Heroes & Villains – Monkey vs Robot: The Complete Epic, Dying Is Easy

Hey, wasn’t I just here yesterday? ICYMI, there was a special mini Heroes & Villains column that posted yesterday about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin which you should definitely check out. The column AND the comic.

This week I’ve got nothing particularly scary to write about and as it stands I think I gave you enough spooky comic options the last three weeks to get you to Halloween. Alright, here’s a bonus frightening tale: Over the weekend I chipped a tooth while eating a cheese stick. No, there wasn’t a human bone or a razor blade in it. In point of fact it was exceptionally soft for a cheese stick, but that’s just life in your 40s. Your body just slowly starts to turn to dust and even the softest of foods will betray you.

There’s probably a good chance that as you’re reading this I’m in the dentist’s chair getting my busted grill fixed. I’m going to have to see if my insurance will cover gold or platinum fronts now that I’m thinking about it…

But for now…COMICS!

Monkey Vs. Robot: The Complete Epic
James Kolchalka (W/A)
Top Shelf Productions

This is one of the times I can safely write, “now this takes me back…” and ACTUALLY mean it. Before we go any further I’m gonna hit you with a blurb:

“…the 432 page, single volume complete epic of Monkey vs. Robot. Both of the original black & white graphic novels, Monkey Vs. Robot and Monkey Vs. Robot and the Crystal of Power, have been fully colored by Kochalka for this edition! In addition, he completes the trilogy with a brand-new graphic novel appearing here for the first time, Monkey Vs. Robot in Love.”

Up top I wrote about being in my 40s etc. etc. but it still blew my mind that Kolchalka’s Monkey Vs. Robot is not only celebrating its 20th anniversary but that I bought it from the man himself at the Top Shelf booth at a convention when it was BRAND NEW. Years later, I would also purchase the first volume of American Elf (which he was kind enough to sketch in for me), Cute Manifesto, Peanutbutter & Jeremy and on and on. So it’s safe to say I’m a fan of his work.

It’s great to see Monkey Vs. Robot being collected like this AND with a new story included as a wonderful bonus. My original copy of Monkey Vs. Robot was perpetually on loan for years as it was one of the cornerstones of my plan to convert my non-comics reading friends into fans of the medium. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that these books can be enjoyed by virtually anyone. It’s just pure visual storytelling joy.

Oh, and there’s a song to go with it too.

Dying Is Easy
Joe Hill (W)
Martin Simmonds (A)
IDW Publishing

In stores today is the collected edition of Dying Is Easy from Joe Hill and Martin Simmonds. I took a look at the first issue ALL the way back in December, 2019 (back when things were kind of okay). Here’s what I had to say, take it away Past Me:

Syd “Shit-Talk” Homes is an ex-cop and current stand up comedian who, as luck would have it, gets involved with a murder investigation. The humour in the book is super dark which I appreciated and Simmonds’ artwork is fantastic. The art is akin to the neon-soaked colour palette of a Nicolas Winding Refn film mixed with Ben Templesmith’s work on the Image Comics series Fell. In brief, it’s a cool looking book.

Dying is Easy has a strong first issue for a five-issue limited series and it’s one of those books with a character that I could see the creative team dipping back into from time to time (fingers crossed).

Hill is one of those writers I’ve followed from publisher to publisher over the years and he gets my golden stamp of approval. It’s pretty clear to me that he has a blast creating comics and anything he does is well worth checking out. Spooky stealth recommendation, check out any of DC’s Hill House books which Joe Hill wrote and curated for the publisher. Those are all out in hardcover now and were some of the best horror books I’ve read in recent memory.

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