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Comic Book / Dark Horse Monsters

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"From the dark forgotten past they emerge... from the trackless reaches of space they descend... from the crushing ocean depths they rise... monsters!"
Cover Blurb

Dark Horse Monsters is a 1997 Anthology Comic published by Dark Horse Comics. It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a comic containing a group of short horror stories (similar to Tales from the Crypt or Creepshow). It featured cover art by Bob Eggleton (from his painting "Encounter with Horns and Teeth"). Although listed as "1," it only lasted one issue, and the stories contained in it were reprints of previously published stories which had appeared in issues #33 and #47 of Dark Horse Presents.

  1. Burnout: In 2003, the city of Seattle has been leveled by vicious alien beasts. The creatures eat nuclear material, and when they attacked three new nuclear power plants, they poisoned the city with deadly radioactivity. A lone man in a suit of experimental Powered Armor, whose family had been killed by the creatures, is sent into the ruins of the city to deal with them. Story and pencils by Mike Wolfer.
  2. Jungle of the Giants!: A disheveled man is lost in a gloomy jungle filled with gigantic beasts of his own creation. He is armed only with a spear, and pursued by Ghaidragon, a vicious lizard. Story by Timothy and Benjamin Truman. Art by Timothy Truman.
  3. Mike and Viv Go to Vegas!: Somehow or another, a bickering married couple named Mike and Viv has driven through a time warp on their way to Las Vegas, and wound up in the Cretaceous Period. Stranded in their car after hitting a Triceratops, the two have to decide whether they'll set aside their differences for mutual survival, or just continue arguing. Story and letters by Jack Pollack.
  4. Monster Island: A new chain of islands has appeared off the coast of North America in 1998. Military pilots Connolly and Vasquez and scientists Dr. Stem and Dr. Brennan are sent via hovercraft to investigate, and find the islands are teeming with giant beasts. Upon landing, they quickly find themselves in far more danger than they'd originally anticipated. Story and art by Vince Mielcarek.

Tropes used in this comic:

  • Absentminded Professor: The protagonist in "Jungle of the Giants!" was one before the story began, by his own admission.
  • Alien Invasion: "Burnout," of the All-Out Attack variety.
  • Anthology Comic: Featuring four stories by four different writers and artists, whose only connection is they all involve monsters of some sort.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The only reason this comic exists.
  • Auto Erotica: It's implied Mike and Viv have sex in the upside-down car.
  • Badass Normal: The protagonist in "Jungle of the Giants!" Even though he's just a scientist, he is quite awesome taking out "giant" predators with a spear.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: There's a spider in "Jungle of the Giants!" and a giant worm in "Monster Island."
  • Big "NO!": Dr. Brennan utters one when she's being eaten by a worm in "Monster Island."
  • Breather Episode: "Mike and Viv Go to Vegas!" Even with its Downer Ending (well, for Mike, anyway), it's far more lighthearted than the two stories preceding it, and the one which follows.
  • Closed Circle: In "Monster Island" after a cyclops steps on their hovercraft.
  • Cyclops: A particularly saurian one with a long lizard-like tail appears in "Monster Island."
  • Death Seeker: The protagonist of "Burnout" is heavily implied to be one. Having lost his entire family in the monsters' attack, he aims to get revenge and seems to want to die doing it. He gets his wish, killing the mother monster and himself at the same time.
  • Deus ex Nukina: How "Burnout" ends. Since the aliens eat radioactive materials, the protagonist kills the mother of them by injecting her with solid neutrons, splitting all the uranium inside of her, causing her to undergo atomic fission and blow up, leveling all of Seattle.
  • Downer Ending: All four stories. None of them have a happy ending.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: "Jungle of the Giants!" Yes, Billy's dad was kind of a neglectful douche and ignored both his kid and his ailing wife, but his project was one with a noble goal, and at worst he's guilty of being a workaholic. And yet Billy shrinks him and puts him in a terrarium with things he knows will kill his father, and even when he manages to fight his way through, Billy is there waiting to feed him to their cat.
  • Earth All Along: The climax of "Jungle of the Giants!" It turns out that the protagonist is not in a prehistoric jungle or on some alien planet, but in a terrarium in his own home, and the "giants" he's been fighting are animals of normal size.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The climax of "Monster Island." The "island" is in fact an enormous monster.
  • Foreshadowing: When the group first lands on the island in "Monster Island," Dr. Stem's Data Pad is giving off huge life-readings. Everyone else suggests that it's due to the abundance of giant monsters, but Stem doesn't think so. It's forgotten about until the end. Where we learn the island itself is one huge monster.
  • From Bad to Worse: The endings of both "Jungle of the Giants!" and "Monster Island." The former ends with the protagonist defeating the giant lizard Ghaidragon, only to find himself facing his giant son and his pet cat. The latter has Connolly escape from the monster-filled island only to discover that the island itself is a monster.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: In "Monster Island," the cyclops' foot unexpectedly comes down into frame and crushes the team's hovercraft.
  • Giant Spider: As "Jungle of the Giants!" begins, the protagonist has just finished killing one.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: It's very minor, but the beginning of "Monster Island" establishes that it takes place on December 25, 1998.
  • Imagine Spot: In "Mike and Viv Go to Vegas!", Mike experiences one of these. He envisions himself as a Frazetta Man decked out in Conan the Barbarian-style clothing fending off a variety of cartoonish dinosaurs that look like they came out of The Flintstones, as a scantily-clad Viv clings to him going "Oooooh, Mike!"
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: The ending of "Jungle of the Giants!" reveals that the main character is one of these.
  • Kaiju: Ghaidragon in "Jungle of the Giants!" was named by the protagonist's son. "Like something out of a cheap Japanese sci-fi film!"
  • Kill It with Fire: The aliens in "Burnout" are particularly weak to fire. One grabs a gasoline truck and tries to clobber the protagonist with it. He simply shoots the truck and the resulting fireball kills the monster.
  • Made of Explodium: A flying creature in "Monster Island" grabs Dr. Stem. Connolly and Vasquez shoot it with their laser guns, only to have it catch fire and burn, killing both it and Stem. Connolly remarks that it "must've had kerosene for blood."
  • Missing Steps Plan: The protagonist in "Jungle of the Giants!" doesn't seem to have thought his plan through. He has been shrunken and put in a terrarium. His plan is to reach the glass wall... and from there, he apparently plans to reach the Shrink Ray to restore himself to normal size. Somehow. All getting to the wall accomplishes is letting him look out at the machine. How he plans to get out to get to it is something even he seems unsure of.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The final beast in "Burnout" is the mother of the monsters.
  • Narrating the Present: "Burnout" and "Jungle of the Giants!" feature very spoken little dialogue (the former, in fact, has none), with the protagonists narrating the story via present-tense first-person narration. "Mike and Viv Go to Vegas!" features lots of dialogue but also has present-tense third-person omniscient narration, provided by a somewhat Lemony Narrator.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: "Burnout" and "Monster Island" are set in 2003 and 1998, respectively. However aside from a few futuristic gadgets (Powered Armor, a Data Pad, etc.) they're otherwise indistinguishable from 1986, when they were published.
  • No Ending: Since these are short stories in comic form, all except "Burnout" just sort of... stop. "Burnout" is the only one that resolves anything in its story, ending with the death of the protagonist.
  • Parental Neglect: The protagonist of "Jungle of the Giants!" buried himself in his work, ignoring his son, as well as his wife, who got sick and died while be busied himself with his experiments. It's for this reason that his vengeful son shrank him down to tiny size and placed him in a terrarium.
  • Punny Name: The other time-traveled human Mike and Viv encounter in "Mike and Viv Go to Vegas!" introduces himself as "Rock L. Welch."
  • Say My Name: "VASQUEZ!!!"
  • Skewed Priorities: Mike and Viv in "Mike and Viv Go to Vegas!" All the time. They favor sitting in their car arguing over whose fault their situation is rather than trying to figure out how they'll escape.
  • Super-Senses: The aliens in "Burnout" have no eyes, but have super-hearing.
  • Taking You with Me: The protagonist in "Burnout" does this at the end. He's already received a fatal dose of radiation from the mother alien, even with his Powered Armor's lead shielding. He says, "Being this close to you has killed me... but I'm not going alone!"
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Due to their aforementioned Skewed Priorities, Mike and Viv don't seem to find the dinosaurs they're surrounded by particularly interesting (except for one moment where a Tyrannosaurus startles Mike).
  • Vasquez Always Dies: One of the soldiers accompanying the scientific team in "Monster Island." She's even named Vasquez. She survives almost until the end, whereupon a cyclops picks her up and unceremoniously pops her into its mouth like a bon-bon.
  • Zeerust: The more futuristic elements in "Burnout" and "Monster Island."