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Monster Zoo

Review

Monster Zoo

Ty visits the zoo as a way to take a break, especially from the recent loss of his father, a sharpshooter who was stationed in Afghanistan. Taking breaks doesn't come easy, though, when his best friend, Carpo, lets loose all his annoying habits and the girl of his dreams, Rainy, arrives on a date with the school Neanderthal, Rick. Ty wants to live up to his father's memory --- to get the girl, to prove himself heroic and not a coward --- but when confronted with the usual intimidation tactics from Rick, he caves like the reedy loser he sees himself to be.

Then something goes wrong. Horribly wrong. An idol unearthed in Africa on display is far from solid stone, and as its influence spreads to the animal population, infecting them with the unfettered rage of an animal spirit wronged by generations of humans, Ty's day at the zoo becomes a nightmare. As everything from monkeys to giraffes mutate into grotesque creatures bent on revenge, escaping the confines of their cages and attacking visitors with murderous abandon, Ty, Carpo and Rainy are racing for their lives. While most people desert the zoo, panicked, Ty is stuck far enough in that he realizes this might be his chance to be the hero and save the day.  But can he actually do it? Will he make his dad proud, or will he just fail miserably before meeting a grisly end?

Only someone as deft as Doug TenNapel can combine the impact of war, horrifying attacks and flatulence, and mix it all into a poignant, monster-driven drama. He's never one to tell a story without an emotional connection, despite what appears to be a very simple monsters-run-amok plot. While Ty's story is not a new one, TenNapel tells it with an honesty and lack of clichés that is refreshing and necessary for making the volume work. The fear and gross-out moments are always real, and seeing something as usually docile as a giraffe split open and trying to eat people is no small scare, but he is also a master of letting the images and emotions speak for themselves.

Ty, Carpo and Rainy all talk like people I know. And while their reactions are not unflappable, that doesn't stop them from becoming the heroes of the day, using smarts and a desire to do the right thing, the right way, to win out.

     -

Reviewed by Robin Brenner on October 18, 2011

Monster Zoo
by Doug TenNapel

  • Publication Date: May 21, 2008
  • Genres: Comic Books
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • ISBN-10: 1582409110
  • ISBN-13: 9781582409115