I read comics. So should you.

Posts Tagged ‘Champions’

The Stack-8/2/17

In new books, reviews on August 3, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Hi there! Okay, let’s just start off by addressing the Elephantmen in the room:

elephantmen

No, not that one. Though you should read this comic. It’s incredibly good.

I disappeared in July. I’m sure you’re not interested in the least about why that occurred. It was part workload, and part crushing stress and depression. Believe me, there were astounding books on the shelves this past month, and I wish I could talk at length about them, but I haven’t yet tapped into the time-rewinding powers available in this busted timeline. I’ll just sum things up with a few choice statements, and then we’ll move on.

Check out Generation Gone. It’s nice to see Ales Kot putting out another comic full of rebellious vigor.

#makeminemilkshake: This was the result of really lowest-common-denominator hateful trolls trying to say women ruin comics, which is of course bullshit. I’m hesitant to give people like this any attention whatsoever, but I also have a tendency to jump into the fray and show solidarity when this behavior rears its pockmarked little head.

MAN do I LOVE Volstagg as War Thor.

Motor Girl from Terry Moore is making me laugh and cry in equal measure.

The Divided States of Hysteria cover controversy: I myself am divided (yuk yuk) when it comes to this. So Howard Chaykin drew a cover to this new Image book that portrayed a person of color lynched, with brutal mutilation. After it was revealed, there was push back substantial enough to get the art pulled. As you might expect, opinions landed all over the spectrum. Now me personally, I think Chaykin is allowing his political anger to steer him WAY off course with this comic. This is a stunt I’d expect from a youngster looking to shock in order to get their voice heard, and not from an industry veteran. ON THE OTHER HAND, people screaming for censorship, or clamoring for a full boycott of Image, need to rein that shit in. It’s art, and it’s subjective, and often awful, and it’s mostly protected as free expression. You can’t demand that it vanishes unless it is genuinely harmful. It’s not free from consequences, of course, so feel free to spend your money elsewhere, but you’re going down a dangerous path if you demand that someone is silenced.

Calexit, from Black Mask Studios, did a brilliant job of political what-iffing without getting heavy-handed or failing to entertain.

This week in comics: Comics full of emotion, comics taking big chances, and even a comic in 3-D! Let’s take a look:

aug2stack

Champions #11 (Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado, VC’s Clayton Cowles-Marvel): I’ve felt that overall this series has been very uneven, but I continue to stick with it month after month because when it taps into its seemingly endless supply of heart and sticks to its core message (The new generation of heroes has to learn from the mistakes of their forebears and find a way that is better), it shines. And when it shines, all the squawking about forcing this team to happen falls away, and it really IS an inspirational superhero title.

This issue is a prime example of Champions at its best, and somehow while also being an event tie-in, which is sort of like being a superstar piccolo player, rocking sick woodwind solos when you’re meant to be working in concert with the rest of orchestra to produce a larger overall piece of music. Broken into teams after the Hydra attack on Las Vegas featured in Secret Empire, our protagonists search the ruins for any possible survivors, and it’s a completely gut-wrenching experience. I’m a bit torn on how this is executed, though. Viewing this operation at ground level, amidst the wreckage, you really feel how insane indiscriminately attacking over half a million people is, and feel even stalwarts like Hulk get overwhelmed, as hopelessness creeps in. On the other hand, we do not see a single casualty. There are no bodies. Anywhere. It’s a ghost town, and the horrors are (deftly, I’ll admit, through dialogue) communicated in a non-visual way. Now I understand that this is more of a teen+ book, but I have strong opinions about this approach. If you remove the warts-and-all consequences of violence, you produce a disconnect, which I find very irresponsible. The team did their best to compensate, but I really wonder if this was Mark Waid’s choice, or this came from editors. Mr. Waid is currently under fire for his treatment of characters in the new issue of Avengers (which I’d love to debate, if anyone is game), so I’ll just keep these musings under my cowl. It’s comics, after all, and barking online at creators over things like this miiiiiiiiiight just have something to do with them having office outbursts and quitting Twitter. We all need to take a deep breath, and remember to be respectful human beings to each other. But I digress, so let’s move on.

Hadrian’s Wall #8 (Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, Rod Reis, Eduardo Ferigato, Troy Peteri, Rich Bloom-Image): I really need to go back and re-read this series, now that is has ended. Over the course of eight issues it has become a compelling tapestry of traditional Science Fiction, murder mystery, and relationship drama, illustrated beautifully in a style reminiscent of fantasy art magazines and anthologies like Heavy Metal. The power plays between characters and factions portrayed were very well-developed, but none really steal the show like the one between Annabelle and Simon, former lovers who were willing to go to great lengths to hurt each other after their relationship fell apart. In this final installment, trapped on a ship that is out of power and oxygen, the two finally decide that they want to truly bury the hatchet, before they’re both dead. They get the happy ending, but it’s more from the fact that they are ready to move on than that they are ultimately rescued and survive the perils of outer space. If you haven’t been picking this up, make sure you don’t miss the collection.

Alters #6 (Paul Jenkins, Leila Leiz, Leonardo Pacciarotti, Ryane Hill-Aftershock): There’s a truism that we are constantly losing sight of, and it’s that things are not always about us. We all want the spotlight on us at all times, and we all believe that our problems are the most important ones. In the first story arc of Alters, Chalice was front and center, trying her best to come to terms with being trans and a person with powers while saving the world from a very dangerous terrorist. These struggles are by no means over, but in the calm that has come after the showdown with Matter Man the focus now shifts to a woman named Sharise, struggling to raise two kids in poverty while coping with her own burgeoning powers. Chalice can sense her as a fellow alter, but Sharise wants none of her help or her sympathy. It’s extremely admirable that this team continues to expand its inclusion, and in a very thought-out way.

Spider-Man #19 (Brian Michael Bendis, Oscar Bazaldua, Jason Keith, VC’s Cory Petit-Marvel): Sometimes, it’s perfectly fine for a superhero story to just put down its fists for a little while and spend some time simply as a drama. Particularly a story primarily about teenagers. So this issue is more about life, and the everyday ups and downs. Ganke is flirting on his phone with Danika, Fabio mysteriously disappears after reflecting on his fight with Hammerhead, and Miles’s parents do their best to clear the air and focus on guiding their child. There’s also an interesting scene where Ganke voices the concerns of fans who would rather see legacy characters doing their own unique thing instead, and one where Hammerhead is looking for new and dangerous ways to get his payback. A solid, low-key, sitcom (in a good way) issue.

Shade, the Changing Girl #11 (Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Saida Temofonte-DC/Young Animal): At last, Shade has arrived in Hollywood, and just in time to prevent the elderly star of her favorite Earth TV show from taking her own life. She uses her madness powers to perform the ‘ol Freaky Friday body swap, and puts forth a deal: Honey will teach her about life and being human, and Shade will take it all in through the matured senses of her idol’s form. When Shade’s done, she lets Honey die. Sprinkled throughout the issue as this plays out are Mellu’s continued scheming, the collection and weaponization of Shade’s power by US authorities, River and Teacup’s attempts to track down Shade, and classy paper dolls. This continues to be one of the most fascinatingly creative books out there. It’s young adult fiction processed through the filter of an alien poet, and it’s gorgeous.

So there we go. Back on track, and enjoying the stack. Feel free to comment and share and follow me on social media @rabbit11comics. As always, thank you for reading and for reading comics. Please support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you in seven.

The Stack-4/5/17

In new books, rants, reviews on April 7, 2017 at 9:41 am

april5stack

This week in comics: Wonderful number ones and twos, bracing for more cancellations, and The Bendis shows us just how poorly superheroics and family mix. But first, in the battle of band-inspired books, who wins?

slayer

This?

amory

Or this?

(Here’s a hint: IT’S FUCKING SLAYER)

Eleanor & the Egret #1 (John Layman, Sam Keith, Ronda Pattison-Aftershock): What do you get when you put the creators of Chew and The Maxx on the same title? You get the quirky story of an art thief and her magical talking bird. You get the full Sam Keith experience, including unconventional page layouts, coloring that pops and swirls, figures clad in flowing fabrics and towering hats, and unnecessary yet charming reminder balloons. You get a book unlike any other on the shelves. Got it? Good.

Shade the Changing Girl #7 (Cecil Castellucci, Marguerite Sauvage, Becky Cloonan, Saida Temofonte-DC/Young Animal): Shade has been living up to its pedigree and potential each month, carving out its own unique path while maintaining a tether to the works of Peter Milligan and company that came before it. This story of an alien that traveled to our planet and found itself in the body of a high school bully has been an inferno of emotion, poetry, and psychedelia, and I really think it all starts to gel in the best possible way with this latest issue. Here we get some much-needed back story on the Avian formerly known as Loma, and where their wanderlust came from, as well as all sorts of parallels they share with the former Shade. After the flashbacks, the issue builds to a moment when those wronged by Megan, the girl Loma now inhabits, get their revenge, and the realization hits that it’s time to outrun the past and see what Earth has to offer. All of this is illustrated beautifully by Marguerite Sauvage, and it’s a feast for the eyes.

Black Cloud #1 (Jason Latour, Ivan Brandon, Greg Hinkle, Matt Wilson, Dee Cunniffe, Aditya Bidikar, Tom Muller-Image): This is my favorite kind of story, for two reasons. First, it’s the kind that is difficult to describe to other people. My recommendation to friends and customers ends up being, “Just read it!” ( I promise this speaks more about the creator’s wild imagination, and less about my laziness and habit of stumbling over my words). Second, it’s a story about the power of stories, so it’s a mysterious little imp of a meta-narrative. It revolves around a woman who is a homeless nobody in our world, staying alive by giving the disenchanted rich a tour through other realms. Beyond that, issue one is a sublimely rendered collection of questions, with answers looming in the distance. Dive right in, you won’t be disappointed.

Champions #7 (Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado, VC’s Clayton Cowles-Marvel): Champions is a book about youth, the good and the bad. Cyclops, Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Nova, Spider-Man, and Viv made a decision to form a team of their own, separate from those like The Avengers, with a mission statement full of wide-eyed optimism, social media connection, and solving problems without all the property damage and dead bodies. This particular issue is all about the naivete of that stance, as they deal with getting set up by The Freelancers, a team with a completely mercenary approach and no moral compass. In a final cruel twist, SPOILERS the heroes are confronted with their logo, now trademarked by their enemies and splashed across products that are completely antithetical to what they stand for. The lesson: Be ever vigilant, or evil will totally co-opt your shit.

Extremity #2 (Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer, Rus Wooton-Image): Let me start off by apologizing for not covering issue one of this series. It slipped past my radar, and I did not get to read it until just recently. But when I finally sat down and cracked open a copy, it absolutely rocked my damn world. It’s a Sci-Fi adventure drama, a tale of revenge and tribal warfare, and it lives in a fascinating and fully realized world of massive airships and deadly beasts and terrifying cruelty. I am now a total fanboy for creator Daniel Warren Johnson. His art is stunningly visceral, reminiscent of greats like Paul Pope and Geof Darrow, and it pulls me into each and every page. I can’t recommend this one enough.

Motor Girl #5 (Terry Moore-Abstract Studio): I absolutely adore Terry Moore’s work. From Strangers in Paradise to Rachel Rising and now Motor Girl, you will always find a very human center to whatever madness is happening in the narrative, driven by strong, compelling characters, and a joyfully independent spirit that permeates everything. Case in point: Sam, a former Marine Sergeant who was beaten and tortured by the enemy while deployed, has visions of a big friendly Gorilla who is her only close companion now that she works alone in a junkyard. Her and her employer, a fiery old lady named Libby, are caught in the middle of a bizarre alien visitation and the weapon developer who wants to intercept it. How can you NOT read that? And if you dare to complain that the comic is in black and white I will throw extra ripe durian fruit at you.

It’s time for the Bendis double-trouble feature!

Jessica Jones #7 (Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, Matt Hollingsworth, VC’s Cory Petit, David Mack-Marvel) & Spider-Man #15 (Brian Michael Bendis, Szymon Kudranski, Justin Ponsor, VC’s Cory Petit, Patrick Brown-Marvel): I personally enjoy that old chestnut, you may have heard of it somewhere, about great power coming with great responsibility. Superheroing ain’t easy, and that goes double if you still have family and friends in your life that you are putting in harm’s way merely by association. As a family man, I imagine this aspect is often at the forefront of the mind of The Bendis, and why it appears in his work so much. SPOILERS Jessica Jones has lost the trust of her husband by going undercover for S.H.I.E.L.D. and hiding their child from him, and her old habits are creeping in as she tries to cope. Over in Spider-Man, Miles and his father are confronted by Rio, who has finally pieced together that they have been lying to her face about their lives away from home. These resolutions go as you would expect, with forced explanations doing very little to soothe hurt feelings and uncertainty about the future. It’s in these personal and emotional stakes that we most see ourselves, and it’s how we get invested in a story. A long form genre comic that deals only in the escapism aspect will always be the lesser for ignoring that fact. Thanks, Bendis and your amazing art teams, for putting some truth about the human experience up on Front Street.

I covered a bit more than usual this week, and got delayed by storms knocking out my internet, so I’ll just briefly touch on the upcoming end of some of my favorite books, whether due to cancellation, the end of a run, or just the fact that they are only a mini-series. In the next few months we are losing Unfollow, Clean Room, Patsy Walker aka Hellcat, Letter 44, Invincible, God Country, and more. They will be missed, and I look forward to whatever these creators are up to next.

Having said that, remember that you vote with your dollar. Buy the books that mean something to you, especially if they are taking big chances and/or at a publisher that quickly drops the axe once sales hit a certain low. And DO NOT be one of those asshats that drops a title simply because it’s a mini-series. Not every story needs to go for a decade or more. We can all be better about getting the word out, so that great work is recognized and those behind it can make a living. It’s precisely why I own a comic shop, and why I make this blog. Be a one-nerd comics street team. Tell your friends and family. Share on social media. Go to conventions FOR THE ACTUAL COMICS. It’s a small community, in the greater scheme of things, but it cannot be a clubhouse. You’re all welcome, and there’s always room for more.

Be good, support your local shops, and I’ll see you in seven.

 

The Stack-2/1/17

In new books on February 2, 2017 at 5:06 pm

When you’re working the retail side of this business, every penny counts, so you sometimes come up with bizarre ways to get attention. This week I unleashed my new stick puppet, Ant Morrison, into the world (see the store link in my ‘Meet the Author’ section). If you are familiar with GRANT Morrison it should be a hoot. However, most folks have told me that I just sound like Mrs. Doubtfire. The word is still out on how well this has translated into sales or chuckles. Stay tuned.

For now, let’s take a look at what hit shelves this week.

stack4

Blood Blister #1 (Phil Hester, Tony Harris, Eric Layton, Guy Major, Dave Sharpe-Aftershock): Brand Hull is a truly despicable human being. He lives to deceive, and to screw people over, and relishes every minute of it. So when he finds himself in a haunted house that seems to lead to Hell, it’s not all that surprising when its terrifying denizens tell him that he’s home. This one’s got tons of potential, and seems to be headed for an examination of the forms that evil can take. I’m still a big fan of Tony Harris’s art, but in recent years it has moved more towards a simpler, stylized form, and I just think that the more photo realistic Starman-era work would better suit the story here.

Paper Girls #11 (Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher, Dee Cunniffe-Image): After a small hiatus, the best damn comic about timeline-wandering girls who deliver newspapers is back, and it is chock full of floating grandmas, Cathy (from the syndicated comic strip, of course) jokes, MORE giant monsters, and futuristic technology that’s all apparently made by Apple. Vaughan and Chiang are killing it on this book, which is a must read, especially if you’re a fan of stuff like Stranger Things.

Karnak #6 (Warren Ellis, Roland Boschi, Dan Brown, VC’s Clayton Cowles-Marvel): Holy shit, what a great ending to this series. This is one of the many reasons I adore Warren Ellis. He has taken a character in a superhero comic that could easily be boring (He has the ability to see the flaw in anything and then destroy it based on that information. Let’s just have him karate fight robots!), and given him some philosophical opposition to contend with–a character who essentially represents the Terrigen Mist that he was denied at birth. It needs to be pointed out as well that Roland Boschi’s moody, drybrush art makes an excellent pairing for this story. This one was well worth the wait.

Champions #5 (Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado, VC’s Clayton Cowles-Marvel): I have many thoughts about this issue. So many. I’ll state up front that I really enjoy this comic. It’s full of inspiring young heroes who want to help without always punching and destroying everything. That’s admirable. Where we run into trouble this month is when the plot is revealed to be essentially a heavy-handed parable about Trump’s America. It’s distractingly on the nose, and maybe right now we need that, but it felt kinda lazy and didactic. Then there’s (groan) Gwenpool. I am not a fan. Making a silly variant cover that then gets made into a popular cosplay is probably not a good enough reason to add a character to the continuity. Let’s be honest here: She’s Harley Quinn. Marvel just wants a Harley. And I can see that she is meant to be the reckless idiot here that the Champions have to school, to show people that throwing bombs at cops is not such a great idea (yeah, that actually happens), but I just get the feeling that nothing is going to change, and if she stays with the team they’re just going to have to babysit her and her nutty, eccentric murder impulses.

That’s all I’ve got time to cover for now. What say YOU, gentle reader? Comment below. Until we meet again, make your enthusiasm for comics infectious, and support your local shop!