Monster on the Hill  Image Rob Harrell

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Monsters, Vampires, and Archie… Oh My!

Comic Books GeekMom
Monster on the Hill   Image Rob Harrell
Monster on the Hill Image Rob Harrell

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week I dive into Monster on the Hill, the first 186 page comic book my son willingly sat down and read cover to cover. For the Archie fans, Rachel checks out B&V Friends Double Digest, while  Lisa journeys into the dark world of V-Wars. Also included in this week’s edition, Melody writes a thank you letter to ComiXology for helping her rediscover comics!

Dakster Sullivan — Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell

Monster on the Hill  Cover by Rob Harrell
Monster on the Hill Cover by Rob Harrell

Monster on the Hill is a really fun and cute all-ages comic book, set in 1860’s England. In this world, every town has a monster, and the townsfolk rely on the monster to bring in tourists (kind of like a scary Mickey Mouse kind of thing). The monster is also a source of pride in each town… well, every town except for Stoker-Von-Avon.

In an attempt to get his lab back, a kooky scientist, Wilkie, and his forced-on-him-companion, Timmy the newsboy, set out to help their town’s monster that just sits depressingly on top of a hill. This monster is so depressing, he’s making the town depressed.

After talking with Rayburn (the monster), Wilkie and Timmy decide to run him through some monster drills and go on a road trip to talk to get tips from other monsters. Unfortunately terror strikes while they are away and we learn that monsters are not only there to wreck havoc on their towns, they are also there to protect them.

The downside to this book is that some parents might find the language a bit inappropriate at times. I was surprised to see words like “bloody hell” and “sucks” coming from the young and old characters.

On the upside though, the messages of friendship, confidence, creative problem solving, and responsibility are strong, but subtle.

The book itself is pretty thick at 186 pages, but that’s partially because the lettering and the panels are done as big as the monsters themselves. It’s a nice layout for kids that don’t like to read the smaller print you find in regular comics. My 8-year-old son loved this story so much, he read the entire thing in one sitting!

The Monster on the Hill is published by Top Shelf and is recommended for all-ages.

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Melody Mooney — One Stay at Home GeekMom’s thank you to ComiXology

I wanted to pass along my quick review of my first experience buying online comics from ComiXology. Impressed with how the 2014 Marvel relaunch of She-Hulk looked on my laptop, I’m giving it a five star rating. Having a three-year-old daughter to keep up with almost had me giving up on my own comic book reading. It was tough finding time to buy new issues at the store. Converting to comics online has given me much joy and new hope.

I was able to purchase all four available titles in the series and had the option to subscribe for future immediate downloads. I also added the free ComiXology app for my Droid-based phone, and I’m sneaking in looks during my busy days with my daughter.

Cover by Bill Galvan, Bob Smith, and Rosario “Tito” Peña.

Rachel Cericola — B&V Friends Double Digest #238 written by Frank Doyle and art by Dan DeCarlo, Jimmy DeCarlo, Bill Yoshida, and Barry Grossman

Remember last week how I said that Betty was basically non-existent in the Jughead and Archie Double Digest #1? This super-sized issue certainly makes up for that absence. It’s all about Betty and Veronica here—and of course, Archie. The 160-page digest kicks off with a scenario that’s sure to get your attention: Betty and Veronica getting married! Um, say what?

Not to worry. The duo is just modeling a bunch of wedding dresses. Of course, Archie doesn’t know that. Now, he has to choose between the two, which is so difficult that it requires a four-parter called “Archie’s Choice.” It has our favorite redhead picking out the right ring and trying to choose between his two teen loves by dreaming up two very different futures.

If you’re bothered at all by this classic love triangle, you probably won’t appreciate this book (or any Archie Comics, for that matter). Those of you enamored by the whole thing will love shorts like “The Heart is a Whimsical Hunter” and “Scent of 2 Women.” However, it’s not just a bunch of catfights (although those are present). The duo does have a few Archie-free adventures. Plus, the book has a pair of Josie and The Pussycats stories and a bunch of Jinx shorts.

Without a doubt though, the highlight of this issue is the 25-page sneak peek at Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty. The format and artwork is very reminiscent of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (which I do love), but it’s not nearly as funny. It is pretty cute though, with Betty freaking out about her very first day at Riverdale.

Lisa Tate — V-Wars #1 written by Jonathan Maberry, illustrated by Alan Robinson, colored by Jay Fotos (IDW). Mature readers.

V-Wars  Image: IDW Publishing
V-Wars Image: IDW Publishing

Luther Swan, Ph.D, is an expert in vampire folklore, but he never thought it would be something he would have to apply to his own, real-life experiences in a heartbreaking and horrifying way. The melting of polar ice might have awoken a once dormant gene of junk DNA hidden in all human, the I1V1 virus that causes vampiric traits. Anyone and everyone anywhere in the world can be affected, and the result is a global hysteria and paranoia, as well as the inevitable vampire-vs-human war (aka V-Wars).

The ever-prominent idea of the sparkly, boyishly sexy, pouty, and sardonically witty vampires ala Twilight and True Blood has put me off vampire stories, but the V-Wars situation intrigued me as it was closer to the zombie apocalypse scenarios I confess I do find fascinating. In the vein of Max Brooks’s World War Z, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, this book is a much about the human condition as it is about the “monsters” they become — and it isn’t pretty. These vampires certainly don’t sparkle, but they also don’t take on any one form. Some people become the more “traditional” bloodsuckers, some more beastly and carnivorous, and some more demonic. The vampires in this series are as varied as its world’s situation is bleak.

The content was quite graphic, and at times a little over-the-top for even me (that’s saying something, since I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of Garth Ennis and Mark Millar in my day), but the images weren’t nearly as gruesome as the situation. The complete hopelessness of the human condition in this story left me with a feeling of cold, isolated sadness, particularly the instances where children were involved. Being a mom has really made me focus on how catastrophic events (both real and utterly unreal) would affect youth and families, and this tapped into some of my hidden nightmares.

Although it isn’t vital, I recommend getting a hold of the Free Comic Book Day VWars Issue #0 as a good primer for the story, especially for the information in the “Top Secret Files” following the story. Issue #1 picks up right where it left of, and the path Luther continues on from there only gets more complicated.

I’m likely not going to continue with this series, but I can’t criticize it for being poorly written. Maberry is an exceptional storyteller, and if you’re willing to brace yourself for the harrowing, dark and twisted ride, you will be thoroughly entertained.

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

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Absolute Superman Batman Vol. 2 HC
Action Comics #31
Aquaman Vol. 3 Throne Of Atlantis TP
Aquaman Vol. 4 Death Of A King HC
Arrow Vol. 2 TP
Authority Vol. 1 TP
Batgirl #31
Batman Bruce Wayne Murderer TP (New Edition)
Batman Eternal #6 Weekly Series
Batman Legends Of The Dark Knight Vol. 2 TP
Coffin Hill Vol. 1 Forest Of The Night TP
Constantine #14
DC Comics Presents The Demon Driven Out #1
Fables #140
FBP Federal Bureau Of Physics #10
Green Lantern Corps #31
JSA Omnibus By Geoff Johns Vol. 1 HC
Justice League United #1 New Series
New 52 Futures End #2 New Weekly Series
Royals Masters Of War #4 (Of 6)
Scooby-Doo Where Are You #45 Kid Friendly
Smallville Season 11 Lantern #2 (Of 4)
Spectre Vol. 1 Crimes And Judgments TP
Superboy #31
Superman Doomed #1 (One Shot)
Superman The Man Of Tomorrow Archives Vol. 3 HC
Superman Wonder Woman #8
Worlds’ Finest #23
Age Of Ultron Companion TP
All-New Ghost Rider #3 New Series
All-New Ultimates #2 New Series
All-New X-Men #27
Amazing Spider-Man Peter Parker The One And Only TP
Avengers #29
Avengers Undercover #4 New Series
Captain America #20
Captain Marvel #3 New Series
Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series
Deadpool #28
Deadpool Vs Carnage #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series
Fantastic Four #4 New Series
Hulk By Jeph Loeb The Complete Collection Vol. 2 TP
Iron Man #25
Iron Man Vol. 4 Iron Metropolitan HC
Loki Agent Of Asgard #3
Magneto #2
Marvel Knights X-Men Haunted TP
Marvel Masterworks Daredevil Vol. 8 HC
Marvel Universe Avengers Assemble #8
Moon Knight #2 New Series
New Avengers #18
Nightcrawler #2 New Series
Original Sin #1 (Of 8) New Mini-Series / Event
Secret Avengers #3 New Series
She-Hulk By Dan Slott The Complete Collection Vol. 2 TP
Twelve The Complete Series TP
United States Of Murder Inc #1
Wolverine #6
X-Force #5 New Series
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24 #1 New Series
Ben 10 Vol. 1 TP Kid Friendly
Definitive Flash Gordon And Jungle Jim Vol. 4 HC
G.I. JOE A Real American Hero #202
Jack Kirby’s New Gods Artist’s Edition HC
Judge Dredd #19
Judge Dredd Classics Vol. 1 Apocalypse War HC
Judge Dredd Vol. 4 13 Badges TP
Kill Shakespeare #1 (Hundred Penny Press Game Edition)
Locke And Key Head Games #1 (Hundred Penny Press Edition)
Mars Attacks First Born #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series
Red Star Treasury Edition
Rogue Trooper Classics #1 (Of 12)  New Mini-Series
Star Trek Annual 2013
Star Trek New Visions #1 (The Mirror Cracked)  New Series
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Vol. 8 TP
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures #11 Kid Friendly
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #29
Transformers Regeneration One Vol. 4 TP
WEIRD Love #1 New Series
Wraith Welcome To Christmasland #6 (Of 7)
Abe Sapien #12
Art Of Plants Vs Zombies A Visual Retro Retropsec Book HC
Art Of Wolfenstein The New Order HC
Blade Of The Immortal Vol. 29 Beyond Good And Evil TP
Hellboy In Hell #6
Hellboy In Hell Vol. 1 The Descent TP
Jack Kraken (One Shot)
Mandala TP
Samurai Executioner Omnibus Vol. 1 TP
Star Wars #17
Terminator Enemy Of My Enemy #3 (Of 6)
X #13

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading

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2 thoughts on “GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Monsters, Vampires, and Archie… Oh My!

  1. “The downside to this book is that some parents might find the language a bit inappropriate at times. I was surprised to see words like ‘bloody hell’ and ‘sucks’ coming from the young and old characters.”

    That’s my big issue with the terms “all ages” and “for kids” in comics. Kids can start enjoying comics as young as, what, 2 or 3? And 16 year olds can still be considered kids. And the terms don’t really help you navigate, nor do library shelving decisions in some cases. We loved Monster on the Hill and had no problem reading it with our seven year old, but I’d still consider it more for older kids and young adults because of the language, for most families. And there’s no real way to describe that concisely.

    1. Very true. I wish publishers would consider more than just the story line / art when labeling books for all ages. If nothing else, maybe the author should consider who their audience is going to be and write accordingly in terms of language / action. I’ve heard that some authors don’t even know that their books have ratings until after it’s published. If they kept this in mind, maybe we could have a more accurate system of judging books.

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