17th Dec2014

‘Mono #1′ Review

by Nicky Johnson

Written by Liam Sharp | Art by Ben Wolstenholme | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp

Mono-1-Cover

Mono is an ape-human hybrid secret agent through the Boer, Cold, and First and Second World Ward, with a ‘deadly prehensile tail and the strength of twelve men’. That’s how the pulp fiction books showed him to the world anyway, but what we’re shown is the stories the man himself wrote, read by his ‘truest friend’, starting with a confrontation in France with enemy forces when all he wants to do is pass through like a ghost.

Mono is actually an old comic book character from the 1930’s that found a new home in pulp books in the 60’s and 70’s and now with Titan Comics thanks to Liam Sharp who wrote this comic. I’m a lover of all things meta, so the recognition by our first storyteller of the existence of the novels ticked a lot of boxes for me.

Meta-love aside, this issue was too short I think but still pretty entertaining. The action shots dark wartime backgrounds were gorgeous and fit the theme perfectly, and I love the contrast between the gentleman writing style and manner of Mono mixed with his bestial rage that we see unleashed. One of my only gripes is that we spend half the comic watching his unnamed friend lament the popular version of the ape-man and dig around for pictures. Yes it adds something extra, but I really hope he’s not in it so much every issue…

There’s also no real story to Mono yet, other than him running away from some Germans, so the only real substance is the character of Mono and his mystery. There’s no interesting ending (although you do get an excerpt from one of the novels), and no compelling reason to come back next time other than the artwork and potential. There is potential in this series, not just because of the moderate success of past Mono works, but because of Sharp’s apparent enthusiasm for the character to be reinvented and given a fresh chance, and the fantastic and fitting artwork.

Mono definitely isn’t for everyone but for fans of the war/spy genre I can see it being a good read. It’s in a sense kind of retro, and definitely has a rich array of source material to modify for Sharp’s own devices. While not the most impactful first issue, the series has potential to be a strong and gritty read, and I’ll be keeping my eye on it for sure.

**** 4/5

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