On April 15th of 2015, a new comic book emerged from Monkey Brain Comics, called BEHEMOTH. Penned by actor and writer Chris Kipiniak, brought to life by J.K. Woodward and lettered by Jesse Post, BEHEMOTH is the YA four-issue chronicle of Theresa Fowler; she’s just your average, everyday teenaged-girl who has her life torn apart by a government conceived experiment, that has her mutating into something alien.
Abducted from her home, (her family led to believe she is dead), Theresa finds herself transported to an undisclosed facility where she meets more kids undergoing similar changes. Theresa is tested, prodded, probed, left in the dark about her ‘condition’ or, her prognosis, and – ultimately, is given a choice by ‘Project Behemoth’s’ leader, Major Rayne: 1) live with similar creatures, being observed by scientists until her mind is completely gone, or 2) join the project, be trained to be deployed on missions vital to U.S. interests and security, with the ‘hopes’ that she might remain ‘more human’ for a longer period.
Given her limited options, Theresa joins the team and begins her training, and her new life.
In Chapter 2 of BEHEMOTH, Theresa Fowler’s body continues its rapid transformation, while her mind slowly loses its grip on humanity. She chronicles her days at the facility as she meets her team, acclimates to the grueling training and testing and tries to retain those scraps of prior memories and the last vestiges of who she is. She becomes friends with Rex – the team’s de facto leader – taking his lead, as well as his sage survival advice, as the group prepares to go on its first mission: eliminating a Russian nuclear facility that has been taken over by unknown assailants.
Meanwhile, (now – ‘General’) Rayne learns of Theresa’s romantic feelings for Rex and he sends a group of beasts out to take him down. However, his plan backfires as Rex fights back, and Theresa (joining the fight) ends up killing one of the team members (Simon) in a bloody rage (of which she remembers nothing). Still running on adrenaline, Rex kisses Theresa…
In Chapter 3, Theresa and Rex’s romance continues to bloom, while General Rayne prepares ‘Behemoth’ for its first mission. Theresa is finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate and remember things (either, now, or – from her past), and she begins to doubt the ‘pack’s ability to carry the mission out to a successful conclusion.
Knowing that the team in is trouble (especially Rex), Theresa goes to Gen. Rayne to plead their case; but the general knows what is going on between them, and he sees their feelings for one another as weakness. The mission is set; the team will carry it out, or – die.
As the team heads for Russia, Rayne and ‘the doctor’ have a few words about the futures of the team members. But, the doctor is withholding vital information – data that may lead to a cure??
As this chapter ends, the team lands, begins their mission and loses their focus as Rex is killed before their eyes… Everything is unraveling in a hurry! Wracked with guilt, anger and grief, it proves too much and Theresa transforms completely into the killing beast she was meant to become…
Tomorrow, December 9th, the final chapter in this four-part series comes to its explosive conclusion! Will the team complete their mission to survive another day? How will Theresa fare after the death of Rex, and her full metamorphosis into a killing mutant beast? Will she retain anything of her former self? What will become of General Rayne and ‘Project Behemoth’; and – How did the project get started to begin with?? Does the doctor have a cure? Well, like me, you’ll have to download this final installment of BEHEMOTH to find out.
As a sci-fi fan and freelance review writer, this type of thing isn’t usually ‘my bag’; however, I read it as a favor to JK and I was hooked from issue 1. Writer Chris Kipiniak has created a terrific ‘young adult’ comic-book series, that has an eclectic cast of characters, loads of action and drama, and puts a new spin on the ‘genre’ of human-to-mutant evolution, genetic manipulation and govenmental experimentation. Especially-so, with Theresa Fowler, as you get caught-up in her very real, personal struggle to survive her ordeal. I’m anxious to see how this thing ends!
As for (BEHEMOTH co-creator) JK Woodward’s art, man – there just aren’t enough adjectives available to praise him! Not only, did he have the task of bringing these bodaciously-badass creatures to life on these pages, but he had to evolve them along the way, too! And, by god, he has acquitted himself as the ‘master of the game’ that he is. Truly stunning work!
Jesse Post is also to be commended for his work, here; as it was no easy task (I’m sure) to convey Theresa’s deteriorating thoughts in her ‘mental’ journals. Just fantastic!
Overall, I have to give BEHEMOTH four stars. There were some ‘minor’ hiccups, in regards to Major/General Rayne’s rank, in issues 1 & 2, but the rest of this series has been exemplary! I honestly feel like I’m there, going through the changes and the dogged training-scenarios that the team must carry out – over, and over, and over, again! And, I’ll just say this: General Rayne is a prick! (Or, is he?) I seriously hope to see these characters, again, later down the line.
On a personal-note… The above panels feature me, yours truly, as I (the guy flailing, there) get my ass handed to me by ‘Lucy.’ I’m also on Lucy’s monitor, in the lower-panel. See, this is how it all went down… In June, BEHEMOTH fans were invited to enter a ‘Do You Want To Die Horribly (In A Comic Book)?’ contest. Yeah, I was all-about that shit! So, I met the contest’s specs and submitted my ‘most-horrifying death face…’ I did not win; but JK was kind enough to give me an ‘honorable-mention’ prize, just the same… Well, I’m truly honored, for sure!
The ‘real’ winners are: Magda Kipniniak, Andrew Grusetskie, George Hanna and Jeff Streeter; plus a bunch of other personal friends to the creators. So, be sure to get your copy of BEHEMOTH, tomorrow!
‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone