Written by: Cullen Bunn
Art by: Scott Hepburn; James Stokoe; Nick Bradshaw & John Rauch; Becky Cloonan; Jacen Burrows & Mat Lopes; Clayton Crain; Eduard Petrovich; Gerardo Zaffino; Michael Allred & Laura Allred; Stephanie Hans; Juan Jose Ryp & Rain Beredo
Colours by: Israel Silva
Monster Cross-sections by: Superlog
Monster Cross-sections letterer: Gaigan-Yamazaki
Letters by: VC’s Travis Lanham
Marvel has a grand tradition of monsters and last year’s Monsters Unleashed book charted the adventures of Kid Kaijo (Kei Kawade) as he came to grips with his power to conjure monsters just by drawing them. This book is very much a follow-up to those issues. It shows us Kei investigating a brand new wave of monster sightings. Let’s see how he gets on…
The book opens with Kei investigating a decidedly creepy ruined castle, along with one of his ‘pet’ monsters, Scragg, who has a nice line in belligerent banter. The castle appears to have been abandoned, but only recently. Whoever’s been using it has left an unusual book behind: Anatomy of the Monstrous. Kei takes a look and…
The more observant among you will have noticed there’s an awful lot of artists mentioned in those credits at the start of the review. Scott Hepburn is responsible for the main story; the rest each take on a single page of the book showing a Marvel monster in action. Each monster’s image is supplemented with a cross-section giving some insight into how the monster is constructed. It is these cross-sections that have allowed the book’s owner to essentially make his own monsters, mixing and matching different abilities as he sees fit. To make matters worse, he shows up to reclaim his book with a fair few of his creations in tow. Cue a big battle scene, which is not resolved conclusively and… that’s it.
That’s it? Yep. The contents of the book take up 21 pages of the issue. The fight is entertaining enough and well-drawn, but, yeah, that’s it. How you feel about this is up to you. Here’s how I feel about it:
I like monsters and I like good art. There are both here. The art is bold, dramatic and largely successful; the cross-sections are less interesting, partly because they’re not quite as detailed as they could be. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to like here.
The problem with the issue is the editorial decision to present this ‘book’ as part of a flimsy and inconclusive story. It’s always fun to see monsters clash, but having them do so in the setting of a draughty unpopulated castle takes away one of the more appealing things about monster movies – collateral damage and human beings running around panicking. There’s none of that here and the result is deeply unsatisfying.
Then, there’s the fact that Marvel is asking for $4.99 for this. It’s an oversized issue; I get that. But the story doesn’t feel like it’s worth five bucks, and that only adds to the sense of dissatisfaction. I don’t want to rain on this particular parade, but I think I’m going to have to. The art is lovely, the monster designs are excellent, but the story as a whole is paper-thin. If you like this kind of art book masquerading as a comic, that’s fine. But, it’s not really for me.
I like Kid Kaiju and his menagerie of monsters, but this is thin fare. While I appreciate the effort put in by the various artists (Stephanie Hans’ stuff is just gorgeous), the decision by Marvel to sell a cut-price art book and wrap it up in an almost insultingly superficial story is a poor one. Everyone – writer, artists, but most importantly the reader – gets short-changed by that approach.