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Fan Expo: Saturday (Owen’s day)

Posted by Comics On August - 28 - 2010

I arrived nice and early this morning, giving me time to wander around before my first panel. It can certainly be hard to move around with the crowds, but there’s a lot of neat stuff to look at. I especially enjoyed seeing the Adam West Batmobile on the floor.

The DC Universe panel featured a rather hefty guest list: Dan Didio, Francis Manapul, JT Krul, Jeff Lemire, Gary Frank, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Marcus To and Brian Azzarello. To start things off the panellists explained their goals for the books they’re writing.

- Manapul on The Flash: lots of awesome action and fast running.
- Krul on Green Arrow: make Oliver Queen the centre of his own universe again.
- Krul on Teen Titans: get things back to the Young Justice crew.
- Lemire on Superboy: give Conner Kent a sense of family that he never had.
- Frank on Superman: Secret Origin: distil what was most important about Superman into one story.
- Frank on Batman: Earth One: quite the opposite. Tell a new Batman story using a completely blank slate.
- Alamy & Mahnke on Green Lantern: build meat onto all of the new characters in this book.
- To on Red Robin: focus on Tim’s youth and give the book a bit of a lighter tone.
- Azzarello on First Wave: introduce these classic characters to a new audience. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #22: September 30, 2009

Posted by Comics On October - 1 - 2009

asm607Amazing Spider-Man #607
Joe Kelly (w), Mike McKone & Adriana Melo (p), Mckone, Lanning, Justice, Smith and Benes (i). Marvel Comics.

Is Peter Parker the new Matt Murdock? Because he’s bedding women like my favourite horned crime fighter. I like it — there should be more casual sex in mainstream comics. What I also like about this book is that the story arcs have unique sizes and shapes month-to-month. They generally allow stories to stay no longer than they are welcome and ensure a crisp pace (obviously the publishing schedule helps too). However, I think this story could have used a bit more breathing room. For a crime story, the mysteries get resolved with lightening speed and it damages the impact of the climax. But you get an appearance from a hilarious-looking, “classic” Fantastic Four villain who uses mathematical equations to fight Spider-Man, which makes this book worth the cover price. — Miles Baker

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

Blackest Night: Titans #2
For a full review of Blackest Night: Titans #2 and Green Lantern #46, scroll down to our Crossover Corner. You won’t be sorry for long. Read the rest of this entry »

Fan Expo Day 3 Highlights

Posted by Comics On August - 30 - 2009

I kinda feel like I’ve spent my entire life at Fan Expo at this point. My life before it kinda seems like a distant fairy tale. That’s both a good and bad thing. Three days of con is a lot of con.

  1. Marvel Super Hero Squad. This is super cute. Joe Quesada screened two episodes of the forthcoming Super Hero Squad cartoon. First they showed the pilot, which was screened in San Diego this year, and then episode four, which had never been shown to an audience Basically it’s a manic kid-centred adventure with lots of fart jokes — and it’s a lot of fun. All the characters are drawn in an adorable manner — you never want to go back to menacing Dr. Doom after seeing this — and the plots do not take themselves seriously. There are lots of great jokes for the adults in there too, especially if you know your Marvel a bit. Highlight: Thor saying “So say we all” as a clear nod to the BSG fans.
  2. Sunday Conversation with Dan Didio. I figured I should probably cover at least one non-Marvel comic panel and the only one I could fit in was Didio’s conversation with the fans. Basically, it’s a really nice fan out reach panel where Didio asks the attendees why they love comics, what gets them excited, what pisses them off. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #17: August 26, 2009

Posted by Comics On August - 27 - 2009

932562-177697_20090826055654_large_superBatman and Robin #3
Grant Morrison (w), Frank Quietly (a), Alex Sinclair (c). DC Comics.

Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly wrap up this arc of Batman and Robin in a way that speaks to the true mastery of their storytelling abilities. Together they’ve introduced to Gotham another villain, albeit one a little more sick and twisted than usual, just a little. I think they’ve got the creep factor down pretty well. There was something about Professor Pyg’s “sexy disco dance” that had me intrigued and slightly disturbed for enjoying it so much. The art is just amazing and the pacing of the story is quick and action packed. Quietly’s fight scenes have seamless transitions, with each image capturing the precision and accuracy of every hit. Morrison’s writing is just…awesome. It’s great to see two masters of their craft come together and create something so good. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5

darkavengers_superDark Avengers #8
Matt Fraction (w), Luck Ross (a), Rick Magyar and Mark Pennington (i), Dean White (c). Marvel Comics.

Well, this addressed all the problems I had with the last issue of this crossover. I shouldn’t have doubted you, Matt Fraction. The plan that Cyclops has been talking about for four issues finally becomes more than posturing; double-crosses abound, as does villainy; and we get lots of chest stabbing. Though, I must admit, I feel pretty bad for people who like the Dark Avengers. Daken aside, they only appear on two pages of this comic. It’s really all about the X-Men, and I’m fine with that because they’re my crew. — Miles Baker

Miles’ rating: 4 out of 5
Owen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #12: July 22, 2009

Posted by Comics On July - 23 - 2009

amazingspidey600The Amazing Spider-Man #600
Main story: Dan Slott (w), John Romita Jr. (p), Klaus Janson (i), Dean White (c).
Backup stories: Many, including Stan Lee, Marcos Martin, Mark Waid, Bob Gale, and many more. Marvel Comics.

For the amount of pages and sheer joy you get from this package you can’t knock it. That said, I’m going to knock it. I have some controversial views on John Romita Jr.’s artwork: I think it’s generally terrible. He’s admitted his style is “the deadline style” — whatever he gets out by deadline, that’s his style. This looks like the deadline was really tight. His work on The Eternals? Generally pretty good. But there are scenes in that comic and in this one where I swear Romita is bored. In particular the last page of this issue, where he achieved a character that looks more sleepy than sexy. Though, really, for me, it’s the good pages that make the bad ones so frustrating. But with an entertaining main story and some seriously great backup material you really can’t fault this title. Worth picking up. — Miles Baker

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

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2
For Owen’s review of Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2 and Isaac’s review of Green Lantern #44, check out our Crossover Corner at the bottom of the page. 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 #4: May 27, 2009 [UPDATED]

Posted by Comics On May - 29 - 2009

mar092530dThe Amazing Spider-Man #595
Joe Kelly (w), Phil Jimenez (p), Andy Lanning (i) Chris Chuckry (c). Marvel Comics.

There are a lot of great things about this comic, but maybe the best is the title page, where Harry Osborn and Peter Parker look up at Avengers Tower from Central Park. No, there’s no cool character flying to the tower itself or anything. And, yes, the architecture is a bit out there. Honestly, a pretty normal set-up scene, but it’s a perspective too few of us indulge in — looking up and seeing the world around us. It gives a whole new appreciation for the idea of a guy swinging around fifty stories up. It’s real and surreal at the same time, an amazing moment. There’s a cool Wolverine appearance and homage to Amazing Spider-Man #39 too, so go get it already. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Miles’ Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Owen’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

avengers-initiative-24Avengers: The Initiative #24
Christos N. Gage (w), Huberto Ramos (a), José Marzan Jr. (i), Marvel Comics

I’ve been very frustrated with Marvel lately for continually putting Humberto Ramos on comics I like, from Mike Carey’s X-Men to Runaways and now on Avengers: the Initiative. It’s not that I don’t like a cartoony style; it’s that I don’t like a cartoony style when it’s expressionless, unclear and has a poor sense of anatomy. For an example of this have a look at the first splash page of this issue: I stared at this page for several minutes and I still don’t really understand what’s going on. Maybe the writing was good, I don’t know. I just know that I can’t stand to look at this artwork. Please, Marvel, please stop putting Ramos on books I like. It just makes me sad. — Owen Craig

Owen’s Rating: 2 out of 5

avengers-invaders-11Avengers/Invaders #11 (of 12)
Alex Ross and Jim Krueger (w), Steve Sadowski and Patrick Berkenkotter (p), Tom Mason (c). Marvel Comics.

There are moments in this book that are really sappy, but when they work they work. Like having WW2 era Bucky tell Iron Man “It’s too bad my Cap wasn’t around in your era. I think you two would have been great friends.” I’m a sucker for sweet odes to friendship, I guess? Wolverine yelling “Avengers Assemble” on the last page doesn’t do anything for me though. Could have something to do with how he prefaced it with a “know I’m not supposed to say this now in this time, but…” It’s really clunky writing, forcing bits you think sound cool together that don’t work. Bucky chronicling the adventure in a note pad is cute — a classic sidekick thing to do — but not the best representation to sell Bucky to modern audiences. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

tnbftankies02covcassadayBattlefields: The Tankies #2 of 3
Garth Ennis (w), Carlos Ezquerra (p), Hector Ezquerra (i), Tony Avina (c). Dynamite Entertainment.

So it seems I’ve been picking up a lot of Ennis’ work and the only reason for that is because it’s great. His characters are well-developed and show a lot of personality. With the creation of Battlefields, Ennis has really been able to create a niche for himself writing war comics. He pushes the preconceived notions that have developed over the years in terms of the weaponry and the tactics used in war. In this mini he explores and defies the once widely held belief that tanks were invincible weapons. Ezquerra’s art is fantastic and really matches Ennis’ edgy writing. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s Rating: 4 out of 5

thehoodDark Reign: The Hood #1
Jeff Parker (w), Kyle Holtz (a), Frank Martin (c). Marvel Comics

I picked up the original Hood mini-series because Brian K. Vaughan wrote it. That was the only reason behind it. I liked it, not BKV’s strongest work but a good heist story with a cool concept. When Brian Michael Bendis gave the character a huge push in New Avengers I was surprised and disappointed that so few threads of the original mini-series were picked up. The Hood seemed like a totally different character. Well, not anymore. This is the sequel to The Hood and it’s a really good one so far. It settles you back into Parker Robbinson’s — The Hood’s — life, complete with supporting cast and the return of a character that I never thought I’d see again. So, if you read and enjoyed the first Hood I recommend reading this series. If you skipped BKV’s The Hood it’s worth going back, if only to read this. — Miles Baker

Miles’ Rating: 4 out of 5

ghost-rider-35Ghost Rider #35
Jason Aaron (w), Terry Moore (a), Marvel Comics

I still can’t believe it. Ghost Rider is fan-bloody-tastic. I know I’ve covered this territory before, but I’m still in shock. Moving on, this issue is gross, in the best possible way. An absolutely creepy new (right? I’ve never heard of her before, but correct me if I’m wrong) villain is introduced and madness ensues. Tony Moore draws the Hell out of it and Jason Aaron does what he does best: writes some kickass scenes. If you’ve ever said to yourself “Ghost Rider sucks, I’m not buying that” then just remember…I’ve said that too. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4 out of 5

gotham-gazetteGotham Gazette: Batman Alive? #1
Fabian Nicieza (w); Dustin Nguyen, Guillem March, Chriscross, Jamie McKelvie, Alex Konat and Mike McKenna (a); Guy Major and Guillem March (c). DC Comics.

It’s hard to go wrong with so much packed into a book like this: something will grab your eye. The last page has a Dustin Nguyen version of the classic “leaping Batman in front of a bolt of lighting” and it’s hard to deny how great that is. The art in the Leslie Thompkins story is far too bright for Gotham, a problem Robin had before it was cancelled (just readying for the relaunch folks). The story from Vicki Vale’s perspective (art by Guillem March) should have been the whole focus of the comic, nicely showcasing the Bat-family with their new status quo while Vale is busy figuring out the double identity thing. Of course March’s artwork is beautiful. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

green-lantern-41Green Lantern #41
Geoff Johns (w), Philip Tan & Eddy Barrows (p), Jonathan Glapion, Ruy José & Julio Ferreira (i), DC Comics

This is sad. Johns is telling a great story here but it’s a story I’ve found a little bit meandering since the Sinestro Corps War. In this chapter Johns finds his focus and really delivers an emotional punch that I thought worked beautifully, but the art slightly ruined it for me. I don’t know what was going on here, but I don’t think the penciller(s) is (are) to blame. I don’t know too much about the process of inking and colouring, but something happened to give the art in this issue an incredibly inconsistent feel. One panel the lines were clean and clear, the next they were sketchy and gritty and in some panels there was even a pastel-like style going on. Any of these are fine choices in their own right, but switching between them seemingly at random and a last page which featured ALL THREE STYLES ON ONE PAGE completely undercut what should have been a great last page. It’s a pity; this could’ve been a great issue. Ivan Reis and “The Blackest Night” can’t get here fast enough. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5

igcityIgnition City #3 of 5
Warren Ellis (w), Gianluca Pagliarani (a), Chris Dreier (i), Digicore Studios (c). Avatar Press.

There is something to be said about Warren Ellis and his writing abilities. I’m a huge fan of his online series Freak Angels and have become a fan of this mini-series as well. He creates new worlds through the establishment of complex stories within new cities that you just want to explore. In this series, Mary Raven’s been asking some dangerous questions about the death of her father, Rock. She finds herself at the end of some smoking ray guns trying to keep herself from getting killed. I’m excited. There is one problem though, the art just doesn’t do the story justice. I actually had a hard time reading the last issue because the art bothered me so much. Nevertheless, the story matters more to me, so I still love the series. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s Rating: 4 out of 5

hercules-129The Incredible Hercules #129
Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (w), Ryan Stegman (p), Terry Pallot (i), Marvel Comics

If you like awesomeness then this book is for you. If hate kickass fight scenes, hilarious dialogue and amazing characters then maybe give this comic a pass. Because seriously, every issue of this comic is golden. This journey into Hades is taking the comic’s “fun with mythology” approach to new heights. If you’re not buying this comic then what is wrong with you? — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4 out of 5

jsa-27Justice Society of America #27
Jerry Ordway (w+p), Bob Wiacek (i), Hi-Fi Design (c). DC Comics.

Now that Geoff Johns is off JSA, I was wondering whether or not I’d like to keep buying it. I don’t get Justice League, but two pages into this and I remembered I like these characters. That Atom-Smasher somehow imprinted himself on my heart (I hated this guy before) and now he’s centre stage, and for this issue trying to get on Bibbo Bibbowski’s good side, so that’s another blast from the past right there. Or it would be if I didn’t read all those Superman: Man of Steel trades recently. This book got a couple of laughs from me. In fact, it just got feelings out of me in general: worried about Stargirl being possessed, frustrated at Obsidian’s quiet recalcitrance, and understanding Hourman’s fear. This is a good comic, I hope Willingham can follow suit when he takes it over. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 4 out of 5
Owen’s Rating: 2 out of 5


The Last Days of Animal Man #1
Gerry Conway(w), Chris Batista(p), Dave Meikis (i), DC Comics

I love Animal Man. So if any of you are wondering who this book is aimed at, look no further. The big question, though, is how did this Animal Man fan like the book? Honestly, quite a lot. Conway does a great job with the character of an aging Buddy Baker, an intriguing new villain is introduced and Conway takes the time to set up the future world of Buddy Baker before he marches in the future DCU guest stars (a wise move). The art is great, clean and detailed, and the Brian Bolland cover is amazing. My only real complaint is the cliffhanger. We’ve seen it. Many times. In fact, we just saw an almost identical cover in last month’s Superman (not that that’s Conway’s fault). I loved the book, but nothing about that ending has me chomping at the bit for the next issue. But honestly, fans of superhero stories should be checking this out. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

literals-2The Literals #2
Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges (w), Mark Buckingham (p), Andrew Pepoy (i), Vertigo Comics

Now this is more like it. Just when I was feeling ready to give up on this storyline an issue comes along and nails down what should have been nailed down many issues ago. After parts 1-5 wasted time making jokes about storytelling and genre while portraying the Fables-verse characters mucking about outside their respective books this issue does what I’ve been waiting for: all of that PLUS progressing the plot. Toss in Mark Buckingham’s art and you’ve got yourself a solid book. Bravo, gents. Now bring it home in the final three parts. — Owen Craig

Owen’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

northlandersNorthlanders #17
Brian Wood (w), Vasilis Lolos (a), Dave McCaig (c). Vertigo

If you’ve been looking for a new series to pick up, you could do a lot worse than Northlanders and this issue in particular. As an introduction to the series, this issue is pretty much perfect because it has all the elements that make Northlanders great. The entire issue is about two men fighting in a circle as a ritual. The captions explain the practice while giving you inside into the men desperately trying to stay alive and kill their opponent. The fight is gruesome and realistically portrays how hard it would be to kill a man with an axe or a sword. But what makes the issue more than an illustrated text book is how well the characters are written. They don’t speak a lot in the issue, but the details that Wood gives about their lives are interesting and makes the whole thing so very human.

Miles’ Rating: 4 out of 5

nova-25Nova #25
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (w), Kevin Sharpe (p), Jeffrey Huet and Nelson Pereira (i) Bruno Hang (c). Marvel Comics.

I didn’t even realize this was an issue #25 until after I’d read it: they don’t make a big deal about it which is refreshing. Of course, Nova has always been about telling a good story, so I shouldn’t be surprised that Abnett and Lanning eschewed faux anniversary conventions. This issue has Richard Rider find out what’s wrong with Worldmind and how to fix it. Awesome, so now it’ll be, what? Another two issues before everything is resolved and the next story arc can happen? Oh, wait, they solve the problem in this issue too? That’s good pacing. They also answer the question about whether Rider will lose his sanity upon regaining the incredible power of the Nova force: “Nah, you seem to cope okay.” That’s pretty funny.  — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 4 out of 5

runawaysRunaways #10
Christopher Yost and James Asmus (w), Sara Pichelli and Emma Rios (a), Christina Strain (c). Marvel Comics

Yay, the Runaways are back! It’s been a rough couple of years for my favourite comic teens: Whedon’s came out incredibly slow, then Terry Moore just missed the mark completely. He wrote them as dumber than they all were and that was the biggest piss off as a fan. When you know your characters are smarter than they are being written. Well, thankfully, the smart has returned to Runaways and they’re celebrating with two stories in issue 10. The lead story is definitely the stronger of the two, plus we get to see new series artist Sara Pichelli take a first crack at drawing the kids – she does a wonderful job. She reminds me of original series artist Adrian Alphona in a really good way. The second story is fun, but doesn’t flow as well. There are parts where  I wasn’t sure what was happening. However, Asmus writes the kids well — just the way nature intended. — Miles Baker

Miles Rating: 4 out of 5
Owen’s Rating: 4 out of 5

short-halloweenSpider-Man: The Short Halloween #1
Bill Hader and Seth Meyers (w), Kevin Maguire (a), Dean White (c). Marvel Comics.

For those of you unfamiliar with the reference, the title’s a take on Batman: The Long Halloween, a story which I rather enjoy. That’s just the start of some of the fun comic type references you find in this book. When a couple of guys dressed as the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus get into a fight with the REAL Spider-Man you get such moments as “Hey Spider-Man, read any good books lately?” before tipping over a bookcase which doesn’t come near Spidey. And then there’s Doc Ock swearing revenge when Spider-Man leaves (he’s really in character). It’s supposed to be pretty goofy — and yeah it is — but it’s a sweet adventure where a villain decides he’s a hero and a bumbling Spider-Guy finds redemption (to a degree) with his friends. I was thinking how it’d be cool to see Kevin Maguire do a Spider-Man comic, but that he’d be wasted with the full face mask — I should have trusted him to know his strengths, the final panel is an unmasked Spidey with a simple smile. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

SM Cv688 dsSuperman #688
James Robinson (w), Renato Guedes (p), José Wilson Magalhâes (i), DC Comics

If anyone has been saying to themselves “where is that James Robinson who wrote Starman, I want to read more of his work” then look no further. I, too, have been reading Robinson’s latest DC work, hoping that some of it would live up to the greatness that is his Starman run. After some pretty decent (but not spectacular) issues over the last year his work on Superman has broken through and reached the heights I’ve been waiting for. This issue is terrific. It won’t be for everyone, it is a quiet issue after all. There’s not much in the way of fights (although there are some), but there is some well-written character interaction, some philosophy from the guards of a secret door and a quiet moment for Mon-El as he comes to an important decision. I would call that a winning issue. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

teen-titans-71Teen Titans #71
Sean McKeever (w), Yildiray Cinar (p), Julio Ferreira (i), Rod Reis (c). DC Comics.

This issue follows Ravager and the fallout from the “Death Trap” storyline that I didn’t like. It’s a back and forth of her deciding whether or not to stick around with the team, even though she actively dislikes the leader. The indecision and ultimately Ravager’s leaving is all pretty standard fair, however a showdown with another member, Bombshell, to see whether she will stick by the team shows an interesting depth to Ravager’s character — she’s, at least, protective of her “friends.” The art is a big improvement in this issue over the last few. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

wonderwomanWonder Woman #32
Gail Simone (w), Aaron Lopresti (a), Matt Ryan (i). DC Comics.

So I’ve been reading Wonder Woman, not because I’m on love with the series, but more because I don’t want to stop until this story arc is finished. There is something about it that keeps me from being able to completely relate to her as character. Maybe it’s just me. Regardless, the story has been consistently picking up and it’s great to see Wonder Woman kick some serious Genocide ass. She comes to terms with the duty that she has as a protector of the human species, but keeps intact the essence of who she is at the same time. It’s a complicated balance and constant struggle, but she’s doing her best. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

x-forceX-Force #15
Christopher Yost and Craig Kyle (w), Clayton Crain (a). Marvel Comics

Thankfully, this issue finally moves the plot a little. However, even though the plot has moved, the writing seems unable to raise the stakes at all. I don’t feel any danger for Hope or Thunderbird while they’re captives of Stryfe. The writers haven’t given me a reason not to think that they both won’t be skipping out of there in a couple issues’ time completely unscathed. And someone really needs to give me a reason to care about Bishop’s plan, it’s infuriating that no one has really bothered to explain it (perhaps they did in that Bishop mini-series, but if they wanted anyone to buy it they wouldn’t have put Larry Stroman on the art). Also, can someone tell me what Cable’s powers are? He’s a revolving door of mutant abilities. On the upside, there’s a really good last page that makes me want to read the next issue. — Miles Baker

Miles Rating: 2.5 out of 5

xmen224_cov_100X-Men Legacy #224
Mike Carey (w), Scott Eaton (p), Andrew Hennessy (i), Brian Reber (c). Marvel Comics

The end of the “Salvage” arch brings about some interesting changes to Rogue and Danger, two characters who never really interested me before but do now. This arch really served as the “pass the torch between Xavier and Rogue as the lead of X-Men Legacy and served that job well. Carey writes both characters with intelligence and pathos and an amazing comprehension of where they come from. He seems to know everything about the X-Men, even the terrible stuff. The biggest weakness of this issue (and really the whole arc) is that Carey’s Shiar villains weren’t very compelling. They’re drugged up space pirates, and while that sounds cool it isn’t. I feel they had no resonance with the characters. However, it’s still a solid series and I’m looking forward to what Carey will do with next. — Miles Baker

Miles Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Comics I’ll Buy in August

Posted by Comics On May - 26 - 2009

By Miles Baker

The advance solicitations for books from Wildstorm, Vertigo, DC and Marvel are out now. Here’s most of what I’ll be buying that month.

From DC/Wildstorm/Vertigo:

This still looks really impressive. Huge talent and a unique format. I hope it’s good because my expectations are high.

I’ve promised some good friends I will at least try this opening arc. I’m excited for it.

Man, the cover for this looks so awesome. I’m so pumped for this series.

Actually, I already have this in hardcover, but if I didn’t I’d be totally buying this. If you want to see how The Spirit should have been adapted for the big screen you should read Darwyn Cooke’s take on the character, which wrapped up last year.

I’m so pumped for this to come out. Sleeper is one of my favourite comics of all time. It’s about a spy in deep cover named Holden Carver. He’s infiltrated a super-villain crime syndicate, getting pretty high up, when his handler — the only one who knows he’s an undercover operative — gets shot and is put in a coma. Carver is left out in the cold and desperately wants back. It basically asks whether a good guy who does terrible things in the name of good still gets to be a good guy. This volume concludes the Sleeper story and it’s one helluva ending.

AIR #12
I’m thinking of bumping this from a “wait for the trade” to a monthly pick up. Hmm… undetermined.

The first issue of this came out last week and it was good as I was hoping it would be. This could be the start of Vertigo’s new flagship title.

Tear. This is the last issue of Vertigo’s craziest series. Rock, alien spiders, transvestites, post-modernism: what’s not to love?

From Marvel:

I’ll make the final call on this purchase after I’ve seen some previews, but I really like that Jae Lee cover.

Ultimate Spider-Man was a consistently great title, and this new re-start could prove to be as great. From what I’ve seen, I also really like David LaFuente’s art. I’ll give at least this first issue a shot.

Matt Fraction’s Utopia crossover interests me even if it will probably result in the current Uncanny storyline (which I am enjoying quite a bit) being disrupted.

I’m so glad I stuck with this series through the rough times, because Peter David has hit his stride again. A great balance of misery and humour, and I’m excited to see how this “Cortex” storyline wraps up.

I’ll buy this as long as Mike Choi does the art for it. It has good writing, but the regular series artist really turns me off.

Mike Carey didn’t let me down with the first year of X-Men Legacy, so I don’t know why he’d start doing it now.

Killing Captain America was the best thing Captain America ever did.

The team behind Preacher takes on Marvel’s most gun-happy character. And there are a lot of gun-happy characters in the Marvel U. This is a purchase based entirely on who is making it rather than what is in it.

REBORN #2 (of 5)
Secret project of mystery is still being written by Ed Brubaker, so I’m  still going to buy it.

Yeah, I have a deep man-love for Brubaker, and considering this re-teams him with Steve Epting, I can’t wait.

I don’t usually buy Thunderbolts, but Nick Fury is on the cover of this comic and I really like Nick Fury. So… yeah… I’m weak.

It seems like only a year ago that Daredevil was celebrating #100 — oh, wait, that was only a year ago. I’m not a big fan of this combining new and original numbering to manufacture an anniversary issue. However, I am a big fan of Daredevil and this looks like it will conclude the amazing “Return of the King” storyline.

I’m so happy that I’ll be back to buying Runaways again. I met Kathryn Immonen briefly at TCAF and got the feeling she’s really excited about the book.

This title gets better with every issue. Marvel was right to hype Jonathan Hickman as their new star.

“Guest-starring the YOUNG AVENGERS!” Yay! I love those kids.

Just when I think I’m out, they pull be back in with a far superior interior artist.

If this series is half as good as the original Brian K. Vaughan series, then it will still be pretty damn good.

Damn those attractive Jae Lee covers!

This is written and drawn by David Lapham so it’s pretty much a no brainer that I’ll pick this one up.


Even though issue 601 has a gross cover by J. Scott Campbell, I’m really excited for the return of Mary Jane in the Amazing Spider-Man comics. They’ve been teasing her arrival for over a year now and I’m curious to see what the payoff will be.

MONDOcomics #2: May 13, 2009

Posted by Comics On May - 15 - 2009

booster-gold-20Booster Gold #20
Keith Giffen (w), Pat Olliffe and Dan Jurgens (p), Norm Rapmund and Rodney Ramos (i), DC Comics

I’ve missed the Booster Gold done-in-one stories. It’s a comic that cries out for it, but for some reason we haven’t seen one in over ten issues. In this case, Booster goes back to the fifties and winds up involved in some covert Cold War-era stuff. The issue isn’t anything spectacular, but it’s a fun break from the ongoing story. Also, the last scene pushed this issue up an extra half point, it was awesome. — Owen K. Craig

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

young-avengers-1Dark Reign: Young Avengers #1
Paul Cornell (w), Mark Brooks (a), Marvel Comics

Wow, I really like this new team. I think I like them even more than the old Young Avengers. I wouldn’t want to be friends with them, because they’re huge jerks, but I find them fascinating. I hope the series is about them and that this isn’t a fake-out first issue which will then shift focus, because I want to learn more about these characters. Cornell and Brooks have created the most interesting new team in the Marvel Universe since the Runaways and I can’t wait to see more of them. So, yeah. I liked this book a lot. — Owen K. Craig

Owen’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

deadpoolsuicidekings2_superDeadpool: Suicide Kings #2 of 5
Mike Benson (w), Carlo Barberi (p), Sandu Florea (i), Marte Garcia (c), Marvel Comics

I don’t even know how I feel about this issue. When I first caught a glimpse of the cover, I was already starting to dread what was to come on the inside. The Punisher vs. Deadpool storyline makes for an interesting plot development and for some action-packed fight scenes. It was also fun to see Punisher get a little loose and play dress-up in order to gather information on Deadpool’s whereabouts. Generally speaking though, the issue didn’t blow me away and I found myself laughing less than usual at Deadpool’s antics and speech. However, there was a little glimmer of hope when one of my favourite Marvel boyfriends comes to the rescue of Deadpool. Perhaps there is some hope yet. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

fables-84Fables #84
Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges (w), Tony Akins & Andrew Pepoy (a), Vertigo

I still don’t really know what to make of this crossover. It’s sprawling, it’s funny, it’s metatextual…but at this point it’s still kind of awkward. Maybe it’s because the Jack Of Fables book has taken the character of Jack and removed him so far from the original Fables concept that Jack no longer feels at home in a Fables book — but everything about this issue felt off as far as an issue of Fables goes. None of that, of course, means that I can’t enjoy this issue. I definitely enjoyed it, it was as funny and gross as any issue of Jack Of Fables. And maybe that’s the point, to mess with our expectations of each series. Still, I can’t help but feel a little weird reading this after the sombre events in Fables of late. Oh, and as of issue 4 out of the 9-issue crossover, we’re still spending a lot of time on tangents. — Owen K. Craig

Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5

escape-1Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1
Ivan Brandon (w), Marco Rudi (p), Mick Gray (i), DC Comics

I suspect this is one of those stories that starts slow but by the time you’re finished becomes something amazing. I really hope I’m right, because I am intrigued and want to stick around to see what happens. Within this first issue not a whole lot happens. What Brandon and Rudi do is they set a mood. They set it really well. I’ve heard The Prisoner mentioned as an influence for this book and that is certainly noticeable. This book is The Prisoner as told by Jack Kirby in the DC Universe. So if that sounds like something you’d enjoy, and you’re willing to be patient, then check it out. I know I want to stick around, because even though I wasn’t nuts for this first issue I suspect it will be worth my while. — Owen K. Craig

Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5

green-lantern-corps-36Green Lantern Corps #36
Peter J. Tomasi (w), Patrick Gleason (p) Rebecca Buchman with Prentis Rollins (i), DC Comics

This issue was divided into three sections. The problem is that the section I cared the most about, the prison riot in the sciencells of OA, got the least amount of development. The scene with Sinestro was kind of cool, but got handled pretty un-dynamically. That should have been an amazing scene, but it was devoid of tension and drama. Similarly, Sodam Yat’s showdown with Mongul (who I think we’ve seen enough of for a while) was (at best) not exciting and (at worst) a little confusing. I know Tomasi can do better than this, so I was pretty disappointed in this issue. — Owen K. Craig

Owen’s rating: 2 out of 5
Isaac’s rating: 3 out of 5

howlingHowling Commandos #1
Jesse Alexander (w), John Paul Leon (a), Marvel Comics

In this one-shot issue of Howling Commandos, Sgt. Nick Fury leads his team into what appears to be one of their most dangerous missions yet. After parachuting into enemy grounds and being given strict orders to not engage the enemy, what does the team do? Engage the enemy, of course. It’s an action-packed read with betraying babes and umbrella stunts by Fury that would shame Mary Poppins into finding another use for her umbrella. The writing is great and definitely gives off the essence of real men at war, and John Paul Leon’s art is just impeccable. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s Rating: 4 out of 5

lockpetLockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1 of 4
Chris Eliopoulos (w), Ig Guara (a), Chris Sotomayo (c), Colleen Coover (a), Marvel Comics

HEART! I totally HEART this. It’s so nice to see something so fun amidst all the gloom of “Dark Reign”.   Did I ever mention that some of my favourite movies growing up were Homeward Bound I and II? Needless to say, I am a total sucker for talking animals and even more so when they’re in cute little outfits and embarking on an adventure of their own. Lockjaw sets out to recruit a group of anthropomorphic creatures in order to retrieve the Infinity Gems and ensure that they don’t fall into the wrong hands.  The dialogue is silly (in a good way) and very entertaining. Guara’s art is fun and perfect for the storyline, and Coover’s five-page addition of Throg’s history gives the issue an extra little flair. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Owen’s Rating: 4 out of 5

oracle-3Oracle: The Cure #3
Kevin VanHook (w), Julian Lopez and Fernando Pasarin (p) Bit, Norm Rapmund and Fernando Pasarin (i), DC Comics

Were you hoping something would happen this issue? You’re out of luck. Oh, sure, they wrap up a plotline with Calculator…sort of. But the last page is nothing more than a teaser for an upcoming book: “Next… Batgirl #1”. And no, this series does not address whether or not Barbara Gordon will become Batgirl again. (Oh, please, no.) I don’t really have anything nice to say about this series, it’s full of choices different than the ones I would have made. I think Calculator works best when he’s not super-powered (that decision was made over in Birds of Prey, but I still think it was a bad one); I don’t have much interest in a series where the bulk of the action happens online; I have a hard time feeling for a character constantly referred to as “Cheese-Fiend”; and I don’t think it’s in a book’s best interest to have two pencillers and three inkers working on it. I like Oracle as a character, but this series gets a big thumbs-down from me. — Owen K. Craig

Owen’s rating: 1 out of 5
Isaac’s rating: 2.5 out of 5

rebelsR.E.B.E.L.S. #4
Tony Bedard (w), Claude St. Aubin (p), Scott Hanna (i),  Jose Villarrubia (c), DC Comics

It’s a good story, but steeped in DC mythology — space adventure DC mythology. It won’t help you to know what the different colours of kryptonite do to Superman in this book, so this isn’t for the casual reader. There’s been a lot of build up towards the reveal of a big surprise villain, which may have been revealed in the form of a little girl who is actually a merciless shapeshifter. It’s a cool scene, but it’s just difficult to know the correct significance of these events. That’s due mostly to trying to keep up mystery in the story, but also the art doesn’t give anything away. It’s “good” art, incredibly intricate, but not dynamic. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 2.5 out of 5

SSIX Cv9 dsSecret Six #9
Gail Simone (w), Nicola Scott (p), Doug Hazlewood (i), Jason Wright (c), DC Comics

When a comic makes Catman a soulful, sympathetic sidekick to the big bad Bane, and has Ragdoll dressed up as Robin,  you know that it is an amazing comic. There are a lot of great quotes here. Any time you have a guy screaming, “Don’t crack my spine!” before being thrown out a window, it remains hilarious. I hope you’re taking notes out there. In a classic callback to Adam West’s Batman (there are a number of them here), there’s a panel with Catman, Bane, and Ragdoll climbing up the side of a building. The only way that it could be better is if the panel was horizontal instead of vertical… but maybe only I would find that funny. The addition of a really cool Nightwing appearance is good too, because the guy-who-will-be-Batman has to look good somewhere. — Isaac Mills

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

secretwarriorsSecret Warriors #4
Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman (w), Stefano Caselli (a), Danielle Rudoni (c), Marvel Comics

I love a good final-page splash. A splash page that just hits the right beat, and makes you scream for more. I can think of a handful of issues where it’s happened (Preacher, Y: The Last Man, and even Ultimate Spider-Man), and those are the moments that stick with you. This issue gives you another moment like that. I won’t say what it is, just that it’s awesome. The rest of this book is similarly great. I really like the flavour and direction this title is taking. Fury’s Catapillers are an interesting bunch of characters and I’m genuinely concerned about a few of them (poor Yo Yo). I seriously recommend checking this series out — it’s the best of the new crop coming out of Dark Reign. — Miles Baker

Miles’ Rating: 4.5 out of 5

sth200Sonic the Hedgehog #200
Ian Flynn (w), Tracy Yardley (p), Terry Austin (i), Matt Herms (c), Archie Comics

Two hundred is a huge milestone for the Sonic comic. It has been around since I was a little comic reader, and it does the heart good to see how strong it is. Since the team of Flynn and Yardley took over the book (25 issues ago?), it’s been a solid read month in and month out. This issue was really odd though, involving a giant fight between Sonic and Robotnik (which is perfectly illustrated, fun and animated, with really clever layout design. It just feels fast! That’s a good thing for a Sonic comic.) that culminates in a whimper, with Robotnik going nuts and vegetative, and Sonic feeling weird about the whole thing. It was kind of a Paul Jenkins moment, but really interesting to subvert our expectations of a big anniversary issue. The introduction of a new villain at the end leaves the comic to an exciting future. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 3 out of 5

tns_13_0001Titans #13
Sean McKeever (w), Angel Unzueta (p), Wayne Faucher (i), DC Comics

You lose a lot of points with me when the word balloon of the victim is pointed at the threatening bad guy. Coincidentally enough, you also lose points when you do it again, in the panel just before that first one. I’m a harsh dude. There are some pretty funny faces in this comic that I enjoy, but that isn’t because anyone is doing a good job. What has often been a problem with Titans-style teams (actually this has been an issue with the current Justice League, or at least it was when I stopped buying it) is they just all clump together, travel to a disaster, and continue standing around together. You want the depowered Red Devil to still be on the team? Good, so do I, but that doesn’t mean he gets to stand next to the Flash when the showdown happens without so much as a batarang to his name. He’s liable to get shot, which is what happens. Not that that makes sense with the Flash around, catching bullets is his thing. Flash should just save the day and finish up the crossover. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 2 out of 5

prv2557_covUltimate Spider-Man #132
Brian Michael Bendis (w), Stuart Immonen (p), Wade von Grawbadger (i), Justin Ponsor (c), Marvel Comics

Everything feels like it’s winding down for the Ultimates line of books. I’m not sure what’ll happen, but it feels like they’ll be gone. If that’s the case, I’ll kind of miss the little mensch that is Peter Parker. Just flipping through this issue, yes, the dialogue bugs me. “This — this is so cool.” Everyone everywhere all sound the same. However, if I ignore the words, it’s a great story, with fantastic art. I can’t stress that enough — Stuart Immonen is a treasure, and has trapped me into this book ever since he took over the art duties. It’s actually a full comic, just with the art alone. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

unthinkableUnthinkable #1
Mark Sable (w), Julian Totino Tedesco (a), Juan Manuel Tumberus (c), Boom Studios

In the wake of 9/11, the U.S. government puts together a think tank of the brightest, craziest people they can find, to think about the worst possible threats to the United States and the world. They think about the unthinkable. It’s an interesting premise, but the book whizzes by it. It’s got other things to worry about — like the unthinkable actually happening. This issue does a lot of heavy lifting in terms of setting up a series and moving it along briskly. I actually wish that it was an ongoing epic rather than a mini-series, because a lot of the ideas here could support a lot of issues.  As a result, the pacing suffers a bit — too much in too little time, perhaps. But it’s an interesting series and I’m curious about where it will go. The real highlight of the book is Tedesco’s art, which reminds me a lot of Michael Lark; and I like to be reminded of Michael Lark. — Miles Baker

Miles’ Rating: 4 out of 5

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

I had high expectations going into this title. Something about it grabbed me from the first time I heard about it. Maybe it was the cover, maybe it was the creators, maybe it was the $1 price point for the first issue: I knew I had to buy it. I’m glad that my gut was right. This is a fantastic first issue of a promising new series. The story centers on Tom Taylor, the son of a famous author who created a Harry Potter-like character (in both fame and fantasy setting) named Tommy Taylor. Tom is now living off that residual fame, though is extremely dissatisfied with his life. However, things get a little more interesting when Tom might actually be Tommy Taylor brought to flesh. That concept alone would be enough to sell me on this book, but then it’s backed up with amazing writing and expressive art. Carey really shines when he writes the Tommy Taylor sequences — he channels J.K. Rowling perfectly. And Gross’ art is exactly to my taste: clean, effective, good times. Seriously, go buy this book now. Right goddamn now. — Miles Baker

Miles’ Rating: 5 out of 5
Sandra’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Owen’s Rating: 5 out of 5

xfactor43_superX-Factor #43
Peter David (w), Marco Santucci & Valentine De Landro (p); Marco Santucci, Pat Davidson, & Patrick Piazzalunga (i); Jeromy Cox (c); Marvel Comics

Ever since picking this up a few months back, I have never been disappointed or cursed the name of the person who recommended I give it a try. This issue is no exception.  Madrox had been in the pits since issue #39, and it was a very nice turn of events when he was welcomed with such open arms in the future. Future Cyclops also gives him an assignment that’ll help Madrox to get out of his head and into his work. The big romantic moment, spoiled on the cover between Layla and Madrox, was sweet and should lead to some intriguing future developments. Overall, a great issue and can’t wait to see more. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Miles’ Rating: 5 out of 5
Owen’s Rating: 3 out of 5

youngliarsYoung Liars #15
David Lapham (w and a), Lee Loughridge (c), Vertigo

I’m going to admit that I’ve been buying Young Liars out of habit recently. I have not been reading the issues very closely because I’ve decided that it’s going to probably read better all in one sitting. It’s been so scattered and non-linear — which is what I love about it — that it’s a little frustrating to read on a month-to-month basis. However, this issue is one where it all starts coming together. Lapham has to start to wrap up this story and it looks like he’s getting closer and closer to giving us some something that may feel like closure. Which is really impressive. That said, it’s a little hard to review this issue in terms of series context. However, the writing remains entertaining and Lapham’s art is a complete joy to look at. It’s a good issue, but, with the series ending in a few issues, I’d recommend getting the trades once it’s over. — Miles Baker

Miles’ Rating: 3 out of 5

Comics I’ll Buy in July

Posted by Comics On April - 24 - 2009

By Miles Baker

Marvel and DC have released their solicitations for July, so here’s a list of what I’ll be buying with commentary.

From Marvel

REBORN #1 (of 5) What’s all this then? Ed Brubaker and Bryan Hitch on some mysterious project with no description? I’m there. I wonder if this has to do with those all-black Captain America house ads that were floating around Marvel books this month?

ALL SELECT COMICS #1 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL So far I’ve bought two of these 70th Anniversary things and they haven’t been so amazing. Okay writing with really good art, and I have a feeling that this book will continue that trend. Javier Pulido is a great artist so I’ll probably pick this one up.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #601 Special guest artist Gene Colan?!? I’m sold.

DARK X-MEN: THE BEGINNING #1 & 2 (of 3) A pretty cover from Jae Lee almost assures a buy, however interior art by Humberto Ramos is disappointing. I do not see what people like about his art.

UNCANNY X-MEN #513 The cover of this is the teaser I posted over here. I was wrong. But I love what Fraction is doing on Uncanny, so I’ll buy.

DARK AVENGERS #7 It’s crossing over with Uncanny, so I’ll return to buying this title temporarily.

X-MEN: LEGACY #226 Mike Carey has made me like Gambit again. I thought that was impossible. I feel so young again.

NEW AVENGERS #55 I have not been a fan of Bendis’ Avengers. I want to like it because I like a lot of Bendis, but it’s really poorly done. Everyone sounds the same, the jokes are forced, and the pacing is all over the map. However, I like Stuart Immonen’s art, so maybe that’ll be enough to save the series?

SECRET WARRIORS #6 So far Secret Warriors is a lot better than I thought it was going to be, so I’m pumped for this issue.

DARK REIGN: MISTER NEGATIVE #2 (of 3) This is a good cover, and I’m curious about Mr. Negative. He’s a cool new Spider-man villain and it looks like they’ll be picking up a large, dangling plot line from Amazing Spider-Man.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #599 and #600 Number 600 has art with Marcos Martin. I love Marcos Martin.

IMMORTAL WEAPONS #1 (of 5) Fraction and Brubaker’s Iron Fist series was great, and the Immortal Weapons were a great contribution to the character’s mythology. This issue apparently focuses on Fat Cobra, the combatant who defeated Iron Fist in the Mortal Kombat-y tournament, and I’m looking forward to learning more about him.

MARVEL DIVAS #1 (of 4) I’m kidding. This sounds horrible. NO BUY.

RUNAWAYS #12 Please be good. Please be good. Please be good.

X-FORCE #17 Mike Choi on art is what tips this over from “not buy” to “buy.”

X-FACTOR #46 Peter David has really stepped up his game on this title recently. Every issue has tears and laughter.

INCOGNITO #6 Last week’s issue of this was stellar. I’m sure this conclusion will floor me.

POWERS: THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION VOL. 3 HC This is the Bendis that I love: foul-mouthed and character-driven. This book is where stuff starts to get epic.

From DC Comics

WEDNESDAY COMICS #1-4 I’ve sat out on the last three weekly series from DC. I heard 52 was good, but everything I read of Countdown and Trinity were terrible. Just a mess. But the promise of Niel Gaiman re-teaming with Mike Allred on anything is enough to make me buy it. But then you add Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, Ryan Sook, and Paul Pope (and a whole lot of others) and I really want to get it. Also, the format sounds neat: folded twice to 7” x 10”. So, yeah. Looks good.

BATMAN AND ROBIN #2 I’ll give the first arc of this a shot.

DETECTIVE COMICS #855 I’ve talked about my excitement here.

ABSOLUTE NEW FRONTIER HC NEW PRINTING Actually, I won’t buy this because I already have it. But you should rush out to buy it if you haven’t got it.

GOTHAM CENTRAL VOL. 2: JOKERS AND MADMEN HC It’s been said before, but this series is Homicide: Life on the Streets meets Batman and the result is beautiful fiction babies. Seriously, if you like crime fiction you should 100% buy this and the first hardcover. Amazing writing, amazing art, and Batman cameos. What else do you need?

THE UNWRITTEN #3 It hasn’t started yet, but the preview pages I’ve seen are compelling.

UNKNOWN SOLDIER VOL. 1: HAUNTED HOUSE TP I’m making good on the boasts I made by buying this the day it comes out.

Let me know what else I should buy in a comment!

R is for Runaways

Posted by Comics On April - 21 - 2009

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.

85141-18060-105748-1-runaways_superR is for Runaways Vol. 1: Pride and Joy
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Adrian Alphona
Marvel Comics, 2005

Remember being a teenager?  Remember fighting with your parents, bucking authority, and hanging with your friends all day?  How about in the Marvel Universe?  Runaways starts with a group of teenagers discovering that their parents are a society of super-villains.  With their world turned up side down, these kids — who barely know each other — have to band together to survive.

Collecting Runaways can be a little confusing because there have been numerous collections released. First, Runaways was released in smaller-sized digest format directed at the anime market. Then, regular-sized hardcovers collecting two or three of the digests were released, and now regular-sized hardcovers that collect individual digests are being released.

On top of that, in terms of issues, there have been three Runaways #1 released, as the series keeps getting relaunched. In issue form, volume one ran for 18 issues, all written by Vaughan with the majority of it drawn by Alphona; a second volume ran for 30 issues, the first 24 by Vaughan and Alphona and the last six by Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan; the third volume is currently ongoing and was relauched with Strangers in Paradise writer Terry Moore and Humberto Ramos on art. Sound confusing?  It is. The plot itself is easy to follow though, and wonderfully done, but woe unto the reader that stumbles into this story midway through.

Brian K. Vaughan is one of the biggest names in comics now, and as he branches out into writing for LOST, his star is only going to keep rising.  Yet, when I picked up the first volume, I had no idea who he was, and enjoyed the story purely on its own merits — and there are many. Vaughan always seems to have the best artists rendering his writing, and Runaways is no exception.  Adrian Alphona has clean, yet charged pencil lines, and brings a sense of youth and action to the comic.  He defined the characters for me, and the first seven volumes with him and Vaughan are fantastic reads — a treat both for the eyes and the mind.  Alphona is credited as co-creating the Runaways, and he highlights the physical identity, nuanced facial expressions, and individual styles of the kids.  You root for the characters in Runaways — their failures, crushing; their victories, inspiring.

The best part of Runaways, though it applies less to the first volume than later ones, is how carefully the book threads its way through the Marvel Universe.  Truly a comic about the tribulations and insecurities of adolescence, the series does involve other Marvel characters, but only sparingly.  A classic moment is when Captain America, Wolverine and the rest of the Avengers appear — and their depiction is seen through the eyes of rebellious teenagers.  Even if you have no former experience with the Marvel Universe, Runaways works on as a stand-alone series, and you can still  thoroughly enjoy this title.

One quick warning, though.  Do not, under any circumstances, read the two Runaways/Young Avengers team-ups.  These are stand-alone TPBs, taking place during the “Civil War” and the “Secret Invasion” crossovers.  While the Young Avengers mini-series was awesome, and Runaways is brilliant, these two crossover trade paperbacks are so horrible that they have you wondering why you liked the original series to begin with.

Runaways Vol. 1: Pride and Joy is a great read — easily accessible for older fans who want a break from the doom and gloom in the Marvel Universe, and for younger readers who want a series that speaks more directly to them.  Start with Pride and Joy, and you will discover a title that reads and feels like comic from the 60s — filled with fun and action — yet is definitely set in our world today

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?



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