“Mondo Urbano”: Stephen King-Approved

GUEST REVIEWER: KATE KOTLER, Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Geek Girl On The Street.

Mondo Urbano from Oni Press is hard to quantify upon first read. The trade paperback, released this past July, takes the reader through the first four of Rafael Albuquerque, Eduardo Medeiros and Mateus Santolouco’s mini-comics: PowerTrio, Overdose, Cabaret, Encore and Bonus Track. Centered around the Kurt Cobain-esque character Van Hudson and his band De-Mo, this first trade lays out the groundwork for the storyline and characters to further develop in future issues.

The story is an age old one: nerdy, wanna be musician buys a possessed guitar and makes a deal with the Devil. The Devil then transforms aforementioned nerdy, wanna be musician into a Rock God, making him rich and famous beyond his wildest expectations. Of course, as with any “possessed by the Devil” story, there is a hefty price to pay and a life is lost in the process…but that clearly is to come in later Mondo Urbano issues.

Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll is as good a theme for a graphic novel as any, and with an endorsement from legendary horror writer Stephen King on the cover, I had nothing but the highest expectations for this book.

Thankfully, it did not disappoint.

Although the dialog is a tad disjointed — which I attribute to the process of translating the book into English from Portuguese — the stories are complex yet pretty easy to follow, and it’s clear to see how they are all eventually going to come together. The tales explore themes of friendship, dying love and the good fortune that comes with being in the right place at the right time. Spun together to occur on the night that Van Hudson mysteriously commits suicide, the characters developed in each chapter profoundly feel the impact of Hudson, his deal with the Devil and De-Mo’s rise to fame that alters the course of each character’s life.

Tactile temptation:
Which pick would you pick?

The artwork is pretty cartoon-ish (which is fine with me), the black and red on green gives the book an overall sense of something being wrong, or off –- a sickly hue, if you will –- indicating an artistic theme to the book which matches its story development.

As with all good graphic novels or comic books, I was pissed when I was done reading it because each story ending left me hanging and wanting a resolution for the characters. So I’m pretty stoked to read the next installment, “Ed’s in Trouble,” which is due out in 2011.  If you haven’t checked out this latest offering from Oni — which is being touted as the “next Scott Pilgrim” – heavy words, dudes — I do recommend picking it up and giving it a read.

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