In Review: Where Monsters Dwell #5

A tale like this would have made a better short story than visual read.

The cover: Clemmie Franklin-Cox has her pistol drawn and ready. Surrounded by seven warrior women, the heroine looks like she can dominate anyone, and if a reader were to look at the bottom of the image, one could see she already has. Karl Kaufmann is bound at her feet, with three tiny dinosaurs looking at him bemusedly. Frank Cho and Jason Keith have done an excellent job on this final cover, evoking classic imagery from the Haggard and Burroughs modes, yet putting a modern spin on it with the male protagonist submissive and bound. Excellent. Overall grade: A

The story: Last issue ended with Karl using some pygmies to battle the women so that he could run back to his plane. He’s done so successfully, even bringing with him the parts he needs to repair his plane, but he didn’t count on Clemmie realizing so quickly that he’s missing. Just as he’s finished his work and he sits down to catch his breath, Clemmie is behind him with a gun. What follows in this final issue from Garth Ennis is his companion’s origin and how she brought herself to her current state. In the process, readers learn her motivation for doing what she’s done to Karl in the previous issues and why she’s so good with a gun. There’s a surprising turn on 13, which adds another layer to Clemmie’s character, and Page 15 shows how Karl feels about her. 16 has the protagonist venting his anger at the skies and then something happens. The book ends in the perfect location, which was telegraphed way back in Issue #1. There’s a lot of exposition in this issue; in fact, that seems like that’s all that this is. But it’s never boring with all of Clemmie’s talking. She’s a smart character, though just as unethical as Karl. A good conclusion. Overall grade: A-

The art: I liked the visuals on this issue from Russ Braun, but the story severely handicaps his options. The majority of the story is focused on Clemmie revealing her past to Karl. This takes place next to the plane, which is in the water next to a waterfall. There are no other characters or animals in the scene, as they would distract from the tale being told. There are only so many ways to show two characters speaking in this location and Braun does them all. The emotions he puts on both characters are good, but looking at one character talking and talking and talking got repetitive. There are a few flashbacks the story calls for as Clemmie reveals information, but they don’t occur enough. By the time the story allowed Karl to get in his plane I was anxious for him to do so just to remove him from this location. My favorite contributions to this issue came whenever Karl’s plane was drawn. It’s beautiful and it’s extremely rare to see such a machine in a comic. I wish the story had allowed more of it. My grade is what is heavily influenced by story constraints and not artist’s ability. Overall grade: B+

The colors: The colors aren’t too varied in this book, either. Dono Sanchez Almara does a good job, but the story is stuck in the same location, under a dark sky, so the colors are dim. The flashbacks are nicely tinted to show when Clemmie is discussing her past, but they only continue the dreary visual tone of this book. The final four pages are especially, and rightfully, brown, but, again, that makes for a dull book. Overall grade: B+

The letters: Rob Steen has created narration, dialogue, a sensational story title, and some yelling. All are great, but utilitarian. Overall grade: B+

The final line: This series wraps up well, but not visually. A tale like this would have made a better short story than visual read. I’m glad I bought it, though it didn’t follow the “monsters” I was expecting. Overall grade: B+

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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