§ August 31st, 2005 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

Sergeantstein and his Maraudin’ Monsters is Pete Von Sholly’s latest trade paperback release, and if you’ve been reading comics for any length of time at all, you may find the premise slightly familiar. A bunch of monsters (such as the mummy G.I. Ho-Tep, the vampire Battlebat, Warwolf, and Sergeantstein himself) are teamed up in a military squad to do battle against…well, more monsters, actually. On a surface level, this may sound similar to the Creature Commandos from DC Comics, but where DC played it mostly straight with their military monsters, Von Sholly takes the more entertaining route of outright goofiness. There’s something just inherently cool about monsters fighting monsters, and the subject matter is a good match for Von Sholly’s clear, bright and colorful art style. The writing is more concerned with jokes than with plot, and is never terribly deep, but then, it doesn’t have to be. It just has to be funny, and in that it succeeds admirably. An extended parody of H.P. Lovecraft is particularly effective, and while a familiarity with Lovecraft’s work will aid in the appreciation of this story, Von Sholly packs in enough general silliness that you non-Lovecraftian scholars out there will still find plenty to enjoy. A short strip with Sergeantstein taking his nephews (“Chewy, Gooey, and Screwy”) to the movies allows for some satirical jabs at special effects-laden modern films (both sci-fi extravaganzas like The Matrix and more recent monster movies like Hellraiser and Nightmare on Elm Street), which is surely meant as a contrast to the old-style monster movies that this comic is an homage to.

Overall, it’s big, goofy fun, and, in its own peculiar way, a nice tribute to the monster movies of decades past.

I direct you to Mr. Von Sholly’s own site for a several page preview of the book.

Hero Squared #2 is due out in your finer comic shops today, and I don’t know what else to tell you that I haven’t told you before. This is the flashback issue, as we get to see what happened to Captain Valor’s old universe prior to being sent to his non-powered counterpart Milo’s parallel universe. The flashbacks are purposefully illustrated in a more superheroic style by Mark Badger and Shannon Denton that, while appropriate to the material being presented, does come across as a slightly distracting contrast to regular artist Joe Abraham’s more down-to-earth slightly cartoony style. Not saying it’s bad or anything, just different from what I was used to seeing in this book…and you know how us comic book fans are about things that are new and different! (Oh, relax, I’m just kidding. Mostly.)

Anyway, the flashbacks are framed with a nice contrast of scenes, where on Earth Captain Valor has a chat with Milo’s girlfriend Stephie, while in space Milo is a captive audience to Valor’s arch-nemesis Caliginous…who is an evil version of Stephie! Only in comics, folks, and Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis have a lot of fun with this slightly convoluted situation.

For those of you out there looking for a breather from the angst and crossover shenanigans in other superhero comics on the stands, this might be just what you’re looking for.

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