This week Marvel unleashes their monsters, and Charles Soule and Ryan Browne teach us some Curse Words!
Monsters Unleashed #1 (of 5) (Marvel Comics)
Well, here we go, another Marvel event. While it doesn’t have the scale of Civil War II or Secret Wars, Monsters Unleashed is here, with the promotional drive one would expect from the “House of Ideas”. Each issue features a different artist (this opening one featuring art by Steve McNiven), and it’s written by Cullen Bunn, a writer who’s known for Marvel work like Magneto and Venom, as well as writing a pretty successful Godzilla run for IDW. While I have little interest in the giant monsters of the Marvel universe attacking en masse, I have to admit, Monsters Unleashed is a fun throwback to a time when Marvel didn’t have their heroes fighting one another or universe shaking events every 3 months.
Throughout the globe, giant monsters long forgotten are attacking. The Avengers are taking on a threat in Boston. The X-Men are taking on a beast in London. The Guardians of the Galaxy are fighting a monster in Seattle for some reason. Around the world, monsters are appearing, yet no one knows where the threat is coming from, or why the monsters are all attacking at once. This mystery will be the main force behind Monsters Unleashed, and it looks to be one that could be pretty fun and interesting if the final page is any indication.
Cullen Bunn’s script does a great job of bouncing between the different areas of the Marvel universe, and showcasing the multiple personalities that an event like this can have. More often than not, many characters get sidelined in major events, but so far Bunn is able to give nearly all of the heroes in this issue a moment to shine, whether it’s Spider-Man’s one liners or Thor and Hercules teaming up to take down a giant monster. Not only that, but Bunn’s able to keep the script moving at a brisk pace that doesn’t feel too fast, which is a welcome turn of events after Civil War II dragged on.
Having Steve McNiven as your opening artist for an event like this is both a good thing and a bad thing. While McNiven is arguably Marvel’s best artist and delivers some truly great action pieces in this issue, setting him as the first issue artist could fool some readers into thinking that he’s drawing the entire series. Marvel’s been pretty upfront in their advertising that this won’t be the case, but still, I won’t be surprised to hear some complaints when issue two comes.
After Civil War II, I was very reluctant to give yet another Marvel event a try, but if I’m being completely honest, Monsters Unleashed was a nice throwback to Marvel events of old. It’s refreshing to see these heroes team up against a legitimate enemy and not clash over ideologies for once, and it helps that Monsters Unleashed is a much smaller scale event than previous Marvel events. Aside from a few characters specific one-shots, this won’t be a major universe-wide story. While it remains to be seen if Cullen Bunn is able to stick the landing, so far Monsters Unleashed is a fun and easy entry point for new Marvel readers.
Curse Words #1 (Image Comics)
With Curse Words, writer Charles Soule and artist Ryan Browne have truly created a one-of-a-kind comic. Focusing on the exploits of Wizord, an evil wizard sent to destroy Earth who has second thoughts after spending time in our dimension, the new Image series puts a lovingly absurd spin on the modern fantasy comic. There’s also a talking koala named Margaret.
Charles Soule’s script is where much of the absurdity lies. It’s very hard to get me to laugh at a comic, but Curse Words #1 has numerous moments that really made me laugh. Soule has a lot of fun skewering our world and obsession with celebrity, and seeing Wizord slowly come to love Earth is really entertaining. Once he decides to reveal himself to the world, there’s also plenty of humor in the media reacting to an actual magical being flying around New York City, the stand out being a recurring gag involving, you guessed it, Margaret the Koala.
If you’ve read God Hates Astronauts, then you know how crazy Ryan Browne’s artwork can get. While Curse Words doesn’t feature a tiger eating a Cheeseburger, it does give Browne the chance to show off some other artistic talents. Browne has a great knack for dynamic comic book panel designs, and he puts that to great use in this issue. There are beautiful full splash pages, great multi-panel layouts, and lots of other great layouts in this issue, and they’re given a really nice touch of the absurd thanks to Browne. Of course, Browne has a lot of fun designing the characters and world of Curse Words too, my favorite being Wizord spelling out his “three rules” above him whenever someone meets him to grant a spell.
Curse Words is unlike anything I’ve read in a while, and it’s got a really funny hook. Soule and Browne have created a series that’s going to be a lot of fun to watch unfold, especially now that Wizord’s master has discovered that he’s not going to destroy Earth. Without a doubt, Curse Words is a book that you should definitely check out.