In Review: Where Monsters Dwell #2

This is the best book of the week. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Three Tyrannosaurus rexes, and one itty bitty one, are searching for Karl and Clemmie, unaware that the pair are hiding behind the upended tree trunk next to them. The posture of the two humans tells a reader everything one needs to know about them: Clemmie is more than up to the task to face danger, while Karl would be rather be hiding under something. The dinos look sensational, as does that tree (which would do Charles Vess proud) and the people. Frank Cho created the illustration and Jason Keith colored it. The swirl of light green behind the dinosaurs is pretty cool; it makes them emanate unworldliness! Overall grade: A 

The story: In the previous issue the pair crashed into a savage, prehistoric part of Battleworld, where Karl found himself leaning against a tree that was actually the leg of a T-rex. This installment begins with Clemmie silently running back to plane to get its machine gun. As she makes her way to the weapon, Karl’s screams and his pleas can be heard. On Page 2 Karl is shown on the run, unknowingly heading for a clearing as something massive follows him leaving a path of crushed trees behind it. He bolts into a camp of pygmies who watch in wonder as he doesn’t stop, but continues running. As he exits the clearing, one unfortunate pygmy turns around and yells, “M’gokko!!” just as the Tyrannosaurus swallows the poor man whole and crushes others around it. Karl survives, no surprise, but what is surprising is the dialogue between him and Clemmie. This is like classic 1940s film noir banter with a splash of modern day elements. The pair can’t stay in the same place, after all there is a giant dinosaur around there. It can’t get any worse, right? Ha! Writer Grath Ennis has made this an incredibly entertaining read with the two being strong personalities clashing in the most humorous way, including some surprising inclusions, Pages 11 and 20. If there were no monsters (and don’t worry, dino-fans, you’ll be thrilled with what you get!), I’d still be completely satisfied with this tale. That’s the biggest compliment I can give a writer: premise be damned, just have your characters talk! Overall grade: A+ 

The art: I picked this book for dinosaurs, plain and simple. I want the thunder lizards to be chasing after people and crushing anything that gets in their way, it’s that simple. But darned if artist Russ Braun doesn’t make everything in this book look sensational. I’m a huge fan of Roy Crane’s Wash Tubb and Captain Easy and Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates. This series is set in the same time period, granted with dinosaurs, but he’s captured that era perfectly. The first page looks sensational as Clemmie in her vintage clothing returns to the crashed plane to get the gun. Klaus’ sprint to the pygmies is terrifying and funny, with the little people dying in the most graphic ways. The first panel on Page 6 is stunning, and it’s only matched by Klaus’ disgust in the final panel. The setting on 8 is sumptuous, with a wonderful tease in the final panel on that page. It’s impossible not to hear that classic theme (Which I just saw in the theaters a few days ago!) on that full page splash on 13. Page 15 has a great surprise that goes into amazing detail on the following two pages. The individuals revealed in the final panel on 19 are wonderful, leading to three wonderful final panels that each contain a payoff. This was a beautiful book that captured the time period and the dangers of a primeval world. I bow down to Braun’s artistry. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: You will believe that these forests are green, that dinosaurs come in the shown shades, and that sunsets can be this beautiful orange, thanks to the skill of Dono Sanchez Almara. A forest has got to be one of the most difficult environments for a colorist to work on, because it’s green — What else is there to do? Lots! Different shades, hues, and blendings of color make this setting real, and Almara certainly does so. What can be worse than a forest? Howzabout an ocean? It’s blue — What more could you want? Lots! The early morning trek across the water is foreboding in it’s blues, whites, and greys. Two other colors come into play during this crossing and they are strong and believable. That’s the best compliment I can say to a colorist: Mr. Almara, you make this book believable. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Screams, yells, dialogue, sounds, the issue’s story title, and the tease for the story’s continuation are created by Rob Steen and they’re outstanding. I wanted some major dinosaur sounds when these creatures roar and I got that, plus Klaus’ opening screams were hilarious. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is the best book of the week. It’s funny, exciting, and surprising. One moment I’m laughing out loud, then I’m squirming at the dinosaur attacks, and then I’m absorbing the grandeur of the setting. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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