Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter’ #1, out October 23 from Dark Horse Comics.

Cover to ‘Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter’ #1. Art: Lukas Ketner/Dark Horse Comics

THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘COUNT CROWLEY: RELUCTANT MIDNIGHT MONSTER HUNTER’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.

by Lauren Fernandes. October arouses a very specific nostalgia for a gal like me. Born late October, the spooky, the monsters, the occult have always drawn me in. The fall is always a bittersweet end—it is a slow death to all of the green vitality of the summer, but it goes out decked in garnet and gold, in ochres and umbers, delicately laced in the soft beginnings of frost and cold. October is the chapter that marks a turn, a change. It also brings the birth of something new, in its own way, that equals the births of spring. 

For Jerri Butler, this October marks the birth of a new life, one she doesn’t know that she wants, or is ready for. You see, Jerri Butler is KSKB’s new Count Crowley (the old one has gone missing) for Friday Night’s Scream Theater creature feature. 

The fine print for this gig is actual monster hunting, something no one discussed with Jerri beforehand and something she definitely didn’t agree to. I mean, for chrissake, she can’t even deal with her personal monsters. She’s a raging alcoholic (which is what cost her at least one other job), she’s suffering from some kind of major past trauma that clearly hasn’t been dealt with—what kind of hero is this? How the hell is she going to manage other people morphing into werewolves or sucking the life from their friends and family when she’s basically doing the same thing?

Welcome to The Point. 

When writer David Dastmalchian set out to write Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter, he determined to tell the tale of two types of monsters and one woman’s battle with them. There are the big, hairy, bitey monsters, the ones we fear might be in our closets or under our beds, waiting to cast spells on us or feed from our flesh. There are also the ones that live inside us, parasitically gnawing away at our self-value, poisoning our will to go on, infecting our perceptions of ourselves and the way we think others perceive us. They lurk in the dark recesses of our minds, pulling strings as though we are puppets, guiding us to reach for one more drink, one more hit, one more pill. 

These monsters are far more frightening than any imagined shapeless form creeping under your bed. These monsters can steadily eat away at us, until one day you realize you have become more monster than you are yourself. 

Unless you can rally. Unless you fight. Unless you decide to become the hunter.

Yes, Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter satisfies what you look for in a creature feature comic. Lukas Ketner and Lauren Affe team up with art and colors to deliver an overcast Eighties vibe that fits the bill for Dastmalchian’s 1983 setting. Ketner endcaps the issue with a campy crypt-keeper newspaper blip, tying in the opening scenes. Ketner and Affe bring it with their monster designs, with the fishnet fashion, and with a very distinct makeup look for Jerri’s rendition of Crowley. What they also deliver is a very real look at Jerri’s personal monsters. They visually craft the invisible weight of shame, the heaviness and fatigue and self-loathing that accompanies depression and addiction, which adorns Jerri like a mask she wears in every frame. They show the incompleteness of Jerri’s home, with boxes left unpacked and bills left unpaid and the full loneliness of her existence—the lack of hope summed up in one papery, dead houseplant. 

The chaos peppering her place mimics her inner chaos, and the bottle that is constantly in her grip is her weapon of choice.

But who said addicts don’t get to be heroes? These heroes exist, and something tells me Jerri is bound to be one of them. Dastmalchian’s first issue of Count Crowley sets up so many possible trajectories for Jerri. It is like having your gut attached to a pendulum that is not yet in motion, while wearing a blindfold. You have no idea which way it will swing, when you will feel the floor drop out from under you. All you can do is cling to it, indefinitely on the precipice of momentum, and ride it out.

Dark Horse Comics / $3.99

Written by David Dastmalchian.

Art by Lukas Ketner.

Colors by Lauren Affe.

Letters by  Frank Cvetkovic.

7.5 out of 10

‘Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter’ #1 hits stores October 23.

Check out this 4-page preview of ‘Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter’ #1, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics!

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