All right, let's start from the beginning, at the cover that is, which is decidedly NSFW as we're treated to a woman “wearing” strips of cloth and squatting, tentacles all around her. It's at that moment you have to ask yourself, “What kind of book is this? Is this porn?” No, it's not porn but it is filled with plenty of boobs and degrading attitudes towards women. Okay, maybe it's a little like porn. It's entirely possible that I am not the intended audience for this book. Fans of '80s action stars and silent women might get something more out of this book then I did.
While over half of the book's creators are insulting or exploitative towards women (including one of my favorites, but more on that in a minute) I especially have to call out “Deep Six” by Jerry Paris and Arthur Suydam, which wins an award for the most misogynistic dialogue as Karen, the only female member of the Deep Six team, is endlessly picked on, insulted, and has her sex pointed out by her male colleagues at every opportunity. For the winner of the most skin shown, let's look at both Dave Elliott's “Sharky” and Dave Wilkins' “El Zombo.” The women in these stories are less clothed than the girl on the cover with cowed attitudes in the world of testosterone-driven heroes. Thor (who is a girl in “Sharky”) at least holds her own, but she pretty much acts like all the other testosterone-driven heroes with the exception that she has boobs.
My issues with the rampant misogyny aside, there are some diamonds in the rough. One of my top two being Ron Marz and Tom Raney's “Pair of Rogues” which is the story most detached from the themes of all the others, centered on a fantasy world and a pair of con artists with some great character work. I would happily read a series staring Darian and Alyeria, the pair of such great chemistry that, to its credit, doesn't feel romantic in nature. Once again, naked women are featured and the main plot of the story centers on Alyeria's sexuality, which is frustrating, but Marz develops Aly enough as a character that it felt like she was in control of the situation more than a piece of meat for the male characters. Even when they show her naked, it felt less exploitative to me, because already we were shown a well-rounded character behind the curves. The scene is framed less in a “Let's please the guys” manner and more in an absolute confidence on Aly's part regarding her body.
My second favorite story in this anthology is Vito Delsante and Javier Aranda's Daikaiju which is a story centered in Japan when a dragon returns to the world and starts destroying the world. How far would people be willing to go to save the world? The moral questions at work here are eerie, and Daikaiju's tightly paced storytelling and art make this story hit even harder.
Mark A. Nelson's four-page, wordless comic, “Bandits,” deserves recognition for having some of the best art and the most adorable purple, lizard monster.
Overall, as an anthology series, Monster Massacre is too divided for my tastes. Featuring stories from the 1950s to the modern-day stories hitting every genre imaginable, short stories, art galleries, and even a wordless comic, Monster Massacre promises to deliver something for everyone to love but is also going to have a dozen things you hate.