Steve Niles (who I interviewed back in September) basically got me back into comics when he teamed up with Ben Templesmith to bring the world the incredible 30 Days of Night. I am infinitely grateful to the man for renewing my love for a medium which from the ages of 11 through 19 I had all but forgotten. So any time Niles comes out with something, even if I don’t review it, I read it like my life depended on it.
Well Mr. Niles is back, and he’s brought a new artist with him; one by the name of Damien Worm. Monster and Madman comes from out the frozen shadows, upon us before we’ve a chance to properly prepare for its prodigious and pungent punch. Take heed fellow travelers, do not startle Monster and Madman. We must be cautious in approaching, in order to determine if it’s good.
Monster and Madman #1 (IDW Publishing)
Niles sure does know how to give the horror nerds what they want. His love of Frankenstein’s monster is infectious. Indeed, he’s written about the monster a couple of times, whether it be in his Cal McDonald series where the monster shows up as a guest or in the tragically cut short series with Bernie Wrightson drawing the undead behemoth, Frankenstein: Alive! Alive! (I’m not counting Wake the Dead, as that’s more of a modern day retelling of the Frankenstein tale and doesn’t directly relate to the original Shelley tale.)
Much like Frankenstein: Alive! Alive!, Monster and Madman starts where Shelley’s tale left the poor man made of a bunch of other dead men. However in Alive! Alive! our favorite tall dead dude was frozen in ice and discovered. In Monster and Madman The Monster is wandering the frozen tundra, except he’s still alive… well, dead… and there is no frozen period to speak of. It’s somewhat depressing as The Monster dwells on how he desperately wishes to end his existence but then we get thrown for a cute loop when he finds a baby polar bear and picks it up to walk around with it and cuddle it like Lenny from Of Mice and Men. It’s this characterization of The Monster which is so compelling to read. Niles continues in the grand tradition of Shelley by giving us an equally sympathetic and unpredictably aggressive Monster.
A funny thing happened while I was scrolling through the pages of this comic. It struck me that it’s been an almost a decade since I first discovered 30 Days of Night. And how intriguing that I should come upon such a fresh new artist as Damien Worm. Reminiscent of Templesmith with jagged lines and the ability to unnerve with a simple shot of a monster’s face, Worm knows how to make the horror seep from the page like a black miasma of putrescent ink.
And the colors in this comic hit ya like a bolt to the neck. In particular, I’m thinking of the wonderful purple tint to the sky and the brilliant white used during a thunder storm, when our Monster is on a ship on the sea.
Is It Good?
That moment when you become completely immersed in a work of fiction is a blissful one. I achieved such a moment reading through Monster and Madman; only one issue in and I’m already Googling through Damien Worm pictures. He’s that unique an artist and Niles has nailed yet another atmospheric take on a classic monster. If you’re a horror fan, in particular a fan of monsters, what are you waiting for? Go get this right now.