REVIEW: Monster World #1 Lights, Camera, Action!

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on December 15, 2015.

Since the creation of motion picture over a century ago, countless filmmakers have used this medium to bring their imaginations to life. While fun to see, film is still ultimately an illusion. But what if there was more to it than just a little bit of movie magic? What if those creatures and monsters on the screen were more than just props and costumes? Monster World by American Gothic Press can help answer those questions for you.

Written by Philip Kim and Steve Niles with illustrations by Piotr KowalskiMonster World #1 is the first of a four-part mini-series that centers on a series of strange disappearances at World Studios, a famous movie studio during 1933. For this tale, we follow Detective Henry Barrymore, a stereotypical private eye who points out that everything that is happening and is about to happen to him is just like something that you would see in a movie (although I’m not really sure how many detective noir films were out around the 1930’s, meh nitpicking). After being roughed up by some gangsters over money, Henry is visited by a beautiful woman. She hires him to help find her missing husband who just so happens to be the owner of said movie studio. Along the way, Henry does some typical detective work to get the bottom of the case until he comes across something that he hasn’t seen in a movie before, real monsters.

Really solid first issue here. Been a while since I read a good noir story. As I said before, this setup and cast of characters is pretty generic for a noir story but in actuality, there is something more sinister and feral lurking around the corners to upset the narrative of this tale. I’m definitely curious to see what the mystery for these creatures is going to be. Where did they come from and how are they linked to this studio?

I really enjoyed the art here. It does a great job of helping to set the tone for the story, provide some beautiful looking backgrounds, and give us terrifying looking werewolves. I especially liked how at the beginning of the story, the first few panels are in black and white—mimicking how things would normally have been seen back then through the lens of a camera–and then everything changes to color as soon as a monster appeared for the first kill.

VERDICT

Monster World #1 is a really cool change of pace for the noir genre with a pretty interesting case so far involving monsters and cinema. While not perfect, I’m curious to see where this mystery is going and I’m looking forward to seeing more action with these not so camera friendly Hollywood monsters.    

FINAL SCORE: 8.5 out of 10

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REVIEW: Project Nemesis #1

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on October 5, 2015.

Ever since creatures like Godzilla and King Kong first appeared in cinema decades ago, we have been enthralled with giant monster stories. Since then, countless massive monster movies, books, games, and comics have appeared in the world and now Project Nemesis has joined the ranks of these giant tales

Project Nemesis #1 is the first part of in a six-issue adaptation of the bestselling novel by Jeremy Robinson, with art by Matt Frank, that is part of American Gothic Press’s line-up of classic movie monsters that focuses on Kaiju, also known as Godzilla or Pacific Rimsized monsters. The story follows several characters. First, it follows Katsu Endo after he discovers the remains of a Kaiju with a fellow solider on a really confusing page. After that, a few years pass and we then follow Jon Hudson,who is out hunting for Bigfoot with Sheriff Ashley Collins until they stumble upon a secret government base that is also under attack by some sort of human/monster hybrid thing. 

Sounds like a pretty interesting setup, right? Well it is, but there are some huge problems here with the execution.

The story is imaginative, adequate, and I have no real problem with most of the dialogue, but some things here just aren’t explained. What year is this? Are Kaiju a modern threat and if so what kind of impact have they had on the world? Who is the random dead schoolgirl at the beginning? I know this is the first issue and some questions need to be introduced to hook readers in, but practically nothing is explained. We see stuff happening but we are not given enough information to put two and two together. I was more confused than I was engaged.

My major complaint with this comic though is definitely in its use of narration. Some narration and inner monologue from a character in a comic is usually a must in stories like this but not when it’s on practically every single page and panel. I don’t need it if it mostly explains stuff that I can clearly see or piece together on my own after looking at what happens in a single panel! The point of a comic is for the art to help tell the story so we don’t really need the narrative to repeat what is already being seen in the art like this was a golden or silver age comic. I spent most of my time reading this just saying to myself “show, don’t tell.”

It may sound like I’m trying to praise the issue’s art but unfortunately, it’s also not perfect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good. The creature design is pretty cool, the colors are bright, the gore is graphic, and the backgrounds are gorgeous to look at sometimes but aside from that, the layout of some of these pages is pretty confusing. As I said earlier, the page where Katsu and his buddy find the giant dead Kaiju makes no sense to me. I mean was it a training exercise and they just happened to stumble across the remains of it in a cave? It seems that way since they are at a training base but the way the page is laid out and the dialogue is expressed, it really doesn’t make it that clear. I looked over the page five times and I still feel confused. Also, in a later page a character says that someone got shot two times while a few panels before that we can clearly see that the person was shot three times. Editing matters.

VERDICT

I feel like Project Nemesis #1 could have been so much better than it was. The ideas expressed here that I can make out seemed interesting and the dialogue with the characters seemed pretty fluid, but the okay art, heavy needless narration, unexplained details, and some bad page layout really bogged this down for me. I wanted to like this more than I did but I just couldn’t bring myself to see past most of the problems with this issue. Just another example of a story told in a narrative medium not translating well to a visual one.

FINAL SCORE: 3.5 out of 10

American Gothic Press Bring Project Nemesis to Local Comic Shop Day

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on October 6, 2015.

Are you a fan of Kaiju and collecting variant covers? If so then you should definitely check out this exclusive cover for Project Nemesis #2 which will only be available in participating retailers during an upcoming event.

American Gothic Press will be partnering with ComicsPRO for the first annual Local Comic Shop Day. Scheduled for November 28, 2015 at participating stores, the event has been publicized by ComicsPRO as a way to celebrate and appreciate independent comic shops for their donations to pop culture. Publishers like Marvel, BOOM!, Image, Oni, Black Mask, IDW, and Archie will also be providing exclusive items for shops that are participating in the event.

American Gothic Press has created an exclusive Local Comic Shop Day cover by Jorge Marrero and Jenn Pham for Project Nemesis #2, depicting the Kaiju Nemesis crushing a helicopter in all her sinister glory.
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 Project Nemesis is a six-issue adaptation of the bestselling novel by Jeremy Robinson, with art by Matt Frank and incentive covers by Bob Eggleton. The story tells of a government experiment in Maine gone horribly wrong that gives rise to a massive monster, Nemesis, who proceeds to terrorize New England. Issue #2 picks up the cliffhanger from the series debut and brings even more intensity to Jon Hudson and Ashley Collins’ hunt for whatever is killing scores of people on the East Coast.
Final order cutoff for Local Comic Shop Day exclusives is October 12, 2015. More information can be found at www.localcomicshopday.com.
Project Nemesis #1 will be available for purchase in stores and on Comixology on October 7, 2015.

REVIEW: Broken Moon #1 Let the Monster Mash Begin!

Originally posted on Capeless Crusader on September 17, 2015.

Throughout the centuries, we have been fascinated with monsters and what would happen if they really did exist especially when it comes to vampires and werewolves. The two most iconic, recognizable, and the deadliest of creatures of the night known to man. For years, there have been countless stories featuring theses two groups of monsters doing battle against one another and now we have another one to add to the list with American Gothic Press’s Broken Moon.

Broken Moon by Steve Niles and Nat Jones, takes place in a distant future where vampires rule the world after most of the human race has been wiped out after a war on the moon caused serve damage to the earth’s ecosystem. The remaining members of the human race have either been hurdled up as cattle by the vampires or are living in hiding and forming a resistance group. Werewolves live in this world too but don’t seem to be interested in world domination like the vampires are and just want to survive even though they are dying from starvation. The vampires on the other hand seem to be mass producing something which could mean doom for every non-bloodsucker left on the planet.

Steve Niles, best known for 30 days of Night, has a knack for writing monster stories like this. Broken Moon has an interesting concept with a sci-fi battle on the moon causing enough destruction for the monsters to come out of hiding and start ruling whatever is left of us. There were a couple of redundancies that I noticed on several pages with the narrator saying one thing and then one of the characters repeating what the narrator said a page or two later which I found slightly annoying. The human cast isn’t all that memorable or distinguishable at the moment and I’m not even sure if any of them have names yet. The werewolves are done quite well making them both interesting and sympathetic enough to be seen as a possible ally for the humans against their vampire overlords. The general concept of vampires and werewolves fighting one another is pretty generic and cliché, but so far I’m hooked and interested on where this might be going.

The art by Nat Jones is very fitting for the story as well giving it a dark and ominous look to both the world and the characters. At the beginning, everything is bright and colorful but once the moon is destroyed and the monsters come out to play from the shadows, everything becomes darker making it fit more with the tone and setting. The character designs for the humans and vampires look just alright to me but I think that the werewolves look particularly cool with this art style.

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VERDICT

Broken Moon has a nice balance of genres with its post-apocalypse and sci-fi setting mixed in with some classic movie monsters. I had some nitpicks here or there and the vampire vs werewolf concept is pretty over done, but none of that really ruined the overall story or the interesting setup for me. As a first issue, it did a great job of giving us an appetizer of whats to come and hopefully the next issue will make us want to dig our fangs even deeper into this interesting concept of a story.

FINAL SCORE: 8 out of 10