From the silent maternity hall in a long-abandoned hospital, the strange offspring of H.P. Lovecraft and Mike Mignola crawls to the surface. Monstermen, by Gary Gianni, revels in the weird and unexplained, while letting us laugh at the thing that goes bump in the night. Gianni, best known for his work on the current run of Prince Valiant, brings us a truly odd supernatural world.
There are ghosts and demons, and men who would bargain with them. Strange monsters crawl out from the sea and sorcerers spread terror from the grave. There are, however, men who would face these monsters. Lawrence St. George is a movie director and apprentice demon hunter. His inspiration is a member of the Order Corpus Nostrum, a man named Benedict. Benedict, the obvious hero, wears a tuxedo and a knight’s helm. All the time. This is the best clue we have that this book should not be taken too seriously.
On the surface, everything we need for a good supernatural horror show is here. We have the inscrutable evil presence and the mysterious hero. It is clear that Gianni loves his horror. It is equally clear that, like Mike Mignola, he doesn’t take it too seriously. At one point, when evil forces want a character out of the way, they transform the top of his head into an adorable stegosaurus.
I can’t finish this review without mentioning the layout on display here. Gianni has a deep understanding of how a comic page works. There are a few pages that really showcase this talent, but even the more mundane pages are masterfully done. His use of light and shadow is some of the best I have seen. Despite the overwhelming blackness in some of the scenes, it is always clear what is going on.
Monstermen is a book I can easily recommend, if you enjoy old-school horror or don’t mind a little horror mixed with your comedy.