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We Kill Monsters #1

Posted: Friday, May 15, 2009
By: Charles Webb

Christopher Leone & Laura Harkcom
Brian Churilla (p), Ronda Pattison (c)
Red 5 Comics
Plot: After a monster attacks Drew and his younger brother Jake outside of the local bar, Jake awakes the next morning with a new monstrous arm.

Comments: If I had not done a search for writer Christopher Leoneís name and learned that he wrote professionally for television (creating the SciFi Network show The Lost Room) I would have assumed based on the first issue of We Kill Monsters that he was at least an aspiring pilot writer.

The structure of this issue feels like the initial scenes before the first commercial break and some of the writing is highly expository (to a bit of a fault) with the hopes of getting the characterizations and setup across as quickly as possible. Additionally, Leone has kept it simple, with the two brothers broken down into the smarter, protective older sibling (Drew) and the chunky, emotive one (Jake)--staples of a traditional narratives if there ever were any. Cleverly, Leone lays out whatís sure to be a pertinent issue with the duo: Drew canít seem to make a break with his younger brother, this causing friction between the elder and his girlfriend Vanessa, the local barkeep.

At this point, none of the supernatural elements have reared their heads and on the page this could easily morph into a relationship comedy (the ex is dating a guy who drives a sports car and calls her ďbabe,Ē the brothers are stuck in a rut repairing the same old jalopy in their spare time, et cetera). Instead, the story throws in a monster that attacks a drunken Drew and bleeds a blue, curative fluid. Of course, someone has to get a bit splashed on them (Jake) and it all goes a little odd, with Jakeís arm changing into a super strong monsterís arm. This is the opportunity, but thereís also a problem: the first monster wasnít travelling alone and itís partner is now out for blood.

Jake and Drew are an affable pair and itís easy to see why Leone and co-creator Laura Harkcom chose these two to head the story--theyíre both fairly archetypal, even down to their physical design (thereís not a rough edge to either one) and their responses to what happens to them are fairly grounded and relatable (in these harsh economic times what would be the first thing you would do if you came across a monsterís corpse?).

If there is one thing I can fault the book with it would have to be paradoxically be its strength--the familiarity might become a problem in later issues if Leone and Harkcom donít throw any surprises as the readers--at least a twist in the formula or direction to let us know that the writers arenít just going to play it safe. Again, this is a concern for the future which is negligible for now given how solid this first issue actually is.

Art chores are very ably handled by Brian Churilla and, like the writing, itís nothing flashy but it gets the job done very well. As mentioned above, the character designs are what youíd expect from these types of characters (thin one and big one, baby-faced one and cunning one) and the monster designs are suitably out there and interesting. I do wonder if the shot of the brothersí house is intentionally supposed to evoke the Batesí home from Psycho or if itís just an otherwise spooking hill leading up to it (even the angle of the shot in which itís first shown and the style of the building are familiar).

Again, everything about the book is charming and familiar. I look forward to later issues to see if this team can keep the charm and move away from the familiarity.

If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the authorís work at Monster In Your Veins



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