I am so sorry this is so late. I am such a terrible, irresponsible blogger.
Kids love dinosaurs. They love Godzilla and giant robots and space aliens. If they’re like me, they grow up on franchises like Pokemon, Digimon, and Monster Rancher. They draw fierce creatures and imagine them locked in epic battles for Justice, for the world, for sheer unadulterated awesomeness.
Kids, in short, love monsters. But what happens when a kid actually gets a monster of their own, one that they have to hide and care for on top of all the usual drama that comes with being a kid? What if that monster is literally a part of them?
This is Monster Pulse, by Magnolia Porter.
“Monster Pulse is an all-ages adventure story about kids whose body parts transform into fighting monsters.”
Do you really need to know more?
Bina is a lonely, thirteen year-old girl who daydreams about dinosaurs. One day she comes across a mysterious “ghost” which flies into her, possessing her heart and transforming it into an enormous creature which she later names Ayo. Initially shy, unassuming, and plagued with self-doubt – exacerbated by her struggling relationship with her mother – Bina is slowly becoming an outspoken young woman with steadfast convictions.
Abel, a detached loner with a flying, laser-shooting eye monster named Rixis. He’s haunted by something from his past and has been living alone on the streets for years as a result, wandering from place to place, never getting attached to anyone or anything. Despite his prickly demeanor, Abel finds himself growing close to and even befriending the other kids, something that maybe he wants more than he’d ever care to admit, even to himself.
Julie, a hyperactive tomboy with a hair monster named Kera. Loud, brash, and completely wild, she’s often comes across as insensitive, immature, and selfish, though she is actively trying to become more considerate about others’ feelings. She’s the first other person with a monster that Bina meets and the two quickly become fast friends.
West, a geeky kid with a walking stomach called Guuzy who eats for the both of them. Although originally just Julie’s friend, West is the kind of kid who makes friends with everyone… or at least tries to. He’s insecure and a little sheltered, but his heart is full of good intentions and unlike Julie, he often puts others’ feelings before his own, perhaps even too much. He has his share of problems, but feels they aren’t as real or important as everyone else’s and so he hides them behind a friendly smile.
For more in-depth descriptions of the characters, just visit the comic’s About page.
While at first I found the comic’s art to be a little rough around the edges and somewhat – for lack of a better word – “cartoony”, it grew on me very quickly. In actuality, the art is very charming and the style is perfect for an all-ages story like Monster Pulse, although the art in the first couple of chapters was a bit heavy on the lines. Each character is given a great design that reflects his or her personality perfectly and conveys all the expression that a scene might require.
The monsters themselves are all well designed with each one clearly resembling whatever organ/body part they sprang from. Some monsters, like Ayo and Guuzy, are heavily based on the overall shape of the organs, while others, like Kera or Rixis, feature key elements that are meant to invoke their origins. The monsters also range from adorable to awesome to downright horrific and terrifying. They no doubt remind people of some of the more unusual Pokemon designs.
With the exception of a few pages here and there, the first eleven chapters of the comic are drawn in gray scale. The first couple of chapters, in particular, feature some rather heavy line-work, but the comic’s overall image smooths out quickly and almost seamlessly, though there are times between later chapters where slight redesigns have clearly been made. Once we get to chapter twelve, the comic shifts over completely to colored pages, with the colors being a pleasant blend of soft pastel colors with a few louder tones thrown in. The pages themselves use just a few colors each, such as warm yellows and oranges for sunlit scenes and cool blues and purples for night time. I can only imagine how nice they’d look on paper.
As much as I enjoy the art for Monster Pulse, it’s the writing that never fails to astound me. The writing is heartwarmingly, heartrendingly deep. The characters aren’t just wacky kids having adventures with their organs turned monsters – they are fully developed people, each with their own understandable desires and all too relatable flaws and fears. Not only that, but the characters develop (gasp). Even more amazing is the fact that the children’s parents also act like people (double gasp). It’s unfortunately common in media with child protagonists to portray the adults as ineffective at best, antagonistic at worst. In stories where children behave like adults, it only makes sense that their parents share in their drama and struggle with it just as they do. This is one of the most highly effective themes a story about child protagonists can have.
There’s also the usual fare for children protagonists; fear of their parents finding out their secret, growing romantic feelings, and struggles with self-awareness, to list a few. Each theme is handled wonderfully and the characters that undergo them are written superbly, from their motivation to their dialogue. Add in a plot element about having a monster’s growing out of part’s of people’s bodies, separated but still linked to them, while a shadowy organization hunts them down and you have a great sci-fi/action premise. Monster Pulse is by far one of the more smartly crafted, profound, and emotionally conscious comics I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far.
- Charming art and fantastic monster designs. Reminiscent of Pokemon and Digimon, yet still unique.
- Deep, character-driven writing makes every character worthwhile.
- All ages comic perfect for young adults but readily enjoyable for not-so-young adults.
All in all, Monster Pulse is a great looking, beautifully written series that I would wholeheartedly recommend to veteran or casual comic readers alike, regardless of age. Seriously, go check it out if you haven’t already. It just might get your heart pumping.
Monster Pulse is written and drawn by Magnolia Porter. This comic, including all images used here, belongs to her. The comic currently updates Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.