Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #3A comic review article by: Nick Boisson
Jeff Lemire is quickly becoming my favorite comic book writer working today. Sweet Tooth is fantastic, his run on Superboy is the only instance that the character has ever been able to support his own title successfully and he has been gaining a lot of steam thanks to his work on Animal Man. But his other New 52 title is something special as well. I fear it to be a title many readers are overlooking because of the name in the logo. Who wants to read a DC title starring Frankenstein? I can honestly say that this is not the Frankenstein's monster from Shelley's beautiful horror title nor is it so tied to the Boris Karloff films from the '30s that you would be unable to enjoy it. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is a whole different kind of monster!
In our story so far, Frankenstein and his team are sent to a little town in middle America where a portal to another dimension is open and creatures from a distant planet have ravaged the town and are attempting to do that same to the entire world. It is now up to Frankenstein and his Creature Commandos to stop them before it that happens. In the last issue, they cross into the other dimension and find a group of the same spider-monsters that were attacking the city trying to tear the Lady Frankenstein apart.
What I loved about the last issue was how Frankenstein was adapting to being the leader of this new team. They were slowly progressing. This issue has more character dynamics. Lemire throws all of these characters together and just lets them all learn to deal with their new assignments. Each character has a distinct personality, which not only has them constantly clashing with, but also complimenting one another. Specifically, Velcoro and Griffith are constantly bickering and crackin' wise. Yet those two are always at one another's side throughout. But the dynamic between Frank and Lady Frankenstein is wonderful! You instantly feel that these two know one another quite well and the dialogue scenes between the two are ripe with sarcasm and a bit of anger. While that "Ex-wife" bit was a little hammy, you know these two's relationship is a calamitous one and that they both care for one another, even if they are undead divorcées.
On huge step up from last month's issue was the lack of first-person narration. The first issue was clear of it and had me excited to see what happens next. Last month, Lemire fell into a trap of first-person narration to explain Dr. Mazursky's story. This issue, Lemire went right back to trusting that his characters could tell their own stories. While this book does have its fair share of dialogue flying around, it is far less wordy than many books out there. One can tell that Lemire has a rich backstory for everyone of his characters. Any writer that could make the reader feel like they know these characters inside-out by issue #3 deserves quite an appropriation of applause.
This book is also very funny due to Lemire's remarkable character personalities. Lady Frankenstein delivers most of this issue's best gags. In the scene with Velcoro and Griffith, she points a gun at Velcoro's head and informs him that he is not her type, which put a fearful face on both characters. She then turns to Griffith and flirts with him a bit, leaving him both afraid and uncomfortable. But when Frankenstein is leaping at the giant spider that is about to eat him, he screams, "That's it, beast! Bare your fangs! I'll gladly pull them from your foul maw!" That is easily my favorite thing to have read in comics, this week.
My only concern with this issue is that everything seemed to be taken care of with far too much ease. A bunch of angry spider-creatures? The mummy can wipe them all out in a single panel. One BIG spider? Frankenstein will manage to rip its heart out (literally!) with no fear. Now, this may have been done purposefully so that whatever comes for them in the next issue hits them with an even bigger surprise than the moving mountain. At least, I hope that is what Lemire is trying to go for.
But enough about Lemire's writing. Alberto Pontecelli's art shines on this title, but his work on this issue is his best yet! He had started strong with issue #1, but this issue solidified his standing as the best artist for the series. His art compliments Lemire's sensibilities on this title so well and takes anything and everything that Lemire throws at his and makes it stick perfectly! His first issue, while good, looked a bit flat. Ponticelli has definitely hit a peak with this issue. His world has depth and his characters pop out from whatever stands in the background. I can only imagine how the issues will look by the end of his run. And his monsters! Oh holy fuck, his monsters!
If you are not picking this book up, you truly need to remedy that error. DC had promised diversity in the titles. This book is one of the ones where DC has succeeded! We're only three issues in and you have enough time to go pick them all up at you local comic shop and check out what you've been missing. This is the book that you wanted out of the New 52! Have at them!
Nick Boisson grew up on television, Woody Allen, video games, Hardy Boys mysteries and DC comic books, with the occasional Spider-Man issue thrown in for good measure. He currently roams the rainy streets of Miami, Florida, looking for a nice tie, a woman that gets him, and the windbreaker he lost when he was eight. He sometimes writes things down on Twitter at @nitroslick.