The second issue of Monsterverse's "monster rally" is an awesomely fun, intensely exciting treat for all fans of the classic monsters.
This 80-page story moves at near breakneck speed with operatic intensity as it chronicles the intense battles between Dracula, Baron Frankenstein, Carmilla, a werewolf and the inevitable Abraham Van Helsing in decaying Gothic castles, treacherous mountain passes and terrifying darkness.
Flesh and Blood Book Two is a grand and thrilling tribute to the classic Hammer horror films of the '60s and '70s, chronicling the exciting crossover adventure that that much-renowned studio never produced. But of course, Hammer's budgets would have forbidden the production of a film this large in scope and adventure, full of terrifying monsters and outrageous special effects. From the opening scenes, which feature gravediggers and lycanthropy, through to the ending and its unexpected sexual liaison and talk of time travel, this story is a thrill-ride of unpredictable characters, thrilling adventures and wonderful settings.
This story starts fast and never lets go. The evil creatures in this book all have their own agendas and of course will kill, maim and destroy everything in front of them in an effort to achieve their goals. There is no compromise in any of these formidable foes, so the battles between them all become overwhelming, intense struggles between intensely evil beings. Can even a good person triumph over evil without sacrificing his very soul? If you know these stories, you know the answer to that question.
Neal Vokes draws the hell out of these pages, using a style that places large characters front and center in the panels and de-emphasizes the backgrounds and the spaces that the characters live in. This emphasizes the evil creatures that we all want to read about, and subtly tamps up the intensity of the battles. The grand personalities of these characters lead to grand battles. That's a point that's emphasized by Vokes's smart panel layouts in this book.
There are also two text pieces and two backup stories included in this book. The most intriguing of the bonus features, for me, is "Operation Satan" with writing by Tinnell and art by '70s Marvel artist Bob Hall. Hall's art reminds me in many places of the work of the great John Buscema, and the presentation of the story in black and white and the storyline of an exorcism make this short reminiscent of the best of the '70s Marvel monster mags. It's too short at five pages – I really want to read more of this story.
As usual, the folks at Monsterverse have produced a monster book that will excite anyone who loves classic horror. And even for people who only sort of like that stuff, the energy of this title might just move you into the group of people who love this stuff.
Jason Sacks is Publisher of Comics Bulletin. Follow him at @jasonsacks, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend him on Facebook.