RSS Feed

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 #67: August 13, 2010

Posted by Miles On August - 13 - 2010

Adventure Comics #517
Paul Levitz, Jeff Lemire (w), Kevin Sharpe, Marlo Alquiza, Mahmud Asrar, John Dell(a), Blond, Pete Pantazis (c). DC Comics.

It’s the same format as the last issue, an “early days” Legion of Super Heroes story with an Atom backup. The Legion story focuses on Saturn Girl and on her desire to be as good as the boys on the team, whose powers are more offensive compared to her telepathy. They avoid the obvious solutions to the story, like having the problem become something only her telepathy could solve, one or both of the guys admitting to trying to keep up with her, etc etc. This would be a nice change, except it means Saturn Girl looks really bad, like how she thinks as she’s working out: “those two crazy legionnaire boys… must have been exercising since they were toddlers to get those bodies” and then we never get to see the boys be that impressive, or work to deserve that kind of praise. The whole story is Saturn Girl being dead weight and vowing to not be dead weight. And then, because she’s a silly girl I guess, she sleeps with Cosmic Boy and erases his memory of it. It was an insulting story is what I’m saying.  The Atom backup I can praise for answering some super science questions his powers bring up… of course they did it in a way that raises MORE questions, but they’re trying. A lot of pretty lame flashbacks happened though. If I had to choose between seeing little Ray Palmer win at a science fair with some shadowy hints that his smart uncle is evil, or between seeing the Atom fight through germs and fly through electrical current, well I’d rather see the latter part. At least, let me read that part when it’s an Atom story in front of me! – Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 2 out of 5

Booster Gold #35
Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis (w), Chris Batista, Rich Perrotta, Patt Olliffe (a), Hi-Fi (c). DC Comics.

We get some validation from the JLI era characters in this issue — Blue Beetle recognizes Booster Gold as from the future (as opposed to being a goof that can’t tell when someone is years older than they should be) and Big Barda says something nice about Booster and Beetle. Of course since it’s Giffen and DeMatteis writing that’s just like patting yourself on the back. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Dan Didio wrote this book? Now that’d be a pat on the back. The asides that take place with random characters seem out of place within a modern sensibility, but are familiar to those who have read comics for over a decade. The biggest weakness in the book, as far as I’m concerned, is the bad guy. He just doesn’t manage to come across as much of a threat, and that’s even with a device to blow up the planet they’re on. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’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 »

Homegrown Heroes: Kick-Ass and Defendor Reviewed

Posted by film On April - 21 - 2010

Kick-Ass
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Lionsgate, 2010

Defendor

Directed by Peter Stebbings
Alliance Films, 2009

By Sean Kelly

Going In

I was going to write this review solely on Kick-Ass, but then I realized that the similarly-plotted Defendor was just released last week on DVD. This gave me a chance to spin an exciting comparison of two very different takes on what it’s like for an average joe to become a superhero.

Story/Characters

Kick-Ass
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is an average high school student that fantasizes about what life would be like if there really were superheroes. He orders a wetsuit from the internet and decides to live his fantasy. After one of his fights ends up being a hit on YouTube, he attracts the attention of both mobster Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and the vigilante father/daughter duo of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). Christopher Mintz-Plasse (aka McLovin) rounds out the cast as fellow “hero” Red Mist.

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 »

MONDOcomics #13: July 29, 2009

Posted by Comics On July - 30 - 2009

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #3
For Isaac’s review of Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1, check out our Crossover Corner at the bottom of the page.

thehood3Dark Reign: The Hood #3
Jeff Parker (w), Kyle Hotz (a), Frank Martin (c). Marvel Comics.

Yep. Still good. If you’re a fan of the original The Hood miniseries you should be picking up this title. That said, I wish Parker was doing more with The Hood’s girlfriend. Even in the original Brian K. Vaughan miniseries she was underdeveloped and mostly served as easy motivation for The Hood. Her role has been to nag The Hood and be oblivious to his criminal actions — though it looks like next issue she might get to be the damsel in distress! I hope Parker surprises me with something more original and interesting. — Miles Baker

Miles’ rating: 3.5 out of 5

Dark Reign Young Avengers #3Dark Reign: Young Avengers #3
Paul Cornell (w), Mark Brooks (p), Mark Morales & Walden Wong (i), Marvel Comics

This is a sort of strange issue where the new Young Avengers and the old Young Avengers hang out together in groups of two or so. You don’t quite get a feel for the new guys since it’s implied that they’re not totally being honest, but in these short scenes there is a lot of fun interchange. The cliffhanger isn’t that surprising but it is clearly logical so it’s hard to really fault it. This is definitely a pretty good issue, but a little disappointing since I loved the first two issues. — Owen Craig

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

MONDOcomics #8: June 24, 2009

Posted by Comics On June - 24 - 2009

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

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

MONDOcomics #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

animal-man-1

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

N is for New Avengers

Posted by Comics On December - 9 - 2008

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.

N is for New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by David Finch
Marvel Comics, 2006

The Avengers have never been hotter, and this is the trade paperback that relaunched the team. Brian Michael Bendis is the architect behind this year’s blockbuster Secret Invasion, and all the threads and clues start in this book. Superbly written, with unbelievable art, the first volume of New Avengers presents a revised line-up of team members, and the title has continued to deliver to date.

The Avengers has always been about threats that were beyond the abilities of individual heroes, and this comic doesn’t skimp. The New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout offers a very new, very dynamic line-up, with staples Captain America and Iron Man as the foundations of the team. Joining are fan favourites such as Spider-Man and Wolverine, with Luke Cage and Spider-Woman rounding out the group. My only complaint with this title has been the addition of Sentry — who I have never enjoyed, as he seems like a Superman knock-off. This TPB is a great read, but has been elevated even higher by the events of Secret Invasion, where Bendis finally gives us the answers to all of the questions started here.

The basic plot involves a massive breakout from the Raft, a SHIELD super-human prison. A few of the characters are on hand at the time, and more arrive to stem the escape. By the end of the fight, which is spectacular, there is a growing recognition that the world needs another Avengers group, and so the New Avengers are born. The latter half of the first TPB has the characters going to the Savage Land, following up clues from the breakout. This second half confused fans for a long time and many wondered if Bendis had just forgotten about these plot threads. Fear not, all is revealed in the Secret Invasion crossover with the current New and Mighty Avengers titles.

I will admit that I have always been an Avengers fan, but the comic has often taken second place to the X-titles in Marvel’s line-up. No more. This book, and the TPBs that follow, are both creative and visual treats, and the payoff has been huge. Whether you have been following Secret Invasion this summer and want to know more, or are just an Avengers fan, and had lost faith previously, this is the place to start reading.

Bendis has done a superb job on weaving major events and a myriad of sub-plots together. It has certainly helped that he has been writing both the New and Mighty Avengers books. If you are wondering where the Mighty Avengers come from, they spin out of the New Avengers title right after the Civil War TPB — so you have a ways to go.

 

Click to be intrigued

Click to be intrigued

David Finch is a very gifted artist, and each page has the feel of one of his variant covers — tons of detail and action. Unfortunately, he does not continue on the New Avengers title much longer, switching in and out with other artists until Leinil Yu takes over. Still, I have enjoyed all the art in the New Avengers run — though I have heard that either you love or hate Yu’s work, which appears in Volume 5.

 

New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout is a fantastic read — both for the story and the art. The New Avengers title is a major pillar for the Marvel Universe, and if you aren’t reading it, you are certainly missing out. That, and if you are budget conscious, this book offers you the chance to see all your major heroes for one low price. Pick it up, and see where Bendis started seeding Secret Invasion.

M is for Madame Mirage

Posted by Comics On November - 18 - 2008

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.

Madame Mirage has a bundunkadunk

Madame Mirage has a bundunkadunk

M is for Madame Mirage
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Kenneth Rocafort
Top Cow, 2008

Madame Mirage collects the six issues of the mini-series that came out over the past year.  A largely unknown book, it was a personal favourite of mine when originally published.  Unfortunately, the back issues are a little difficult to find, but the recently released TPB is a second chance to read this great comic. 

Set in a world of high-technology, corporate super-humans, and criminal organizations, it stars Madame Mirage, an illusionist set on bringing down the evil organization that robbed her of her family.  There is far more to the character than it seems as first, and both the back story and plot revelations explaining her powers are well thought-out, and wonderfully done.  Mix a great storyline with stunning pencils that convey the grittiness of the world, yet include touches of cheesecake art, and you have a great comic.

Created and written by Paul Dini, Madame Mirage is both the story of a woman bent on revenge, and a finely-layered series of plots that, as each is peeled back, make the starting premise so much more enjoyable.  Most famous for his work on the Batman and Superman Animated Series, Dini has said that the title character was inspired by his wife.  Certainly, the depth of writing reflects a deep passion for the character.  Kenneth Rocafort’s pencils are what initially drew me to the series.  Rocafort has done work for Top Cow before, penciling Hunter-Killer, and is now working on Broken Trinity.  It’s Rocafort’s pencils that make you believe in Madame Mirage’s “magic”, and the panel layouts on each page are easy to read, yet incredibly dynamic and forceful.  He also brings a little cheesecake to his women, penciling these stunningly sexy heroes and villains.  Madame Mirage works both as a book and as a character because of Rocafort’s art.

The Madame Mirage TPB collects the run in its entirety, though there are rumors of the team doing a second six-issue mini-arc.  What really makes the book work, apart from compelling characters, well-layered plots, and fantastic art, is that the story seems grounded in the “real world.”  The idea behind the heroes is that they are “created” through technology and bio-engineering, whereas the backbone of the plot is an exploration of what corporations would do if they had access to this technology.  In a way, this is our world, shunted a dozen years into the future.  The only other book I can compare it to, in this regard, is War Heroes by Mark Millar and Tony Harris.  Pick up a copy of Madame Mirage; between the story and the art, you are bound to enjoy it.

K is for Kingdom Come

Posted by Comics On September - 12 - 2008

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.

K is for Kingdom Come.
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Alex Ross
DC Comics, 1997

Arguably one of the best comic stories ever, this trade collects the hard-to-find, four issue miniseries of the same name that was published back in 1996. For many, Kingdom Come introduced them to Alex Ross’ spectacular artwork. Actually, it was this book, and one other, that drew me back into comics. If you are looking for a book to restore your faith and wonder in comics, this is it. Combining a dramatic story, superb dialogue, and dazzling art, it’s no surprise that Kingdom Come is constantly in print and has an “Absolute Hardcover Edition,” which, besides having original-size artwork, contains fantastic character sketches from Alex Ross amongst its many extras. The trade will also soon be released as a new TPB edition, with a brand new cover (even better than the original) by Alex Ross, and some hush-hush extras. Though I hate to admit it, I will probably pick it up for the new cover alone.

Before I go into further detail about the plot and art of Kingdom Come, I want to highlight one of the book’s main strengths. When I originally read comics, I was a Marvel fan and, apart from enjoying Batman, never had much time for the DC Universe. Reading this book, after a long time away from comics, I was reminded of what good storytelling can do for characters that too often seem to be trapped by their own continuity.

Set in the future of the DC Universe, Kingdom Come unfolds through the eyes of Norman McCay, a preacher who is losing his faith in the world around him. The heroes of our era have died or retired, and a new breed of hero has risen to take their place. More concerned with battling villains than protecting innocents or upholding the law, they are feared by a public who has seen these beings casually wield immense power. As Superman is pulled out of his self-imposed retirement, factions draw together, each seeking to mold the future of the world. Superman sets about creating a new team that will police the errant heroes, forcing them to either uphold his values or be imprisoned such that they can no longer endanger innocent lives. Set against him is Batman, a man who is shattered from his former battles and yet has an undiminished mind and sense of strategy. Batman creates his own organization, which will not stand for Superman’s imposed order. Finally, slithering in the shadows, are the villains of old, who seek to turn the situation to their advantage. As all the factions battle against one another, Norman McCay’s visions of an apocalyptic battle become more frequent, and he fears that no one will have the strength and determination to prevent the world from being consumed by nuclear fire. To say anymore would ruin the story, but the climatic ending delivers on the powerful rise in action.

As I have already said, the plot and dialogue for this story are amazing, only topped by Alex Ross’ incredible art. Famous for his “human” hero style of art, Ross redesigned many of the heroes’ familiar costumes, and half the fun of reading the collection is figuring out what has become of “our” heroes, and what they, or their descendants, look and act like now. Ross’ art brings a sense of realism and humanity to a story that might otherwise seem too over-the-top and grandiose. The extras found in the Absolute Hardcover are so enjoyable because you can witness Alex’s early designs and inspirations for these characters, along with a guide to who is who. Absolutely the best story that money can buy, this book is relatively cheap in the regular format TPB. Even those who don’t normally enjoy DC or Alex Ross have raved to me about this book after I have recommended it. Groundbreaking when it came out, it is a classic now and a total must read.

J is for Justice

Posted by Comics On July - 29 - 2008

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.

The Justice League stands on an invisible hill for this group portrait. Not pictured, most of the League.

The Justice League stands on an invisible hill for this group portrait. Not pictured, most of the League.

J is for Justice, Vol. 1
Written by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross
Art by Doug Braithwaite and Alex Ross
DC Comics, 2006

Alex Ross doesn’t disappoint as he re-imagines the Justice League of America in this twelve-part series, now collected in three hardcovers. Considering that most of his career has been re-imagining the Justice League, he has to be good at it now.

Set in an unfixed present, this team features all of the legendary members of the JLA, along with their supporting casts, and a bushel full of villains. In Justice, the villains of the world are experiencing prophetic, apocalyptic nightmares and begin to realize that the heroes will be responsible for this foreseen future. Banding together, they seek to do the one thing that all the superheroes have never accomplished — changing the world for the better. Using their various talents and powers, the villains of the DC universe end poverty, hunger, disease, and disabilities. This is but the start of their schemes though, and as the villains become heroes to the world’s populace, they plot to defeat the Justice League. The first book builds towards the heroes’ darkest hour, while the following two volumes reveal the extent of the villains’ machinations, and the dangers that the Justice League will have to overcome to save both their allies and themselves.

This trade effortlessly blends stunning illustrations and stirring dialogue, creating the desperate feeling that builds throughout the first volume. It pushes the Justice League into their best role — defenders of Earth — as they are forced to fight for all our survival. Yet, from the beginning, there is the threat that our heroes will be responsible for the world’s inevitable destruction.

Another poignant element to the story is the villains’ promise that they can do what no hero has tried before: truly offer us a chance at a better life. Their argument is that, while the heroes of the Justice League have saved the planet many times over, they always leave the status quo unchanged. Superman could easily end hunger, or Batman solve the problem of rampant poverty in the world, but neither do —they merely rescue us from the latest crisis, and then leave us to our difficulty-fraught lives. Instead, the villains offer to really shape the world for the better — and they immediately do so. With the world’s populace turning against the Justice League, the heroes become vulnerable to team-up attacks from their foes. Starting with the disappearance of Aquaman, the JLA begins to fall to their enemies, and the first volume ends with Superman calling out for help, as he is overpowered by a hit squad of villains.

The power and fun of this story isn’t about knowing whether or not the Justice League will overcome their enemy’s plans, but rather it is in the details of how they get there and what they will have to sacrifice along the way. This is an amazing story that doesn’t require the reader to be up-to-date with the latest meta-plot twists going on in the DC Universe. Instead, it offers a fantastic take on all the classic heroes and villains that we have enjoyed over the years.

TAG CLOUD

Sponsors

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

Twitter