From artist John Lupo Avanti, comes the dark comedy Monster Myths. Read on to see what we thought of the graphic novel from Com.X!
The town of Lower Scabo is in a bit of a pickle. Just up the road is the upper class community of Northview where they enjoy their cookie cutter lifestyles of the bland and mass produced goods. In Lower Scabo, a slick tongued biker leader by the name of Gordon whose gang, the Cannibals, runs the lower class Scabobians through drugs, sex, and lots and lots of violence. That’s how we meet our hero, Alfredo. On a respectable date with a nice girl, a member of the Cannibals snatch his girl and leaves him broken and battered to die in a puddle in the street. When he comes to, he pulls himself out of the muck with a purpose to turn Lower Scabo upside down and flush the monsters from the town, but at what cost to this Robin Hood’s soul?
This is a particularly unique book. Avanti doesn’t just tell a story of a man’s mission to bring himself, and those terrorized by the Cannibals, out from under an oppressive situation. Instead, he tells this story through a love of the town he grew up in. In his preface, Avanti talks about his hometown with love and a great deal of sentimentality. He then goes on to talk about how much the town has changed since his early memories into a place he hardly recognizes. From that he builds this beautifully illustrated allegory of suburban, white collar people imposing their will on those who they don’t understand and, frankly, probably don’t care about.
Alfredo’s decision to frame the Cannibals for an attack on Northview comes from a good place. It’s his plan to rid Lower Scabo of the evil Cannibals, but the question becomes whether or not his personal attempt to make life better really meant he was making life better for everyone or just himself. As he successfully gets the uppity citizens of Northview to round up the Cannibals, but the result leads to those he was trying to protect being forced out of their homes. While his upstart company does provide an opportunity for those to get steady jobs that helps them afford homes again, Alfredo is eventually figured out to be the mastermind behind the vandalism he pinned on the Cannibals. To protect himself, he must act selfishly to keep himself out of jail that eventually leads to two deaths.
That’s where this book makes you think. You know all that Alfredo is doing is for the greater good, but as the events unfold and the years pass by, how much of what he did to save his friends from the tyranny of Gordon and his Cannibals led him to ultimately be no better than the cookie cutter people of Northview? How selfish did he have to be for that greater good? I found myself thinking about that trade off people make for their loved ones or those that really are in need. It seems humane to help your neighbor or toss your spare change toward the man with no job or home. However, those are the things that distinguish true human beings from scum. What I’m talking about is the stuff that goes on behind closed doors every day. The man who steps on others at his job to provide a better life for his kids and their kids. The politicians making secret deals that benefit all, but some more than others. Let’s face it, people are generally selfish, but not all selfishness is bad on the outside. That doesn’t mean that the guy stepping on colleagues or the politicians making those deals don’t feel they have sold a little bit of themselves to the devil.
Even with this tremendously deep underlying point Avanti is making with Monster Myths, it’s also an effective dark comedy. It’s so overly generalized and exaggerated you can’t help but to chuckle at the stereotypes that play out. It’s so overly stereotyped that I was nearly embarrassed to laugh (hard too) at the chase scene in which the deputy that protects Northview is freaking out over Alfredo’s taco truck and the poor Middle Eastern vendor caught up in the chase. I then found myself laughing even harder when that same Middle Eastern man is squished under the jovial deputy’s tires. The entire book is full of these little gags (that one possibly the most outright ridiculous of gags) that hit. It’s a particularly well-rounded satire of class struggle and suburban lifestyle.
That brings me to the art. Avanti’s art is so interesting it makes you stop reading for a few extra seconds to take it all in. His characters are so twisted and interesting that you know right away who are good guys, the bad guys, the ones you can trust, the ones you shouldn’t, and who the people of Northview are beneath their faces. The characters that fill this story are so well drawn they have stories of their own that play out across their faces. Gordon is a complete monster on the outside, but speaks in almost a cult leader way against the upper class as if he’s preaching to the people of Lower Scabo why the way of life he’s pushing is better. You can almost see a Charles Manson quality to him. Alfredo has such a soft look to him that you honestly believe he’s a good man and one you want to root for immediately.
Without a doubt, Avanti’s Monster Myths is a book that is as interesting to read as it is to look at. It dives into monsters of society and the demons that hide within everyone and even makes you think about the good things people do every day and what personal gain they get from those actions.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Fantastic satire of class struggle with gorgeous art and spectacular underlying themes of what’s right and what you have to sell of yourself to get what’s best for all.||Nothing much to point out. If you enjoy dark comedy and satire, this is a book you’ll be sure to enjoy.|