Eric’s Image Comics Review: MONDO #1
Part streamlined superhero origin, part culture commentary art comic, Mondo #1 intrigues as much as it entertains with an easy going sense of humor and great art. Still, the real proof in the pudding will come with subsequent issues.
Described in a fairly simple sentence, Ted McKeever's Mondo is Spider-Man for the underground comic set. This origin story formula has been done before (several times actually), but it's the writer's execution and underlying themes that make it interesting. In fact, the borrowing from classic comic works (There's hints of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, albeit in a more flippant, silly manner.) actually helps the experimental/outspoken elements more palatable to an audience at large. In this light, the anti-consumerism message and commentary of a media dependent culture never is conveyed as preachy because it's packaged in the very familiar Superhero Journey (More Stan Lee that Joseph Campbell.) of weakling to superpowers to crushing baddies. Also working in the comic's favor is an ambiguity of tone.
While that might not be considered a strength at first glance, there's an overarching mystery of just what this title will turn out to be in the end given an eccentric presentation that borders on surreal, but with a simple narrative. This biggest draw to this is that the book feels as if it is going somewhere with 2 additional sub-plots that may seem spurious in nature at one point, but the importance may be palpable the next.
The negative of this type of engaging vagueness is that the comic will have to produce answers, more questions, or connections in order to stave off the loss of novelty. Mondo #1 is a fun and charming book, but it has yet to really reveal anything. Subtext (and very overt text) has been placed even in mainstream comics, so McKeever will have to work hard to find a balance in order to make his book unique, especially when interpreting irony (satire, parody, or otherwise) from the comic tropes presented here. Right now, though, prospects are good if the tone can be maintained.
McKeever also handles the art duties and is mostly successful. Like the narrative, there's a great mix of polish with a sense of raw handiwork, which is well served in the black-and-white format. Some of the best storytelling is done when no text is in a panel (That's great, because the protagonist is silent throughout the comic.). Techniques like focus, angles, and perspective work really well to convey things like characterization, setting, and underlying themes. It makes the main character's plight more empathetic without words and is, thus, more than competent as comic art and as visual storytelling.
Story: Ted McKeever
Art: Ted McKeever
Cover: Ted McKeever & Dana Moreshead
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