Comic Review: A big week for MonkeyBrains Comics

It was a pretty big week for Monkey Brain Comics (@MonkeyBrain_inc). In addition to the philanthropically inclined announcement that all profits from November’s sales that Monkey Brain would have accrued as publisher will go towards Hero’s Initiative, they also dropped five new comics into the digital domain of Comixology. Not only does this show case the moral compass by which Chris Roberson (@Chris_Roberson) guides his company, but also the diverse selection of comics that Monkey Brain offers in a given week.

Spirit of the Law #1 (link)
Part one of a two-part series that combines the best elements of horror and pulp noir into one creepy comic appropriately released on all Hallow’s Eve. A young women is violently murdered by a squad of mafia hit-men in the dead of night. Thinking they’ve gotten away clean, the quartet of killers are shocked to find one of their own on the receiving end of a gruesome evisceration and the number 4 carved into his forehead. In the distance they see a blindfolded, sword-wielding woman who looks eerily like their most recent victim and quickly vanishes into thin air. Writer Brandon Seifert infuses some 1970’s style horror into a 1930’s backdrop with a hint of a classic ghost story (it’s no wonder he was tapped to pen the upcoming Hellraiser comic). With gruesome gore and chilling backdrops from artist Michael Montenat, Spirit of the Law feels like a rape-free version of “I Spit on Your Grave” with better writing, characters and an element of the supernatural thrown in for good measure.

Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom #2 (link)
Olive Hopkins is your typical New York slacker who was somehow transported to a magical realm full of elves, wizards, dwarfs and all manner of D&D, WoW nonsense that she found annoying in her own world. She teams up with a few adventurers on a quest to try and find a way out of this ridiculous fantasy land and back to good old Manhattan where a gal can get a decent half-caf-double-whip-no-foam-latte. Writer Kevin Church approaches the story with his own brand of caustic wit that pokes fun at the genre while somehow simultaneously paying homage to what makes it fun. It’s not enough to have a child-prince trying to kill you because you’re supposedly part of some asinine prophecy, but you’ve also got to deal with an angry Elf crossing paths with a lute-playing fanboy (who may or may not have made out with said elven warrior). Grace Allison definitely understands the comedic beats that Church is laying down and uses artistic characterization commonly seen in rom-com comics to effectively communicate them. It’s a testament to her artistic skills that she’s able to accurately convey the sheer volume of sarcastic comments that Church writes for protagonist Olive Hopkins. Wander sits in stark contrast to Spirit of the Law in tone and style, showing just a bit of the diversity held within MonkeyBrains’ ever-expanding catalogue.

The Stars Below (link)
This one-shot written by Zack Smith and drawn by Rich Ellis (of IDW’s Memorial) is probably the strangest of the bunch this week. Not that it’s particularly gruesome or preposterous, but the story it tells is something not often seen in the realm of comics. The Stars Below follows a pigeon (not a Disney-esque talking pigeon, just a normal pigeon) who gets kicked into a planetarium where it sees the stars for the first time. Since the urban canopy of New York prevents him from seeing the stars, he sets out to perch on the tallest building he can find to get a glimpse of the real thing. In a medium of capes, guns, boobs, gore and spells, finding a comic that’s simply about a bird trying to fly to the top of a building may seem ‘quaint,’ but the story really picks up when a falcon attempts to make the pigeon his lunch. Smith’s story is some classic story-telling fun and Ellis is able to capture a great deal of emotion in a pigeon’s face, even without spoken dialogue or a single thought balloon.

Edison Rex #4 (link)
MonkeyBrains comics brought you fantasy, horror and an animal adventure story – what’s left in the realm of comics…. oh yeah – superheroes! Edison Rex was the world’s most notorious super-villain, but after defeating his arch-nemesis he’s left with only one obstacle to overcome: saving the world. Turns out his quarrel wasn’t with the world (i.e. destroying it), but with the superhero who tasked himself with saving it. Now that he’s out of the way Rex’s long and storied history in super-villainy is coming back to haunt him; never has that been more accurate than in this issue. Chris Roberson spins a clever short story with #4 and incorporates well-known aspects of superhero lore to further hinder Rex’s attempts at rehabilitating his image and his lifestyle. Dennis Culver (artist) and Stephen Downer (colorist) continue their “worthy of their own show on Adult Swim” level of artistic excellence while still adding an element of horror (as is the season) to round out the fun. Every issue of Edison Rex has been a joy to read (this issue included), but even more interesting was the candid “The Secret Files of Edison Rex” that serve as the backup for each issue. Hearing Rex lament his own audacity at attempting to create life and the compassion he has for his wayward son/creature/walking abomination is the kind of humanizing writing that takes Edison Rex above most super-hero smash’em’up stories riddling comic shelves.

You can follow me on Twitter @dethfilm but what you should be doing is using every bit of social media you’ve got to get the word out about this Freakin’ Awesome comic.