All posts by MMDG

Misty Morning Disco Goblin and Idler-in-Chief

Jason on the Camino

Jason’s latest graphic novel, unambiguously titled Jason on the Camino, is without a doubt the most personal and, consequently, touching book in the Norwegian cartoonist’s body of work. It’s an autobiographical account of a pilgrimage hike he embarked upon from the French side of the Pyrenees, across northern Spain, to the holy site of Santiago de Compostela. Jason walked the Camino a few years ago, to mark his fiftieth birthday, and the 32-day trek is chronicled here with the master storyteller’s signature mix of deadpan humor, understated emotion, and anthropomorphic characters.

Jason (“John from Norway”) acknowledges that, while every person has his or her own reasons for walking the Camino, other than marking a significant chapter of his life, he’s not entirely sure what his own motivation is. But in those first few pages we get a clear picture of a man who, despite a certain modicum of social anxiety, is prepared to fully immerse himself in an experience rich in all the quiet subtleties of life and, more importantly, one that promises to be enhanced by interacting with other people. One may walk the Camino alone, but the true nature of any pilgrimage is the fact that one person becomes part of many, across time and space, a connection among people from around the globe and throughout the centuries.

Continue reading Jason on the Camino

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Generation X

Marvel’s mutant refresh, the ResurrXion initiative, hits the eight-week mark and, with it, our first look at a younger batch of X-Men hopefuls. Surprisingly, however, we’re not getting another New Mutants book, but a new volume of that other teenage mutant title. Christina Strain and Amilcar Pinna debut Generation X #1 this week, and it’s more angst-riddled than ever. Jubilee is back, this time as a mentor, for a team of wonderfully goofy mutants, none of whom seem to have the slightest concern about one day saving the world, much less upholding Professor Xavier’s dream of mutant-human harmony.

Strain started her comic book career as a colorist, most notably on another Marvel book of young, powered misfits, Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways. She has since been honing her writing chops on a SyFy television series, and makes her return to comics by walking us into the new Xavier Institute, in classic welcome-hope-you-survive fashion.

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The Best of Marvel NOW! #1 – The Avengers

A little over five years ago, few people outside the comic book fan community knew who or what The Avengers were. Since then, the team has starred in one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, and the property is far and away the most profitable superhero film franchise going. I’ve got Black Widow on a Kleenex box. Hawkeye Nerf bows fly off Target shelves. Iron Man and Captain America bobbleheads are given out at Giants games. So when it came time to relaunch the flagship series for Marvel’s latest NOW! initiative, Mark Waid obviously assembled a team that no casual fan would recognize: the sole member with a recognizable movie counterpart is The Vision.

Before even reading a single page of Avengers #1, I applauded the direction. Too many editorial mandates – from both DC and Marvel – have muddied the waters in our monthly titles. I’ve always felt that the comics, the source material, should be informing the greater media output, and not the other way around. Movies and television shows should absolutely develop plots and characters as they see fit; I loved the humanoid Ego in Guardians 2, and I’m onboard for a revised origin story for Adam Warlock. But when an intrigued moviegoer wanders into a comic shop to gaze upon the four-color finery, let him or her marvel at a vast and varied superhero foundation, a tapestry of wonderment that stretches back decades, and not just to the most recent season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Mark Waid gets it. This team, even moreso than the all-new all-different assemblage he debuted over a year ago, offers comic book fans both new and old something unique, while simultaneously resonating with historical familiarity. The result is one of the best superhero books on the shelf.


Continue reading The Best of Marvel NOW! #1 – The Avengers

Secret Warriors

We’re in week 7 of Marvel’s ResurreXion initiative, the mutant and Inhuman refresh that rose from the ashes of the IvX clash. And while the X-books are enjoying some well-deserved attention, they still are basically left to operate in their own arena, while the Inhumans, as the latest property darling of Marvel Studios, continue to be shoehorned into every event and cross-title storyline they can. Case in point: the new Secret Warriors book by Matthew Rosenberg and Javier Garrón. Directly connected to the Secret Empire event, Daisy Johnson, AKA Quake, rallies a team of fellow Inhumans to oppose the Hydra takeover and occupation.

As Rosenberg will admit in his afterword to issue #1, he’s a relative newcomer to comic book writing, with even less experience working in the superhero genre. But he, like many of us, grew up with Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Captain America, and all the rest of those wonderful larger-than-life members of the Mighty Marvel pantheon. His reverence shows; his enthusiasm is obvious. And fresh off the Rocket Raccoon and Kingpin series in Marvel’s recent NOW! relaunch, not to mention the outstanding 4 Kids Walk into a Bank for Black Mask, Rosenberg has pulled together a very intriguing roster for his first full-on foray into capes-n-tights team books.

Continue reading Secret Warriors

The Best of Marvel NOW! #4 – Silver Surfer

Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer has been arguably Marvel’s most consistently excellent comic over the last four-plus years. Before Secret Wars, through the All-New All-Different relaunch, and into the Marvel NOW! era, the adventures of Norrin Radd and Dawn Greenwood, from the salty coast of New England to unexplored new regions of the galaxy, have reminded us how fun comics can be. Issue #9, one of the last books to carry the NOW! label, appropriately establishes the book’s characters and tone for a new audience, while tantalizing long-time readers with a much-anticipated new chapter in these starfarers’ journey. We were promised “everywhere and anywhere,” and from one corner of the cosmos to another, the quest to uncover the human soul of the Surfer has been even more rewarding than we could have hoped.

Silver Surfer debuted in the pages of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four in 1966, the same year Star Trek premiered on NBC. The connection hasn’t been lost on me, as these recent volumes of Surfer have captured so much of what I love about that original Trek series. It’s campy and colorful, but nonetheless full of mystery and wonder. And this character lends himself so perfectly to that type of story: he’s admittedly a goofy concept, all plated in chrome and riding a surfboard across space, but there might not be another superhero in comics who takes himself, or his purpose, so seriously. In the first NOW! issue, a standalone tale of cosmic intrigue, Surfer and Dawn encounter a planet of people who don’t poo. Freaking silly, but fun! And it’s a bonafide mystery, tucked inside the ongoing quest to kindle the light of humanity within the once lonely last son of Zenn-La.

Continue reading The Best of Marvel NOW! #4 – Silver Surfer

Ranking Marvel NOW! 15 – 6

15
Iron Fist

Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins

Iron Fist #1 begins the way every Iron Fist story should, with Danny Rand recklessly throwing his fists in his search for something deeper. The book also uses first person narration in a similar way to the original incarnation of the series, which featured second person narration as a means of placing the reader in Danny Rand’s shoes. While “heroes without their powers” stories are not always spectacular, especially since they often lack the action of a traditional story, this book feels like the beginning of a promising journey for Danny. The colorful and gritty art also helps sell a martial arts world that, while somewhat dark, is also full of strange characters. Lastly, any Iron Fist book that uses the narration to accurately call each of Danny Rand’s expert techniques is fine by me. Iron Fist #1 Upward Cannon Punches and Tiger Tail Sweeps its way to success, even if it isn’t the most exciting book on the Marvel NOW roster. – IP

Better than the PM&IF book. Formulaic, but fun. I’m in for now. Brisson’s writing has potential, and Perkins’s grittiness gives this kung-fu epic the appropriate 70’s vibe. – MMDG

First collection: Iron Fist, Vol. 1: The Gauntlet (October)

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14
Moon Knight

Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood
beginning with #10

First off, Greg Smallwood’s layouts and Jordie Bellaire’s colors make this one trippy book. Delving into a character’s broken mind is something that comic books are very good at depicting. I already feel very into learning more about Marc’s fractured psyche and his quest to find out what is real and what isn’t. Lemire makes me want to read the next issue. – MeanOldPig

Collection: Moon Knight, Vol. 3: Birth and Death (October)

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Continue reading Ranking Marvel NOW! 15 – 6

Guardians of the Galaxy

No surprise this week, folks, as Marvel rolls out a high-profile relaunch of one of the most surprisingly successful properties in comics, just a few days before the box office premiere of the new movie. All New Guardians of the Galaxy #1, by Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, couldn’t have come at a better time, either. Not because folks need some shelf eye-candy when they peruse the new release racks after leaving the theater, or during Free Comic Book Day this Saturday, but because the last few months of Guardians has been insufferably bad. Bendis is still one of the best funnybook scribes in the business, but it’s been pretty clear where his energies have been devoted. The way he phoned in Civil War II and, especially, the last year of Guardians, makes me hope he never gets assigned to another team book or major event again. Say no, once in a while, BMB. Leave the insane capes n’ tights output to the younger set; Jeff Lemire is still hungry.

But I digress. The new book is tantalizing eye candy for both casual readers as well as longtime fans hungry for a return to form. The fact that Kuder is providing the art is almost good enough, by itself, for me to sign on for a full arc. Marvel fans may not be too familiar with his work, but his Frank Quitely-inspired artistry had been on display on various DC projects over the last few years. He’s found a welcome home on a major Marvel book, especially among those of us who wished Arthur Adams could have been doing more than just Guardians covers. There’s a mix of startling intricacy in his linework, but it’s combined with a fluid dynamism that not only complements the humor of Guardians, but also fits wonderfully with Marvel’s trippy cosmic legacy, from Steve Ditko through Jim Starlin. Also, thank you for restoring Drax and Gamora to their pre-movie designs.

Continue reading Guardians of the Galaxy

Ranking Marvel NOW! 25 – 16

25
Mighty Captain Marvel

Margaret Stohl and Ramon Rosanas

What I thought was an overt attempt at making Carol likeable again, with the forthcoming movie, may not have been necessary after all. The #CarolCorps? This is a thing? I’m fascinated. And I love space shit and bounty hunters and shapeshifters and explosions. Keep it coming! Also, don’t know where this artist came from, but he’s fantastic. – MMDG

Well, I guess I’m a Carol Danvers fan now. This book is a great introduction to the character and sells its concept exceptionally well. It has great art, the writing is slick and fun; this is just one of those solid books. – IP

First collection: Mighty Captain Marvel Vol. 1 (September)

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24
Star-Lord

Chip Zdarsky and Kris Anka

This is actually a very solid book. The action is smooth, the pacing is tight, and the art pops. These solo Guardians books have been very successful. – IP

The last few Star-Lord series have been abysmal to mediocre. I’m still waiting for the definitive version of this character. Maybe Zdarsky has that in mind, or maybe this is just a shelf-filler before the movie release, but I’m interested to hang out and discover what he can do. – MMDG

First collection: Star-Lord Vol. 1: Grounded (June)

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23
Spider-Woman

Dennis Hopeless and Veronica Fish
beginning with #13

I was a little worried that this series would suffer greatly when Rodriguez went over to the Sorcerers Supreme book, especially since some of the fill-in art had been so mediocre. But not only does Veronica Fish maintain that high level Darwyn Cooke-style storytelling, form & color and elegant linework, but Hopeless’s script is as polished as ever. My only complaint is that fucking Porcupine was really starting to grow on me… – MMDG

Collection: Spider-Woman Volume 3: Scare Tactics (June)

22
Sam Wilson: Captain America

Nick Spencer and Paul Renaud
beginning with #14

Very interesting book. Politicking is becoming more and more common in comics for obvious reasons, and this issue handles it in one of the best ways. Flag-Smasher makes good points, seems to have good intentions, but is also murderous and deranged. Of course this book also deals with a certain Captain being a part of a certain multi-headed organization, which I am still unsure of, but nevertheless it makes for a fun read, and the art is clear and well colored. Overall a good book. – IP

One of the best books of the ANAD era and still one of the best books in Marvel’s stable. The topical nature of Sam Wilson’s patriotism is more pertinent than the profiling in CWII, and isn’t as blatant as Netflix’s Luke Cage. – MMDG

Collection: Captain America: Sam Wilson, Vol. 4: #TakeBackTheShield

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21
Nova

Jeff Loveness and Ramon Perez

A really great surprise. Ramon Perez is a real talent, and this book looks ready to combine good Marvel cosmic drama with the kind of coming-of-age superhero stories that Marvel has been knocking out of the park in the pages of Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. – MMDG

Nova is much more fun than I thought it would be. There’s a perfect amount of humor, the pacing is fast, and the art is lively. Overall an exceptional book. – IP

First collection: Nova Volume 1: Resurrection (August)

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20
Jessica Jones

Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos

The story is an intriguing mystery, and a few cameos from some great street-level heroes never hurts. Overall this feels like the exact kind of story JJ needs. I’m game. – IP

This is interesting. So Jones starts out in prison, hid her baby from Luke, and her first case involves a dimensionally displaced husband? Oh, and not even Bendis knows where the hell the FF are. – MMDG

First collection: Jessica Jones Volume 1: Uncaged! (May)

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19
Great Lakes Avengers

Zac Gorman and Will Robson

Really great comedy book here. The jokes are landing, the references, both dated and fresh, are working for me. The art is surprisingly good, and the coloring is excellent. If they can maintain the pace this first issue has then this has potential to be a fantastic series. – IP

Surprised how much I enjoyed this. A genuinely funny superhero book in the same family as Howard, Hellcat. Probably doesn’t have long-term staying power, but I’m onboard for now. – MMDG

Collection: Great Lakes Avengers: Same Old, Same Old (May)

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18
Hulk

Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon

This is really good. Tamaki is a veteran tackling (I think?) her first superhero book with aplomb, and Leon’s style is perfectly suited for a graceful beauty with ugly rage and power simmering, on the verge of eruption. There’s intriguing untapped power and energy in that linework. – MMDG

Hulk is a great restart of the She-Hulk comics I loved as a kid. This book has great art, incredible color work, and a tight script that gets directly to the point while allowing a few moments of levity. Even though the story is pretty standard for an attorney/superhero, the execution works well. I’m excited to continue reading this one. – IP

First collection: Hulk Volume 1: Deconstructed (July)

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17
Captain America: Steve Rogers

Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz
beginning with #7

Nick Spencer is the most politically savvy writer in mainstream comics. His two Cap books are some of the best things going for Marvel right now, and the social consciousness he imbues is far more significant than anything in Civil War II. – MMDG

The Steve Rogers as Hydra is rightly controversial, but I like the change of pace. This book has some good art, excellent coloring in spots, and reads like a political spy thriller. Not necessarily the best book in the Marvel NOW stable, but a very solid entry in a long line of great Captain America books. I will be reading more of this one. – IP

Collection: Captain America: Steve Rogers Volume 2: The Trial of Maria Hill

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16
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur

Brandon Montclare, Amy Reeder, and Natacha Bustos
beginning with #13

I’ll admit to dropping the ball on this book the first time around. After reading the first few issues in the NOW! initiative, I had to go back and see what I was missing out on. This is the comic that you give to your kids, little cousins, nephews and nieces; the superhero antics are entertaining without dumbing down to a younger audience. It’s the kind of book that made you fall in love with comics when you were a kid, and the first few issues of this new arc are replete with equally entertaining guest appearances from The Thing to Ironheart. Get onboard. – MMDG

Collection: Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur Volume 3: The Smartest There Is (July)

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< 40 – 26 | Rankings | 15 – 6 >

Ranking Marvel NOW! 40 – 26

40
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows

Gerry Conway and Ryan Stegman

So much fun! This book has everything I want from a Spider-story, slice-of-life Peter Parker mayhem, wisecracking Spider-Man, dinosaurs! Oh yeah, it also has this excellent new Spider-team consisting of the Webhead, Mary Jane, and their daughter Annie. Great writing, great art, great all-around. I loved this book, and will absolutely be reading more. – IP

I’m glad they have the Earth-2 stuff still going (been around longer than the Ultimate U!) but I’ve never been into it, and this book isn’t changing my mind. – MMDG

First collection: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows Vol. 1: Brawl in the Family (June)

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39
Kingpin

Matthew Rosenberg and Ben Torres

Good, not great. Still a big fan of Rosenberg’s work, so, even though I’m not partial to the “other side of villainy” tales, I trust that this writer – especially with the titular character – can make it work. – MMDG

First collection: Kingpin Vol. 1: Born Against (September)

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Continue reading Ranking Marvel NOW! 40 – 26

Ranking Marvel NOW! 56 – 41

56
Slapstick

Fred Van Lente & Reilly Brown

There is a lengthy dinner table discussion where Slapstick talks to his entire family about how he lost his dingus. Also he lights his fart on fire. These things happen, and don’t even make me laugh. – MeanOldPig

I can’t think of a more appropriate title for the collected edition. – MMDG

First collection: Slapstick, Vol. 1: That’s Not Funny (August)

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55
Solo

Gerry Duggan, Geoffrey Thorne & Paco Diaz

This is really dumb. Why does Marvel like this Thorne guy so much? The writing is so juvenile, and I couldn’t possibly give a lesser shit about Solo. I think we’re going to see a steady decline on all the SHIELD/spy-type garbage over the next year. – MMDG

Did not enjoy this. One or two amusing puppy panels is all I can say were good about Solo. What is Marvel thinking with this one? – IP

Collection: Solo: The One-Man War on Terror (June)

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Continue reading Ranking Marvel NOW! 56 – 41