Friday, October 28, 2011

31 Days of Frankenstein: Seven Soldiers Forever Make a Sandwich

Frankenstein Now and Forever (2005)

I've mentioned before my favorite line in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: "I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine; a rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other." There are a lot of themes in the book, but that's the one that speaks to me most, because it expresses a kind of profound loneliness that I suspect most people have felt at one time or another. I know I have.

Swiss cartoonist Baladi's Frankenstein Now and Forever is the story of a couple of lonely girls - roommates, but not friends - who live in modern-day Geneva, Victor Frankenstein's hometown. While struggling with their own feelings of monstrousness, the girls discover a discarded box with an old copy of Frankenstein in it. Though the Monster begins to haunt one of the girls' dreams and the other thinks it holds clues about a missing boyfriend, this isn't a supernatural story. It is however a horror tale. The horror is completely mundane and ordinary, but all the more frightening because of it. Highly recommended.

Seven Soldiers (2006)

There were several cool things about Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers project, starting with the unique format of being a self-contained crossover that wasn't meant to drive up sales on existing titles or launch any new ones. It was a crossover event for people who were tired of the commercial cynicism of crossover events. And then there were the titles themselves.

All were enjoyable, but my favorite (you'll be shocked to hear) was Frankenstein. It wasn't the first time the Monster had appeared in a DC comic. That would be Detective Comics #145, in which Batman and Robin are transported to the past to help a time-traveling professor get out of the mess he's gotten into while trying to verify the truth of Mary Shelley's story. The Monster was resurrected in the '70s as Spawn of Frankenstein, a back-up series in The Phantom Stranger that eventually led to team-ups in the main part of the book and even a battle with Superman.

Morrison ignored all that though to create a new, pulp-inspired, monster-hunting version of the character who eventually joined SHADE (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive), a US government organization that assesses and contains supernatural threats. After Seven Soliders, the Monster made brief appearances in Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, and Blackest Night before landing his own Flashpoint series, Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown. That in turn led into the current, New 52 series, Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli. I also highly recommend that one, but for completely different reasons than Now and Forever.

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (2006)

Actually a book of illustrated poems about the everyday troubles of being a monster (Dracula goes to the dentist, the Wolf Man cleans house, the Phantom of the Opera gets a song stuck in his head, etc.), but you see who gets the title and cover.

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