Alien Toilet Monsters #1 Review: Charming And Grimy
I know I'm a little late in the game on this one, but my local comic bookstore (Heroes Comics and Games in Newnan, Georgia!) owner told me to check this one out, so here we are.
Alien Toilet Monsters has gotten a lot of buzz across the internet, and, with a name like that, how was I not supposed to give it a read?
So, what's it about? Well, that's not actually an easy question to answer.
In the future, about 20 years from now, we have unlocked dimension-hopping technology. The setting is a diner belonging to a guy named Frank, a middle-aged, out-of-shape, and unhappy man just trying to keep his business afloat. He lost a lover a long time ago, and he's never gotten over it.
He has a staff of colorful characters and a particular customer named Andrea with a fascination of a bug-themed IP based upon soda advertisement characters.
There's also an alternate planet full of creatures which evolve over the span of their own life by assimilating the DNA of animals they consume. In essence, the species develop through eating instead of breeding. That seems unrelated, but it does come into play.
The first issue is really more about the setting and characters instead of building up to a plot.
And guess what? It works really well.
In terms of setting up a series, Carol Zara and Eric Barnett knock it out of the frigging park with Alien Toilet Monsters #1.
I'm invested in these characters. I want to see what the future holds for Frank. I want to know how Andrea handles the future of her beloved bug characters. I'm even invested in Carol Zara the character, who shows up for a brief moment in the comic. She doesn't have much time on panel, but you still get a good feel for her as a person through subtle details and dialogue.
There's also Dylan, the smartass employee of Frank who charmingly drops the f-bomb like I do when I'm not writing professionally.
There are a ton of likable characters here, and it smartly keeps things visceral in the foreground while exploring its crazy big sci-fi ideas in the background.
It also touches on the toxicity of obsessive fandom via Andrea's exploration through social networks, and it even digs into some interesting ethical questions with Frank, his lost love, and, without giving too much away, the multiverse.
That brings us to the art, which, while it is mostly good, is a bit uneven. Characters can change significantly from scene-to-scene, but there are moments like the terrifyingly gorgeous first instance of seeing a fox assimilate scorpion properties. Barnett handles the art end of things, and this comic shows a lot of talent from this creator. It seems like his style may yet need some refining, but he shows a hell of a lot of promise in line art and colorwork.
So yeah, if you've heard some buzz about Alien Toilet Monsters, believe it. This is a great comic with engaging characters and a bizarre yet interesting plot. Seek this one out; it's well worth your time and money.