After nearly two years, “Frankenstein Alive, Alive!” is back* in all its literary, artistic glory. Niles packs a philosophical punch in issue #3 that falls in step with both the previous issues and the source material, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Niles’ appreciation for this classic work of literature is rivalled only by Wrightson’s obvious passion for the Monster, making it clear that there is no other pairing quite right to continue on with Shelley’s story.
WRITTEN BY: Steve Niles
ART BY: Bernie Wrightson
RELEASE: April 16, 2014
If you’re looking for the commercialized, violent, and cheaply horrific Monster that the 21st century has associated with Frankenstein, you’ve come to the wrong comic book. It’s not an easy job to recreate a literary classic, but Niles does this job exceptionally well. He provides us with a deep, thought provoking look inside the Monster’s psyche and additionally, a look into the collective psyche of Man. Much like the original, the Monster serves as a mirror to reflect our fears and prejudices.
One thing that really stands out in issue #3 is Niles’ ability to earn the reader’s empathy. The writing is so dizzying, causing us to feel the same sense of dread, fear, and hopelessness as the Monster. This issue is strong with emotion. We watch as the Monster plummets down from his high off the normalcy that was built for him in the previous issue. The kind façade of Dr. Simon Ingles that had given us hope for the Monster has been shattered and we are pulled into the emotional tidal wave.
Dr. Ingles, who appeared in issue #2 as a kind and gentle scientist working on a way to prolong life and help the body heal itself has been outed as a psychopathic and manipulative murderer. This realization is a blow to the confidence of the Monster, sending him into a frenzied tailspin, ultimately causing him to question his own purpose and reality.
The sheer amount of work that is put into the art for “Frankenstein Alive, Alive!” is astounding. The fact that this is a serialized comic is a treat, even if we have to wait a year or so for each issue. Wrightson is gifting us with a level of artistry that just cannot be achieved on a monthly basis. In addition to the pure skill that’s evident in his art, Wrightson’s take on the appearance of the Monster is reminiscent of the early, mid-1800s Frankenstein artistic interpretations. Especially the classic Theodor von Holst illustration.
This isn’t a comic that one reads for heavy, action-packed plot points. It’s existential. Self-reflective. Very literary. It’s shorter in length than the average monthly comic, so take time with it, indulge in it, soak it in. Treat it like the fine piece of art that it is.
*Dare I say “alive”?
Review by – Bree Ogden