Review: Doc Stearn … Mr. Monster #1

Doc Stearn … Mr. Monster #1 cover
Cover by Michael T. Gilbert

Doc Stearn … Mr. Monster #1
Published by Eclipse and © Michael T. Gilbert and William Messner-Loebs, January 1985

Title: “The Case of the Reluctant Werewolf”
Synopsis: A reluctant werewolf turns to Dr. Strongfort Stearn, aka Mr. Monster, for protection from the Were-Devils Athletic Club.

Writer: Michael T. Gilbert
Artist (layouts): Gilbert
Artist: William Messner-Loebs (as William F. Loebs)

Review: By the end of the Bronze Age, the independent-comic scene had all but replaced both the underground comix and ground-level publications that had helped pave the way for the burgeoning direct market. Talented cartoonist Michael T. Gilbert, a veteran of those preceding traditions, seamlessly makes the indie jump with Mr. Monster. Not everything here works: Gilbert has a better feel artistic feel for the character than finisher William Messner-Loebs and, tonally, the horror/humor balance still needs some refinement. But Mr. Monster is a ton of fun and clearly a labor of love; Doc Stearn would be here stay.

Grade: B

Second opinion: “Gilbert’s love of old EC comics, obscure superheroes and great comics in general all blend to make a deliciously perverse soup … 3 out of 4 stars.” – Scott Semet, The Comics Buyer’s Guide #1601, February 2005

Cool factor: Mr. Monster! The character would become one of the more lasting characters to emerge from the 1980s independent-comic scene. (Fun fact: An earlier iteration of the character first appeared in Canadian comics during the Golden Age).

Notable: This first eight pages of “The Case of the Reluctant Werewolf” is reprinted from Vanguard Illustrated #7 (see review) with new coloring

Character quotable:I’ll tell you HOW! He ain’t no ordinary human is how! He … he’s … MR. MONSTER!” – A member of the Were-Devils Athletic Club

A word from the writer/artist: “What I was trying to do – a delicate balance between humor and horror – couldn’t survive without an artist subtle enough to pull it off visually.” – Michael T. Gilbert, discussing the search for the right collaborator for this issue, from the “Presenting … the Incredible Secret Origin of … Mr. Monster!” introductory essay in this issue

Editor’s note: This review was written Sept. 4, 2023.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.