Thursday, October 11, 2012

Frankenstein, agent of the SHADE #13 - Rotworld "Secrets of the dead"


Unexpectedly, DC has decided to tie "Frankenstein" into the "Animal Man" and "Swamp Thing" crossover. Having the Frankenstein story appear with the Rotworld banner may be one of the last promotions regarding the book that's steadily approaching cancellation levels. The creative justification for the tie-in lies with Jeff Lemire's last issue on the title.

Building up on Frank's previous meeting with Animal Man makes the crossover slightly less abrupt, with Matt Kindt never forgetting to include a threat specific to the protagonist. Remaking Victor Frankenstein as an agent of the Rot is a compromise that the writer slows down the story to explain, but it stands to present a puzzle to future readers who encounter the material divorced of the context of the Animal Man/Swamp Thing crossover. Unfortunately, in order to line up with the crossover, Kindt puts the book in a nebulous place when it comes to the chronology, making it unclear when in takes place in regards to the other two titles.

The book continues with the larger than life pulp moments regarding the title character, who is both carried by condors to his destination, and eventually gets to ride around the devastated Metropolis on a horse. There is little spontaneity involved, as all of the animal emissaries of the Red talk, guiding Frank towards the threat. At the same time, the writer posits that the character's undead nature makes him invulnerable to the Rot, which gives him an interesting role in the crossover.

In a way, Frankenstein fills in for Animal Man, who is away due to the events of "Rotworld - Prologue". Ultimately, Frank's special nature largely makes the fight scenes redundant, and it is only when Velcoro shows up that the book regains a degree of suspense. In a lengthy dialogue, the character describes the exact role Frank is to play in the crossover, hinting that the book will take on a quest-like structure for the duration of the tie-in.

Ultimately, the writer adds another wrinkle in the character's ever evolving relationship with S.H.A.D.E. - the organization that never quite gelled into a functional version of Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. At this point, it's quite clear that Frank's association with the agency is not liable to continue for much longer, as the company has already announced the departure of artist Alberto Ponticelli. His inker since the aforementioned Animal Man tie-in issue, Wayne Faucher, has been credited with some of this issue's interior art.

Ultimately, the book has never really managed to recreate the over the top madness of Grant Morrison/Doug Mahke's initial "Seven Soldiers" mini-series. It remains to be seen whether DC's latest effort in trying to attract the "Animal Man" and "Swamp Thing" readers will pay off, and at least prolong the title's shelf life.

No comments: