What is it that we know, we remember of, Victor Frankenstein’s creation, the monster? Is it the vision of a flat headed, seven footer, bolts in its temples, slowly stumbling towards its undeserving victims arms outstretched? How our image of this creature occurred is unfortunate. Mary Shelley, the author of the original classic tale, had given us much more. The beast from her novel was one filled with a strong capacity for the feelings of love, beauty, hate, and agony. It had an ability of self-recognition, and a more unfortunate sense of the emotions the humans around him exacted. Frankenstein’s monster was the hunter and the hunted, the killer and the bereft, finally forcing himself into the vast depths of the arctic knowing death to be his only solace if death does provide. This is the entry point to, Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson’s “Frankenstein Alive, Alive!” a promising sequel to the events post Shelley’s novel.
With tones of deep blues, blacks, and greys the artwork from the initial release is a gothic reminiscence for fans of Wrightson’s, “Swamp Thing”, comics and his previous “Frankenstein” adaptation. The colors and drawings seem equally appropriate for the sense of where the monster came from and where he may be going. The audience knows not yet what history the monster has served since emerging from the arctic wasteland, only that he is now in the company of a circus sideshow performing nightly for the public masses of which time and myth has exaggerated perception. Who would’ve thunk it, eh? Instead of a replication of a Boris Karloff impersonation, we get a more weathered ‘Swamp Thing’, emerging from a starving winter rather than a fauna filled everglade. This monster is true to form, in both ink and pen and novel adaptation.
Knowing what I do, and being familiar with the classic, the only way this comic will work for me is if the writing remains honest with the strong core of ideas and questions the original, Mary Shelley novel, provides. The artwork is solid, but, will the conflict of man’s pursuit of knowledge and exploration, still valid to this very age, be addressed? Will our creations, our monsters, our reflections be accounted for? It appears as though, Niles and Wrightson, have this in mind with just my brief peek into their work. My hope is that it will educate as well as entertain a new generation into where our horrors originate from. Now beat it kid, y’er botherin’ me.