Previously on Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E.: Covering Issues #1-#9
Meet S.H.A.D.E, the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive, a top secret organization with the primary mission to eliminate or contain supernatural threats to the world. S.H.A.D.E. is housed in the Ant Farm, a microscopic, mobile base designed by U.N. Scientist Ray Palmer, which is only accessible through teleportation and shrink technology. S.H.A.D.E.'s director is Father Time, who currently has the body of a young girl. S.H.A.D.E.'s top agent is Dr. Frankenstein's monster, who now goes by the name of his creator.
Frankenstein is introduced to the Ant Farm and many of its new technologies before he's needed on a mission. His former wife, Lady Frankenstein, went missing while looking into disappearances near Bone Lake, WA, and now the area is swarming with monsters. Along with Frank, the Creature Commandos are assigned to the mission: Dr. Nina Mazursky, a sea monster, Warren Griffith, a werewolf, Vincent Velcoro, a vampire, and Khalis, a mummy. Frank and the Creature Commandos fight their way through town and find survivors, an old woman and a bunch of children, in the basement of a church. Frankenstein realizes the adults have been sacrificing children and slays the old woman. Frankenstein and Nina then take to the water and discover Bone Lake is, appropriately enough, covered in the skeletons of children sacrificed over the years. Several sea monsters attack the pair, and Frankenstein and Nina take them down and discover a portal where the monsters are coming from: a gateway to another planet, a planet filled with monsters.
Believing that Lady Frankenstein went through the portal in order to stop the invasion, the team enters and arrives at Monster Planet. They find Lady Frankenstein surrounded by monsters. When the fighting starts to get too tough, Khalis sets off a magical burst that clears the continent they landed on of monsters and then passes out. Meanwhile, S.H.A.D.E. headquarters is under attack by a psychic presence, the Monster Planet itself. The Monster Planet is inhabited by three large creatures, parasites, that are driving it mad. The team takes out the first monster, disguised as a mountain, and then splits up to take out the other two. Lady Frankenstein, Griffith, and Velcoro are swarmed and require backup from Father Time and Ray Palmer, who send in the Toybox: a device filled with robotic soldiers and tanks that readily take out the second giant monster. Meanwhile, Frankenstein and Nina locate the third monster in the ocean, but it and all of its sea monster brethren think Nina is their mother and do not attack. Unmoved in the slightest, Frank kills the monster. Awake once again, Khalis rescues the team in a S.H.A.D.E. transport and manages to get back through the portal before it closes, and Monster Planet retreats into space.
A few days later, Maxwell Lord of Checkmate contacts S.H.A.D.E. for assistance in apprehending the superpowered being known as OMAC, who escaped from them. Frankenstein is dispatched and has an extremely challenging fight with the blue, mohawked wonder. Meanwhile, S.H.A.D.E.NET is under attack by an A.I. known as Brother Eye, an ally of OMAC's, but Ray Palmer invades Brother Eye and gets a full readout on him, allowing S.H.A.D.E. to capture him. Frankenstein manages to beat OMAC but his opponent has one more trick up his sleeve and teleports away, taking one of Frank's arms with him. While getting a new arm grafted on, Frankenstein learns he was merely the distraction, the plan was always to capture Brother Eye, and Frank is understandably mad about being left in the dark.
Next, Frankenstein, Velcoro, Griffith, and Khalis are sent to to find Dwayne Maillet, aka Colonel Quantum, a one-time agent of S.H.A.D.E. Quantum left S.H.A.D.E. when his powers started to drive him mad. Father Time and Frank have been looking for him ever since. Two weeks ago S.H.A.D.E.NET noticed a wave of atomic energy that matched Quantum's signature. The team finds him in a monastery surrounded by bodies, deformed, monstrous, and begging for death which he is unable to grant himself. Frankenstein uses a specially designed bullet from Palmer to restore Quantum to humanity and grant him peace.
Back at the Ant Farm, the base's robotic servants, the Humanaids, start to become self-aware and take over the base. The Humanaids release the original Creature Commandos from their holding area, the Zoo. Lady Frankenstein and Nina move in to intercept but have a tough time of it until Lady Frankenstein reaches some of her guns and kills the Creature Commandos. Up in command, Father Time and Ray Palmer are held at gunpoint by Humanaids, but Palmer uses his shrink technology to take out several dozen while Father Time demonstrates her martial arts training on the remainder. Another batch of Humanaids are mopped up by Frank and his team when they return. After the chaos dies down, Father Time comes to the Frankensteins with some bad news. During the confusion a fifth prisoner of the Zoo escaped, the son of the Frankensteins.
The Frankensteins had a child made using their hybrid DNAs many years ago. The child was half-mad and tried to kill Lady Frankenstein, so Frankenstein shot it, leading to the two growing apart. Neither was aware that the child had lived and was in S.H.A.D.E. custody ever since. The pair set out alone and catch up with their son at Castle Frankenstein, where he went looking for answers. Their son is still half mad and begs for death, but Frankenstein refuses to hurt him again for the shake of Lady F. Hiis former wife takes up Frank's sword anyway and kills her son, knowing it is the only way he'll find peace. When they meet up with the others, Lady Frankenstein rips out her S.H.A.D.E. implant, nearly strangles Father Time when she threatens her, and then leaves S.H.A.D.E.
Everyone is furious with Father Time for betraying the Frankensteins' trust, and Ray Palmer is outraged enough that he leaves, ready to make his report to the U.N. to recommend eliminating S.H.A.D.E.'s funding. Frankenstein and Nina are sent on a mission to locate the hero known as Animal Man, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances, bodies of dead animals scattered around his home, and a San Diego PD detective gone missing in the middle of it. The pair track down the detective outside of a farmhouse and discover it's no ordinary corpse but a creature of the Rot, an ancient force of death and decay. The Rot tries to take over Frankenstein but learns that it holds no power over him; there is no decay to be found in Frank's body. Nina and Frank slice and shoot the Rot, but it just keeps spreading further. Frank tries to use a flamethrower but to no effect and finally calls in a Black Bomb to atomize the entire area. Frank shields Nina with his body, and the bomb eliminates the Rot, leaving both Frankenstein and Nina miraculously unharmed due to Frankenstein's unique makeup.
Style: For all of its faults, Frankenstein is a good-looking book. The colors and style for the art take me back to an older style of comics. Frankenstein does not have the same dark colors and horror vibe of some of the other “Edge” books. It's more of a tongue-in-cheek, high adventure style that just happens to play with horror tropes.
S.H.A.D.E.NET: Using S.H.A.D.E.NET to explain parts of the universe as floating text boxes is a cool idea but has been poorly executed. S.H.A.D.E.NET's text boxes drove me mad because they were over used, repetitive, and the information they provided overall was not that helpful. Then, there's the S.H.A.D.E.NET itself, which has been a McGuffin in several Frankenstein stories already where the A.I. is exploited, leading to an overall high cost to reward for its use.
No Stakes Fights: The combat in Frankenstein is disappointing. The reason for the freakishly long summary is because plots are breezed through and the characters are never in any real danger. Pages will be spent setting up a scenario only to have the ensuing conflict last a few short panels. Without the time put in, I never became invested in these life or death scenarios.
Weirdness: I had a difficult time getting invested in Agent of S.H.A.D.E.'s particular style of monsters. It wanted to be something awesome and a little bit wacky like my beloved Middleman, but Frankenstein manages to make decisions that I found boring or odd instead of funny or exciting.
Father Time's Secrets: Father Time has kept a lot from our heroes and undoubtedly has a lot more up her sleeve. Her secrets have already driven away one member of the team, Lady Frankenstein, and others, including Frankenstein, have talked about leaving since then. What sort of game is Father Time playing? Will she come clean about her other agendas or let the Creature Commandos leave S.H.A.D.E. one by one?
S.H.A.D.E.'s Funding: Made into a much bigger problem in later issues, where is S.H.A.D.E.'s money coming from and what sort of pull do its benefactors have on S.H.A.D.E.'s missions? A lot of money, tens of millions, have been spent in the first few scenarios, and Father Time was nervous about explaining the expenditures to S.H.A.D.E.'s benefactors. With Ray Palmer speaking out against S.H.A.D.E., what sort of funding will they lose and will they have to give up some of the patented technologies, like Palmer's shrink tech?
Frankesteins Future: With their son laid to rest, what will the future be for Frankenstein and Lady Frankenstein? Will he leave S.H.A.D.E. and go after her? Will she be able to forgive him and will they get back together? Will she finally get a name of her own?