Friday, October 14, 2011

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

DC Comics, 20 pages, $ 2.99

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Cover artists: J.G. Jones and Hi-Fi

Frankenstein is a comic about a group of creature soldiers—led by Frankenstein’s Monster—that fights other monsters with swords and guns, and it’s pretty well-done. I’m not sure what else I could say at this point that wouldn’t be rendered redundant by that first sentence, but I’ll try anyway.

The main reason why this works is that Jeff Lemire—usually known for equally odd but considerably less over-the-top comics like Essex County or Sweet Tooth—has a ton of mad ideas that he throws at you in perfect deadpan fashion.

S.H.A.D.E., in case you are wondering, is an organization that fights supernatural threats with weird science. Its headquarters is situated in “The Ant Farm: a mobile, 3-inch indestructible globe,” which can only be accessed “via a hybrid of teleportation and shrink technology.” Who are its agents? A vampire, a werewolf, a mummy and an immortal in a little girl’s body, among others. Plus, of course, Frankenstein. Who are they fighting? Just-plain-vanilla monsters.

Which is awesome. The villains are big, colorful generic monsters with scary claws and teeth who come out of the woods and take over a town—which S.H.A.D.E. responds to by building a wall around the place and shooting at the monsters from the outside, until Frankenstein and his group of horror heavy hitters are ready to go in and sort things out.

There are some promising bits of character interaction, too, but to be honest, this book gets by well enough on sheer unadulterated playful madness and the obvious fun the creators have with that. The art by Italian Alberto Ponticelli, fresh off a Godzilla miniseries, is perfect for this type of book. Beyond being a good storyteller in his own right, Ponticelli brings a style that’s appropriately expressive and rough, but still somehow makes it easy to follow the story through all the chaos.

When I first heard of the book and its creators, I had kind of a platonic ideal of what to expect, and this is pretty damn close. Great, great fun, by creators who make this look way easier than it can possibly be.

Grade: B

No comments: