Review: American Monster #1

American Monster #1 CoverIn a small Midwestern town, a large man with a horribly scarred face gets off a bus, and takes a room. He spooks the locals–nobody knows him–or do they? It’s impossible to say be-cause he seemingly has no face. The man’s intentions remain unknown, until he takes on a corrupt sheriff and the rural crew of racist arms dealers. The town’s impression of the man changes, and he’s seen as a hero…until his real intentions bubble to the surface. The man isn’t there to end the gang, but to take it over. And he’s just getting started.

Brian Azzarello is one of the most talented writer of comics out there right now. He’s consistently one of my favorites, and thus American Monster #1 from Aftershock Comics was high on my list of anticipated comics. Maybe it’s due to that high expectation, I felt a bit let down by the first issue, which sets up a hell of a lot, but also explains very little.

That description at the top was needed, because if I went in to this comic cold, I’d have had no idea what the hell I was reading with a set up like a Tarantino film. The comic feels like individual segments, where a few crossover, and on their own make little sense. That can work great as a graphic novel or a trade paperback, but as a single regular sized issue it left me scratching my head and wanting more at the same time.

Here’s what we know. There’s some crooks who kidnap folks. There’s a vet who’s disfigured and heads to a town. Then there’s this weird scene on a playground that I’m still trying to figure out. It’s all connected some how, but right now, I couldn’t say how.

Azarrello is a master storyteller especially of the crime/noir genre and he’s also great at the long story that takes arcs and arcs to build up and pay off. I know there’s a good chance in the long run the series will pay off, but I haven’t read that yet, I’ve only read this.

The art by Juan Doe is an interesting, not quite the gritty style I’d expect for a comic like this. It does remind me a lot of a style I’d see at Dark Horse (in fact the whole comic feels like it’d be at home in Dark Horse Presents). There’s a clean look to it all which lets you soak in all the small details. It works, and works really well, but it definitely caught me off guard a bit.

I finished reading the comic a bit disappointed, but I think that’s due to such high expectations. It sets up an interesting story, and interesting characters, but the segmented style of the story without much explanation left me a little let down. Still, I plan on continuing to see where Azzarello and Doe go with it all before a final verdict.

Story: Brian Azzarello Art: Juan Doe
Story: 7 Art: 7.4 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read