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Monsters Unleashed

The only thing you really need to know about Marvel’s latest mini-event is that Steve McNiven is drawing giant monsters fighting superheroes.

No socio-political commentary centered on government regulatory efforts; no overt attempt at redefining heroic archetypes for the twenty-first century. We’re not going to philosophize about space travel, or the multiverse, or the disenfranchisement of mutants. We don’t give a shit about evil corporations. There are giant, extraterrestrial monsters pounding on every supergroup in Marvel’s catalog, from the Avengers to the X-Men. In Monsters Unleashed #1, by Cullen Bunn and McNiven, the earth is under attack by a variety of giant beasties, raining down on the planet from space. Underused B-lister Elsa Bloodstone (see the recent A-Force series) is investigating the apocalyptic origins of this disaster, while somewhere in Missouri, there is a teenager with an active imagination and a sketchbook, somehow caught up in the middle of everything.

1963, two issues before Amazing Fantasy debuts Spider-Man
1963, two issues before Amazing Fantasy introduces the world to Spider-Man

Again, while it’s great to just pick up a comic book wherein Steve McNiven is drawing monsters battling superheroes, there is something wonderfully poetic about the event. During comicdom’s Golden Age, in the time while DC was developing a super-pantheon, Marvel’s bread and butter was still monster books. Whether in the pages of Astonishing Tales or Amazing Fantasy, creatures reigned. Indeed, when the Marvel Age began with Fantastic Four #1, Jack Kirby’s iconic cover features the First Family battling a subterranean behemoth. The superheroes were officially here, and they had vanquished the monsters. It’s taken more than fifty years, but looks like payback has arrived.
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