Hellbound Media’s all action, monster hunting heroine returns for a new adventure, this time reducing missing children from a mysterious villain known only as the Spindly Man. But will this latest adventure for Mandy The Monster Hunter be another heroic outing, or will The Legend of The Spindly Man simply be too monstrous?
Publisher: Hellbound Media
Writer: Matt Warner, Mark Adams
Artist: Lyndon White
Price: £5 from hellboundmedia.co.uk
After a brief sojourn to the Scottish isles to fight Celtic kaiju in the pages of the Comichaus anthology Hellbound Media’s monster hunting heroine is back on home soil. But while she was away a bunch of kids have gone missing and the only way they could think to signal to our heroine (who kids request for help in picture form) is via a mysterious piece of graffiti on a newspaper front page. As Mandy begins to investigate these disappearances she discovers a sinister character known as the Spindly Man – a kind of Babadook-esque villain who is kidnapping the local kids. As she attempts to work out the connections between the boys and an old case involving a sock monster things take a turn for the worst.
Now into it’s fourth volume (if you include the Comichaus run), writers Matt Warner and Mark Adams have developed a real confidence in the character of Mandy and so the stories they are able to build around her are all the better for it. He balances action and scares in just the right ratio to make it creepy and chilling, but not too over the top and as such is perfect for a broad audience (i.e. horror fans and non-horror fans, but also younger, early teen readers too). By not relying on shock and gore (as they do in other Hellbound books) it plays to the broadest possible audience and makes for a much more engaging read as a result. In fact, it is the kind of early teen book which the UK comics scene is sorely lacking and so we would highly recommend it to anyone out there with older kids looking to get them into indie comics. (Especially female readers for whom Mandy is a great lead!)
However, this ‘all ages’ approach doesn’t mean it cuts off all the edges and there is still a sense of dread and terror in there, without having to go all out. This volume especially is a bit like the Weeping Angels episodes of Dr Who with it’s mix of creepiness and action but it also avoids being too cute and clever with it’s story-telling. While this could see it accused of being a bit basic, we prefer to think of it as playing to it’s strengths and not getting bogged down in trying to be too clever at the expense of a good tale. It also means you can pick this first series up without having read the others.
This latest run is certainly helped by the addition of an enigmatic and terrifying lead villain, known as the Spindly Man which feels like a lost Tim Burton monster crossed with the evil spirit of Pennywise the clown. This sense of terror is also aided by the superb artwork of Lyndon White. He brings his own unique, painterly quality to the character, as well as an angular and twisted sense of dread that gives the story an element of darkness that it hasn’t had in previous volumes (Just check out the Spindly Man’s entrance on the right).
While we often complain about different artists ruining the flow on some indie (and even mainstream) books, in this instance the revolving door of artists really helps give each volume of Mandy a unique feel, appropriate to the story. While Vince Hunt’s cartoonish monster style was perfect for the Comichaus run, it wouldn’t work for this, and instead Lyndon’s work gives the Spindly Man a really creeping quality, but without the rest of the book suffering as a result. (Just check out the sock monster to see the variety on show here.)
The Legend of the Spindly Man is without doubt the strongest Mandy The Monster Hunter series yet, with an engaging and intriguing story, some top drawer art and a truly terrifying villain. So if you are after something which is chilling without being too horrific, but features a strong female lead and plenty of action and thrills that is suitable for older kids and beyond, then be sure to pick up Mandy The Monster Hunter: The Legend Of Spindly Man as she is fast becoming one of the mainstays of the UK small press scene.