Monday, 23 February 2015

Seven Soldiers Of Victory: Frankenstein (#1-4)

"Fear not.  In wrath's name.  I am at your service" - Frankenstein

Let's get this out of the way right from the start pedants who are looking at the cover and howling "Frankenstein was the scientist NOT the monster!" This is dealt with by Frankenstein saying he took on his creator's name as a tribute to his work.  There easy.  Now lets move on.  Of course Frankenstein's monster has a long history of appearing in every medium you can think of.  DC's version of him first appeared way back in Detective Comics #135 in 1948.  He doesn't have much of a history in the DCU prior to Seven Soldiers so Morrison really goes to town creating a new one for him out of full cloth.  Interestingly he was probably, along with Sir Justin - The Shining Knight, the most popular character of the Seven Soldiers series, and it's easy to see why.  Frankenstein here is based looks-wise on his most famous image in the cinema versions but has the poetic soul and quick intelligence of Mary Shelley's original.  He's also given a very "Hellboy and the B.P.R.D" style relationship with the DCU paranormal investigative agency S.H.A.D.E and his wife, "The Bride" even makes an appearence.  A word about Doug Mahnke's art, I love it!  While I appreciate the fact that art in the style of JH Williams III will leap off the page and make sweet love to your eyeballs, my own preference is for slightly less "real" styles, and the gloriously gothic nature of Mahnke's "ugly aesthetic" here is something I find tremendously pleasing. And it allows Morrison to succesfully experiment with another genre this time, that being horror.
FRankie versus Melmoth's Sheeda maggots.
The story begins with Frankenstein and Melmoth battling aboard a moving train in 1870.  Melmoth was introduced in Klarion The Witch Boy's mini and is Sheeda Queen Gloriana's husband.  He is also functionally immortal.

Frankenstein: "You cannot kill what does not live, Melmoth."

Melmoth: "Nor that which cannot die."

Frankestein blows Melmoth's head off then the train crashes and leaving his fate unknown.  Later by 2005 and town has been built where the train derailed.  We are introduced to a boy only referred to as "Uglyhead".  He can hear other people's thoughts and is surrounded by students all thinking "Uglyhead." Then a dark haired girl passes him telling him not to listen to what they say and he thinks to himself "I shall spare this one."

We then see more thoughts of the students, mainly expressing their insecurities.  The mean teenage girls ask the dark haired girl if Uglyhead is going to be her prom date.  She ignores them and finds her real boyfriend and asks him why everyone calls the boy Uglyhead.  Her boyfriend admits it "something to do."
To be fair, he does have an Ugly Head.
Later Uglyhead confronts a blonde haired girl outside a shop and starts messing with her head first by reading her thoughts then influencing them.

Blonde Girl: [thinks] "Why is he making me feel so insecure."

Uglyhead: "Because deep down you hate yourself and I can see it.  Deep down you're an Uglyhead too."

And we then see the Sheeda on his back, who seems to be focusing his power rather than mind controlling him.  He asks if she is ready to change and later at her house she is tearfully eating pizza and talking to her boyfriend on the phone:

Blonde Girl: "W-well maybe I've got a new boyfriend and he says zits and a fat ass and no confidence would really suh-suit me.... Help me Steve, something terrible is happening to me."

Next day the blonde girl shows up at school looking spotty and plain.  Steve is upset but Uglyhead says now she looks like she feels on the inside.  Finally after mindfucking the rest of them he takes control of them all, so all they can think is "Obey".

Later that night, the Dark haired girl and her prom date arrive at the school, confused as to why it's all dark.  They go into the hall and are confronted with the sight of the rest of the kids being consumed by huge maggoty things.  Uglyhead says the Dark haired girl can be his queen.  Her boyfriend creates a diversion for her to escape by electrocuting himself and the others with the lights. 
The Prom that year was something of a bust.
She runs for it, but in the corridor, Frankenstein bursts his way up through the floor saying something was "left undone."  Uglyhead leaves the main building saying he wants to show the adults what their "perfect children" have become.  Frankenstein picks him up and throws him through a window, then stabs his sword into his neck killing him and his Sheeda rider.  He then sets fire to the school.  The dark haired girl asks if she can come with him and be his Girl Frankenstein. But he responds:

Frankenstein: "I must walk my road alone.  Find your kin and tell them to gather weapons for armageddon's breath is now upon your necks."
And as he leaves he instructs her that if the Sheeda or Dark Melmoth return, to give them the message: "Frankenstein lives!"
Kill it with fire!!
We next find Frankestein looking totally badass, riding a "flesh eating horse of Mars".  He has tracked Melmoth to the planet and is aiming to deal with him for good.  He leads a pack of the horses to Melmoth's base, which is a repurposed ancient Martian civilisation's.  He thinks to himself:

Frankenstein: "Here, under an archaic firmament sullen with cinders and cinnamon.. star speckled with the lights of ulcerated rubies in a mostrous zodiac of spilled blood, vengeance must come."
Martian travel in style.
The action the cuts to Melmoth, heavily bandaged after being set on fire during the events of Klarion's miniseries. he is showing a group of gangsters round his base.  Melmoth tells them that he is all that stands between the human race and extinction.  He fills in some backstory about himself, he was King of the Sheeda until:

Melmoth: "I was usurped by an ambitious, evil bitch who dumped me at the first fall of Camelot and left me to walk through the long centuries.  I've been wandering the godforsaken Earth for ten thousand years now.
He goes onto say he was kept alive by magic and bloody-minded rage, until he found the Cauldron of Rebirth and replaced his blood with it's waters.  He then warns them that his wife is coming to eat civilisation.  He says he's had centuries to plan, build armies and enlist criminal dynasties.  He says he's grown fond of mankind and his plans for it are "more benevolent".  When one of the gangsters asks how he funds all this, he takes them to a huge room full of gold (apparently the tomb of Earth's first superhero, Aurakles, he of Mister Miracle's mini), which is mined by the teenage "recruits" of Team Red (see Klarion's mini).
Aurakle's golden tomb.
Suddenly Frankestein bursts through a wall and lets the flesh eating horses deal with the gangsters.  He smashes Billy Beezer's shackles and tells him his friends are waiting for him on the other side of the "Erdel Gate".  Melmoth is not afraid of Frankenstein this time, he says he knows the secret of his creation, he gave Doctor Frankenstein several drops of his blood to bring his creature to life.  That makes Frankenstein a "Grundy-Man" and he uses a sigil to stop Frankenstein in his tracks.  But Billy Beezer knocks it out of Melmoth's hand, then they all race inside the vault because some "grave protectors" had been activated and were about to attack.

Melmoth says Frankenstein and he are on the same side really and that he is Frankestein's "Dad".  But Frankenstein ignores him and picks him up and starts to feed him to the flesh eating horses.

Frankestein: "Welcome to hell.  For when you enmerge from the guts of these monsters, you will be conscious.  You will still be alive in the form of dung!"
Melmoth screams that "I could have saved them from her!" before his head gets eaten and Frankenstein, his revenge completed gathers up the slaves and takes them back to Earth.
And Melmoth doesn't even make it to the finale issue.
The next issue begins with scenes set in a small American town called Salvation Valley.  It seems drinking the local water has turned everything opposite.  Clever children are now stupid, birds prey on cats, old women fight in the streets using broken bottles and soldiers are turned into cowards.  The fleeing soldiers run into Frankenstein amd warn him about the water.  Then a huge pack of rabbits, squirrels and other usually inoffensive creatures charge him.

Frankenstein: "Madmen say that the meek shall inherit the earth.  Has that awful day come at last?"

As they begin to swarm him, a military helicopter appears.  The side door opens to reveal The Bride (of Frankenstein), although she has two extra arms.  She hauls him into the chopper and once he is safe says "welcome to the S.H.A.D.E mobile" then she shoots him in the head.
Introducing The Bride.
He wakes up in shackles and a man in a bowler hat called Father Time tells him that S.H.A.D.E stands for "Super Human Advanced Defence Executive" or more prosaically, "Superman meets James Bond".  He then offers Frankenstein a job, or else.  Once Frankenstein agrees and is released, Father Time tells them that an experimental super weapon got loose and infected the town.  He says that dead beings like Frankenstein and The Bride won't be affected by it, and they have already lost one expensive super soldier down there.

Frankenstein and The Bride travel back to Salvation Valley by boat, as they travel, Frankenstein notes that he doesn't seem to inspire the fear he once did.  She says that he slept too long and this is an "age of monsters and wonders" now.  Frankenstein says she was designed to be his companion... she says:

The Bride: "You were never my type."

Frankenstein: "Your type?"

The Bride: "Alive. One of these days they'll figure out how to sew on a sense of humour.  Everything is different in the 21st century Frankie."
And the disembark the boat and happen upon a scene of bloody carnage.  A herd of cows have massacred a load of humans.  Frankenstein and The Bride blow them all to bits The Bride says, when they are done, that she got her extra arms in India when she was brainwashed by the Red Swami and had them grafted on.  Luckily S.H.A.D.E rescued her. They then come face-to-face with the super-weapon, a clear, almost jelly like humanoid, it's a "wetform AI" which bled into the local water supply when it escaped.
ZOMG!  Killer cows!
They are then confronted by the missing super soldier "Pilot Zbigniew X".  He says he drank the water and saw his destiny as a soldier not to destroy but create.  Frankestein then blasts the wetform AI apart.  A shocked Zbigniew say they won't kill him, he is too important.  But the Bride cuts his head off and they call S.H.A.D.E back in who preserve the head which has all the expensive bits in it. 

The town is unsalvageable, S.H.A.D.E are having to initiate a "radical enviromental detox".  Feeling used, Frankestein refuses to ride with them saying "I'll walk".  He does however take up the ofer to continue working for them and go looking for a "time monster in Tibet" because that's what we find him doing at the start of the final issue.
Frankie versus Neh-Buh-Loh
Frankenstein comes across Neh-Buh-Loh feasting on the corpse of a flying horse, a flock of which are corcling overhead.  Frankenstein now has an internet connection to S.H.A.D.E and tells them he has acquired the target.  Neh-Buh-Loh has been banished there after Gloriana discovered he hadn't killed Misty, her step-daughter and Melmoth's daughter (see Zatanna's mini).  Neh-Buh-Loh is has a full on Villainous Breakdown.

Neh-Buh-Loh: "I have lived three billion years.  I might have grown to replace this entire universe.  But there is a flaw in me that keeps me small."

Frankenstein: "Let that be your epitaph".

They fight hard against each other while onboard the S.H.A.D.E mobile they travel to Manhattan which is under Sheeda attack.  The Bride jumps down to help in the fight.  We then get an image of a computer readout summarising what happened in JLA Classified (covered in my look at JLA Ultramarine Corps).

Frankenstein: "You're losing heat... to the second law of thermodynamics.. Becoming colder..uuh..slowerm less organised.  Supermen from this universe invaded you long ago.  They could not heal you... instead they gave you medicine to hasten your end."
First Melmoth, now Neh-Buh-Loh, Frankie deals with loose ends!
He thrusts a spear into the now unintelligable Neh-Buh-Loh who finally dies.  Frankenstein contacts S.H.A.D.E and calmly states he needs a new right arm. His next mission is to travel aboard a Sheeda timeship to cause some havoc.  So he gets aboard Castle Revolving which returns to the time of the Sheeda empire.  There he confronts Queen Gloriana;

Frankenstein: "I have vowed to protect humankind from evils such as you".

Gloriana: "Evilsss? We are the children of our fathers are we not?  Humankind has ever preyed upon the Earth and we are only the last link in that chain.. we are survivor organisms."

It's implied here and spelled out clearly in the finale, but the Sheeda are infact an evolution of mankind and their empire is in the future.  Ooh twisty.  Gloriana goes to attack Frankenstein and he activates the explosives he sat up on each of the other timeships in the fleet, blowing them up.  He then runs and locks himself in the wheelhouse of Castle Revolving as it travels back into the past to continue the assault on the Earth even though the fleet has been reduced to just The Castle Revolving.
And he screws over most of the Sheeda fleet too. 
And that ends the final miniseries, with just the single issue finale to go.  I'll 'fess up now, I have never read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but I really like the stoical philosopher Morrison writes him as.  I don't know how true that is to the original, but it makes for a cool comic book character.  Brains plus brawn plus lots a swords and guns make for a total badass as well which probably explains why he was something of a breakout star for the series.  The first issue at the high school is nauseatingly creepy, while the town of killer cows and bunnies is made to look genuinely threatening rather than comic thanks to Doug Mahnke's art.  The way he dealt with Melmoth was hilariously creative and it was heartwarming when he rescued the slaves.  Finally the Neh-Buh-Loh plotline was wrapped up satisfactorily, with the events of JLA Classified finally paying off. This one remains my favourite for the wonderful art and the body horror threaded through it, now with the invasion fully underway, albeit to a far lesser extent than it would have been had Frankenstein not intervened, it's finally time for the finale.  Join me in a few days to see if Grant can pull it off.


  1. that is awesome art i agree, didn't frankie get his own spin-off series when the new52 started?

  2. Well funny you should mention that G... just stay tuned next month, that's all I'm saying for now ;)

  3. "You cannot kill what does not live" is Judge Death's catchphrase.

    What happens to Melmoth is horrible.

    Frankenstein (named after his 'father', Baron Frankenstein, who created him) was always a philosophical chap, fond of reading books and musing on the tragedy of his own existence.

  4. You know, I thought it seemed familiar, nice catch Lucy.

    Yeah but Melmoth was enslaving teenage kids to mine gold. And didn't care if they got killed in the process. I find it hard to feel sorry for the guy.

    This Frankenstein is pretty similar from what I have heard of the book. He's been around long enough to be content with who he is though. But he does like his philosophic monologues. He was definitely the most popular character from this series with the readers, he's the only one still knocking round the current DCU with the same personality and background Morrison gave him.