In Review: Monsters Unleashed! #5

A fun monsterpalooza for the younger comic reading crowd.

The covers: A lucky seven different covers to close out the final issue of this mini-series. The Regular cover features new monster Hi-Vo dropping down to battle the evil monsters that are plaguing the Earth. Behind him are fellow newbie creatures Fireclaw and, I believe, Regis. Scattered among these giant-sized heroes are the familiar Marvel heroes, including Hercules, Captain America, Medusa, Spider-Man, Thor, Cyclops, Wasp, and Vision. There are many more, but it would take some serious time to name them all, suffice to say, Adam Kubert and Brad Anderson filled this frontpiece up! Following the order listing in the credits, the next variant is the Wraparound Variant by Kubert and Paul Mounts. This focuses on Hi-Vo in color with a sketch of his hand to his right and sketch of his head to his left. The back shows him from the rear with two head shots in color, while an uncolored version of his backside and an uncolored full image of him crouching before a puppy completes the images. I’ve loved all of these variants and it’s the one I purchased. Francesco Francavilla does the final 1950s Monster Variant with “The Creature from the Black Bog” reaching out of lake to attack a navy helicopter. Francavilla does it justice, with the creature looking cheesy, but faithful to its design. The Monster vs Marvel Hero Variant has Thor vs the Stone Men. This is a neat image of three of the monstrous stone creatures making their way to pummel the tiny god, who’s already spinning her hammer to do battle with them. Good job by Sara Pichelli and Jason Keith. I like the layout of this, with the monsters rightfully dominating, and the colors great, especially with the sick green making the antagonists even more menacing. Superlog does a variant showing Fin Fang Foom making his way through a city. It’s colored way too darkly to see any of the details and what can be seen of the infamous baddie looks like middle school tattoo art. Sorry, but this does not work. The Hip-Hop Variant is by Mike Choi. “Monsters Unleashed Ready to Rumble” is atop the faux album cover which features Wolverine, Thor, and Medusa in the woods with two monsters on either side of them. As with the previous ones, it’s okay, but I have no reference to draw from what it’s honoring. The Marvel Future Fight Variant by Jee-Hyung Lee features Kei Kawade, who looks like he’s lost five or six years from last issue — he looks about 9. Holding his powerful tablet, he looks ready to start drawing up a new creature, though behind him is creation Hi-Vo. Overall grades: Regular A, Wraparound Variant A, 1950s Monster Variant B-, Monster vs Marvel Hero Variant A, Superlog Variant F, Hip-Hop Variant B-, and Marvel Future Fight Variant B

The story: The heroes are on the ropes in New York. The Vision, Nova, and the Totally Awesome Hulk (Who goes down in a hilarious way!) are out for the count. Last issue the Leviathon Mother had arrived and she’s obviously made short work of everyone’s favorite protagonists. Only Thor is making her way up, but she’s not doing it quickly enough. Arriving on the scene, to hopefully save the day, is Fin Fang Foom, who gives the greatest speech of the issue to the antagonist, “I swore long ago that if Earth deserved to be conquered…I would be the one to do it. And since I do not foresee us reaching a diplomatic agreement…I am afraid I must destroy you.” Just as the behemoths begin to go at each other, writer Cullen Bunn moves the story back to Parker Industries, where Moon Girl, Devil Dinosaur, Spider-Man, and Kei Kawade were being attacked by servitors, but the prehistoric hero, and Spider-Man, stopped them. Kei tells the others he can understand what the Leviathon Mother is saying: she wants them to go outside and face her. He’s afraid of doing that, and that’s when something arrives to complicate things. There’s a terrific entrance on Page 6, which is followed up a really drawn out self-doubting scene. This character has had doubts from the get-go, but after four issues of monsters wrecking the world, I would think there’d be a smidge more confidence in this individual’s character. The new monsters’ arrival is great, as is their battle with the Leviathon Mother, however I wasn’t too keen on what occurs on 18 and 19. Yes, this is generated by a child, but it was way too similar to Saban Entertainment’s famous franchise. Knowing this, and how the series ends, this sets up Marvel to follow in that company’s footsteps with these characters. If I were under ten, this would probably be really cool. As an adult reader, this conclusion let me down. That said, everything before 18 was a lot of fun. Overall grade: B-

The art: There’s no knocking the visuals on this issue. Adam Kubert’s art is spectacular and having him illustrate the monsters beating the tar out of each other in the ruins of New York looks spectacular. That final panel on the first page is one takeaway from this series I’ll never forget. Pages 2 and 3 are almost a full double paged spread and its terrific with its destruction, with collapsed monsters and heroes, buildings in ruin, and the victorious Leviathon Mother bellowing her victory. 4 opens with a great establishment shot looking down into a room in Parker Industries so that the reader can clearly see the heroes and all the servitors that have gone down. Kei looks most like a teen in this issue, about twelve or thirteen. He always looked a little older than this in earlier books, but this is where he should be. The first two panels on 6 are flat out awesomeness, which are followed by several exposition panels. Kubert makes these as visually interesting as possible, but there’s no denying that this is just several people standing around and talking. 9 has the action moving back to the monsters and the visuals improve considerably, because there’s more for Kubert to sink his teeth into. There’s no complaining about any of the art that follows, with it being exciting and vibrant. The flow of action is also really well done, which is no small feat considering all the characters involved. Page 24 is a full paged splash and it’s the climax of the story. It’s got a good amount of power in it, though the character on the right is difficult to make out, diminishing some of the image’s strengths. Still, that’s a minor nit compared to all the details Kubert puts on the page. Overall grade: A

The colors: Outstanding bright colors on this book originate from David Curiel and Michael Garland. In the first page’s devastation, the Hulk is a stand out with his greens in the ruble, overshadowed by the reds and yellows that come his way. Dark colors continue on the second and third page, with only yellow flame and some brightness from heroes’ costumes providing any bright spots. Devil Dinosaur is the first large splash of bright colors on a page, with the speech of another even brighter and drawing focus. Kei’s red sweater has the same effect; whenever he appears he takes the reader’s eye because he’s the brightest character on the page. The arrival of the new monsters comes via a sharp blue portal that makes the energy electric. When the newbies fight the Mother the colors cover the spectrum, accentuating each character’s abilities. The full page splash on 24 has the brightest colors of the book, which is appropriate since it’s the climax of this series. It’s just beautiful work throughout. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, character identification, sounds, the Leviathon Mother and Fin Fang Foom’s speech, Devil Dinosaur’s utterances, the dialogue of the five new monsters, one classic monster’s unique dialogue font, and some nifty narration are all crafted by VC’s Travis Lanham. The sounds are masterfully made to make the monsters’ clashing a chaotic cacophony of chaos. Reading them aloud increases this book’s fun. I really enjoyed how the monsters got their own dialogue fonts, with the five new ones getting similar ones, which tied them even more closely together. Lanham makes this book really entertaining. Overall grade: A+

The final line: “Go, Go Monsters Unleashed!” can probably be this series’s unofficial theme song. With it’s conclusion it shows itself to be a monster smackdown and introduction to five new heroes for the Marvel Universe. It’s not deep or dark, let alone for older readers, but a fun monsterpalooza for the younger comic reading crowd. 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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