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Posts Tagged ‘Boom! Studios’

The Stack-6/7/17

In new books, rants, reviews on June 8, 2017 at 7:46 pm

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This week in comics: A trio of comics dealing with the consequences of pursuing vengeance, Shade helps us come to terms with our impending decrepitude, and a boring hetero cis dude for some reason feels compelled to talk about how Iceman tackles coming out as a gay superhero. But first, it’s time to play, ‘What lame-ass stunt are collectors hoarding this week?’:

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This. It’s this utter nonsense right here. Now I think our heroes should be allowed to be happy, but this is so out of character for Bats.

There wasn’t a whole lot of levity in this week’s pile, and that’s fine. Just because your granny still calls them ‘funnybooks’ does not mean that they have to be a constant chucklefest. Within the pages of the incredibly strong number ones and assorted ongoing storylines, shit did indeed get real. And it was oh so good. Let’s take a closer look.

Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #1 (Victor LaValle, Dietrich Smith, Joana Lafuente, Jim Campbell-Boom! Studios): You have to be cautious and respectful when building upon a classic story, and you have to possess a clear purpose, or it’s just more lazy fanfic. LaValle understands this, and his vision for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein brings its characters into the modern world in clever and heartbreaking ways, while keeping true to the themes of conquering death and exploring the darker side of humanity. The monster, up until now exiled in Antarctica, is suddenly and violently reunited with us, and the remaining scientists aware of his existence are attempting to mobilize to greet him. History repeats itself, but with shiny new technology, and the added tragedy of race relations and gun violence in America. UPDATE: I realize this book is two weeks old, but Diamond shorted me and I only just got it now. It made such an impact that I just had to add it to the official stack anyway.

Extremity #4 (Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer, Rus Wooton-Image): I don’t know how they do it. This series is a story of bloody revenge, dressed in a world of fantastic post-apocalyptic tribalism, and it manages to be completely fresh and engaging despite how familiar those concepts are in modern fiction. I suspect it’s primarily because the human (and even not-so-human) emotion on display is genuinely complex, warts and all. It hits the heart as hard as the lush, kinetic artwork hits the eyeballs. And if that is too touchy-feely for you, I’ll have you know that there’s badass airships, giant spider creatures, and lots of punching, too.

Spider-Man #17 (Brian Michael Bendis, Oscar Bazaldua, Justin Ponsor, VC’s Cory Petit-Marvel): Miles has been struggling with a lot lately. Ever since receiving the vision that showed him killing Captain America during the last Civil War event, he’s been worried that he’ll snap and go too far. He’s had a crisis of confidence, and it has only gotten worse since he beat up everyone in a bar while pursuing a purse snatcher. SPOILERS After seeing his friend Bombshell hospitalized from an encounter with Hammerhead, rage takes over and he foolishly puts himself in a very dangerous situation–one which could cost him his life. I always enjoy storylines that remind us that superheroing is, even for those with special powers, insanely stupid and dangerous business. You can bitch about grim and gritty™ all you like; without stakes that we can relate to, there’s no story, and no reason to engage with it.

Shade the Changing Girl #9 (Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Saida Temofonte-DC/Young Animal): Have I mentioned before that this book is brilliant? I did? Several times? Well, it is. There’s so much to chew on in each issue, regardless of whether you’re a new reader or an old fart like me who considers the Milligan run their prized possession. Speaking of the elderly, in this issue Shade delves deeper into Gotham City, attending a concert featuring her favorite Earth band, The Sonic Booms. The problem is, in her excitement, she forgot how long transmissions from our planet take to reach her home of Meta. The Booms are well beyond their prime, and so are all of their human fans. Not satisfied with this revelation, she uses her madness powers to try to help everyone recapture those glory days, if only briefly. Then, it’s on to the next adventure. Ah, youth…

The Unsound #1 (Cullen Bunn, Jack T. Cole, Jim Campbell-Boom! Studios): This one gets filed under ‘Things You Don’t See Much in Comics and There’s Probably a Very Good Reason For That’. The thing in this case is madness. Many of the best horror stories focus on it, and that’s understandable, since there isn’t much that’s more terrifying than learning that your senses and intellect, the very things that read and interpret the world around you, are possibly unreliable, and may actually be turning against you. It can be hard to communicate that feeling convincingly, in any kind of narrative, but this creative team has nailed it. There’s page after page of images that will elicit the following reactions: “Well that’s not right”, “What the hell am I looking at?”, and “NOPE NOPE NOPE”. Asylums have not been this unsettling since they let Grant Morrison play in Arkham.

Iceman #1 (Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC’s Joe Sabino-Marvel): Okay, I need to preface this review with full disclosure. What you’re about to read is written by a heterosexual man whose understanding of being homosexual comes from friends, a mishmash of entertainment that runs the gamut from insultingly uninformed to explicit and enlightening, and the Babadook. What I’m getting at is that while I’m not qualified to speak about this with anything close to authority or experience, I’m an ally who is doing his best, and I mean no disrespect or harm. Okay, on we go.

Bobby Drake, the mutant known as Iceman, has recently met his younger self (X-Men are always involved in wacky time displacement crap that makes little to no sense), and it sparked a profound, live-changing epiphany. Bobby is gay, and he’s not sure what to do with that knowledge. He isn’t ready to share this with his family, since they are still not handling his life as a superhero very well. He wants to get out there and date, but his day-to-day is utter chaos, and besides, teaching and training the kids at The Xavier Institute is a full time job. Those lame dad jokes aren’t going to tell themselves.

The thing about this issue, and again, this is just the two cents from someone on the outside, is that Bobby and his struggle feel very true-to-life. He isn’t presented as a stereotype, and he’s allowed plenty of room to just do his thing. Alone in his room, trying to think up a description of himself for a dating site, or talking to himself outside a hospital after the adrenaline from a fight spins down, he takes a look at his situation and arrives at the conclusion that most of us do, from any walk of life:

*shrug*

That does it for this week. As always, thanks for reading, and for reading comics. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter at the links below, and feel free to comment, complain, and share. Don’t forget to support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you in seven.

 

The Stack-5/17+5/10 & FCBD

In new books, rants, reviews on May 19, 2017 at 12:12 am

It’s been a whole damn month, but I’m back, I’m tipsy, and I have OH so much to share with you from Free Comic Book Day up to this week’s picks. Strap on your crash helmets and pull up your Gallagher (TM) brand plastic tarps, and let’s get messy.

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That other week in comics: Holy shitballs Free Comic Book Day was awesome, the Allred clan serves up some quality quirk, and I continue smooching Image’s butt like they’re sending me original pages from The Maxx. But first, let us pay our respects to a tragically co-opted character:

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You’re in a better place now. One where Richard Spencer can’t get you.

Here comes the Free Comic Book Lightning Round!

Secret Empire/Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (Nick Spencer, Andrea Sorrentino, VC’s Travis Lanham, Chip Zdarsky, Paulo Siqueira, Walden Wong, Cam Smith, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata-Marvel): The book’s first half, with haunting, gorgeously designed visuals, will no doubt split readers into two camps: those who think Nick Spencer and Marvel are trolling them, and those who come away with the realization that Mjolnir’s most terrifying aspect (and this has been beautifully extrapolated upon courtesy of Jason Aaron and the various Thor books of the last few years) is that ironclad conviction can be perceived as worthiness, and thus leads both good AND evil to power. But enough of that heavy stuff. Let’s talk about how Chip Zdarsky was born to write Peter Parker, and how this book’s Vulture zingers are the proof of that. Love the bold kineticism from the art team, too. There, we talked about it.

I Hate Image (Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Nate Piekos-Image): Gert from I Hate Fairyland goes on a murderous rampage through Bitch Planet, Saga, The Walking Dead, Spawn, Paper Girls, and more, poking fun along the way. It is the greatest and I love it. I love it into little bitty widdle pieces.

X-O Manowar/Secret Weapons/Bloodshot Salvation (Matt Kindt, Cafu, Andrew Dalhouse, Dave Sharpe, Eric Heisserer, Raúl Allén, Patricia Martín, David Lafuente, Jeff Lemire, Juan José Ryp, Simon Bowland-Valiant): Like the whole Valiant line in general, not a bad one in the bunch, whether it’s watching a barbarian stab aliens, a young woman talk to birds, or nanites trying to understand human memories.

Boom! Studios 2017 Summer Blast (David Petersen, Sam Sykes, Selina Espiritu, Sarah Stern, Jim Campbell, Liz Prince, Amanda Kirk, Hannah Fisher-Boom!): All ages fun galore, from the always-amazing fantasy adventure of Mouse Guard to the manga-inspired culinary silliness of Brave Chef Brianna to the musical, Wawa hoagie-worshipping high jinks of Coady and the Creepies.

Big Brass Balls Award 2017 goes to:

Spongebob Freestyle Funnies, for dropping some truth about our dysfunctional relationship with Diamond Distribution. Savage.

Moving on to the picks of last week:

Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1 (Lee Allred, Michael Allred, Laura Allred, Nate Piekos-DC Young Animal): So this is what happens when the zany creator of classics like Madman gets his whole family involved with cherished characters from the mind of the one and only Jack Kirby. You get trippy dream worlds, jokes about Camus, all kinds of pop culture references, and the sort of high-energy heroics that are worthy of the source material. Young Animal does it again. Two antennae up.

The Fix #9 (Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill, Ironbark-Image): This comic consistently makes me literally (yes, I’m using it correctly here; If you mean figuratively, then fucking SAY figuratively) laugh out loud, and that is something that few books can do. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac did it. Dork did it. Now this does. There’s meth jokes and granny innuendo jokes and Hollywood jokes and BDSM jokes and it all lands every time. Oh, and there’s a cute dog. So you can always buy it for that.

Regression #1 (Cullen Bunn, Danny Luckert, Marie Enger-Image): I needed some more gross-out horror in my life. No, wait, that isn’t true at all. I don’t need it. I just like it. Because of chemical imbalances and an adolescence spent watching Troma films. Anyway, Regression delivers on that end, delving into the creepy world of hypnotherapy and past lives, and doing so with an art team that can deftly juxtapose bros at a cookout with bugs shooting out of corpses. Grab the popcorn!

Shade the Changing Girl #8 (Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Saida Temofonte-DC Young Animal): The soul of an alien poet, set loose among the grimdark bustle of Gotham. This creative team has done something truly special, and they have more than earned the right to continue the Shade story. This is something that we’ll all be coming back to decipher, years down the road. It’s your teenage shadow talking to you, through that wild place inside that you rarely visit anymore.

Black Cloud #2 (Jason Latour, Ivan Brandon, Greg Hinkle, Matt Wilson, Dee Cunniffe, Aditya Bidikar-Image): There was some blowback on the first issue of this one, with cries of ‘too impenetrable’ rising above the usual critical din. Me, I love a good mystery, and I especially love when a story unfolds organically, without a visit from the condescending Exposition Fairy. This issue drops lots of hints through the dialogue, like the characters don’t even care that there’s an audience present, trying desperately to piece together their dilemma. I like that. Your mileage may vary. Bonus points for mocking Trump’s stupid red MAGA hats.

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Now then, THIS week in comics: Marvel cements those new legacy characters in place with feels, DC finally gives us some follow through on Geoff Johns and his nutty Watchmen idea, and #teammargaret gets a big old PLOT TWIST (cue air horn). But first, I just want to give a shout to my main man Rahzzah, who has two new and kick-ass covers out this week:

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Invincible Iron Man #7 (Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Marte Gracia, VC’s Clayton Cowles-Marvel): At last the cold, hard truth gets addressed: Riri is a kid, and has nearly zero experience fighting super villains. Her mind is elsewhere when she runs into Will O’ The Wisp, and she gets knocked out, saved only by the swift intervention of the Tony Stark AI. Now please understand, I love this book, but I’m hoping we soon see one of the supporting characters step in and just say what we’re all thinking: It is GROSSLY negligent to let this young woman act as Iron Man. Genius-level intellect is great, but it won’t help much when the punching starts. She has her whole life ahead of her, and Secret Empire is right up in her grill, and it won’t end well without better planning and a LOT more training. Do it, Bendis.

The Wild Storm #4 (Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt, Steve Buccellato, Simon Bowland-DC): Sure, there’s a lot going on in this issue, what with all the Covert Action Team stuff and the shooty and the boom-boom. But let’s fast-forward to Weatherman. He arrives on his space station and proceeds to dress down every subordinate within earshot, and it is just Ellis at his cranky best. The banter between he and Ms. Pennington is reminiscent of Spider Jerusalem and his ‘filthy assistants’ from the deservedly praised Transmetropolitan. And the art is just goddamn majestic. This crew makes the man-made downright picturesque.

Curse Words #5 (Charles Soule, Ryan Browne, Michael Garland, Michael Parkinson, Chris Crank-Image): Here we go. Wizord versus Ruby Stitch. The battle rages over Las Vegas, and our hero taps into the power of luck to recharge the magical batteries, so that he can. . . um. . . SPOILERS animate a fake Eiffel Tower. Yeah. That goes about as well as you’re thinking. Meanwhile, in flashback, we discover the scandalous truth about Margaret: she’s the daughter of these two, and for some reason none of them recall this fact. Ruby relents when Wizord concedes, and Sizzajee cuts her loose. So much drama! In pretty much unrelated news, the awesome Van Tour for this comic will NOT be coming to my shop, and it makes me incredibly sad. If you’re near any of the stops this Summer, do yourself a favor and check it out. It will be magical and beardy!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #20 (Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, Travis Lanham-Marvel): So Melissa Morbeck has devices that allow her to control animals, and is using them to frame Colleen while also framing Doctor Doom. It’s a villain scheme, so naturally it’s unnecessarily complex and therefore full of opportunities for thwarting. Guess what? That is exactly what happens. You knew that was going to happen, but think of how much we learned along the way. We found out that freshwater snail parasites kill a LOT of people, that there is a squirrel in New York named Li’l Busta, that helicopters are super noisy, and that EMPs make sounds when required by the drama of a story. Beat THAT, Bill Nye!

The Wicked + The Divine 455 (Kieron Gillen, André Araújo, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles, Dee Cunniffe-Image): Kieron asks a lot of his audience. You have to know all this stuff about gods and mythology, and then all this other stuff about pop stars and usually some obscure Britpop junk, and NOW he wants you to recall your Roman history. Jeez, dude. Remember Julius Caesar? Well, according to the conceit of this comic, he’s actually Lucifer, and he wants nothing less than to deny his destiny and be the Emperor of Rome. It does not end well for him. Don’t worry, Ananke will fix it, and keep the history books just the way we remember them. You know, IF we had read them, and not doodled phalluses in them instead.

Quick news update: This November, DC is going to release Doomsday Clock, which will tell the story that Geoff Johns initially envisioned about the role that the Watchmen play in this newly reborn universe. If it is true that it is stand-alone, was inspired by the current zeitgeist, and gives us more than the recent lenticular Flashfest known as ‘The Button’ did, then I’ll gladly pick it up. Though it’s Alan Moore blasphemy of the highest order, I’m curious to see what Johns has in mind, and what it says about the ‘grim and gritty’ era finally meeting its maker at this particular publisher. To be continued.

Well, I hope that somewhat made up for my extended absence. As always, thank you for reading, and for reading this blog. You can follow my silly ass on Twitter at @rabbit11comics , and on Instagram at rabbit11comics. Feel free to comment and share, be sure to support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you in seven.

No, seriously. This will be weekly again.

 

 

The Stack-4/12/17

In rants, reviews, new books on April 13, 2017 at 1:45 pm

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This week in comics: Science Fiction front and center, Nick Spencer has the American milieu on speed dial, and the bizarre controversy around X-Men Gold #1. But first, one of many reasons I adore Valiant Comics:

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Not only does the comic sound cool, but you have to do two very important things to acquire it: ruin the book this coupon is in, and take it to your local shop. Thanks for driving business to brick and mortar, and for driving collectors insane.

The genre of Science Fiction is stronger than ever, especially in comics, which I largely attribute to a notable handful of visionaries like Warren Ellis, Rick Remender, and the folks at Image, and if that’s your bag then this week was a treat. Some kind of alien treat, served in a space ship. There was sports Sci-Fi (Motor Crush), Fantasy/Sci-Fi twist (Green Valley AND Seven to Eternity), Western/Sci-Fi (Copperhead), and also . . .

Redline #2 (Neal Holman, Clayton McCormack, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Crank!-Oni Press): Redline is probably most accurately described as MILITARY Sci-Fi. The point of view is from the troops on the ground on Mars, caught between corporate warmongers and a mysterious race of aliens. The humor is gloriously inappropriate, the kind of detached and lovingly insulting bonding that you tend to encounter in high-stress situations. Suicide bombers, wild hallucinations, shootouts in strip clubs, or brushes with alien life: It all gets treated with off-color zingers and dick jokes, which does a highly entertaining job of grounding the unbelievable in the unseemly. It’s so good.

Immortal Brothers: The Tale of the Green Knight #1 (Fred Van Lente, Cary Nord, Clayton Henry, Mark Morales, Brian Reber-Valiant): A one-shot about Gilad, Ivar, and Aram, and their version of the events of the Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? Oh HELL YES. Faith, of the Harbinger Renegades, is sick in bed, and Archer decides to tell her the story, as Armstrong told it to him, all Princess Bride-style. Heads get lopped, squires get acquired, and the truth about Morgan Le Fey and the Lady of the Lake is uncovered. It’s so well done that you can enjoy this book without any knowledge of the Valiant universe. If that’s the case, you might soon find yourself snapping up back issues of Archer & Armstrong, Faith, and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, just FYI.

The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl #19 (Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, Travis Lanham-Marvel): Doreen is facing down her worst nightmare: A REALLY long villain monologue. It turns out that SPOILERS Melissa Morbeck, who was previously seen as a friend and benefactor, is a big-time baddie, and has been reverse engineering tech that will allow her to control nearly every animal that has come into human contact on Earth. To what end? To rule, and to blame it all on Doctor Doom, since that name carries more weight in the grand scheme of evil things. Can she, Koi Boi, Chipmunk Hunk, and Nancy save the day? Will her new suspicions ruin her friendship with Howard the Duck? Will things work out for Alfredo the Chicken? Read the issue, snort-laugh your butt off, and find out!

The Wicked + The Divine #28 (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles, Dee Cunniffe-Image): A Great Darkness approaches mankind, and the one force that can stop it, a pantheon of gods reborn into the bodies of various young people, is too busy being assholes to bother. Some are digging up dirt, some are getting their party and orgy on, some are enduring abuse, and some are busy murdering. In a flashback, the one who sought to manipulate these deities is literally weeping for the future. This issue, oddly enough, shares a common thread with the recent Marvel works of Jason Aaron: Gods are in fact not far removed from us, and thus are capable of sucking just as hard as we can.

Godshaper #1 (Simon Spurrier, Jonas Goonface, Colin Bell-Boom! Studios): Speaking of gods, there was a brilliant new entry from Boom this week, all about an alternate version of our world where physics misbehaved, and resulted in human beings getting personal gods do their bidding in exchange for worship. The wrinkle is that not everyone got a god, but instead the ability to manipulate these gods, changing their appearance and power sets. Ennay, a wandering musician, is one of these ‘Godshapers’, and is about to get involved in the shady dealings lurking beneath the latest midwestern shithole he’s journeyed into. There’s nothing out there quite like this comic, a sexy amalgam of Pokemon, Rockabilly, and hobo culture, illustrated with colorful abandon by Jonas Goonface. I highly recommend giving it a read.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #21 (Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuña, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC’s Joe Caramagna-Marvel): SPOILERS Here we are. After twenty issues, Sam has made a decision, informed by everything he’s been through, including the fact that Rage was recently put into a coma for daring to stand up to both the Americops and his criminal past. He’s moving on, returning to his life as Falcon, and passing the shield back to Steve Rogers. If all of this was planned in detail by Nick Spencer, then that cements him as one of the best writers in comics as far as I’m concerned. He’s done nothing less than tell one of the most timely and compelling stories about superhero legacy ever. He has taken the character on a journey that examined race, politics, fandom, and abuse of power, and for as sad as this ending is, and knowing just how bad it’s about to get in the big Secret Empire event, it feels like this is exactly how it needed to happen. Sam needed to feel the shadow of Cap and the disapproval of those fans, he needed to be true to himself and pay a huge price for it, and most importantly, he needed to decide to fight on despite the weight of the world crushing him and those closest to him. This is who he is, and he’s going to do what he thinks is right on his own terms again. No matter how hard he tried, he was never going to fill those boots, but it didn’t stop him from actually trying, and it didn’t stop him from inspiring people along the way. The tragically ironic thing is that those actions make him more worthy of being Captain America than the current version of Steve Rogers, but the extremely vocal opposition will not have it. That’s the world that we and these characters live in now, but if we refuse to give up, it CAN and WILL change.

Moving on, I suppose I should touch on the controversy of the week, involving X-Men Gold #1. The short version is that comics artist Ardian Syaf put references to the Indonesian interpretation of the Quran in the issue, and that these references allude to religious hatred and the current political climate in that area. It was a foolish, self-serving thing to do, and it cost him a career that many of us only dream about. For more in-depth information, I suggest checking out the Tumblr of G. Willow Wilson, writer of books like Ms. Marvel, which can be found here.

Then there’s the after-effects that this little fiasco has caused in the retail and collector’s worlds. I have had my shop’s phone ringing ever since, bombarded with would-be speculators looking to make a buck off of one idiot’s misguided attempts at a statement. The issue is going for upwards of $40 on places like Ebay as I write this, which is a fact that makes me physically ill. That anyone wants to make thirty bucks off of religious animosity is disgusting, and is exactly the kind of bullshit that we do not need. I talk a great deal about how comics are for everyone, and that all are welcome. Let me make an amendment to that. Insensitive scumbags treating it like the nerd stock market can just fuck right off. Speculators, online flippers, unscrupulous retailers and dealers, and anyone else who thinks this is acceptable:

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Allow me to show you the fucking door, amigo.

Thanks for fighting the good fight with me, and thank you for reading comic books. Feel free to share your thoughts and your pulls in the comments. Be good, support your local shops, and I’ll see you in seven.