Monocyte relates a far future war between the Olignostics and the Antediluvians. The Olignostics are immortals by science and herders of humans. The Antediluvians are natural immortals, a race that evolved a parasitic relationship with humans since we first rose on our hind legs. Neither is good for humanity, and that may be why Monocyte, the first Green Man from the Antediluvians, wants to level the playing field altogether. Monocyte reminded me a lot of Lexx. It’s got the same kind of scope and imagination for darkness, albeit in a mostly black and white/sepia art form that’s singular in design.
The cult series Lexx presented a fully functional ensconced evil dominion that lacked a single cohesive force for resistance. In short, evil had triumphed. On a day of destiny, everything goes down the toilet, and because of that event, we follow the misadventures of Stanley Tweedle, Xev, Kai, 790 a robot head in love with Xev and, of course, the Lexx itself, an intelligent, massive planet devouring organic ship.
Monocyte captures the kind of dystopia featured in Lexx but without the hope represented by the main characters. That’s not a judgment call. Some readers very well may like a book in which two evil empires rain death upon each other’s slaves. I think this title would probably appeal to Goths and those looking for a danker, grimmer epic than the saga told in Tolkein’s books.
I admire the illustration, whose Giger influences are quite clear, but I found it difficult to invest any sympathy or choose any side in the plot. The races in the book are evil and alien, really alien. They’re thinking does not resemble even a shred of human process. That’s a creative accomplishment, but it does make both cultures difficult to root for.
Monocyte, the ostensible protagonist, is just as strange as the others, and the writers confine his interactions to his peers. So, I couldn’t find a reason to care what was going on. I found the book interesting, but in a sort of detached way. It’s definitely inventive, but I actually preferred the economical, informative report on the longbow and how it affected history over the story proper.
In the preview I received, Ghanbari included two sampling of two other Monocyte chapters. I can’t comment on “The Chronicle of the Shepherd.” Simply too little to go on. However, “The Chronicle of the Messenger” immediately fascinated more than the first issue of Monocyte. David Stoupakis’ artwork is far more colorful and anatomical. What’s more, the Antediluvians interact with humans. Ghanbari focuses on a human point of view character. It’s also ballsy to juxtapose a fetish-costumed Antediluvian with a child.
I can’t fully recommend Monocyte, but it’s tailored to a specific audience. That audience will probably enjoy this dark fantasy fable.
Ray Tate’s first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, “Spider Without a Web,” published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he’s young at heart. Of course, we all know better.