The Monsters Meet on Court Street and Other Tales of Supernatural Law
It’s been eight years since Mr. Negativity came out, the volume previous to this collection in chronology, and four years since I’ve read an issue of Supernatural Law, so I was worried that I’d have forgotten too much to catch up. Wrong.
Batton Lash’s characters came right back to me, helped by the classic formula of their stories and a new 12-page prologue that reintroduces the concept and the cast. The situations aren’t particularly deep or subtle, but the appeal of this series is how timeless it seems in its structure, pacing, and reliance on old-school resolutions and punchlines. Plus, monsters — defanged through humor, treated as though their complaints were worthy of legal resolution, often in court.
The Monsters Meet on Court Street, sixth book in the Supernatural Law series, began as a Kickstarter, but the book is now available to anyone. It reprints comic issues #30, 37-40, and Mavis #4. Everything’s been retoned for the collection. It’s not a great starting point for readers new to the series, but it’s a nice package for continuing fans.
I appreciate the desire to reprint the issues completely, but beginning with a story about what a jerk Chase Hawkins (Alanna’s sometime boyfriend and competitor) is didn’t set things off right for me. He’s never been an appealing character, and these pages don’t expand or deepen what we know about him. Sure, we’re told more of his life, but it’s just more time with the same person.
The art gets the job done with the focus character always front and center. Their expressions often fall on the side of caricature, which gives the art a slick feeling to me. Often, the narration is very basic, without much originality. It gets the job done, but the phrasing rarely stands out as particularly clever or memorable. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, depending on what kind of entertainment you’re looking for. It’s not challenging, but comfortable.
The Mavis stories that follow the Chase chapter are more soap opera-oriented, with Mavis muttering on about an old boyfriend and friends, although there’s also an attack by a robot run amuck and the exposure of a fake hipster magician. “Dimension That I Love Her?” follows the pattern of an old Twilight Zone episode, but the art contributions by Frank Cho, of his typical busty babe, will please a certain type of reader. (I found it tasteless, although in keeping with the type of unclothed woman found in classic sci-fi.)
More interesting to me was “The Mamamomo Matter”, about a high-powered businessman’s imaginary friend suing him to recover his good name. The style used for the friend is a bit different, a bit softer and simpler than the usual, which I liked. There’s also a chapter about a guy turned into a gorilla and one summing up the story so far, creatively told by the law office building.
I don’t recall where the series goes after this, but given the pacing and delays and struggles facing a serialized story these days, I’d recommend more mostly stand-alone stories like those found in the second half of this book. The soap opera elements may have been necessary or significant in earlier days, but now, it’s been so long since I checked in with these characters that I don’t care who’s dating whom any more, especially since development of those plotlines is so very slow.
You can find out more at the publisher’s website. (The publisher provided a review copy.)