MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
The first issue of Monster World is set in 1930s Hollywood and lays out the story of private investigator Henry Barrymore’s latest case. As Barrymore investigates, the plot becomes more convoluted as the P.I. begins to uncover a caper involving a missing studio head, a fatally mauled actress, and the possibility that World Studios‘ monsters have come to life and lept off the silver screen!
Niles is no stranger to noir and feels at home in the first issue of Monster World, with the script (also by Kim) quickly establishing a moody and atmospheric narrative through the gruff, downtrodden, yet enduring voice of Barrymore. That said, while Niles and Kim never come off as anything but skilled, capable storytellers, this first issue does feel a bit predictable and generic at times. While Barrymore is a solid lead hero and fits perfectly into the world Niles and Kim are weaving, I hesitate to say that there’s anything present on the pages that makes Monster World’s main character stand out from the standard crime noir gumshoe lead we’ve seen a thousand times at this point. Perhaps readers should expect surprises and twists down the road given the strong noir flavoring of the story, but they are especially sparse in this first issue.
Kowlaski’s sequential artwork is a more-than-suitable style that favors grounded, realistic depictions of its cast of characters and features an extra dose of shadows and silhouettes. Kowlaski’s visuals give the story a very tangible and appropriately dated feel, especially when paired with Dennis Calero’s subtle, yet impactful, colors.
FINAL VERDICT: Noir fans with a taste for the monstrous and beastly should get a kick out of this one. The story is paced slowly, but there’s plenty of trademark noirish violence and nudity to keep the blood running as one flips through the pages of this premiere issue. Monster World #1 didn’t grab me with the same strength that other American Gothic Press books have (such as Broken Moon and Gunsuits), so I’d recommend only picking up this one if the crime noir/monster mashup is really your cup of tea.
You can find out more about Monster World by visiting the official American Gothic Press website.
That’s all for now, comic book sniffers!
'Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer