Monday, October 24, 2011

31 Days of Frankenstein: The Superman Mobster's Food Fight

The Superman Monster (1999)

Pop culture's late '90s interest in Frankenstein collided with DC Comics' late '90s fascination with alternate universe stories in a cool way. In 1994, the year of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, DC published a Batman "Elseworlds" comic called Batman: The Castle of the Bat. I didn't include it on the list because I couldn't find a picture of the Monster from it, but it features a mad Bruce Wayne who - instead of becoming a creature of the night himself - resurrects his murdered father and makes him do it. It ends as happily as you'd expect.

[I also just remembered a mini-series called Frank from '94 from some of the guys behind Milestone. DG Chichester (Hardware) wrote it, Denys Cowan (Hardware) drew it, JJ Birch (Xombi) inked it, and Dwayne McDuffie (Static, Icon) edited it. I really need to dig those issues out.]

Castle of the Bat was quite successful (thanks in no small part to great-looking, painted art by Bo Hampton), so a few years later, DC did the same thing with Superman. The Superman Monster is actually the sequel to another Batman/horror-lit mash-up called Batman: Two Faces that uses the Jekyll/Hyde dynamic to make statements about Two-Face, Bruce Wayne/Batman, and even Batman/Joker. In that story, Perry White appears and briefly mentions a horror story he heard that took place in Bavaria. In The Superman Monster, he sits down with his pal Commissioner Gordon and - Capt. Walton-like - tells him the story he got from Viktor Frankenstein Luthor himself.

In this version, Luthor discovers the crashed ship from Krypton. Unfortunately, baby Kal-El didn't survive the trip, but Luthor resurrects him in an adult body (science!). Things go wrong of course and the Monster flees into the forest where - instead of a kindly, blind hermit - he meets a kindly, old couple named the Kants. Lois Lane also figures into the story as Elizabeth and the fun is watching writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning play out both the Superman and Frankenstein stories in a way that remains faithful to the major beats of both.

Frankenstein Mobster (2003)

I haven't read Frankenstein Mobster, but I've always admired the goofy wordplay of the title if not the character's hairstyle. Apparently it's about several ghosts (including a dead detective and some shady spirits who were chasing him) who get trapped in the body of a creature that a mafia scientist is creating to be the perfect hit man.

Frankenstein Doesn't Start Food Fights (2003)

The Bailey School Kids is a chapter-book series about a group of children who tend to see mythical creatures (vampires, Martians, mermaids, etc.) in the people they encounter at school. Though it's never explicitly revealed whether the kids are right or not, adults have found lessons in the series about letting your imagination run away with you and the dangers of stereotypes. In this volume, the kids imagine a large cafeteria worker with a green complexion to be Frankenstein's Monster.

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