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MONDOcomics: Best of 2010: Owen’s Top 10

Posted by Comics On January - 2 - 2011

Honourable mentions: I wanted to point out a few books that are amazing, fantastic books that everyone should buy. The only thing is that these books didn’t ship enough issues to make me feel right about bumping some of the awesome books below off my top 10 list. Here are my honourable mentions…

Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine – This bimonthly miniseries has been a blast from the moment it started. This is going to be a must-buy hardcover for those that didn’t read it in issues.
The Jimmy Olsen backups from Action Comics – With only about 40 pages or so it’s hard for me to put it above some of the stuff on my list, but man do I love this stuff. If I get an ongoing (and I really want one) I would bet that this will make the top 10 next year.
Proof & Proof: Endangered – This is my new “recommend to everyone I talk to” title. If this series had released more issues this year it easily would’ve made my top 10. Probably my top 5.
Rasl – Sure, this book comes out at a snail’s pace, but it’s worth it. Jeff Smith’s storytelling is as good as it gets and with this level of quality I wouldn’t want to rush him.
Starman – You knew I had to get this in here somewhere. As MONDOcomics’ resident Starman obsessive it’s my duty to point out that there was a new issue this year. And it was great. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics: Best of 2010: Isaac’s Picks

Posted by Comics On January - 1 - 2011

Series of the Year: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

There’s no doubt about it, as far as comics go nothing beat my excitement for Return of Bruce Wayne. It made me think about the medium of comics AND was hugely fun with its portrayals of “Caveman Batman,” “Pirate Batman” and especially “Cowboy Batman.” It’s the comic’s equivalent of mini-wheats cereal.

Writer of the Year: Straczynski, and Morrison

Personally, Grant Morrison is my writer of the year but I’ve got to mention J. Michael Straczynski. I personally haven’t really liked his work much but Straczynski did create a highly acclaimed graphic novel, Superman: Earth One, that sold really well and may help spark greater interest in the ‘straight to graphic novel release’ strategy that I think is the future of comics (for several reasons that I won’t go into right now), but he was the writer on both Superman AND Wonder Woman! Just because I didn’t like the premise of his stories there — any writer that gets himself the position of writing two of DC’s biggest properties is having a pretty good year. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #71: September 8-9, 2010

Posted by Comics On September - 10 - 2010

Adventure Comics #518
Paul Levitz, Jeff Lemire (w), Kevin Sharpe, Mahmud Asrar (p), Marlo Alquiza, John Dell (i),  Blond, Pete Pantazis (c). DC Comics.

I don’t know if this is an error from the writer or the artist, but the Legion of Superheroes main story is consistently focusing on the wrong moment. Most panels will have the faces be not quite dramatic enough to warrant a panel, or else the faces will have the wrong expression on them. Then there are the group shots, where every character has their own expression — great for showing us an artist’s range, not so great for communicating the kind of action we want in that page of art. The message of that page has to be “THIS IS AWESOME” but because we can see that not all the characters are in that moment the whole picture is diluted and less impressive for it. Yes, it’s more true to life, but it isn’t “comic book true to life”. It’s good to push the boundaries between those two, but unfortunately the creative team didn’t find the right balance this time out. The Atom back up is still cool, if a little loose with the continuity I’m aware of. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 3 out of 5

Amazing Spider-Man #641
Joe Quesada (w), Paolo Rivera, Joe Quesada, Danny Miki & Richard Isanove (a), Marvel Comics.

I just don’t have it in me to hate this comic as much as some other people do. I get it, “One More Day” was a travesty, I wouldn’t argue otherwise even for a moment. Did we really need to revisit it? Probably not. But did I find the scenes between Peter and MJ totally touching? Yes I did. Now maybe it’s only because I’m a romantic fool, but any scene of a couple realizing that they love each other yet they have to part ways hits me right here (I’m pointing to my heart). Sure, there are problems here. I’m not totally thrilled with the explanations of how all that stuff was undone during OMD, but the scenes of the now ex-couple were rather well done. At least I thought so. As I said, some seem to disagree. — Owen Craig.

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

MONDOcomics #69: August 25, 2010

Posted by Comics On August - 27 - 2010

Action Comics #892
Paul Cornell, Jeff Lemire (w), Pete Woods, Pere Pérez, Pier Gallo (a), Brad Anderson, Jamie Grant (c). DC Comics.

Notable for including a Superboy back up story. Both it and the Lex Luthor lead in have very sparse settings: an arctic one and, yes, rural Kansas. The Superboy story serves as more of a teaser to get us onboard for Suberboy #1 (as if there was ever any question – yes I’m on board), but it was just long enough page-wise to trick me into thinking it was more than an ad. But that’s really all it is. If they would admit to that, and had tightened it up a bit while keeping all the crazy stuff that happens, it would have been the greatest ad/backup ever. It’s meant to be insanely awesome with: a giant earth monster, mind controlled pink frogs, last-minute Teen Titan rescues, underground kidnappees surrounded by pig monsters and gargoyle fetuses (apparently), with a last minute prophecy of doom courtesy of the Phantom Stranger. But its pacing is just a hairs breadth wrong. I still like the Luthor main story; it has some great character moments from Luthor beyond hating Superman stuff, but again, a little bland looking. – Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 3 out of 5

Avengers #4
Brian Michael Bendis (w), John Romita Jr. (p), Klaus Janson (i), Dean White (c), Marvel Comics.

I’m not sure that much happened in this issue. There was some cool action (although I’m sorry to say that last issue’s cliffhanger doesn’t lead to much), but ultimately the story doesn’t go anywhere until the last few pages. Great cover, though! – Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

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 #63: July 14, 2010

Posted by Comics On July - 16 - 2010

Adventure Comics #516
Paul Levitz, Jeff Lemire (w), Kevin Sharpe, Mahmud Asrar (p), Marlo Alquiza, John Dell (i), Blond, Pete Pantazis (c). DC Comics.

The Legion story serves as a sort of last will send off to a character that died a few years ago — better late than never? Otherwise most of the story is also a reiteration of the Legion origin. There’s really nothing to write home about here. However, the Atom back up was really nice; gorgeous art playing with some of the crazy science fiction effects of the Atoms world, it’s very quickly paced (as opposed to the drawn out Legion first story), and in old school fashion ends on a cliff-hanger (Will the Atom get out of this one?). It’s good enough that I have to buy the next issue to see how it turns out — you’ve suckered me in again, comics! – Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 3 out of 5

Amazing Spider-Man #637
Joe Kelly (w), Various (a), Matt Hollingsworth (c), Marvel Comics.

Alright, I’ll lay it out here: this is probably a better story than I’m giving it credit for. In fact, I can see that it is. It’s engaging, it’s complex, but it’s not the kind of Spider-Man story I really get in to. Grim and gritty, filled with some sort of spider-mythology about the true “Spyder” or what-not. It’s not quite my cup of tea. Still, there’s a lot to appreciate here. The art is quite good, and I didn’t even notice that Lark didn’t draw the whole thing until I saw the credits later (looking back on it now it seems more evident, but I didn’t notice at the time). Everyone involved crafted a very cool follow-up to “Kraven’s Last Hunt”, unfortunately it’s not how I like my Spider-Man. – Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #60: June 23, 2010

Posted by Comics On June - 25 - 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #635
Joe Kelly, J.M. DeMatteis, Stan Lee (w), Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano, Max Fiumara, Marcos Martin, Matt Southworth (a), Matt Hollingsworth, Fabio D’Auria (c). Marvel Comics.

Spoilers at the end, you’ve been warned. As much as I don’t like references to the Straczynski-era of Spider-Man stories, the use of the Ezekiel character (or at least his history) was very satisfying. In fact, while I’m talking about satisfying, how about the part where Spider-Man flying tackles Araña out of the way, calling her Spider-Girl because he doesn’t have the time (or, I suspect, the patience) to care about what she wants to be called. I’m biased though; I don’t particularly care for Araña. It’s pretty funny though. What isn’t satisfying is the degree of difficulty all the “Spyder” people are having fighting the Kraven group. It’s one thing to have Spider-Man be really sick and tired, not at the top of his game, but he’s teamed up with three other super powered spider people. I mean, during the one fight scene team Spider even outnumbers team Kraven! There’s a character death that was excellently done, assuming it’s Kaine who dies. If it was actually Spider-Man in that Spider-Man costume that was killed and he’s going to have to come back to life in some fashion next issue… well, that would suck. The book would have been better without the two back up stories: Max Fiumara’s art is too angular and rough, and the Stan Lee back up runs right up to my suspension of disbelief and spits in its eye. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5

American Vampire #4
Scott Snyder & Stephen King (w), Rafael Albuquerque (a), Dave McCaig (c). Vertigo.

I think I’ll be dropping this book after this opening arc. And it’s hard to say why exactly. I’m just not digging it but it’s not a bad comic. It’s pretty good, I just don’t feel it’s as special as the rest of Vertigo’s line (well, what I buy of the line). I also want it to be more brutal — more violence, more nudity, more horror. The best thing about it is the art, and it looks a bit like Albuquerque is rushing in this issue. Now, let this be clear, rushed Albuquerque is better than most professional artists. But I still think he’s trimming corners in backgrounds and a few other places. I’ll get the next one. See what happens after. — Miles Baker

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

MONDOcomics #58: June 9, 2010

Posted by Comics On June - 11 - 2010

Avengers Academy #1
Christos Gage (w), Mike McKone (a), Jeremy Cox (c), Marvel Comics.

This issue has a lot in common with Avengers: Initiative. That’s a good thing. After all, the first issue of Avengers: Initiative got me very excited for the second and the same thing happens here. There’s a cool batch of new characters and a great twist at the end. In fact, the only thing that bugged me was the main character frequently commenting on how small her breasts were when McKone drew her with average-sized breasts (although I guess they are small by comic-book standards…). I totally dug this book and can’t wait for issue two. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4 out of 5

Batman #700
Grant Morrison (w), Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, Scott Kolins, Andy Kubert, David Finch, Richard Friend (a), Ian Hannin, Alex Sinclair, Tony Avina, Brad Anderson, Peter Steigerwald (c). DC Comics.

Morrison continually impresses me with his legitimizing of the campy history of Batman — additionally it’s hard not to love the commentary divided between the three/four main Batman stories: the cheesy action packed science fiction of the fifty’s and sixties, the relatively “realistic” era of the 70’s and 80’s with Batman and Robin fighting against common criminals and uncommon intellectual challenges (with a great reference to the Dark Knight Returns using a gang of “mutants”, and a quick visual gag consisting of Batman shaving away his stubble on a roof top), the third story is a ruthless Damian Wayne Batman an easy reference to the antihero days of the 90s (and often contemporary era) as well as hinting to the very origins of “The Bat-Man” character, and finally the section denoting the possible futures for the legacy of the Batman mythos wherever it may turn. Ultimately, it is very clearly a Morrison work, so maybe it’s not your cup of tea, but if you’re an old school Batman fan, not just in it for the occasional movie (great as they are) but have read a Showcase Batman book or two, then you will want this book. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #53: May 5, 2010

Posted by Comics On May - 6 - 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #630
Zeb Wells (w), Chris Bachalo (p), Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza (i), Antonio Fabela (c). Marvel Comics.

One complaint you’ll hear about Spidey from non-fans is that he’s whiney. It’s not Spider-Man’s fault, it’s just really hard to write someone’s inner voice, particularly when they are thinking about themselves, and get it to come across as anything but whiney. What’s the solution? Well, if you’re Zeb Wells, you get Spidey to think about what joke he’s going to spring on the hapless bad guys in front of him – and the result is the funniest Spider-Man writing we’ve gotten in a while. Couple that with Bachalo’s pencils that run the gamut from cool to expressive to hilarious and we’ve got a winner. The last scene of the book is of a corporate tool antagonizing Dr. Curt Connors aka the Lizard (whom you also wouldn’t like when he’s angry) and I just kept yelling at the comic “No! You fool! Don’t you know what you’re doing?” He really didn’t, it looks like the Lizard got to eat him, but the important thing is the kind of reaction it got out of me. It was a good kind of yelling at my comic book. – Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

Batman and Robin #12
Grant Morrison (w), Andy Clarke, Scott Hanna, Dustin Nguyen (a), Alex Sinclair (c). DC Comics.

Well, the art is a little static, but otherwise it’s a great book. We start off with Robin being remote-controlled to attack Batman by Slade Wilson (long time Dick Grayson enemy) so Batman kicks Robin and it hurts Slade. I didn’t expect that, but I liked it. Slade thinks he’s untouchable, that he can just walk up (via Robin) and kill Batman, and BOOM Slade’s in pain. (I think this is what pain feels like.) I’ve just realized that all the “moments” in this book are those “Cool moments” that Geoff Johns is always going for, but these ones are far more subversive and therefore work better. Man, if Ivan Reis was drawing this book… well, it’d be awesome. – Isaac Mills

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

MONDOcomics #49: April 7, 2010

Posted by Comics On April - 10 - 2010

Batman and Robin #11
Grant Morrison (w), Andy Clarke (p), Scott Hana (i), Alex Sinclair, Tony Avina (c). DC Comics.

I found this issue to be very unfocused, it has some great ideas of course, but they just aren’t fleshed out properly. The worst offender is Batman and his adventure exploring a part of the Batcave for clues about Bruce Wayne: not wanting to spoil any surprises for us readers we cut away before seeing just what cool thing Batman has found, then see Batman again after he’s gone through some costume tearing ordeal to get back to the surface. I would have liked to have seen that story! Instead most of the book follows Robin and Oberon Sexton team up for a forgettable fight scene that needed to be way better. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 2.5 out of 5

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #34
Brad Meltzer (w), Georges Jeanty (p), Andy Owens (i), Michelle Madsen (c), Dark Horse Comics

Meltzer is certainly doing better work on this comic than I’ve seen in quite some time, the only down side is that this title has lost so much momentum (and so much of my enthusiasm) that it would take nothing short of a miracle to make me care about this book again. Sure, the exposition in this issue and the storytelling employed were pretty neat but I just have a hard time giving it more than a shrug and a muttered “kind of cool”. Still, I had dropped this book for a while, so I guess the fact that I’m planning on riding it out to the end of the season speaks to the improvement at work here.  – Owen Craig

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

MONDOcomics #45: March 10, 2010

Posted by Comics On March - 12 - 2010

The Amazing Spider-Man #624
Mark Waid with Tom Peyer (w), Paul Azaceta with Javier Rodriguez (a), Andres Mossa (c). Marvel Comics.

After reading this issue I couldn’t help but wonder what fellow MONDOreviewer Isaac Mills thought of it. I believe that man loves Spider-Man more than I will ever love anything. Here the titular does the wrong thing, for the right reason, with good reason, but it blows up in Peter’s face. It’s classic Spider-Man, but did Peter go too far? I could see Isaac falling either way on the issue. It’s an interesting question and I think the creative team doesn’t have an answer for us, and I like that. It’s a point of debate and there aren’t any right answers, and that’s how I like my comics. – Miles Baker

Miles’ rating: 4 out of 5

Batgirl #8
Bryan Q. Miller (w), Talent Caldwell, Yvel Guichet, John Stanisci (a), Guy Majoy (c). DC Comics.

The art is really bad in this book, no two ways about it, and it only gets worse when the second art team take over the last few pages. They may not have had all of Caldwell’s early pages to know how to emulate it, but I’m sure he’s done earlier issues, his style can’t come as too much of a surprise. They cram a lot of story in this single book, and as always, I prefer that to the alternative. That said, Red Robin’s sudden acceptance of the new Batgirl could have used some more inner monologue explanation on his part. Having Batgirl always think “Onward and upward” was pretty annoying, by the way. – Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 2.5 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #39: January 27, 2009 – Updated

Posted by Comics On January - 31 - 2010

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

There are a lot of mobster guys to keep track of here, but as far as problems go that’s minor. The interweaving of previous subplots (which aren’t all that removed from the main story) is masterful as we leap from Aunt May being sinister to old Mr. Negative. Spidey is lithe, fast and powerful. The jokes are funny. When Spider-Man thinks he killed a guy? Heart wrenching. This is really just a fantastic book. There’s a panel with a punch being thrown at the cyborg Silvermane and we see the distorted image of that punch reflected in the shining armour. That’s just a cool touch. – Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

Atom and Hawkman #46
Geoff Johns (w), Ryan Sook, Fernando Pasarin (a), Hi-Fi (c). DC Comics.

I wasn’t sure I’d pick this up, but beyond the fact that it’s Atom and Hawkman, it’s by Geoff Johns and Ryan Sook. That’s a great pedigree. For those who need the hint, Sook did the art on the Zatanna Seven Soldiers of Victory story, as well as Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth for this past summers Wednesday Comics production. And as beautiful as the Kamandi story was, it was done in a fairly static method, almost storybook style- and it’s really nice to see the alternative again. You know what else is nice to see? Ray Palmer the Atom being an awesome hero. Haven’t seen that for years. – Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5
Crossover rating: (Almost) Essential
Owen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5
Owen’s crossover rating: A pleasant addition Read the rest of this entry »

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