Sunday, 14 November 2010

Battle of the Frankensteins.

Marvel Comics Frankenstein #1
Like any master criminal I'm never to blame when things go wrong. That's always the fault of my underlings.

Unfortunately, when it comes to this site, I don't have any underlings, therefore I'll blame my template.

You see, when I set this blog up, I never intended it to be a review site. Inspired by the Bronze Age Babies somewhat free-form approach, I saw it more as a place for me to drone on about any aspect of old comics that took my fancy. I could drone on about the adverts. I could drone on about which comics company's pages smelled nicest. I could drone on about Stan's Soapbox and anything else I wanted. I could be like an old befuddled relative sat in the chair in the corner, rambling on about how everything used to be better in the good old days, when artists knew how to draw and inkers knew how to ink, colourists knew how to colour, and comics were printed on proper paper - you know, toilet paper.

However somewhere along the way I rail-roaded myself into doing nothing but reviewing things.

I blame my template. When I just had the Minima Stretch, I felt I too could be more free-form but, once I had a more defined template, I felt I had to be more focused. So, this is where I put things right, and a brave new era starts for Steve Does Comics as, in between the reviews, I simply ramble incoherently.

That leads me onto the obvious subject of Frankenstein.

The Phantom Stranger meets the Spawn of Frankenstein, Mike Kaluta
Now I know people'll be pointing out that it's not "Frankenstein" - as Frankenstein's the creator not the monster - but, as Mary Shelley's main aim in writing the book was to complain about men's lack of parenting skills, I suppose we should do as Mary would've wanted and view the creature as Frankenstein's offspring and therefore rightful inheritor of the name. In the 1970s, both Marvel and DC had their own versions of Frankenstein and, while various groups of peasants over the years have set the monster alight, neither comic book version set the world on fire.

I read the Marvel incarnation in their old weekly Dracula Lives comics but only caught the earlier stories. A couple of years ago, I bought the last ever issue of Marvel's Frankenstein mag and he was hanging around in some fields with a friendly robot. I don't have a clue what was going on and it was probably best not to know.

My experience of DC's Frankenstein was always more limited. I only knew him from two stories in the Phantom StrangerIn one of which he met the titular titfer wearer himself.

Armed with this expert knowledge, I have to say I always preferred Marvel's version. He had a cooler jacket and looked so much healthier. DC's, from what I can remember, always looked a bit unwell. Admittedly, I'd probably look a bit unwell too if I were stitched together from reanimated corpses but, despite this, I like to imagine Frankenstein being able to knock doors off their hinges without even trying.

The X-Men meet the Frankenstein Monster
Of course, Marvel had at least one other version of Frankenstein.

Back in the 1960s, the X-Men came up against the Monster, who on that occasion, turned out to be a robot from outer space. The depressing thing is that, although it's a terrible story and a stupid explanation for the Monster, the version of Frankenstein we got in that tale could have easily whupped the asses of both Bronze Age Frankensteins and still have had the energy left to tear his creator's bride's head off.

If there's a moral in that, I don't have a clue what it is. Maybe that Mary Shelley was right and the monster makes a better threat to humanity than he does a hero.

Templates, you see. Once they're laid down, it doesn't matter what you do, it's hard to break free of them.


Kid said...

And don't forget the cameo of the original Frankenstein monster in Silver Surfer # 7 (I think).

I've got all 18 issues of Marvel's colour Frankie comic, but after John Buscema (following Mike Ploog) left, it sort of died on its @rse.

Still nice to have 'though.

Steve said...

Ooh yeah, I'd forgotten about that one. While I was writing the article I was trying to wrack my brain to remember all the various versions of the Frankenstein Monster that Marvel had come up with over the years and, needless to say, could barely think of any of them.