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Archive for October, 2010

MONDOcomics #78: October 27, 2010

Posted by Comics On October - 29 - 2010

Action Comics #894
Paul Cornell (w), Pete Woods (a), Brad Anderson (c), DC Comics.

Okay, I’m going to preface this by saying I totally dug the main story. A whole issue of analyzing Luthor? Awesome. Okay, now that I’ve said that, Nick Spencer and RB Silva’s Jimmy Olsen backup is phenomenal. Seriously amazing.  It’s incredibly wacky, I love the characterization of Jimmy and Silva’s art is fantastic. DC, take note. You NEED a Spencer/Silva ongoing series all about Jimmy Olsen. Get on that. Now, please. – Owen Craig.

Owen’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Amazing Spider-Man #646
Mark Waid (w), Paul Azaceta with Matthew Southworth (a), Javier Rodriguez (c). Marvel Comics.

And so ends the “Brand New Day” era of Amazing Spider-Man. (Well, there’s another epilogue issue after this but this is the beginning of the end.) You know, say what you will about this arc or that arc, this writer or that writer, artist A over artist B — this was an era that fixed Spider-Man. Spider-Man hasn’t been this good or interesting in years and years. His comics are fun again. His comics are exciting again. I’ve, more or less, enjoyed 100 consecutive issues of a comic book. That’s impressive. Well done, the many, many makers of Amazing Spider-Man. — Miles Baker

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

Jonah Hex Reviewed

Posted by film On October - 28 - 2010

Jonah Hex
Directed by Jimmy Hayward
Warner Brothers, 2010

By Miles Baker

This DVD has some errors on the cover. It says, “Based on the legendary DC Comics Character.” First, it’s missing the word “Loosely;” and, second, Jonah Hex is hardly “legendary.” He’s third-tier at best. I’m not saying Jonah Hex comics are bad — I’m just saying he’s not a well-known character.

So, based on those two lies, why was this movie made? He’s not that famous even in the comics world, so there’s not much of a fan base. And why would you alienate that small fan base by making a movie that only shares a passing resemblance to the source material? Despite a short-lived Vertigo mini-series, the Jonah Hex stories are straight-up Westerns.  So why was this movie made as a cross between Wild, Wild West, Ghost Rider, and Pushing Daises? Also, all those things weren’t terribly successful — why would you emulate them? Read the rest of this entry »

Gin Wigmore’s Holy Smoke reviewed

Posted by MUSIC_Jake On October - 23 - 2010

Gin Wigmore
Holy Smoke
Universal Music, 2009

By Sheryl Normandeau

New Zealand’s Gin Wigmore may be casually dismissed as yet another young, trendy female singer with an unusual voice and an album of retro-sounding tunes, but while she’s certainly not as crass and deliciously unstable as Amy Winehouse, she’s definitely not Duffy-esque lite. Showcasing a nasal rasp that ranges from cute to vaguely annoying, Gin Wigmore’s first full-length album, Holy Smoke, is clearly a manufactured throwback to decades before she was even born. Wigmore nonetheless manages to jump on the bandwagon with a gutsy amount of sincerity and spirit.

The opening track, “Oh My,” is a gigantic crowd-pleaser: a hand-clapping, harmonica-drenched blues-rock ditty in which Wigmore expresses utter astonishment at “being beaten in the game of love.” Continued pleas to a higher power for a new direction resolve nothing, but the result is pure sing-a-long fun, and a rollicking good start. Recent single “Hey Ho” follows, leading the listener into the smoke-filled rooms of some old jazz club while the sultry beat and heavy horns belie the singer’s sinister, threatening lyrics. It’s a carefully calculated, elaborately smooth production, and the usually whiskey-voiced Wigmore delivers her lines with a cold deliberation that isn’t found on the rest of the record.

The ponderous slow beats of “Golden Ship” and the ivory-tinkling intro to “New Revolution” truly unmask the wonder that is Wigmore’s voice. “Golden Ship,” in particular, is mostly stripped down to just the singer and a piano, exposing the utter strangeness of Wigmore’s vocals. Naked and unpolished, Wigmore’s voice is almost lazy in intervals, breaking down into near-speech as she tells her lover goodbye.

Wigmore takes a different tack in “Mr. Freakshow,” where she presses her voice into a hoarse shout above a dance-pop number reminiscent of Pink or Lily Allen (sadly, without the clever lyrics of the latter). A nonsensical chorus weak on actual words renders the tune either catchy or annoying, depending on the listener’s take, but a heavy bass line and a touch of circus organ at the end ensures a walloping party. Wigmore’s sloppy attempts at scatting continue on “One Last Look:” a fluffy pop number straight out of the 50s, complete with requisite “ooh ooh” background vocals (poodle skirts and lettered sweaters optional). It’s cutesy and boppy, and to her credit, Wigmore doesn’t once sound ironic or tired.

The current single “Too Late for Lovers” is Wigmore putting on Macy Gray, with smoky, cracked vocals over strings and acoustic guitar.  Expressing the heady emotional strain of a broken relationship that she is just “passing through,” Wigmore somehow manages to sound utterly convincing.

Indeed, this is the beauty of Gin Wigmore and Holy Smoke: no matter how manufactured or pandering the songs on the album may appear, the singer unfailingly gives it her all. Factor in her undeniably quirky, rich voice, and the combination is quite interesting.

MONDOcomics #77: October 20, 2010

Posted by Comics On October - 22 - 2010

Batman and Robin #15
Grant Morrison (w), Frazer Irving (a). DC Comics.

This issue made a lot more sense than the last one. Like, I could follow what was happening. Still, this story feels rushed. Rushed so that it would be released with a series of one-shots detailing the return of Bruce Wayne. Huh, funny that a whole bunch of them have come out in the last couple weeks. I know it’s DC’s prerogative to sell stories about Batman, but it’s mine to buy quality books. And, man, this book has a whole lot of quality in it — there’s just not enough room to make it good. — Miles Baker

Miles’ rating: 3.5 out of 5

Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Catwoman #1
Derek Fridolfs (w), Peter Nguyen (p), Ryan Winn (i), John Kalisz (c). DC Comics.

I’ve got a soft spot for the Batman/Catwoman relationship, so it’s nice to see that played up here. The mission Catwoman gets sent out on is pretty superfluous, but that’s par for the course for old Batman — he likes to test you — at a super villain auction thing which Harley Quinn was definitely NOT invited to. Naturally the best part of the story is when Harley crashes the party. The final page is a pin-up that ruins the atmosphere of the second to last page. They wanted to fit more Batman narration in, usually a good thing, but in this case not worth it. – Isaac Mills

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

Fringe Season Two Review

Posted by television On October - 20 - 2010

Fringe Season Two
J.J. Abrams, Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman and Bryan Burk (Executive Producers)
Warner Brother, 2009-2010.

By Miles Baker

A year ago, I reviewed the first season of Fringe. I got a review copy, and it’s polite to post them as quickly as possible, I burned through the first season in a few days, watching it whenever I could cram it in my schedule. It’s an intense but fun way to watch a show. And while I liked it, I’d concluded that Fringe was a well-executed show with no spark of creativity. When I broke it down into individual pieces the show was good, but something wasn’t coming together. With the second season of Fringe, the show remains well executed while finding the spark it was missing in the first season.

Part of that spark is the show’s mythology building rapidly and becoming more important episode-to-episode. There are still a lot of done-in-one mysteries in this season, but there are threads that keep the main narrative going. They find the right mix of episodic and epic, and it makes the show much more enjoyable. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #76: October 14, 2010

Posted by Comics On October - 15 - 2010

Adventure Comics #519
Paul Levitz, Jeff Lemire (w), Eduardo Pansica, Mahmud Asrar (p), Eber Ferreira, John Dell (i), Blond, Pete Pantazis (c). DC Comics.

This issue worked a lot better for me than the last few have. I particularly enjoyed Brainiac 5 interacting with the Kent’s, but not for a great reason — I was laughing out loud because of the lack of personal space the Kent’s were giving him. That, plus, the weird looks and body language, it was like they were two minutes from kidnapping him and throwing him in a basement. I don’t know what they were trying to go for with these pages, well okay they were going for “wow, aren’t the Kent’s awesome people?” but I’m glad they failed at getting that across. Failed spectacularly. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

Amazing Spider-Man #645
Mark Waid (w), Paul Azaceta & Matthew Southworth (a), Javier Rodriguez (c). Marvel Comics.

What we’ve learned from “Grim Hunt” and now with “Origin of the Species” is that Peter Parker is really effective when he’s angry.  If he’s just worried about money problems than he’ll take down a single lame baddy in four or five issues. If he’s worried about letting a baby get murdered than he’ll take down five or six lame baddies in half an issue. So, what have we learned, kids? I think it’s obvious. Rage is good. — Miles Baker

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

MONDOComics’ Reader’s Advisory #3: The Museum Vaults

Posted by Comics On October - 14 - 2010

By Denise Liu

The Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the Journal of an Expert
Marc-Antoine Mathieu (w + a). NBM, 2007 translation.

Read if you like: irony, Absurdism, secret history, art history/theory, neurotic artist types

A majestic glass pyramid. Halls of gilded frames. Creepy pink-eyed albino monks. What do all of these things have in common? Yes, The Louvre Museum, the very same that has co-published a series of four stand-alone graphic novels. Why? Who cares. The Museum Vaults is an awesome read.

The Jist: An art assessor and his hunch-backed assistant are hired to appraise the gigantic collection of The Musee du Revolu (an anagram of its forgotten name, The Louvre). Together, Monsieur Eudeus Volumer and Leonard spend a lifetime touring its bottomless ancient catacombs, each room containing a sort of Willy Wonkian affair of specialized art preservation tasks. These journal entries are the objective observations of a ludicrous machine, and tend to read more like the travel diary of a bizarre dream.

Monsieur Volumer is part arts critic and part explorer. Apart from aging, both he and Leonard are pretty static characters but are given loads of personality through Mathieu’s deft drawings. They guide readers to the true shining personality and star of this story, The Musee du Revolu. Read the rest of this entry »

My Soul to Take Reviewed

Posted by film On October - 11 - 2010

My Soul to Take
Directed by Wes Craven
Rogue Pictures, 2010

By Sean Kelly

It dawned to me in the days leading up to the release of Wes Craven’s first film in five years (and his first film as writer-director in sixteen) that I’ve seen little to no promotion for the film. I only saw the trailer once (streamed on a website) and I only started seeing TV spots in the last week. It’s almost as if the announcement that Craven was going to direct Scream 4 (which is scheduled for release in April), effectively killed off the buzz for this film. That, and this one’s a bit of a dud. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics Special: Chaos War #1

Posted by Comics On October - 8 - 2010

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

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

MONDOcomics #75: October 6, 2010

Posted by Miles On October - 8 - 2010

Amazing Spider-Man: Back in Quack #1
Stuart Moore (w), Mark Brooks, Ray Height, Joe Suitor (p), Walden Wong, Joe Suitor (i), Andres Mossa, Joe Suitor (c). Marvel Comics.

I have long been a fan of the idea of Howard the Duck, but this is really my first experience with the character. Assuming the story here isn’t lying to me, he got his start as an interdimensional tag along with Man-Thing. That’s pretty weird, right? The inside art as done by Mark Brooks in the first half was very clean but not in an off-putting way (I’m thinking of the back-up Jackpot story in the last few issues of Web of Spider-Man as an example of off putting clean) while Ray Height’s latter half was reminiscent of the late great Mike Wieringo, light and fun. I do wish they’d taken a more cartoony approach to Howard himself; he looks more like a goose than an anthropomorphic duck. But I may have been ruined by Disney’s various Duck drawings. I enjoyed Spider-Man’s dialogue, but the story itself was kind of a lame duck. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 3 out of 5

American Vampire #7
Scott Snyder (w), Rafael Albuquerque (a), Dave McCaig (c). Vertigo.

You know, this series just got a whole lot better. With it’s second arc, American Vampire is hitting its stride. Snyder has found an interesting and rarely-talked about time in American history and exploited it marvelously for his plot. Albuquerque’s art is getting looser, but also far more dynamic. It’s an interesting progression and it works more often than it doesn’t. Recommended. — Miles Baker

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

Canadian Graffiti

Posted by art On October - 5 - 2010

Continuing in the fine tradition of years past, the MONDOarts department dispatched three writers to cover this year’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche and their escapades during said event. Enjoy!

By Jen Handley

“Is it just me or has Nuit Blanche gotten to be more work over the years?” asked my friend Sophia as we huddled for warmth in one of the zillions of eagerly-formed lines that sprung up around the city last Saturday night. She was completely right: seeing as how the last five years have seen the festival turn into all but a public holiday, and as we wanted to check out some of the higher-profile events this year, we spent a lot of the evening standing in line. But that part actually wasn’t dreary — standing around, barging into conversations with tipsy strangers end exchanging stories as we waited for exhibits wasn’t too different from the experience of standing outside on New Year’s Eve waiting for midnight. For all the flack art projects get for being elitist, I had the feeling of being part of a mob that night, and that was what made it exhilarating. And coincidence or not, most of the projects we saw required us to engage with strangers. Read the rest of this entry »

Parkdale Takes the Nuit

Posted by art On October - 5 - 2010

Continuing in the fine tradition of years past, the MONDOarts department dispatched three writers to cover this year’s Nuit Blanche and their escapades during said event. Enjoy!

By Andy O’Shea

This year’s Nuit Blanche marked the first time that I didn’t start right downtown. Moving from the outside in made all the difference — Parkdale really had interactive and unusual experiences all the way through, and it seemed to be an organized community effort. Our first stop was near Queen and Roncesvalles, The Nightwatch: Shadow Play by Ed Pein, a giant tent with people and objects inside displaying different scenarios. A good start.

At Speed Art Criticism by the Toronto Alliance of Art Critics, local art experts Dan Adler and David Balzer waited inside a guitar store to critique artwork by passersby. We debated whether to go inside; we didn’t have any of our art with us. When we did go inside, Adler and Balzer graciously looked at a work of mine online and we had a nice ten minute discussion about art. They were quite receptive, and it was a very relaxed talk. Balzer was right on the money suggesting I look for Jim Flora’s work. Read the rest of this entry »



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