I’ll admit, when I first was assigned to review Monocyte #1, I hadn’t seen a comic like it in a while, and probably wasn’t ready to. Growing up in the 90’s, the surrealist style of H.R Giger was all the rage. Aliens had come out just four years before 1990 and, at the time, you couldn’t pick up a comic without seeing hints of Giger’s twisted influence.
It was great for a while, but after a certain point, the style began to seem dated, especially as Jim Lee and Image were introducing the world to the bold and vibrant styling of Wild C.A.T.S and Stormwatch. I have always preferred capes and utility belts to brooding, gritty vigilantes stalking the streets of New York, Detroit, and Chicago. Swap a pistol for a ray gun and you’ve got my attention. I had no place in my heart for the brutal reality and endless darkness that was found in comics like Zero Hour and Judge Dredd. So, when I first opened issue one of Monocyte, it all came flooding back. The darkness, the agony, the complete hopelessness, it was all there.
The Monocyte series has a certain level of charm based on the fact that the dialogue of this book is so intellectual that it is oftentimes incomprehensible. From the dark and textured artwork of Menton3 to the profound script of Kasra Ghanbari, Monocyte screams “˜NOT FOR EVERYONE!’ That being said, Monocyte #3 is by far the most linear issue of this comic to date. Even though this comic may seem intimidating to newcomers, if you give it chance, Monocyte will change what you expect from comics.
Monocyte #3 deals explicitly with the origin of Azrael’s favorite death dealer, Monocyte. It is a bold move by the creative team to interject an origin story on only the third issue. Luckily this gamble pays off. Once the history of this comic’s protagonist is displayed, much of this story begins to move from mystifying to intelligible. It is almost as if Ghanbari began the story with a mystery and slowly, over the course of three issues, unlocked the secrets of this universe.
Monocyte #2 Created by Menton3 and Kasra Ghanbari
Written by Menton3 and Kasra Ghanbari
Art by Menton3 IDW Publishing
Release Date: December 28, 2011
Cover Price: $3.99
It’s not often that a comic book demands my attention. Gorgeous art and dynamic narrative often grab my attention, but rarely demand it. Monocyte #2 forced me to examine every panel and page. If my attention wandered for even a moment the next page of Monocyte #2 was foreign to me. The creative team behind this series has built a completely immersive experience with issue #2. This is not a comic for someone looking to kill 15 minutes. This is a comic that requires your undivided attention from start to finish. Of course you could understand that base story on cursory glance. But just by glancing you would be missing the subtle injection of character development through narrative. Monocyte #2 elevates itself above being just a comic. Monocyte #2 is poetry in panels.
Let me start off by saying Monocyte is dark, I mean really dark. With the exception of some spilled blood here and there the entire comic is done monochromatically. Characters’ bodies are either detailed masses of flesh and bone painstakingly drafted in black and grays, or they are huge black masses with unidentifiable torsos. Of course there will be H.R. Giger comparisons to artist Menton3‘s style and scope, and in this lies my issue with Monocyte. Each panel is so beautifully drawn and inked that they deserve to be single-standing illustrations, the words within each panel seemed like an afterthought. This was enhanced more by the fact that with art so meticulously rendered, the story seemed rushed and unevenly paced at many points in this issue.