Advance Review – Where Monsters Lie #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Colorist: Vladimir Popov
Release Date: 1st February 2023

Coming next week from Image Comics, artist Piotr Kowalski and long-time BCP favourite Kyle Starks, Where Monsters Lie takes us to Wilmhurst, an exclusive gated community which serves as home sweet home for some of the worlds sickest, most violent serial killers and slashers during their ‘down time’ between murder sprees.

It’s an intriguing premise, and this first issue is already packed with tons of the trademark Starks humour (case in point: one of the stranger Wilmhurst residents is known only as “The Fuckmaster”) as we slowly get to know the colourful cast of characters. Pretty much every killer trope is covered here, and watching them come together for slightly awkward community meetings – complete with danish and coffee, naturally – is a real delight.

Kowalski, whose work I’ve recently been thoroughly enjoying as part of the latest Titan Comics Bloodborne series, does a great job bringing this deranged group to the page. From hulking, boiler-suited, skull-masked brutes to unsettling clowns to the aforementioned Fuckmaster (who wears a one-eyed teddy bear on his head like a hat), there’s a lot of really interesting visual stuff going on here. Kowalski delivers things in his usual scratchy and detailed style, but the whole thing is given a jolt of energy courtesy of the colours of Vladimir Popov, which works well alongside the unashamedly offbeat tone.

When I heard the initial premise, aside from knowing that I was most definitely going to check it out, I was admittedly a little curious about how Starks would build an actually story around his idea. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried. This first issue sees a group of teens being lured into Wilmhurst by “Professor Puzzleman”, only for one of them to escape alive and make it to the authorities. There he meets special agent Connor Hayes, who may have some sort of connection to Wilmhurst himself, and if the final pages are anything to go by, thing are about to escalate significantly as the series continues.

In spite of a cracking premise and an impressive creative team working smoothly together, it’s safe to say that this series hasn’t quite hit its full stride just yet.  Don’t get me wrong, all the pieces are most definitely in place, but we’re still just fleshing out the actual story at this point. I have no doubt that this is going to turn into hell of a series though, and if you’re a fan of serial killer tropes or Kyle Starks’ distinctive sense of humor (or both!) this is most definitely the book for you. Just keep one eye on the Fuckmaster at all times, yeah?

Rating: 3.5/5.

The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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