Review – Monomyth #1 (Mad Cave Studios)

Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
Writer: David Hazan
Artwork: Cecilia Lo Valvo
Colours: Marissa Louise
Letters: Lucas Gattoni
Release Date: 3rd May 2023

In a different time and place, an old wizard musters the last of his powers to seek out heirs of mystic bloodlines in an attempt to stave off the death of magic. A ragtag group of young adults from our modern world find themselves pulled into a strange land that is less fairy-tale and more nightmarish hell-scape, before seeking refuge in a crumbling tower. Greeted by Homunculus, the old wizard’s familiar, the group are subjected to trials before receiving access to great power via their wands. Like a dark twinning of Harry Potter and Power Rangers, Monomyth feels like it might be quite the action adventure.

Flitting from the eldritch opener, we skip from place to place as we are introduced to what we can only assume will be the heroes, or at least protagonists, of the tale. From Dubai to Detroit, and Houston to Siberia, each character seems to be leading less than what could be described as their best lives. Having been whisked away from their earthly predicaments, they’re unceremoniously dumped into a magic forest from which they must escape the clutches of foul beasts.

Seeking refuge in the magical castle, their plight, and challenges are only just beginning. Despite the somewhat tired trope of individual plucked from obscurity to greatness, there’s some suggestion here that not all might be quite as it seems. Indeed, the group seem to fall into their roles quickly with certain flourishes suggesting we’ve barely scratched the surface. All of this culminating in a very different ending to one which I could have predicted from a debut issue, I very much enjoyed the subversion of expectation.

Introducing such a large cast of characters in a short space of time is always going to be a tall order. Instead of being able to get a feel for these individual characters, we have to settle for snippets of what they’re doing before being ‘summoned’ and as such, I feel forced into distilling everyone into a simple descriptor or pairing; the angry gun guy, unhinged Russian, the couple, the twins, the delightfully creepy homunculus. It’s a conceit, but one I can forgive to save this from falling into drudging, plodding exposition. Instead, we know all we need to at this point in time, with enough hooks in the writing, and stylings in the artwork to give the characters some degree of memorability.

There’s lot to like in the story here but with so much going on I feel like I’ve only gotten the chance to trial the sampler menu. I didn’t dislike anything I tried, in truth I’m left keen for more. More of the dark twisted magic playing on words, more of the unsettling guide and tutor, more of the art and more of the action. Perhaps this is all part of the plan to lure you in.

Rating: 3/5.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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