Writer: Joe Brusha
Artwork: Guillermo Fajardo
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Letters: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil, the Loch Ness Monster: all are age-old folklore fodder, but could they actually be real? In recent years, the myth of Man Goat and The Bunnyman has grown locally, and many have claimed sightings of the two unique creatures, yet no concrete evidence exists … and that’s exactly how they want it. Dealing with the things nightmares are made of so we don’t have to – deranged mutants, satanic cults, demons, summer vacationers – Man Goat and Bunnyman protect us from the evils that hide in plain sight. But they don’t want your adoration. They just want to be left alone.
Content (please note that portions of the review may contain spoilers):
Somewhere within the Ozark National Forest, two roommates are enjoying an ordinary morning, at least it is for them, with Floyd grooming himself after trying out a new shampoo and his friend Phil basking in the afterglow with his girlfriend Sharon, before she has to leave for work. However, as she exits the bedroom and sees a white-haired rodent admiring himself in the mirror, she cannot but scream at the sight of what appears to be someone dressed as a rabbit, even as her half-goat partner attempts to calm her down. Immediately rejecting a friendly greeting from someone she sees as a furry, Floyd cannot be feel insulted by this normal reaction all as he questions why Phil can have a normal life, when he looks more repellent considering his demonic appearance as opposed to himself being considered some deranged cosplayer. But as this ruminant friend continues to insult him instead of consoling his rodent companion, the conversation trails off as the horned man consults their usual source of information for new jobs – the National Inquisitive tabloid website, finding a report of a rural Iowa family disappearing under strange circumstances and satanic pentagrams being painted around their home.
Although as they arrive at the property in question, the pair are immediately attacked by numerous armed assailants, leaving the cryptid pair no other choice than to defend themselves, however as the fighting intensifies in its savagery, it is the white-haired rodent who becomes incensed by the ferocity of the event, allowing his broad axe to ceaselessly cleave into human flesh. With themselves cornered and no other way out, Phil unleashes an endless barrage of bullets as Floyd fearlessly scampers into the frantic fray, his bladed weapon clenched between his teeth and showing no hesitation to slaughter anyone who may stop his progress, hacking a path through the mob of humanity as the once clean edge slices body parts from their hosts, quickly caking his once snow-white fur in a sickening shade of crimson. But as the seemingly endless skirmish finally comes to an end, it is Floyd who has an unusual reaction as the once feral rabbit finally witnesses the gory carnage which he was a part of, with a fit of panic overcoming the formerly bloodthirsty hare. Recognizing this scene from a former disaster, the scared bunny realizes he has blacked out again, and while Phil tries to get his friend to focus on his face and calming voice, the grisly battleground is too much for his troubled state which causes the rodent to violently evacuate his stomach. However once his nerves settle down, the partners are soon alerted to reason they came to this place, with female voices from below making their way from the basement where they were held as prisoners, but instead of showing gratitude for being rescued from their foul predicament, the women immediately begin to pick up weapons to arm themselves against the monsters they assume were their captors. Having no other choice than to flee, the duo now hear endless calls to stop the lies from the demon-goat even as they object to this regular routine, running for their lives as they scramble into an awaiting chopper to carry them away to safety.
With a title such as Man Goat & The Bunnyman, one has to assume this series will have an unusual premise, but at the same time from a publisher such as Zenescope, readers must expect a tale which turns tolerated beliefs into something that is surprising and entertaining, with writer Joe Brusha endeavoring to grasp both of these commonly divergent concepts with particular ease within this amusing opening issue. Although one may not expect anthropomorphic characters to make an appealing duo, the initial exploits of Phil and Floyd are very reminiscent of a lighthearted buddy movie, if you also injected an obligatory need for violence as they fight to survive the prejudice and selfish needs of humanity. But at the same time, one cannot but wonder why Man Goat must treat his friend with such callous language as the lonely rodent attempts to find some female companionship, almost as if he is purposely denying him this simple pleasure while at the same time trying to protect someone who is unaware of the true cruelty of rejection, even as his words are constantly insulting toward someone he is trying to comfort. And yet it is perplexing how Phil can attribute his success with the opposite sex due to literal animal magnetism, considering he sports obvious mutated features with horns upon a humanoid head while Floyd by all outward appearances is a cuddly bunny, which should be more appealing to women. But even as we watch the ruminant munches on a can with a sly grin after his crass denigration, the other side of his personality shines through as he tries to calm his partner after a murderous spree, all while life experience shows him the right way to protect his friend, and yet with these contrasting sides of Phil’s personality and the larger picture which is now beginning to reveal itself, it makes one wonder how the story will progress. While Bunnyman appears to be less familiar with how to tolerate the harshness of the world, Man Goat seems to have been exposed to those same atrocities numerous times due to his appearance, and yet when it comes time to protect each other, will they be able to rely on their friendship or will his verbal treatment play a factor in the end?
With such an unusual narrative and fantastical characters, one has to consider how to make the best first impression with frenetic visuals, and yet Guillermo Fajardo’s organic opening page does strike a sudden remembrance when you see Bunnyman stained with blood while wielding an axe, especially to those readers familiar with Zenescope’s version of Wonderland. When you think of a White Rabbit, how could not one also take into account the fluffy ivory pet which accompanied Alice throughout her breakdown, especially considering most of the time it was also gorily stained or mutilated, almost being a bloody predecessor for this murderous character. However, even if you remove this bold influence, Fajardo’s sharply delineated composition of the actors creates an immediate attachment to their animalistic and relatable personalities, particularly the surface cuteness of Floyd, made all the more confusing due to his human mannerisms and a blood-thirsty look upon his face. But even as we contemplate the signature harmlessness of a hare, it is Ulises Arreola’s muted selection of colors within the dimly lit introduction which makes this rodent look all the more ferocious, the sadistic grin and ingrained scowl are made more pronounced due to the heaviness of the linework, but it is the glinting reflection off the hatchet and crimson splotches upon his fur which give a maliciousness to Bunnyman, made all the more sickening once we turn the page. To see these anthropomorphic partners standing back to back creates a sudden tension within the air, their muscles taut and ready for anything, only to explode against the sanguine disaster which is to come, with viscera and blood scattering everywhere. However even as we adjust the viciousness of their outrage, one cannot but feel an unexplainable sympathy for the killer bunny, Floyd’s eyes turned into pools of utter cuteness once he realizes what has happened, with that prior pity only to be shattered after a crude portrayal of disgust for his actions. But as we are returned to simple depiction of their normal life, with Bunnyman showing us what would be expected for such an adorable name, with humorous expressions from to his delight, it is the gruff derisiveness of Phil’s disapproval which almost makes the audience want to detest this roommate, if not for the concern he showed before in trying to comfort his friend during his time of trauma.
Man Goat & The Bunnyman is an odd narrative which attempts to create a relatable story between contrasting characters, but as the title grows in the complexity of balancing business with desired pleasure, it makes one wonder if these polarizing personalities will ever be able to settle things amicably. And yet with sharply humanizing illustrations and colors which ground the characters to people we might know, the series strikes a resounding chord of sympathy while becoming grating due to the constant clashing between the friends. But as the story pushes forward, the images become consistently darker in their overall attitude to project the underlying strain which these cryptids are exposed to on a daily basis, making the reader question if either will survive until the end.
Rating: T (Teen)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: April 07, 2021