Tag Archives: Mags Visaggio

Femme Magnifique Gets a New Print Through IDW’s Black Crown

Femme Magnifique, the wildly successful Kickstarter comic book anthology, is headed back to print for a beautiful softcover edition this September. It is a celebration of 50 iconic women who shattered glass ceilings and changed the course of history in the process.

Told by over 100 of the most talented creators in comics from around the world, Femme Magnifique features 3-page short stories about women from the world of music, art, politics, and science. Explored from a personal angle, the subjects of these mini-biopics include Kate BushOctavia ButlerRumiko TakahashiAda LovelaceMisty CopelandMargaret SangerMichelle ObamaUrsula K. Le GuinSally RideHarriet Tubman and more!

Femme Magnifique was conceived and co-curated by Shelly Bond and Kristy Miller & Brian Miller of Hi-Fi Colour Design. It features contributions from such comic book luminaries as Cecil Castellucci, Marguerite BennettBill SienkiewiczJen BartelMike CareyKelly Sue DeConnickTini HowardElsa CharretierTess FowlerRafael AlbuquerqueTee FranklinGilbert HernandezMing DoyleMatt WagnerJim RuggGail SimoneMags VisaggioMarguerite SauvageGerard WayPhilip BondHope NicholsonSanford GreeneSonny LiewJen HickmanMark BuckinghamPeter GrossTyler CrookDan Parent, and Kieron Gillen, among many others.

Maxing out at nearly $100,000 raised for the Kickstarter edition, earning over 240% of its initial goal, Femme Magnifique found its audience swiftly. Now, those who missed out on the first go-round can add this collection to their library packed with new bonus material including a foreword, behind-the-scenes process pages, and more.

The new paperback edition of Femme Magnifique will become available on September 4, 2018 and can now be pre-ordered using ISBN: 978-1684053209

Review: JLA/Doom Patrol Special #1

JLA DOOM PATROL SPECIAL #1Grab a milkshake, put a cherry on top, and maybe add a shot of whiskey or two, and you’ve got JLA/Doom Patrol #1, the first chapter of the monthlong DC Comics/Young Animal “Milk Wars” crossover. Writers Gerard Way and Steve Orlando combine the surrealism and fourth wall obliterating metafiction of Doom Patrol  with the punching and personality-driven Justice League of America to create the soft serve chocolate swirl of “event” comics. It roasts these kind of stories while indulging in all the tropes, including a spread it all around your dorm room four page spread from artist Aco and colorists Tamra Bonvillain and Marissa Louise of the Doom Patrol fighting the literally homogenized version of the JLA.

It’s super entertaining, in general, to see the book go from a critique of corporate comics to a 1950s Americana small town mystery thriller, then a slugfest, and finally an unlikely team-up thanks to a couple stinger pages that put those Wolverine “post-credits” pages in inconsequential Marvel Comics to shame. The play of genre, tongue in cheek sense satire, and embrace of the strange side of superhero stories makes JLA/Doom Patrol generally fantastic. It’s the comic book equivalent of getting a tasty dessert and getting some nutritious visuals and ideas along the way.

From his first appearance on the obviously homaging All Star Superman cover from Frank Quitely, Milkman Man is a fantastic villain even if the real Big Bad is the aptly named Retconn corporation. Besides being connected to a plot point in the main Doom Patrol series, Milkman Man is Superman drained of all his inspirational power, connection to social activism, and humanity. Aco might homage Action Comics #1 when he lifts Danny the Ambulance and throws it at the Doom Patrol, but this is a Superman, who punches down and stands for the status quo. With his neighborhood watch buddies, including a thoroughly neutered (and hilarious) Lobo, he’s here to make sure that outsiders stay down, and that superhero comics are just mind numbing punch outs and don’t have any real connection to people, their feelings, and the world around him.

Milkman Man is cereal mascot at best and alt right “Politics don’t belong in my white DP_JLA_1_3male spandex clad power fantasies” mascot at worst. In his first appearance, Aco goes for pure horror with inset panels of him shoving milk down the throats of an average white Middle America family.  This powerful, nearly silent scene played against an idyllic color palette from Bonvillain and Louise is a reminder that even when art claims to be apolitical, just for fun, or not have a message that it, in fact, does have a message. The Retconn Corporation wants to “homogenize” the DC Comics characters, including their classic Trinity, and turn them from powerful icons of justice into basically toys and merchandise as revealed in a couple pages that seem like a “behind the scenes” of a corporate board meeting. Milkman Man’s reaction to reading the actual Action Comics #1 (After yet another gorgeous and meta as hell double page spread from Aco, Bonvillain, and Louise.) is a reminder of how powerful Superman’s origin story is from Way and Orlando, who realize that pop culture can change the world and immigrants get the job done.

Along with having strong metaphors, a well-written villain, and some knock your skull off your body visuals, JLA/Doom Patrol succeeds because Way, Orlando, Aco, Bonvillain, and Louise realize that one thing that makes DC Comics great is that they’re pretty fucking weird. As the unflappable comic book character brought to life Casey Brinke says to Milkman Man, “Some of the best people are weirdos.” I mean, this is a universe where their most iconic hero wears his underwear on the outside and saves cats from trees while a bisexual, chain smoking, left wing British magician can have 300 straight issues of his comic and age in real time.

Way and Orlando’s understanding of the weirdness of DC Comics really comes out when the JLA and Doom Patrol interact as (Not so.) regular people and not milk drinking, mind controlled Stepford superheroes towards the end of the book. Ray and Danny the Ambulance kind of, sort of flirt, Larry Trainor the Negative Man opens up way too much to Lobo, and Killer Frost and Crazy Jane really bond over trying to do good with their vast, yet unwieldy powers. After the punching of the first 2/3 of the comic, Aco settles down into a casual hangout vibe for these scenes before going stylized with the aforementioned “stinger” sequences. It’s a reminder that some of the best superhero stories aren’t just action figure fights, but treat their larger than life characters like human beings with thoughts, motivations, and of course, flaws.

In JLA/Doom Patrol Special #1, Gerard Way, Steve Orlando, Aco, Hugo Petrus, Tamra Bonvillain, and Marissa Louise combine the best of DC Rebirth and the best of Young Animal in one beautiful, oversized package. And as a bonus, Mags Visaggio and Sonny Liew begin to tell the poetic, retro-styled origin story of Eternity Girl in a two page backup.

Story: Gerard Way and Steve Orlando Art: Aco with Hugo Petrus Colors: Tamra Bonvillain and Marissa Louise
  Backup Story: Mags Visaggio Backup Art: Sonny Liew 
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Young Animal provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2017

In 2017, I found it increasingly difficult to keep up with all the new comics releases because of personal stuff etc.. There was also the sheer hatred and bigotry of some comic book fans, who foamed at the mouth every time a character that wasn’t a straight white male starred in their own book or if female characters weren’t drawn in an early 90s Image male gaze-y way. Creators and companies weren’t exempt from this either from Howard Chaykin’s transphobia and Islamophobia in his low selling Image book Divided States of Hysteria to the revelation that new Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski lied about writing comics under the Japanese pseudonym Akira Yoshida for years and suffered little to no consequences for it.

However, there was a lot to love about the comic books of 2017, and I found solace, entertainment, and inspiration in many books from (becoming) old favorites about godly pop stars and dark knights to intriguing new titles about all girl fight clubs and young people experimented on by the government.

 

  1. Batman #14-37 (DC)

In 2017, writer Tom King and a crack team of artists including David Finch, Clay Mann, Mitch Gerads, Mikel Janin, Joelle Jones, and Jordie Bellaire explored almost every nook and cranny of the Dark Knight’s world in their work on Batman. Sure, there were epic arcs featuring one on one battles with Bane, a yearlong gang war with the Joker and Riddler, and a little family reunion in the “Button” crossover. But what Batman resonate as a comic book was the standalone and two part stories from King and Gerads showing the sweetness of the relationship between Batman and Catwoman to the emotional tale of Kite Man (Hell yes). King has a real knack for telling O. Henry-esque stories of ideas that humanize iconic characters none more so than “Superfriends” where Batman and Superman go on a double date with Catwoman and Lois Lane. An artistic highlight of the book was Joelle Jones’ beautiful, savage, and a little bit sexy depiction of Batman and Catwoman fighting for their love against the most evil of exes.

  1. Josie and the Pussycats #4-9 (Archie)

Josie and the Pussycats is a gorgeous, funny book that ended much too soon although it is nice to see artist Audrey Mok working on the main Archie title. Writers Cameron DeOrdio and Marguerite Bennett craft the rare Archie book that looks at both romantic and platonic relationships from the POV of young adults, not teenagers. They, artist Mok, and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick imbue the title with a Saturday Morning cartoon zaniness, including high speed boat and motorcycle chases, kidnappings, and jokes about the polar bears from The Golden Compass. Yes, DeOrdio and Bennett overload all kinds of pop culture references and allusions in Josie, but it adds to the book’s energetic feel along with Mok’s fantastic fashion designs and Fitzpatrick’s bold colors. Josie and the Pussycats has some real heart to it with characters having all kinds of intense conversations about love, friendship, and fame between the over-the-top setpieces.

  1. Heavenly Blues #1-4 (Scout)

Writer Ben Kahn and artist Bruno Hidalgo’s Heavenly Blues blends the cosmology and philosophical and theological themes of Vertigo classics like Sandman and Lucifer with a quick and dirty heist thriller as a band of criminals, including a Great Depression Era thief, a girl who was sentenced to burn during the Salem Witch Trials, and a bisexual cowboy team up to break into heaven and steal something you may have heard of. Witty writing from Kahn and rhythmic art from Hidalgo that flows from the building of the Great Pyramids to the Old West and even an angel lounging in sweatpants keeps the story on its toes with flashback to each thief’s past life create an emotional connection to them. This is the perfect comic for folks who like to think about the nature of evil or the possibility of an afterlife while also watching Oceans 11 or Logan Lucky with a whiskey on the rocks.

 

  1. Shade the Changing Girl #4-12 (DC/Young Animal)

The crown jewel of DC’s Young Animal imprint, Shade: The Changing Girl is a beautiful, meditative look at identity and humanity from the perspective of a bird alien Metan girl named Loma Shade, who has possessed the body of teenage girl bully. Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, and Kelly Fitzpatrick’s story really took off when Shade decides to hit the road first for Gotham and eventually to meet her idol, Honey Rich, the aging star of a 1950s sitcom that was popular all over the galaxy. Zarcone’s artwork is extremely fluid and complements Shade’s reaction to the influx of stimulus all around her that is humanity as she begins to understand concepts like nostalgia and of course the big ones: life and death. Shade the Changing Girl is more poem than sci-fi thriller/mindbender, and Castellucci’s poetic captions, Zarcone’s sincere facial expressions, and Fitzpatrick’s, well, groovy colors bypass the critical part of the brain and go straight for the emotional center. It is an empathetic study into how humans communicate and navigate this complex world from a visitor from an equally as complex society so hence conflict.

  1. Generation Gone #1-5 (Image)

Comics’ enfant terrible Ales Kot makes his triumphant return with Generation Gone, which is one of his most accessible works that still takes shots at the kyriarchy and patriarchy through the lens of the “superhero” origin story. Artist Andre Araujo and colorist Chris O’Halloran provide equal parts majestic, disgusting, and triumphant wide screen visuals throughout the series from bodies being stripped down to bone, muscles, and organs to flying in the sunset. The way that the three main kids Elena, Baldwin, and Nick is a little bit of techno-organic body horror like Scanners filtered through 2017. Kot avoids typical superhero team up tropes and has them constantly at each other’s throats that all really boils down to toxic masculinity, especially Nick, who is like Max Landis with a healing factor. Generation Gone is an epic and visceral story with all kinds of carnage and big explosions that is ably balanced by Ales Kot’s nuanced characterization. There’s some decent world building, but it takes a backseat to Elena, Baldwin, and Nick’s journey and squabbles along the way.

  1. The Wicked + the Divine #25-33, 455 AD, Christmas Special (Image)

In its fourth year (Or “Imperial Phase”) as a title, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson’s The Wicked + the Divine became both more self-indulgent and introspective before the ending the year with more emotional destruction and much needed side dish of pure fanservice. The main focus is on the relationships of the Pantheon from Dionysus’ truly soulful friendship with Baphomet (They spend most of an issue talking in the dark, and it’s lovely.) to the intense connection between Persephone and Sakhmet and the older brother/little sister Baal and Minerva that takes a big turn for the disquieting. Even though McKelvie’s figures and fashion decisions are still flawless as usual, WicDiv uncovers every metaphorical wrinkle or mole on the Pantheon members by the time “Imperial Phase” ends in a truly soul crushing manner like the slow build in “In the Air Tonight” before the epic drums. And after it’s over, Gillen and a host of talented guest artists deliver a comic that is sexy, thoughtful, and filled to the brim of feels showing what the Pantheon were like when they were young and less dead. The Kris Anka and Jen Bartel Baal/Inanna short is most definitely the hottest thing I read in 2017.

 

  1. Kim and Kim: Love is A Battlefield #1-4 (Black Mask)

Shifting the focus from Kim Q to Kim D in this fantastic sequel to the Eisner nominated miniseries Kim and Kim, Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre confidently tell the story of a woman trying to get over an ex that she really cared for, but wasn’t good for her. There are also mech suits, space battles, basses being used as a blunt instrument, and all kinds of space bounty hunter shenanigans. The rift and reunion between the Fighting Kim’s is super relatable as who hasn’t been disappointed in a friend for returning to the same, not cool ex over and over again. However, Visaggio gives the Kim’s great growth as friends and in their chosen career as bounty hunters by the time the miniseries wraps. On the visual front, Eva Cabrera can choreograph the hell out of a fight scene, and there is still plenty of pink from Claudia Aguirre. Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield is a smorgasbord of quips, fun sci-fi worldbuilding, and real friend talk and improves on its already pretty awesome predecessor.

 

  1. Mister Miracle #1-5 (DC)

Jack Kirby would have turned 100 in 2017, and there was arguably no better tribute to his imaginative work as an artist and writer than Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle comic. I know I’m double dipping with King comics on the list, but he’s just that good. In his art, Gerads teaches the old dog of the nine panel grid some new tricks and uses it for everything from a tender love scene between Mister Miracle and Big Barda to him getting repeatedly beaten by his older brother Orion, who plays an antagonistic role in the series. The bar-like grid of the comic book he stars in is the one prison Mister Miracle can’t escape from. (Wow, that got meta.) Gerads uses a trippy, almost television fuzz effect to show Scott’s tattered psyche as he faces death with his escape artistry, goes to war against Apokolips, and is sentenced to execution. King’s gift of writing both the mundane and utterly cosmic comes in handy in Mister Miracle whose most memorable scenes are Scott and Barda cuddling and joking around, not the big battle scenes. Again, he and Mitch Gerads find the human and the epic, which is definitely something the King would be proud of. (Big Barda was patterned off his beloved wife Roz.)

  1. Giant Days #22-33, 2017 Special (BOOM!)

Although the facial expressions that Max Sarin and Liz Fleming draw are truly outrageous at times, Giant Days is a fairly naturally plotted comic with the friendships, relationships, and life statuses of Esther, Susan, and Daisy ebbing and flowing like normal university students. They begin the year as BFFs for life, but start to drift apart towards the end of the year as Susan and Daisy’s relationships with McGraw and Ingrid move onto the next level. Esther is kind of stuck in the lurch as her penchant for drama bombs starts to backfire. Giant Days nails the constantly evolving fluid thingamajig that is relationships as a young adult.  As an added bonus, we also get to see how the girls act and feel differently around their family versus friends as Susan’s way too big and complicated family makes quite the impression. And, of course, Giant Days is very funny, and John Allison, Max Sarin, and Liz Fleming mine the comedy out of everything from the deliciousness of home cooking, the grossness of nerd dorm food concoctions, and even a video game wedding. (Poor Dean.)

  1. Heavy Vinyl #1-4 (BOOM!)

Reading Carly Usdin, Nina Vakeuva, Irene Flores, and Rebecca Palty’s Heavy Vinyl is like the comic book equivalent of relaxing in a hot tub, but the hot tub is either cupcakes or adorable Corgi puppies. (Take your pick.) It’s about a teenage girl named Chris in 1998, who has just gotten her dream job at a record store and her first big crush on Maggie, her co-worker, who is drawn like a shoujo manga protagonist. But then she’s inducted into a top secret vigilante fight club and has to rescue the frontwoman of her favorite band. It’s high concept and slice of life just like Vakueva’s art is comedic, beautiful, and a little badass. Carly Usdin does a good job in just four issues of giving each member of the fight club their own distinct personalities and relationships while doubling down on the cuteness and awkwardness of Chris and Maggie’s budding romance. But what makes Heavy Vinyl  the best comic of 2017 is its belief in the power of women and music to change the world…

Rick and Morty Presents is a New Quarterly Series Launching in March

Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty get back in the panels with an all-new Rick and Morty Presents quarterly series of one-shot comics, beginning with the first of four 40-page issues. Learn the secret stories and hidden pasts of your favorite Rick and Morty characters, with each issue focusing on a different side character of the franchise, including: The Vindicators written by J. Torres (#1), Krombopulos Michael written by Mallory Ortberg (#2), Sleepy Gary written by Mags Visaggio (#3), and Pickle Rick and Jaguar written by Delilah Dawson (#4). All issues will be illustrated by CJ Cannon, colored by Nick Filardi, and lettered by Crank!

Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators explores the twisted and bombastic history of THE VINDICATORS in an all-out superhero comics extravaganza. Read in amazement as the superhero team travels through dimensions to recruit other heroes to defeat a villain of their own making. Gasp in shock and awe as the plot twists and previously irrelevant characters revive from the dead! Frown in frustration as you forget the complicated backstory of suddenly important mythic items! And most of all… WUBBA LUBBA DUB DUB! Alternate issue #1 cover by Caitlin Rose Boyle.

Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators is scheduled for release March 7, 2018, with the subsequent issues releasing in June, September, and November 2018.

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

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

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.

kimandkimFI

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.

jonesy #2 featured

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.

ultimates2fi

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.

 

deadman-2-featured

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.

Hellcat7FI

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.

mockingbirdyas

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.

love-is-love-featured

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.

WicDiv18FI

 

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”.

giantdaysfi

 

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.

midnighterandapollofi

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

« Older Entries