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X is for X-Factor

Posted by Comics On March - 2 - 2011

The Alpha Review

By Andrew Uys

I’ve heard that trade paperbacks — a run of comic issues collected into a graphic novel — are all the rage today. But which ones are worth your time? This column aims to put the spotlight on the spectacular trades — at least according to this writer. And just for fun, we will start with the letter “A,” and each subsequent review will follow with the next letter of the alphabet. While you might object to my taste or my opinion, I hope that this column will help save you time and money when you are next buying a trade paperback, as well as effort in alphabetizing.

X is for X-Factor Vol. 1: The Longest Night
Peter David (w), Ryan Sook and Dennis Calero (a). Marvel Comics, 2007.

The third”volume” of X-Factor, this series has a much darker, noir edge to both the storylines and the art style than the first two. Spinning directly out of the events of House of M and Decimation, the comic focuses on Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man) re-establishing the team as a private investigation agency. Returning members include Guido (Strong Man), and Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane). New additions to the roster are M (Monet), Siryn, a recently de-powered Rictor, and the enigmatic Layla Miller. And while the team’s primary focus is discovering the cause of the Decimation, the title’s more gritty, street-view perspective, makes this series a truly different read from other X-comics. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #95: February 23, 2011

Posted by Comics On February - 25 - 2011

Amazing Spider-Man #655
Dan Slott (w), Marcos Martin (a), Muntsa Vicente (c), Marvel Comics.

I heard an interview with Dan Slott on World Balloon today in which he said that Amazing Spider-Man #655 was the best thing he had ever written. After reading it… fair enough, this is a phenomenal book. Starting out as a tribute to a recently-departed character the book evolves to become a monument to Peter’s guilt. It works very well and gives us a great sense of the weight that Peter is always carrying inside him. There are plenty of nods to the character’s long history, but not in a way that that I felt overwhelmed (despite only having read the book for the last couple of years). At the end, though, the character comes to a decision that makes the issue feel like it was building to something, rather than just wallowing.

What puts this issue over the top, though, and what makes it one of my favourite issues of Amazing Spider-Man EVER (I’m not exaggerating) is Marcos Martin’s artwork. It perfectly captures the melancholy feel of the story while at the same time feeling lush and beautiful. The opening sequence shows how even a place as familiar as one’s home can suddenly feel sad and lonely after the loss of a loved one. In fact, the sequence reminds me quite a lot of Chris Ware’s work, another artist that can bring out the sadness of everyday rooms. There’s one double-page spread that I expect is going to get most of the attention from this issue, and with good reason. You’ll know it when you see it, since it’s jaw-dropping. I keep turning back to look at it again and again. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #91: January 26, 2011

Posted by Comics On January - 28 - 2011

Captain America #614
Ed Brubaker (w); Butch Guice (p); Stefano Gaudiano with Morales, Palmer, Magyar & Guice (i); Bettie Breitweiser with Sotomayor, Ramos & Martin (c). Marvel Comics.

I got the second omnibus of Brubaker’s Captain America run for Christmas and devoured it before Boxing Day was over. I’d read it all before, but never in a straight read though. Beyond the fantastic characters and exciting action, I was shocked how tight the plotting was. When you read it collected, you see that Brubaker doesn’t forget a single thread. He’s tracking the plot and all the players.

In the last couple years, I feel people taken for granted just how amazing this book is. Couple years ago, people couldn’t stop saying nice things about Brubaker’s Cap run, now, I feel occationally there’s a “yep, still good” review and that’s it. But that’s not enough — this is as good as any iconic run on a superhero. Brubaker’s Daredevil might live in Frank Miller’s run for the rest of time, but every writer to handle Captain America after this will live in Brubaker’s shadow. When he leaves they might as well just retire the character (not that they will). Read the rest of this entry »

W is for The Wednesday Conspiracy

Posted by Comics On January - 24 - 2011

The Alpha Review

By Andrew Uys

I’ve heard that trade paperbacks — a run of comic issues collected into a graphic novel — are all the rage today. But which ones are worth your time? This column aims to put the spotlight on the spectacular trades — at least according to this writer. And just for fun, we will start with the letter “A,” and each subsequent review will follow with the next letter of the alphabet. While you might object to my taste or my opinion, I hope that this column will help save you time and money when you are next buying a trade paperback, as well as effort in alphabetizing.

W is for The Wednesday Conspiracy
Written and Illustrated by Sergio Bleda. Dark Horse, 2010

Originally published in Europe by Strip Art Features in 2005, this TPB is the first of the three volumes to be published in North America. A gripping, edgy, dark story, with sharp and angular art, I especially enjoyed the depth and complexity that Sergio brought to his characters. It makes their numerous and gruesome deaths have that much more impact. And in this story, no one is “safe” in the traditional manner that causes comic readers to never really worry (or believe) that the protagonists will actually succumb to their peril and perish. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #90: January 19, 2010

Posted by Comics On January - 21 - 2011

The Amazing Spider-Man #652
Dan Slott, Fred Van Lente (w), Stefano Caselli, Reilly Brown, Victor Olazaba (a), Edgar Delgado, Andres Mossa (c). Marvel Comics.

I caught up on a backlog of comics this week, and even just among this week’s particular haul there are a bunch of books I could talk about now. There’s Sinestro’s awesomeness over in Green Lantern Corps, the singularly beautiful painted panels in Legion of Super-Heroes, or hey — an issue of Brightest Day I actually liked! But I’m just drawn to this Spidey issue.

It could have something to do with the art. While I’ve been singing the praises of the improvements from Humberto Ramos in the last story arc over his work in the past, there simply is no contest between Ramos and Caselli. The second page in particular (not counting the recap page) has so much expression to it, the story tells itself without words. Though they help. And Caselli accomplishes a rare feet- making each character unique. It’s not just palette swaps and hair style changes. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #89: January 12, 2011

Posted by Comics On January - 14 - 2011

Daredevil: Reborn #1
Andy Diggle (w), Davide Gianfelice (a), Matt Hollingsworth (c). Marvel Comics.

This book was going to have to impress the shit out of me to make me forget the shit that was Shadowland. There’s a lot of shit going around this book right now and it seems like that’s going to continue. This was an extremely underwealming performance from Diggle and Gianfelice. I’m especially dissapointed in the latter as I’m a fan of his work on DMZ and Northlanders. His work here is fine but it’s not as strong as either of works. It’s servicable, but it’s pretty boring and unispired.

Though, it would be hard to get inspired from this thin, uninteresting story. After the major fuckover of Matt Murdock’s character that Diggle helmed I was inclined to chalk it up to editorial interferance. This story, however, has puddle-deep depth and understanding of Matt. Fucking awful. It’s billed as this rebirth of Matt — okay, I’m down. In an opening scene, Matt takes a beating because he’s rejecting the cycle of violence around his life — cool, progress. Ten pages later he’s going to beat up a bunch of crooked cops. Great. Amazing. I’m glad that he got over all that shit in 10 pages. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #85: December 15, 2010

Posted by Miles On December - 17 - 2010

Hey, MONDO readers. We’re keeping up with our new format for MONDOcomics because it’s awesome. In case you missed it, every week the writers of MONDOcomics pick a book or two that they want to talk about that week. It might be a rave, it might be a hit piece, it could even be a giant tangent — writers call. This week we plug Fear Agent a lot even though no issues of that book were released. Enjoy.

Amazing Spider-Man #650
Dan Slott (w), Humberto Ramos, Neil Edwards (p) Cuevos, Damon, Olazaba, Scott Hanna (i), Edgar Delgado, Morry Hollowell (c). Marvel Comics.

At the conclusion of the last issue Spidey was at the mercy of the Hobgoblin’s sonic attack! A pretty decent cliff-hanger, with a fun resolution for this issue’s start. It’s not often that you can call an escape from certain death “fun.” It can be cool and exciting (and of course that element is present here as well). In this case, the unfortunately named Bella Fishbach blasts out some Lady Gaga that cancels out the sonic attack — if you like Gaga, then it’s an awesome shout out, if you don’t then you get the Spider-Man line “Can I have the nausea-inducing laughter back?” There’s something for everyone!

While it’s pertinent — the “background sound effects”, the laughter attack and the Lady Gaga are really crammed into the panels — I can see someone skimming through and missing those details entirely. I would have preferred an all pervasive background of “HA HA”’s (which, to be fair, they do for one panel, so maybe that’s good enough) to then get cut through by a loud jagged edged sound balloon to house and draw attention to the saving Gaga. It could be this was an aesthetic choice rather than a forgotten detail thrown in after the fact… but still, Ramos needs to include space for his art to be taken over a bit. This is, after all, a fused media of art and words. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics Special: Chaos War #1

Posted by Comics On October - 8 - 2010

Chaos War #1
Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente (w), Khoi Pham, Reilly Brown (p), Tom Palmer, Terry Pallot (i), Sunny Gho, Val Staples (c). Marvel Comics.

I haven’t been reading the latest Hercules stuff, but I applaud this book on getting me up to speed easily enough. I also applaud the early use of a classic Star Wars reference. I don’t applaud having a classic villain, Nightmare, getting graphically killed as a way to help establish the rep of the “Chaos King” who’s the bad guy this time around. I know you can argue he did that to gain some nightmare powers or something… but unless it figures into the story later (and I will think an apology really loud in that case), they didn’t need to do it. Pham’s art was good at times, but for the most part it looks like every character was on the losing end of a fight, their faces were blotchy and crazy. The threat is far better than the more mainstream crossovers Marvel has been putting out lately- “the end-of-existence” versus “arbitrary-war-with-Asgard-that-started-the-exact-same-way-as-Civil War”. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #72: September 15, 2010

Posted by Comics On September - 17 - 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #643
Mark Waid (w), Paul Azaceta (a), Javier Rodriguez (c). Marvel Comics.

Web swinging around New York with a two-minute-old baby — that’s the action in this comic, and it kept me pretty on edge the whole time I was reading. That’s a pretty successful comic experience. Not only that, but the villain to hero ratio is excellently high without feeling forced. For example, your basic Legion of Doom will have a lot of villains hanging around, fighting for leadership but still being a relatively effective force against the good guys because… of bad writing. Usually, the way they’re presented, these bad guys can never work together. But in this issue of Amazing Dr. Octopus is in charge, everyone knows it, now lets get that Spider-Man. There’s also an interesting claustrophobic effect by how many eyes are glued to Spider-Man, physically and electronically, as he’s trying to hide away and make the change to Peter Parker. Last but not least I have to mention how much I love Azaceta’s drawings of Spidey swinging around, the physics look great and the angles are really cool. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #3
Jason Aaron (w), Adam Kubert (p), Mark Roslan (i), Justin Ponsor (c), Marvel Comics.

I was going to wait for the trade on this one, but it’s just too damn much fun. I can’t wait. Jason Aaron continues to totally rock everything he does with what basically amounts to being the most epic interpretation of The Odd Couple ever. This issue continues to build Spider-Man and Wolverine’s friendship/rivalry/annoying each other while bringing the awesome. In this case awesome includes a new twist on “The Living Planet” and the use of a Phoenix Force gun. Come on, how is this anything less than completely awesome? I’m completely loving it and can assure I will NOT be waiting for the trade for issues 4-6. – Owen Craig.

Owen’s rating: 5 out of 5 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 #68: August 18, 2010

Posted by Comics On August - 20 - 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #640
Joe Quesada (w + p),  Paolo Rivera (a), Dany Miki (i), Richard Isanove (c). Marvel Comics.

Rivera is an amazing, amazing artist. Publishers, hold onto this man tight because he is taking lemons and making rocket fuel. The story and the script, however? Well, it’s a really mixed back. I think there are times when the script really works but the main story beats of this arc are dreadful and unimaginative. There’s a moment that mimics/quotes Peter Parker’s origin, when a regular thug comes back to hurt one of his loved ones. It’s exactly like the thief who killed Uncle Ben — but it’s layed on so thick that I couldn’t help but groan. It’s a groaner and I’m looking forward to it being a goner. — Miles Baker

Miles’ rating: 3 out of 5

Atlas #4
Jeff Parker (w), Gabriel Hardman (a), Elizabeth Breitweiser (c). Marvel Comics.

One thing I probably don’t stress enough about my love for Atlas —  I love it because it’s so fucking weird. You sit back and realize that this is a team of odd balls that have very strange adventures. And they all have crazy, dark secrets that Parker layers in slowly. This week we got a messed up, understated bit from The Uranian that I seriously love. I’ll give the series a more proper send off with next month’s (final-final) issue. — Miles Baker

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

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MONDO is a non-profit, weekly, Toronto-based, online magazine that focuses on arts, culture, and humour. We’re interested in art of all kinds (music, theatre, visual art, film, comics, and video games) and the pop culture that we inhabit.The copyright on all MONDO magazine content belongs to the author. If you would like to pay them for more content, please do. To contact MONDO please email us at editor@mondomagazine.net

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