A quick recap, this series is based heavily on Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers reboot of the DCU character Frankenstein, the monster who took his creators name and now fights monsters to protect mankind as part of the covert non-governmental organisation S.H.A.D.E - the "Super Human Advanced Defence Executive". This takes the form of a tiny city housed in a three-inch sized sphere that agents beam in and out of. Also working for S.H.A.D.E are Frankenstein's estranged wife Lady Frankenstein, and the "Creature Commandos", Doctor Nina Muzarsky, an amphibian/human hybrid. Warren Griffith, a wolfman. Vincent Velcoro, a vampire and Khalis a mysterious mummy who is currently seperated from it's head due to events in the first volume. Running the show is an ageless human called Father Time who likes to change bodies once a century and is currently taking the form of a Japanese schoolgirl. Also in attendence is observer Ray Palmer (who later on will become The Atom due to his own shrinking powers) who is liasing with S.H.A.D.E to see if they deserve continued funding. The book continues to be written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Alberto Ponticelli, although Matt Hindt takes over writing duties about halfway through. This volume unfortunately gets bogged down in a lengthy crossover that was going on between Animal Man and Swamp Thing at the same time. Having not read those books, my knowledge of the overall "Rotworld" plot is confined to what shows up in this book and the DC wikia, so if things get a bit inchoherent I apologise. The first book ended on a cliffhanger with Frankenstein and his wife's son having been released from The Ant Farm's maximum security prison area and escaped to the earth below.
We then get a flashback as to how their child was conceived. Using mad science, Father Time combined their "unique, hybrid DNA" to create him in the lab. But their embryonic son has a sudden growth spurt and bursts out of the tube he was growing in. He attacks Lady Frankenstein and Frankie shoots him, leaving him presumed dead, but his relationship with Lady Frankenstein irreperately damaged.
Back in the present Frankenstein wonders how their son can still be alive.
Lady Frankenstein: "Father Time and his lab rats can do anything, Frank. You know that. I saw our son. You saw a monster. He saw a weapon."
They track him to Castle Frankenstein. The Ant Farm is close by monitoring events. Ray Palmer is outraged by Father Time's locking up of their son in secret. He accuses him of toying with their lives and storms out saying he will recommend the U.N withdraw their funding of S.H.A.D.E.
|Their insane son, pleads for death.|
Outside the castle, the Creature Commandos and Father Time are waiting. Lady Frankenstein removes her S.H.A.D.E.Net implant and quits the organisation despite Father Time's protests. She gives Frankenstein a big, farewell snog and disappears into the wilderness. Frankenstein, while not happy with Father Time's deception says "S.H.A.D.E is all I have." And choses to stay.
The next issue is a sneak peek at the Rotworld plotline that will play a larger role in a few issues time. Father Time orders Frankenstein and Nina to investigate the disappearance of Animal Man. They have traced the last person he talked to, a Detective called Krenshaw. Nina and Frank beam out to look for him.
Frankenstein then calls down the ultimate clearance device, the "Black Bomb". He dives on Nina to protect her as his flesh is immune to it, and all the Rotlings are atomised. Sadly, Frankenstein sits and contemplates recent events.
Frankenstein: "Maybe those things were right... maybe my wife was right.. maybe I am an abomination."
Nina: "I.. think you're right Frank. You aren't a man. You're more than us."
And she holds his hand, causing him to smile.
|Silence in the library!|
Crowly is stationed in the "extra-dimensional fourth cloud. In the city of Untropolis", a place that spontaneiously came into being five years previously. Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos are sent to find Crowly They have jetpacks with a "nether field" protecting them from being vaporised when they hit the extra-dimension. They arrive in the sky city and Frankenstein goes to find Crowly alone. After a chase he finds her and grabs her and demands to know who the mole is.
At the last minute, Nina flies over and grabs him. Her jetpack protects them both and the fall out of Untropolis and into the Atlantic. Father Time tries to get Frankenstein to come back to base, but Frankenstein wants to find the informant - Satan's Ring - in the Leviathan. Right on time it comes swimming by and Frankenstein picks up Nina and they jump inside it through a hole.
Turns out it's the place where S.H.A.D.E forcibly retires all it's ex-agents, especially ones who know things that could change the world. Their only way out is if the Leviathan dies, which Frankenstein decides to implement. He gets into the Leviathan's hind brain and starts slowly killing it. He believes this will bring out the S.H.A.D.E mole. S.H.A.D.E send Khalis down into the Leviathan who heals Nina of her injuries sustained when falling out of Untropolis. He is supposed to stop Frank but the whole population of Leviathan town are on Frankenstein's side.
The dying Leviathan crashes into the Leviathan graveyard where S.H.A.D.E's deep sea base of operations is. Frank kicks his way into the base and finds Crwoly again. She tells him the mole is below them, and he is revealed as Mycrift, Keeper of The Leviathans. He'd seen the future, in which Frankenstein kills him and had tried to pre-empt that, but caused a self fulfilling prophecy.
|Good job, Mycroft.|
Khalis heals him and Nina, who no longer needs her helmet thanks to Khalis, joyfully greets Frankenstein as he awakes, no longer plagued with visions. They embrace, and it turns out the organic material needed to repair Frankenstein was donated by the ex-S.H.A.D.E agents.
Belroy: " He won them over. Turning potential enemies into and army of allies."
Father Time: "But armies for what, Belroy? What aren't you telling me?"
Belroy: "Victor is back sir, and he's brought the Rot with him."
Victor then starts hunting Frankie with a group of mercenaries. Frankenstein has taken refuge with an Amazonian tribe who accept him unconditionally and help him find his "Humanity". Unfortunately Victor arrives with his goons and decimates the tribe. Victor and Frankensteinend in a one-on-one fight, which goes poorly for Victor. With him dead, a beautiful woman appears to Frankenstein and introduces herself as Father Time, and with that he is recruited into S.H.A.D.E.
|Victor gets pwned.|
And the zero issue ends. It's here that we hit the three issues dealing with the massive "Rotworld" Animal Man/Swamp Thing crossover that was going on at the time. I'm going to skim these issues because they are borderline unreadable if you haven't been following the story in the main comics involved. Here's a brief description of the Rotworld plotline from the DC wiki.
DC Wiki: "Rotworld was a crossover between the books Swamp Thing and Animal Man, telling the story of the struggle for dominion between the three elemental forces of The Red, The Green, and The Rot. The story begins as Swamp Thing and Animal Man emerge from the Rot one year into the future, to find that the Rot has overrun the planet, and overtaken any and everyone save those who have a connection - if tenuous - to the Red or the Green. The story unfolds as two separate arcs: The Red Kingdom and The Green Kingdom, in which each hero tries to make his way to face Anton Arcane and reverse the Rot's effects. The two arcs converge at the climax, as Arcane is defeated, and the two heroes are returned to the present day."
|Victor's back, with some friends.|
It was Victor Frankenstein's plan to reassemble it and use it to overthrow Arcane when the time was right, but slowly and on horseback Frankenstein and Velcorro start months of travel collecting the pieces, while the others hide out in a desert wilderness far from Rot-corruptible flora and fauna. Although Victor killed everyone on the Ant Farm at the beginning of the Rot outbreak and the year of hell's start, they can still use their implants to communicate between each other and Frankie and Nina keep in touch. Velcorro is killed taking down one holder of a soul grinder piece, and a mysterious race of golden women help Frankenstein kill the final monster and the Soul Grinder is assembled, Frankenstein kills Victor by forcing him through it.
|Victor gets killed for good.|
The final issue has all the hallmarks of something that was planned to run longer and got severely truncated. Some weird looking people under survelliance from a guy from Homeland Security seem to be conjuring up the Rot style virus and also have a missile. As the Homeland Security watches, Frankenstein comes dropping in and takes out the missile. We then get a flashback of Frankie and the others are being given the job back at the Ant Farm.
|Back to business as usual.|