Review: Hollow Monsters (Monty Nero)

The new book for Death Sentence‘s Monty Nero is part horror story, part childhood throwback, part romance

Publisher: Monty Nero
Writer: Monty Nero
Artist: Monty Nero
Price: TBC

It starts with a look back at the childhood of Jay, and the recurring mystery of the Hollow Man – an ethereal character who seems to exist only via graffiti. The story is filled out with scenes about kids spying on neighbours, rabbit killing vandals, kids hanging out playing video games, and old flames reuniting. Stylistically it owes a lot to Stephen King with it’s mix of childhood reflection and a mysterious supernatural presence in the background – except it’s British. But it also has that slightly lighter touch you get with Spielberg or 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank. 

Nero is a real polymath, doing the story, art, colours and lettering himself. Visually it has a very David Aja’s Hawkeye feel to the artwork and design, with lots of tight panels and interesting angles, especially in the sequences which bookend this opening issue and the stunning cover which is mirrored in a romantic scene towards the end. However there is a strange shift in style, and quality when a dream like sequence involving a forest is concerned. It moves over into a digital painted style which feels a bit out of place compared to the slickness of the previous pages and in some instances the line work suffers as a result.

It’s a curious read and feels like it is over before it gets going. You’re not entirely sure which direction the story is heading, and it definitely poses more questions than answers, which is usually a good thing, but here it feels more like untapped potential than a book you are desperate to keep reading. There is a ton of back matter in this first issue which fleshes out the world of Hollow Monsters and perhaps creates more interest in future volumes than the story itself. It also reveals that Nero is approaching this as an exercise in story-telling as much as a thrill ride adventure and so perhaps we need to wait to see how things pan out in time to truly judge the success of this series.

Hollow Monsters definitely feels like one of those books that has the potential to be stratospherically cool in terms of quality, as the ideas on show in this first volume feel very ambitious and accomplished. But also it feels like it could crash and burn and be just another pretty book with nothing much to say. Only time will tell if it leaves us as hollow as the titular monsters!