There are comic books like V For Vendetta – those that use the visual impact of a comic to tell stories of human fault in a horrifyingly realistic world. There are comic books like Ethel and Ernest – those that tell no genuine story and instead present the reader with a gentle snapshot of autobiographical human life.
And then there are comic books like Laura Harkcom’s and Christopher Leone’s We Kill Monsters. This first issue tells the story of the fatherless Basher Brothers, two mechanics that are close to the point where brother Andrew can’t hold down a relationship with bargirl Vanessa. Since their father’s death, Andrew and Jake live and work together, inseparable, almost unable to have lives outside of each other.
Things don’t get any easier when, out of nowhere, a savage monster attacks the brothers. Because, y’know, how else is the story going to progress from the brothers feeling sorry for themselves? The story is essentially split into three sections – melancholic back-story, monster attack, another monster attack. But the story isn’t quite as disjointed as I make out. The back-story establishes how Andrew is overly protective of his brother, and how Andrew is the stronger of the two brothers.
This is turned on its head somewhat when, after Jake is attacked by the first monster and Andrew manages to kill it, the blue blood that spews from monster’s corpse miraculously heals Jake’s arm. The next day, the brothers awake to find that Jake’s arm has mutated into that of the monster’s arm, resplendent in claws and muscle.
The ensuing chase between the brothers and the second monster shows how Jake slowly grows out of his shell and away from Andrew’s brotherly grasp. This is also highlighted on the final page where, as the brother’s dangle on the edge of the cliff, it is Jake who clings to Andrew, saving his brother from falling to his death.
The comic sports gorgeously glossed-up artwork, provided by Brian Churilla with colours by Ronda Pattison. It emphasizes the bubbly blue blood that spurts from both monsters in a truly film-worthy manner. The shadowing is also effective, with the colours giving freshness to that well-worn technique of completely shadowing the character’s eyes to show the loss of the brother’s father.
The first of a six-part story, We Kill Monsters is unexpectedly entertaining, fusing an odd mixture of plaintive humanity and roaring, fast-paced fantasy. With a hooky story and fabulous artwork, it’s a comic not to be missed.