Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Reading: Mr. Monster Origins

Who better on Halloween than Mr. Monster?

I actually got this book a few weeks back, read about half of it, then decided to save the final part for tonight. Man, I LOVE this book.

Looking into Mr. Monster earlier, without having read any issues in nearly 20 years, I was somewhat mistaken in a prior blog post about his Canadian identity having been stripped away. Jim Stearn was identified as Canadian in his most widely-known appearance, from Super Duper Comics #3 in 1947, which is reprinted within Chapter 2 (of eight) of Origins. The retelling is done in an interesting way; we read the "real" story of what happened while one of the supporting  characters reads the comic book version.

Origins adds that, in order to avoid taking over the role of Mr. Monster, a young Jim Stearn left Stearn Manor and moved to Canada to earn his medical degree. I believe Stearn Manor is in New York state, so Stearn would be a Canadian citizen but likely not Canadian born.

The present-day version of the character is his son Strongfort "Doc" Stearn. So Strongfort is sort of half-Canadian and half...huh...well, you really should read this book.

I believed that the book would focus on Strongfort's upringing and training, but that's not the case. He's actually not born until the end of chapter four. The early issues detail Jim Stearn's career and the senior Stearn remains involved in the later issues as the story begins to look into creepy little Strongfort's early childhood.

Extra treat: As pointed out by Jim B in a comment to my previous post, there is another Mr. Monster appearance which tends to be overlooked. The Jim Stearn(e) version's origin was told in Triumph Comics #31. The story is displayed in this book, however its seven pages are copied onto two, making them quite small. Still, it's nice, not to mention logical, to have it in an Origins package.

By my limited recollection of the other Mr. Monster books, they were quite different in tone; more of a quirky humour, cartoonish style. It may be that the darker tone of Origins was more appealing to my personal tastes, but the character is interesting regardless and I think I'll be collecting more of his adventures down the road. Hell, maybe I'll make it a Halloween tradition for as long as there is material with which to do so.

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