So that’s what Monster’s deal is. David Lapham has managed to do something I thought he wouldn’t attempt, and humanized a character that has so far seemed little more than a hulking sociopath in glasses and sweat pants. In an issue that continues to slowly unwind Beth and Orson’s plot, the point of view comes from a guy whose idea of a doctor’s appointment involves breaking the doctor’s knee, and suggesting to a nurse on the way out that the doctor get a doctor. In addition to some minor hints about what Beth and Orson got going for the Sunshine Gang, this issue gives us a day in the life of Monster, who goes by Stanley Bloch when he’s not sitting in calculated silence or breaking a bottle over someone’s head. Things start out to a meeting held in Scott’s Gentleman’s club where Scott precedes over negotiations between Monster and Dez ‘The Finger’ after Dez removes the thumbs of one of Monster’s crew. Demanding that Dez pay a stipend to support his injured crew member and his mother, Monster spends much of the issue concerned that Dez may retaliate against him, escalating in a bar brawl.
Like each issue of Sunshine and Roses that has looked at one of its mostly one-dimensional secondary characters, this one really works wonders to complicate reader’s opinions about Monster. Like the best of them, Monster is motivated by unrequited romantic love for Beth that he’s been harboring since childhood. His rage upon reflecting on the sight of Beth having sex with Orson shows readers just what happens when Monster’s tamped down emotions surface. Once he finds out that his absence while spying on Beth lost his boss some guns in a robbery, Monster goes on the hunt, collecting himself just enough until he arrives at the location he suspects they’ve been hidden before screaming for the return of the guns.
Although we only get two flashbacks to Monster’s childhood, his attack on other children in defense of Beth shows us that he’s always been willing to resort to violence. Yet, the sweet innocence with which Monster approaches Beth after learning his mom hasn’t grounded him provides a great moment of levity that’s revisited near this issue’s end.
While Lapham is often rightly lauded for his unsentimental displays of violence, this issue reminded me that the guy puts a lot of thought into how people’s possessions reflect their personal world view. In Monster’s case, he lives a very minimal live despite the substantial money he earns. Residing in a studio apartment that hardly fits him, Monster’s apartment contains no non-essentials other than a portrait of Beth from their high school yearbook. The apartment’s design also leads to one of the issue’s few funnier moments as we get to see Monster lying down on his futon.
The issue’s end puts into question whether Monster will act as an additional obstacle for Beth and Orson’s plans. Whether with or against them though, it seems unlikely that this volume will end without Monster bashing in at least one more head.