Frankly,you should already know of Necessary Monsters. God knows I talked about it enough with the first series back in 2009. And I talked about it a lot because it was a bloody great little horror thriller series. (If you need reminders however – #1&2, #3&4, #5)
Well, now we have the second series, self published by Azzopardi and Goodbrey before collection by First Comics. And I was torn between detailing the entirety of that first series to set up this second, or just letting you make your own way.
In the end, I reckon you’d thank me more for being vague, giving you a taste rather than a summary of what went before. So here’s the perfect intro, the text leading off every issue thus far:
“There exists a world of horrors beneath the one we know. Where the creatures of our nightmares stalk amongst humanity and play their games of vengence, murder and intrigue. To police this world there is the Chain; a covert agency of monsters and killers, charged with keeping the human herd from ever growing too thin.”
We’re in the world of weird here, strange dark places, strange dark places with cold chills down the spine, just before the spine gets ripped out by some hideous nightmare of a thing. Then there’s your problem of distinguishing between the nightmares and the nightmare hunters.
I described it before as a mix of James Bond and Hellblazer, spy horror thrills, fantastic and fantastical. I called it and all-out, ballsy, cliché-ridden horror thriller and genuinely meant that as a good thing.
And it still is every bit the all-out, ballsy, cliché-ridden horror thriller. And this is STILL great news.
This episode rejoins the fun, with a couple of old friends from Volume One; Charlotte Hatred (spooky, killer, moves through mirrors) and the new-girl last time; Creeping Tuesday (daughter of original team member, tracks and brutally murders criminals through their dreams). They’re busy doing their own thing, dressing up as giant cockroaches and dispatching serial killers. No, really. Giant cockroaches…. madness, but oh so much fun.
However, I’m not giving any more than that away this time. Suffice it to say this is tremendously good fun, with Goodbrey on fine form, everything set-up with promise and intrigue, tantalising not frustrating, just as a good first issue should be, starting with the introduction of new psychotic bad-guy Murderbox (he on the front cover), who happens to be searching for something or someone called Daisy Mayhew, re-introducing Chain agents Charlotte and Tuesday, ending on an unexpected cliffhanger, and generally spending all the time in between being as damn out and out horrifically bonkers as possible.
Artistically Azzopardi excels with the darker moments, the shadowy introductions are all spot on. The action stuff… not so spot on. There’s occasionally a stiffness amongst the figurework that grates slightly with something so fast paced and flowing as Necessary Monsters. But that, in all honesty, is a minor complaint, and there’s far more to enjoy in the art than to disparage.
I was going to pepper this review with panels to illustrate what I’m going on about, to give you an idea of the winning combination of thrills and chills that Goodbrey and Azzopardi are creating here. But instead realised that the best way to sell it to you is to show you the first siix pages, the pre-credit sequence up there with the cinematic excitement you may have seen recently with a certain Mr Bond.
Well, here it is….
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how to start an issue.
Bang. And we’re off and running. Away, preferably.
You can pick up a copy of Murderbox Issue 1 from Sean Azzopardi’s website shop, or from the gents at Thought Bubble. And if you haven’t already, grab a copy of the first Necessary Monsters collection.