Movie Stars and Gossip
I know we’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover, but we do whether consciously or not, and I certainly did with this one. Just look at it: a semi-naked woman with a piece of cloth barely covering her lady parts, squatting(!), with the title “Monster Massacre” overhead. It’s like an 80s hair metal band cover for an album of songs about drinking behind the bleachers, staying out past curfew and not doing your homework – the stench of adolescence is unfortunately all over this anthology of short comics based around monsters.
Which isn’t to say it’s all bad – put your best foot forward as they say, and this book does just that with a classic comic by legends Jack Kirby and Joe Simon called The Angel of Death. It’s about a small town menaced by a monster in the night and has smatterings of Kafka and Lovecraft in Simon’s competent and charmingly cheesy script with Kirby’s wonderful art. Andy Kuhn’s Ira Gershwin: Monster Puncher is a clever follow-up that continues the idea of small towns and their superstitions and beliefs in monsters as a savvy young man and a monster scam some townsfolk with the threat of a monster attack.
But then the adolescence and spanking material that the cover promises starts creeping into the book with Ron Marz and Tom Raney’s Pair of Rogues story. Set in a kind of fantasy realm, a young man and woman run a con on a wealthy merchant who believes he’s going to have sex with the young lady who’s dressed (barely) as an elf – and then things go a little haywire for the pair when they realise who the merchant really is. It’s a pretty good story even if the exploitative women angle is something Marz has done too much lately (see – or don’t, preferably – his short-lived New 52: Voodoo series for some really crass material where the first few issues are set in a strip-club!).
Dave Elliott and Alex Horley continue the stroke fantasies with their Sharky and Hercules comic with the female Hercules wearing metallic tassels and a tiny piece of crotch cloth besides her armour. It’s the only thing worth mentioning – and not in a good way – in this terrible comic and then we’re on to a gallery of Horley’s art which once more features women with bare arses and massive boobs pointed right at the reader as they face vicious monsters. Horley’s art – despite being derivative – does show a high level of mastery and his monster designs are pretty great.
Despite some familiar names like Ian Edginton and D’Israeli, there aren’t many comics here that stand out and the ones that do are average at best. Easily the best parts of the book are the art from Mark A Nelson’s pencil work for Seasons and his silent comic Bandits that closes out the book, to Dave Dorman’s Monkey Business, to Steve White’s gallery. Monster Massacre isn’t a book you’ll get much out of reading but will enjoy seeing the artistry that has gone into designing some truly fantastic creatures and landscapes.
When I picked up Monster Massacre, I was hoping for a book that matched the high quality art with writing and storytelling of a similar standard but instead found a book that made me feel like a pervert for reading it. It may well be part of the intention of this anthology to be a homage to the kind of comics Dave Elliott and others read when they were kids, and if so then they succeeded in creating that childish tone, however these undemanding, and frankly boring, stories and shameless depictions of women make Monster Massacre a must-read only for teenagers without internet access.
Published by Titan Comics, Monster Massacre, Volume 1 edited by Dave Elliott is out now in hardback
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