Thursday, November 03, 2005

Where Monsters Dwell – 2005 Edition

Spotted this on the shelf and could not pass it up. Although I may not be a child of the 60s, I am a child of the 70s and the 10 cent rack at Queen’s Comics in the Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto featured plenty of unwanted back issues of Marvel reprint titles like Where Monsters Dwell and Where Creatures Roam. I loved these books, mainly because they were so different than anything else I was reading at the time. They were a perfect contrast to the grand sagas in the Avengers and X-Men and the grittiness of Miller’s Daredevil. Somehow, these little 8-page morality plays, mostly written by the Brothers Lieber, are beautiful in their simplicity and execution. Another interesting thing is I became familiar with certain artists’ styles (such as Ditko and Heck) moreso than through their work on superhero books. My 7-year old mind never connected Ditko weird creatures with the early Spidey books.

What we’ve got here is essentially a love letter to the pre-hero Marvel monster books. Although the creators are having a bit of fun at the expense of the genre, it is all done with TLC and they thankfully steer clear of the lazy man’s form of humour of simply mocking seemingly antiquated books.

The real highlight for me is the Peter David penned story setting against a Hollywood backdrop. Sure, it’s not much more than a couple of sight gags in the end, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Another treat is the reprinted story from Tales to Astonish #1o with Kirby art – it serves as a nice bookend to the Giffen/Allred opener.

Speaking of that opening story, my main complaint about this book is that it really highlighted the shortcomings of computer generated colours. Whatever technique they used on the Giffen/Allred story looked terrible – like zip-a-tone gone haywire. The colour reproduction on the Kirby reprint was much more subtle and proved far superior in the end. Overall, this is fun stuff and has convinced me to open up the wallet and picked up the rest of the Marvel Monsters Group titles.

Memo to publishers: You have me buying new comics for the first time in ages – keep up with these quality projects and you will continue to have my business. Overwhelm me with ‘big event’ crap, and I’ll be heading back to eBay for my fix.

1 comment:

dan bailey said...

this one sold me on all the "monsters group" titles, too ... even nick fury's howling commandos, which has ghastly art (at first i thought that was just my silver-age-honed sensibilities at work, but i saw pretty much the same sentiments expressed in a cbr thread last week). *any* of the artists represented in where monsters dwell, fin fang four, monsters on the prowl or devil dinosaur (my least favorite of these, probably because the original did nothing for me in the '70s, as was true of all of kirby's return-to-marvel stuff, alas) would've been much, much better suited for that comic. so it goes ...