REVIEW: ‘Monster Massacre II’

(Titan Comics, 2014)

Written by Various
Artwork by Various
Edited by Dave Elliot

*Suggested for a mature audience…and they ain’t lyin’.

For a long time I didn’t know what kind of music I liked. (Keep reading, this is actually going somewhere in the realm of comics.) I blame my grandpa for this, and not in a bad way. When I was a kid he would wake us with marching band music. Nothing rouses you out of bed at 6 a.m. like the dulcet tones of John Phillip Sousa or K.L. King. I had a more than passing acquaintance with Andrew Lloyd Webber and musicals like The Fantsticks. And my grandpa was your original, do-it-yourself-er, a man who would shoot a deer and be standing on the side of the road with the heart on a stick. Really. But he was a lover of music, and that instilled in me a love of music, but also a confused sort of “what do I really like” attitude towards it.

This long opener is only to describe something that many people, including me, feel when they go into a comic store. Even the smallest, most organized (and I’m talking alphabetized 25 cent back issues) LCS is a jumble of posters, flyers, piles of collections coming in, piles going out…it’s part of the nature of the beast, and part of the charm of going to an LCS. (By all means, if there’s one in your area, go there and spend all the spare money you have, perhaps a second mortgage on the house wouldn’t be out of the question either.) But because of that jumble, that physical assault on your senses, it can sometimes be hard to retain your judgment.

What do I buy? Despite the pull box that awaits you, sometimes you have a few extra frijoles in the can to drop at the LCS. There are rows upon rows of collected works, omnibuses, masterworks…ugh, sometimes too many choices is a bad thing. How do I choose between the zombie apocalypse and the zombie car racers? Can I choose between the future with only one male left alive and the future where the law rules in the mega-cities?

Look no further. Titan Comics is releasing Monster Massacre II this week, and therein hides a little bit of everything.

For this volume Titan has teamed with Imaginary Friends Studios and Stellar Labs to produce that truly monstrous tome, 177 pages, and therein you’ll find just about every genre imaginable. Imaginary Friends is an art collective based in Singapore, and Stellar Labs is a comic and illustration group, also from Asia. The two have collected the very best in talent, many of whose work you will recognize from every aspect of the American comics industry, from Marvel and DC to Image and beyond.

All of this is under the expert eye of Dave Elliot, co-founder of Radical Studios (Hercules, Freedom Formula, Last Days of American Crime) and his own company Atomeka. (Weirding Willows, Monster Massacre, Odyssey).

So what’s in there, you might ask. Do you like robots? Check. How about knights? Check. Nearly naked, better yet, nearly clothed, women riding dinosaurs? Double check. What isn’t in there? Uh…nothing. There are stories that tug at the heartstrings, as well as rip the heart and the strings right out through your splintered rib cage. There are poignant tales of the fight for freedom, and darkly beautiful manga that puts the weird and the wired together in a way that only manga successfully can. There are comic pages and comedic pages, though not necessarily at the same time. It’s a wonderful wrap up of everything that is contained within that company.

The art inside is as diverse as the subject matter. There is purely comic art, stuff that would look perfectly at home with a company like Monkeybrain or Image, and there is more traditional art, a painted look with lots of layers, that would look more at home in a Conan book. Sometimes the manga shows through, as in The Queen’s Pet. Other stories, like Maximum Force and Carpe DIem, look like they would be at home amidst the fog of “traditional” comics on the shelf. You also have the added bonus that in between the stories are beautiful pinup works from the various artists, each one able to tell a tale in a single panel, all of them amazing in themselves, some of them monstrous. (In a good way.)

Why pick up Monster Massacre II? Well, two is more than one, so you’ve got that going for you. But it’s the answer to that “what do I like” question from my rambling beginning. Monster Massacre II contains everything, from the super to the not so, it’s the card-catalogue of science-fiction/fantasy/horror books. If you can comfortably say you like any of those, than you’ll be at home in Massacre II…it’s 177 pages of monsters and massacres, mayhem, mutilations…I ran out of “m’s”…nope…one more. Magnificent.

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Click Image to Purchase “Monster Massacre II” From Amazon.com:

Monster Massacre II-COVER

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Brad-profilepic

Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.

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