Comic Review: Seconds

Everyone wants a do-over at some point in their lives. We’ve all had decisions we’ve made that we regret and want a second chance.

Seconds is one of those times where we get a peek at someone’s do-over, or rather do-overs. Bryan Lee O’Malley, famous for the Scott Pilgrim series, writes this unique take on one chef’s do-overs through the power of magical mushrooms from her dresser drawer.

Yup. Mushrooms.

75cd77559a8ce52d0211db98c0ddaae5Katie is a young, talented chef whose life spirals out of her control. All she wants is a second chance, and these mushrooms are going to give it to her. Suddenly her life is perfect.That’s where the story starts to get even wilder than it already is.

O’Malley’s characters are fun, and the world is immersive. I’ve always loved his art style because it is expressive and detailed. It was easy to disappear into this world he created and I wanted to befriend the characters.

Nathan Fairbairn’s colors for this book are fantastic and make O’Malley’s world come alive.

Reading Katie’s story made me wonder if I ever wanted a second chance with any of my decisions. What are the rules with second chances? The rules are where Seconds shines, and that’s an area that is often unexplored when it comes to plots like this.

O’Malley’s unique take on second chances with Seconds makes this well worth the read. If you’re looking for a fun graphic novel, I recommend this without any hesitation.

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Comic Review: Monstress

Resident Assistant training is finally over, and its syllabus week, which means I have time to write a review for one of the other comics I have most anticipated reading after Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Put Monstress on your radar, cause that’s what this week is all about.

Monstress vol. 1: Awakening is a comic I was drawn to because of the art. I’m a sucker for beautiful things, and the art reminded me of the detailed work of Bizenghast, a manga series I read in high school.

The artistic details of Monstress are gorgeous. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the monstress-vol-1featured image, or the ornate work on the cover. Artwork is such an important aspect to a graphic novel, that I couldn’t let this one drop off my radar. And after picking it up at Boston Comic Con, I was excited to read it as soon as I could. Congratulations to Sana Takeda for their flawless style for hooking me well before I picked this up.

Enough about the art (because I could go on about it forever).

Monstress drops  you into the middle of the action about the protagonist, Maika, and as a reader, you’re sort of unsure what’s happening at the start. The story is written and drawn that you’ll have enough information by volume one’s end to keep you coming back for more, and fill in the blanks from the beginning.

Maika is at the center of a number of magical incidents thanks to her mother. She spends quite a lot of time blasting herself out of captivity using her magic, and several weapons that she wields quite well despite missing one arm. Maika is formidable with her magic, and shouldn’t be messed with.

Marjorie Liu has created a wonderful story in the first volume (issues 1-6) of Monstress. I already can’t wait to read volume two. All of the characters have rich stories, and there is so much world-building. Its easy to be drawn in by more than just the art alone. Give Monstress a read if you are looking for a great fantasy read. Its well worth it.

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Comic Review: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

I’ve anticipated reading Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur since it was first announced at the Women in Marvel panel at NYCC in 2015. That’s how excited I’ve been to read this comic.

It combines my too favorite things: stories about smart little girls, and dinosaurs.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is about Lunella. She’s been touted as the smartest character in Marvel’s universe. Pretty cool, right?

After some mishaps, Lunella ends up gaining a dinosaur friend that bursts (literally) into her life. In short order, Lunella realizes that having a dinosaur around is great, but a huge complication when you live in a city.

Devil Dinosaur came with some not so friendly pals, who are causing a huge stir in New York City. They call themselves the Killer-Folk, and will mug you for everything you’ve got before you have the chance to run.

8Amy Reeder captured my attention with this comic. She hits important notes about kids and being a kid that we might forget as we grow older.

Lunella is a gifted kid. We see this in how bored she is at school. She gets in trouble because she’s not challenged enough, or she gets bullied because she knows a lot. I relate to this 100%. Being curious as a kid can be good, but it can also be damning because it leads to being taunted and teased by classmates.

Not everyone is unfortunate to experience bullying in the classroom. But being teased like this is what kept me quiet in class. It was easier to keep my nose in a book than speak up when I knew the answer.

I applaud Reeder at her ability to handle the difficulties Lunella faces as she tries to navigate growing up. Even Lunella’s supportive parent’s struggle with making sure their daughter still has a safe, enjoyable childhood while also being challenged.

If you haven’t picked up Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, you should. Its funny, and thoughtful. Plus, who doesn’t love a dinosaur romping through modern New York City? The trade has been out since July 5, so you can read issues 1-6. I’m excited to continue reading about Lunella and her adventures.

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Comic Review: X-Campus

Now that I’m back from Boston Comic-Con, I’ve got plenty to read, and even more comics to write about.

One of the first trades I picked up for the weekend was X-Campus.

I’ve always been a big fan of the X-Men, so I thought this would be an interesting read, plus I got it cheap in one of the many “Buy one get two free” sales happening on the floor. These are the kinds of sales I’m about because you pay the highest cover price between the three books, and then you get the other two for free. Not a bad way to deal, right? And if you can’t find three books, you’ll often get the one or two you do find for 50% off.

So what’s X-Campus about? Well, if you understanding fanfiction alternate universes, this is one of them. Welcome to the X-Men College/High School AU.

I wish I were joking.

xcampus1vAt the start of the volume, we find ourselves with Anna Raven aka Rogue. She’s struggling with whatever happened to her boyfriend when they touched, and has no idea what’s going on. Mystique drafts her to the university, and suddenly we’re meeting Hank McCoy, Ororo Munroe, Jean Grey, Professor Xavier, Bobby Drake, Scott Summers, and Logan.

Yup. The gang is all here. And they’re confused about the changes happening to their body. As if puberty wasn’t bad enough.

A bunch of other X-Men and members of The Brotherhood show up as the early works of both groups start to form.

This comic is so cheesy. I expected this, but I think all the cheese made me lactose intolerant.

Honestly, the cartoon, X-Men: Evolution handled the origin stories for the characters, and establishing the universe much better than this comic. There were some confusing plot holes that one would need some background knowledge of the characters to understand some of the subtleties of the character developments.

I can only recommend X-Campus if you want a good laugh, and maybe if you like reading alternate universes that probably are done better in fanfiction. Rather than read this, go watch X-Men: Evolution. At least they managed to handle the characters and the Apocalypse storyline the best.

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Comic Review: Storm

Storm has been part of the X-Men since 1975. She’s has quite the history that has taken her all over the world, and even to Asgard. Ororo has led the X-Men a time or two, and been a queen. In knowing that, I was excited to put her solo series on my list.

In the beginning of Storm: Make it Rain, Storm is out stopping a tsunami. Yup.

Hank McCoy is holding down the fort at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning and Storm is saving a small village from a tsunami.

9e451d7c590cc593fe2a3bd19a76e55b-_sx640_ql80_ttd_And that speaks well to her character. She’s always been more of a doer for others. Ororo is all about getting her hands dirty instead of waiting for politics to sort themselves out. Cause that can take a while.

Storm is always striving for a better more peaceful way. Something that will stem any bloodshed; mutant, civilian, or otherwise. She wants peace for the world, and will do anything she can to achieve it for small communities, or big cities.

Remember that tsunami I mentioned before? Well, she stops it. And much of the action slows from there too. While there is action, its not page after page of fighting. A lot of the first volume is Storm working through past encounters, and past relationships. Which is important for overall character development.

The art changes hands a few times between Victor Ibanez and Matteo Buffagni, and sometimes it seems between pages and not just individual issues. Sometimes its pretty flawless, but others you’ll notice subtle differences.

Greg Pak did such an amazing job with writing Storm. While there isn’t as much action, instead there is a lot of character emotion and depth. Pak takes such a rich and vast history of the protagonist, and weaves it beautifully so that you don’t have to know everything to know what has made her into who you’re reading. Storm has weathered so much in her life, and that’s evident by how she handles a variety of interactions throughout the five issues collected in volume one.

If you’re interested in the X-Men and mutants, particularly about Storm, then Storm: Make it Rain is for you. There is so much depth with her character that is shown within the pages. Its well worth the read.

 

Comic Review: Rocket Girl

Time travel. Jet packs. The 80s. All awesome things, right?

You’ll find all of those things and more in Rocket Girl.

15-year-old Dayoung Johansson travels back to 1986 from 2013 to stop a major corporation from utilizing their time travel machine in order to get ahead. Reminds me of “Back to the Future II,” and Biff using the DeLorean to set up his future riches.

Written by Brandon Montclare and illustrated by Amy Reeder (the duo also does Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur), Rocket Girl is quite the adventure.

cover1-r6Protagonist Dayoung Johansson is quite the spitfire as a police officer of the future. She has a strong moral compass, and dreamed of always being part of the New York Teen Police Department (NYTPD). Teen Police Department? Yup. You read that right. In order to prevent corrupt cops, the police department is filled with teenagers. If you work there until you’re 30, then you receive a contract from Quintum Mechanics, the company Johansson is trying to stop.

As someone who was born in 1990, its interesting to have another comic give me another perspective on the 80s.

Montclare does a great job capturing my attention with the story of Johansson and her colleagues in the NYTPD. I’m eager to read more of their adventures, and see the parallels that happen between the “1986 Present” and the “2013 Past.” Don’t worry, that will all make sense when you read the comic.

Reeder’s art is one of my favorite parts about Rocket Girl. The layouts of the action, and the pages is so fluid. I can’t see it being any other way.

I also liked that the bonus content was from Montclare describing the different page layouts for some of the more action-packed scenes, and then Reeder’s designs of how each panel and page was put in order to capture what they both were visualizing. I included one of my favorite page spread at the end so you’ll see what I mean!

I definitely recommend Rocket Girls if you’re a fan of time travel, the 80s, and jet packs. Plus a whole host of other bits that make this story a great romp in the past.

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Comic Review: Princess Leia

Star Wars is all the rage right now. They’ve finished filming Episode VIII, Rogue One releases December 16, and we’re all coming up with theories to answer the big question on our mind: who is Rey’s family?

I grew up watching Star Wars thanks to my mom, so its a franchise near and dear to my heart. It even inspired my next tattoo.

Marvel started producing some Star Wars comics that fill in some gaps of our favorite characters, like Darth Vader, Poe Dameron, and Kanan. It seemed only fitting that the Princess Leia comic got added to the list.

Star Wars: Princess Leia takes place after Star Wars: A New Hope. Luke and Han head off on fullmissions after the awards ceremony, and Leia is quick to head out herself. After her home planet was blown up by the Death Star, she’s eager to collect the orphans of Alderaan in order to preserve their culture. Leia sets out with another child of the planet, pilot Evaan Verlaine. Evaan was directly mentored by Leia’s mother, Queen Breha Organa, and wants to help Leia find and protect the remaining Alderaan survivors. In fact, Evaan was the one that mentioned the Galactic Empire was hunting down the remaining Alderaan citizens.

Together (with R2-D2 in tow), they defy the Rebel leaders and start to pick up survivors on Naboo, and then to a hideout on Sullust.

There’s shootouts, dogfights, and of course plenty of sass from our future General.

Being able to see what Leia was up to between the film timelines was heartwarming. Not only do you get to see her be sassy towards those around her, but you also get to experience her diplomatic side. Leia proves to be a compassionate leader that cares so deeply for her people.

I loved seeing the adventures that Leia was up to between the film verse.

Mark Waid does a great job with the story in making it interesting and providing us wih a different glimpse at Leia. Also introducing us to Evaan. That was awesome.

And Todd Dodson has some great art. He captured the action and excitement of the story written by Waid.

If you enjoy Star Wars and want to learn more about our favorite Princess and future General, pick up Star Wars: Princess Leia.

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Comic Review: Nimona

I love a good villain story. Who doesn’t want to learn about how a nemesis came about?

Nimona first came into my radar after I had read Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson. I loved Lumberjanes, so picking up their first webcomic turned novel seemed only appropriate.

Nimona is about a sassy young shapeshifter who befriends Lord Ballister Blackheart, a known villain who usually has his plans foiled by Sir Ambrosious Goldenloin. Blackheart and Nimona team up as a supervillain and sidekick duo bent on revealing that the Institution of Law Enforcement isn’t a band of heroes like they’ve led the citizens to believe.

There’s science, magic, dragons, and swordfights. What’s not to love about this story?

18272408Nimona is such a fun character. She’s impulsive, and wants to see Blackheart succeed in his villainy. And she has quite a knack for helping each of Blackheart’s plans work perfectly, if not better than they anticipated. Nimona might have a bit more bloodlust going for her, but she’s respectful of Blackheart’s wishes to keep the civilians safe.

Blackheart has such a good heart. He’s taken a rough circumstance handed to him, and chose to make lemons out of it. This inevitably has led him to be the villain. But its not blood he’s out for, which is unlike most I can think of. Blackheart cares deeply for the friendship he’s formed with Nimona, and still keeps in mind that she’s a child. In some ways you could say he might be a moral compass.

The duo is probably best described with a simple exchange –
Blackheart: Nimona, no.
Nimona: NIMONA, YES!

The dialogue is funny. And it does such a wonderful job giving the characters room to share their lives, and their personalities.

I love the art style. Its fun, and I can’t imagine it done any other way.

The story will keep you turning the page. I don’t want to delve too much into the plot besides the aforementioned.

I definitely recommend Nimona for anyone who has read Stevenson’s Lumberjanes, and wants to see where they got their start. But also because this villain story is so good, and worth reading. I’m so glad to have this comic on my summer reading list.

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Comic Aritst: Phil Noto

I was first introduced into Phil Noto‘s art when I picked up the the first volume for the Black Widow series (which I’m going to write a review for later).

And then I picked up the second volume. Followed by an 11×17 Black Widow piece for my wall. #worthit

Phil Noto has incredible talent.

His art is rich in color, and has this beautiful touch to it. I don’t even know how to describe it properly.

Every page of a comic he’s done, or a variant cover feels like a work of art. There’s so many character portraits on his Tumblr that I would put up on a wall in a future apartment of mine.

Noto’s lines are soft, yet add subtle detail to each piece when combined with his colors.

I know I keep talking about the color in his pieces, but I think you see what I mean:

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I’m going to follow Noto’s comic work because I want to see more of his art in my life.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen

Spider-Man has been a popular character. He’s had three actors portray him with the different series reboots he’s received in order to properly align him with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Peter Parker has meant a lot to fans over the years. But maybe like myself, you’ve wanted other characters with powers like Spider-Man’s to fight crime. I’ve already introduced you to Silk aka Cindy Moon. Now let’s look at someone much closer to Peter that has the spidey-sense.

Thanks to the Spider-Verse, let me introduce you to Spider-Gwen.

Originally from a five issue series by Jason Latour, Spider-Gwen is in a universe where Peter doesn’t get bit by that nasty radioactive spider, Gwen Stacey does. And now she has her own solo series.

You’re probably wondering what makes Spider-Gwen so interesting?

portrait_uncannyWell, when we first meet Gwen, she’s in the drummer for The Mary Janes, a rock band to support Em Jay Watson’s singing career. She ends up quitting after fighting a villain at one of their concerts, and Em Jay claiming she doesn’t like Gwen’s attitude. That’s okay, Em Jay, Gwen has much better things to do.

All of your usual Spider-Man humor is present with Gwen being just as cheeky as Peter. Sometimes she just sings the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song because she can. And who doesn’t hum or sing an ear-worm just to get rid of it?

The original five issue run has a lot of mixed emotions. Many feel like anything Spidey related is overdone, and others feel like the story is confusing.

What Spider-Gwen vol. 0: Most Wanted does is briefly touch on her origin story (and let readers fill in the rest), and then dive into her present life. That’s actually all fine with me. I don’t want another rehash of this because I think that’s been beaten to death. So suddenly we’re thrown into the action of Spider-Gwen parading about stopping villains that endanger the city’s civilians.

I love Jason Latour’s writing of the series. He instills what people like about Spider-Man, but also giving Gwen a life of her own.

Robbi Rodriguez does a phenomenal job with the art. Its actually my favorite part of the series. The colors are quirky, but fitting. Gwen’s outfit is my favorite. Who wouldn’t want to swing around in a comfortable hoodie like hers?

Now that Spider-Gwen gets her own series, you can follow her escapades in Spider-Gwen vol. 1: Greater Power.

I’ve been recommending Spider-Gwen to my friends who are tired of Peter Parker always getting the focus, and are looking for an interesting alternate.

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