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Monday, October 09, 2006

Marvel Monster Comics

Its October!!! YAY!

My favorite month of all simply because I'm quite the horror buff. There are literally tons of topics I could discuss this month just because of the Halloween theme.

Last year, Marvel Comics did a 5th week event that really made me a happy camper. They released 4 one shot comics under the banner of the "Marvel Monster Group" reviving 4 classic monster titles. Not only did each title contained interpretations of classic "Kirby (the "King" of comics) Monsters" by current active and established pros, they also included re-mastered reprints of some original Kirby comics inside them. Plus each one had gorgeous covers drawn by the famous Eric Powell (of The Goon fame). I'm really not sure how successful this venture was, but here I am, one year later still feeling that those were some of the best purchase worth their cover price I ever had when it comes to comics.

The following are non spoilerish reviews of those said titles:

WHERE MONSTERS DWELL
Barring the reprints added in the latter half of each title, this is the only one of those four that could be considered an anthology. This 48 paged comic features 3 seperate stories featuring such classic monsters as Bombu, Manoo and Monstrollo and a reprint of "I Was Trapped By Titano: The Monster That Time Forgot" by Jack Kirby.

The Bombu story was done by what we can consider as an All Star line up of creators. Written and pencilled by Keith Giffen, inked by Mike Alrred and colored by Lovern Kindzierski (who by the way is my favorite colorist of all time), this humorous continuation of the original story published decades ago is probably my favorite in this title for the sheer fact it made me chuckle out loud as I was reading it. Even if you haven't read the original story this was based on (like I did when I originally read this story), as long as you have an idea on how corny sometimes those old comics read, you'd definitely get the whole impact of the humor of this story.

The Monstrollo story was written by Peter David, with art by Arnold Pander and colored by Val Staples. Just like the first story, this was a humorous attempt of continuing the original story published decades ago. It's a decent story, however I did felt nothing special about this one. Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad story in itself as I've said, but the one preceding it was just much better. Perhaps it's the common theme that it shared with the first one that had kind of dampen my enthusiasm, but it's no fault of the creators involved if I did set my expectations a tad too high after the first story. The effort obviously done for this is apparently far from lackluster, and I'm honestly not making excuses for it.

The Manoo story, which is the last new material, was written by Jeff Parker, pencilled by Russel Braun, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti and colored by Sotocolor's J. Brown. This particular one deviates from the theme of the first two stories, as it is not a humorous continuation of the original source material. In fact, it is a straight up retelling, with slight changes for a more modern twist. I really do like this one as it oozes old school pulp entertainment.

Overll, Where Monsters Dwell is probably my 2nd favorite out of all the titles released in this particular 5th week event by Marvel. This seriously felt like a genuine horror anthology title like the ones I've enjoyed from my youth.


MONSTERS ON THE PROWL
Featuring: too many monsters that I don't have the patience to list one by one. Yes that many monsters!!! Classic reprint featured is Jack Kirby's "We Found The Ninth Wonder Of The World!".

Written by Steve Niles, who in the past few years had acquired the niche reputation of being "the" horror writer in comics, this comic had art done by Duncan Fegredo and colors by Moose Baumann.

Admittingly, I probably consider this my least favorite of all this one shots. I'm not even sure if I could put into words the reason why or if I even do have a logical reason. I don't hate it per se, but this one just did not click to me as well as the others did. It would be hypocritical for me to say that it's because this one feels more of a superhero story than a genuine horror/monster comic, when you could easily read my praise for the next two titles immediately after this. I really don't know.

On to the premise of the story. Unlike the first one, Where Monsters Dwell, this, just like the rest of the titles in the line is done as one longform comic instead of an anthology of many shorter stories. As stated before this was more of a "superhero story" than an actual monster one, albeit in the form of a "hidden years/untold tales" type one. Meaning it is set in the past, it's just that we haven't seen it before.

This comic is jam packed full of monsters, trying to fit in literally almost all the classic Marvel Monsters of yesteryear, which of course relegated plenty to just one or a few panel of cameos. According to the story it would seem that most giant monsters not inhabiting Monster Isle were captured by The Collector at one time in the past and were imprisoned somwhere under Canada, however the Mole Man also desired those said monsters. The struggle between the two villains accidentally set free all those monsters again. Now with all the rampaging monsters set loose at once on NYC, it just so happened that there were not much heroes available to save that day. Except for a few who probably can be considered monsters themselves I guess. Apologies if I spoiled much of the story premise, but there really wasn't much to begin with here, there is no such thing as subtlety or nuances with this comic. This was more about slugfests and monster vs. monster action. You'd definitely enjoy this if you like those kind of stuff.

FIN FANG 4
Featured monsters are: Fin Fang Foom, Elektro, Gorgilla and Googam, Son of Goom! and also reprinting the classic first apearance of Fin Fang Foom!

Co-written by Scott Gray with artist Roger Langridge and colored by Sotocolor's J. Brown. This is my favorite of the bunch, one big reason is I'm an admirer of Roger Langridge's art. He has this knack in really capturing the essence of certain time periods. In my view his cartooning could actually fool people that it's an old comic they're looking at if he wants too. It's not that because he's just old school with his approaches but he does it intentionally from the various works of his that I've seen.

That particular talent works for this project because, I actually felt that I was reading an old Fantastic Four comic with this. The story, seemingly set in contemporary time (though most probably placed outside of continuity) exudes a classic silver age comic aesthetic, which in my opinion could make this seemingly pulpish and disposable story timeless in years to come. The wit and pun from the characters' dialogue are quite funny and do serve as a meta commentary easily visible to people who are familiar with the history of the trends and quirks in American comics in general. I'm not trying to make this comic seem smart than it really is, it is a smart comic.

The basic premise is that from all the monsters captured throughout the years by superheroes, Reed Richards AKA Mr. Fantastic, has offered a reformation project that could help them integrate with modern human society in a more productive and peaceful manner. He has chosen 4 subjects, Fin Fang Foom, Elektro, Gorgilla and Googam, the stars of this book to participate in this experiment. I won't elaborate much more on their background as it will probably spoil details of the story.

The group didn't literally assumed the title Fin Fang Four as the name of their group in the story, but they did however assume the role of superheroes by saving the city while the Fantastic Four were gone. It wasn't for noble intentions either, though Fin Fang Foom did it for a sense of pride and responsibility as one of them actually caused all the hijinks in the first place. This is truly a fun story that I can strongly recommend with full confidence to anybody and everybody.

DEVIL DINOSAUR
Featuring The Incredible Hulk and Devil Dinosaur. Reprints the classic "I Was A Slave Of The Living Hulk" by Jack Kirby.

Co-written by Tom Sniegoski with artist Eric Powell and colored by J. D Mettler. This is yet again one of those untold tales type stories but I do feel this one was better than Monsters On The Prowl as I found this way more funnier and the story a bit more meatier. It's basically the same concept of the monster vs. monster all out brawl, but with a better focus by spolighting only two main characters (or monsters if you prefer). Not really much of a great story, but still considered a worthy purchase because of the great fun factor. Plus the art done by Eric Powell is magnificent, just like the Fin Fang 4 book, this comic exudes silver age fun goofiness if simply because of the presentation. The twist at the end regarding the Celestials involved in the story, though not entirely shocking nor surpriseing is really quite funny. I guess I can't say much about this one except that it is really a solid book all around. I have to reiterate though that the artwork is really beautiful, at least in my eyes. Besides, like all the titles in this series, this has been a welcome breath of fresh air from Marvel. I do wish that they had made this an annual tradition doing these monster themed comics.


For those interested in reading these comics, I just found out that they are collected into a one volume compilation and are still available through Amazon both in hardcover format and in trade paperback.

note: all images are copyright Marvel Comics.

4 comments:

El Mono Loco said...

Hey I'm an artist/director of my own comic. But the thign is we need a new writer for our storyline. You wont get payed unless we get it published which might not be until this summer but if you are interested here is my e-mail monkeyman1992@hotmail.co.uk

Anonymous said...

Are you related to simon, sonny and eboy sengco? Wala lang...

addison said...

I have an uncle named sonny. Simon and eboy are unfamiliar nicknames to me. Where are they from? I'm from Navotas.

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