Get ready for the biggest event … no, a smaller, more focused event … sorry, the FOLLOW-UP to a smaller, more focused event. Who can possibly handle Monsters Unleashed #1?! Is it good?
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Steve McNiven
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Finally! The villain X-Men readers have been expecting all year! Too bad she falls rather quickly to Kei Kawade’s kaiju kill crew.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist the alliteration — there really isn’t much killing here. The main monster protagonists, summoned by Kid Kaiju’s prodigious pencil, are actually pretty docile and fun-loving until stuff hits the fan. Kei’s bodyguard, Elsa Bloodstone, on the other hand ….
With an appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming and a potential TV series on ABC, of course Damage Control has to make an appearance in a monster-stomping book. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Some more fan favorites appear at the end of Monsters Unleashed #1, to give the book a bit of forward momentum. The beauty of their schemes is exhilarating, if you can comprehend it!
Is It Good?
Timing is more important than a lot of people realize. To temporarily alleviate the hero vs. hero fatigue that some of their readership opined of, Marvel Comics decided to start off 2017, the year that would celebrate Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, with a good, old-fashioned hero vs. monster beat-’em-up.
The Monsters Unleashed event series didn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire, adding more evidence to the idea that maybe readers don’t really know what the hell they want, but it’s a pretty good guess no one wanted this follow-up series, especially in the form that it’s taking.
Writer Cullen Bunn makes the strange decision to turn kaiju-bashing fun into a coming-of-age tale, something Marvel’s done plenty of in the past couple years, with diminishing and now, by their own admission, unsatisfactory results. Bloodstone’s characterization is slightly more compelling, as there’s a glimmer of what could be an interesting character-arc for her in Monsters Unleashed #1, but the personalities of the “cryptozoological entities” themselves are largely pasted on with gimmicky speech patterns rather than actual, substantive differences.
The art by penciller David Baldeon and colorist Marcio Menyz is reminiscent of several other ’90s throwback artists Marvel has corralled as of late, like Gerardo Sandoval and Jon Malin, and that’s honestly the last thing this book needed. With the writing already echoing a time when comics editorial was beginning to lose touch with its consumers, reminding readers of the substandard artists brought in simply to push more product out during the ultimate boom and bust is just a dire combination. Elsa Bloodstone looking like Squirrel Girl on a bad hair day doesn’t help, either.
Yeah, H.E.R.B.I.E. is in this.
Monsters Unleashed #1 is not a bad comic book, but it’s arriving at the worst possible time for what it is, and that counts. While Bunn maybe should have taken a different tact with the book’s focus, he accomplishes what he sets out to do reasonably well. The art is a drag, especially following the event series of the same name, leaving this follow-up in a perfect storm of poor placement that’s sure to weigh heavier on retail store shelves than a 10-ton, fire-breathing bug.