Dark Horse Comics
Story: Ulises Farinas & Erick Freitas
Cover/Art: Ulises Farinas
This is a story that I never thought I would see and now that I have, I just want more. The issue was released as a one-shot that asks the question: In a Pokemon-esque world, what if the monsters were proving to be too detrimental for the planet? It answers that very question using wit, stunning imagery, and impressive story telling, all masterfully packed into one issue.
The story starts with people paying to punch the main character, Dusty Keztchemal (see article title), who has been branded a coward by pretty much everyone. Told through a series of flashbacks, you find Dusty was once a celebrated trainer of monsters who could be captured in half-red and half white cubes and would fight the monsters of other trainers. The more monsters there were, the more it was discovered that they were having a very negative effect on the Earth's biosphere and human population. Dusty dons a Power Ranger-style army suit (which is common for this world's army) and commands troops into battle to fight monster against monster. What happens next and why he is a coward, I will not reveal. Farinas and Freitas weave a tale showcasing the highs and lows of Dusty's life, including his speedy descent from hero to zero, and makes a truly love/hate relationship with the "protagonist".
The art is in your face, colorful, and busy... in all the right ways. Seriously, it's unlike anything I've ever seen in a comic book. Characters have faces that show clear intent, and the switch between the past and the present showcases how much Dusty has changed for the worst. The faces as well as the monsters also show a very clear light source and shade accordingly, a much appreciated touch. Each monster is unique in numerous ways. Farinas draws a variation of species, shapes, heights, and straight up peculiarities to make sure that it is clear that these creatures can be strange, fun or very dangerous. That being said, the monsters are all drawn in an art style that is consistent and relatable throughout the book, providing the reader to delve further into the story. Farinas uses commercial references a lot of people are familiar with (especially with folks from the mid to late 90s) which provide many of "Oh no way!" nostalgia moments.
As a child I liked the video games this plays off of. I liked the world and the creatures. This is an interesting "what if" issue that puts an extreme twist on the concept and successfully engrosses the reader in an epic short story. Farinas and Freitas have made an incredible work of art that is well worth a glance. Then after that glance, take another one, because there is so much to take in that a second read will be beneficial and worth while. Although this is a one shot, I am remaining hopeful that one day this title may return. If you like pocket monsters and nostalgia, then do yourself a favor and check this out.