Friday, October 6, 2023

Comics Review: "ECTYRON VS. DES MOINES" is a Delightful and Edgy Original Graphic Novel


STORY/ART: Carter Allen
DIALOGUE: John Ira Thomas
LETTERS: John Ira Thomas
COVER: Tyler Sowles
BACK COVER: Will Grant
MISC ART: Jeremy Smith
ISBN: 2370001579941; paperback (July 2023)
68pp, Color, $10.00 U.S.

Comic book writer-artist and graphic novelist, Carter Allen, has been publishing a series of comic books and graphic novels featuring a “kaiju” character known as “Ectyron! The Radioactive Chicken!”  Candle Light Press and Allen's Warning Comics have previously published several Ectyron comic books:  Ectyron Against Lagaxtu (2017), Ectyron: Rise of Nemehiss (2018), and Ectyron: The Invasion from the Red Star Nebula (2019), as well as the Ectyron Omnibus Vol. 1 (2022).

Ectyron is back on the attack in the recently released original graphic novel, Ectyron vs. Des Moines.  It is written, drawn, colored, and lettered by Allen, with dialogue written by John Ira Thomas.

All three Ectyron comics employ particular elements of various Japanese science fiction sub-genres.  “Kaiju” is a term used to describe a genre of Japanese films that feature giant monsters, and the term is also used to describe the giant monsters themselves.  [Godzilla is an example of a kaiju.]  In this case, Ectyron is a giant-sized chicken.  This series also includes elements of “tokusatsu,” also known as “mecha” or giant robot superheroes.  [“Power Rangers” are an example of “tokusatsu.”]

Ectyron vs. Des Moines opens in Des Moines, Iowa.  The state's most populous city and its state capital is about to experience a most unnatural natural phenomenon.  The other-dimensional conqueror, Angerine, arrives, and his weapon of choice is a box that can multiple into other boxes called “Monks.”  The Monks are connected like a titanic Medusa, and even Ectyron struggles against them.  Can the new musician-superhero, Madam Madamn, help stem the tide of Des Moines' destruction?  Or is it over before it started?

THE LOWDOWN:  I have been receiving review copies of Carter Allen's comic books and graphic novels for almost two decades.  We are also collaborating on an upcoming graphic novel, but I am happy to see that he is still creating new Ectyron comics.

Allen uses watercolors to produce his art and storytelling in Ectyron vs. Des Moines, and that gives the story a tone that is decidedly different from previous entries in the Ectyron series – at least to me.  The story seems more consequential.  The previous stories were playful monster comic books that recalled Japanese kaiju fiction, Marvel Comics' monster comics for the 1950s and 60s, and Marvel's early superhero comics like Fantastic Four.

Ectyron vs. Des Moines is very much in the pulpy, sci-fi, Japanese roots of its predecessors, but I find it more thoughtful about what comes after the thunder and lightning of monster fights.  The battles are more difficult for the heroes, and saving-the-day comes with high costs and damage that cannot be reversed.  The villains are excellent, and the kooky Monks are inventive, imaginative, and quite lovely.  John Ira Thomas, a frequent collaborator of Allen's, offers pitch perfect dialogue, as he always does.

Yes, I want more of the Monks and more Ectyron.  Still, I cannot help but ponder how Ectyron vs. Des Moines ponders the nature of evil, the burdens of heroism, and the devastation of death and destruction.  It is as if Allen rebooted Ectyron with a new nature.

But the fun is not gone, and I think readers will welcome the new character find, Madam Madamn, as I do.  I think all Carter Allen's fans will want to grab a hold of Ectyron vs. Des Moines.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of kaiju and of Carter Allen's kaiju comic books will want Ectyron vs. Des Moines.


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

Readers can purchase Ectyron vs. Des Moines using the Square checkout service here.

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