of. Once again the writers incorporate a bunch of material established before the reboot 4 years again, and once again I am loving it. The dialogue is also fantastic, as King & Seeley give our heroes some fun back and forth banter, and absolutely nail the voice of the OTHER book’s guest star, who’s identity I won’t spoil here.

I’ve done a pretty crappy job of not mentioning the book’s art yet, so let’s change that.  Mikel Janin, Grayson’s regular artist, only handles the cover on this book, which is a tad creepy dude to Clark and Dick suffering from same face syndrome. The interior art is actually handled by Alvaro Martinez, whose’s previous work I’m unfamiliar with, but has done a Comics093015-Graysonnumber of one shots and single issues for DC over the last 2 years. Martinez reminds me a lot of legendary artist Alan Davis, given how clean and straight forward his art is. Having to follow up to an artist like Janin who’s art reeks of sexy isn’t an easy task, but he does a serviceable job on putting his own spin on the characters. Ultimately, Martinez’s work is perfectly serviceable, although I wish he made Superman look a little older than Robin, and some of his poses weren’t as stiff as they were. But overall, it’s good stuff, especially with Raul Fernandez‘s inks being so clean and Jeromy Cox‘s colors being on point.

Grayson Annual #2 is the best issue of the Brave and the Bold we’ve gotten in years. It’s a fun book that ties nicely into the current on-going of the proper title, but it’s something you need to caught up on to enjoy. It’s old school execution, but feels fresh and fun. It’s a must read if you’ve been enjoying Grayson, Action Comics, or Superman, or just enjoy fun DC comics.

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #12

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

ff33f701f2ec2c8518ab96fd2acf9cc3Grayson #12

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

DC $3.99

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Chris’ Comics: Grayson #11

JUN150255Grayson #11

Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

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

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

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

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

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

portrait_incredible (3)All New Hawkeye #4

Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez, Ian Herring

Marvel $3.99

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

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

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

 

Grayson-10Grayson #10

Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

DC $3.99

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

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

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

 

 

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Troy’s Toys but with Comics: Sassy Spies Editions

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

 

635544611181339292-SpiderWoman-coverSpider-Woman #5

Dennis Hopeless/Javier Rodriguez/Alvaro Lopez

Marvel $3.99

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

stk665635Grayson #8

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

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

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

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

 

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

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

GRAY_Cv6_543db3662f95c5.33622396Grayson #6

Tim Seeley/Tom King/Mikel Janin/Jeromy Cox

DC $2.99

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

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

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

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

tumblr_ne60quQzFV1qfd9cso1_1280Batgirl #38

Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr/Maris Wicks

DC $2.99

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

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

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

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

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Troy’s Toys But with Comics: Spies like Us Edition

First and foremost, happy 2015 Forbidden Planet faithful! There were all of 7 comics released this past week,  none of which I pull,  so we’re going to take a look at 2 books that dropped last week instead. Then I’ll finish my “What I like dug” over the next few days, just in time for the first New Comics Wednesday of 2015. Aren’t schedules fun?

GRAYANN_Cv1_540f47df5c1c08.60705222Grayson Annual #1

Tom King/Tim Seeley/Stephen Mooney/Jeremy Cox

DC $4.99

I want to like this comic more than I do.

I’m doing my best to not be an old man and start ranting about how Annuals should be saved for big stories like were in my day. Hell this annual was originally solicited as such, promising us the New 52 origin of Helena Bertinelli. Which we get, sort of, for all of a page.

The rest of the book is dedicated to several new characters, one who’s supposedly really good at what he does, and we get a lot more focus on said new character than we do on Helena, as well as a Irish Folktale. Which is different, but not exactly the most compelling stuff in the world.

While the book isn’t bad ( Tom King and Tim Seeley‘s script is okay, Stephen Mooney‘s art is serviceable, and Jeremy Cox‘s colors remain excellent), it’s not exactly required reading at $5. It does nothing for the over all narrative of the series, even  thought there’s some cool stuff sprinkled throughout the issue.

December was not the best month for Grayson in my option. Between the annual and issue 5, the book feels like it’s stuck in neutral. Hopefully January will see a proper return to form for this book and it’s creative team.

background (1)Secret Avengers #11

Ales Kot/Michael Walsh/Matthew Wilson

Marvel $3.99

And once again, Secret Avengers is espionage comics done right.

The final arc of Secret Avengers begins with this issue, and properly raises the stakes. The mysterious world of TLON has began to appear in “our” world, the secret mastermind behind the whole ordeal begins to make his presence known and now it’s up to MODOK and his allies to save to the day. It’s Cosmic Horror meets Archer (wordplay?) at it’s finest.

And speaking of F-I-N-E (#segue) Michael Walsh & Matthew Wilson continue to be at the top of their respected games with this book. Between the storm in Venezuela and the various action pieces on the Hellicarrier, Walsh and Wilson continue to do some interesting and beautiful things with format, design and panel layouts. They do Ales Kot’s script the justice it deserves, being able to convey the emotion needed for the Hawkeye/Coulson confrontation, as well as providing some awesome fight scenes.

Kot also deserves some praise for the way he’s been handling Agent Coulson and his PTSD in this book. Hawkeye, Maria Hill, and Black Widow may be normal human comfortable with some of insanity that goes down on the reg in the 616, Phil Coulson is not, and is affected by it. It’s something that could be handled poorly in the wrong hangs, but Ales Kot writes Phil and his condition properly, which makes for a compelling and a emotionally invested read.

Secret Avengers continues to be one of the strongest offerings from Marvel month after moth. It’s weird, violent and funny, and every so often, it has something smart and endearing to say.

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