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Hit-Monkey #1

Posted: Tuesday, February 9, 2010
By: Charles Webb

Daniel Way
Dalibor Talajic
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Hit-Monkey #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, February 10.

Plot: A monkey learns to be a hitman.

Comments: So here's one of those situations where the reader expectation doesn't match the actual product. In this case, it's a Daniel Way-penned comic about a monkey that's also a hitman. So… that should be a comedy, right?

Weirdly, Way writes a pretty solemn story with a simple message about the repercussions of violence. By all rights it shouldn't work, but I suspect I understand how Way was able to do it. More on that in a bit.

First, the story: it follows an unnamed, highly-skilled assassin. You know the kind: he's so good at what he does that everyone wants to kill him. Wounded in an encounter with his own would-be killers, he retreats to the mountains, into the snow. He finds a recuperative spring, attended by a gentle tribe of snow monkeys. That one of them learns all the wrong lessons from the killer should be taken for granted. That goes double for the outcome of introducing killing ways into a peaceful society.

Again, this should not work. The promotional material for Hitmonkey have introduced the character as some kind of foil for an upcoming issue of Deadpool. But Way treats the character seriously in his first appearance while avoiding the trap of schmaltz. I noted above that I think I understand how Way was able to make it work: He presents the events in the book as a parable, drawn with broad strokes with ideas of violence and the violence it begets. You sense what the outcome is going to be because you've read it before. You could swap out the cool assassin for an old soldier, a gunslinger, a knight, and switch the peaceful monkeys with an idyllic village, or alien species – the outcome is always the same given the conditions of the story.

Dalibor Talajic is on art. The name isn't familiar but the art is filled with a loose energy that reminds me of a less stylized Marcos Martin. It's a positive comparison and the book's storytelling is aided substantially with the addition of this artist.

I've actually changed my final score twice in the writing of this review. Again, it's one of those things that should be doomed to fail – it should be silly and it should end up being a dumb intro to a nonsensical character. But here it is and it works.

Final Word: Not quite what I was expecting, but it takes itself just seriously enough to make the reader do the same. Also: Marvel sure knows how to hire artists lately.

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






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