In Review: Monsters Unleashed! #3

Lots of action, then lots of narrative exposition. The art is strong, at least.

The covers: There are seven covers stated on the credits’ page for this issue. I’m grateful that Marvel is stating of all these frontpieces for this series, but I sure wish they would do this with all of their titles. The Regular cover is by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sonny Gho. This shows Kei Kawade from the back leaping into a cadre of monsters. He’s accompanied by Ms. Marvel, Captain America, Hulk, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, and Nova. The angle of this is cool and the monsters look amazing. The coloring on this is spectacular. The Ed McGuinness and Dave McCaig Monster vs Hero Variant cover has Spider-Man hiding behind a tree as Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur pass by. Nice, but what’s up with Spidey’s hand? Why is he making that gesture? I know he’s supposed to be shooting a web, but where is it? The Francesco Francavilla 1950s Movie Variant cover states “THE RETURN OF THE MARTIAN” and it shows the creature making its way through a bombed out town as several fighter jets try to take it down. This looks pulled out of that time period and the coloring is brilliant in oranges and yellows. The Monster Variant cover is by Leinil Francis Yu and Marte Gracia. This wraparound cover showcases new monster Mekra. On the cover of the book she’s shown from the front (colored), while a sketch of her arm is to her right and a sketch of leg is to her left. The backside of the book shows the character from the side and back, both are colored. Accompanying her is her sword, also colored, and sketches of her intricate backpack. I’m a big fan of these variant covers and it’s the one I purchased. Q-Hayashida is responsible for the cover that focuses on an old school Marvel Monster, with this showcasing Rommbu. It’s drawn well, but the colors are so dark it’s really difficult to make out any details in the creature. The Hip-Hop Variant cover is by David Williams and Carlos Cabrera. This has the Hulk looking at the reader. I couldn’t find anywhere online what album cover this was inspired by. It’s okay, but without a reference, I couldn’t say if this good or not. Jee-Hyung Lee is responsible for the Marvel Future Fight Variant and it shows Elsa Bloodstone about to blast her way into action. The character looks great and the coloring truly brings it to life. Worth tracking down. Overall grades: Regular A, Monster vs Hero Variant B+, 1950s Movie Monster Variant A, Monster Variant A, Q-Hayashida Variant C+, Hip-Hop Variant B-, and Marvel Future Fight Variant A

The story: Outside San Diego, California, two sets of giant monsters are staring each other down. Between them are members of the Avengers and Champions. Captain America states the Avengers will take the group on the right, while Ms. Marvel says the Champions will take those on the left. Suddenly one group leaps over the heroes and begins to attack the others: the monsters are ignoring the heroes as they tear into each other. Realizing that the citizens are more important than the behemoths, the heroes try save the innocent bystanders that could be caught in the creatures’ wrath. This was a fun twist from writer Cullen Bunn, as one would expect the heroes to be battling the monsters. Not this time: it’s old school Marvel Monsters versus those that have fallen to Earth in the previous issues. Increasing tension from humanity’s point of view is Maria Hill, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., chomping at the bit to order an airstrike on the creatures. There’s no guarantee it’ll work, and there’s every possibility that it will come with a human cost. Then the unthinkable happens on Page 11. This was the perfect way to end the fight and leave the heroes with more questions. Elsa Bloodstone arrives on the scene and points the heroes in the direction of Ki Kawade, who’s talking with Rocket Raccoon and Groot. More is revealed about Kawade’s apparent abilities and the arrival of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur spills even more. Finally, a complete answer is given why Ki is capable of summoning the creatures. It makes sense in the Marvel Universe, but I wasn’t too thrilled with it; I’ve never been happen with this justification for one’s powers. Better are the final five pages of the book that show the real fighting has yet to begin. This was fun for the opening fight, but there’s a lot of exposition that could have been shortened to resume the fighting, which is what I’m paying for. Overall grade: B-

The art: This is a beautiful looking book. That’s an unlikely adjective to describe a series about giant monsters pummeling one another, but it sums up this book perfectly. Leinil Francis Yu is the penciller and Gerry Alanguilan and Michael Jason Paz the inkers. The book opens with a good two panel sequence of the monsters staring down the other side. It’s a slick way to visually show the reader who will be fighting whom shortly. The heroes in the third panel all have their vision high, signifying to the reader how tall these monsters are. Pages 2 and 3 are a double-paged spread showing the monstrous melee. It’s great and shows how they’re pairing off. The two pages that follow have the monsters commenting on their fights, while the nonparticipating heroes fly off to help the humans. 6 and 7 is another double-paged spread, now showing how the fight is progressing. It’s outstanding. The fallout from the fight is fine, though the monsters are much more impressive than the roster of heroes. When the scene moves to New York, several characters get close ups as they speak and these characters look exceptionally well drawn. Of particular note are Groot, Rocket, Ki, Moon Girl, and Medusa. All of these scenes are exposition scenes, but Yu, Alanguilan, and Paz make them gorgeous to behold. The final page is a full paged splash that shows an expansive threat making its way to Earth. These antagonists have a wide variety of designs and look great. The cliffhanger image should leave the reader wanting more and I certainly do. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Assisting the art is color artist David Curiel. His work is just as beautiful as the art. His blending of colors is awesome. Take a look at the backgrounds in every panel on the first page: the cloudy effects he’s creating with his colors are photorealistic. The first double-paged splash is an explosion of colors that matches the violence of the colliding creatures. Sounds and inhuman screams also receive exceptional coloring, standing out from the page with bright colors. Every character’s flesh is beautifully blended to look realistic, and that includes Devil Dinosaur. The antagonists of the final page are a varied lot and Curiel wisely gives them a wide variety of colors that bring each to life. Curiel is making this book golden with his contributions. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Travis Lanham creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, character identification, the monsters’ particular speech font, sounds, screams, Tim Boo Ba’s unique speech, Devil Dinosaur’s roars, and the speech for the Nest’s inhabitants. I would have preferred to see each monster get its own unique font, for they should sound different from one another, shouldn’t they? And the same could be said for some of the heroes, whose dialogue balloons receive some unique shapes, rather than their text. The sounds are fun, including Devil Dinosaur’s musings, and that’s neat to see. Still, the similar dialogue did lessen my joy in reading this book. Overall grade: B

The final line: Lots of action, then lots of narrative exposition. This issue is a bridge between the battle from the previous issue and the impending one in Issue #4. The art is strong, at least. Overall grade: B+

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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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