Posts tagged “Jeremy Whitley

Princeless Volume 2, #1

I was on my lunch break from the day job late last year when I first picked up Princeless at a comic shop near my work.  I didn’t know anything about the book, creative team, or publisher at all prior to that day—at most I had heard some negligible rumblings about the title on the internet somewhere, maybe Twitter—but when I saw it on the shelf in front of me, I figured I may as well give it a quick flick.

That flick turned into reading about half the issue off the shelf, and I had such a smile on my face and was laughing so much in the middle of the store that I knew I had to just buy the comic.  That was $3.99 I did not plan on spending that day, on a completely unheard of book—not my usual purchasing style.  In retrospect, I’m so very glad I did buy it, because I enjoyed the book so much that I wound up writing a short review of it on this blog … and that minor but emphatic little review was somehow, to my incredible surprise, discovered by Jeremy Whitley, the writer of Princeless, who contacted me with his thanks.  Later on, when I found myself struggling to find the remaining issues of Princeless (low awareness of the title meant low order numbers, meant zero shelf copies for me to grab), I still had a way to read it through Jeremy.  I did eventually get my hands on hard copies of each issue (thank you to the friendly staff at New England Comics), and when the mini was over, I had a timer set for when the next volume and continuation of the story would arrive.

Princeless v2

That next volume is finally here, and I was all too happy to find my review copy patiently waiting for me in my inbox.

 

The first thing I noticed about volume 2 is that the series has a new artist.  Where M. Goodwin held art duties for the first iteration of the series, here we have Emily C. Martin illustrating Adrienne, Bedelia, Sparky, and the rest of the cast upon their return.  Martin definitely has her own style—I noticed the art was different before looking at the title page—but it blends in really well to what came before.  It’s not a drastic shift in art by any means.  One of my pet peeves when it comes to comics, but something that comes with the territory, is when a fill-in artist’s style is so radically different from the main art you’ve settled into on a book.  It can be jarring.  This isn’t the case here—the change is subtle, and that same great expression and color that we got with the first volume is still intact.

The story picks up more or less right where it left off, with Princess Adrienne & Co. on the run, except that we now learn Adrienne’s father has recruited quite a … let’s call them “eclectic” band of men to hunt down what he sees as his daughter’s attempted killer.  The prize for whoever captures this fiend’s head, of course, is the hand in marriage of any of the King’s daughters.  Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Adrienne’s brother Devin overhears his father’s proposal and pleads with his mother to put a stop to it all.  Her reaction is not what you would expect … or, then again, maybe it is exactly that.  I’m not sold on what’s really happening here, and I’ll let you read the scene for yourself to see what I mean.

The best parts of the issue, unsurprisingly, are the scenes with Adrienne and Bedelia, and I was pleased to see this issue continue the same level of humor and satire as in the previous volume.  We’re also introduced to a handful of new characters, not the least of which occurs on the final page of the issue.  I can’t wait to see where it goes, because I’m betting it’s going to be hilarious.  Sometimes when I’m reading this title, I forget that it’s an all-ages book and really meant for a younger audience, because there’s still so much here to play with as an adult.  It’s pure fun.

Princeless volume 2, #1 is available for pre-order from Previews, so if you’re interested in checking this out, it’s really important that you take a moment to order it with your LCS.  I’m guessing it will likely be available on Comixology as well.  Great independents like this absolutely need our support.  Remember the feeling of utter exhaustion and cynicism you felt after putting down an issue of Marvel/DC’s 698th Event this year?  Remember that feeling?  Yeah—Princeless won’t give you that.

 

Press Release

Action Lab Entertianment is proud to present the return of 2012 Glyph Winner for Best Heroine, Princess Adrienne!  Last year’s breakout all-ages hit, Princeless is finally making its way back into your comic shops and this time it’s bringing more action, more adventure, and a rogue’s gallery of deadly bounty hunters with their sights set on Adrienne and her new friend Bedelia!

Having saved herself from her own tower, Adrienne is now out to save her sisters, starting with her sister Angelica, the most beautiful girl in the whole kingdom.  However, Adrienne is about to learn that rescuing princesses is not as easy as she’s always believed and that not everybody has the same ideas about what it means to be saved as she does!

Princeless Volume 1 was nominated for two Eisner awards including “Best Series for Ages 8-12” and “Best Single Issue.”  It also won the Glyph Awards for “Best Heroine,” “Best Writer,” and “Best Story.”  It has been nominated for a number of other awards and is one of the best reviewed books of 2011-2012.

Join Writer Jeremy Whitley and Illustrator Emily C. Martin for a second wild ride with the princess who saved herself and pre-order “Princeless Volume 2, Issue 1” from Diamond today!  Order code:  STK522144

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Wednesday Haul

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Just a couple of comics today; picking up the rest at the weekend (which, FYI, I’ll be working a rare shift at the shop this Saturday, so swing on by!). Excited for the debut of SAGA from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples at Image, and picked up a copy of Princeless I was missing. When I get sad about this industry, these are the things that remind me why I looooovvvvveee cccooommmiiiicccsss!


Review: Princeless #3

Princeless #3

Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher:  Action Lab Entertainment
Price:  $3.99

 

To review a comic book you love can be extremely difficult.  I’ve said it before, but it’s maybe never been more true than it is here.  With each issue of Princeless so far, Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin have had a pretty effortless go at capturing my heart, and issue three is no exception.  If anything, they’ve only further tightened their grasp on me here, and talking about a book that I am so blindly in love with might be … well, kind of boring for you.  So my apologies ahead of time if that turns out to be the case.

There’s only so much I can say here that I haven’t already said for issues one and two.  Issue one took me so wholeheartedly by surprise that it was just like a punch in the face—a really, really GOOD punch.  The kind of punch I want more comics to give me.  Issue two, then, grabbed onto me tight and told me I’d better not think about going anywhere.  Issue three?  Swept me off my feet.

“Okay,” I hear you thinking.  “We get it.  You love the book.  WHY?”

And this is where I’m torn.  Because I don’t completely want to tell you why.

I could.  I could get all technical and analytical, and dig past the surface.  I’ve summarized the plot in previous reviews; I could use this to talk some more about the skill of the storytelling happening in this book—the message behind the tale, what audiences it plays to, what themes, and why.   I could discuss some of the more important things the book represents, such as independent publishing and why you should read more works by unknown creators.  But honestly?  I don’t want to do that.

Because this book doesn’t deserve to be dissected.

Princeless #3 Panel

One of many scenes that make Action Lab's "Princeless" worth the cover price. (Click to enlarge.)

Don’t read that the wrong way—it’s not meant negatively.  Rather, sometimes I wonder, can’t we just let the quality of things speak for themselves?  There are hundreds of other sites out there all talking about exactly the same thing as one another.  There are plenty of other blogs for you to read about all the things I just mentioned above.  I’m far from the only one “reviewing” this, and after a while, it all just starts to sound the same, doesn’t it?  This comic does a lot of things right, and you can discover on your own what those things are—because isn’t that all part of the fun?

So try Princeless for no reason other than it being a great comic.  Something new.  Surprise yourself.  Give it to the kids in your life.  Pass it on.  Don’t let a gem like this go unnoticed on the shelf because you’re too busy picking up “Fear Itself: The Fearlessly Fearful Feary Fear” that Marvel’s selling you for like five bucks a pop, that won’t satisfy you a sliver as much as a book like this will.

I mean.  At least try it.  What do you have to … Fear?

(Sorry.  Had to.)

 

___

*NOTE:  Some people have been having trouble finding this book at their LCS.  If that’s the case, you can buy it online at Graphicly; or, even better, make your voices heard at your LCS and get them to up their orders.  :)


Post-Turkey Day Reviews

Hello.  Have we all recovered from our food comas yet?  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  It’s tough being back to work after four lovely days off, but such, I suppose, is life.  At least there is always the promise of Wednesday and new comics.

 

Princeless #2Princeless #2
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher:  Action Lab Entertainment
Price:  $3.99

 

So … are you reading Princeless yet?  Was my earlier review of issue #1 not convincing enough?  Because I’m going to hound you all relentlessly until I get some messages saying “Yay, you’re so right, Princeless is awesome!”

Oh, issue #2—you were everything for which I’d hoped.  Princess Adrienne’s story is continued, but this time around the narrative voice is shifted in the beginning from being Adrienne’s to that of her brother, Prince Devin.  When their belligerent father, the King, is misinformed that Princess Adrienne is dead (having fled the tower atop her dragon at the end of the last issue), Devin is devastated by what’s happened to his sister and the thought that he may have had a hand in her death.  Ooohhh, yeah—weren’t expecting that, were you?  You’ll just have to read the issue to learn what I mean.  There’s a lot more that happens here, but I can’t tell you about it without an insane amount of gushing.

Jeremy Whitley’s writing keeps its momentum from issue one, and the hilarity doesn’t stop either.  A couple of scenes in particular had me laughing out loud as I read this on one of my train commutes, and the ending left me disappointed in the sense that I was sad there had to be one at all.  Two issues in, and I feel like I’ve known these characters for a while.  They’re well-developed, well-rounded, and well-illustrated.  Wonderful, wonderful comics being made.

This book is just a blast, and I’m so happy I found it.  In a week where DC didn’t release any of their New 52, it’s a perfect opportunity to check out something else and breathe a breath of fresh air instead of the same old constant disappointment.

Please read this book, and please pass it along.  I absolutely cannot fathom that you’d regret it.

 

Captain America & Bucky #624Captain America & Bucky #624
Written by Ed Brubaker & Marc Andreyko
Illustrated by Chris Samnee
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Hmm.  What can I say about this one?  I’m kind of stupid about Bucky and Natasha.  They’ve only been a relatively recent discovery for me and I really, really love the pair … my reasons are myriad.  So whenever I see the promise of some Bucky and Natasha team-up, I’m all on it.  But this was a little bit of a letdown.

The issue started off very well.  The story is set in the early days of the Winter Soldier, and Brubaker and Andreyko use it to delve into some of Bucky’s past conditioning.  We get peaks of his early missions and the formation of his romance with Black Widow, and all is well.  We also see Bucky begin to defy his programming—the writing is strong, and I have to shout out to Chris Samnee, who really draws some excellent stuff.  His style is wonderfully suited to the “throw back” feel of the book, giving it a unique flavor that’s separate from that of the main Captain America title.

I began this by telling you that the issue was a letdown.  Then I told you the writing is good and the art is great, so obviously I’m not making much sense here, right?

I guess I can’t quite put my finger on what’s missing.  I think the problem is that I’m sitting here reading this issue, things are moving, I’m getting really into what’s happening, and then … it’s over.  It just sort of … ends, and not in a “to be continued next issue” way.  At first I wondered if my copy was missing some pages or something—that’s how confused I was.  I even went online and read some web reviews, but the three reviews I read all loved the issue and said nothing much further.  I’m thinking I’m the only one who was left with this hanging feeling.  If the book were an electronic device, could we chalk this up to “user error”?  Did I somehow read the book wrong?

Despite my confusion, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed what I read, and if you’re a Bucky fan or a Black Widow fan, it’s worth the pickup.  Past that, I’m still trying to figure it out, but if the writing here is any indication of Brubaker’s new upcoming Winter Soldier title, I’ll definitely be picking that up.

 

Wolverine & the X-Men #2Wolverine & the X-Men #2
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Chris Bachalo
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

I had some qualms about this title and the team split that resulted from Schism, but since the X-Men are essentially what got me into comics in the first place, I always tend to follow at least one or two of their books.  I read through the Schism event, and while I wasn’t impressed with it to start, the latter issues picked up the pace and I found myself a little more invested in the central argument of what was happening—should the X-kids be mutantkind’s soldiers, per Cyclops, or should they be children and students, per Wolverine?  You can see the pull for both sides, and the depiction of that gray area is what makes this so interesting.

So as much as I dislike the title of this and the emphasis that’s continually placed on Wolverine, the lure of most of my favorite characters siding with him as well as the promise of Chris Bachalo’s artwork convinced me to pick it up.

I’m not disappointed.  The first issue was a lot of fun, centering on Wolverine and Kitty trying to prep the newly-built Jean Grey School for opening day—and Jason Aaron’s writing was strong.  It continues to be so with issue #2, which is full of action.  Usually when an issue of a comic is nonstop action, I actually get kind of bored, because my favorite thing about comics is character interaction.  I like dialogue, I like getting in characters’ heads, I like seeing them play off of one another.  You know when Bendis writes pages and pages of Avengers where the characters are just talking and talking and talking?  A lot of people seem to hate that, but I love the stuff.  It’s vastly more interesting to me than watching the X-Men battle a giant monster for 24 pages straight.  If they aren’t saying things to one another—if I’m not learning anything about anyone by watching them fight, then for me, that “action” is boring.

Lucky enough, this seems to be where Jason Aaron shines.  The majority, if not the entirety, of issue two was the X-Men in a fight, and I was not disinterested once.  Aaron seems to have struck the perfect balance between action and character development.  We have an opening scene where Iceman unleashes his oft-discussed “potential” against the bad guys; there are shots of the X-kids holding their own while conversation and even romance brews.  There are great things here.

That said, it’s definitely not my perfect book.  For one thing, I really dislike the villains—not in the “oh man, these guys are so evil” kind of way, but more in the “wow, these guys are so lame” kind of way.  A group of rich, genius evil children taking over the Hellfire Club doesn’t do it for me.  I just have trouble buying it, and that’s all on Aaron.  His setup for them in Schism felt hackneyed and contrived, and I have no feelings invested in the group whatsoever.  I can’t connect, and really at this point, I just want the X-Men to defeat them and get it over with so they can move on to their next set of villains.

Despite that, I’m definitely enjoying this new title so far, and I’m optimistic that we can look forward to it being consistently good story-wise.  However…

In my last review of the Captain America, I complained that Steve McNiven was the artist on the book for only six issues.  Well, Bachalo’s got him beat, because he’ll be off of this after issue #3, with Nick Bradshaw taking over.  I cannot tell you how much this pains/saddens/infuriates me, and it’s taking a high degree of restraint not to fill this paragraph with cuss words.  While it isn’t a HUGE surprise that Bachalo’s tenure here is brief—I can’t remember the last time he actually stayed on a book past a few issues—it’s still a huge tease to be reeled in like this, only to have half the creative team change within three issues.  This is NOT the way to launch a new title, Marvel, and the habit is becoming unbearable.  And for goodness’ sake, this book is four bucks.  FOUR BUCKS!  Argh!  Infuriating.  Depending on how Bradshaw’s art is, this title may or may not be on a short leash for me.  Let’s give it a few more and then re-evaluate.

 


A Mixed Bag of Reviews

I guess my Monday deadline somehow morphed into Thursday….

Hello, readers. Guess what? I read some books! And I have opinions about them! Shocker, I know. Also, I totally lied with half those covers I posted last week. Sorry about that.

 

Batgirl #3Batgirl #3
Written by Gail Simone
Illustrated by Ardian Syaf
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

 

I’m sad. :(

I’m sad because I really want to like this title. I really, really do. But it’s so … it’s so … I don’t know how to explain why it isn’t working for me. I guess, when it comes down to it, honestly … it doesn’t feel like Barbara. It just doesn’t feel like her to me. This new role of hers, it’s so … “forced” is the best word I can think of to describe it. It’s not Barbara—not the one I know—and that’s kind of shocking considering that Barbara Gordon is Gail Simone’s bread and butter. If anyone at all understands that character, it’s Gail—they’re practically interchangeable. Yet, as much as I want this to succeed, it just isn’t firing for me.

I wish I could explain it better … it’s just not right. It doesn’t feel right. And the writing style … there’s so much narration. That worked in Gail’s Birds of Prey when you needed the POVs of several characters, but it’s not clicking here. There’s too much of it; there’s too much telling and not enough showing. It’s so flat, and I … I don’t know how much more of this I can back. And that makes me so, so sad.

You know what else? I have read this story before. I think that’s what’s really bothering me more than anything here, is that it still feels like we’re going backwards. Which, we are—literally, we’re dialing back the clock in terms of character ages and whatnot, but I also mean to say that we’re going backwards allegorically. The stories and the progressions of these characters have taken giant steps downward. This idea of a character called Batgirl finding her footing—I have read this before. I read it in Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl run, and I even read it in Chuck Dixon’s Batgirl: Year One. Why am I reading it again? I’m not getting anything different this time, not one bit. Barbara healing and regaining use of her legs is only influencing this story on a very minor level—it isn’t enough to make these issues feel fresh or different. This issue was all about reuniting Batgirl and Nightwing. I should have been moved by it, but I wasn’t. Not even close. I put this book down, blinked a few times, and wondered what was wrong with me for leaving it feeling absolutely nothing.

So … what does one do in this situation? Do I keep reading this in the hope that once the groundwork is laid and some of the setup “fluff” is out of the way, I might have a more interesting story? Might I feel more for this character by issue #13, as opposed to issue #3, and is it even fair to have to wait that long? Ardian Syaf’s artwork has been great. Other than that, I haven’t got much. A part of me doesn’t want to give up on the title, because I do love Barbara and this is apparently the only Barbara that I’m going to get for the foreseeable future. I also have a certain level of faith and respect for Simone, and I want to be able to lean on that. But with every issue of this so far, I’ve only left feeling disappointment. And I never thought I’d say that.

 

Infinite Vacation #3Infinite Vacation #3 (of 5)
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Christian Ward
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.50

 

…And with that, an interesting idea turns into utter horse poop, as Nick Spencer fills this issue with preachy drivel and a needlessly despicable downturn that I guess is meant to be humor. Biggest waste of $3.50. To say I was mortified while reading this on the train is a massive understatement. And to top things off, I read the solicit for #4 to find it isn’t even due on the shelves until April. Buhbye; I’m OUT.

 

 

 

Magneto: Not a Hero #1Magneto: Not a Hero #1 (of 4)
Written by Scottie Young
Illustrated by Clay Mann
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

 

I was a little worried when this was first solicited, because with a title like “Not a Hero,” my immediate thoughts were that they were turning Magneto into a villain again. That would be the worst thing you could do to the character in my opinion, and just as bad a regression as Barbara Gordon re-donning the Bat cowl. Magneto has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years, and I’ve always enjoyed him as a villain, but I find I love him even more on the side of the angels. His presence is still so very grey—he’s so ambiguous, and in the hands of a writer who knows how to use it, that’s an invaluable quality. And so I shook my fist at the sky for a bit at the thought that this wonderful drama might be taken away for something as utterly boring as Magneto turning “bad” again. Happily, upon reading this issue, I find that this is not the case. Not yet, anyway.

Our introduction to this story centers around what is something of a storytelling cliché—Magneto is being framed for murder. Exciting, right? Bet you’ve never read anything like that before. It’s okay, though, because there are things here that make up for the questionable originality, and by the end of issue one, we can see that ultimately the story is going to deal with much more than who’s framing Magneto. I have to hand it to Skottie Young—everyone knows him for his great artistic talents, but he’s making a transition to writing here, and he’s not doing a bad job of it at all. It most certainly beats out a majority of the crap you see on the Marvel shelves these days, and rather easily at that. Young has a good handle on the characters in issue one, particularly in a scene that involves Captain America and Iron Man calling out Cyclops and Mags to get their act together. The cliffhanger reveal at the end—I really should have seen it coming. I can’t believe I didn’t. It’s some good stuff.

And Clay Mann on art duties … wow. What can I possibly say to do this guy justice? In a short couple of years, he’s hands-down become one of my favorites, and every book he’s on makes me drool a little bit. He’s wonderful. He’s coming to Boston Comic Con next year, and I am getting a sketch from him if I have to wait in line all weekend. Outstanding.

Did this book blow my mind? No, but it did some things well, did other things great, and was all around an enjoyable read. I wasn’t asking for much more than that.

 

Princeless #1Princeless #1 (of 4)
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
Price: $3.99

 

More happiness! Have you seen this little bit of WIN called Princeless #1? Well if you haven’t, then you’re sorely missing out.

It’s soooooo great. It’s so great. I remember reading about this on the internet somewhere and I wasn’t really planning on checking it out, but then I found it on the shelf and read the first three pages and was like OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO WONDERFUL. Three pages—that’s all it took. And, you know, that’s kind of a big deal in a situation where you’re paying four bucks for a book when you weren’t anticipating having the expense at all. But this was so worth it, and I absolutely can’t wait to have the next issue in my hands.

This is a story about a princess named Adrienne who grows up being read stories about other princesses who get locked up in towers and have to be rescued by handsome princes who slay dragons and ultimately win the princesses’ hearts. Adrienne is baffled and outraged by this idea, criticizing and belittling the stories, and makes her mother promise her not to lock her up in a tower, only … of course you know that’s exactly what happens, right? The resulting scenario is nothing short of hilarious, adorable, brave, and pretty much unlike anything else on the comic racks right now. Whitley’s writing is beyond clever, and I found myself laughing at something on every page of the book. It’s smart enough for adults to enjoy, yet still written with a young audience in mind. This is exactly the type of thing you should be giving to the little girls in your life. Introduce them to comics now, with this. And actually, I take that back—it isn’t just for little girls; not even close. Adrienne is not the only character in this book—don’t let the “princess” thing fool you. Boys will enjoy this as well, and I encourage you to pick it up to find out why.

If I could get you to read one book and only one book this week, I would give you Princeless #1, and I wouldn’t even blink.

 

Uncanny X-Force #17Uncanny X-Force #17
Written by Rick Remender
Illustrated by Jerome Ope
ña
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

 

Since the debut of this title, I’ve had nothing but praise for Uncanny X-Force and Rick Remender. That hasn’t changed yet, and I don’t see it on horizon any time soon. Just when I think the story has reached a plateau and couldn’t possibly get any better, another issue comes out and BAM—I’m smacked in the face with the awesome.

The problem with loving a book this much is that it makes it insanely difficult to review. When you have no criticisms, there isn’t much left to say beyond shameless, unabashed gushing. And you have to admit, that’s kind of boring to read.

But I literally have nothing bad to say. There is nothing I would change about this book—not a thing. Not the writing, not the pencils, not the pacing, not the colors. Well … I suppose I might change the price … and maybe I’d make it ship twice a month, because I can’t get enough of it. But that’s all. Not much to ask.

If you’ve been subbing to this title, you know that Remender has been building up the Dark Angel Saga for quite some time—since day one, in fact. It’s some of the most well-timed and patient writing I’ve seen in recent memory. The thing I love about this book is that when I pick up an issue, I can tell that Remender has taken his time with it. He isn’t writing with collected editions in mind or decompressing the story, as one might accuse of Bendis’ Avengers titles. No; there’s a level of thought and care and precision to what Remender does, and it comes through in his scenes and character interplay. It’s harmonious. It’s a melody to which I never want to stop listening. If even a quarter of the other books Marvel puts out demonstrated this much attention to their craft, I’d be a much happier comics reader.

Jerome Opeña on art is no different. You look at these pages, and you know instantly that these babies were not rushed to meet looming deadlines. Opeña is careful, crafty, and deliberate, and the results are a joy.

On the surface, this is a black ops book. It’s assassinations and unspeakable deeds; it’s an X-Men book that’s not very X-Men-like. But read deeper, and you know these characters are about much more than that. This isn’t just about taking out threats before they become threats; this is a story of addiction, inferiority, self-worth and self-hate, fear and perceived altruism … and so much more. But Remender lets you figure that out for yourself; it’s underlying, and he doesn’t beat you over the head with it. I love that. The mark of a good writer.

Big changes are coming up for this team, and I can’t wait to find out what Remender has planned for the next year of this book. Best one on the X-shelf.