Hello, my friends. Despite the withered feeling of the outside world that we have within our bones, our hearts and our souls, the haunted spirits of old continue to climb towards a magnificent night of tricks, treats & spooky delights. On that note, I welcome you back to another entry in this particularly ghoulish series known as…
We’re halfway to our build-up for Halloween and we’re also halfway through the four-issue series known as “Grumpy Old Monsters”. Before we delve into the penultimate chapter, let us recap what has happened thus far. A group of famous monsters have gotten physically old and have wound up in a special retirement house made for the elderly undead. When a young girl named Tiffany Frankenstein drops by for a visit, she informs them that her grandfather’s castle is in danger of being demolished for the sake of developing condos. As such, they decide to help her out and escape. While the invisible man stays behind due to his aching joints getting affected by the chilly weather, the rest of the gang manage to break out and join up with their friend before they head out on their journey.
Published in February 2004, this third installment mange to sell 1,446 copies upon its initial release. Now that the rest home is no longer an issue for them, how will our aged creatures of the night help their friendly comrade out of her dire situation? Let’s take the trek and find out.
Issue 3 opens within the woods as Tiffany narrates about the Van Helsing Corporation threatening to destroy Castle Frankenstein and place “luxury condominiums” in its place. Though she has to stop this vile scheme, she knows that she won’t be able to accomplish her goal by herself. Afterwards, she says that the coast is clear and allows the monsters to emerge from the bushes. While Puhotep removes some plant residue that got onto him, the Frankenstein Monster gets worried about being within the spooky woods. Fortunately, Tiffany offers him a comforting hand to hold. Wolf-Man tells the group to lighten up since they’re finally out of the retirement home as he proceeds to frolic around the area in absolute delight. As he howls at the moon, a stray puppy wanders over and starts to take a liking to him. Back with the main group, the Count says that they must make haste towards Castle Frankenstein. However, he won’t be able to fly over there as a bat due to his age, while Puhotep exclaims that they’re not going to simply “shamble” all the way to their destination. Tiffany then tells them that they’re all still famous monsters and that the populace are “still grateful”. As such, she says that they’ll be able to “count on some of them” for some assistance.
As Wolf-Man arrives back with his newfound puppy, the young dog causes some minor trouble for Puhotep. Despite that act, Wolf-Man decides to keep him before they ultimately call him Gobblin. Afterwards, a van pulls up as Tiffany tells them that their friends have arrived. She explains that this group is called H.A.R.M. (Humans Assisting Retired Monsters) and that she came across them while she was “on the internet”. The advocacy association takes an immediate liking to them as our main monsters proceed to climb into the vehicle. The Frankenstein Monster and the Count ask how they’ll be able to drive to Castle Frankenstein, especially due to the “mountains and oceans” that currently stand in their way. Fortunately, they learn that “this bus has special modifications”. With a plethora of snacks to keep them occupied, our gang proceed to drive off towards their destination.
Meanwhile, Van Helsing and his Administrative Assistant named E. Gorr are combing over Castle Frankenstein. During all of this, they intend on demolishing the building and fumigating it before forcing the nearby citizens out of the adjacent village in order to properly build Transylvania Shores. As Van Helsing looks over his diorama, he says that it’s not limited to luxury condos. He intends on creating his own controlled community where everyone who lives there would be conformed to his preferred ways Afterwards, the construction workers arrive with their wreaking balls as Van Helsing gleefully anticipates the execution of his plan.
Meanwhile, our main group has finally arrived at Darkenheim as they get dropped off before H.A.R.M. heads out. Afterwards, they head into the village and see that its citizens are taking their leave. Tiffany asks them where they’re going, to which a villager says that they’ve been evicted from their homes As the monsters see Castle Frankenstein in the distance, Tiffany escorts them towards a pub called the Slaughtered Lamb. Upon their entrance, they’re noticed by the patrons. However, they’re not scared by them at all. Suddenly, a particular waitress sees them and drops her drinks in shock. It turns out that she’s the Bride of Frankenstein as the Monster attempts to reconnect with her. However, she smacks him with her tray as she berates him for never returning from his “Boys’ Night Out” and that won’t take him back into her life. He then says that he’s here to save Castle Frankenstein, to which she snidely remarks about him finally doing something useful for once.
Back at Castle Frankenstein, Van Helsing’s demolition plans have hit a snag. Due to the current time of day being “after dark”, the crew is unable to work right away. Van Helsing chastises them for their action and asks about what they’re afraid of, to which the construction leader says that it’s due to union rules.
Over at the Slaughtered Lamb, a band of gypsies are fleeing the village in anticipation for the organized destruction to come. Back inside the pub, the Frankenstein Monster begins to reconnect with the Bride as she says that their lives could have gone much different had they’ve been able to stay together. He then asks her for a simple chance, since he’s finally been able to straighten out his life. Over at the bar, the Count asks for a goblet of fresh blood. However, the bartender demands that he shows some I.D., despite the famed vampire being centuries old. The Count tries to make the excuse that he accidentally left his I.D. back at the rest home, but the bartender simply points at his sign and refuses to comply. As such, the Count ends up ordering some water. Afterwards, Tiffany stands on top of a table and tells the patrons that the historic Castle Frankenstein is in danger of being demolished and that they must help in saving this historic landmark. The customers discuss among themselves and decide that despite initial illwill caused by the infamous doctor, he actually gave some positive traits towards the village. From there, Issue 3 ends with Tiffany riling up the citizens by saying that they can’t let the Van Helsing Corporation displace their famed monsters and that their heritage must be saved. As such, the people gather their torches & pitchforks in order to unite with our main group as they all march out towards a final confrontation.
Overall, this penultimate chapter is making huge strides with its plot momentum. Our central ghouls continue to display some friendly banter amongst themselves and others, while the Wolf-Man and the Frankenstein Monster get their time with some character moments of their own. With the Wolf-Man, he gets a little dog for a companion. It remains to be seen how this puppy will come into play for the final issue since it doesn’t really do much here, but at least our elderly werewolf gets to have his own personal moment of levity. As for Frankenstein’s Monster, he gets to reunite with his signature bride. Given the short length of this series and the fact that it’s only now that she gets introduced here, it is odd that she’s rightfully mad for him not returning to her only to have them caring for each other one scene later. I guess his reason for returning may have started to turn things around in her mind, but I feel like this kind of dynamic should have been allowed some room for further development. Just like the little dog, it also leaves a sense of anticipation for how she’ll be used once we reach the final chapter. After all, the original Bride’s memorable first appearance (1935’s “Bride Of Frankenstein”) only saw her created as a mate for the Monster. However, she ends up screaming at him in newly-birthed and rejecting horror. As such, giving her something important to do for the last outing should make for a satisfying use of this famous creature. Speaking of females, Tiffany does get a moment of leadership by the end of this issue. While our main monsters are very gracious towards her, she mainly displays her noble convincing that she displayed in the inaugural issue, which was the same kind that helped her recruit our central ghouls towards a common cause. As such, that gets paid off here as she convinces the remaining villagers to fight for the preservation of their town and not just Castle Frankenstein. Yes, her stirring and inspirational speech to the villagers only occurs in the final page of what is essentially part of a family-friendly tale. Even though there really isn’t any disdain towards fighting against the opposing development corporation, Tiffany’s sermon feels like it should have been at least two or three pages long in order to deliver a more powerful impact. Finally, we have Van Helsing himself. It feels refreshing to see the legendary vampire hunter reimaged as a controlling land developer and thus, getting his chance within the villain’s chair. Sure, evening hours and union rules are currently stifling him, but it should be interesting to see how he’ll oppose our familiar monsters when the final issue rolls around. Not to mention, he has his own version of Igor beside him. As usual, the artwork is colorful to the eyes and it’s detailed enough to be cartoonish, while still being able enough for the reader to make out what’s going on. The story’s pacing has really kicked into high gear as both factions have taken their places and are both in line for what should be a comedic, yet fun clash. Also, it’s topped off with its good-natured humor, thus making its chapter a nice time worth spending. So, how will our main monsters topple the devious constructive mind of their opposing property hunter? What fate will befall upon Castle Frankenstein? Will the combined efforts of our main ghouls and the villagers be enough to overtake the might of a devious condo plan? Come back next time for the thrilling conclusion, as well as what I’ll have in store for Halloween. Until then, don’t lumber off too far!
Grumpy Old Monsters (created by Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta) is owned by Idea & Design Works Publishing.