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Review: Oh S#!t It’s Kim and Kim #1

Summer time means that it’s time for more rad bounty hunter adventures featuring Kim Q and Kim D, and they have a new (Ongoing this time.) title from Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre. After the events of Kim and Kim: Love is A Battlefield, the Fighting Kims have gone corporate with all the requisite perks, including insurance, stable pay, and even a spaceship. However, they have cost their boss Kathleen a lot in collateral damage and have crazy high premiums on that insurance. In Oh S#!t It’s Kim and Kim #1, Kathleen gives the Kims a basic assignment to wear fancy dresses and watch legendary art thief, Xue Peng, while she steals a painting from Peng’s vault. But it’s never that easy, and by the time the final page rolls around, Kim Q and Kim D are on yet another wacky adventure: this time of the Belinda Carlisle variety.

Kim Q is the narrator of Oh S#!t It’s Kim and Kim, and Visaggio and Cabrera frame many of the scenes in the book from her POV while also planting the initial idea of the “Heaven Is A Place on Earth” job within a job heist into Peng’s head. However, before she starts fights with pool cues (Her trademark bass is sadly taking the issue off.) against guys with guns and cybernetic probability machines, Kim Q does get a splash of cold, hard reality.  Even though she’s in a stable bounty hunter position with an email address of all things, Kim Q still treats her life like she and Kim D are still on the van living from job to job and barely scraping by. In a kind of sad inset panel from Cabrera, Kathleen also draws attention to the bandages and bruises that Kim Q has gotten in her line of work that might not reflect best on her organization.

However, Oh S#!t It’s Kim and Kim isn’t all workplace performance reviews, and when the Fighting Kims reach the Planet Ballarat, the book is back to its looser flow with plenty of fighting, flirting, and scheming. Kim D is a little overwhelmed by the magnetic presence of Xue Peng, who definitely know she’s being tailed, and that Kim D is town for business, not pleasure. She’s like the person who goes to Vegas for the business trip part, not the high rolling and bad decisions part. Speaking of high rolling, Eva Cabrera choreographs one hell of a fight scene in the casino and  gives it a slick Casino Royale feel. It starts out with a sedate grid as Kim D starts to hash out the terms of their partnership with Xue Peng and then tilts and erupts into a shower of pinks and yellows from Claudia Aguirre as the action kicks in. It finally builds to a crescendo of a group brawl, and Xue Peng having instant chemistry with the Fighting Kims using her whip to restrain a guy, who uses a cybernetic probability machine to overtly cheat at cards.

My favorite sequence is this almost triptych of three panels of Kim Q, Kim D, and Xue Peng doing their things with a two handed pool cue beatdown, gun shot, and big time kick. Cabrera is really good at conveying motion in her panels, and Visaggio knows when to let the violence do the talking or throw in a pre or post ass kicking one liner. The big casino action scene also tells a lot about Kim Q’s character as she feels restrained by going corporate and wants to cut loose sometimes and beat up some guys while wearing a fancy dress and plan a score without a real plan. This whole responsibility thing is lost on her, but sometimes pop music recordings and personal revenge are a little more fun. However, Visaggio doesn’t introduce the whole personal angle to the heist until the last page, and it definitely complicates what was already an increasingly complex babysitting job.

Even though they’re technically corporate, Kim Q and Kim D still have big personalities and get into bigger scraps in the super fun ode to arrested development that is Oh S#!t It’s Kim and Kim #1. The classy casino setting allows Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre to make some wonderful fashion choices in the midst of the carnage while Magdalene Visaggio introduces the Fighting Kims to a new character that might be a little much for even them. Xiu Peng has instant chemistry with our two leads, and I look forward to this power trio’s insurance premium increasing crimes and misdemeanors.

Story: Magdalene Visaggio Art: Eva Cabrera
Colors: Claudia Aguirre Letters: Zakk Saam

Story: 8.7 Art: 9 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Kim and Kim Love is A Battlefield #4

Kim and Kim Love is A Battlefield sadly reaches its conclusion in this issue as Kim Q and Kim D fly part of a broken mecha thing into a giant ship and fight Kim D’s very evil ex Laz so they can get a $250,000 bounty, get Kim and Kim LLC back on track, and maybe turn their regular cat into a talking cat. Artist Eva Cabrera plays with a tight grid for some of her fight scenes and captures the feel of kicking, punching, shooting, and bass swinging inside the close quarters of a spaceship while going full romance comic when Kim D has two different heart to hearts with Kim Q and Laz. Writer Mags Visaggio continues to bring the snappy dialogue and gives a satisfying end (and possible new beginning) to the Kims’ personal arcs, and colorist Claudia Aguirre uses plenty of pink and yellow

After Kim and Kim Love is a Battlefield #4’s one page cold open that kind of encapsulates what went wrong in Kim D and Laz’s relationship, Visaggio, Cabrera, and Aguirre deliver on the spaceship flying, boarding, and slaying buddy team-up that George Lucas wishes he could have pulled off in Revenge of the Sith. It’s not as Gundam Wing as last issue’s set-piece, but Cabrera gets a space marine with the Kims’ cute as hell spaceships and even dedicates an entire panel to Kim Q’s bass with not a dialogue/caption box or human being in sight. Unlike the previous issue, Kim Q and Kim D work in tandem and make short work of Laz’s goons with plenty of hilarious reaction shots from aforementioned goons to show that they have no chance against the fighting Kims.

Even though it’s a kick-ass, gun toting space bounty hunter jamboree, I love how Visaggio and Cabrera slow down and get real about relationships of all sorts towards the end of Kim and Kim #4. Obviously, Kim D gets to beat the crap out of Laz in a mostly silent, powerful series of panels while confronting her for using her over the course of their relationship and even after in the early issues of Love is a Battlefield. But Visaggio also lets Laz speak up for herself and talk about how difficult it was to be in a relationship with such driven, gung-ho person. With the exception of an opening bass bash, the scene between Kim D and Laz is just them with Cabrera turning on the waterworks and then zooming for one last punch that is more for catharsis than badass style. In addition to this relationship, Visaggio, Cabrera, and Aguirre also check in on Kim Q and Saar, who downgrade from friends with benefits to just friends with mixed results as Saar goes in for the kiss. And Kim Q calls him out for this while speeding away on her motorcycle, and their conversation shows the messiness of mixing sexy things and friendship.

But, of course, Love is a Battlefield #4 always comes back to the friendship between Kim Q and Kim D. There’s the obvious action team-ups and fast paced conversation (I swear Mags Visaggio’s dialogue increases in fun and quip volume when they chat.), but god, I would love to have someone look at me the same way Kim Q looks at Kim D and vice versa. For example, Eva Cabrera cuts to Kim Q saying “Hot” when she watches Kim D attacking Laz, and there’s an earlier scene where Kim D goes into “mom mode” and makes Kim Q stop pretending she’s in a horror flick so they can coordinate an attack on Laz’s ship. This filled with silliness, yet emotionally resonant bond between them along with all well-choreographed hand to hand combat and well-developed secondary relationships with characters like Kathleen, Saar, and of course, Laz is what makes Kim and Kim Love is a Battlefield an enjoyable read.

The final issue of Kim and Kim Love is Battlefield concludes with an empowering and optimistic essay by Sam Riedel where she asks, “What is the story of your future?” And Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre end the miniseries on an up note with the Kims finally starting to realize their potential as human beings, friends, and even bounty hunters. It’s been a rough journey of violence, emotional baggage, and some pretty rad vehicular warfare, but Kim Q and Kim D come out on top as the flawed, funny, and kick ass queer heroes that I wish I could see more of in pop culture.

Story: Mags Visaggio Art: Eva Cabrera Colors: Claudia Aguirre
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Kim and Kim: Love is A Battlefield #3

Kim and  Kim: Love is a Battlefield #3 combines all the epic insanity of that great sci-fi anime you stayed up all night watching on Toonami with relatable, real life stuff like shirking responsibilities and staying up all night with someone who is hot, but not good for you. And going to all night diners. Also, there’s a mecha and a really cool bounty hunter ship plus Kim Q beats up and electrocutes some random vest wearing with a bass on the first page. On that page, artist Eva Cabrera and colorist Claudia Aguirre give us some of the best lightning-inflected bass lines this side of Cliff Burton’s early Metallica work.

Storywise, writer Mags Visaggio plays with a structure a little bit splitting up the Kim’s for most of the issue and having them “work out” their issues with other supporting characters before reuniting them in a cathartic, crowd pleasing way towards the end of the issue She also raises Laz’s status as the series’ Big Bad connecting her to the larger universe of Kim and Kim (And a terrorist organization called Adversary.) while not neglecting the core friendship at the center of the comic. Visaggio writes heat of action banter really well, like when Kim Q calls the Adversary’s goons “koopa troppas”, but she can also serve up some emotional rawness like when Kim Q tells her boy toy/action sidekick that she is just doing the whole sex and violence thing to take her mind off Kim D being hung up on her toxic ex. (“Hate fuck” is a key clue.) Kim D also has a conversation with future mercenary queen, Kathleen, about her emotional issues with Kim Q on the backburner and focusing on taking down a dangerous terrorist and making a little scratch along the way. However, when you really care for and love someone, a little thing like a terror syndicate gets put on the backburner.

One of my favorite things about Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield #3 is that the action flows out of character. Kim Q wants to forget about her troubles so she and Saar decide to kick all of the collective asses even if that means attacking a terrorist group with a bass guitar just because they have a cool mecha. From the beginning, Visaggio, Cabrera, and Aguirre show the glee that Kim Q takes in the art of battle from her electrifying her bass guitar like it’s Frankenstein’s Monster and she’s a mad scientist to singing West Side Story lyrics while knocking heads. Every kick, punch, or swing of her bass helps her feel less of the pain of her separation from Kim Q. And, of course, she ends up fighting Kim D as Kim Q and Saar’s mecha comes into conflict with Kathleen and Kim D’s tricked out mercenary ship. On the outside, it’s the Pacific Rim/Cowboy Bebop crossover you’ve always dreamed about, but it’s really Kim D and Kim Q working out their issues via rad vehicles and weapons. Also, the faces that Cabrera makes Kim Q pull while she’s trying to drive Adversary’s mecha are seriously hilarious. There’s no instruction manual for this kind of thing.

Rad action, check. Funny one-liners from Mags Visaggio, cool fashion choices (Especially in the sunglasses department) from Eva Cabrera, and a pleasing color palette from Claudia Aguirre, check. Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield #3 expertly melds entertainment with emotional honesty, and I can’t wait for the miniseries finale and for Kim Q and Kim D to do their team up against a super evil ex girlfriend thing and maybe find a little closure along the way.

Story: Mags Visaggio Art: Eva Cabrera Colors: Claudia Aguirre
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Kim and Kim Love is a Battlefield #2

“Feel your feelings fool!”-The Regrettes

Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre continue to showcase one of the best friendships period in Kim and Kim Love is a Battlefield #2  with some real talk, ass kicking, and humorous Terry Pratchett with touch of matriarchal worldbuilding as Kim Q and Kim D run after Kim D’s ex Laz, who has a vial of blood from their last bounty that is worth a hell of a lot of money. Cabrera and Aguirre can sure choreograph a fight scene against faceless mooks featuring sick bass guitar moves, but it’s the conversations after and before the battles that really hit home. This is because Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield #2 is about a strained relationship between two friends because one friend keeps trying to make up with an ex, who continually tries to hurt her. And they happen to be interplanetary bounty hunters, who go to literal Hell sometimes.

Visaggio keeps Kim and Kim Love is a Battlefield fresh by switching the character dynamic and making Kim Q basically even though she totally hooked up with former enemy and definite fuzzy dude Saar last issue. Exhibit A through Z is the final fight scene of the issue where Kim Q is painfully taking out a horde of Laz’s goons while Kim D chases after her ex. Through Cabrera’s facial expressions, it’s pretty obvious that Kim D is grasping at one last reunion with Laz, which Kim Q totally calls her out on while getting sewn up back in the van. Never underestimate the power of physical attraction and deep sexy chemistry to trump reason and morality.

Kim Q and Kim D’s “descent into the underworld” is yet another nice riff off classical storytelling tropes from Mags Visaggio because Hell isn’t ruled by an emo rocker and his ugly friends or a blue flamed hair guy, who keeps women against their will, but a wise and badass grandmother figure, who happens to be Kim D’s ancestor. Claudia Aguirre uses some sick yellows and purples to show the transfer in dimensions while Eva Cabrera adds some shiny glitter to the background to show different it is from the waking world. Also, both Kim’s are incredibly truthful in Hell with Kim D waxing incredibly poetic about a giraffe necklace that she got from Laz for her “monthiversary” that turns out to be a fake. On the other hand, a bright eyed Kim Q pours out her heart about how Kim D is “stuck” with her, and those eyes return when Kim Q continues to tell Kim D how much she cares throughout the issue. As always, Visaggio tempers the emotional moments with clever humor like having Kim Q remark about how the patriarchy is destroying romance novels.

Even though their physical fights are against death-shades and masked goons, the real battle in Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield #2 is between emotional honesty and deflection. Early on in the issue, Kim Q says that she’s there for Kim D to pour out her feelings after the messiness of the previous installment. However, Kim D keeps ducking the question and won’t even clear up why her necromancy had some unnecessary side effects although the caption boxes reveal that Laz was on her mind too much while she was in Hell. Usually, Kim D’s trademark wink followed by a question about Kim Q’s sexy times is adorable or funny, but it’s a little annoying when she has some real things to work through. And this annoyance erupts like a volcano when the usually bound-at-the-hip Kim Q and Kim D take a little break from each other. It’s not a melodramatic “Cyclops leaves the X-Men and becomes a shirtless fishing boat crew member” break, but there’s definitely a little more space between them than usual.

Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield #2 combines soul searing friend chats about relationships past and present with ass kicking, interdimensional travel, and a fierce fashion aeshetic. Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre continue to do fantastic work crafting one of the most complicated, funny, and plain awesome female friendships in comics.

Story: Mags Visaggio Art: Eva Cabrera Colors: Claudia Aguirre
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Panels To Chords #1: Queer N’ Roll with Kim & Kim

Welcome to the second episode of Panels To Chords. We’ll be talking about our song choices for the summer 2016 hit from Black Mask Studios. Joining Ben and Madi are Elana Brooklyn and Logan Dalton, fellow comic critics at Graphic Policy and elsewhere.

KIM & KIM

Writer: Magdalene Visaggio, Artist: Eva Cabrera, Colorist: Claudia Aguirre, Letterer: Zakk Saam, Editor: Katy Rex, Covers: Tess Fowler w/ Kiki Jenkins, Devaki Neogi.

“Kim & Kim are twentysomething besties out to make a name for themselves in the wild world of interdimensional cowboy law enforcement. In a massive “screw you” to their parents and the authorities, they decide to hijack some high stakes bounty — and end up in way over their heads. Kim & Kim is a day-glo action adventure that’s bursting with energy and enthusiasm. It puts queer women and trans women front and center, with a story that embraces the absurd alongside realistic pathos.

“Blending the punk exuberance of TANK GIRL with the buddy adventure wackiness of SUPERBAD (if Michael Cera was a trans woman and Jonah Hill a queergirl partner in crime), Kim & Kim focuses on the power and meaning of female friendships as engines of validation. A bright, happy, punk rock sci fi adventure that is queer as shit.”

–From Black Mask Studios’ website

 

 

Review: Kim and Kim: Love is A Battlefield #1

KimandKimCoverThe most punk rock, queer girl bounty hunters are back with vengeance and a side of feels in Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield #1. A simple bounty with a big payout goes bad when Kim D’s ex, Laz (Who is the worst ever.) happens to live on the same planet where they’re collecting the bounty. Kim Q also runs into Saar, who worked for her evil dad, Furious, back in Kim and Kim. Punches are thrown, drinks thrown down, and there are bad decisions all around in a hell of a first issue from the Eisner nominated team of writer Mags Visaggio, artist Eva Cabrera, and colorist Claudia Aguirre.

Love is a Battlefield #1 has great banter, action, and definitely got a glow-up in the fashion and hairstyle department. However, what makes this best issue of Kim and Kim yet is the sharp focus of Visaggio’s script. She kicks it Aristotle’s dramatic unities style, and the issue only takes place on the party planet/artificial island of Kinna over a single crazy night with a tight knit cast of the Kims, Laz, and Saar for a little bit. The strong, linear plot allows Visaggio, Cabrera, and Aguirre to zero in on the relationship between the Kims and also Kim D and Laz.

Love is a Battlefield a sci-fi story where rhino holograms and shooting blue space goo at your partner in crime is a normal occurrence. It’s also filled with relatable moments like loving your friend, but hating their bad decisions as seen in Kim D’s narration when Kim Q rushes their bounty, Symanski, and hits him with her bass instead of letting Kim D snipe him. This continues when Kim D almost gets back with her ex, Lax, who really just wants to steal their bounty, which has to be verified with a vial of his blood. Visaggio and Cabrera play the scene like two exes reconnecting complete with KimandKimINteriorred hearts from Aguirre, and they make small talk about their employment and joke about an old TV show they watched. But then it’s all gun toting, wrestling, and getting screwed over.

Kim Q and Kim D’s dynamic is personally strengthened by the comfort and comedy they bring to each other when having ex drama. Kim Q stutters and slurs her dialogue when Kim D catches her in the bathroom with Saar awkwardly adjusting her top, but Kim D is supportive and orders a round of drinks. Likewise, Kim Q is there to poke all kind of holes in the non-existent ship that is Kim D and Laz with non-stop snarky comments about Laz and her utter terribleness and nesting behavior. This support increases when basically everything hits the fan towards the end of Love is a Battlefield #1 and is symbolized by Cabrera’s simple panel of Kim and Kim holding hands. The issue definitely has a down ending, but Kim Q and Kim D are still together and ready to kick ass and eat terrible noodles.

Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre bring a slick, fun, yet detailed art style and color palette to Love is a Battlefield #1. Aguirre’s pulsating color palette and the deep red of Kim Q’s new shades definitely get the party started. They kill at the club scene perfectly melding dance moves with some crucial worldbuilding from Mags Visaggio. Kim Q and Kim D’s actions at the club on Kinna also reveal their characters with Kim Q being the life of the party and doing shots while Kim D chills out with her self-titled snapback pulled down low. (It gets used as a coaster in one of the funnier visual jokes of the comic.) And when the firing starts, Cabera uses a tight six panel grid for confrontations between characters and firearms and then opens up the page when a chase begins. You won’t miss a single punch or sniper shot thanks to Cabrera’s clean inking and Aguirre’s colors that are bright, but not nauseating.

What made Kim and Kim such an endearing and enduring series was the fantastic personalities of Kim Q and Kim D and the bond they shared through their picaresque adventures. Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre triple down on this in Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield #1 while adding layers to Kim D’s backstory and tension to the plot through the introduction of her ex Laz.

This comic is the epitome of radness, and there’s a bonus essay from Elle Collins in the back about how LGBTQ characters are paired off in fiction and not given as complex interpersonal and romantic relationships with other queer people. That’s obviously not the case in Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield.

Story: Mags Visaggio Art: Eva Cabrera Colors: Claudia Aguirre
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

GLAAD Announces their Media Awards Nominees. Check out the 10 Comics Nominated

GLAAD has announced the nominees for the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. Comics were well represented with ten nominations that vary quite a lot in their content, creators, and publishers.

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and the issues that affect their lives.

There’s two events, one held in Los Angeles on April 1 and another in New York City on May 6.

This year’s nominees include:

  • All-New X-Men (Marvel)by Dennis Hopeless, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy, Paco Diaz, Nolan Woodard, Rachelle Rosenberg, Cory Petit
  • Black Panther (Marvel) – Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, Chris Sprouse, Walden Wong, Karl C. Story, Laura Martin, Matt Milla, Joe Sabino, Clayton Cowles
  • DC Comics Bombshells (DC Comics) – Marguerite Bennett, Laura Braga, Sandy Jarrell, Maria Laura Sanapo, Mirka Andolfo, Pasquale Qualano, Marguerite Sauvage, Juan Albarran, Kelly Diane Fitzpatrick, J. Nanjan, Jeremy Lawson, Wendy Broome, Wes Abbott
  • Kim & Kim (Black Mask Studios) – Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aguirre, Zakk Saam, Taylor Esposito
  • Love is Love (IDW Publishing/DC Comics) – anthology originated by Marc Andreyko
  • Lumberjanes (BOOM! Studios) – Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Carey Pietsch, Ayme Sotuyo, Carolyn Nowak, Maarta Laiho, Aubrey Aiese
  • Midnighter / Midnighter and Apollo (DC Comics) – Steve Orlando, David Messina, Aco, Hugo Petrus, Fernando Blanco, Gaetano Carlucci, Romulo Fajardo, Jr., Jeremy Cox, Tom Napolitano, Josh Reed
  • Patsy Walker, A.K.A Hellcat! (Marvel) – Kate Leth, Brittney L. Williams, Natasha Allegri, Megan Wilson, Rachelle Rosenberg, Clayton Cowles
  • Saga (Image Comics) – Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Fonografiks
  • The Woods (BOOM! Studios)James Tynion IV, Michael Dialynas, Josan Gonzalez, Ed Dukeshire

Congrats to all of the nominees and you can watch the full announcement below.

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2016

Some amazing comics came out in 2016 from both the Big Two and the indie ranks. This was the year that I had a lot of fun reading the books that came out in the “margins” of Marvel and DC that didn’t feature their top characters, but had idiosyncratic, top notch visuals, or just a good sense of humor. Black Mask continues to be my go-to for hard hitting indie work, and the whole BOOM! Box imprint continues to be as fun as ever.

Without further ado, these are my personal favorite comics of 2016, the ones that stimulated and entertained me the most in this difficult year.

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10. Kim and Kim #1-4 (Black Mask)
Writer: Mags Visaggio Artist: Eva Cabrera Colorist: Claudia Aguirre

Kim and Kim was a super fun sci-fi miniseries with some wild and wacky worldbuilding, rollicking action scenes, and lots of hilarious interactions between the two leads, Kim Q and Kim D. Writer Mags Visaggio put their friendship front and center giving the comic a strong emotional through-line between bounty hunter shenanigans. Also, Eva Cabrera excels at drawing attractive humans as well as strange aliens, and I enjoyed Claudia Aguirre’s pastel-filled color palette. It was also nice to have a story starring two queer women not end in senseless death.

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9. Jonesy #1-8 (BOOM! Studios)
Writer: Sam Humphries Artist: Caitlin Rose Boyle Colorists: Mickey Quinn, Brittany Peer

Every year, the BOOM! Box imprint seems to churn out a new title that captures my heart. Jonesy is a fire cracker of a comic starring a teenage girl, who can make anyone fall in love with anything. Unfortunately, that power doesn’t work on her personally, and it gets her into a lot of trouble. Sam Humphries’ writing has as little chill as his protagonist, and Caitlin Rose-Boyle’s art evokes the zines that Jonesy loves to make about her favorite pop star, Stuff. The hyper-stylized plots and faces that Jonesy pulls kept me laughing while Jonesy’s struggles with finding someone to love her and her strained relationship with her mom in the second arc gave me the feels. Her and her friends’ unabashed passion for life is kind of inspiring too.

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8. Ultimates #3-12, Ultimates 2 #1-2 (Marvel)
Writer: Al Ewing Artists: Kenneth Rocafort, Christian Ward, Djibril Morrisette-Phan, Travel Foreman Colorist: Dan Brown

Ultimates and Ultimates 2 were the gold standard for team superhero book at both Marvel and DC, and not even Civil War II could stop this title’s momentum. The Al Ewing-penned comic was more of a science fiction saga that happened to star a diverse cast of superheroes than a straight up team book as they tried to find productive solutions to problems like Galactus and the Anti-Man instead of just punching things. And like all good team books, there’s some great interpersonal tension like when Black Panther puts Wakanda before the team, Ms. America defies Captain Marvel, and Spectrum and Blue Marvel start smooching. Ultimates also has some wonderful tapestry-style double page spreads from artists Kenneth Rocafort, Christian Ward, and Travel Foreman that match its multiversal scope. It’s an entertaining and esoteric comic.

 

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7. Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1-2 (DC)
Writer: Sarah Vaughn Artist: Lan Medina Colorist: Jose Villarrubia

In 2016, DC really stretched its wings genre-wise with the Young Animal imprint and comics, like a satirical take on the Flintstones. But, the best of this quirky bunch was a Gothic romance take on Deadman from Fresh Romance‘s Sarah Vaughn, Fables‘ Lan Medina, and atmospheric colorist Jose Villarrubia. The main character, Berenice, can see ghosts, including Deadman, who are trapped in a haunted British mansion. There are secret passageways, mysterious backstories, and an epic, bisexual love triangle, but mostly, Deadman is a meditation on mortality and relationships, both platonic and romantic with some jaw-dropping scenery from Medina and Villarrubia.

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6. Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #2-13 (Marvel)
Writer: Kate Leth Artists: Brittney Williams, Natasha Allegri Colorists: Megan Wilson, Rachelle Rosenberg

Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat is a comic that acknowledges how annoying getting your life together can be for twenty-somethings, who live in the city. Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, Megan Wilson, and Rachelle Rosenberg also throw injourneys to Hell, guest appearances from Jessica Jones and Jubilee, telekinetic bisexuals quoting Hamilton, and nods to the old Patsy Walker romance comics to a quite relatable comic. Brittney Williams’ Magical Girl and Chibi-inspired art is great for comedy purposes, but she and Leth also had some emotional payoffs throughout Hellcat thanks to the relationships developed between Patsy, Ian Soo, and She-Hulk, especially when she reacts to She-Hulk’s injury in Civil War II. Hellcat is fierce, high energy comic that is the best of both romance and superhero comics with the occasional trippy scene shift from Williams, Wilson, and Rosenberg.

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5. Mockingbird  #1-8 (Marvel)
Writer: Chelsea Cain Artist: Kate Niemczyk, Sean Parsons, Ibrahim Moustafa Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg

Mockingbird was experimental, unabashedly feminist, pretty sexy, and just happened to star a former West Coast Avenger and be published by Marvel Comics. Thriller novelist Chelsea Cain plotted a pair of mysteries, involving cosplay cruises, doctor waiting rooms, corgis, and Marvel Universe deep cuts that were engaging thanks to detail filled art from Kate Niemczyk and inker Sean Parsons. Loaded with background gags and subtle foreshadowing for future issues, Mockingbird certainly has “replay” value as a comic and is triumphant, messy, and funny just like its lead character, Bobbi Morse and was a coming out party for Marvel’s next great colorist, Rachelle Rosenberg.

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4. Love is Love (IDW)
Writers: Various Artists: Various

I just reviewed this comics anthology a few days ago, but Love is Love is the 2016 comic that affected me personally the most as it showed the effects of The Pulse shooting on the LGBTQ community in a variety of ways. I latched onto stories about the vibrancy of the queer community in Orlando, the sanctuary effect of gay clubs that provided some of the anthology’s best visuals from Jesus Merino, Alejandra Gutierrez, and Michael Oeming, and the use of superheroes like Batman, Midnighter, and Supergirl as simple analogues of hope in the middle of heartbreak. Love is Love saddened me, but it also inspired me to continue to uplift my LGBTQ siblings as the racist, sexist, homophobes Trump and Pence take the office of president and vice president. It was also cool to see so many talented creators using their gifts to help raise money for Equality Florida.

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3. The Wicked + the Divine #18-24, #1831 (Image)
Writer: Kieron Gillen Artists: Jamie McKelvie, Stephanie Hans, Kevin Wada Colorist: Matthew Wilson

In WicDiv‘s third year, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson went a little blockbuster with big battles, splash pages, and an unexpected character death. But, the comic is still about the journey of Laura (Now Persephone.) from fan to artist, and how it has changed her life and relationships. And, in time honored tradition, WicDiv wasn’t afraid to get experimental with an issue featuring a Pantheon of Romantic poets and writers, like Mary Shelley and Lord Byron with lavish guest art from Journey into Mystery‘s Stephanie Hans, or the magazine issue with professional journalists interviewing Kieron Gillen roleplaying as Fantheon members with beautiful spot illustrations from Kevin Wada. As WicDiv enters its “Imperial Phase”, McKelvie and Wilson’s art is both opulent and disarming while Kieron Gillen has started to expose the personalities behind the explosions and drama of “Rising Action”.

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2. Giant Days #10-21, Holiday Special #1 (BOOM!)
Writer: John Allison Artists: Max Sarin, Liz Fleming Colorist: Whitney Cogar

Giant Days is funny, true, shows the value of a good inker in Liz Fleming to nail a face or gesture, and reminds me of a weekend I spent in its setting of Sheffield over two years ago. John Allison and Max Sarin have developed the personalities and mannerisms of the three leads: Susan, Esther, and Daisy that any situation that they’re plugged into from music festivals to housing selections and even cheating rings is pure entertainment. Allison, Sarin, and the bright colors of Whitney Cogar nail the ups and downs of college life with a touch of the surreal, and the series continues to be more compelling as we get to know Susan, Esther, and Daisy better as people.

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1. Midnighter #8-12, Midnighter and Apollo #1-3 (DC)
Writer: Steve Orlando Artists: David Messina, Gaetano Carlucci, ACO, Hugo Petrus, Fernando Blanco Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Steve Orlando’s run on Midnighter and Midnighter and Apollo has the most bone breaking action, the coolest panel layouts from David Messina, ACO, and Fernando Blanco and yes, the hottest kisses and other sexy stuff as Midnighter and Apollo are back in a relationship. Orlando shows his passion for the DC and Wildstorm universes by bringing in obscure or neglected characters, like Extrano, and making them instantly compelling or frightening in the case of Henry Bendix. Watching Midnighter skillfully take down opponents from the Suicide Squad to subway pirates or demons is an adrenaline rush, and Orlando tempers these action scenes with plenty of romance and personal moments. Midnighter and Midnighter and Apollo aren’t just the best superhero comics of 2016, but the best ones period. Come for the one-liners and shattered limbs and stay for the self-sacrificing love.

Review: Kim and Kim #4

kimkim4coverKim and Kim #4 is unfortunately the final issue of this super fun series, but writer Mags Visaggio, artist Eva Cabrera, and colorist Claudia Aguirre go out on a note of bonkers B-movie science fiction, ultraviolence, and the millennial struggle. The plot is streamlined and mostly standalone even as Visaggio reveals the Big Bad of the whole series as Kim Q and Kim D try to get rent money by hunting down the infamous Internet scammer Merrill Frank, who sounds and looks like someone who drinks PBRs and makes an ass of himself on Twitter with Martin Shkreli. And along the way, there are fight scenes, quickfire banter, and a tiny bit of totally relatable sadness.

Kim and Kim #4 is a kaleidoscope of genres as some of the Kims’ dialogue could fit in with the world of Broad City while the climactic battle at the end could be a final boss battle in one of the Resident Evil games if Wesker was a Planet of the Apes castoff. It’s kind of refreshing to see a couple of planet trotting bounty hunters, who have real problems like making ends meet or trying to become self-sufficient from their parents. Eva Cabrera shows this tension as Kim D’s face goes from awkward while making small talk about her mom’s puppy to overcome with sadness as her mom tells her that maybe it’s time to quit the bounty hunter gig and find a “real job”.

It’s scenes like this, and the one where the Kims haggle with bounty contract writer Kathleen that possibly Kim and Kim #4 is a metaphor for the struggle of being a freelancer or creative whether in comics, pop culture writing, or any field where the rates are low and the bills are high. It’s just plain sad when the thing you love can’t help you eat and between the fun escapes and conversations with cool Internet cafe owners, there is this feeling of melancholy as Kim and Kim watch their bounty get away and unsuccesfully wrangle with the sherriff to get any kind of payment for Merrill or the genetically enhanced gorilla they just killed. And the last page is really just the worst as Claudia kimandkiminterior4Aguirre dials down her usually upbeat colors, and Eva Cabrera cools her energetic art to have the Kims just be with each other. And the hug on the last page truly embodies the friendship between the Kims that has been the core of this series as they’ve supported each other through interrogations, car chases, dark magic, and especially awkward conversations with parents.

Speaking of art and colors, Cabrera and Aguirre mount up one last time for a true battle royale in Kim and Kim #4 that is gross, sexy, and flat out fluid. Even though he’s a total jerk, Columbus’ ninja moves to take out the Frankenstein gorilla is a highlight moment as Aguirre highlights his pure speed with a simple black and yellow panel across the page. And Cabrera is a real pro at drawing hero poses as Kim Q rests with her guitar across her back showing that she doesn’t need her dad or anyone else’s help to fight her battles. The acerbic dialogue combined with the cool poses and moves make Kim and Kim #4 a real pleasure to read.

Kim and Kim #4 has all the wonderful elements that made this series fun, exciting, and hilarious from the great conversations between the Kims to the fast and furious action scenes, and most importantly, the relatable struggles and problems the characters have beneath the sci-fi strangeness. I will miss Mags Visaggio’s whip smart writing and adventurous plotting, Eva Cabrera’s character/creature designs and fight choreography, and Claudia Aguirre’s pinks and just Kim and Kim the comic in general.

 Story: Mags Visaggio Art: Eva Cabrera Colors: Claudia Aguirre
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Kim and Kim #4

KIM & KIM #4

Written by: Magdalene Visaggio
Illustrated by: Eva Cabrera
Colored by: Claudia Aguirre
Lettered by: Zakk Saam
Cover by: Devaki Neogi
In Stores: October 26

Kim & Kim are back for the final installment of their first adventurous mini-series. There will be bounty hunting, a fight with Franken-Ape, and more… and we’ll finally get an answer to the question everyone wants to know: will the Kims finally make rent??

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