Department of Monsterology: Sabbaticals #1

Those of you who are familiar with Department of Monsterology will no doubt be as excited as I am about the start of a new series. When I reviewed the original trade paperback, I said Lovecraft lovers would love it and I’m happy to say they will love this new outing as well. I certainly did. Can the new series, Sabbaticals, live up to its lofty predecessor? Let’s find out.

Things begin as they mean to go on, with a chuckle on page 1 after Scotland is ranked alongside some of the most famous locations from weird fiction and horror. Gordon Rennie clearly loves to mix the real with the fictional; which is a storytelling trick all the old masters used to lend their creations that extra hint of legitimacy for the reader.

An understated cover for one of the best comics to come out this year.

An understated cover for one of the best comics to come out this year.

Rennie is doing the same trick here as he did in Monsterology 101, namely using a conversation at the university as a framing device to introduce┬áseveral groups of characters in several locations. It’s a trick that worked well then and it’s working well again here. It keeps the story moving along at a fair pace and it prevents anything getting bogged down.

As before, all the characters are off doing wildly dangerous things in various places around the globe; with their activities serving as an excellent way of introducing their personalities and fields of interest without having to bog the reader down with exposition. It also makes sure the story is fun right from the start.

We are also treated some some wonderful visuals right from the start – PJ Holden is clearly loving this series and he is very strongly complemented by Steven Denton’s colours. This comic is simply gorgeous to look at. Page 10 in particular is a delight, with a fistfight against a cyborg and a giant South American lizard monster – yes, it’s as good as it sounds.

Speaking of being as good as it sounds, this issue’s endings – both for Team Challenger and Professor Booker – are superb. One is visually impressive and leaves you wondering exactly how the team are going to get out of that one, while the other left me wondering just what is going on and why. One of these as a cliffhanger would have been good enough for most comics but both together makes picking up issue 2 a must!

If there’s one problem I have with this issue it’s in the titles. When each team is introduced, their team logo appears on their first page. That’s all well and good but unfortunately Holden and Denton are using a lot of shadows and dark colours in their artwork, so the logo (which is in black) is simply lost on the page. It’s really, really difficult to see and would be improved no end by adding a thin white border around each logo.

That’s really nit picking however, since there’s very little in this book not to like. It’s a really, really good fun read and I would recommend it to anyone, whether a newcomer to the title or a returning fan.

Department of Monsterology: Sabbaticals #1 came out on 30 September and is available in all good comic shops now, as well as online from the Renegade Arts Entertainment website.

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