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Archive for the ‘Book of the Month’ Category

MONDOcomics’ Book of the Month: July 2010

Posted by Comics On August - 16 - 2010

Miles’ Book of the Month

A Drunken Dream and Other Stories
Moto Hagio (w + a), Matt Thorn (translation). Fantagraphics.

Hagio made a rare North American appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con for the debut of her first major collection of short stories translated into English. I would have been a fool not to pick up the book (and get it singed by Hagio hersef) because this may never happen again. A Drunken Dream spans almost 40 years of Hagio’s career and almost serves as a course in the evolution of manga. For those who aren’t aware of her work, Hagio is regarded as one of the definitive shōjo manga creators in Japan and her work has been under-published in English (only a handful of out-of-print pieces existed until this collection). Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics’ Books of the Month: May 2010

Posted by Comics On June - 7 - 2010

Owen’s Book(s) of the Month

Ex Machina: Ring Out the Old
Brian K. Vaughan (w), Tony Harris & John Paul Leon (p), Jim Clark & Tony Harris (i), JD Mettler (c). Wildstorm Productions.

Scalped: The Gnawing
Jason Aaron (w), R.M. Guéra (a), Giulia Brusco with Trish Mulvihill (c). Vertigo.

What a great month, new volumes of TWO of my favourite series. I’m sorry to say that I can’t possibly choose between them and instead opt to make a couple of hearty recommendations. My love from Brian K. Vaughan’s work is well documented, but I’m astonished to learn that there are some fans of Y: The Last Man or Runaways who haven’t given Ex Machina a try. The thing is, while I have a deep love of Y, Ex Machina is a more polished work. It’s a story filled with some great sci-fi ideas, awesome superhero action and fascinating (honestly) political debate. This volume, in particular, features some jaw-dropping revelations about the main character’s origins. Tony Harris is at the top of his game here, the flashbacks with Pherson are especially engaging. On top of all of this (as if that isn’t enough) there’s a great one-off issue about Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris interviewing for a position to create a comic about the main character. It’s a great chapter. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics’ Books of the Month for March 2010

Posted by Comics On April - 14 - 2010

Sorry it’s so late folks

Isaac’s Book of the Month

Red Robin #10
Christopher Yost (w), Marcus To (p), Ray McCarthy (i), Guy Major (c). DC Comics.

Red Robin is a strong book because of contrast —between itself and Batgirl #8 (part one of the story) as well as a contrast between current Bat-crossovers with those of a decade ago and beyond.

While I greatly enjoy the current Batman crossovers for their challenging material (that of a more meta adventure), Red Robin has me nostalgic for the simpler times of costumed good guys teaming up over the period of a couple of books without any such assurances of victory from a benevolent writer.

Red Robin successfully leaps between many perspectives, giving readers a heads up to what the hero will eventually face. Trying to be completely objective here — I do think things are clearer for a new reader in this book than compared to a new reader checking out a “Return of Bruce Wayne” book. True, each book is written with an entirely different audience in mind. Or at least they better be. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics’ Books of the Month for February 2010

Posted by Comics On March - 2 - 2010

Isaac’s Book of the Month

Blackest Night #7
Geoff Johns (w), Ivan Reis (p), Oclair Albert, Joe Prado (i), Alex Sinclair (c). DC Comics.

There was a lot I skipped over in my Blackest Night review — but that’s what the Book of the Month is for. I purposely didn’t spoil too much, but I’m going to spoil a lot more here. That was your warning, if you haven’t read it yet and don’t want some premature knowledge, then get rid of your internet a week ago. Seriously, this has been spoiled all over the place all ready. So here is a list of awesome things in this book Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics Book of the Month for January 2010

Posted by Comics On February - 1 - 2010

Isaac’s Book of the Month

Amazing Spider-Man #619
Dan Slott (w), Marcos Martin (a), Javier Rodriguez (c), Marvel Comics

You know when you re-read something and you can grow to like it more, or like it less? Well, I’m not doing either one exactly – my appreciation of it is just kind of being refined. I’m noticing the silly things, like just how crazy this would be out of context- a tall cyborg of an old man yelling at someone that he’s a rat. That doesn’t happen in real life, but it is a “comic book scene”. And I’m a big fan of the “comic book scene”.

One technique used in abundance is the abrupt scene change whose caption is still relevant to that last panel- we read the line as both a continuation of the previous action and the start of what’s to come. It leads to some creative visuals (like where Carlie Cooper’s face should be we shift to a panel of Aunt May’s. Certainly just as effective as a “Meanwhile at the Hall of Justice” style scene shift.), and it’s an interesting signature. Be sure I’ll be paying attention to future works by Slott to see if this is something he abuses, but at this point it’s cool. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics Book of the Month for November 2009

Posted by Comics On November - 30 - 2009

Blackest Night #5Owen’s Book of the Month

Blackest Night #5
Geoff Johns (w), Ivan Reis (p), Oclair Albert & Joe Prado (i), DC Comics

Normally I like to give my “book of the month” to books that I feel aren’t getting the attention that they should (Incredible Hercules, The Unwritten), books that people seem to ignore no matter how great they are (seriously, buy those books). This month, though, I’ll be damned if my favourite book wasn’t the one that will be #1 on the sales charts. After years of disappointing crossovers it was hard not to get a little cynical. Civil War, Final Crisis, Secret Invasion, The Great Fables Crossover… none of them were doing anything for me. Even Geoff Johns’ own Infinite Crisis left me cold, but with Blackest Night I’m finally reading an event book that does what I feel a great event book should: I’m excited. It may not seem that difficult, but somehow, apparently, it is.

There are so many things Johns is doing with this book that I love. First of all, the pacing is great. Things keep moving forward rapidly while still taking the time out for character moments. It may seem simple, but other stories have made it clear that a lot of writers struggle with this. Speaking of character moments, I love what Johns is doing with the characters in this story. It’s a DC crossover centred on Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, and that is awesome. On top of that, he’s giving a lot of panel time to Ray Palmer and Mera. Mera! Aquaman’s girlfriend! Seeing the spotlight shifted away from Superman and Batman is refreshing. The last thing I want to touch on in terms of story is the self-awareness this story (and especially this issue) has. All too often comics are locked into the notion that they either have to be the serious comic or the silly comic. I think that’s ridiculous, as many of my favourite comics are both (Justice League International, and did I mention that Incredible Hercules is great?). Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics Books of the Month for October 2009

Posted by Comics On November - 4 - 2009

superboyIsaac’s Book

Adventure Comics #3
Geoff Johns, Michael Shoemaker (w), Francis Manapul, Clayton Henry (a), Brian Buccellato, Brian Reber (c). DC Comics.

Take the first “act” of the first story — Superboy is in chemistry class talking with an eccentric classmate, while surrounded by eccentric classmates. What is this? Sky High is surrounded by flying kids who shoot laser beams from their eyes? No, I don’t mean eccentric in that way.

I say “eccentric” only in that these background drawings are nuanced characters in and of themselves; any of them could be having a conversation with Superboy and I’d want to read it (disregarding my rabid Superboy fanboyism that would make me read anything with him in it). He’s talking to a well intentioned mad-scientist-to-be, but there’s Lori in the background sleeping away (that one’s obvious since she has a name and everything already), the girl beside Lori who is amazed at the chemical reaction she’s just created, the guy with the chemistry teacher who is scratching his head with a good-natured “Well, I didn’t get it the last time, but sure, explain it again” expression on his face, and in the far back a student reaching for a beaker high up on a shelf above her head while chewing gum in class (aha, another rebel) — I get the feeling that if Superboy walked up to any of them in the next panel, asked “ ‘sup?” we’d have a fun story, with conflicting wants and points of view and EVERYTHING! Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics’ Book of the Month for September 2009

Posted by Comics On October - 6 - 2009

detectivecomics857Sandra’s Book of the Month

Detective Comics #857
Greg Rucka (w), J.H. Williams III (a), Dave Stewart (c). DC Comics.

When I was looking through my pile to decide what I was going to choose for the Book of the Month there was only one title that really stood out, and that was this month’s issue of Detective Comics. The thing about this series that really makes it outstanding is the beauty and the intricacy of the art. Williams and Stewart create some of the most dynamic and bold art that I’ve ever seen, in this or any other series. Williams’ pencil lines are detailed and add a great flow to the story, especially with the insane use of all those dynamic panels. Combined with Stewart’s painting style and use of colours it just makes me all giddy and happy to be reading.  There hasn’t been an issue in this four-part arc that hasn’t made me rave about the series, so it only seemed appropriate for this to be my pick for the month. — Sandra Yao Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics Book of the Month: August 2009

Posted by Comics On September - 2 - 2009

933727-detective_superMiles’ Book of the Month

Detective Comics #856
Greg Rucka (w), J.H. Williams III (a), Dave Stewart (c). DC Comics.

Detective Comics gets the nod this month for a couple reasons. First, because I’ve really been excited about this series and I’ve yet to bestow it with Book of the Month; and, second, because it has the triumphant return of Maggie Sawyer! I’m sure most of you don’t know who that is, but she’s been a minor character hanging around the DCU for about 20 years and is most famous because she’s one of mainstream comics’ first lesbians. I first came into contact with her in the amazing Gotham Central, co-written by Rucka, and was really happy to see her here. Detective Comics #856 has a seduction scene between Sawyer and Kate Kane (Batwoman) that is is so tasteful, so wonderful, so character-driven, and so perfect for what both characters needed. Scenes where one woman picks up another woman are rare in popular culture — extremely rare — so to see it done well makes me extremely happy.

A big part of why it lands so well is William’s fantastic art. This man is drawing the hell out of this book. The subtle style changes, the page compositions, the expressions — everything is working here and working well. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics’ Books of the Month for July 2009

Posted by Comics On August - 4 - 2009

amazingspidey600Isaac’s Book of the Month

Amazing Spider-Man #600
Dan Slott (w), John Romita Jr. (p), Klaus Janson (i), Dean White (c). Marvel Comics.

What the guys creating Amazing Spider-Man have done so well in the past 19 months is to tell their stories while subtly introducing the threads of stories to come. The result creates stories that we actually care about. But it’s a delicate balance: if you wait too long, the audience will get sick of being strung along. Eventually, you have to provide some answers to pulse-pounding questions like “Who was that man in the shadows on page seven?”

In this context, the big thing Spider-Man #600 accomplishes is the resurgence of Doctor Octopus, with a complete adventure of Spidey versus Doc Ock, and then Octopus escaping, vowing his vengeance, and tantalizing us with his imminent return in the future. To contain all of that in a single issue is already something special. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics’ Books of the Month for June 2009

Posted by Comics On June - 30 - 2009

starmanomni3Owen’s Book of the Month

Starman Omnibus: Volume 3
James Robinson (w), Tony Harris and others (p), Wade von Grawbadger and others (i), DC Comics

Every month that another volume comes out, it is pretty much a guarantee that it will be my best of that month. I suppose it’s possible that something better could come out. I suppose there are a few comics that could best it (Top 10: The Forty-Niners comes to mind, as does the last issue of Y: The Last Man), but odds are good that you’ll see another Starman omnibus on my list three more times after this. With good reason, too. To keep it brief, lest I become repetitive (too late), this comic is a masterwork of character building, lush visuals, and serialized storytelling. Read the rest of this entry »

spider-manIsaac’s Book of the Month

The Amazing Spider-Man #595
Joe Kelly (w), Phil Jimenez (p), Andy Lanning (i), Chris Chuckry (c). Marvel Comics.

Though this issue would stand on its own merits to become Book of the Month, it also gets points because of the contrast between itself and the previous Spider-Man storyline. The previous story, “Spider-Man 24/7,” was not a well-done Spidey, and, to me, has been the only misstep since the start of “Brand New Day.”

The pin-up covers I’d put up with for years during Straczynski’s run made a disarming return (barely including the image “24/7″ does not make the cover any less of a pin-up), and I’m not a fan of modern Mike McKone’s bright, sterilized artwork that fails to synch up the words with the facial expressions — how hard is it to figure out J. Jonah Jameson’s expressions? He’s always angry, or, if he has to print a retraction, is a little upset, moaning “Oooh, why me?” (See the 60s Spider-Man cartoon for reference.)

Don’t try and draw “surprised Jonah.” Especially not when the words are angry. The whole premise was out of character for Peter Parker anyways, but that’s enough about how Marvel did me wrong (yes, it was a personal attack, I can tell) with what must have been a filler story, and let’s look upon the shining face of everything that is right about Spider-Man #595.

The Jimenez cover is the apotheosis of a modern cover, wordlessly setting up the story and priming you for what’s to come. I’m usually a fan for goofy captions on the cover over-selling a book, but that’s really the old school comic fan in me. There’s no denying the dignity and artfulness of this cover, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

The acting is incredible in this book; just flipping through and ignoring the words, the story is told regardless. I can’t get over the range of expression from panel to panel.

As for the story itself, titled “American Son,” we take a close look at Harry Osborn, the poor little rich kid at the top of the world. We don’t often get to see him this strong, so self assured. Supporting players often get the short end of the straw, looking bad to build up the hero in our eyes, but that’s taking an easy way out. This is a Harry that you have to like and respect (you don’t always get both).

But what about Peter Parker? Does he, the star of the show, end up looking weaker by comparison? Nope, he’s just a different person, with a different kind of strength. It’s interesting to see him more in the role of observer — his is often the narrative voice, and being the star with so much action following him has its perks, but often it’s a very self-involved narration.

This is a Peter Parker that is naïve, but keen to learn; it reminds me of the character archetype of the burgeoning writer, a role I welcome for Peter. He listens to Ben Urich, which leads him to Wolverine for advice (while making a Back to the Future reference). It’s only when Harry is “threatened” by Norman Osborn that Peter loses his cool and makes a rash move. This is part one of the tale after all, the characters have to make some mistakes.

As far as the craft of the issue, there is an odd misstep that I’ll address — you don’t need a not-so-subtle dig at the Bush administration followed by Wolverine and Spider-Man fist bumping. That’s unnecessary.

The team behind the Spider-Man books have consistently created the best comics and “event” story lines for the past year, and this issue is a fantastic start to another one.

theunwrittenOwen’s Book of the Month

The Unwritten #1
Mike Carey (w), Peter Gross (a), Chris Chuckry (c). Vertigo Comics.

This is a comic that everybody needs to try. It’s only one dollar and it’s the best read I had all month. In the span of one issue I was introduced to the concept, the characters and got a hint of the conflict to come. That’s how you do a first issue.

Peter Gross does a great job of handling the realistic setting that the main characters inhabit but also of allowing a more fun, fantasy style to the fictional world within the world. Plus, on that note, Mike Carey does fantastic work in creating scenes from both the book within a book and the movie adaptation of that book. That’s no easy task, but each one feels like a work that could be the mega-hit that it is said to be.

Every so often a comic comes along that I really want to get behind and tell everyone to buy. That was the case with Jersey Gods and that’s the case with The Unwritten. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to see what happens next in a comic.

theunwritten-pageMiles’ Book of the Month

The Unwritten #1
Mike Carey (w), Peter Gross (a), Chris Chuckry (c). Vertigo.

As I said in my initial review, I had high expectations for The Unwritten. These expectations were met and exceeded in its first issue. It’s got its hooks in me and I’m really excited to see where this series will go. And that’s exciting. More exciting than most of the mainstream comics out there because you kind of know what will happen: you know who the players are, and what they can do, and that there are limits to what all the characters can or cannot do because they are franchises (or franchises in the making).

Like, Lizzie Hexam who may also be Sue Sparrow: what’s her deal? What is she trying to accomplish? She said she messed up badly last time and has a chance to make it right? What was the mistake?

Also, as usual, Todd Klein, the world’s only famous letterer, does a great job with the text. There are a lot of font switches and each one of them connotes something different. The one interesting choice I noticed was that sometimes when characters said “Tommy Taylor” the words would appear in blue — what’s that all about? Just a simple text change or will it indicate something more profound?

I’m excited to find out.

791573-prv2531_cov_superSandra’s Book of the Month

Irredeemable #2
Mark Waid (w), Peter Krause (a), Andrew Dalhouse (c). Boom Studios.

This series has me very excited. I was hooked three pages into the first issue and this one definitely delivered. This was an issue that sold out before any stores had even opened their doors. See, I’m not the only one raving about it.
Irredeemable #2  goes on to peel away at the layers and further explore the man behind the Plutonian. Kaidan, a former teammate of Plutonian, is assigned to find the Plutonian’s ex-girlfriend in the hopes of perhaps finding out once and for all what made him snap. Alana Patel indeed recalls her relationship with the Plutonian. She recounts her tale of meeting him and falling in love him. She also recalls her memories of Dan Hardigan, a co-worker that one day professed his love for her in a broom closet and revealed that in reality, he was the Plutonian. Unlike what a typical Lois would do, she freaks out and goes on an angry tirade and reveals his identity to everyone around her. The situation leaves the relationship in ruins, but doesn’t seem to be catalyst of his breakdown. It was a mere piece of the puzzle.

The art by Peter Krause and colouring by Andrew Dalhouse is very clean and well suited for the story. There is noticeable effort put into creating the two different feels of the past and present. It really helps to contrast the man that the Plutonian was then, to the man he is now.

I mean, I could tell you a lot more about the series and the issue, but that takes the fun out of reading it yourself. Mark Waid is definitely taking the Superman role and adding his own twist. I mean the Plutonian is no tool and he has reached his breaking point. He’s a dangerous man. By the end of it, you get a glimpse of the story that is to come and it promises to be a very riveting read.

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