There is nothing, and I mean nothing worse, than being called home from a vacation on Mars to deal with a town full of rampaging monsters. Especially if your name is Frankenstein and you only get 1 week of vacation per year and no health benefits. The latter shouldn’t doesn’t pose too much of a problem because you’re already dead.
Jeff Lemire quickly engulfs us in his new book Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. with an opening scene set in the sleepy hamlet of Bone Lake, Wash. A grandpappy and grandson are enjoying a leisurely fish along the placid banks of said lake when, in true Lemire fashion, a couple of panels later we’re left with the charred corpse of a dog, several grotesque monsters and a freshly skinned old man. Intense.
Father Time (S.H.A.D.E. ringleader and mad scientist who has been inserted into the body of a Hit-Girl-esque school girl), calls home his creation Frankenstein from the aforementioned vacation to deal with the crisis. S.H.A.D.E. has cordoned off the town but it’s only a matter of hours before the monsters break free into the rest of the world.
Lemire gives so much depth to these characters it’s almost comical. For example, when Frankenstein, an 8-foot brute with a car-sized metal sword and a gun the size of a battleship, is confronted with an ethical quandary he quotes Milton. Pure brilliance.
Frank isn’t alone on his quest, Father Time has recruited/created a rag tag group of miscreants to accompany Frank on his quest. I remembered these guys from the Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown series. I am unfamiliar with any of the earlier Frankenstein books, so these guys may have popped up before then. One thing I noticed is that Griffith’s way of talking has changed. In Flashpoint he had a childlike way of mispronouncing words that made him seem very similar to the character Bobby from Sweet Tooth. I remember thinking this made him seem more endearing than he should come across. In this book the youthful dialect is gone and the character immediately seems more sinister and ready for ass-kicking.
The art by Villarrubia is very similar to Lemire’s own work. It’s sketch-like and loose, but full of detail and movement. I want the color to pop off the page a bit more, everything is a muted green, brown or tan, even the reds looked muddy and dull. I had just read Green Lantern #1 and unfortunately pretty much every book looks like an episode of Leave it to Beaver color-wise when compared to that. I know it’s unfair to judge against something so vibrant, especially when the tone of the books are so different. I suppose the color does work well with Ponticelli’s bare sketch-like pencils, even so, I wanted a little more zing to the pages. It’s a minor quibble and something I am sure to appreciate more as the book progresses.
When it comes to dialogue, I am extremely picky in comics. I’m often left feeling underwhelmed, but the dialogue here is much better than you’d ever thought possible in a book starring Frankenstein. I can see this book quickly becoming a favorite of mine. It’ll be a fun, action-packed, jet-ride with just enough room for the character development and depth we’ve come to expect from Lemire.
Pull list verdict: KEEP IT
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more