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If you are a fan of the Frankenstein monster, there is no reason not to pick this title up. The black-and-white artwork fits the dreary mood of the comic, the narration is great and the story, while not revolutionary, is enjoyable. And not only will you be getting a comic book, you will also be getting the beginning of a serialization of Mary Shelley’s renowned novel that started it all, as well as interviews and essays.
Frankenstein’s monster is not what people expected when they went to the circus. But when they pulled back that curtain, no one believed what they saw. But he made them believe. After all, it’s part of his job. “Frank,” as his circus-mates call the still unnamed monster created by Victor Frankenstein, gives his horrific performance with finesse, and then relives the darker days of his creation and how he tried to kill himself.
Being from classic horror masters Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson, this issue’s story plays as a classic, lacking in new material. Frankenstein’s origins are similar, and it’s not much of a jump to think of him as a circus freak. Where Niles injects some intrigue is the monster’s narration, which uses very elegant language. His narration continues throughout this issue and keeps a very sophisticated tone throughout.
While Frankenstein Alive, Alive #1 does not do anything extraordinarily new or unexpected with the source material, it does have some of the most beautifully haunting artwork of the decade. Bernie Wrightson uses his full artistic talents on this title. I easily say that I enjoyed Wrightson’s artwork more than the actual story crafted by Niles. The entire issue is in black-and-white, but each page was scanned in color show the brush work.
The results are astounding with “Frank’s” face contorted several ways, always fitting the mood of the issue. First, he slumbers, then he scares, then you see the humanity in his eyes. But it’s more than just rinse and repeat. While the “normal” people in this issue are somewhat squished into one page with their heads oddly proportioned, the artwork never lingers on them. Hopefully, as the series progresses, Wrightson will pay more attention to human faces.
The capstone of the artwork in the comic are the environments traveled by “Frank” when he is on his mission to kill himself. The icy sea landscape reminds me of that painting “The Great Wave of Kanagawa” featuring numerous cascading tides. The light use of some light blue color in these panels also adds to the feeling of cold in the winder “wonderland.” The volcano looked so realistic I could almost feel nature’s wrath when it erupted. What this issue chooses to focus on most, Wrightson, horror’s artistic hand, delivers.
Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson are a match made in classic horror heaven. Don’t expect a ton of gore that has been in Nile’s other works like Pieces for Mom. If you read Frankenstein Alive, Alive #1 you get great artwork with only small touches of color in all the right places and an age-old story with no huge twist, but an enjoyable final classic.