REVIEW: Monsters Unleashed #1 – “Kaiju Or Big Hulking Monster?”

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MONSTERS UNLEASHED #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Penciler: Steve McNiven
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: David Curiel

Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Price: $4.99

Release Date: 1/18/17

Now that a Monsters Unleashed ongoing has been announced starring Kid Kaiju and Elsa Bloodstone, it’s even more relevant to check in on how Marvel’s first big 2017 event has kicked off.

Plot: The title tells no lies. Monsters Unleashed opens with, well, monsters being unleashed. As an unknown person’s pencil works its magic, everywhere from Boston to London to Wakanda is visited by at least one enormous monster ready to destroy everything in sight.

While various teams of heroes work and bicker together to stop these creatures, Kei Kawade is introduced as drawing them to life in his room while his mother worries about the world-ending events downstairs. Meanwhile, a monster-hunter named Elsa Bloodstone searches through Peruvian ruins to find the key to stopping them.

Story: The majority of Monsters Unleashed #1 is meant to set up the different teams and the monsters they are facing, as well as introduce the dual stories of Kei and Elsa. But while much of the first issue is variations on one theme, there is plenty of joy to be found in the interactions of various groups.

Cullen Bunn has a deft hand for comedy, which he has displayed several times while working on Deapool & the Mercs for Money. He puts that skill to great use here when exploring team dynamics – incorporating fun arguments between Nova and Hulk regarding the appropriate name for the monsters, for example. It’s a treat to see some of our favorite heroes written by a different voice, and hopefully it will lead to unexpected team-ups if, say, the Guardians and the Champions join forces at some point. And let’s not forget Moon Girl, who won’t be engaging in combat but just might come up with a scientific solution to everyone’s problems…

One-liners and property damage aside, the most important parts of Monsters Unleashed are focused on Kei’s burgeoning talent and Elsa’s search for answers. If you weren’t previously aware of these characters, then the story was a little confusing to follow at first. However, Elsa’s backstory is introduced via her inner monologue quickly enough – and it doesn’t feel clunky at all. Kei seems to have a shorter history in the Marvel Universe, having first appeared in Totally Awesome Hulk #3 last year alongside Fin Fang Foom, but his powers are touched on in an intriguing way.

Art: Because the story of Monsters Unleashed starts off so simply, it’s important that the art stand out and fill each page with exciting battle sequences and inventive creatures. Jay Leisten and David Curiel succeed in doing just that, providing colorful and individualized kaijus for each city they visit. When the backdrop is visible, the locations are evident even without the headlines that helpfully point out where we are. And, of course, having a different set of heroes inhabiting each area doesn’t hurt either.

 

The comedic elements of the comic are emphasized with Travis Lanham’s lettering, as well as the hilarious and creative sounds he has each other monsters making. Honestly, without the presence of onomatopoeia, it would be a lot harder to decipher what’s going on.

Verdict: Monsters Unleashed is already proving to be a fun, low stress romp with the kind of action everyone can enjoy. After the dark and stormy issues of Civil War, it’s nice to watch our favorite heroes join together to battle monsters instead of each other.

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