Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Comics Review: "MONARCH #1" is an Outstanding Debut


STORY: Rodney Barnes
ART: Alex Lins
COLORS: Luis Nct
LETTERS: Marshall Dillon
EDITOR: Greg Tumbarello
COVER: Alex Lins
VARIANT COVER ARTIST: Jason Shawn Alexander
32pp, Colors, 3.99 U.S. (February 2023)

Rated “T/ Teen”

“Stranger from Above” Part I: “The Truth Within”

Monarch is a new science fiction-thriller comic book from writer Rodney Barnes.  Published by Image Comics, it is drawn by Alex Lins; colored by Luis Nct; and lettered by Marshall Dillon.  The series focuses on a boy from Compton, CA who leads the resistance to an alien invasion.

Monarch #1 (“The Truth Within”) opens in the city of Compton, CA.  It introduces an African-American teenage boy named Travon.  Growing up in Compton is tough, but it is even tougher when a bitter, young thugs is hunting you every day.

Everyday problems, mundane and otherwise, are about to seem less important.  Alien life has made first contact with Earth and that contact is in the form of a military invasion.  Death, devastation, and mayhem rain down on humanity.  Now, can a single teenage boy rise to the challenge to protect his surrogate family and friends?

THE LOWDOWN:  I think writer Rodney Barnes has previously stated that the science fiction alien invasion films, Independence Day (1996) and Attack the Block (2011), are influences in the creation of Monarch.  The two films are vastly different, but both remain popular long after their respective theatrical releases.

Like Independence Day, Monarch is set in America and teases an intriguing ensemble cast.  In Monarch #1, Barnes offers the internal monologue or thoughts of three of the characters.  Like Attack the Block, Monarch presents a charismatic, young black male hero in Travon, which is an interesting name.

The art and graphical storytelling by Alex Lins conveys the grittiness and rundown quality of the environments in which Travon lives without being slavish to realism.  Lins' art is representational, emotive, and fantastical the way comic book art was before the creep of faux-realism.  Colorist Luis Nct does what he always does, craft mood, atmosphere, and intensity that makes the story pop on the page.  Letterer Marshall Dillon, as usual, creates what seems like a soundtrack to the world (Compton) and the fantastic (the alien invasion) that brings the story to life.

I hope that readers embrace Monarch with the kind of sales that will allow it to run its course.  Monarch is the kind of comic book that keeps me reading new comic books.  It is a great opening chapter of a serial that seems like it is going to thrill me every time.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of science fiction and of alien invasions will want to read Monarch.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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