Different people want different things from their comic books. Some want character-driven tales that flesh out the hero behind the cape. Others want intelligent stories that examine the role of superheroes in our world. Others, however, are never happier than when reading about super-powered people punching things. If you’re a member of this last category, then you’ll wholeheartedly love Marvel’s latest action-packed crossover event Monsters Unleashed.
Following on from the explosive opening issue, the heroes of the Marvel universe – including the Avengers, the X-Men, the Inhumans, the Guardians of the Galaxy and more – have united to stop a new terrible threat to earth: a meteor storm which is depositing kaiju-sized monsters that are tearing through the planet. Even with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes combined, it’s a near-impossible situation to control. As exemplified by the shocking cliffhanger: Sam Wilson’s Captain America, who has been up to now in control, standing silent in the battlefield, unsure how to proceed.
The roster of heroes gets even bigger this issue, as Captain Marvel and Alpha Fight, the Champions and Phil Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. team join in to halt the apocalypse. All your favourite heroes get at least a moment in the spotlight, including a welcome cameo from Deadpool and an increased role for Rocket and Groot, though most appear just to show their face.
Those who do get to impact on the story are interestingly the lesser-known characters, namely Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur and Elsa Bloodstone. Both are leading their own investigations into the true meaning of the monsters’ arrival, but Elsa is stealing the show as she confronts Kei Kawade – the boy who is responsible for the monsterpocalypse. It’s a nice idea to showcase the characters who are often sidelined (and in turn sideline those who are usually showcased). Though we wish there was more of Spidey’s on-point quippery, which was a highlight of issue #1.
Writer Cullen Bunn has to be commended for keeping the issue a coherent piece rather than the bloated jumble it could be in lesser hands. Though the dialogue can be a bit exposition-heavy, he keeps a firm hand on the packed plot that’s scattered throughout the globe (though mostly across the United States). However, not to dismiss Bunn’s contribution, but a hugely visual comic like this one really lives or dies on the strength of its art. Thankfully, penciler Greg Land makes sure its packs as much of a punch as the heroes do. He has a real knack for dreaming up awesome-looking monsters, along with colourist Daniel Curiel who makes them pop out of the page. With several double-page splash panels strewn throughout the issue, the heroes vs. monsters battles are given a grand canvas.
All in all, Monsters Unleashed #2 is an improvement on the already exciting opening issue, as it fleshes out the story somewhat beyond all the punching, as the central mystery deepens. That said, the heart of this book is still good old-fashioned fisticuffs with fifty-foot monstrosities, thanks to the art team’s rich, vibrant work. Sometimes, that’s all we need from a comic book.
Marvel's latest all-action crossover, Monsters Unleashed, continues in an issue that features every Marvel hero ever but focuses on its lesser-known characters, too.