Tuesday, July 22, 2014

He's a murderer made of corpses, but the worst part is he's presumptuous...

Is it weird that Marvel had a good chunk of success with two-thirds of the Big Three of Monsters, but seemed to consistently miss with the Monster of Frankenstein? Heck, he's kind of upstaged by another werewolf this issue: from 1973, the Monster of Frankenstein #5, "The Monster Walks Among Us!" Written by Gary Friedrich, art by Mike Ploog, inks by John Verpoorten; and opening with a line from John Fogerty...predating it's use in An American Werewolf in London, hmm.

Anyway, the first few issues of the Monster's book had been mostly retelling his origin, fairly faithfully to Shelley's original novel. I think. The Monster may be pictured more closely to what audiences would expect. Now, Frank's making his way out of the arctic, after spending maybe a century frozen; but he crosses paths with a ship, on fire, with a beautiful girl tied to the mast. As he rescues her, he finds a village celebrating her death, and is appalled. Almost as appalled as the girl Lenore is at first sight of Frank. Still, he defends her, even against her own father, who may have been a hero once but now seems convinced she is a devil.

Escaping into the woods, Frank cares for Lenore as best he can, and she seems to appreciate both it and him. (This may be a weird issue: Frank just wants to be loved, but seemingly feels that since he saved the girl, she should be his...) Until, one night--coincidentally the night of the full moon--she disappears, and Frank fears the villagers came for her. Instead, he sees the village guard attacked and killed by a werewolf, and realizes it must've killed Lenore as well. Cue monster fight, which ends when Frank pulls the silver sword of Lenore's father out of a tree and kills the werewolf. No points for guessing it was Lenore. Either feeling the loss of innocence or like a chump, Frank leaves, resuming his quest to murder the last descendant of Victor Frankenstein...that was the sort of thing that kinda made it tough for Frank to be a sympathetic character, then.

The villagers are kind of dickish here, which is pretty common in both old movies and a fair number of old Marvel comics, both the horror ones and every time they chased Nightcrawler around...I kind of think Marvel thought mid-European countries were still a bit, rustic, we'll say.

I thought I had the Essential Monster of Frankenstein collection, but not handy. I think there were a stretch of issues where Frank's vocal cords were severed, bringing him even more in line with the traditional movie interpretation, but also making it easier for the likewise traditional Marvel misunderstanding meet-brawls. Still, the creature had a lot of murders under his belt, too many for a heroic lead; but not in the same way an outright evil character like Dracula would; which is why I think he never quite clicked at Marvel.

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