Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Cryptics & The Very Big Monster Show

The Cryptics by Steve Niles and Ben Roman (Image)

“For Immature Readers Only!” When you see that on the cover of a comic, it’s gotta be a good sign, right? Well, yes and no. For older readers, The Cryptics is really a lot of fun, but not so much for the little ones.

Niles and Roman take a bunch of young monsters (Wolfy, Drac, Jekyll/Hyde, and Sea Boy) and give them smart-aleck 10-year-old personalities, which, of course, leads to all kinds of zany mayhem and fun.

The first issue isn’t what I’d consider all-ages. There are the seemingly compulsory uses of the words “crap” and “ass” that seem to have become ubiquitous in comics. There is also the scene where “getting it on” and “sexual intercourse” are mentioned in reference to Wolfy’s parents (!), and there’s a seriously twisted Christmas tale. It’s very entertaining, however, for anyone over the age of about 15.

The second issue is much more kid-friendly. The story involves Wolfy mistakenly being sent to Limbo and the boys’ attempt to rescue him. A solid story, funny dialogue, and likeable characters make it a fun read for anyone 10 and older. The bureaucratic reaper minions and their psycho boss just might be my new favorite comic characters.

Sarah says: Cryptics is very funny, even though it has a few words in it that are, well, you know what I mean. The comics are very short. In the first comic it’s a bunch of different stories and in the second one it’s two different stories. My favorite character is Kid Hyde because he is really dorky when the potion isn’t in his body, but when he has the potion he is a giant monster. The Hyde monster doesn’t quite say things clearly and his shirt and pants are ripped. He’s funny because he doesn’t really know much but he always ends up helping everybody. In the second story there are little Viking dudes that accidentally come to the monster kids’ world. The Viking dudes are really teeny, only about a foot tall and I liked them because they were so chubby and cute, like little babies with beards and Viking hats.

Shelby says
: I LOVE the Cryptics because the stories and the art are very cool. The art is awesome because the monsters are cute yet still creepy like they should be. There’s Drac, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wolfy, and Jekyll turns into Hyde. The stories are cool because things happen like when Drac’s mom comes out to where he and his friends are playing with water guns. So Hyde says, “Drac’s in trouble…Drac’s in trouble!” She ends up making them play with their toys in the play room (a dungeon) which happen to be torturing stuff. So basically they act like regular kids but they are really monsters. This is basically all ages but there’s only a few things you have to watch out for. Sometimes the Creature from the Black Lagoon kid says “ crap,” Drac says “ass” once, and the occasional gross drool from their mouths, but other than that it’s really appropriate for almost anyone who likes monsters. Anyway, I LOVE this comic.

Read the Newsarama interview with Niles and Roman here. See a five-page preview of Issue #2 at Ben Roman’s blog.

While we’re talking Niles, we should also mention The Very Big Monster Show by Steve Niles and Butch Adams (IDW). This great little book came out a couple of years ago and is well worth picking up. In what amounts to a love letter to classic movie monsters, a young boy gets the old gang back together (Drac, Frank, the Mummy, etc.) and helps them remember how to be scary, just in time to run off the newbies from Big Deal Studios like Devil Doll and Forkhead. A really fun story with beautifully creepy art by Butch Adams, this isn’t for the littlest tykes, but anyone who likes monsters at all will love it.

Sarah says: It is not mean, and horrible, and scary except for the part when the monsters look all creepy because they’re all dark and have these big fingernails and teeth. I felt happy for the monsters because they finally got what they wanted, which was to be more famous again.

On the Roman side of things, we all loved the art in The Cryptics. Be warned, however, that Roman and Giffen’s I Luv Halloween, which on the surface appears to be a “spooky cute” story like The Cryptics, is most definitely NOT all-ages.


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