Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
SHELLY GOES TO ACTIONVILLE
In Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., which stands for the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive. They’re basically a group of monsters that fight other monsters. The whole thing, including Frankenstein, is nearly identical to Hellboy. Right down to the aquatic scientific companion and the fact that they’re a division of the government that no one is supposed to know about. In this first story they encounter a small town that’s been overrun with monsters and are charged with rescuing any survivors and killing the horrific horde.
I recently read the original version of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, so of course I have a few problems with all of this. First of all, the creature was never called Frankenstein. That was the doctor’s name. He was simply referred to as “the creature.” I know that popular culture has made it otherwise, but I would have liked some authenticity. That might just be my literary background being a snob, but it still irks me a little bit. The next thing is that kind of got to me was that their creator is know as Father Time, and apparently has to transfer bodies. He’s an old man in a little girl’s body, but I have no idea why he has to wear a schoolgirl outfit and a domino mask. He’s a scientist and doesn’t really need it.
But I didn’t completely hate the book. I did like how it was tied to Dr. Langstrom’s Man-Bat formula and that Ray Palmer (The Atom) was one of the scientists that was helping them set up their organization. They even mention Batman and Superman in passing, and it seems to be written well into the New 52’s timeline. I also did like Frankenstein’s characterization and the way that he quotes Paradise Lost, which he read in Mary Shelly’s original novel. That felt strong and authentic to me and I’m glad that Lemire included it.
The artwork by Alberto Pontichelli was pretty good. It felt more like a Vertigo or Dark Horse book than a DC Universe title, but it didn’t hurt against it. It has a dull color scheme that spoke to the horror and gothic nature of the story and characters. The way that the creature is drawn is definitely the classic movie monster version and not the version in the original novel, but again that’s just something that people have gotten used to.
I’m going to have to give this book a 3.5 for being a blatant attempt to capitalize on the Hellboy series within the DC Universe, but I’m not giving it any less than that because it was still entertaining. I really do enjoy Lemire’s writing, I just feel like Animal Man is a much better fit for his writing style. I don’t think I’m going to continue with this series. But I’m sure it’ll be good for those who really enjoyed Hellboy.