In Review: Escape From Monster Island #1

This is making my inner eight year old undeniably happy. The stage is set, the monsters are in place, now RUN! Fun reading.

The covers: Five possible covers for you to add to your containment unit. The A cover is by Richard Ortiz and Ylenia DiNapoli. It shows an inflatable raft containing three mercenaries making a beeline for Monster Island, which looms in the distance. The heavy walled island has several buildings, so tall that the clouds cut off a clear view, though several red tentacles can be seen wrapping around several of the structures. Decent image to introduce the concept of Monster Island, but not a thrilling one. Antonio Bifulco and Jorge Cortes go much closer to the danger for their B cover. Behind bars, several monsters are straining to get out: a vampire, a werewolf, a sea monster, and another animal-like creature. I like the detail on each of the monsters and how there’s a dark sense of humor in the designs. Creepy and fun! A female elf is taking a demonic looking purple creature for a walk, out one of the gates of Monster Island. The elf is very sexy and the creature is emitting some type of purple flame/smoke/energy from its backside as it strains against its chain to go after the reader. This is a very unexpected C cover from Mike Krome and Ula Mos; I didn’t think an elf would qualify as a monster, let alone a pretty one. The D cover is very humorous, featuring four monsters in a lineup: a goblin, a zombie, a vampire, and a bored werewolf. This like an ad for “The Unusual Suspects.” Alfredo Reyes and Stephen Schaffer introduce the concepts of the monsters, while giving them a good comedic flair. This cover has me hoping for a bit of humor in this book. The final cover, the Cosplay exclusive, which is limited to only 350 copies, has artwork by Paul Green and colors by Mos. This is a gorgeous image of a brunette woman wearing most of a Boba Fett costume. This has absolutely nothing to do with this series, but it sure is pretty! Overall grades: A B-, B A, C B+, D A-, and Cosplay A+

The story: Masi Island (and what Masi stands for is great!), five years after containment failure. Two “bros” have brought their boat up against the massive wall that surrounds the island. One of the young men launches a drone with a camera to go over the wall, but it can’t drop below the foliage that’s on the other side. Tired of trying to figure out what’s wrong from a distance, one produces a repelling gun and launches a rope up the side of the wall. They ascend and one discovers that there’s an invisible force field obstructing entrance to the jungle below. He walks out to get the drone, but the force field suddenly turns off, and he falls to the ground. There are screams, shrieks, and cries that his friend can’t identify. Looking at the drone’s monitor, the surviving man sees pieces of his companion strewn about, those most of his body is missing. This transmission then transitions to the present where government spokesman Harcourt tells a group of seven mercenaries that they’ve been tired to get Doctor Kelsey Bennett in and out of the island in 48 hours, because the island is going to be destroyed. This is the premise from Ralph Tedesco and Joe Brusha, with Joe Tyler writing the story. The mercs and the doc go in through an underwater entrance and “stuff” happens. Once out of water, something else happens and one of member of the team has a sweet reveal. The justification for the mercenaries continuing on this mission is good, though it should be noted that their assumptions were not confirmed, only silence was given. The final two pages show what the team is really up against, and I’m raring for more! Let’s see some more monsters! Overall grade: A

The art: I went into this hoping to see some decent looking monsters battling each other and possibly some humans in a jungle setting. Carlos Granda gives so much more than that. The opening three pages give some much needed visual scale to the actions that going to occur. The first page introduces readers to an incredibly high wall with some violent waves crashing against it. The two hapless youths look great, reminding me very much of Langly from The X-Files. Their ascending of the wall is done in silhouette, but the inclusion of the ginormous waves crashing below them foreshadow the danger they’re getting involved with. The image on the drone’s screen is graphic, without being over the top, and its transition to Harcourt’s speech is nicely done. The introduction of the mercenary team at the bottom of Page 4 is perfect, with each character looking unique among such a large group; this is good since it will allow readers to easily tell each apart from the other. I was surprised to see the design of the elf on Page 7, though if this series ties in to the rest of the Zenescope Universe, that would be cool and justify her look. The diving sequence on 9 is nicely done, with the costumes, the poses, and the water looking good. The first creature is found in the water and it looks good, as does the action that takes care of. I really like Xorn and am looking forward to seeing more of him, out of his suit, in the next issue. The final two pages is a double-paged splash and it’s a spectacular way to end the issue: a view down upon monster island, showing several different creatures, and the buildings the jungle has swallowed. You’ve gotten me very excited by this book, Mr. Granda. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Jorge Cortes’s work on this book is good. Giving readers a false sense of security before things go wrong. The color of the boat is the only splash in the scene until the sounds show that something is not right. The mercenaries are in their diving outfits throughout this entire issue, so there’s a lot of black rubber, yet Cortes colors it well, without having the characters blob into a single unit due to the dark colors, and he also puts a nice reflective shine on each individual’s outfit. The water’s colors, above and below are very good, with white being used to show the streaks of motion occurring. The work on every character’s skin is also top notch, with the two close ups on Page 17 displaying this. The greens, purples, and blues of the final two pages are staggering, making the alien-ness of the setting wonderful. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, sounds, underwater transmissions, a character’s unique dialogue, and the “To Be Continued” appear thanks to Fabio Amelia. The sounds are wonderful on this book; if monsters play into a comic, I really want to have some spectacularly big sounds in strange, distorted fonts. Amelia gives that to me, and I’m grateful for it. Overall grade: A

The final line: Monsters of all shapes and sizes are interfering with the exploration of a mercenary unit’s trek. This is making my inner eight year old undeniably happy. The stage is set, the monsters are in place, now RUN! Fun reading. 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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