Stanley and his Monster #3 (1993)

Stanley and his Monster #3 (April, 1993)
“Parental Discretion”
Writer & Penciller – Phil Foglio
Inker – Chuck Fiala
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Robbie Busch
Editor – Paul Kupperberg
Cover Price: $1.50

Can Stanley and his Monster maintain the fun and quality it delivered in the first two issues?  Well, that would be telling… Let’s go ahead and find out together.

If you need to catch up, previous chapters are available here: #1, #2

Fresh off of last issue’s cliffhanger, we rejoin the Stanley family (who I now know have the last name, Dover) having just discovered the Monster.  Not wanting to tell Stanley’s folks that the Monster is a demon who wasn’t nasty enough for Hell, Bierce concocts a tale of Indian burial grounds, and explains that the Monster is in fact a protective spirit dog.

When asked what was up with Nyx, the Monster attempts to cover by explaining that she was just a hot date that got out of hand.  Bierce informs the Dovers that since the “Spirit Dog” was buried on their property, they were stuck with him… unless he could perhaps exorcise him.  Bierce hits the Monster with an enchantment that shocks the beast, Stanley’s mother begins to feel sympathy for the non-devil, and calls off the spell.

Stanley explains to his parents that they had already given him permission to keep the Monster three months prior.  The parents must have thought he was just joking around when they gave the okay.  The adult Dovers relent, and the Monster is allowed to stay… as long as he doesn’t cause any (more) trouble.

Bierce takes his leave, after reminding young Stanley about the importance of the amulet he’d given him last issue.  Little did he know that he had also been protected by keeping the amulet in his possession.  As he drives home sans amulet, he runs right into a demon who is now free and more than willing to do him harm.

At casa Dover, it is bedtime.  Stanley hops into bed and the Monster squeezes underneath.  Just as they’re about to drift off to sleep there’s a frantic tapping at the window.  It’s Bierce, and he’s brought with him a gaggle of Nightgaunts.  Bierce wires the amulet to an electrical socket to protect the entire house from the Hellbeasts.  He explains his situation to our boys, and claims that he will need to move in to the attic until he can build a new amulet… and he’ll need parts.

The next morning, Mr. Dover is off to work.  He observes how strange the sky looks… it is as though there’s about to be a big storm.  At the sidewalk, he runs into a peculiar blue-faced fellow wearing an odd gown.  The fellow eyeballs Stanley’s dad thinking he might be the Bierce he seeks.  After some small talk, he leaves Dad be.  From an upstairs window, Stanley and Company look on… Bierce identifies the blue-man as a Servant of Moxon.

Stanley decides to show his mother just how useful the Monster can be by enlisting him in assisting with her daily chores… which goes about as well as you would imagine.

Throughout the day the house gets visited by several delivery and courier services, each dropping off pieces of supply needed by Bierce to assemble a second amulet.

 Mrs. Dover finally gets wind of what’s going on up in the attic, and heads on up to… have a discussion with Mr. Bierce.  Just her, him, and a baseball bat!

Bierce hypnotizes Stanley’s mother and sends her off to help her husband.  He convinces her that he had car trouble on the way to work… which is strange, considering Mr. Dover takes the bus each morning.  She tries dragging Stanley along with her, but through tricks of perspective he manages to slink away.

While Bierce toils away, Stanley and his Monster decide to, in a last ditch effort to prove how useful the “Spirit Dog” can be, make the family dinner.  During this time, Stanley’s parents realize they’d been had and rush home to confront the boy, the beast, and the magician.

Upon arrival, the parents see their newly destroyed kitchen.  Lost in a rage, Mr. Dover runs head long into the Monster while wielding a baseball bat (perhaps the same one as earlier… continuity!).  He swings wildly, and destroys the amulet.

Only moments later, Hell’s guardian angel arrives on the scene.  He grabs the Monster and vanishes.  Stanley cannot bear the thought of his friend being yanked back to Hell, however, he knows he is powerless to help him.  It is then revealed that while Stanley is powerless… there is one who is not… our old friend, the Phantom Stranger arrives at Casa Stanley… [to be continued…]

This was a fun issue… though, perhaps the low point of this miniseries thus far.  This just didn’t feel like a penultimate chapter (I’ve always wanted to use penultimate in a sentence).  It may have relied a bit too much on comedy, and while the prior two issues had their comedy moments… they also had a lot of heart.  This issue, I dunno… felt kind of shallow… maybe even rushed.  The art, which up until now was growing on me took a step back in this installment.  Some pages looked just as good as earlier, however, some really felt rushed.  Maybe there was a time crunch… or maybe I’m imagining it… I’m not too proud to consider that.

I’d been looking forward to the opening scene all week.  I was genuinely curious how the Dovers were going to react to the Monster… or if there’d be something of a bait and switch.  I was mildly disappointed with the scene, and almost wish they had hit us with a swerve.

Is it worth reading?  Well, yeah… especially if you’ve come this far already.  It’s still Stanley goodness, it’s just sorta missing it’s soul.  Hell, maybe that was intentional… though, probably not.  I’m still looking forward to the final issue, though, admittedly I’m not nearly as excited for it as I was before reading this one.

Interesting Ads:

This ad used to keep me up a night.
I was always scared that some alien planet would require my delicate genius

It took me forever to realize that King Faraday is a pun…
Never heard of this miniseries either!
Astronaut Ice Cream was among the most important things in the world to mid-80’s Chris
Far too valuable to eat, unfortunately!
What am I waiting for?
Probably for the game to load, yo!

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