It’s really difficult to call things “unique” or “original” these days. Everything has been done. Every idea has been taken. Every book feels like a reread of another. But not this one! The creative team on this series has created a new story unlike any other.
Picture the American Mid-West. Now picture it with monsters/kaiju raining from the sky. For anyone who doesn’t know what “Kaiju” means, it’s Japanese for “strange beast.” It is a film genre in which a monster attacks people, a city, the world, you name it. Still not sure what it is? Godzilla. Enough said.
In this issue, these monsters fall from the sky once a week, every week, for three months. The authorities are ready with missiles and guns and all sorts of weaponry to defeat them. But one local kid, Neil, has a dream of dealing with these monsters himself. He and his team of novice fighters are on the case. Neil goes out by himself one day as a monster is blown up. But it isn’t really gone, and only Neil knows why…
There is a clear influence in not only the storyline of this series, but the artwork, too. Amblin Entertainment is known for making fantastical films in the horror and sci-fi genres, with certain themes and/or moral lessons underlying the havoc on the surface. With films like E.T. (1982), Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985), The Land Before Time (1988), Jurassic Park (1993), Men in Black (1997), Casper (1995), Monster House (2006), and The BFG (2016), it’s not hard to see where the monster concept came into play, as well as the idea of kids banding together to take on a challenge. These are some of the most amazing, creative, and classic films that we’ve grown up with. This kind of cinema is rare nowadays, which is why it is the perfect influence for writer Ryan Little to use while crafting the script for Monster of the Week.
Neil’s characterization is strong and unwavering. This kid is in fifth grade, and he has an arsenal of artillery to use against the monsters. He’s very determined for a fifth grader, and knows exactly what he wants. He certainly is reaching for the stars, though, and I am curious as to how such a young child was able to get so much ammunition.
The language is simple, understandable, and flows really naturally. This gives the issue a comfortable and steady pace. The diction represents the childish ways of the characters, but is a bit too mature for kids their age (realistically). Either way, it actually makes for a great story. At this age, the characters don’t think much about consequence. They want something, so they go after it. Such is the case with Neil, this story’s protagonist.
Neil’s physical appearance is spot on. He is a red-haired, freckled kid—biggest in his class, I believe—with bushy eyebrows and strong eyes—even though they are pretty much just black circles filled in. Mike Vasquez’s art style is very cartoonish and unrealistic. It resembles a lot of Boom! Studios work, like Adventure Time. This actually fits the story’s fictional elements. However, some realism would bring a little more of a dramatic tone, which is something this issue is lacking—even in the elementary school’s state of emergency. I respect the creative team’s attempt at breaking the stereotype of monsters=seriousness, but you kind of need a little seriousness to understand the urgency of the situation(s) at hand. Colorist Joe Hogan’s work is fantastic. The bright and bold visuals really help reinforce the fun and fantasy of the story, which is great to keep us interested and always paying close attention to the page.
This series is a great take on the tornado season that regularly ails the Midwest. Monster of the Week is able to take a genre known for being solemn and turn it into the complete opposite. This creative team is just getting started, and has launched a Kickstarter for the series today! That means you can head over, donate, support, and get some really cool rewards in the process, including some seriously EPIC Halloween variant covers. For anyone who enjoys a lighthearted tone but some huge action and adventure, this book was made for you. Enjoy!
Written by: Ryan Little
Illustrated by: Mike Vasquez