Hello, my friends. A storm of spirited delight has nearly formed within our spooky souls as ghouls of yesteryear are ready for their final clash. With that vein in mind, I once again welcome you to the penultimate entry of a tiny, yet terrifying string of reviews collectively called…
It’s time for Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta’s four-part tale to reach its zenith of horrifying, yet cartoonish heights. While you can check out my thoughts on the first three parts for more intrinsic details, here’s a recap of what’s transpired thus far. A group of elderly monsters have settled down at a special retirement home called Rest In Peace before a visit from a friendly young girl named Tiffany Frankenstein informs them that her grandfather’s castle is in danger of being demolished by the Van Helsing Corporation. Not only that, but luxury condos are going to be built upon its site. As such, our main group of ghouls plan their escape. While they ultimately manage to do so, the invisible man is unable to go with them due to his stiff joints being affected by the chilly weather. With the help of a monsters activists group called H.A.R.M., they’re able to make their way to the adjacent village with a newfound puppy by their side. Upon arrival, they learn that the citizens are being kicked out of their home by the corporation. Also, the Frankenstein Monster gets reunited with the Bride, who’s working as a waitress in a pub. With devious visions of a controlled community looming over the land, Tiffany manages to inspire the remaining villagers into joining them as they all march towards the castle.
Published in March 2004, it sadly didn’t make it into the Top 300 of comics sold for that month. Despite that minor oversight, what will await our beloved monsters in their attempt to stop a familiar vampire hunter who’s now a real estate developer? Let this climactic bout of monster madness commence.
Issue 4 begins with the armed peasants heading towards the castle to confront the corporation head. Just then, a citizen has to curb their natural habit of storming the palace and redirects them towards the land developer’s trailer. Meanwhile, Van Helsing and E. Gorr spot the approaching protestors. While E. Gorr is initially worried about their impending wrath, Van Helsing isn’t remotely scared about the fate of his development scheme as he simply takes out some contracts and approaches the mob. He confidentally tells the crowd that they’ve signed his papers and have thus, forfeited their right to argue with his plan in exchange for “a tiny fortune in zlotys”. Side Note: Zlotys is Poland’s currency (1 Zloty=26¢ in U.S. money). With the villagers powerless to stop them due to the devilish details within the fine print, a fellow protestor says that it now falls upon our main group to save the castle.
Meanwhile, Tiffany and her fellow monsters have reached her grandfather’s historic abode ready to make their last stand. The Count returns as he informs the group that the townsfolks are contractually unable to stop Van Helsing and thus, they must be ready to fight back. After Tiffany makes sure that the Frankenstein Monster is prepped for the upcoming conflict (which she does by playing “St. Anger” by Metallica for him), the sun rises as the demolition crew wakes up in preparation for their job while our main group stand ready for the final conflict. From there, they’re approached by Van Helsing. The Wolf-Man’s puppy Gobblin attempts to fight back by tugging on his pant leg with his mouth, but a simple glare sends the little dog running back to its master. As Tiffany exclaims that she and her group won’t let the castle get destroyed, Van Helsing says that they’re unable to stop him. Even as he mentions that the demolition crew is currently on a shift break, he summons E. Gorr who drives up in a wreaking ball crane. From there, Van Helsing tells the monsters to not get “in the way of progress” before telling his assistant to proceed.
As E. Gorr prepares to deliver the devastating blow, Tiffany worries as to how they’ll be able to stop this disastrous turn of events. Fortunately, the Wolf-Man gets an idea as he climbs up the castle wall before telling Puhotep to toss him some of his wrapping. As such, he flings the mummy onto the wrecking ball where he manages to grab onto it. Afterwards, the Wolf-Man jumps off as they use their combined weight to redirect the sizable spheroid. Meanwhile, the Count turns into a bat and distracts E. Gorr, causing him to mess up his control. From there, the Frankenstein Monster throws his detachable hand in and causes the wrecking ball to plummet towards the ground.
However, the construction crew had finally finished its break as Van Helsing takes joy with his own “reinforcements”, with our monsters wondering how they’ll combat this. Back at the Slaughtered Lamb, the fax machine turns on and prints out some important documents sent from H.A.R.M. as the Bride takes delight with what’s just come in. As such, she takes the long list of vital paper and heads out to rejoin our main group. Back at the castle, the crew’s leader informs Van Helsing that the dynamite has already been planted. Tiffany tells our ghouls that they can’t give up and reminds them that they’re still monsters. As such, they unleash their own brand of terror upon the construction crew and successfully scare them off.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t phase Van Helsing as E. Gorr hands him the detonation trigger. If that wasn’t bad enough, Nurse Wrentch arrives and promises our main monsters that they’ll be punished, even banning Tiffany from the retirement home. Suddenly, the Bride arrives with the requested document, much to Van Helsing’s confusion. Tiffany explains that the castle is actually a breeding ground for a rare and endangered cockroach species and thus, their home is protected by law. With his operation now deemed illegal, Van Helsing is shocked at the fact that his plans for a community park has now gone down the tubes as he and E. Gorr are forced to take their leave. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Nurse Wrentch has still shown up with the intent to take our monsters back to their rest home, even stating that they don’t have anywhere else to live. Tiffany steps in and volunteers to have them stay at her grandfather’s castle. As Nurse Wrentch argues with her, a few cochroaches begin to crawl up her leg. Just as she notices it, she squishes one of them. Suddenly, she gets handcuffed as it turns out to be the invisible man who explains that he managed to hitch a ride after also getting a fax from H.A.R.M. as well. From there, a pair of agents from the Bureau of Insect Preservation step in to take Nurse Wrentch away for her act. With all of their foes defeated, Tiffany tells her supernatural cohorts that they have some castle restoration ahead of them as the invisible man even exclaims that he tipped the B.I.P. off, even becoming an honorary member as well.
Sometime later, Castle Frankenstein has been renovated and is now the home for all of Rest In Peace’s elderly monsters. Various activities take place with Tiffany sliding down the stair railing into the arms of the Frankenstein Monster, Puhotep getting some fresh wrapping from a cute nurse, the Wolf-Man playing Go Fish with the Invisible Man, Gobblin chasing the cockroaches, the Gil-Man swimming in the moat and several other monsters playing volleyball. And so, the series ends on a feast for our main group as Tiffany asks them for their help in creating a new laboratory since she wants to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and do some “special experiments”, to which they all agree to.
Overall, this final chapter is mainly nice, mostly satisfying and monstrously comforting. When it came to fending off E. Gorr and his wrecking ball, our main group’s sporadic struggle showed them at their elderly, yet spontaneously best. It serves as a culmination for their longtime friendship since they’re unified enough to fight alongside each other for a unified cause. While they’re still psychologically powerless to Nurse Wrentch, it was still satisfying to see the invisible man come back and make his initial decision to stay behind at the rest home a worthwhile choice. It was even hilariously surprising to find out that he even made some official friends during his off-panel time. It helps that it ties in with the key discovery that H.A.R.M. makes about Castle Frankenstein, but it’s still humorous to think of him as an honorary member of some government agency. Speaking of those with connections to H.A.R.M., Tiffany does prove herself to be an inspirational and resourceful leader to our ghoulish team, despite her very young age. While I wish that the Bride got a somewhat different way to contribute towards our main group, like setting up and paying off any particular skill (or skills) that she’s developed during her time away from the Frankenstein Monster (especially since she gets to have the cover for herself here), at least she comically shows a pub from an ancient-looking village having some form of modern-day fax machine as part of their business, thus having her deliver the vital message to Tiffany and her team. Either way, she should have gotten far more to do than what she gets here. Also, Gobblin was a letdown. I know that it’s a puppy and it could have been that the writer couldn’t think up a clever way for the little dog to greatly contribute, but it ultimately feels like this story could have been written without the miniscule canine and you would’ve lost nothing significant. Finally, Van Helsing was decent in the villain’s chair. While making him a powerful land developer does give him the seemingly-invulnerable feel of a corporate tyrant, I sort of wish that he flashed some form of his traditional vampire hunter self so that it could’ve been used to show him in a far-more controlling light. As for E. Gorr, he fittingly served himself with his revised role, providing some charm and humor for the position that he finds himself in. As a whole, this four-part tale makes for an entertaining read for families, as nothing is too adult for youngsters while never feeling too childish for the parents. The pacing is very smooth, the art work is cartoonish & colorful and the main cast of characters are all nicely handled within these four issues. While it’s a fairly simple tale, it makes for a comforting read that calms our haunted souls with some narrative delight. Well, Halloween is now upon us. As such, allow me to officially reveal what magnificent treat I have in store for this particularly malevolent year. For the most glorious of nights, I’ll be delving into the independent kettle and delivering a multitude of spooky stories. Come back next time as I bring some full moon spotlight onto an anthology comic called “Tales Of The Damned”.
Grumpy Old Monsters (created by Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta) is owned by Idea & Design Works Publishing.