The Prescription for Comic Book Boredom: Monster M.D.

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Monster MD

So a while back we did a pre-review of MONSTER M.D. based off the first 22 pages of story and art. Time has passed, and that preview has grown into a fully-blown graphic novel with a backup story and bonus comic. Furthermore, it's been delivered into our hands, and is a handsome, hefty looking comic that a simple flip through reveals to contain great art and dynamic action.

Right. So then, let's rip it a new one, now, shall we?

Monster M.D. has no subtitle and no numbering, and is a complete story unto itself. So if we never meet up with Dr. Wyatt Black again, it will certainly be a crime but at least we won't lack a sense of closure.

We are introduced to Dr. Black in media res, already in the service of practicing medicine on the things that go bump in the night. It is only after he is called to a nearby patient that he gets a shocking blast from the past, one that shakes him to his core and has him seriously contemplating leaving his profession and running as far away as he can get. This provides the springboard for the flashback, telling the story of how Dr. Black's life was put on this path as well as explaining why he has a zombie arm -- although it is very unclear whose arm it is, and given how important that arm becomes throughout the story, that's something that could have used just one panel's worth of visual clarity.

While the doctor conemplates calling it quits, he's also perfectly willing to take his time about it, as we then get several short vignettes showing a sort of "day in the life" of practicing medicine for monsters. These are done masterfully, each beginning with the same framework device of an ectoplasmic x-ray shot. And while the device is well executed, writer Von Klaus seems to ascribe to one of my personal mottos: Anything worth doing is worth over-doing. We get this framing device a succession of thirteen times, which might be a bit of overkill. Each of the vignettes is completely enjoyable, and the scenes have a certain continuity to them. However it might have been trimmed down a little bit and still make clear to the reader "Dr. Black sees a lot of diverse patients" without the reader experiencing "What, another one?" with every turn of the page.

When Wyatt gets a patient whose nature makes her completely incompatible with his Hippocratic oath, he loses all faith in his calling, putting him at odds with his faithful, sexy, and quite invisible assistant, Nurse Heidi Hyde, who takes the next call without him. And that's when things get very, very dangerous.

This particular fulfillment (Monster M.D. is an independent comic produced by Rise Again Comics through a popular Indiegogo campaign) includes a backup story in the main, 144-page book that gives the "secret origin" of Heidi, and the heartwarming moment she meets Wyatt. There's a little bit of a hiccup in the last two pages where I could not tell that I was still in the flashback (on second reading I got it, but this could have been made more clear with a distinctive change of background or even a sort of coloring trick like a sepia wash to show then versus now). In addition, there's a second comic book of standard length that pits Dr. Black and Heidi Hyde against Cal Jameson's Shinobi Sasquatch, in typical comic book fashion that has them battle before teaming up. This was nicely done and breaks from the traditional reasons for hero-on-hero combat to provide a believable (and medical) reason for the conflict.

Overall, this book is pure fun. It only has a very few places where a minor edit would have made certain things clear, but none of these are things that stop the reader in their tracks and break the flow of the storytelling. Von Klaus delivers a mixture of horror and adventure and humor and romance, rendered by Marco Maccagni in a style that serves up guts and gore in a lighter, cartoonish style that is the perfect match for the plot.

The project is still in an "In Demand" status here on Indiegogo:

4.5 / 5.0