aaron_bourque (aaron_bourque) wrote,

Fire, Bad!

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

I read the original Frankenstein, A Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley when I was 11 or 12. It didn't really make a huge impact on me, but I always knew it was an important book, a book that created the genre of science fiction. A year or two before I read the book itself, though I read a comic book adaptation of the book; it wasn't called a comic book, it was called a young reader's book or something. So my first exposure of the monster was in sequential art, and when I learned there were all sorts of comic books about the monster, called Frankenstein, I wasn't really surprised. I was kind of confused, though, because the doctor was Frankenstein. The monster never really got a name. Maybe someone could argue that it's the family name. You know, the doctor made the monster, so as the doctor's son, he'd be a Frankenstein, too.

Only, the monster isn't Frankenstein's son. He's a science experiment. Maybe he should be Frankenstein's son, and the plot of the book could be argued to about a deadbeat dad being pursued by an abandoned child, who's trying to get the father to accept responsibility. But . . no, that's not what the story is about at all. It's a story about the limits of mankind's role in the universe, about a man trying to supplant God, and realizing that, imperfect as man is, he has no place trying to supplant God. Is it a good moral? Not really, but let's not get into that here. The point is that the monster is not Frankenstein's son, and he shouldn't be confused for one, that messes up the whole message of the story.

Grant Morrison--I've been mentioning him a bit, haven't I?--not too long ago wrote a sort of "anti team book," called Seven Soldiers, and one of the soldiers would be the monster, and the title of the mini would be Frankenstein. The mini was about the immortal construct to become a Byronic Hero, affiliated in some way with a weird science secret agency called S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive), and it was a rollicking ride of whiz-bang spectacle, and the monster--okay, all right, I'll start calling him Frankenstein, because that's what they call him in the series--Frankenstein fights monsters and aliens and time traveling humans from millions of years in the future.

It was weird, compelling, and ultimately style over substance. I wasn't really impressed, so when he was given his own title, I wasn't expecting much.

But there's two things that make this new series worth reading. The new Creature Commandos, and AWESOMENESS.

The Creature Commandos were originally a World War II hero team made up of people who had been disfigured or in some way become reminiscent of classic movie monsters . . . (and Medusa). Putting them together with comic book Frankenstein would be brilliant! . . . if there weren't already a member of the commandos styled after Frankenstein's monster. Whoops.

But, wait! The universe has been rebooted! We can do it now!

So we've got a team book masquerading as a solo, and the addition of these new Creature Commandos does a lot for me. These Commandos are inexperienced, and headstrong, and unlike Franky, perfectly happy to be freakish abominations of science and flesh. Contrasted with the monster, who has been around for over a hundred years, has been fighting monsters pretty much the whole time, angst about being a mockery of man, and is pretty much indestructible. Oh, he could probably be killed, but he's ridiculously tough and has so much experience at fighting monsters, not much, conventionally, can kill him.

And the result is a brilliant, hysterical, awesome whiz-bang, doo-dah action adventure, with depth involving Franky shepherding and mentoring the Commandos, whether he wants to or not. Impossible odds, unbelievable heroes, weird science, epic cheese, all presented really, really well. And so, even though I think Franky himself is not a huge asset to the series, this is great fun, and you should definitely pick it up when you're in the mood for awesome fun.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque; however, I do think Frankenstein's bride--er, ex-wife, is a great addition to the team.
Tags: analysis, comic books, essays, the new 52
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