Where Monsters Dwell #5 sees Karl Kaufmann enact his final plan in the hopes that he can escape this hellish world. However, Clemmie Franklin-Cox is not keen on letting him leave after his recent actions. Is it good?
Where Monsters Dwell #5 (Marvel Comics)
Where Monsters Dwell #5 opens in the aftermath of Karl Kaufmann’s assault on the island. Using his makeshift army as a distraction, he seeks to make an escape in his damaged plane.
The real meat of the issue comes as Karl finds himself confronted by Clemmie Franklin-Cox one final time. The relationship between the two characters has been the focal point for the entire series, and it is fitting that the finale remains insular rather than expanding into something larger. It should really be obvious at this point, but this series is not at all concerned with the larger Secret Wars event and readers expecting an eleventh-hour reveal will come away disappointed.
The strength of Garth Ennis’ script comes through in the dialogue between Karl and Clemmie. There’s still the edge that has defined their relationship, but the humorous banter has faded into malice. Throughout their exchange, Ennis does a great job balancing their traits. Karl has been a chauvinistic buffoon but in his final hours, his fear makes him more sympathetic, if only by a small degree. Clemmie has always had an air of mystery around her, and as she tells her story, readers are presented with a character that has been sharpened by her experiences into an opportunist.
That being said, the exposition becomes a bit of a hindrance to the momentum of the issue. While the reveals of Clemmie’s past provide great context into who she is and her antagonistic relationship with Karl, the delivery of information results in a lengthy monologue. Ennis’ story has played with pulp adventure tropes in inventive ways so it’s a bit disappointing to see the story lean so heavily on this narrative device.
With the expository focus on Clemmie’s backstory, the artwork becomes even more important in preventing the issue from stagnating. Russ Braun’s linework has been fantastic throughout the series, but it really shines here in delivering great character work. His staging and angles chosen for the panels also help convey the power dynamics between Clemmie and Karl as Clemmie is often framed from below making her appear more imposing on the page. One of the stronger moments is a panel in which Braun pulls back, revealing two Stegosaurs in the foreground as Clemmie explains her motives. It’s a quiet reminder of the danger that exists in this land while still keeping the narrative focus on the two leads.
Colorist Dono Sanchez Almara does a fantastic job in creating a mood for the issue. The series has always had a muted palette, but this issue sees a focus on grays and a particularly cold blue for the sky that adds to the tension and atmosphere of the book. Sanchez Almara uses sublte washes for the flashbacks, and breaks up the potential monotony by using different colors for different scenes. It’s a technique that keeps the book visually engaging.
Is It Good?
Where Monsters Dwell #5 provides a satisfying conclusion to the mini-series. This series has never really been concerned with the physical monsters as much as the human ones, and here we see Clemmie Franklin-Cox show her predatory nature. The reveal of her background does mean that a good portion of the issue is dedicated to exposition, and that kills some of the momentum built up in the series. Russ Braun and Dono Sanchez Almara do a fantastic job providing a moody atmosphere with expertly picked angles and colors that enhance the story. Where Monsters Dwell #5 is not the strongest issue in the series, but it provides a satisfying and entertaining ending to one of the strongest Secret Wars tie-ins.