Released from his captivity, Karl Kaufmann is out for revenge. And with an army of natives on his side, he’s ready to bring war to his former captives. Is it good?
Where Monsters Dwell #4 (Marvel Comics)
Where Monsters Dwell has consistently been a title that has pushed the envelope in terms of what content can be published under Marvel. The “Parental Advisory” brand has always been prominent on the covers, but Where Monsters Dwell #4 really earns it.
The issue opens with Karl Kaufmann screaming in vain as his captors prepare to chop off his manhood. After begging and pleading, Kaufmann earns the mercy of Clemmie Franklin-Cox, who speaks with the members of the all-female society and convinces them to release Kaufmann. Her argument? Kaufmann is so stupid, he’s incapable of posing a threat to their society.
Kaufmann, ever the arrogant jerk, of course thinks otherwise. He plans to use his plane to shoot the society of women down from the sky. And, after saving a group of diminutive natives from a pack of raptors, he finds himself with an army to take over. Unfortunately for Kaufmann, Clemmie and the tribe of women are not unprepared for his actions, and they lay a trap for his expected return.
Kaufmann makes for a delightfully despicable protagonist, and Garth Ennis’ script makes it easy to laugh at him. The entire premise of Where Monsters Dwell relies on tropes of old pulp fiction, from the amazonian women who wear only bikinis, to the tribe of pygmies—the title feels like a 1940s adventure film. By playing with these tropes at all, Where Monsters Dwell runs the risk of being offensive. And while some readers may still find it as such, Ennis’ script makes sure that the audience is laughing at Kaufmann and the goofiness of it all, rather than the women and the natives.
Russ Braun’s artwork really shines this issue, providing some great visual gags (one of which is particularly risque). But his character work really shines as well. As Kaufmann gets more detailed in his plan, his face becomes increasingly contorted, making him look downright evil. It’s not only funny watching this man go depraved, but it also solidifies that Kaufmann isn’t who the audience should be rooting for.
The finale to the issue is hugely entertaining, calling back to one of the earlier issues. Braun executes it with aplomb, providing the best action moment in the series to date. To describe it is to spoil the surprise, so needless to say, read the issue to find out what it is.
Is It Good?
Where Monsters Dwell #4 is another great chapter in this fantastic Secret Wars tie-in. No, readers won’t find references to Battleworld or God Doom, but this title has made the most of the opportunity the event provides. Garth Ennis’ script perfectly balances the tropes and offensive stereotypes of the adventure genre with great humor and awareness, and Russell Braun makes the script come to life with nice action and impeccable comedic timing.