On the whole, the Young Monsters in Love special is worth it, I have to admit. There are ten stories in the eighty-page volume, so that works out to basically one dollar per story. Of the ten, I quite enjoyed five of them, and the other five weren’t bad, so that balances out.
Man-Bat, Frankenstein - Agent of SHADE, Solomon Grundy, Raven, Deadman, Swamp Thing, Monsieur Mallah and the Brain, I, Vampire, the Demon, and the Creature Commandos are all featured in this book. That’s a bit of a curious line-up, as the Creature Commandos and SHADE do overlap, though different characters are used in the two tales.
I’m not going to waste time and space talking about the stories that didn’t thrill me. Instead, I am going to share what I consider the highlights of this book.
First off, it opens with a very good Man-Bat tale. Kirk Langstrom and his wife Francine are, as ever, having problem because of his addiction to becoming Man-Bat. The way Kyle Higgins and Kelly Jones tell this story really makes the most of the addiction quality to his transformations, and the story can be easily read as analogous to any relationship between normal humans that gets torn apart by drugs or alcohol. Man-Bat himself becomes almost a haunting entity for Kirk, and one that he cannot bring himself to shake completely.
I absolutely loved the Frankenstein story, by Tim Seeley, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith. As always, Frankenstein is trying to patch up the failed relationship between him and the Bride. You know it isn’t going to work out between them, and though they are able to work together, there are gulfs between them that will not be breached. Seeley does a very good job with Frankenstein’s internal monologue, and I particularly enjoyed the surprise cameo towards the end of the tale.
Solomon Grundy gets top billing in a story by Mairghread Scott, Bryan Hitch and Andrew Currie, though it really is a Superman story, with Jonathan Kent tagging along. The tale has Superman trying to help Grundy re-connect with his former life as Cyrus Gold, and has some genuinely touching moments. I also really liked Hitch’s art. I’ve been writing some really harsh reviews about his work on Justice League, so I was glad to enjoy a story he worked on.
Paul Dini and Guillem March share the Deadman tale, which has less romance than most of the other stories from this issue, but is a lot of fun anyway. Deadman comes to the aid of a young boy being picked on by his classmates. It’s pretty much a low level revenge fantasy kind of tale, but effectively light-hearted. The note Deadman leaves for the boy at the end really makes the tale.
And lastly, my favourite story from the book belonged to Monsieur Mallah and the Brain, by Steve Orlando and Nic Klein. This weirdly mis-matched couple face off against Maggie Sawyer, but what they hope to achieve proves something even she can sympathize with. I couldn’t help but love the two page spread of their days battling the Doom Patrol, but it’s the genuine affection the two twisted villains have for each other that makes the piece really sing.
I also have to give an honourable mention to the Swamp Thing story in this book. Mark Russel’s story rang very false for me, I couldn’t buy in to the sudden romance, but the artwork, by Frazer Irving, was so stunning that I didn’t really mind. I just let the visuals wash over me.
The only thing I felt was really missing from the book was a framing sequence. DC has so many horror host characters that it seemed a shame not to remove one of the stories, and instead devote those pages to an enjoyable framing sequence with Cain or the Three Witches, for example.
Is this book worth the cost? For me, the answer would have to be yes.