Hey Hey Heroes, Travelers, and Wandering NPCs, I have something special for you guys! A little while ago the creator of the fantasy Bara comic MEN+MONSTERS reached out to me about possibly covering their comic here on Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. As a fan of BL media I am always down for something new, and I will admit it has been awhile since I read any Bara, so I was definitely excited to check the comic out. So, imagine my surprise when Aero Zero offered to send me a print copy of MEN+ MONSTERS!
Title: MEN + MONSTERS Volume 1
Author / Artist: Aero Zero
Publisher: MEN PLUS MONSTERS
Genre: Bara / Fantasy / Mature / Graphic Novel
Released: 2014 (online), 2015 (print)
Length: 120 pages
Volume one contains the first 3 chapters of MEN+MONSTERS
SUMMARY:A teratophile knight, his monster lover, and their robot companion go on an adventure to mend the rift between monsters, humans and robots with every sword they have. Hijinks ensue!
MEN+MONSTERS follows the exploits of Lex, an ex-monster hunter and his robot companion, Akilas after they encounter a wounded monster, Silas, while out on patrol. Lex becomes smitten with Silas, engaging in some super sexy fun time with him, despite humanity’s general dislike of monsters. In order to avoid persecution the trio set out in search of a place more accepting of their unusual relationship (note, this is a POLY relationship between a human, a monster, and a robot). Shenanigans and orgies ensue as the fuck their way to world peace. I shit you not, they literally fuck their way to world peace. And that is pretty much the long and short of it.
*NOTE: This is a NSFW 18+ Bara comic, so this review will have some NSFW images. Because I didn’t want to ruin AERO ZERO’s beautiful artwork, I DID NOT censor any of the images.
The comic’s website boasts that ‘MEN PLUS MONSTERS comics are like nothing you’ve ever seen’ and I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. Aero Zero’s colorful and detailed artwork is simply breathtaking, interesting character designs and a bright, vibrant color palette bring the fantastical world of M+M to life. Most of the monsters featured in the comic sport a humanoid physique with minor animalistic details (ie. horns, tails, longer ears) as well as a distinct coloring. One of the protagonists, Silas, is a cat-like beast man, with dark skin and orange markings along his body, while Lex, one of the few human characters depicted in the series features a paler complexion. Even still, each of the monsters has two distinct forms, a more humanoid appearance and a much more animal like appearance, where their bodies appear more beast-like. Since this is a Bara comic, the male characters sport a much more rigid design, with burlier more muscular body types, unlike the more bishounen style of traditional yaoi media. So if you’re expecting androgynous pretty boys, you best look elsewhere…
Now, the characters, while the supporting cast tends to change quite frequently with, Lex, Silas, and Akilas being the three mainstays. Their relationship is interesting to say the least, Lex is a human and the former captain of the Royal Guard tasked with hunting down and killing monsters. Akilas is his robot companion, handcrafted to be a help mate for Lex as he performs his duties. Last, but certainly not least is Silas, a monster with whom Lex falls in love with, after he nurses him back to health.
The dynamic is nothing we haven’t seen before, with Akilas playing the straight man to Lex’s easy-going lovable rogue. In fact, I’d liken their relationship to that of a butler and his unruly charge, and yet there is a respect and trust between the two that could only come from years of companionship. It’s pretty amicable and while, yes they do engage in sexual activities (don’t ask me how a robot and a human engage in sex, you’ll have to read the comic to find out), it’s not as inherently romantic as the relationship between Lex and Silas. Now, that relationship is a bit more romantic, with a lot more softer cuddly moments between the two… and sex… lots and lots of sex. There is a bit of a rivalry between Silas and Akilas early on with both fighting for Lex’s affections, but, that tapers off midway through the volume with the rest of the story showing them being much more accepting of the other.
MEN+MONSTERS is smut with plot, albeit very loosely at time, since the sexual exploits of Lex, Silas, and Akilas tend to overshadow some of the other story elements, one minute the characters are talking the next there’s an orgy happening. There is a lot of sex happening in this comic, sometimes it’s one on one other times a free for all, usually with Lex at the center of it all. Nothing wrong with that, I like good smut as much as the next person and when the steamy scenes are rendered so beautifully, who am I to complain. There really aren’t any defined relationship roles, with characters switching between being tops and bottoms at will, and it’s this fluidity that really sets this comic apart from some of the others I have read.
This comic deals with a lot of interesting concepts, but the most prominent is it’s attitude towards polyamory. M+M explores polyamory in a way few series are comfortable enough to do, viewing it more as a means of healthy sexual exploration as opposed to something deviant. In fact, most of the characters take issue not with Lex’s promiscuity, but with his unusual (at least for a human) acceptance of monsters. His sexual appetite is celebrated and he delights in the pleasures of the flesh, both with his companions Silas and Akilas, and with random monsters he encounters along their journey. It’s very much an open relationship, that allows for experimentation and a lot of opportunities for some unique sexual situations, all of which are consensual. There are a lot of great kinks and sexual preferences on display in this comic, everything is game: tentacles, orgies, BDSM, vanilla sex, roleplay, toys, and more.
Of course there is an underlying conflict between Monsters and Humans, that is touched on a few times throughout the comic, with several instances of open hostility from both sides. Sometimes the conflict leads to fighting, which Aero Zero handles with the same delicacy used during the sex scenes. The action is just as fluid if not more so than the sex scenes making good use of the graphic novel medium. But, the biggest draw of the comic is the world, Aero Zero creates a very rich fantasy setting full of equally unique characters. The Monsters are all so different from one another, and as far as I can tell, no two Monsters have the same design or coloring. There are beast based monsters, demon-like monsters, even a jelly like tentacle monster, hell, there are even female monsters (granted they only show up briefly at the end). So, every time a new character is introduced its a wholly unique experience.
The volume itself is also really great quality, the cover has gold foil lettering and the entire volume is in color. Each chapter has its own full color title page and at the end of the volume there are four high-res full page prints featuring characters from the comic in various sexy poses. Though, I will admit that the size of the volume doesn’t make it easy to carry around (I brought it to work for some lunchtime reading and it’s not discrete). But, despite that, MEN+MONSTERS is definitely worth the $39.99 price tag, since you’re getting a high quality full color comic.
So, the final verdict: MEN+MONSTERS Volume 1 offers a fun introduction to Aero Zero’s fantasy Bara epic. The art is simply stunning, with its vibrant colors and unique character designs M+M is a welcome breath of fresh air from the bishounen heavy style of traditional BL media. The story itself is solid, despite being overshadowed by the much more exciting steamier scenes. Fans of BL media will definitely enjoy the wide range of sexual situations, this is really unlike anything I have ever read before. Though, I will warn you, this comic is pretty explicit, so this might be kind of intense for newbies. All in all, this was a fun read and I definitely recommend checking out the series if you have the chance or buying the volumes as they’re released, it’s worth the price tag!