Monday, February 6, 2023

"Where Monsters Lie," #1 is a Clever Take on the Mythology of Horror

Occasionally someone will jokingly ask a question along the lines of, "What does Jason do when it isn't a Friday the 13th?" or, "Wouldn't someone be suspicious of Jigsaw when he buys all the zany supplies for his deathtraps or needs help setting them up? Well, "Where Monsters Lie," takes that question head-on, bringing us the story of a gated community for serial killers, supernaturally powerful slashers, and there is obviously at least one murderous clown. Welcome to Wilmhurst.

It isn't clear exactly why this community exists and why it helps the killers stay shielded from society, plan their sprees, and buy the occasional snacks at the supermarket so they don't spook the locals, but hints are dropped about serving evil/Satan and plenty of ground is covered in this debut issue so I imagine future ones will lay things out even further. Whether arguing about messy trash cans being an HOA violation or who gets to go slaughter a local fair, there is a dark humor to the comic as it both lovingly alludes to horror tropes (the community is who helps sneak the seemingly-dead killers away anytime they're caught and allegedly killed) and deconstructs them--can a monster lose its edge and find more joy in gardening than slicing-up teenagers at a Summer camp?

Kyle Starks writes the comic and balances the macabre and silly with skilled ease. Piotr Kowalski's artwork is something I have been a big fan of since I first discovered his work on the seemingly-on-an-eternal-hiatus series, "Sex," with Joe Casey, and he continues to impress here. The colors by Vladimir Popov are a treat too, giving the seemingly serene setting of Wilmhurst a calm and muted tone while the killers seem to, "Pop," more against their seemingly benign homesteads. Everyone makes for a fantastic creative team and based on a surprising cliffhanger at the end of the issue which hints Wilmhurst might find its quiet days already coming to an end, I'm curious where the comic might be going as Starks could've spent tons of issues just exploring the day-to-day at Wilmhurst. However, after the debut issue, he seems to already be blowing up any hinted-at status quo. I would say, "Where Monsters Lie," is required reading for anyone who enjoys horror movies or clever explorations of them.

5 out of 5 stars.

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