"Monster Massacre: Volume 1" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Titan Comics
Edited by Dave Elliott
2013, 160 Pages
Graphic Novel released on September 10th, 2013
Monsters! What's not to love? Of course, if you're a six year old terrified of what lurks under your bed, you might not enjoy the wide variety of creatures that burst forth from the minds of comic creators such as Dave Dorman, Ron Marz, Arthur Suydam, and a couple of guys you may have heard of by the name of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. That's the level of talent you'll find in Monster Massacre, but there doesn't appear to be much rhyme or reason behind this particular collection of horror tales.
A successful anthology has a concise theme. Look at books like Monstrosity, Horror in the West, and FUBAR as perfect examples. Each story collected in those titles contributes to the overall tone of the book. Monster Massacre feels like a bunch of cool stuff was found and thrown together. There are short comics in addition to a prose story, a couple of galleries, and bios on the creators. It's not really a monster collection as that term seems pretty broad here. There are zombies, ancient gods, flying monkeys, and dragons. There is also an entire gallery dedicated to Steve White's dinosaur drawings that feels incredibly out of place. I guess one can argue that all of these things fall under the basic umbrella of monsters, however this comes across less as “something for everyone” and more like “a grab bag of horror stuff.”
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The immediate draw of Monster Massacre is the big names associated with it. Editor Dave Elliott snagged a story from legendary creators Jack Kirby and Joe Simon called “The Angel of Death”, where a mysterious creature has been plaguing a small town. There's no denying that these two are absolute masters of the medium, but this story is a little dated and feels dry compared to some of the others collected here.
Immediately after “The Angel of Death”, we find my personal favorite story of the bunch, Andy Kuhn's “Ira Gershwin: Monster Puncher.” It follows the title character as he...punches monsters. It's a fun story set in 1931, with some pulpy artwork that has the qualities of an old photograph. There's a nice little twist at the end too.
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The other stories range in quality. None of them are bad, however there are a couple that are pretty mediocre. “Deep Six” from Jerry Paris and Arthur Suydam drags on a bit. It's by far the longest comic in the book as it's basically a one-shot story. It takes a while to get to the actual monsters, so you're spending a lot of time with some annoying divers before they unearth a dark evil beneath the waves. Dave Dorman's “Monkey Business” is a fun take on the Wizard of Oz with a zombie named Hitch. He starts out in black-and-white and then goes to color when the character ends up in Oz, just like the movie, which is a nice touch.
Overall, Monster Massacre is a noble effort that falls flat. There are some cool stories in this anthology from some great creators. This is more of a general horror collection that an aunt would get a kid because she heard he likes ghost stories. Granted, any aunt that bought this comic with a nearly naked demon woman spread eagle on the cover would be a pretty cool relative.