Let’s just say that I had no idea that DC had a character like Frankenstein until I read Final Crisis. Well, his role in the war really got me interested in his character and I was very happy to learn that Frankenstein was going to be a part of the New 52. The story was written by Jeff Lemire and the comic was illustrated by Alberto Ponticelli. Honestly, I don’t need much motivation in order to pick up a New 52, but I just kept getting more reasons to read Frankenstein. I learned that his story had a connection to the Rot and that excited me because I am really into both Swamp Thing and Animal Man. Sounds pretty interesting already. I have had some mixed opinions regarding the New 52, but I am kind of easy to please. I will make excuses for things if they can at least entertain me. Oh well, let’s get into the more detailed stuff.
Did you read the classic novel Mary Shelley? I did not, but we should all be somewhat knowledgeable regarding the tale of Frankenstein’s monster. A being that is a patchwork of body parts and a member of the undead. The thing was not really a bad guy. Humans tend to fear the unknown and killing something with fire is much simpler than getting to know it. Well, imagine a world where the things that go bump in the night are real and they tend to take sides. Does that sound familiar? People that have at least watched Hellboy should see some similarities here. I don’t know which story came out first, so anyone that wants to clear that up for me is free to do so in the comments. It would be most appreciated. So yeah, Frankenstein survived long enough to become an agent of S.H.A.D.E. and a warrior of justice. The Super-Human Advanced Defense Executive is a government organization that has been handling issues around the world and documenting metahumans since before the formation of the Justice League. Our story follows Frankenstein and some of the other agency members as they handle the horrors that come with living in the DC Universe. There is a heavy emphasis on mystery, mythological creatures, and the consequences of playing God.
We actually got to meet a lot of important characters in the first volume of this series. The main team consists of both field and technical agents. Frankenstein is both the main character and the leader of the field team. As a zombie, Frankenstein has great strength and the ability to travel underwater without breathing. His main weapons include handguns and a sword that supposedly belonged to the Archangel Michael. Although he is very serious and a tough fighter, the years have made Frankenstein a very cultured man who treats women like a true gentleman. Lady Frankenstein is Frankenstein’s ex-wife and a top agent. She boasts zombie powers much like Frankenstein himself, but her four arms help aid her in using her handguns in an extremely effective fashion. Lady F is tough nosed, but she has adjusted to the times much better than her former husband. Father Time is the team leader back at S.H.A.D.E. His immortality is achievable through the ability to take over a new host body every ten years. The guy is more laid back than Frankenstein, but his ability to lead is quite powerful. Dr. Nina Mazursky is a master of eugenics and the team’s field scientist. She fused herself with special DNA in order to because an amphibious being. Nina is also the one responsible for transforming our next two team members. Warren Griffith is a new recruit that volunteered to become a werewolf for the sake of being on a team with Frankenstein. The guy has your standard new recruit mentality that makes him look like a kiss ass. Vincent Velcoro used to be a S.H.A.D.E. pilot, but he now takes to the skies as a vampire. It is pretty obvious that this guy is experienced because he complains about everything. Khalis is the wilcard. The guy is a complete unknown, but this mummy is the team medic. Watch out for some crazy powers out of this one. Like I said, we are dealing with a lot of monsters. Finally, we have Ray Palmer. The guy is a brilliant scientist and the liaison for the U.N. Although he is a scientists, the guy uses his tech to hold his own. Ray Palmer, Father Time, and Dr. Nina Mazursky all have basic combat skills, while the others are the heavy hitting field agents. We meet various characters along the way that all have a connection to S.H.A.D.E., but we have yet to be introduced to what looks like a main villain.
I have some very mixed feelings regarding this comic. Let me start with the art. Honestly, I am not a fan of the way that this series is drawn. It just looks sloppy most of the time like there is no uniformity in the design. Most of the art gets outdone by sketches that I have seen my friend Vaughn draw on accident. The truly frustrating thing is that the cover art and what we see in the final part of the volume does not look a thing like that. We get glimpses throughout the volume of competent art, but things are just very inconsistent. I still need to check out more from the series to see if it has improved over time like the last section would suggest, but it was really off-putting at times. Fans of manga can back me up when I say that we often see art mature as a series progresses. Some people have said that the rough style was befitting of a story that revolves around monsters, but there is a difference between good and bad monster art. Having things look weird doesn’t instantly mean that have done a good job. When it comes to the actual story, I feel like it may only appeal to someone like me. What I mean when I say that is I am a big fan of monsters and all of that mystery stuff. That is kind of the driving force behind this series and I think that fans of that stuff may enjoy what they see. However, the story has yet to mature to the point that I can say that we are dealing with quality writing. This may just be the first volume, but I don’t think that the writing can compare to some of the better New 52 series. I have been pretty critical of this series, but I did find it somewhat entertaining. Like I said, I am a big fan of monsters. What we have gotten so far is an action film for the most part, but I would like to see the concept of the consequences of playing God fleshed out a little more. I think that is the direction that you must take in order to obtain true plot depth in this series. One last thing. I can’t stand it when an organization in the DC Universe says that they don’t believe it when someone says that monsters are attacking. This is the DC Universe and your top agents are all monsters. Writing in disbelief like that is just stupid at this point and I would like it if writers refrained from including that. You live in a world where metahumans run around like they own the place. Get your head out of your ass.
I actually think that this is a pretty skippable series from the New 52. Unless you really want to know about everyone that takes part in Rotworld or something like that, then you probably have better things to do than read this series. Is it completely bad? No, but I think that you really have to be into this sort of thing in order to feel like spending money on it. I am a fan and the promise of better material in the future is what is tipping the scales in its favor at the moment. If the art gets better and more consistent, then that won’t be able to distract me anymore. I am waiting on that and a main enemy. Just fighting random enemies to keep the peace gets repetitive and boring. I am not saying that there is no room for a deeper plot, but I have to wait for it as the story stands at the end of volume one. If you do feel like picking this series up, then you can do so at your local comic book dealer. There are quite a few single issues and two volumes already out. I would like to end on a positive note and that will be that I do find it very interesting to read up on DC organizations that are not the Justice League. Once again, a personal opinion.