Necessary Monsters is about monster-types who work for a covert government agency. If you’re not already hooked by that, stop reading, you’re hopeless. Seriously though, author Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and artist Sean Azzopardi have accomplished a very interesting feat with this book; they have taken two different genres that are prone to leaning on tired clichés (horror and spy thriller) and seamlessly mixed them together into something new. The closest comparison I could think of would be Hellboy, but The Chain is a much more sinister organization than the B.P.R.D.
The Chain is a regulatory agency for the world’s monster community. Basically, their only reason for existence is to protect the population numbers of their source of food and recreation: humans. It’s hardly an altruistic endeavor, it’s all for preservation of their species at the expense of another. They have no real qualms with killing humans, you see. In fact, when we are introduced to our cast of characters, they’re all separately and independently engaging in some fantastic violence against innocent people.
Speaking of our cast, it’s interesting to note that they are all types taken straight from the horror genre. Jonathon Gravehouse leads the team in the field, and he’s an occultist. Think Constantine or Jason Blood. Charlotte Hatred is a ghost who can travel through mirrors, very reminiscent of The Ring. Cowboy 13 is your typical masked slasher, like Jason Voorhees and equally as indestructible. Creeping Tuesday kills by entering into dreams like Freddy Krueger. They answer to a Chain agent known as Black Hat Jack, who is described on the book’s website as “A timeless English gent with a fondness for the straight razor and women’s necks.” Looks like he’s an immortal Jack the Ripper, and that, in my humble opinion, is pretty awesome.
Agents of The Chain are given a bracelet called a Shackle. It allows for communication between agents but it also binds you to The Chain permanently. You cannot disobey an order from The Chain while wearing the Shackle and taking it off is nearly impossible. Suffice to say that many who work for The Chain are not there voluntarily. The story of the first volume focuses on the hunt for a rogue agent (they call him a "Broken Link") named Harp’s Bane who found a way to remove his shackle.
I honestly don’t want to give too much away about the story because to do so would ruin it. You really need to jump right in and read it for yourself. It’s a solid narrative that has intrigue, gratuitous violence, and many satisfying twists along the way. The artwork is superb. The stark black and white visuals contrast well with the many moral gray areas of the storyline. The slight cliffhanger ending definitely makes this reader excited for more.
TL;DR Horror meets spy intrigue. What more do you want?
A review copy of Necessary Monsters was graciously provided to Spandexless by the publisher, First Comics.
Don Aliff graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 2010. Since then he has dubbed himself a Professional Dreamer. You can usually find him reading, writing, performing music all over Connecticut, or passed out in the corner somewhere. Ask him to tell you a story sometime.