Where Monsters Lie #1
Where do serial killers, evil clowns, mass murderers, and their ilk go when they're in-between their murder sprees? Welcome to Wilmhurst, where the entire neighborhood is nothing but serial killing monsters like Puzzleman, St. Julian, Fuckmaster, and Franky & Pearl - all with body counts that resemble small countries!
Don't risk exposing them... but don't cross their HOA, either!
Kyle Starks (SexCastle, Fuck This Place) is most at home in the intersection of horror and comedy, the serious and the absurd. He somehow balances both exceedingly well, making readers feel legitimate stakes in inherently bonkers situations. The key is in his relatable characterization: regardless of their circumstances, his leads are always written heart-first rather than as props for a plot. And that’s exactly what makes Starks’ latest, Where Monsters Lie, work as seamlessly as it does.
For a series about serial killers, it’s full of remarkably relatable people. Zel, the head of the neighborhood, is getting older and tired of dealing with the younger generation of murderers with less class than her own. Richard, the clown, desperately wants to find something to help him break out of his schtick, so he suggests employing a flamethrower to shake things up – much to the chagrin of his peers, who dash his dreams without a second thought. Puzzleman (or is that Puzzle Man?) is getting sloppy and losing his touch (those phallic death traps of his are getting played out), but he doesn’t see it despite his peers’ admonishment. These neighbors may be pure evil, but they’re just like people you meet daily.
Starks’ writing, characterization, and dialogue absolutely sings on every page. Nothing about it says, “Put this comic down and go do something else.” It’s a legitimate page-turner – even if I’d have preferred a bit more world-building before springing the FBI on our mass-murdering leads – that fearlessly shines a bright light on the dark side of humanity in the best way possible. And don’t get it wrong – Starks isn’t trying to make any case for these people being redeemable or misunderstood. The opening scene makes that pretty clear (MAJOR points to Starks for pulling off such an effective cold open).
If anything keeps Where Monsters Lie from fully encapsulating its promise, it’s Piotr Kowalski’s art, which may be a little too down-to-earth for the subject. Kowalski is a legitimately good artist, but his choice here to downplay any of the more fantastical elements of Wilmhurst feels somewhat like he’s holding back. Vladimir Popov’s use of flats for the colors adds to this feeling; instead of popping, it feels like it’s restraining itself. It’s still good, quite good – just not as eye-catching as it perhaps could be. Maybe that’s the point, though. It brings everything down to a relatable, almost Mayberry-like level to offset the inherent horror at hand. That’s a minor quibble, though; all things took equally.
Dark Horse needs to throw its support behind this book so it reaches as many hands as possible! Starks and Kowalski have all the ingredients of a killer (sorry) world they’re building here that carefully marries the macabre and the mundane in a genuinely engrossing way.
By taking a dark, dark subject like serial killers and marrying it with the mundanities of everyday life, Where Monsters Lie is poised to be your next favorite comic!
Where Monsters Lie #1: There Goes the Neighborhood
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 7.5/107.5/10
- Color - 7.5/107.5/10
- Cover Art - 7.5/107.5/10