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MONDOcomics #95: February 23, 2011

Posted by Comics On February - 25 - 2011

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

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

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

The Green Hornet Reviewed

Posted by film On January - 24 - 2011

The Green Hornet
Directed by Michel Gondry
Columbia Pictures, 2011

By Sean Kelly

My only real experience involving the Green Hornet, prior to this film, was the character’s crossover appearance on the old 1960s Batman TV series. Indeed it was the Green Hornet TV series, from the same producers as Batman, where most people were introduced to the character. The TV series was also notable for introducing us to Bruce Lee, who co-starred as Kato a few years before becoming a movie star. I only recently found out that the character has its origins as a 1930s radio serial, as opposed to comic books, which did not appear until the 1940s.

The film version went through many stages of development, with one of the most notable being when Kevin Smith was hired in 2004 to write and direct the film. His script was adapted into a comic after he dropped out. The film was later taken up by Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg. Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle) was originally set to direct and co-star as Kato, but he eventually dropped out and the reigns were given to Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Read the rest of this entry »

Shane McNeil’s Top 5 Films of 2010

Posted by film On January - 18 - 2011

By Shane McNeil

5. Get Low (dir. Aaron Schneider)
There’s not a lot of love for a film that sat on the shelf for almost a year and then got buried in late summer when everyone was preoccupied with its backwoods cousin Winter’s Bone. However, what resonated more with me on this one – though I did love Winter’s Bone – was not only the optimism that a bad man can earn redemption, but also the absolute stunner of a performance Bobby Duvall turned in. It’s easy to forget a man who’s been relegated to the curmudgeonly supporting ranks since 1997, but he struck back nicely with his turn as Felix Bush. In a just world he’d earn an Oscar nom for it.

4. Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan)
This wins all kind of respect in my book for being both insanely smart and insanely successful. Perhaps Nolan rode a bit of Caped Crusader cred in breaking the bank here, but I won’t hold that against him. What impressed me most was his ability to take the mind-bending, convoluted narrative track he began laying with Memento (or perhaps even Following) and filter it through not only with high production values and action sequences, but with characters and emotions that the audience could actually empathize with. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics: Best of 2010: Owen’s Top 10

Posted by Comics On January - 2 - 2011

Honourable mentions: I wanted to point out a few books that are amazing, fantastic books that everyone should buy. The only thing is that these books didn’t ship enough issues to make me feel right about bumping some of the awesome books below off my top 10 list. Here are my honourable mentions…

Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine – This bimonthly miniseries has been a blast from the moment it started. This is going to be a must-buy hardcover for those that didn’t read it in issues.
The Jimmy Olsen backups from Action Comics – With only about 40 pages or so it’s hard for me to put it above some of the stuff on my list, but man do I love this stuff. If I get an ongoing (and I really want one) I would bet that this will make the top 10 next year.
Proof & Proof: Endangered – This is my new “recommend to everyone I talk to” title. If this series had released more issues this year it easily would’ve made my top 10. Probably my top 5.
Rasl – Sure, this book comes out at a snail’s pace, but it’s worth it. Jeff Smith’s storytelling is as good as it gets and with this level of quality I wouldn’t want to rush him.
Starman – You knew I had to get this in here somewhere. As MONDOcomics’ resident Starman obsessive it’s my duty to point out that there was a new issue this year. And it was great. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #71: September 8-9, 2010

Posted by Comics On September - 10 - 2010

Adventure Comics #518
Paul Levitz, Jeff Lemire (w), Kevin Sharpe, Mahmud Asrar (p), Marlo Alquiza, John Dell (i),  Blond, Pete Pantazis (c). DC Comics.

I don’t know if this is an error from the writer or the artist, but the Legion of Superheroes main story is consistently focusing on the wrong moment. Most panels will have the faces be not quite dramatic enough to warrant a panel, or else the faces will have the wrong expression on them. Then there are the group shots, where every character has their own expression — great for showing us an artist’s range, not so great for communicating the kind of action we want in that page of art. The message of that page has to be “THIS IS AWESOME” but because we can see that not all the characters are in that moment the whole picture is diluted and less impressive for it. Yes, it’s more true to life, but it isn’t “comic book true to life”. It’s good to push the boundaries between those two, but unfortunately the creative team didn’t find the right balance this time out. The Atom back up is still cool, if a little loose with the continuity I’m aware of. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 3 out of 5

Amazing Spider-Man #641
Joe Quesada (w), Paolo Rivera, Joe Quesada, Danny Miki & Richard Isanove (a), Marvel Comics.

I just don’t have it in me to hate this comic as much as some other people do. I get it, “One More Day” was a travesty, I wouldn’t argue otherwise even for a moment. Did we really need to revisit it? Probably not. But did I find the scenes between Peter and MJ totally touching? Yes I did. Now maybe it’s only because I’m a romantic fool, but any scene of a couple realizing that they love each other yet they have to part ways hits me right here (I’m pointing to my heart). Sure, there are problems here. I’m not totally thrilled with the explanations of how all that stuff was undone during OMD, but the scenes of the now ex-couple were rather well done. At least I thought so. As I said, some seem to disagree. — Owen Craig.

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

Fan Expo: Friday (Isaac’s day with Batman)

Posted by Comics On August - 28 - 2010

Holy Good Times, Batman!

Though not actually a part of the Fanexpo festivities the Underground Cinema’s movie screening of the ’66 Batman movie with a question and answer segment starring Adam West could only happen because of the expo. A note on the venue: it’s my understanding that the Underground Cinema hasn’t been in operation all that long (just a few months in fact) so I really shouldn’t be surprised that everything was so clean looking, but I’ve worked at theatres, and I’ll tell you: they degenerate.

Okay, enough using colons; when the curtain was raised a man is revealed in front of the screen, dressed as Batman of course. The crowd erupts into cheers, which die away as we wait for… something. It ends up being a half awkward pause until “Batman” leaps off the stage and the movie starts rolling. But that’s funny, possibly the exact same kind of funny you find in this Batman movie. The colour was faded, sometimes the scene jumped around thanks to a messed up bit of reel, and I don’t think the crowd would have wanted any different. We see Bruce Wayne tied up beside his beloved Ms. Kitka and then we jump to him being released and it’s pure West fighting off the Joker, Riddler, and the Penguin. How did he get there? The movie certainly won’t tell us, and though there was a split second of disappointment that waved through the theatre at not seeing scenes in their entirety, we changed our tune quickly… because that jump is just too hilarious. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #69: August 25, 2010

Posted by Comics On August - 27 - 2010

Action Comics #892
Paul Cornell, Jeff Lemire (w), Pete Woods, Pere Pérez, Pier Gallo (a), Brad Anderson, Jamie Grant (c). DC Comics.

Notable for including a Superboy back up story. Both it and the Lex Luthor lead in have very sparse settings: an arctic one and, yes, rural Kansas. The Superboy story serves as more of a teaser to get us onboard for Suberboy #1 (as if there was ever any question – yes I’m on board), but it was just long enough page-wise to trick me into thinking it was more than an ad. But that’s really all it is. If they would admit to that, and had tightened it up a bit while keeping all the crazy stuff that happens, it would have been the greatest ad/backup ever. It’s meant to be insanely awesome with: a giant earth monster, mind controlled pink frogs, last-minute Teen Titan rescues, underground kidnappees surrounded by pig monsters and gargoyle fetuses (apparently), with a last minute prophecy of doom courtesy of the Phantom Stranger. But its pacing is just a hairs breadth wrong. I still like the Luthor main story; it has some great character moments from Luthor beyond hating Superman stuff, but again, a little bland looking. – Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 3 out of 5

Avengers #4
Brian Michael Bendis (w), John Romita Jr. (p), Klaus Janson (i), Dean White (c), Marvel Comics.

I’m not sure that much happened in this issue. There was some cool action (although I’m sorry to say that last issue’s cliffhanger doesn’t lead to much), but ultimately the story doesn’t go anywhere until the last few pages. Great cover, though! – Owen Craig

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

MONDOcomics #58: June 9, 2010

Posted by Comics On June - 11 - 2010

Avengers Academy #1
Christos Gage (w), Mike McKone (a), Jeremy Cox (c), Marvel Comics.

This issue has a lot in common with Avengers: Initiative. That’s a good thing. After all, the first issue of Avengers: Initiative got me very excited for the second and the same thing happens here. There’s a cool batch of new characters and a great twist at the end. In fact, the only thing that bugged me was the main character frequently commenting on how small her breasts were when McKone drew her with average-sized breasts (although I guess they are small by comic-book standards…). I totally dug this book and can’t wait for issue two. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4 out of 5

Batman #700
Grant Morrison (w), Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, Scott Kolins, Andy Kubert, David Finch, Richard Friend (a), Ian Hannin, Alex Sinclair, Tony Avina, Brad Anderson, Peter Steigerwald (c). DC Comics.

Morrison continually impresses me with his legitimizing of the campy history of Batman — additionally it’s hard not to love the commentary divided between the three/four main Batman stories: the cheesy action packed science fiction of the fifty’s and sixties, the relatively “realistic” era of the 70’s and 80’s with Batman and Robin fighting against common criminals and uncommon intellectual challenges (with a great reference to the Dark Knight Returns using a gang of “mutants”, and a quick visual gag consisting of Batman shaving away his stubble on a roof top), the third story is a ruthless Damian Wayne Batman an easy reference to the antihero days of the 90s (and often contemporary era) as well as hinting to the very origins of “The Bat-Man” character, and finally the section denoting the possible futures for the legacy of the Batman mythos wherever it may turn. Ultimately, it is very clearly a Morrison work, so maybe it’s not your cup of tea, but if you’re an old school Batman fan, not just in it for the occasional movie (great as they are) but have read a Showcase Batman book or two, then you will want this book. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #53: May 5, 2010

Posted by Comics On May - 6 - 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #630
Zeb Wells (w), Chris Bachalo (p), Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza (i), Antonio Fabela (c). Marvel Comics.

One complaint you’ll hear about Spidey from non-fans is that he’s whiney. It’s not Spider-Man’s fault, it’s just really hard to write someone’s inner voice, particularly when they are thinking about themselves, and get it to come across as anything but whiney. What’s the solution? Well, if you’re Zeb Wells, you get Spidey to think about what joke he’s going to spring on the hapless bad guys in front of him – and the result is the funniest Spider-Man writing we’ve gotten in a while. Couple that with Bachalo’s pencils that run the gamut from cool to expressive to hilarious and we’ve got a winner. The last scene of the book is of a corporate tool antagonizing Dr. Curt Connors aka the Lizard (whom you also wouldn’t like when he’s angry) and I just kept yelling at the comic “No! You fool! Don’t you know what you’re doing?” He really didn’t, it looks like the Lizard got to eat him, but the important thing is the kind of reaction it got out of me. It was a good kind of yelling at my comic book. – Isaac Mills

Isaac’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

Batman and Robin #12
Grant Morrison (w), Andy Clarke, Scott Hanna, Dustin Nguyen (a), Alex Sinclair (c). DC Comics.

Well, the art is a little static, but otherwise it’s a great book. We start off with Robin being remote-controlled to attack Batman by Slade Wilson (long time Dick Grayson enemy) so Batman kicks Robin and it hurts Slade. I didn’t expect that, but I liked it. Slade thinks he’s untouchable, that he can just walk up (via Robin) and kill Batman, and BOOM Slade’s in pain. (I think this is what pain feels like.) I’ve just realized that all the “moments” in this book are those “Cool moments” that Geoff Johns is always going for, but these ones are far more subversive and therefore work better. Man, if Ivan Reis was drawing this book… well, it’d be awesome. – Isaac Mills

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

MONDOcomics #28: November 11, 2009 [UPDATED]

Posted by Comics On November - 13 - 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #611Amazing Spider-Man #611
Joe Kelly (w), Eric Canete (a), Marvel Comics

The bad news is that this really didn’t feel like a Spider-Man comic. The good news is that it was enormously entertaining. Joe Kelly is one of the major Deadpool writers of yore and it shows here. The mayhem, pop culture references and fourth-wall-breaking are well used (including an almost-Geoff Johns cameo). I was a little unsure of Canete’s art at first (he seems to come from the Leinil Yu school of weirdly pointy breasts), but I was won over by the end. So, yeah, this was a great Deadpool issue. I mean, Spider-Man issue. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4 out of 5
Isaac’s rating: 3 out of 5

Batman Doc Savage Special #1Batman/Doc Savage Special #1
Brian Azzarello (w), Phil Noto (a), DC Comics

I’ve been excited for this comic. I thought it would be fun to learn about Doc Savage, a classic character who I know very little about. The thing is that after reading this comic I’m left with the feeling that he’s kind of boring. As far as intros to a new worlds go this is rather bland. Sure, Batman uses guns but I’m not quite clear on what is supposed to excite me here. What’s cool, fun or engaging about Doc Savage? As far as I’m concerned so far…nothing. As for Phil Noto’s art, it’s pretty if a little stiff for my liking. I’m hoping that the first issue of the First Wave miniseries gets me more excited, because I love the concept for this character relaunch and I really want to like it. – Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 2 out of 5
Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Posted by videogames On October - 1 - 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PC, PS3, XBox 360)
Eidos, 2009

By Brandon Grant

Batman: Arkham Asylum was released about a month ago at the amazing limited price of $38.83 in Canada.  I don’t know exactly why it was priced so low, there was a rumour about an early Best Buy flyer with a pricing error and Walmart catching on to price match it by advertising it on Xbox Live. For whatever reason it was I think anyone who bought this game on Tuesday came out on the winning side of this deal and let me tell you why.

Obviously, this is not the first Batman game ever, but it might surprise you that it’s also not the first Batman game to include the voices from the amazing animated series from the 90s. I will go out on a big fat sturdy limb and say that this is the best Batman game ever.  The team that made this game has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Batman universe and it is the perfect game to immerse yourself in that universe.  The combat is deliciously satisfying, the bat gadgets are cool, the riddles are fun, and the story is great.  Anything more is just going to be gushing but really I can’t think of a reason to dislike this game. However, you will hate this game if you own the last generation gaming system and you won’t ever be able to play this game. But really it isn’t the game that you hate, that’s your defense mechanism to avoid thinking of how little money you have.  If that is you I’ve just made you hate this game even more but maybe it will encourage you to scrape 200 bucks together and join all us happy folk in the modern gaming world. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #15: August 12, 2009 [UPDATED]

Posted by Comics On August - 15 - 2009

actioncomics880Action Comics #880
Greg Rucka & James Robinson (w), Julian Lopez (p), Bit, (i), DC Comics

For everyone complaining about how intertwined the Super-books are right now, “Codename: Patriot” looks like it only going to make things worse. Up to this point, as connected as the books were, they all had a particular star: Action had Nightwing and Flamebird, Superman had Mon-El, etc. This issue brings everyone together. It also finally gets Superman back in costume. If you haven’t been picking up everything, though (And this is one of the few times you’ll hear me say this), wait for the trade.

On a separate note, I’m a big fan of DC adding back-ups to certain books. Captain Atom isn’t my favorite among them, but it’s a fun, if slightly confusing, story so far. And it’s always a treat to see more from characters who can’t support their own books. — James O’Connor

James’ rating: 3 out of 5

Adventure Comics #1Adventure Comics #1
Geoff Johns (w), Francis Manapul (a), DC Comics

This is the Geoff Johns that I go nuts for. Oh sure, there is an appeal to the creepy, limb-severing, over-the-top stuff too, but I really like the introspective stuff full of quiet moments and careful character work. I’ve never cared too much for Superboy as a character. In fact, my first real introduction to him was when he was being killed off, but Johns’ skills are on display here, because I’m immediately hooked. Not only that, but Manapul’s art skills really step up an already great story. His landscapes are gorgeous and his character work is fantastic. This is a great book and I can’t wait for more. Also Krypto is there. This is great stuff, top notch. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »

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

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