Archive for Frankenstein

Blood Pack

American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #1

Huzzah, a new “American Vampire” miniseries, written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. Somehow, I’d missed that this was coming out, so it ended up being a nice surprise on my pull-list last week.

It’s 1954, and Agent Hobbes of the vampire-hunting Vassals of the Morning Star meets up with an irritating American tourist named Tommy Glass, who actually knows a heck of a lot more about vampires than he should. In fact, he knows about something mysterious and terrible that the Vassals keep locked up somewhere very safe, and he has a well-thought-out plan to set it free. The resulting disaster forces Hobbes to travel to Paris to seek the assistance of former agent and half-vampire Felicia Book. What’s the new threat facing the world? And do Hobbes and Book have any chance of stopping it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful writing and art, of course, with an interesting and off-kilter villain in Tommy Glass and an even more interesting one teased at the cliffhanger. I’m now looking forward to this one quite a bit…

Batgirl #10

Batgirl lays some smackdown on some low-rent car thieves targeting the parking garage in a building hosting a fancy black-tie society gathering. But the last thief ends up stepping in a bear trap someone left outside a doorway. The event security shows up and take the thief into custody. And what’s the black-tie event about? A wealthy debutante named Charise Carnes is hosting a fundraiser to help clean up Gotham, and Lois Lane is on hand to quiz her about her project — and about the rumors about her involvement in the deaths of her family years ago. Carnes was cleared of the crime, but one suspects she may be less than innocent, what with the man she has hidden away and chained in a cage, and what with Batgirl’s discovery that the bear-trap victim is still being held in the building, with his leg cut off, and what with the fact that her bodyguards are all costumed super-criminals. Can Batgirl face all of them down?

Verdict: Thumbs up. While the identities of the villains were pretty obvious from their first appearances — and who on earth has event security wear formal dresses to an event? — I really enjoyed this issue a lot. Batgirl was a lot more competent than she’s previously been depicted, and the villains, calling themselves the Disgraced, are all plenty fun, with interesting motivations.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #10

After an attack by giant insects, S.H.A.D.E. determines that one of its undercover agents — Crowly, stationed in Untropolis, a quasi-interdimensional, monster-filled sister-city of Metropolis — may have been responsible for the incident. Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos are dispatched through the deadly border between dimensions. Can they track Crowly, apprehend her, and find out what’s going on?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The action is pretty good, Frank’s dialogue is great (the rest of the characters are honestly a bit drab), and the graphics for Untropolis are quite fun, but what I really enjoyed this for was the mystery of what kind of strange visions Frankenstein is having. Are they about his past? Or is this something altogether different? I’m mystified by it, but still enjoying it.

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Blade of Frankenstein

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #9

Frankenstein and Nina Mazursky get sent out on a missing persons case connected to Animal Man — the last person to see Buddy Baker has gone missing. It’s not long before Frank and  Nina locate their quarry, and he’s dead — in fact, he’s been taken over by the Rot, the dead counterpart to the Green and the Red, as seen in “Animal Man” and “Swamp Thing.” Frankenstein at least seems to be immune to the contaminating death-touch of the Rot, but the undead horrors are spreading faster, and neither swords nor flamethrowers do anything to slow them down. Does S.H.A.D.E. have anything in its arsenal that can stop the Rot?

Verdict: Ehhh, I don’t know. The story is **okay** but no great shakes. I wasn’t any kind of a fan of “Swamp Thing,” which was just infested with crap about the Rot. I hope we’re not going to start seeing this stuff in more than just a few isolated comics…

Alabaster: Wolves #2

Dancy Flammarion has just finished killing a werewolf — and now she’s worried she’s gotten a fever from her injuries. Not lycanthropy — as far as she knows, you can only catch werewolfery from a bite. Nevertheless, she’s stuck in a deserted town, having fever dreams, talking to birds, worried that she could die from her fever. She breaks into an old drugstore to find some medicine and goes off to find a nice, safe church where she can rest and recuperate. Too bad it’s been taken over by all the local monsters…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very fun story, fantastic character work, too. Dancy is a great character, and that’s all there is to it. Excellent action, and pretty good mood, too. I’m enjoying this quite a bit.

Fatale #5

Walt Booker, desperate to get his cure for cancer, betrays Josephine, knocks her out, and takes her to the demonic crime boss, Bishop, who plans to sacrifice Jo and Hank Raines — and likely, to stiff Booker on his cancer cure. But Booker may not be as utterly untrustworthy as he looks. Does he have a chance to strike a blow against the immortal Bishop, save Jo and Hank, and come out of all this smelling like a rose?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hard-boiled action and magic-charged horror. I am so glad I was able to get this series — it took a few weeks for my local shop to get this in stock — because it has been so much fun to read. Great writing, great art, can’t wait for more.

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War of the Monsters

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #8

Behind the breakup of the marriage of Frankenstein and Lady Frankenstein lies a tragedy — Father Time figured out how to combine their DNA to create a child for them. But the baby woke up in his test tube terrified and angry. He lashed out and almost killed Lady Frankenstein before Frankenstein put a bullet through its brain. And Lady Frankenstein has never forgiven Frank for not giving her a chance to calm the child down. But against all odds, the baby, who was hidden in cold storage inside the S.H.A.D.E. headquarters, is alive and has escaped back to Earth, where its holed up inside Castle Frankenstein. They’re not happy about Father’s deceit — and neither is the rest of the team. Ray Palmer, in fact, is so angry about it that he decides to recommend to the UN that they pull all funding from S.H.A.D.E.

Anyway, when Frank and Lady Frankenstein find the child, now grown up to adulthood, she makes him promise that he’ll give the child a chance this time. But the kid is still homicidal. Will Frankenstein be able to keep his promise? And what will be the final effect on S.H.A.D.E itself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good character work, fun art, and a nice break from the series’ mostly non-stop action. The story of Frankenstein has always been more tragedy than horror, so it’s cool to see that acknowledged this way.

Demon Knights #8

In the aftermath of the siege of Little Spring, we get a cool-down issue. The question is put to Madame Xanadu — how did she ever get into a dual relationship with both Jason Blood and the Demon? The story stretches from the golden age of Camelot through the dawning of Xanadu’s and Blood’s immortality. When they became lovers, the Demon eventually found out and was infuriated that the human he was bonded to would have any respite from his torture and unhappiness. But Xanadu convinced him that she would use her magic to find a way to separate him and Jason, and eventually decided to tell the Demon that she loved him. But is she telling the truth now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good writing, good art, and a cleverly told story with a few nice twists.

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House of Frankenstein

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #7

The Humanids — artificial life forms that run S.H.A.D.E.’s headquarters — have revolted, thanks to rogue programming from Brother Eye, and they’ve set free the monstrous prisoners in the brig. By the time Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos bust in, they’re threatening to kill Lady Frankenstein, Dr. Mazursky, Ray Palmer, and Father Time. Of course, at that point, there’s fightin’ galore. Velcoro and Griffith pay a visit to the Armory, Dr. Palmer shows off some shrinking abilities (but says wearing a costume is “not my style”), and one of the monsters manages to hack off Khalis’ head. But there was one prisoner who managed to escape the HQ, and that’s bad news for everyone.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action — and best of all, Frankenstein’s dialogue is finally starting to sound like the dialogue Grant Morrison used for the character in the “Seven Soldiers” miniseries. If Jeff Lemire can keep that style of poetic rage going — wait, what’s that? Lemire is leaving this book soon? Dagnabbit.

Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #3

The Black Flame, a magical fiend able to burn anything with mystical black fire, is running wild in the city at the behest of gangster Arnie Wald. Fire crews can’t put out the fires, and Lobster Johnson and his friends can’t kill him. Even worse, he’s got sorcerers on his side, and they’re going to try to find out all of the Lobster’s secrets — including where to find reporter Cindy Tynan.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art by Tonci Zonjic, and excellent storytelling from Mike Mignola and John Arcudi. Wonderfully tense stuff, with the right kind of hopeless outlook you need for the middle chapter of a miniseries.

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American Batwoman

Batwoman #6

A wide variety of stories here — Batwoman getting into the swing of things as a new DEO agent, Jacob Kane watching over his niece Bette in the Gotham ICU, Maggie Sawyer investigating more child kidnappings and juggling her romance with Kate Kane, and a new villain named Maro engineering evil behind the scenes months ago.

Verdict: Thumbs up. J.H. Williams III is still doing the story, but Amy Reeder is contributing the art for this storyarc. Is it still the most gorgeous comic on the stands? Yes, it is. Yes, it absolutely is. And yes, the stories are still fun — it’s nice to see that Bette Kane and Jacob Kane are still important parts of the supporting cast, even if Kate doesn’t appear to ever deal with them, and Batwoman’s gleeful badassery is still grand fun.

Secret Avengers #22

After Captain Britain joins the Secret Avengers (and gets very angry when he learns that he’s going to be following orders from Hawkeye), the team heads off to investigate an incident in Pakistan in which a woman inhaled a bomb blast and then released it with even greater force, killing hundreds of people. When the team catches up to the woman, who’s being held captive by terrorists who want to use her ability to wage war, they soon find themselves attacked by a bunch of unknown supervillains with strange powers.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I liked parts of it — the introduction of the fire-inhaling woman is well-done, and it’s cool to see that the team’s HQ is now located in a secret miniaturized satellite, but in general, I thought the story was a bad combination of boring and confusing.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #6

The Humanids, the 24-hour artificial nonsentient workforce used by S.H.A.D.E. has started a revolution, a storyline telegraphed from the very first issue. Meanwhile, Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos travel to Vietnam to apprehend one of Frank’s ’60s-era comrades, an atomic-powered superhuman called Col. Quantum, who was part Dr. Manhattan and part the Comedian. Can Quantum be captured? Will the revolt back at S.H.A.D.E. HQ be stopped in time?

Verdict: Thumbs down. This is a title that’s rapidly starting to tire me. The art is weird, the supporting cast is either dull or irritating, the storylines are either dull or predictable, and I just don’t see where it’s all supposed to go from here.

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Into the Woods

Finally getting the last two weeks’ worth of comics reviewed… just in time to pick up new comics this afternoon. Siiiiigh.

Morning Glories #15

Zoe, Hunter, and Jun are participating in something called Woodrun, which involves them… running through the woods. Jun gets eliminated pretty quickly when he’s flagged by another team — no serious penalty, but he’s out of the game and has to go back to the campus. Hunter gets some friendly chatting done with a fellow geeky student, and Zoe reminisces about how her life went to hell in high school. The two students, who normally hate each other’s guts, get in a little time to talk to each other in a non-antagonistic fashion, and everything seems pretty hunky-dory. But nothing ever seems to turn out completely positive in this comic…

Verdict: Thumbs up. What a cliffhanger! On top of that, we’ve got good dialogue, good characterization, and more backstory for Zoe. It’s all good stuff — go grab it while you can.

Demon Knights #5

Our heroes are all undergoing more stress and disagreement as the night wears on, and the Questing Queen and Mordru take advantage by sending their astral bodies out to tempt the heroes to desert the villagers. Who will resist? And who will betray their companions?

Verdict: Thumbs up, but it was actually a lot less enjoyable than other issues. It’s just going on and on and on, and I think this storyarc could’ve been wrapped up faster than this. Writing for the trade makes for dull, over-long comics…

Secret Avengers #21

Looks like the whole Secret Avengers crew is along for the ride on this one. The team stages a fake emergency at the Office of National Emergency to try to track down an employee who is a secret agent of the Shadow Council. Once they get the mole to reveal themselves, they learn what the Shadow Council has been up to — secret breeding experiments to create human hybrids who could turn into terrifying and all-but unstoppable monsters — and those monsters are just seconds from waking up in the building’s basement. Any chance anyone can stop the unstoppable monsters?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice set-up, nice complications, nice solution. Not a lot of fancy characterization, but this is an action comic, and it definitely brings on the action.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #5

Frankenstein and OMAC beat up on each other while Brother Eye tries to infiltrate

Verdict: Thumbs down. I don’t mind an all-fighting comic, but this was all-dumb-fighting, and I don’t like those at all.

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Monster Love

iZombie #20

Holy bananas, that’s a wonderful cover.

Gwen is hiding out in a tomb, endlessly pacing, because she wants to avoid her ex-boyfriend Horatio, the leftover zombies, and the Dead Presidents. But eventually, one of the Presidents locates her and goes to get the rest of the group. Elsewhere, Ellie the ghost girl is helping to care for Francisco, who’s been turned into a Frankenstein-like monster by Galatea the mad scientist. Ellie is falling for him, but can’t even touch him. And Spot is about to meet up with his semi-sorta-boyfriend until Amon shows up and kidnaps him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. If you’re into unbelievably weird monster-flavored soap opera, this is the book for you. The art is great, the storytelling is excellent, and the characterization and dialogue are fun, too.

Batgirl #4

We get some more of Barbara Gordon’s backstory. She still suffers from survivor’s guilt because she not only survived getting shot by the Joker but managed to recover from being paralyzed as well. We also get some info about how that recovery happened — Jim Gordon discovered a clinic in South Africa that was able to return her ability to walk. She goes out to bust some crime as Batgirl and runs across some thugs who are using a smartphone app designed to track appearances by Batman so they’ll at least know they won’t run into the Dark Knight — too bad the app didn’t track Batgirl, because of course, she stomps them flat.

In the process of beating up the muggers, she realizes how to track Mirror, the serial killer who targets people who’ve survived by seeming miracles — since he’s obsessed by the deaths of his family, of course he’d be visiting their graves on the anniversary of the accident that killed them. Batgirl leaves him a note and tells him to meet her at a deserted amusement park. But does Batgirl really have a chance against the stronger and more heavily armed lunatic?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really excellent characterization on Barbara. Still not sure I’m buying the “really awesome medical clinic” as her miracle cure, though. The action, however, is really fantastic. There are a couple of outstanding fight scenes, and they’re exciting and perfectly done.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #4

Frankenstein, Lady Frankenstein, and the Creature Commandos are on Monster Planet trying to track down and destroy the giant monsters there. They learn that Monster Planet is actually sentient — and dying. It was taken over by the monsters, and they’re trying to get Monster Planet to Earth so they can take over Earth as their new host planet. While Frankenstein and Nina Mazursky have a fairly easy time getting to the giant undersea monster because his monstrous minions see Dr. Mazursky as their mother, things don’t go nearly so easily for Lady Frankenstein, Vincent Velcoro and Warren Griffith — they have to fight their way through nearly limitless hordes of ogres! Luckily, S.H.A.D.E. ships them some backup — the War Wheels and the G.I. Robot Squadron. Can the team kill both giant monsters and still make it back home to Earth?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Grand fun. The art’s still a bit funky, but I think it’s definitely growing on me. Otherwise, great character work and dialogue, nice action, and a lot of bizarre, hilarious stuff going on here.

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Frankenstein Conquers the World

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #3

Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos have finally met up with his ex-wife, the Bride — unfortunately, they’re all stuck on a planet full of chittering arachnoid monsters — and it’s all about to crash into Earth from another dimension. They’re really badly outnumbered, but Khalis the mummy unleashes some completely unexpected mystical powers to completely incinerate all the monsters on the entire continent. Unfortunately, there’s still one insanely gigantic Godzilla-sized spider monster they still have to fight. Even if they can stop it, do they have a chance to deal with the other two continents full of monsters, too?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fighting, but we also get a little time for some characterization, some suspense, and some of Frankenstein’s wonderfully over-the-top pulpy dialogue. I do hope that Khalis won’t be used solely as a deus ex machina, though…

Demon Knights #3

With hordes of dragons and an enemy army attacking the village of Little Spring, Madame Xanadu uses the power of her own blood to fuel a spell to create a shield to protect the village. It weakens and ages her terribly, and Etrigan, infuriated that he may lose his lover for the sake of humans he doesn’t care about, attacks and maims a priest. The Horsewoman is seemingly able to pass through the mystic barrier, but she refuses to get off her horse to do any other preparations. Vandal Savage tries and mostly fails to teach the villagers how to fight. Exoristos lets a local girl sneak through the barrier to find helf for the village. And the Shining Knight continues to confound everyone around him. Um, her…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, but by far the best thing about this one so far is the wealth of characterization. Getting to know these guys as people is something I didn’t really think would be possible in the midst of several battles and a siege, but it’s working out quite well.

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Frankenstein Unbound

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #2

The team members discover that the town has been dumping residents in a nearby lake as sacrifices to demonic powers. Unfortunately, the invasion they had hoped to stave off is happening anyway — the monsters on the other side of the dimensional portal were just gleefully eating everyone they dumped, with no intention of honoring any bargains. Of course, once the team discovers the portal, they’re all going to have to go through it, right? On top of all that, we also get some background on the life of fishwoman Nina Mazursky and how she decided to give up her humanity to become a monster.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, good humor. Some really good dialogue here and there. The art style is way wonky, but that may be something that’ll grow on me eventually.

American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #5

In the conclusion of this miniseries, Felicia Book and Cash McCogan, members of the vampire-hunting Vassals of the Morning Star, are trapped facing hordes of Nazi vampires — until some titanic and powerful ancient vampires emerge from the castle, give the Americans their apparent permission to leave, and begin attacking the Nazis. Unfortunately, some of the Nazis evade the ancients and give chase in a tank. Can Felicia and Cash make it to their pickup point, or are the bad guys going to win?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This has been a grand series, both for Scott Snyder’s writing and dialogue, but for Sean Murphy’s outstanding artwork.

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Frankenstein 2011

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1

Another star from Grant Morrison’s “Seven Soldiers” makes his way to the Rebooted DC, as the badass, Milton-quoting man-monster called Frankenstein gets his own spotlight.

As a member of S.H.A.D.E., the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive, he pays his first visit to the Ant Farm, the organization’s hyper-miniaturized headquarters, designed by Ray Palmer, and meets up with the organization’s leader, Father Time — who, to Frankenstein’s distress, has cloned himself a new body — a Japanese schoolgirl in a domino mask. He receives a new assignment — to investigate a small town overrun by monsters, where his wife, the Bride, has already vanished. And he gets some sidekicks for the job — the Creature Commandos, including the vampiric Vincent Velcoro, Dr. Nina Mazursky, a fish/human hybrid, the lycanthropic Warren Griffith, and Khalis, a genuine Egyptian mummy. But do five monsters stand a chance against an army of hundreds more?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fairly mad action and a nice big dollop of humor to go along with it. Frankenstein is the same action-pulp hero he’s been in previous appearances, and Father Time’s new look is pretty hilarious. The Creature Commandos are barely sketched-out personalities for now, and the Bride barely appears at all. My primary disappointment is the lack of over-wrought pulp captions that were so prominent in the “Seven Soldiers” comic — there’s not a single “All in a day’s work… for Frankenstein!” to be found here. Still, it was a bucket of fun, and I’ll keep reading.

Daredevil #3

The Man without Fear has been captured by a bunch of partial sound-clones of the sonic-powered supervillain Klaw, and they’re trying to build him into a new remote-controlled body they can use to cause more chaos. Is there a way for Daredevil to escape when the clones’ sound forms wreak such havoc with his superpowered senses? And even if he can get away, is there a way for him to help an innocent man win a court case when no lawyer in the city will take him as a client?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very tense and smart story by Mark Waid, and beautiful art by Paolo Rivera and Joe Rivera. Not much more I can say about this — it’s a really wonderful superhero story, without too much of the angst we’re seeing in other comics.

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