Monarchy #5

Posted: Tuesday, July 24
By: Bruce Tartaglia
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"The Boy Who Talked To Spiders"

Writer: Doselle Young
Artist: Dean Ormston

Publisher: DC Wildstorm

Issue 5, entitled "The Boy Who Talked to Spiders", does what Monarchy seems to do best: it alludes many interesting things. Unto itself, issue 5 is a very good story in a 1950s scifi/horror comic tradition. I like the Monarchy title and specifically this issue, but the frustration I have with this issue is that it does not push the established storyline forward as far as I would have hoped. It feels like more groundwork is being laid as the story drifts backward in time. Unfortunately, by issue five I would like to feel buckled in and along for the ride rather than still be laying foundation.

The issue centers on Henry Bendix as a ten year old child growing up in Mississippi. Henry conspires against an ugly world and the cruelest of fathers. Henry has compatriots that exist in a separate realm and are grooming him to take charge of his own realm. Metaphorically, the story focuses on fireflies and spiders and how the world needs both. Bendix evidently was a bit of a spider and likely mad, but not without method. His path led him to create spider and firefly archetypes in his efforts to progress the world. Midnighter and Apollo are shown as the most obvious examples of this.

This story presumably serves as a template for what King believes he must do to further his own ends. Since this tale is a prelude to the Making of the Metropolitan storyline, one would have to assume he will either create a firefly or more likely, a spider.

The issue is very well done. The artwork is excellent. There is, again, a strong use of silhouettes and shadows, but this time they are not casually used. Page one provides an excellent example. No element is a pure silhouette. Shadows fall across everything, which in a tale such as this is appropriate, but the panel layout and interior composition is dramatic and enough details are evident in the visible regions to keep the artwork visually enticing. The coloring is hit and miss but for the most part, strong. The first page stands out for me in particular. Simple things like the shadow of the house painted in were nice touches.

The story sets a murky and creepy tone about a brilliant child that people should rightfully be afraid of. It progresses Monarchy's landscape to introduce a new polder realm of commanding spiders accessed through a boy's closet. (I used to have something equally scary in my closet. ;-) ) As a result, the book pushes further away from the tradition of its Authority springboard and moves it in a more earthy and subdued direction. Overall, Monarchy #5 is an entertaining read, but its limitations seem to lie in fact that the book tries to balance a broad overriding plot and with a per issue story and since neither get full attention, they are both feel slightly weaker as a result.

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