In Review: Dept. of Monsterology #3

The cover: A close-up of one of the Northern Chinese vampires that’s been threatening Team Carnacki since the premiere issue. There’s no specific credit on the inside cover for the art and coloring, so I’m going to assume that it’s interior artist P.J. Holden and interior colorist Steven Denton. My cover is very brown and grey as compared to this greenish cover that I found online to use in this review. I prefer the green one more because it’s much easier to see the details in the art. Still, the brown-grey one isn’t so bad. Overall grade: B+

The story: This penultimate issue opens Team Challenger “Somewhere in the Pacific…” as a giant squid that could give Cthulu nightmares attacks the Derieth. Meanwhile, back in Northern China, Team Carnacki is still dealing with Jocasta’s arrival, who prompts the team into clearing a path into the Forbidden Tomb and she’ll give the shot Jang the treatment he needs to live. Faster than you can say Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the men enter while Jang whispers a directive to pupil Samwi, who’s capable of walking the astral plane. There’s a terrific amount of action occurring on all three fronts: the ocean, the tomb, and the astral plane. Writer Gordon Rennie expertly cuts between all three settings while keeping the action and tension high. Just when you think one team will conclude their battle, the action goes elsewhere. This is a great way to keep readers, like me, quickly flipping pages to see what happens next. Additionally, Tynecastle has uncovered a great secret! And I cannot wait to see what his find means next issue. This is great classic monster action in a modern setting. I loved every page. Overall grade: A

The art: Really nice work by P.J. Holden throughout. Each setting rightfully has its own unique look that makes the unearthly feel of each creepy. The most normal setting is on the Derieth, but the giant squid and the copious amount of gore loosed from its many wounds makes it an absolutely bloody mess. The Forbidden Tomb is classic Hollywood creepy with endless vampires jumping out to kill our heroes. The astral plane was a unique place. I’m used to this being Doctor Strange territory, but this is not the cloudy white otherworld of Marvel Comics, and instead is the ultimate of head trips with changes to it on every page. Page 16 had the best shock for me, and I would have fallen into this trap as easily as Samwi had. Being a fan of classic science fiction and monster stories, the final panel was the highlight of the book for me, and should the creators at Renegade Arts Entertainment wish to go to this era for a follow up series, I would hope that Holden gets to illustrate it. Overall grade: A

The colors: Making the art shine was Steven Denton’s coloring. I loved the blue and green energy for the portal into the tomb, the orange and red used for explosions against the squid, the yellow energy and clothing, and the orange of the vampires’ eyes. And though it was only a black and white photo, the coloring on the final panel was terrific. Overall grade: A+

The letters: I really like the lettering done by Jim Campbell because he gives this book an element rarely seen in comic books: lower case letters! It may not seem like much, but it’s much appreciated by me. He does a terrific job on scene setting, dialogue, and sound effects. Page one shows him in action well, with the first two, a misunderstood transmission, and a whisper. Nicely done! Overall grade: A+

The final line: I enjoy every element of this book and am so happy to see that someone is making monster stories fun again! Santa, can you get this come out monthly? Overall grade: A

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.

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