jonesdeini's Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 - War of the Monsters, Part 1: Monster Town, USA review

Welcome Back, Frank

Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos are sent in to provide aid to a town beleaguered by monsters.

The Good

Love this cover by J.G. Jones, glad to here he'll be the regular cover artist for this book.

The first thing I want to say is how much fun I had reading this book. By far this has been the most action packed issue I've read in the DCnU thus far. I'm glad that Lemire just throws us into the action and let's Ponticelli go to work. He's great at doing chaotic battle fields. I can't wait to see what he does with the, sure to be, crazy battles between the Commandos and their enemies as the book goes on.

The book does a great job of establishing who Frankenstein is and what he does. Immediately we're introduced to the S.H.A.D.E. organization in all it's wonderful strangeness. One thing that always bothered me about superhero books was how reliant upon the supers the police/governments were. After a certain amount of time you'd expect the governments of these worlds to, you know, treat monsters/aliens/demons/super villains, etc. as clear and present dangers and not just expect the Justice League or Avengers to step in all the time. Lemire's S.H.A.D.E. Agency perfectly addresses this issue and with a bit a humor no less.

DC's Frankenstein is the selfsame of Shelley's classic novel and it really show's in the way Lemire writes him. As literature nerd I loved how he quotes Milton and his grandiloquent speech patterns. Lemire does a great job of capturing his philosopher's soul. I can always tell when a character's clicked with me by how easily I can match a voice with their dialogue. And the moment I read Frankenstein's dialogue I summarily heard Kelsey Grammer's voice in my head. Seeing how he goes from exile in Antarctica, feeling utterly disgusted with mankind, to fighting to save them should prove to be a very intriguing journey. Also I like that idea of Frankenstein being a sort of Captain America figure in the DCnU. When you really think about it, that's something that would totally happen here and I'm shocked nobody's thought of it until now. Two points, Mr. Lemire.

Having Ray Palmer as a member of S.H.A.D.E. was a real treat for me. Look forward to seeing him in this book.

When I saw this title I was worried that I'd be getting Monsters as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents, luckily that was not the case in the least. I really like that we don't get a typical Spymaster, Nick Fury pastiche for Father Time's latest incarnation. In fact, we get something utterly different. Father Time as a little, Japanese school girl is the kind of wonderfully absurd thing that makes comics such a joy to read. And reading his dialogue with Samuel Jackson's voice makes the experience irresistibly fun.

I didn't feel the least bit overwhelmed by this issue. I've never read a Creature Commandos comic or Morrison's work with the character in my life. In fact, my knowledge of these characters begins and ends with their recent appearances in Generation Lost. Despite this I was able to jump into this book and have a great time. Using Frankenstein's data upload link to give background on characters and concepts was a very wise move. I'm always a fan of unobtrusive, in world plot exposition. So yeah, good jumping on point!

The subplot with Frankenstein's estranged wife should make for some good emotional depth to ground the story. If it's one thing Lemire knows how to write it's family and relationships.

I love the humor in this book, the antagonistic relationship between Frankenstein and Father Time should make for some comedic moments.

The Bad

I know it's hard to flesh out a team in a first issue. This is especially true when it comes to titles like this where one member is the star/central focus. But as of now the rest of the Commandos read like stock characters. wolfman is the loyal soldier, vampire is the mouthy/discontent cynic, mummy is the mysterious one, creature from the black lagoon is the femme/brain. I trust in Lemire to flesh these characters out as the series develops though.

As much as I'm a HUGE fan of Ponticelli's art, there were spots in this issue when it wasn't quite up to snuff. There are a few panels where his characters lack detail, which is something he generally nails, so I'm not all that worried about this.

The Verdict

This is definitely a buy! With this title I can definitely say that Jeff Lemire has crafted two titles that I'll be sure to read for the long haul. This book's got action, comedy, humor, and that weird quirkiness that only a medium like comics can fully deliver. Lemire's writing is deft and definitely new reader friendly and Alberto Ponticelli's art is perfect for this book. If you're looking for something a bit different form the usual tights and fights comics then I highly recommend giving this book a try.

5 Comments
Posted by CombatSpoon86

Other than the computer voice, I definitely liked the first issue. Like you said, It's not for everyone whose used to the superhero comics. People who haven't been exposed to Ponticelli's artwork is not gonna like it at first. People have to pick up Dysart's Unknown Soldier to appreaciate Ponticelli's art.

Posted by JonesDeini

@CombatSpoon86:

I really liked the computer/psychic uplink. And yeah, this certainly ain't for everybody. I hope people don't write this off as a Hellboy pastiche either.

Posted by CombatSpoon86

It takes getting used to but it will eventually sink in with me. I had to read it twice to understand the book completely. It has the shade of hellboy but I can't write it off completely the same. Only the advanced comic mind can truly appreciate the book. I hate when people bash Ponticelli's work. I for one love it. There are shades of a little bit rushed on his work, but it still was perfect for this book. Not all books can have the superstar artists for everything.

Posted by JonesDeini

@CombatSpoon86:

Yeah he's not a "Big Name" but dude delivers top notch work. I'm glad he has a writer like Lemire who can write to his strengths also having a great writer who's also an artists himself should help.

Posted by CombatSpoon86

@JonesDeini: exactly, Love Ponticelli. Guys like Ponticelli and Travel Foreman are great artists but not the well known. But man I love these kinds of guys.

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