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Comic Book Review

Book Cover



Writer: Liam Sharp
Artist: Ben Wolstenholme
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: £2.65
Age: 15+
32 pages
Publication Date: 17 December 2014

The ape-human hybrid secret agent and Queen's assassin, possessed of a deadly prehensile tail and 'the strength of twelve men', made his debut in the pulps of the 1930s and enjoyed a brief revival in the late 1960s and '70s. But can it be that the fiction is closer to historic fact than was ever previously guessed? Now a series of tales, told in hand-written journals and reported first-hand by those that knew him, reveal Mono as a dual-natured and conflicted adventurer-- savage and noble; civilized, but ultimately untamable...

At first glance a knowing pastiche of 1930s pulp heroes such as Doc Savage, Mono almost immediately distinguishes itself with its downbeat air and refusal to indulge in camp knowingness. The gentleman adventurer of his title, despite his sophisticated world-weary narration, is a primordial brute who tears through the ruined landscape of 1944 Normandy in pursuit of Allied victory, his narrative framed by a present-day government lackey's poring over secret documents detailing the mythical Mono's exploits.

Though the concept and execution both owe a little to the likes of Kim Newman and Warren Ellis, Mono's first issue lacks the mordant humour of either, aiming for a more subdued tone despite the violence and bloodshed on display. It could easily pass muster as a late-vintage 2000AD strip, though the creators have taken advantage of their full-issue page count to provide some well-imagined supplementary material: guest writer Anthony Brock's excerpt from one of Mono's faux-fictional pulp tales is again less lurid and more thoughtful than it could have been.

The second release in the current collaboration between veteran British comics artist Liam Sharp's Madefire imprint and Titan, Mono sharply contrasts with the sumptuous Captain Stone. With Sharp on story duties alone here, Madefire co-founder Ben Wolstenholme steps up to deliver an impressively sombre art job, both the dismal grey of contemporary Westminster and the apocalyptic landscape of occupied Normandy beautifully evoked.

While the first issue suffers from some slightly awkward pacing during the flashback, it's still a visually arresting work, with an interesting protagonist and a great deal of potential. The contrast with Captain Stone makes the two works enjoyable to read in tandem, and the two series look set to be a fruitful addition to Titan's schedule.


Richard Hunt