I read it, I returned to it a couple times since, and I'm still not sure how I feel about Monsters 101, Book One by M. Rasheed [Second Sight Graphix; $15]. Its protagonist is Willy Pugg, a vicious bully who preys on smaller kids at his school and whose driving ambition is to become an actual monster. This is pretty dark fare and it's made all the more unsettling by Rasheed's pleasant style of cartooning. It's a traditional comic-strip style that shocks when turned to violence.

Pugg is a well-crafted protagonist, but he's almost impossible to like. Rasheed does offer some mitigating circumstances for the boy's behavior, but he never hesitates to show Pugg's failings and the consequences of those failings, especially when Pugg agrees to supply kids meals - as in actual kids - to the trio of monsters who have moved into his neighborhood.

I am sure Rasheed is a most promising storyteller. This book was a page-turner, even when I was fairly certain I wouldn't like what I'd see when I turned the page. His writing and art have a good panel-to-panel and page-to-page flow. I'm looking forward to reading more of his work.

Monsters 101, Book One earns a solid three Tonys.

http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/b ... 0522.shtml

Tony Isabella is an American comic book writer, editor, artist and critic, known as the creator and writer of Marvel Comics' Black Goliath, DC Comics' first major African American superhero, Black Lightning, and as a columnist and critic for the Comics Buyer's Guide.