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Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 Review: You Know, for Kids!

frankensteincover 5c8The DC reboot is upon us, comic book sniffers! Welcome to the new DC universe! In an effort to help bring new readers into the world of comics, the Fanboy Comics staff has decided to review at least five new #1 issues each week of September, DC’s reboot launch month.

For my second venture into the DCnU, I read Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1, written by Jeff Lemire and with art by Alberto Ponticelli.  Overall, I am happy to report that Frankenstein #1 was not an overwhelming disappointment like my experience with Swamp Thing #1; however, I feel that I may have been about 20 years too old to have fully enjoyed the issue.



Although I was unaware that Frankenstein had made the jump from the pages of Mary Shelley to DC, the transition was a fine (albeit dull) one for me.  In Lemire’s Frankenstein #1, a third-person omniscient computer system informs the reader about every single detail that you could ever want to know about the setting, characters, and plot of the story.  The obvious way in which Lemire presented the exposition left me feeling as though he was either anticipating a younger audience that required greater assistance with reading comprehension or that he made a poor choice in his narration.  Given that the writer has had a successful career in comics (Lost Dogs, Essex County Trilogy, Sweet Tooth), I am led to believe that the former was the case.  

The main characters of the story are Frankenstein (obviously), the classic-monster-turned-crime-fighter who has been drafted to a secret government agency known as S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive), Father Time, the leader of S.H.A.D.E. – and father figure to Frankenstein – who has taken the form of a young girl for his most recent host body, and Frankenstein’s wife, another member of S.H.A.D.E. with whom he seems to have a strained relationship (ie: they are not speaking to each other).  Unfortunately, this is the extent of the character development in the first issue; however, it does not hinder the plot of the first issue.  (An army of monsters has taken over a small town in Washington, and it is up to Frankenstein and the other S.H.A.D.E. members to stop them!)  To me, these three characters seemed all too similar to the main characters of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy (Hellboy, Professor Bruttenholm, and Liz, respectively), who are sent to fight the “evil force(s) of the week.”

The art of Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is uncomplicated.  Alberto Ponticelli is undoubtedly a talented artist; however, the characters are not given a great amount of detail, as most of the panels are wide shots of landscape or action.

I am not someone who wants to automatically assume that simplified writing and art should be relegated to younger readers.  As I child, I wanted to read interesting and exciting stories with enticing visuals, and I would imagine that children nowadays seek the seem level of entertainment from their stories.  In this case, though, the simplicity of the story and art may best be targeted towards readers who are just now becoming comfortable with reading books that are longer than short stories.  And, I would encourage those readers to take advantage of Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. as a way of practicing their reading skills with a character of which I am sure they would be familiar.



Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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