Monday, 22 June 2015

Where Monsters Dwell #1 - Marvel Comics

Whilst it is far from clear how this “story about a World War One fighter pilot battling dinosaurs ties into” the “Marvel Worldwide” multi-title mega-event “Secret Wars”. This first edition of “Where Monsters Dwell” proves to be a fun, enjoyable read, crammed full of intense action-sequences, some genuinely entertaining madcap moments and plenty of prehistoric behemoths.

Most of this enjoyment comes at the expense of Karl Kaufman, a “famous flying ace” who writer Garth Ennis has made every bit the scheming somewhat disagreeable rogue as he is a skilled aviator. Indeed the hapless Phantom Eagle seems to personify the Eisner Award-winner’s aspiration to pen “something a little bit lighter” with his humorous yet oft-times deplorable behaviour throughout the comic’s twenty-pages. Whether it be the American-born stunt pilot’s insincere promise to a pregnant native princess that he’ll do the honourable thing before racing to his bi-plane’s cockpit, or ‘stinging’ a “naïve English socialite” into paying his aircraft’s latest repair bill, the stubble-faced swindler’s unscrupulous behaviour arguably can’t help but generate a smile upon the reader’s lips.

Equally as engaging is the Northern Irish author’s Clementine Franklin-Cox, a “ditsy little half-wit” who is clearly “not quite all she seems” and evidently just as knowledgeable as “Kaufmann-Tuan” when it comes to uncouth songs, flying manoeuvers and “the ins and outs of an air-cooled Lewis gun”. Missy’s putdowns and insults, despite containing the occasional profanity, are extremely endearing as she switches between personas; one moment lightly enquiring whether the surrounding hurricane “might delay our arrival a tad?” and the next sarcastically belittling her would-be rescuer for failing to recognise a Pteranodon Longiceps because ‘an education is clearly not his forte.’

However it is undoubtedly the dinosaurs which steal the show due to some incredible illustrations by Russell Braun. The New York-based penciller’s stunning series of pages depicting Kaufmann’s vintage bi-plane being battered by a flock of flying reptiles builds wonderfully upon the anticipation generated by Frank Cho and Jason Keith’s terrifically dynamic cover artwork. In fact the sequence’s two double-splash montages really show off the former “Walt Disney” animator’s flair for incorporating both the dramatic and comical into his drawings with Clementine bashing Karl about the head as the lizards from the Late Cretaceous murderously encircle their aircraft.
Writer: Garth Ennis, Artist: Russ Braun and Color Artist: Dono Sanchez Almara

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