You Can’t Divert Your Eyes from “American Monster #1” (Review)
Written by: Brian Azzarello
Art by: Juan Doe
I usually don’t stray away from known characters or writers when it comes to reading comics. What I mean is, I like to play it safe. So… I stick with the sure to be enjoyable reads, such as Scott Snyder’s Batman run; Jeff Lemire’s Green Arrow; Dan Slott’s Spider-Man; Brian Buccellato’s The Flash. See? All known properties and names, if you read comics.
When I do look into comics outside of these, I try my best to choose wisely. I’ll be honest, it’s a hit and miss process. Some recent ones that turned out for the very positive side were Wytches by Snyder and Descender by Lemire. (Worth noting: another comic that fits into this is American Vampire, another run written by Snyder.) To decide if I should give it a chance, the writer has to pique my interest somehow and the artwork has to catch my eye. Sounds strikingly similar to the way in which others make decisions, well, it is. I’m ranting, aren’t I?
The comic I finished reading in the last few hours that I’m trying to finally come around writing about is the new creator-owned series American Monster by Brian Azzarello and Juan Doe. Azzarello is a name that should look familiar. He’s the writer behind the rebooted Wonder Woman run. As for Doe…his name isn’t just some Twitter username. He doesn’t have a public face to go on. I will say, however, his artwork for this new comic is nothing short of eye-popping and stellar, it’s part of what really hooks you in as the reader, introducing you to the world and characters Azzarello is trying to get you to invest in.
The best way to describe what American Monster comes from the man behind it. Azzarello told this to Comic Book Resources on Dec. 30, ’15:
“The plot is, ‘A big, mysterious stranger comes to a small town.’ It’s a real simple plot. But it’s not about the plot; it’s about the people. There are lots of different age groups being represented. There are arms dealers — There’s some pornography — that always gets people interested. ‘Hey, there’s porn!'”
That “big, mysterious stranger” is Theo Montclare. The first issue is about his introduction to not only you, but also the world around him and how it reacts to him and his appearance. I’ll save how he looks to myself, as I consider it a spoiler. I’ll say this: he’s scarred pretty bad. Whenever he appears on a panel or strip, my eyes diverted straight to him, again credit to Doe. And the best part was Azzarello addresses that right away.
Other characters would try to avoid staring too long or making any sort of leading comment to him about his appearance. Once they did, Montclare would call them out on it. Then they’d either call him a dick or feel like s–t over what they said and apologize profusely because when they find out how he possibly came of these scars, they’d walk everything they said back and offer whatever they could out of feeling bad. Let me say, it’s an interesting topic to touch upon. Leave it to comics.