"Monster World #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by American Gothic Press
Written by Philip Kim and Steve Niles
Illustrated by Piotr Kowalski
2015, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on December 16th, 2015
Henry Barrymore is a private eye that's used to being put through the ringer. He owed some bad people money, but that became the least of his problems when Shirley Forrester walked into his office, looking for help tracking down her missing husband, studio head William Forrester. The case was fishy to begin with, especially since the studio could afford way better detectives then Barrymore. That was just the beginning. He quickly learns of a series of murders and one woman that just won't stay dead. Then there are the monsters.
If all this sounds awesome, you're right. We already know a bit about where the plot in Monster World is going from the publisher's announcement of the title. That's unnecessary going into the first issue. The creative team instantly transports you to Barrymore's world of 1933 Hollywood and somehow, makes you nostalgic for an era that you probably weren't even alive to witness.
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The dialogue is dripping with pulp. Barrymore's internal monologue would stand toe-to-toe with words from great noir writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Nothing surprises this guy, even when he's faced with a werewolf. It's all par for the course. It's like he expects the worst out of everything, so when something like that happens, he just rolls with the punches. It's not like he'll ever catch a break, right?
Despite having the odds stacked against him, Barrymore puts up a pretty good fight. He's not going to just roll over and give up. Yes, that werewolf is large and menacing, but that just means it's a bigger target for his snub-nosed revolver. This tenacity drives the character and makes you root for him in a big way. I want to see him succeed and solve this case. It's a mystery and he's the only one that can figure it all out.
I've said a lot about this werewolf and I'm going to say a little more because it's a pretty great monster. Artist Piotr Kowalski has an interesting take on the beast. It's more human than wolf, standing on two legs and still having most of the woman's features. It's covered in fur and has a set of terrifying claws. What's really scary about the design is the mouth. It's not extended, like a dog's snout. Instead it's filled with rows of jagged teeth, ready to rip out your throat if you get too close.
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That's just one of the monsters seen in this first issue of Monster World. Kowalski brings in some new ones later on of all shapes and sizes. It really opens up the floodgates as to what's possible and what we might expect with the series.
Monster World is a comic that's tailor made for me. It's a mix of private eye noir and good old-fashioned monsters that delivers on every level. If The Maltese Falcon had a werewolf instead of a bird statue, it might resemble this comic. If you're a fan of Hard Case Crime and the classic movie monsters, this is right up your alley.