"Monstrosity: Volume 1" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Alterna Comics
Written by Fabian Rangel, Jr., Phil McClorey, J. Bone, Sam Agro, Sloan, Kristopher Waddell, Kyle J. Kaczmarczyk, James Turner, Jason Loo, Fred Kennedy, C.M. Morgado, Shawn Aldridge, Ian Daffern, A.G. Pasqualla, and Ricky Lima
Illustrated by Austin Rogers, Jim McMunn, J. Bone, Sam Agro, Brian Evinou, Sloan, Toma Feizo Gas, Shane Heron, Noel Tuazon, Jason Loo, Adam Christopher, Gibson Quarter, Marvin Law, Julie Faulkner, Rob Croonenborghs, Martin Macintosh, Max Haig, Dan Simon, and Rodrigo Bravo
2013, 200 Pages
Trade Paperback released on October 1st, 2013
Whether under your bed, in your closet, or lurking in your nightmares, monsters have fascinated us for ages. What's great about these creatures is that they can be big and small, figurative and literal. They can be used as a metaphor for society or it can just be something big and ugly that needs to be punched in the face. Monstrosity is a collection of short stories focused on this theme, put together from the same team that brought you Horror in the West. Twenty stories from tons of independent creators are crammed into these pages to provide you with a wide variety of monsters.
The opening story, Junk Food, written by Fabian Rangel Jr and illustrated by Austin Rogers, stars Jack Manzo. I'm unfamiliar with the character, but he's a tough-as-nails dude with a bitchin' mustache driving across the country. He stops by the local Frankenburger to get a bite to eat and finds himself duking it out with a monster cheeseburger. The battle is intense, with Jack punching, clawing, and stabbing through the burger, destroying his car in the process. The monster is pretty gruesome, setting the tone of the book right away. Rogers' depiction of the creature might make you think twice about stopping by your local burger joint. The action is fast-paced and looks awesome.
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The Boggart by James Turner and Noel Tuazon falls on the lighter side, telling a story about a paranoid programmer convinced his co-worker is a beast eating interns. When his concerns are proven true, things take an unexpected twist. This is a fun tale and will probably remind you of that annoying guy in your office that just won't shut up. Tuazon's artwork is a little rough, looking more like sketches than a final work.
Keeping with the silly side of monsters is The Grizzly Biker from Jason Loo. It's a ridiculous notion that manages to tug at the heartstrings. This tells the tale of a bear that used to ride a motorcycle in a circus, who is then captured and experimented on by an unnamed evil organization to give him “the eyes of a night owl, the heart of a raging bull, and gorilla arms” because...you know, that's necessary. Instead of becoming a beast to terrorize the city, the Grizzly Biker now rides to protect the citizens from the other creatures created by the same group that made him. While the Biker rides, he has little flashbacks to his time in the circus. Loo's artwork is top notch and his placement of these flashbacks is perfect to provide that little bit of humanity that can make monsters so interesting. You want him to succeed in stopping the huge squid that's tearing apart the football field. You want him to find any shred of happiness he can, even if it means stealing motorcycle parts from random people. Also, I want it known that I would watch a Grizzly Biker TV show religiously, so what do we have to do to make that happen?
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On the other end of the spectrum are some slightly more serious stories. Princess Patty by Fred Kennedy and Gibson Quarter shows how humanity's intolerance can lead to its downfall. Hungry by Ian Daffern and Martin Macintosh personifies greed. Kingu Tora by Shawn Aldridge and Rob Croonenborghs follows the desperation of mankind as its faced with a giant robot run amok and the mistakes we've made to cause the problem to begin with. These tales have that Twilight Zone-esque ending that shades the entire story in a new light. It's the kind of thing that makes you want to go back and re-read the pages knowing what you know now.
There's not really a bad story included in Monstrosity. There were a couple that felt somewhat mediocre or had an ending I didn't quite understand, but none of them were horrible. Considering the amount of stories collected here, and the variety of creators working on them, that's a nice accomplishment.
Monstrosity is a perfect example of an independent horror anthology. Instead of lumping in a bunch of short comics that don't really go together, it sticks with an overall theme of monsters to tie everything together. The creatures come in all shapes and sizes, from kaiju to aliens to wendigos and aliens. There are even some that are never named but still look pretty badass. There's a friggin' cyclops in this book! When was the last time you read a comic with a cyclops in it (that wasn't an X-Men book)?