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July 1, 2019

Comics Binge-Reading #2 Monstrous

Filed under: Comics Binge-Reading — Tags: , , — cyberspace steve @ 10:00 am

With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Comics Binge-Reader!

Title: Monstrous
Publisher: Source Point Press
Number of Issues: 4
First Issue: 2018 ($3.99)
Last Issue: 2018 ($3.99)
Writer: Greg Wright
Artist: Ken Lamug

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

In the world of Monstrous, Dr. Frankenstein created an army of robots after his monster tried to destroy him. The monster learned Frankenstein’s secrets and began creating other monsters of his own. Monsters he could not control. Years later Dr. Frankenstein and his monster still seek to destroy each other. However, Monstrous isn’t about this struggle. It’s an anthology set within this world – each issue following a different bunch of characters.

The first issue follows Ilsa as she seeks vengeance against Kurt Venomtooth, the snake monster that killed her father. She enlists the aid of a rabbit monster named Gruber, who is wanted for murder. The duo can make Kurt pay – but at what cost?

In issue two, we meet Hans – the first officer in Dr. Frankenstein‘s Franken-Squad to become a robot/human hybrid. Along with his friend Igor, Hans seeks to free his daughter, Astrid, from the patchwork monster named Oskar.

Three monsters show they’ve got a heart of gold in the third tale. Berta, Gerta and Dirk are tasked with stealing a block of ice containing the frozen body of Dracula from the town of Hampelmann. While they’re escaping with the ice block, they happen upon a mortally wounded woman who has just given birth. She begs them to take care of her child. Now the three must protect this child while Mayor Konrad Sweetwater and the citizens of Hampelmann descend upon them … not to mention that block of ice is starting to melt…

In the final story, Deputy Katarina Schultz oversees the final night at Franken Squad Station 17, a remote jail located high atop Last Chance Mountain. Things get interesting when Maria the Voodoo Priestess and her horde of zombies swarm the jail, looking for Dietrich. Can Deputy Schultz, her father, Boris Raskopf (the jail’s last prisoner – the man who caused Schultz’s father to lose his arm) and fellow cop Dietrich fend off this herd of zombies? They probably could … except for the fact that they quickly discover that they can’t even trust each other!

The Bad: There’s a lot to talk about here but I’m going to start with the smallest concern. Labeling this as a series of comics (issues #1-4) is quite misleading. Since all four stories have no bearing on each other, it would have been better to publish these as four separate one-shots. Discovering this was going to be an anthology was a disappointment since the sequential numbering gave me a different impression.

If that was the only problem I could find against this series, it’d be a masterpiece. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The artwork leaves a lot to be desired. And, while it is certainly functional, it’s also very amateurish. The same could be said of the dialogue, as well. I feel that the creators made a grave misstep by focusing on these little tales rather than telling the more compelling story that this world is built upon.

The Good: The best part about this series is the story upon which this world is built. The brief glimpses of this ongoing conflict between Dr. Frankenstein (and his robot army) and the monsters created by Frankenstein’s monster were the highlights of this read. This series has all the ingredients of a cool off-beat horror story: high concept, Frankenstein, Dracula, zombies, werewolves, voodoo priestesses and “everymen” … unfortunately, the recipe just doesn’t produce a compelling read. The story with the best ending (very Twilight Zone-esque) can be found in the first issue.

In My eBay Store: Monstrous |
In My Atomic Avenue Store: Monstrous | Frankenstein

June 1, 2019

Comics Binge-Reading #1 Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation

Filed under: Comics Binge-Reading — Tags: , , , — cyberspace steve @ 10:00 am

With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Comics Binge-Reader!

Title: Jim Henson‘s Labyrinth: Coronation
Publisher: Boom! Studio’s Archaia line
Number of Issues: 12
First Issue: February 2018 ($3.99)
Last Issue: March 2019 ($3.99)
Writer: Simon Spurrier with Ryan Ferrier
Artist: Daniel Bayliss

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

This tale is set squarely within the confines of the original film. While the film focuses mostly on what Sarah is doing, this series spotlights Jareth the Goblin King as he tells a story to a goblin named Beetleglum. His story begins in the Republic of Venice, in the year 1797, where Lord Albert Tyton has been hiding from familial obligations. When his father demands that he return to London, Albert decides he must leave his commoner wife (Maria) and child behind. To save himself from the embarrassment of the situation, he makes a wish for the Goblins to take his son. Immediately, Maria and the young boy are transported to the Labyrinth. There, they are met by the Owl King – the Lord of the Labyrinth. His enforcer, Septimus (a beast that seems to share the same species as Ludo), takes the boy while Maria is expelled back to Venice.

Through his crystal ball, the Owl King spies Maria, desperate to recover her son. In an arrogant move, he transports her back to the Labyrinth and offers her a challenge. If she can reach the castle at the center of the Labyrinth in thirteen hours, she can have her child back. If not, the Owl King will use the child’s youth to extend his rule over the Labyrinth and cement his tenuous control over the goblins that live there.

Along the way, Maria meets some interesting creatures that help her on her quest. She meets Sir Skubbin, Knight of the Order of the Garderobe in issue #2; a noble-hearted goblin that seems to be failing miserably at being a villain. In issue #4, Maria and Skubbin help free the Tangle (a living tangle of thorny rose branches) from captivity, earning its companionship. Finally, Maria recruits the aid of a pink worm named Cible in issue #6. Cible’s life-goal is to fight for the rights of goblins repressed by the Owl King. Maria and her three companions, along with an army of goblins, end up storming the Owl King’s castle as issue #9 draws to a close.

Will our heroes reach the center of the Labyrinth in time to rescue the child? Can they assist in over-throwing the Owl King’s rule of the goblins? And, just what does this story of a young infant boy have to do with Jareth?

The Bad: As interesting as the characters were in the original film, much of its charm is owed to the Labyrinth itself. The film explores lots of strange places and creatures that reside within the Labyrinth that leave a lasting impression on you. If you’ve seen the film, I’m sure the mere mention of Helping Hands, Door Knockers, or Fireys will spur a visual memory. And, while this story explores a couple new areas and creatures, there are none so memorable as the ones seen in the film.

The Good: If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for more Labyrinth stories for decades. That’s a tough set of shoes to fill for this, the very first Labyrinth series (yes, we’ve had brief stories here and there). However, Simon Spurrier’s decision to embed this story firmly within the original film itself was an excellent idea. He uses familiar dialogue taken right from the movie to continuously cement the timeline you’re experiencing to great effect.

The art by Bayliss is very fitting with the tone of the original film and the characters he uses are instantly recognizable. Even the background goblins he uses are excellent illustrations of minor characters from the movie. His attention to these small details is much appreciated by this long-time Labyrinth fan.

Mirroring the original film’s plot was also an effective way of engaging the reader. It’s like covering a hit song. The creators play the riffs that made the original story so appealing, while giving it an all-new take. This story is also not without its own twists & turns and revelations about some of the characters add new depth to the original film. Many times, comics based on licensed properties fall flat. With Labyrinth: Coronation, that is not the case at all. This will surely catch the interest of any true Labyrinth fan.

In My eBay Store: Labyrinth | Jim Henson | Simon Spurrier | Daniel Bayliss
In My Atomic Avenue Store: Labyrinth | Jim Henson

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