This is an amazingly fun book. The Legion of Monsters are the leftover schlock creatures Marvel brought into the fold years ago and who haven’t received enough play in more recent years. Morbius, the Living Mummy, Jack Russell the Werewolf By Night, and Manphibian all featured supporting roles in the “Franken-Castle” storyline from Rick Remender last year, and that buzz must have been enough to get this mini green lit. Thank god it was, because Dennis Hopeless and Juan Doe bring a pulp insanity to the page that is equally matched with great characterization and delicious art.
The addition of Elsa Bloodstone to the mix, she of the monster hunting lineage, is a brilliant balance. She is a powerful female lead who owns every action scene with which she is associated. The opening has her in underwear, as a knowing lure for monsters, and then has the good sense to dress her for the rest of the issue. She could easily have been left in a provocative state but that is not this comic. This isn’t a slasher/torture porn flick; this is high quality horror more concerned with being inventive than with titillating. It’s just one reason why you know this comic is great.
The Legion of Monsters have finally anted up to make some change in the world. They have installed themselves as the monster police and the results feel like John Landis is guiding them in spirit. There are procedural moments interspersed with wacky montage hilarity. This book is no one trick pony. The new premise makes for an intriguing platform from which Hopeless and Doe are having as much fun as possible.
Each character in this book is made unique all within the confines of only 22 pages. Morbius’ snark lands perfectly every time and the scholarly nature of the Living Mummy tempers every scene. Dialogue, as well as actions and movement, quickly set the tone of this ensemble piece. Every person has a role to play and a different attribute to define them. The diversity means everyone will end up with a favorite and these will be different for each person. Beneath the teen girl-chewing monsters and motorcycle chases is a heart of care from Hopeless. He wants us invested in these monsters and he manages this feat instantly.
Juan Doe has always been a fantastic artist. All this book does is certify that fact. Doe draws each of these monsters exactly like they should be and how you want them. Nothing feels generic or rushed off; these characters have a distinct style and act in every panel. Doe’s Morbius is possibly the best design and yet the other lanky monsters all carry the pages effectively. Imagine if your childhood Saturday morning cartoons had included a creepy Grindhouse half hour; this is that delight you’ve always wanted. Wil Quintana’s colors deliver the perfect tone for this book. It’s a once shining beacon that has been dragged through very tough times and yet still looks fantastic.
“Legion of Monsters” is the perfect superheroic monster comic because it’s firstly character driven, is full of brilliant high concepts, is extremely gorgeous to look at, and it’s ultimately more fun than a horror double bill from Hammer Film Studios. There’s a central mystery hinted at here that will tie the narrative together, but for now the draw card is the sparkling dialogue and the dynamic art. This is horror treated right and rinsed through the tongue-in-cheek superheroic lens of the Marvel U. You owe it to yourself to support this book and enjoy the things comics do best.