(Submitted by our Superhero Scifi buddy, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Kinky Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)
In the 19th century, Dr. Victor Frankenstein brought his first creation to life, but a horrible turn of events forced him to abandon his creation and fall away from the public eye. Now, two centuries later, a serial killer is on the loose in New Orleans, and he’s salvaging body parts from each of his victims, as if he’s trying to create the perfect person. But the two detectives assigned to the case are about to discover that something far more sinister is going on… (Dynamite)
I first saw this book on Comixology when searching for Helsing. I mean it had the Frankenstein name and art by Brett Booth, so I was in. For the first little bit of this story, it felt like an episode of CSI. We had detectives investigating a series of murders that were rather gruesome. As I continued reading, I thought the only connection to Frankenstein lore, would be that the killer cut off and seemingly took body parts from his victims. If that was the case, I would’ve felt a little ripped off. However, the book gets interesting when it reveals that the Frankenstein myth is very real. Frankenstein’s monster, who goes by the name Deucalion, is living in a monastery in the mountains of Rombuk seeking enlightenment. That enlightenment is interrupted when Deucalion gets word that Victor Frankenstein is still alive. He now goes by the name of Victor Helios, one of New Orleans wealthiest citizens, a philanthropist with a beautiful wife and hundreds of loyal employs. It would be fair to assume that Victor is the murderer and back to his old ways. That is partially inaccurate, as the killer is revealed to be Roy Pribeaux, He intended to make the world a better place by eliminating the ugly people. He then takes that idea even further by murdering people who would eventually be corrupt by human emotions, and saving their most beautiful exterior body parts. Victor Frankenstein is up to his own mad scientist schemes. In an abandoned run down hospital laboratory, Victor Frankenstein has created hundreds of “people”. In this iteration, he seems to have upgraded his technique by harvesting and growing body parts and internal organs, as well as being able to download and sync a human mind to his creations. With all his wealth and hundreds of years of technological improvements, it’s logical and believable that Victor would be able to advance and improve upon his technology. His plans have gotten bigger as well. He has slowly been integrating his creations into society, with the eventual intent of replacing humans with his superior species. I can suspend my disbelief for all of this, yet I am severely disappointed that writer Chuck Dixon didn’t provide any reason as to why Victor has lived this long and maintains a youthful appearance.
In the outside world, the murder plotline thickens. When another murderer begins to kill, he similarly removes body parts, but instead of external, he goes for internal organs. This second killer is revealed to be one of Frankenstein’s experiments, fascinated with what makes humanity tick and death itself. The book ends with one of Frankenstein’s newest monster killing the human “copycat” killer and threatens Frankenstein, that he will kill not only humans, but his creators other creations, until he finds the secret to the goodness and light humans are capable of possessing. Deucalion resurfaces in New Orleans and tells the detectives on the case the true nature of the murders occurring in New Orleans, and offers to help them. In addition to liking the new twists to Victor’s technology and master plan, I enjoyed Chuck Dixon’s nod’s to classic iterations of this story. Specifically, the idea that the monster, in this case, Deucalion lives in a theater and was once a carnival act. We saw hints of this most recently in Penny Dreadful. I also liked the idea that Frankenstein created more then one monster, they had rebelled against him, and would face off against him. That battle was only hinted at here mind you, but still. One of the drawbacks to this book for me, was that there was way too much being crammed into five issues. Having to establish Deucalion, the murders cases in New Orleans, the new status quo of Victor Frankenstein and his goals, it felt like the story was giving us little teases of each, rather then giving us time to process and explore the different aspects of the story. The two Frankenstein monsters that are positioned and teased as the central figures in the conflict of this story, are merely bookends to a story that predominantly amounts to an episode of a would be CSI: New Orleans show, with brief snippets of sci-fi and horror sprinkled in.
I’m familiar with Brett Booth’s artwork. He’s had runs on The Flash and Supergirl and is currently working on Titans as part of DC Rebirth. The imagery I loved most here, were was the flashback scene featuring Victor Frankenstein creating Deucalion. On the table, full of stitching and cuts, with lightening raining down from the sky. It was classic horror magic on display. The picture of Victor Frankenstein in his modern day lab surrounded by computers and containers with body part and organs being harvested and grown, was also a favorite of mine because it highlights the changing times and advanced technology he’s working with. It’s also an example of the principle that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Also, Frankenstein in that setting, complete with lab coat and sinister facial expression, makes for quintessential mad scientist imagery. The image of Deucalion looking out standing atop a mountain at the Rombuk Monastery was spectacular. Firstly, because Brett Booth took his cues from the real life Rongbuk Monastery. Secondly, the scenery is beautiful and peaceful, which contrasts with the scars and external pain we can see and sense in Deucalion. My problems with the art are twofold. First, Brett Booth’s faces and their expressions all look the same, The only thing that differentiates characters, aside from their gender are hair and skin color. The murders and horror, when described, sounded brutal and disgusting, however, when shown, it’s as if this book went out of it’s way to be as tame and PG as possible. I’m not saying it has to be overtly gory but I certainly expected much more then we got.
For three quarters of this book it was a generic crime drama that you can find any night of the week on CBS and NBC. When the book dealt with Frankenstein mythology, it was fantastic. Unfortunately, those moments were few and far between. I’ll come back for one more volume, to find the answers to questions left without any, and to see the fight between Frankenstein’s creations. However, if this book doesn’t improve drastically, it’s off of my rotation!