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Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter (review)

Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter vol. 1
Writer: David Dastmalchian
Artist: Lukas Ketner

Collected edition: March 2022

Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter vol. 1 is a graphic novel that collects issues #1 to #4 of the same-titled series. It was initially published by Dark Horse Comics in October, 2019. The series focuses on aspiring reporter Jerri Bartman. Jerri had the opportunity to make something of her career but ended up being a victim of circumstances and her own poor choices, leading her into a career slump.

To help make ends meeet, Jerri gets a gig as the host of a Creature Feature at her small-town TV station. She plays the part of “Count Crowley,” after the original host disappeared under mysterious circumstances. What Jerri thought was a simple, yet boring job turned out to be anything but. Her first night leads to a confrontation with an actual werewolf. With her instincts as a reporter kicking in, Jerri decides to investigate her predecessor’s disappearance and realizes that the rabbit hole goes deeper. Jerri’s TV hosting gig ends up being a front for an actual monster hunter.

Here is the promotional copy from Dark Horse Comics:

It’s been a hell of a week for Jerri Bartman. She lost her job, crashed her car, took the only gig available hosting the midnight monster show, and . . . oh yeah–dismembered a zombie. No big deal. Now, to protect the people she loves, she’s going to have to take a crash course in monster hunting. And quickly–a vengeful vampire just booked a first-class flight into town. 

We’re almost reluctant to discuss the author’s background. David Dastmalchian is a famous actor whose credits include numerous superhero movies (with the most recent one being Polka Dot Man in The Suicide Squad). But it is a mistake to assume the comic is banking on the name. This title is evidence that Mr Dastmalchian is a solid comic book scribe: he knows his way around the medium.

But as for the story itself, it is not treading new ground. Readers might see Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter as a riff on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The big difference is in the protagonist herself. Jerri Bartman is not exacly a likable or relatable heroine. Instead, she is an unrepentant alcoholic, foulmouthed, and prone to unintentional self-sabotage. This is counterintuitive, in the sense that she is the least likely person one would expect to save the world. And the fact that she sort of gets railroaded into accepting that task makes for a great reading. This is a horror comic first and foremost, with just a bit of edgy humor.

The art is exceptional – it harkens back to 1980s EC horror comics, without looking outdated. The feel of the art is probably intentional due to the subject matter. The series should feature all sorts of B-movie monsters like a werewolf, a zombie, and a Frankenstein monster. We suspect Count Crowley will run the gauntlet in suceeding issues, as it eventually starts to adopt a Monster-of-the-Week format.

Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter vol. 1 is a great comic, particularly for readers who are waxing nostalgic over classic 1980s horror gems on the back of the success of the television series Stranger Things.