Monday, September 19, 2011

The New 52 Review: FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1


WRITER: Jeff Lemire
ARTIST: Alberto Ponticelli
COLORS: Jose Villarrubia
LETTERS: Pat Brosseau
COVER: J.G. Jones with Hi-Fi
32pp, Color, $2.99

War of the Monsters Pt. 1: Monster Town, USA

DC Comics has a version of Frankenstein’s monster that is similar to the Boris Karloff monster in Universal Picture’s 1931 film, Frankenstein (directed by James Whale). The character first appeared in Detective Comics #135 (cover date May 1948) and was created by Edmond Hamilton and Bob Kane, based upon the character in Frankenstein, the novel by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

DC’s Frankenstein has been revamped a few times, the most recent being a version writer Grant Morrison made a member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory. As part of DC’s re-launch of its superhero comics line, “The New 52,” the Seven Soldiers version of Frankenstein is the star of a new comic book series, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

As Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 opens, the demonic invasion of Bone Lake, Washington (population 4,500) begins. At S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive), Agent Frankenstein gets his marching orders… and a field team, although he insists he works alone. Not anymore, big fella! Meet the Creature Commandos: the amphibian/human hybrid, Dr. Nina Mazursky; the werewolf, Warren Griffith; the vampire Vincent Velcoro; and the mummy and medic, Khalis. But can even this uber-motley crew stop an invasion that doesn’t die, it multiplies?

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. can come across as DC Comics’ version of the B.P.R.D. (Dark Horse Comics), Mike Mignola’s troubleshooters from his Hellboy franchise. Even if S.H.A.D.E. is a riff on B.P.R.D., Jeff Lemire, so far, can’t touch the inventive madness of Mignola and the writers that collaborate with him. If anyone on this S.H.A.D.E. creative team is close to Mignola and company’s lovely madness, it’s artist Alberto Ponticelli. He gives Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. a decidedly Eurocomics vibe, and the scenes in which he draws sci-fi tech, his art recalls legendary artist, Moebius, and that legendary manga, Akira.

Considering what Lemire did with Animal Man, I want to give Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. a chance because this could be a really inventive title. Ponticelli’s art will certainly be a joy to scrutinize.


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