Where Monsters Dwell takes a detour into a world of bikini-clad women. Unfortunately for Karl Kaufmann, they aren’t fans of men of his… character. But without dinosaurs or giant crocodiles to aid it, Where Monsters Dwell #3 must answer the question: is it good?
Where Monsters Dwell #3 (Marvel Comics)
Arrested by a clan of statuesque women, Karl Kaufmann and Clemmie Franklin-Cox find themselves in a paradise of sorts, with each of them having plans for their new surroundings. Kaufmann becomes obsessed with the idea that he could rule the place, simply because he is the only man. Clemmie rightly laughs at the idea and the power dynamic between the two, which was already leaning in Clemmie’s favor, fully tips as Kaufmann’s attitudes put him in bad favor with the women who live there.
Clemmie, on the other hand, finds herself enjoying the change of pace, and learns a great deal about the women and their culture. It turns out that these women are descendants of the Ancient Greeks, and so not nearly as primitive as one might assume. Kaufmann, unimpressed, is trying to figure out a way to escape when Clemmie delivers the bad news: escape from this land may be impossible. The stories from the tribe are all the same, visitors from far away lands encounter a violent storm and are unable to return.
Garth Ennis’ script really plays up the humor in the confrontational relationship between Clemmie and Karl. The issue really does earn that emboldened parental advisory warning, and all without relying on expletives for its humor. Instead, Ennis relies on his wit, playing on both the assumptions of Karl and the readers as to how the scenarios will play out. However, relative to the prior issues, Where Monsters Dwell #3 does feel like an extended detour that may have needed some trimming. While the issue is quite entertaining, it doesn’t progress the plot of the series very far, and one is left wondering what the endgame of the title will be.
No matter where the series ends, it is guaranteed to look amazing. Russ Braun’s character work throughout the miniseries has been a delight, and in a script that focuses on humor, Braun excels. Kaufmann’s reactions to his increasingly unfortunate position are spot on. For a book that features buxom women in fur bikinis, Braun does a good job of balancing that cheesecake imagery with an artistic focus on the women as people. Because the script keeps a narrow focus on Clemmie and Karl, most of the women in the village go through the issue without names or even lines of dialogue. But Braun counteracts this by rendering the women with more attention to their facial expression and musculature. Even when Clemmie sheds her normal attire, it’s presented as an extension of her self-expression, rather than simply pandering to the male gaze.
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Colorist Dono Sanchez Almara doesn’t quite get as much to do this issue as in previous chapters. The majority of the issue is dedicated to closeups of the characters, and Almara’s flesh tones in the book are nicely done, with good use of shadows on top of Russ Braun’s linework. However, it’s a bit disappointing that there aren’t any creatures here for the Almara to expand the color palette of the issue.
Is It Good?
By focusing on the interactions between Karl and Clemmie as the power dynamic between them changes, Where Monsters Dwell #3 maintains the humor that has made the series a must-read. However, in taking this detour, the issue also stumbles a bit. It’s one thing to not include any of the titular monsters, but the issue doesn’t appear to progress the plot in any substantial way. While Garth Ennis and Russ Braun have crafted a fun series, they have a challenge ahead of them to close this title out in a well-paced manner.