Monday, March 16, 2015

Review of Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. volumes 1 & 2: War of the Monsters and Secrets of the Dead. Trade paperbacks, collecting issues 0-16, written by Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire, with art by Alberto Ponticelli.

This was one of my favorite titles from DC Comics’ New 52 initiative. In this version of the Creature Commandos, Frankenstein’s monster leads a black-ops team that includes the Werewolf, a Vampire, a Mummy, and an amphibian/human hybrid. All of their activities are overseen by S.H.A.D.E. (The Super Human Advanced Defense Executive), an entity run by Father Time, with help from the UN's Dr. Ray Palmer, who has shrunk their entire HQ into a 3-inch indestructible globe.

The idea of a Super-Agent Frankenstein is high-concept science fiction, and the stories told in these volumes were consistently entertaining. We start with a stream of monsters emerging in a small town, and Frank joins forces with his team (and his wife) to handle this scenario.

One of the great aspects about these issues was the love story that Lemire told about Frankenstein and his bride. But by issue 8, they had broken up after having to take on their own son (she chooses freedom, and he chooses S.H.A.D.E.). And many issues passed until she reappeared, and her absence wreaked emotional damage upon the monster. 

Towards the end of the series, Victor Frankenstein himself arrived, and his machine (the soul-grinder) was the only thing that could stop the advancement of the Rot. This storyline crossed over into both Swamp Thing and Animal Man, tying this story into the greater DC Universe.

This series started in the middle of the pack in terms of sales, but lost more than half of their 1st issue sales by the time they got to issue #7. Given that precipitous drop, the fact that this title was canceled after issue 16 was not surprising. I found the cancellation disappointing, but I can’t say I was surprised.

This was an action-packed science-fiction title that I enjoyed thoroughly. I hope the characters and the concept re-appear in a mini-series at some point in the future.

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