REVIEW: My Date with Monsters #2 – Bad Dates and A Good Dog

This metaphor of what it is like to date as a single mom is an entertaining and relatable read. Filled with bad dates, rejections, government training programs, high school drama, and, of course, living nightmares, what more could one want from a horror comic?

My Date with Monsters #2

Paul Tobin (Writer), Andy Macdonald (Artist), DJ Chavis (Colourist), Taylor Esposito (Letterer)
Aftershock
Dec 15, 2021

my date with monsters

I am quickly falling in love with the My Date With Monsters series published by Aftershock and created by Paul Tobin (writer) and Andy MacDonald (artist) with colours by DJ Chavis and lettering by Taylor Esposito. So far, the series is layered and has enough character arcs to see the potential for years to come. The book’s pacing is quick but not overwhelming. It keeps you on your toes, as any good horror should, but doesn’t throw so much at you that you can’t keep track.

Continuing the quest to find true love and heal her daughter, Rita reluctantly goes on several dates, all of which end badly. The creature of the month develops into what appears to be the main antagonist of the series, and we dive deeper into the lives of other B-plot characters. All while continuing to develop our protagonist’s threesome and build the world that Paul and Andy are creating.

The Antagonist

Issue #2 picks up from the previous comic, with a new nightmare attacking Machi’s classroom and cornering her after killing several other students. Always the momma bear, Rita is racing to her daughter’s rescue while calling Croak (aka Hethri, the monster-eating bridge guardian) to save Machi from this unknown threat. The ‘mare senses Croak’s arrival through an interdimensional portal and vanishes moments before Croak arrives to discover a defeated Machi still cowering on the floor. The ‘mare tasks a lock of hair from Machi’s hair and leaves her with a message: “Tell your mother ‘Hello’… Tell Hethri he’s too late.”

“Tell Hethri he’s too late” as the new ‘mare fades into nothingness.

This new ‘mare turns out to be something Croak calls a “Chub.” A monster that needs negative emotions to breathe and is suffocated by positive ones, a Chub is a creature that will clearly thrive in this world filled with other monsters, sleepless nights, and general fear and unhappiness. Any nap could mean a new ‘mare crossing the breach if someone hasn’t taken their Blanket pills. I am excited to see what they do with the Chub while exploring the state of the world as a whole.

Must Love Dogs

We learn more about Genka in issue#2, firming up his place as Rita’s potential love interest. A reluctant part of the military’s “Rita training unit,” his job, along with hundreds of other soldiers, is to attempt to court Rita in the hopes of her finding true love and Machi being able to heal from the trauma of watching her father die. The theory being that their healing will close the bridge between the real world and that of nightmares, undoing the damage when Rita’s husband died and the bridge first opened.

Genka has presented as a bit of an asshole so far; he definitely doesn’t take the program seriously. Genka asked for a transfer out of the Rita unit in issue #1, but this request was denied. Since then he’s been actively making fun of the training, and resistant to the program as is best displayed in his facepalm-worthy pick-up line: “Wanna get laid tonight? I’ve got a big ol’ dick.”

But, when he’s not acting out, he’s smart, capable, and downright charming. Most importantly, to fit in with the comic’s many online dating jokes, he saves a member of the K-9 unit from being euthanized, ticking that all-important “must love dogs” box. Easy to see how the good guy who’s against the government’s attempt to manipulate this woman into falling in love will be the one she falls in love with. Assuming Croak doesn’t get in the way.

Friends Without Benefits

In this issue the complex relationship between Rita, Machi, and Croak. It leaves Machi’s repeated question from issue #1 about why Croak and Rita can’t just be together in the past, but we continue to see the sexual tension dynamic play out in other ways. We see Rita relying heavily on Croak, calling him first when her daughter is in danger, using him as a babysitter, etc. Croak appears to live with them, and Machi treats him much as a child would treat a step-parent or male role model.

Croak is the one who Rita calls after a bad date, or who saves her from the worst ones. He sleeps in Rita’s room, protecting her from ‘mares. Croak is a key figure in the lives of Machi and Rita, he’s more than a friend or a roommate. But since he’s a monster, he can’t be the partner Rita deserves, despite filling the partner role in many ways. One has to wonder if the answer to Rita’s problems and healing Machi’s trauma is Mr. Must Love Dogs or if, in fact, she needs to kiss Croak to find her Prince Charming.

Final Thoughts

Overall I’m excited to pick this story up again in January. The art is beautiful and the story is relatable (especially as a single mom in the dating scene myself). The unique blend of a creature-of-the-month serial with a relationship-focused drama is filling the hole that was left in my life when Supernatural wrapped its final season. Though I could stand to have a little more eye candy, this work has that same vibe. My Date with Monsters is a drama about people and relationships that happens to feature monsters, rather than being a creature feature that happens to have a few relationships. But mostly, I’m looking forward to more amazing art and the fourth wall breaks.

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