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Comics I’ll Buy in October

Posted by Comics On July - 23 - 2009

X_BABIES_1_sm_crop

By Miles Baker

DC Comics

There are exciting things going on in the DCU that I don’t care about. If you were a big Lantern fan, this would be the month for you. I just couldn’t get into Sinestro Corps, I’m skipping a lot of the new Batman titles, and Wednesday Comics is over (also, I was disappointed in it).

BATMAN AND ROBIN #5
Issue #2 of this series rocked hard. I like that Morrison is playing with new villains, the classics need a bit of a break right now.

DETECTIVE COMICS #858
The first issue of the Batwoman-led Detective Comics came out last month and it was a treasure to behold. This month Rucka and Co. finally get around to telling us Kate Kane’s backstory and I’m excited to see how Williams III will handle the flashbacks. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #11: July 15, 2009

Posted by Comics On July - 17 - 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #599Amazing Spider-Man #599
Joe Kelly (w), Stephen Segovia, Marco Checchetto, Paulo Siqueira, Amilton Santos (a). Marvel Comics.

The art is solid all throughout, but it’s still weird having all these different artists on board for this. It’s also really cool to have Spider-Man’s mask look like Grifter’s from Wildcats, but this issue could have been called “The Amazing Harry Osborn” what with Harry doing all the fighting and all. It’s fair though, since the beginning of this arc Spider-Man has been pretty beat-up, so by this point he’s barely standing. Now that I think about it, that’s how most of Spider-Man’s big fights go, so really it’s more refreshing to see him not have to pull out a miraculous win, and just let the other guy save the day. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

Batman Streets of Gotham #2Batman: Streets of Gotham #2
Paul Dini, Co-Feature: Mark Andreyko (w), Dustin Nguyen, Co-Feature: Georges Jeanty (p), Derek Fridolfs, Co-Feature: Dexter Vines (i). DC Comics.

So I guess this is just another Batman book, right? I thought the idea was that it would tackle more street-level crime or focus more on the Gotham City Police Department or something, but I guess I was wrong. This issue focuses on supervillains and Batman and Robin beating them up. It was good enough, I suppose, but as far as I can tell, this same story could’ve been told in Batman. The Manhunter co-feature was great, but ten pages of great plus twenty-two pages of generic Batmanishness don’t justify my four dollars. Especially when Batman and Robin is coming out. – Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 2 out of 5
Isaac’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

Blackest Night #1, Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1
For Owen’s review of Blackest Night #1 and Isaac’s review of Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1, check out our Crossover Corner at the bottom of the page. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #10: July 8, 2009

Posted by Comics On July - 10 - 2009

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #36Amazing Spider-Man Annual #36
Marc Guggenheim (w), Pat Oliffe (p), Oliffe with Lanning (i), Antonio Fabela (c). Marvel Comics.

There’s a lot to love about this comic. It’s a “#36” first of all, which means it’s another instance of going to “original numbering” (which I’m a big fan of). I also like that at the end of a list of his Spider-Man-y accomplishments, Peter Parker thinks, “I even fought a Sentinel once.” I just love how proud he is of that, like Sentinels are the toughest things out there. And of course copious amounts of Ben Reilly! No, he’s not back or anything, but the spider-writers have gone out of their way for years to avoid even printing that name, and here I’m given a montage of Ben Reilly moments. I’m pretty sure everyone should like this comic, but I’m really biased. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5
Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5

Booster Gold #22Booster Gold #22
Dan Jurgens (w), Dan Jugens (a). DC Comics.

Booster Gold has settled into a great rhythm now. It’s doing what I think it should be doing and doing it well. Every month Booster has an awesome, wacky adventure set in a past period of DC history. If that sounds like fun to you, then you’ll have a blast (I know I do); if it doesn’t, then give this comic a skip. This month Booster mixes it with the Perez/Wolfman-era Teen Titans. – Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #8: June 24, 2009

Posted by Comics On June - 24 - 2009

astonishingAstonishing X-Men #30
Warren Ellis (w), Simone Bianchi (p), various. Marvel Comics.

If a team takes two years to put out six issues (I’m counting the announcement at San Diego Comicon 2007 as when the creators started work) you’d at least hope they’d be good. Bianchi is perhaps one of the worst artists to attempt to make a coming in the medium’s history. It’s not that he can’t draw — his figures are fine, even if they are making strange and goofy poses in every panel — it’s that he can’t compose a page. He’s trying really hard with these complicated layouts that fall dead flat. Why? Because there’s no fucking purpose to them. He’s losing out on emotive details because he’s adding angles and semi-circle panels. Then there is Ellis’ mishandling of the characters. He gets the occasional moment right, but then so many so wrong, like Wolverine saying that he’s “Old enough to spank the front o’ your brain with one o’ my claws, Summers.” “‘o”? Since when is Wolverine a character from Treasure fucking Island? If you liked Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, pretend they cancelled the title. — Miles Baker Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #6: June 10, 2009

Posted by Comics On June - 12 - 2009

amazing-spider-man-597Amazing Spider-Man #597
Joe Kelly (w), Marco Chechetto (a). Marvel Comics.

The first part of this story was so good, but since then it’s been…I don’t want to say bad, but at least not living up to its potential. Certainly this issue isn’t as bad as last week’s “why does Sue Storm look just like the prostitute we just saw” issue, but it still isn’t living up to the promise of that great first issue. I appreciate the digs at Daken’s mohawk, and Peter’s (mostly successful) attempt at impersonating Venom, and that cliffhanger is shocking, but ultimately this storyline has turned out to be little more than a tour of Norman’s empire with some obligatory fights thrown in. For a better Joe Kelly book, read Bad Dog. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 2.5 out of 5
Miles’ rating: 3.5 out of 5

batmanBatman #687
Judd Winick (w), Ed Benes (p), Rob Hunter (i). DC Comics.

DC must be crazy. Why else would they release this book the week after Morrison and Quitely’s Batman and Robin? First of all, this book features a lot of Dick Grayson agonizing over whether or not he should become Batman, while in Batman and Robin he seemed very comfortable in the suit. So this book feels like it comes first chronologically. More importantly, though, this book does not benefit from the comparison; it’s sloppier, less fun, and less pretty. Benes seems to have studied from the Liefeld school of useless lines everywhere and is the expert of ambiguous character acting (are those characters sad or awkward). As for Winick, I see potential here, but he has some lessons to learn about economy in writing. You know that moment in writing class when the teacher walks over, looks at your script, and starts crossing lines out, saying “you don’t need that line, you don’t need that line, you don’t need that scene…”? Winick must have never had that happen to him (see Dick and Alfred’s many lengthy conversations). I think this book has potential, especially now that Benes is leaving, but Winick, please remember: less is more. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 2 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #5: June 3, 2009

Posted by Comics On June - 5 - 2009

agents-of-atlas-6Agents of Atlas #6
Jeff Parker (w), Gabriel Hardman (a), Marvel Comics

Maybe people who are huge Namor fans would get more mileage out of this. To me it was a whole lot of arguing about whether Namor should go back to Atlantis or not. A LOT of that. The art was really, really pretty (well done Hardman…also, badass name, Hardman) but too much time was spent explaining the history of the Atlantean people. This comic is at its best when it’s being whimsical and retro, not when it’s playing the role of the Marvel Encyclopedia. This is a great comic, but this wouldn’t be the issue I’d hand to someone to get them into it. – Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 2.5 out of 5
Miles’ rating: 3 out of 5

825364-asm596_dc11_1_1__superAmazing Spider-Man #596
Joe Kelly (w), Paul Siqueira (p), Amilton Santos (i), Jeromy Cox (c), Marvel Comics

After this issue, they might want to call it “The Amazing Harry Osborn”. I’ve been really happy with how this series has handled it’s supporting cast and Harry has been consistently pleasing. They keep pulling the same gag and I keep falling for it. You keep thinking that Harry is going to do something dumb and Peter will have to save him but then it turns out Harry is smarter than you think. I love it. Norah Winters has also been a fun addition to the cast and I really hope Pete gets with her. I have a bit of a crush on her. Anyway, “American Son” picks up a lot after a first issue that didn’t thrill me — so much so that I wasn’t lamenting the departure of Phil Jimenez as much as I thought I would. Siqueira did a fine job. — Miles Baker

Miles’ rating: 4 out of 5
Owen’s rating: 2.5 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

Found in the Back-Issue Bins

Posted by Comics On May - 26 - 2009

amazing-spider-manBy Owen Craig

One of the most fun things about being a comic book fan is getting to rummage through back-issue looking for the collector’s version of buried treasure. Recently I was at Dragon Lady, a neat store with some old comics and magazines checking out their 30-50% off sale and walked home with a great haul. Let’s take a quick look at what I bought.

Amazing Spider-Man #162

Nightcrawler was guest-starring in Amazing Spider-Man with The Punisher…I dunno, seemed like fun to me.devil-dinosaur

Devil Dinosaur
#1

Devil Dinosaur. It’s a comic about a giant red tyrannosaurus. Not only that, but it’s a Jack Kirby-created red tyrannosaurus with a monkey-man sidekick. This a slam-dunk.

house-of-mysteryThe House of Mystery #249

I bought this one based on the amazingness of the dialogue on the cover. “No! NO! You were just a voice on a record!” “Yes! The voice of your DOOM!” That’s fantastic. I miss dialogue on the covers of my comics these days. It still happens once in a while, and I always appreciate it when it does. I can only hope that the story inside this issue is as much fun as the cover. Plus it features two terrifying tales. Two!

thorThe Mighty Thor #364-366

Ever since I heard of Frog Thor I knew I had to own those issues. Thor is turned into a frog, awesomeness ensues. If you’re reading Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers (and if you aren’t then why not?) and want to know where the concept of Frog Thor originated then this is what you need to track down.

uncle-scroogeUncle Scrooge #300

I’m a huge Uncle Scrooge fan, so it’s hard to resist a cover like this one where Don Rosa draws a bunch of characters from Scrooge’s past. The issue also reprints some great stories I hadn’t read.

worlds-finestWorld’s Finest #289

This is the famous (on the internet) issue of World’s Finest that I read about on The Invincible Super-Blog and had to check out for myself. Sure enough, Superman and Batman are engaging in long handshakes, reaching out gently for each other and helping alien creatures mate. It’s awesome. They make a cute couple.

I can’t remember the last time I walked away with a stack of comics I was so pleased with. Feel free to recommend great old comics for me to look for next time I’m doing some rummaging through back-issue bins.

MONDOcomics #3: May 20, 2009

Posted by Comics On May - 22 - 2009

agentsofatlasAgents of Atlas #5
Jeff Parker (w), Carlo Pagulayan (p), Jason Paz (i), Jana Schirmer (c). Marvel Comics.

In this issue Parker writes a better New Avengers than the man who created the team. It was really nice to see Peter Parker, who is the smartest person on the New Avengers team, actually use his brains and not just react to things like he normally seems to do in these situations. It’s also nice to see two teams of good guys fighting over an intentional misunderstanding rather than a silly one, where if they just talked for two seconds they would stop fighting. You might be confused by “intentional misunderstanding” — basically the Agents of Atlas are a team of sheep in wolves clothing. They’re using a big evil corporation to advance their do-gooder agenda. It’s like season five of Angel except there are more robots. This issue concludes what will be in the first trade and I think it’s worth a buy. — Miles Baker

Miles’ rating: 4 out of 5
Owen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

amazingspidermanAmazing Spider-Man #594
Mark Waid (w), Barry Kitson and Mike McKone (p), Morals and Lanning (i), Jeromy Cox (c). Marvel Comics.

For people who complain that comics aren’t like they used to be there is Amazing Spider-Man. The structure of this book is 100% old school. Two fights with the same villain as the main plot, and then two or three scenes that build sub-plots in the background. That’s it. I think some of these subplots are being rushed. The Aunt May/Jameson Sr. romance for one. They address it in the story, but it’s one of those developments where as an audience member you go, “Well, this will end badly or be very annoying.” We all know that marriages don’t seem to have happy endings (or beginnings at all, I guess) in the Spidey world. I challenge the writers of Spider-Man to keep this marriage together for six years. Give me six years where Peter has a supporting male figure in his life and I won’t call this a tired, lame plot. (This is a really long-term bet). Also, this issue sees the return of beefcake Peter — with him walking around his apartment naked. I don’t see why his new roommate is so pissed off about it. She should be impressed — he’s really buff. — Miles Baker

Miles’ rating: 3 out of 5
Isaac’s rating: 3.5 out of 5
Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5

prv2626_covAmazing Spider-Man Family #6
Brian Reed, Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz, Abby Denson, Paul Tobin (w), Tim Levins, Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema, Adam Dekraker (a). Marvel Comics.

A really fun comic; it’s hard to go wrong when there are four stories and half of them are done by a veteran Spidey team like DeFalco, Frenz, and Buscema. There’s one misstep for me, though — “The Amazing Spider-Ma’am,” starring Aunt May going around in Peter’s costume to help out the neighborhood. I’m pretty flexible, but my continuity hard wiring just won’t allow for that story — even though it’s technically cute. The last story, “Between Flights,” has some great heroics from Peter Parker just keeping some kids calm in a stuck elevator; it’s really sweet and I like it a lot. You don’t need spider powers to be a hero! — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5

battle_for_cowl_3_cover_largeBatman: Battle for the Cowl #3 (of 3)
Tony S. Daniel (w and a), Sandu Florea (i), Ian Hanin & JD Smith (c). DC Comics.

I’m not ever sure why I picked up this series in the first place. I’ve never really been a big fan of Batman and knew very little about the history of the character. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. I wasn’t blown away, but I also wasn’t particularly rattled about any of it either. I still feel the same way. The writing isn’t anything to celebrate and the same goes for the art. I did enjoy the scene where Jason Todd and Dick Grayson battle it out, blow for blow, but I was also confused as to who I was looking at. They kind of looked like the same person. The end was supposed to be a big reveal for all readers, but it pretty much played out the way I thought and there was no big sigh of satisfaction at the end for me either. So in the end, sure, it was alright, but nothing to get worked up about. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s rating: 2.5 out of 5
Isaac’s rating: 3.5 out of 5
Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5

806900-23_superBrave and the Bold #23
Dan Jurgens (w and a), Brian Miller (c), Norm Rapmund (i). DC Comics.

I’ve been a little down on recent issues of Booster Gold; they’ve been focusing more on time travel stuff (only digging their own grave when it comes to setting straight their particular philosophy of time travel mechanics) instead of heroics starring Booster Gold. Well this book has heroics starring Booster Gold! In that great way he has, he’s both dumb and smart, not listening to Rip Hunter (dumb) and schooling Magog in “how to save kids 101″ (smart). More of this, please. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5
Owen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

mar092559dCaptain America #50
Ed Brubaker (w), Luke Ross (p), Rick Magyar & Luke Ross (i), Frank D’Armata (c). Marvel Comics.

It’s just another day in the life of Captain America — fighting crime, saving lives — but today is a little different, it’s Bucky’s birthday! I really enjoyed reading this issue. It’s a great bridging issue that helps to solidify the passing away of Steve Rogers and the entrance of Bucky Barnes as the new Captain America. If there is anything that Ed Brubaker does best, it’s creating depth in his characters. In this issue, we’re taken back to Bucky’s early years as a young soldier fighting in World War II to his eventual partnership with Captain America and taking on of the position. They’re some big shoes that he’s been asked to fill and Bucky makes no qualms about it. He’s not Captain America. He’s not Steve Rogers. He’s Bucky Barnes and he’s trying his best. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s rating: 3.5 out of 5
Miles’ rating: 5 out of 5
Owen’s rating: 4 out of 5

FCAD Cv1Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #1 (of 6)
Joe Casey (w), Chriscross (a), Snakebite (c), Rob Stull, Mick Gray, Wayne Faucher, Chriscross (i). DC Comics.

It speaks very well of this issue that I went back after reading everything else and read through parts of it again; it was a lot of fun. The first page is just a splash of the characters with Most Excellent Superbat saying: “SUPER YOUNG TEAM! Suspension of disbelief: ON.” And with that, we are all on the Super Young Team, and this comic can pretty much get away with anything. It’s pretty fun to follow the adventures of a group of silly narcissists, especially when they just may rise to a challenge and become real super heroes. Or not. But it’s still fun. Most Excellent Superbat’s interior narration is relayed through a comic version of Twitter; it’s cynical, self involved, and is perfect for this series. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5

green-arrow-black-canary-20Green Arrow/Black Canary #20
Andrew Kreisberg (w), Mike Norton (p), Josef Rubinstein (i). DC Comics.

I’m kind of enjoying this book? I guess? It’s certainly improved since Andrew Kreisberg took over, but I can’t shake the feeling that this title remains somewhat bland. It lacks the majesty of DC’s bigger titles, but doesn’t have the same sense of fun as their more successful smaller titles. This issue pretty much continued on the slow improvement trend. It’s getting better, but it’s still not where it needs to be. It needs to funnier or more exciting or I don’t know what, just more something. Also, what was with the colouring in the first scene? Were they trying to recreate bad lighting? It was weird. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 2.5 out of 5

1242876174_cvrHerogasm #1 (of 6)
Garth Ennis (w), John McCrea and Keith Burns (a). Dynamite Entertainment.

As a fan of Garth Ennis and with a suggestive title like Herogasm it was very hard to overlook this release. And believe me folks the title is a mere glimpse as to what lies inside. This mini-series is a spin-off of Ennis’ The Boys. The superheroes within the series are just mere marketing tools used by companies to make money. Every year heroes and villains alike gather together to defend earth from some sort of eminent danger but in reality it all just a way to boost comic sales. The first issue slowly unravels an intriguing plot involving The Boys and another significant player that will definitely prove to be an exciting read. I’m always into reading about dirty secret lives, so I thoroughly recommend this title. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s rating: 4 out of 5

incredibles-2The Incredibles: Family Matters #2
Mark Waid (w), Marcio Takara (a). Boom Studios.

Out of all the titles in Boom’s new Boom Kids line, this was the one that cried out to be a comic. While I can kind of see a Finding Nemo comic, and have no interest in reading a Cars comic, an Incredibles comic is a perfect fit, for obvious reasons. Not only that, but Mark Waid gets it. He does the characters justice, adds some neat development (even if he goes back to the old stand-by “I’m losing my powers” plotline we’ve all seen before), and gives Takara some great visuals to draw. Nobody’s trying to reinvent the wheel here, they’re just making some great comics for kids (or adults like me who love kid’s comics) to read. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

jack-of-fables-34Jack of Fables #34
Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham (w), Russ Braun (p), José Marzan Jr. (i). Vertigo.

Honestly, this is just not what I wanted from an epic Fables crossover. The tone feels weird for the Fables half of the crossover books and not a whole lot has happened except for shuffling the characters around the books. I’ve been reserving judgement until I was further into the plotline, but at part 5 of 9 I feel comfortable saying that in my eyes “The Great Fables Crossover” is yet another in a long string of disappointing crossovers. But hey, feel free to prove me wrong with a great ending, guys! — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 2.5 out of 5

mar094316eLocke and Key: Head Games #5
Joe Hill (w), Gabriel Rodriguez (a), Jay Fotos (c). IDW Publishing.

One of my first reviews here on MONDO was actually the first issue of this series. I really liked it then and that hasn’t changed as of yet. Although, I must say that the story has been moving at a slower pace than I would like it to — not enough is happening. I have a feeling Joe Hill is really trying to slowly develop the characters and build towards a very exciting plot, but I’m getting antsy from all the waiting. The art by Rodriguez is still amazing and fits the story really well. I can’t wait to see where this goes. I just wish it were going there a little faster.  — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

mysterius5Mysterius The Unfathomable #5 (of 6)
Jeff Parker (w), Tom Fowler (a), Dave McCaig (c). Wildstorm.

I pulled the premier issue of Mysterius back when we were doing Random Comics of the Week (seems so long ago) and stuck with it: I’m happy that I did. Mysterius is such a lovable yet insane bastard. He and his assistant Dephi finally get to see who has been pulling their magical strings for the last few issues. It’s not a total shocker, but it’s well executed. And the fun blending of magic and the real world is interesting and charming. Fowler’s art is just perfect for this book and for this series. In this issue he gets to do a little more drama than in previous issues and he really nails the moment. This is my pick of the week. You should really give Mysterius a chance — it’s a funny, interesting comic with memorable characters and a unique feel. And I can’t really say that about most of the stuff I read. — Miles Baker

Miles’ rating: 5 out of 5

supergirl-41Supergirl #41
Sterling Gates (w), Fernando Dagnino (p), Raúl Fernandez (i). DC Comics.

Supergirl is an exciting comic. Not only that, but it’s an exciting comic that my fiancée wants to read every week. I feel like that’s all I need to say, but I suppose I should address this specific issue. Jamal Igle is missed on pencils, but the conclusion to this story is extremely shocking, so much so that I can’t wait for the next issue. It’s still not my favourite comic, but the fact that I’m excited for the next issue of Supergirl is pretty darn impressive.  — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5

prv2607_covTimestorm 2009 2099 #2 (of 4)
Brian Reed (w), Eric Battle and R.B. Silva (a), Bruno Hang (c), Andrew Hennessy and Vincente Cifuentes (i). Marvel Comics.

Well, you don’t need to know anything about the 2099 series to follow this comic, because they totally change the timeline. Which would be great — except for all those issues of Spider-Man 2099 I own that totally influence my expectations here. As cheap a shot as it is, good move sending Wolverine and Spider-Man into the future for this story — if you can’t use a classic Miguel O’Hara, you may as well bring in the big guns to sell the story. It is pretty good when Wolverine asks “How come my futures always stink?” Maybe next issue things will start to happen (aside from a fun Wolverine versus Future Hulks fight) and I’ll like this, but probably not. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 2 out of 5

tiny-titans-volume-2Tiny Titans: Adventures In Awesomeness
Art Balthazar & Franco (w), Art Balthazar (a). DC Comics.

This is the second collection of Tiny Titans issues, and if you haven’t taken a look yet than you are either unaware of its existence or have a heart of stone. After all, who can resist the cuteness? Who, I ask you, who? Alright, perhaps cute isn’t for everyone, but if Blue Beetle getting painted yellow and pink or the Titans worrying that they didn’t study for their “Finals Crisis” sounds funny to you then you should check this out. I know I did, and I loved it. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4 out of 5

uncannyxmenUncanny X-Men #510
Matt Fraction (w), Greg Land (p), Jay Leisten (i), Justin Ponsor (c). Marvel Comics.

I don’t understand why Greg Land takes such a beating in online communities. His women’s faces are similar, but John Romita Jr draws men’s and women’s faces the exact same way and people love him. His T and A factor is high, but his men are pretty smoking too and he’s no worse than Adam Hughes and far better than J. Scott Campbell in that department. Anyway, I think his art is pretty good and that he’s starting to find his feet as a storyteller. Already on their feet — Matt Fraction. He’s been doing this slow burn pacing for the last ten issues and he’s now moved the X-Men pan to an open flame. He also writes a Cyclops I can get behind with great lines like, “Please. I have bigger nervous breakdowns for breakfast.” A badly written Cyclops can be a deal-breaker for me and thankfully I don’t have that problem here. — Miles Baker

Miles’ rating: 4 out of 5
Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5

806973-6_superVigilante #6
Marv Wolfman (w), Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna (a), David Baron (c). DC Comics.

Yes, this crossover is finally done — I’m not proud that I picked up the entire series.  The whole adventure was too small for the Titans books, though maybe just the right size for Vigilante. I liked the art, it kind of reminds me of Howard Chaykin if I liked Howard Chaykin (sorry, just not appealing). Flash got to do the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet routine and they got to have the gruesome ending that was probably the whole reason behind having Vigilante here in the first place. It sort of makes sense, but it was not worth this much work. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 2 out of 5

wolverine-weapon-x-2Wolverine: Weapon X #2
Jason Aaron (w), Ron Garney (a). Marvel Comics.

Aaron and Garney know how to tell a story and that is in evidence here: this comic flows beautifully, Wolverine is more fun here than anywhere else in the Marvel universe right now, and the art is great. Plus, that last page shows you that not every last page has to be a cliffhanger to be satisfying (see also last week’s Secret Warriors). This is a darn fine comic. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

Comics I’ll Buy In June

Posted by Comics On March - 27 - 2009

By Miles Baker

Marvel and DC Comics have released their advance solicitations for June 2009.
Of the list I’ll be buying…

From DC

BATMAN AND ROBIN #1 because I like Morrison and Quietly together (as seen in All Star Superman and New X-Men). I was thrown that this book is actually in main continuity, and I am curious to see how it develops.

DETECTIVE COMICS #854 because Greg Rucka is a fantastic writer, especially when it comes to tough female characters, and JH Williams is an underrated genius.

MYSTERIUS: THE UNFATHOMABLE #6 because I’ve enjoyed the first couple issues of this quirky series.

NORTHLANDERS VOL. 2: THE CROSS + THE HAMMER TP because it has Vikings, and Vikings are awesome.

YOUNG LIARS #16 because it’s the craziest book on the market, and I can’t wait to see what crazy shit happens next.

THE UNWRITTEN #2 because Mike Cary is a solid writer and that cover is very pretty.

From Marvel
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #596-8 because it’s been consistently awesome for the last year.

DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN: UTOPIA because I like what Fraction is doing with Uncanny X-Men. It’s a tough call because I dislike what Bendis is doing with Dark Avengers and Marc Silvestri’s art.

MIGHTY AVENGERS #26 because it’s still on my pull list. Dan Slott is a funny writer, but so far I’m not taken with his Avengers title.

SECRET WARRIORS #5 because this series is really starting to cook, and I like Nick Fury.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #600 because Captain America is my boyfriend.

DAREDEVIL #119 because Daredevil is my other boyfriend.

RUNAWAYS #11 because Terry Moore will be no longer ruining this title with his shoddy characterization.

UNCANNY X-MEN #511 because of the Fraction.

X-MEN: LEGACY #225 because it’s written for people like me who know too much about the X-Men.

CABLE #15 and X-FORCE #16 because I’m a sucker for crossovers, and I’m interested in what happens to that mutant baby.

X-FACTOR #44 & #45 because X-Factor is kicking so much ass lately. This is one of the best series on the market right now. The last three issues have been so outstanding.

What about you? Any suggestions?

Random Comics of the Week: Amazing Spider-Man

Posted by Comics On March - 20 - 2009

"Character Assassination" - get it?Isaac’s Book

Amazing Spider-Man #588
Written by Marc Guggenheim
Pencilled by John Romita Jr.
Marvel Comics, 2009

It’s all Spider-Man, all the time this week — sorry, DC. So now it’s just a matter of deciding which Spider-Man adventure to chat about. The Amazing Spider-Man gets the vote for a number of reasons, but mostly for a “cheesy lesson” moment, which I’m always a fan of. But I’ll talk about that later.

We pick up with Spider-Man about to dive into a fight with a prison full of convicts who wanted to take a pound of flesh from Peter Parker’s roommate, Vin Gonzales. After some fisticuffs and webbing, there’s this great moment where Spider-Man asks if Vin has voted yet (there’s a mayoral race going on in the Spider-verse), and Vin just asks, “Are you kidding?” as he gets pulled up in the air, his face all mangled from getting beaten. Trust me, it’s really hilarious.

I’ve heard several complaints about how the “New Ways to Die” story arc left so many plot lines dangling. Though I really disagreed with that (comics are serial in format; if you want all the plot threads wrapped up neatly, then you should stick to reading self-contained trades like Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns), I can’t imagine that the same charge could be levelled here. This storyline has revealed the truth behind Menace and his motivations, as well as who was behind the Spider-tracer killings — secrets we readers have been wondering about since the beginning of the Brand New Day era of Amazing Spider-Man.

One thing that has happened with increasing frequency are call-backs to past adventures; in this case, Spidey mentions that he hasn’t been “hurt like this since Morlun.” I’m a big fan of the little asterisks that direct us to boxes telling how such and such a thing certainly DID happen, in issue number whatever, but it’s pretty telling that this reference to Morlun does not have such an asterisk. These kinds of throw-away lines show that the writers are trying to convince us that the past Spider-Man stories totally did happen, and we don’t have to be mad about the magic wand of One More Day. If you’re trying that hard to make everything okay with us readers, then maybe you should just apologize and move on, you know? Either admit you made a mistake, or don’t allude to any such thing.

Okay, the “cheesy lesson” moment. I’d actually run into this little lesson in a potent, quotable type of thing a couple months ago — it kind of hit me in the head and really helped me out, so to see it again, especially coming from Spider-Man, was really cool. Harry asks Peter if he thinks the Osborns are cursed. Peter answers yes, but “we all have our cross to bear. All of us. It may seem like it’s heavier for some than others, but it’s not. Everybody’s got something.”

It’s really gratifying to see old Peter Parker take this stance, because he’s a guy that can get really self-involved and self-pitying; it’s great to be reminded that he can rise above that, and be a hero for more than lifting heavy things.

Though I do like when heavy things are lifted.

Isaac’s Book of the Monthnov082359

Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! #2
Written by Dan Slott and Zeb Wells
Art by Chris Bachalo and Paolo Rivera
Marvel Comics, 2009

Nothing against the first half of this special by Slott and Bachalo, but the Wells and Rivera story is my book of the month: “Birthday Boy” featuring Spider-Man and Wolverine. No wonder it’s amazing!

It’s a straightforward tale of Wolverine wanting a drinking buddy for his birthday and therefore calling up Spider-Man.

Wolverine would never do that! He’d rather grab a beer with Cyclops or somebody, right? This makes no sense.

Aha, but let’s take a moment and give the writers the benefit of the doubt, and ask how COULD this be true? Let’s say Wolverine would actually choose Spider-Man to be his birthday buddy, and now let’s explain the rationale behind this choice and really examine the relationship these two characters would have in the real world.

The story is a character study between innocence and experience, hope and cynicism, and could be told with any of a number of characters based on these archetypes, especially since for the majority of the story there is no wall crawling or clawing around, but two guys having a conversation.

But the fact that these two are characters that have a strong history behind them means we go into their dialogue with certain expectations, and it’s honestly thought-provoking when our expectations are subverted and we get to analyze how the writer is actually right on the mark here.

Delving into a practical example from the story, Wolverine is really the funny one here, and we always expect that to be Spider-Man’s bailiwick. But it’s no surprise that when thrown out of the black-and-white world of “hero thrashing bad guy,” Spider-Man returns to the more nerdish leanings we’d associate with high-school Peter Parker, who doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers and wants to just be done with the whole awkward situation.

Another example is our surprise at Wolverine’s sentimentality, but this is further evidence of the brilliance of pairing Spider-Man and Wolverine. Lots of X-Men comics have Wolverine talking to Cyclops, but it’s rarely in a sentimental fashion. So to even tell this kind of story for Wolverine you have to find a character that doesn’t interact with him regularly; Spider-Man fits the bill nicely.

The art is wonderful, very dark and human, and when there actually is some action Spider-Man is a vision of the very spirit of the original Ditko art style, and that’s a great thing.

The lesson is, as ever, always read Spider-Man books.

Miles’ Book of the Month684564-x_factor_39_super

X-Factor #39
Written by Peter David
Art by Valentine De Landro
Marvel Comics, 2009

It’s been a rough year for X-Factor. And I don’t mean for the characters in X-Factor, I mean for the title itself. Marvel gave the art chores over to Larry Stroman for some godforsaken reason. I’m sorry, Larry, you’re probably a very nice man, but you have the distinction of being the worst artist employed by a comic book company right now. Under his art, the book became unreadable and I stopped buying it. I couldn’t even bring myself to steal it.

However, now with Toronto’s own Valentine De Landro providing art I can happily return to buying the title, and just in time for one of the coolest fucking things I have ever seen in a comic.

X-Factor has always been about the X factor — the unknown or unexpected. David has continually frustrated my expectations in wonderful and interesting ways throughout the title’s history. So when Jaime Madrox and Teressa Cassady’s child is born, it was bound to be an event that was almost impossible to predict. I sure as hell didn’t see it coming. I’m not going to spoil it here because the recap page has a letter from David asking reviewers not to, but it’s one of those things that makes your mouth open wide, cry “Oh no!” and then say, “That’s fucking amazing.”

Poor X-Factor Investigations, they just can’t get a break.

But beyond the big, series-changing moment, there’s a lot of other things to love in this comic. The greatest strength of X-Factor is David’s layered character work and how he uses it to create a unique team dynamic. X-Factor is one of the only team books I read that feels like a team book.

So, X-Factor is back and it’s a book you should be reading. It’s smart, funny, engaging, and you don’t know what David is going to throw at you next. Gotta love that X factor.

MONDOcomics’ Best of 2008: Owen’s Take

Posted by Comics On January - 6 - 2009

By Owen K. Craig

Series of the Year: Fables

Fables had a stellar year. First they wrapped up an arc about Flycatcher that developed him in unexpected ways while staying true to the original character, and then we got an awesome spy story about Cinderella. All of this was leading into the big epic battle that we’ve been waiting for since issue 1, and when it got here it wasn’t what we expected (I mean that in the best possible way). Now that it’s over the series continues to subvert our expectations, not only by continuing (most series would end here) but also by throwing one jaw-dropping twist after another at us. I can’t wait to see what Fables brings us in 2009.

Runners up: Ex Machina, Justice Society of America, Scalped

Writer of the Year: Geoff Johns

I’ve got to give it to Geoff Johns again this year. Sure, my favourite superhero comic (Justice Society) was stalled by a ridiculously long, consistently delayed storyline all year (it reads much better now that it’s out), but even that book aside, Johns continues to do great DC comics. He and Gary Frank made me want to read Superman for the first time in Action Comics, Green Lantern remains one of the books I can’t wait for every month, and his Final Crisis tie-ins (Legion of 3 Worlds and Rogue’s Revenge) have been top-notch. Those are five books I’ve been both buying and loving all by one writer this year. Johns has earned the spot as my writer of the year.

Click for larger image.

Click for larger image.

Runners up: Matt Fraction, Dan Slott, Brian K. Vaughan

Artist of the Year: Marcos Martin

I love Marcos Martin’s art. He may have only done a couple of storylines of Amazing Spider-Man this year, but they were by far my favourite. His art was completely in tune with Dan Slott’s scripts, and those two stories really shone. His characters are expressive, and the style is delightful. I hope to see much more of Martin’s art in the future.

Runners up: Amanda Conner, Tony Harris, George Perez

Villain of the Year: Marvel for their $3.99 price hike on regular-sized issues

Um…what happened to 25 cent increases? What the Hell is wrong with you?

Runners up: Nothing is as evil as this.

Hero of the year: Mitchell Hundred

I’ve been a silly, silly man. I let myself fall WAY behind on Ex Machina in the last couple of years. I promised myself I would start buying the trades and kept forgetting to. ME! BKV fanboy #1! In the last month I have fixed this. I am now caught up and loving it. Mayor Mitchell Hundred is an amazing character. He’s brash, he has conviction, and he makes mistakes sometimes. He may not always make the smartest moves, but his integrity is something to be proud of. There’s nothing I love reading more than a plot with a hero who seems so distinctly human. Hundred may have some wacky circuitry in his head that lets him talk to machines, but he’s one of the most human superheroes out there. And that’s something I want to read. Oh, Ex Machina, let’s never split up again.

Runners up: Batman, Iron Man, Prince Charming

Panel of the Year: Herc’s “thumbs up” face

I’m trading in the “Splash Page of the Year” category for a “Panel of the Year” category to make room for Hercules’ thumbs up face. Nothing in comics all year made me laugh like this. Welcome to my list, Incredible Hercules. You’ve more than earned this spot.

Runners up: DMZ #23 (“Mine”), Justice Society of America #14 (crowded meeting table), Thor #2 (new Asgard)

Saddest Cancellation: The Exterminators

The Exterminators was weird, horrifying, and confusing, and I loved every issue of it. It took me a little time to understand what it was about (you know, besides exterminators), but once I got into the swing of it I had a blast. It’s too bad more people didn’t try out this series because it was great. Do yourselves a favour and pick up the trades, it’s a lot of fun.

Runners up: The All-New Atom, Blue Beetle, Crossing Midnight

Most Pleasant Surprise: Deadpool

Daniel Way wrote something good. Now, I don`t want to be nasty about this (too late?), but I have tried out Way’s Wolverine Origins and his Ghost Rider and they weren’t just bad, they were atrocious. But maybe the problem wasn’t that Daniel Way is a bad writer, maybe he was just writing the wrong title. All that aside, his Deadpool is absolutely hilarious, awesome, and sick in the best possible way.

Runners up: Secret Six, Sterling Gates’ Supergirl, Terra

Best Reprint: Starman Omnibus: Volume 1

I can’t say enough good things about this omnibus. It is a gorgeous package that is well worth the price tag for any fan of good comics. From its lush presentation to its fascinating behind-the-scenes features, this book is wall-to-wall awesome.

Runners up: Angel: After The Fall: Volumes 1-2, Garfield Minus Garfield, Justice League International: Volumes 1-3

Special Mention: Y: The Last Man

Only one issue came out this year, but it was the best issue of any comic this year. I didn’t feel justified putting it up there as “Best Title of the Year,” so I’m giving it its own category. One of my favourite comics of all time now has one of the best endings to a comic of all time. Well done, Vaughan and Guerra. Well done.

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