Review: ‘Frankenstein Alive, Alive!’ #2

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Stylishly eloquent and beautifully dark, Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #2 is an emotionally riveting and visually awesome tale. With such memorable and haunting imagery, the horror legend tag-team of Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson is delivering one exceptionally well-written and well-drawn comic.

WRITTEN BY: Steve Niles
ART BY: Bernie Wrightson
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: November 21st, 2012

Picking up where the classic tale ended, Frankenstein’s Monster continues to live a dreamless and wretched existence. Frank, as he calls himself now, is haunted by the violent crimes from his past. In his search for forgiveness, Frank wonders if he has a soul, even if God didn’t create him. After committing suicide, Frank is dug up from his tomb and suddenly wakes up in the future. Upon realizing he failed to kill himself, Frank decides to rejoin the living one more time. But just because Frank doesn’t believe he is a monster, that does not mean humanity will accept him.

With such eloquence in Frank’s narration, Steve Niles further explores the themes of isolation and redemption, which were originally presented in Mary Shelly’s novel. This is a story about the ultimate outsider, who just wants to belong, but sadly never can. Frank’s monstrous face and towering size keeps him segregated from the rest of humanity. The first issue was a psychologically driven plot, as Frank contemplated about committing suicide. Now in the narrative, Frank realizes that he has to live for a reason, because death isn’t an option for him.

With the focus on the student/teacher relationship with Dr. Ingles, it’s easy to feel for Frank’s search for a father figure. While Boris Karloff’s portrayal of The Monster is more child-like and innocent, Niles’ Frank is a deep and intellectual thinker. With a craving for education, Frank learns to read and continues expanding his mind.

Frank’s curiosity about human nature allows him to search for answers in volumes of textbooks. Frank has the mind of a genius, but he looks like a hideous freakshow. The wonderfully rendered illustrations of Bernie Wrightson are an amazing sight. By using black and white tones, Wrightson captures such detailed backgrounds, especially with Dr. Ingles’ chamber. In the laboratory, readers will see every glass jar filled with different objects, a collection of stuffed animals, and numerous skeletal remains. Page after page, Wrightson builds a somber and downtrodden atmosphere for the emotionally gripping narrative.

By staying close to Mary Shelly’s description, Wrightson gives Frank a corpse-like design, with a skull-shaped face and no nose. Frank has a pained facial expression, as if staying alive is a great burden. With so much effort and dedication, Wrightson delivers such unforgettable imagery. This level of art is such a rare feat to achieve in modern comics and Wrightson makes it look easy.

With the creative team-up of Niles and Wrightson in “Frankenstein Alive, Alive!” #2, readers couldn’t ask for much more. Made with style and substance, “Frankenstein Alive, Alive” is a dream come true for horror fans.

Rating: 4/5 skulls

Reviewed by Jorge Solis