A PHOENIX BERSERK !
SPOTLIGHT ON THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER #17

 
 

 

The Frankenstein Monster and Dracula are undoubtedly the two most iconic figures of the literary horror genre, and their role in 20th century popular culture is of equal importance. Regarding the 1970s world of Marvel comics, however, the two characters were distinctly set apart. Whilst Tomb of Dracula became Marvel's most popular and successful ongoing horror title of the Bronze Age, The Frankenstein Monster remained a niche title throughout its short run of a mere 18 issues. However, in spite of the many shortcomings the series had, two issues - Frankenstein Monster #16 and #17 (May 1975 / July 1975) - stand out as indicators of what this comic book title might have been capable of achieving. Although actually the penultimate issue, Frankenstein Monster #17 wrapped up some fresh and positive input to the classic Frankenstein theme, infused by the creative team of Doug Moench and Val Mayerik - meriting a closer look at this minor classic from Marvel's 1970s world of horror.

 

SYNOPSIS - FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER #17 IN CONTEXT - REVIEW AND ANALYSIS - WHERE TO READ IT

 

 

The Frankenstein Monster #17

July 1975

"A Phoenix Berserk!"

 

Story - Doug Moench
Art - Val Mayerik
Inks - Bob McLeod
Colours - Don Warfield
Lettering - Arty Simek
Cover - Ed Hannigan / Dan Adkins
Editor - Len Wein

 

 

 
SYNOPSIS
 
The Frankenstein Monster #17 continues and to a large part also wraps up the return of the Frankenstein Monster to Switzerland and the Alpine residence of the Frankensteins (and thus the place where everything began) in the company of Ralph Caccone, former juvenile delinquent from NYC who has befriended the Monster, and Eric Prawn, private eye.
 


Frankenstein Monster #17 (July 1975)

 

Upon arrival of the trio, the benevolent Veronica Frankenstein, who hired Prawn to find the Monster, then performed surgery on its damaged larynx amidst an ongoing attack from I.C.O.N. - "International Crime Organization Nexus". Frankenstein Monster #17 opens with a recap regardingt the Monster's restored ability to speak and how this came about in the previous issue.

The first words uttered by the Monster reveal the topic foremost on its mind - the question of its identity:

"Monster... why... am I called... Monster? I... do not feel... as Monster... feel... only pain... because you treat me... as Monster... but if I am not... what you say... then I am... nothing?"

Partly a reaction to having been called a hero by Caccone for bringing down I.C.O.N.'s prime weapon, an android called "Berserker", at the end of the previous issue, the Monster is evidently both highly preoccupied and confused, as it concludes with a logic as sharp as a cold knife:

"And... if I am nothing... then I should not be here... or alive."

 
Although Prawn and Caccone are both surprised and somewhat overwhelmed by the directness and the weight of the Monster's first utterances, they both assure the Monster that it has both a right to live and indeed a place in life - not the least, as Caccone points out, thanks to having saved their lives by short-circuiting the Berserker when he attacked the group. This, however, provokes more ponderings on behalf of the Monster as it feels that it has actually killed the android and wonders whether in fact killing is its purpose and the true reason for its life.

Currently unnoticed, the I.C.O.N. helicopter carrying agents "Indigo" and "Cardinal" - who coordinated the previous attack - is still circling the Frankenstein residence (which is referred to as a "chalet" but whose structure resembles a castle more than anything else), and the two codename operatives are heatedly debating the options following the deactiviation of the Berserker. Upon contacting "Rainbow", the head of I.C.O.N., they receive instructions to contact the organisation's undercover man inside the Frankenstein residence, Werner Schmidt, and have him repair the android.

Meanwhile, Schmidt tries to secure his cover with Veronica Frankenstein and the guests by explainig his absence during the first wave of attacks on the residence (when he was, in fact, aiding the incoming I.C.O.N. fighters) with a story of having been trapped and unarmed. Veronica is beginning to have some doubts but decides to postpone any further discussions - including notification of the local authorities - to later on.

 
Left behind alone in the laboratory, Schmidt ponders the motionless Berserker stretched out on the floor when he becomes aware of flashes of light coming through the window from the outside and realizes that Indigo and Cardinal are contacting him by means of Morse code from the hovering helicopter. Schmidt replies using a scalpel to reflect the sunlight and thus quickly receives and confirms his orders and immediately sets to work.

Elsewhere in the isolated building, Veronica Frankenstein, Caccone, Prawn and the Monster have obviously continued the discussion on the topic of identity and have now reached the question of where Victor Frankenstein procured the brain for his creation. The Monster seems determined to find out, but Caccone cautions its hopes by pointing out that the Monster obviously cannot recall any details from the brain's "previous life", not even a name. The discussion is, however, rendered academic by Veronica's statement that she has searched all remaining files and documents of Victor Frankenstein, including his personal diary, without finding the slightest hint.

 

 
In fact, it even seems that all information on her ancestor's work on the Monster seems to have vanished completely. Veronica Frankenstein deplores the fact that she cannot offer any real help to the Monster's quest for its identity but offers empathy and consolation instead.
 
  The Monster, however, is enraged; it seeks help, not pity, and as there seems to be no hope nor chance for help from this group of people, the Monster leaves and wanders out into the snow covered Swiss Alps.

Caccone storms out in pursuit, intending to stop the Monster and have it turn back, but is brushed aside and realizes not only that he has no means of standing in the way of the Monster but also that there would be no purpose in doing so for, as he tells Prawn, the Monster is simply mad at a world that just won't listen.

 
As the snow continues to fall, the Monster just keeps on walking and stumbles out into the wide and glaring whiteness of the Swiss Alps, all the while troubled by the thought of its true nature. If, as Caccone and the others have clearly stated, he is no Monster - then just exactly who is he?

Back in the fortified Frankenstein residence, Schmidt is approaching the final working steps in his attempt to reactivate the Berserker, whilst Veronica Frankenstein, Caccone and Prawn are deliberating whether or not to go after the Monster.

 
The increasing snowfall, however, poses a problem, and finally Veronica suggests to wait a little longer in the hope that the Monster will return by itself and otherwise to organise a search party later on, lead by Schmidt.

However, the I.C.O.N. agent inside the solitary building is preoccupied with entirely different things at that very moment, as he signals to the helicopter that he has done all that he could to restore the Berserker's functionality again - and that he fears that his cover will be blown if the android should indeed become operational again. Cardinal and Indigo agree to pick him up without delay, and as Schmidt makes a run for it, the Berserker comes back to life and starts to search the building in order to meet his sole objective: capture the Frankenstein Monster...

 

 
The android quickly runs into Veromica Frankenstein, Caccone and Prawn. As the latter puts up a short and utterly futile resistance by firing at the Berserker, Caccone is quick to inform the metal behemoth that the Monster is no longer with them and has ventured out into the snow. As the Berserker turns to follow, the I.C.O.N. helicopter is by now running low on fuel and will need to return to base - leaving the android to home in on his target as programmed...
 
  Meanwhile, the Monster has detected the body of a dead mountain cow, already frozen for a long time and partly covered by the drifting snow, and the sight makes the Monster ponder and reflect upon such things as death for a lenghty period of time - enough for the Berserker to catch up with his target. As the two towering figures - one flesh and bone, the other all metal and wires - see eye to eye, the android orders the Monster to accompany him to the I.C.O.N. base. The Monster, however, has no intentions of following these instructions, and a fierce fight breaks out, fuelled by growing rage on one side and the cool precision of a machine on the other.
 
However, the onslaught is brought to an abrupt halt when the Monster rips off one of the android's arms and, feeling a surge of sympathy for his "injured" opponent, ceases to lash out at the Berserker and voices concern about the damage he has inflicted.
 
This outpouring of empathy by the Monster and simple key words like "pain" and "life" cause the Berserker's programming to crash, and the android too becomes peaceful and begins to gain self control over his actions - or, as I.C.O.N. operative Indigo, who is monitoring the events, concludes with growing concern: the shock of the inflicted damage on the electronic circuits must have restored the self-will of the human mind entrapped in the metal casing of the Berserker...  
 
The end result is two bewildered behemoths, uncertain about their future just as they are uncertain about their place in this world, walking off together into the wilderness of the foothills of the Swiss Alps.

More information on the entire series is available here:
Marvel's Monster Mash: Marvel's Bronze Age struggle with the Frankenstein Monster

 
FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER #17 IN CONTEXT
 
When Frankenstein Monster #17 went on sale in April 1975 with a cover date of July 1975, it was a comic book which in some ways echoed Kipling's The Last of the Light Brigade, for here was one of Marvel's horror genre titles which had started out with acclaim and applause but then found itself virtually starving whilst still hoping for a "to be continued" as it hovered on the brink of cancellation.

Born of the large scale return of the horror genre to comic books in the early 1970s, The Frankenstein Monster was set up by Marvel to follow in the footsteps of their two highly successful classic horror adaptations Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf by Night.

 



Monster of Frankenstein #1 (January 1973)

  Although conceived as another "superhero from the crypt", i.e. taking established characters from the horror genre and making them the protagonists of their own ongoing titles, the Frankenstein Monster was to start off on a distinctly different route than Werewolf by Night (which took the general mythology surrounding werewolves only as a backbone for an otherwise completely new plot and characters) and Tomb of Dracula (where Bram Stoker's literary heritage was acknowledged through the presence of characters from the novel but the general plot was rooted in the present timeframe and thus clearly detached from the literary source). This time, editor-in-chief Roy Thomas insisted that the title should start out with an adaptation of the literary source (Cooke, 2001), and the first four issues of The Monster of Frankenstein (as the series was originally titled) thus presented what turned out to be one of the most faithful renditions of Mary Shelley's novel in 20th century popular culture.

But what looked like an excellent start for the title very quickly turned out to be a huge burden. First off, the successful adaptation put assigned writer Gary Friedrich and artist Mike Ploog in a position of having to literally continue Mary Shelley's novel - a very tall order even for an experienced comic book author such as Friedrich, who was 30 at the time and had just co-created Ghost Rider a few months earlier.

 
Ironically, the second fundamental problem of the series was the result of Friedrich's attempt to fix the first dilemma and come up with a sensible sequel to the literary source material. Friedrich connected the original comic book plot to the end of the novel (where the monster bids farewell to the explorer Sir Robert Walton somewhere in the vast emptiness of the Arctic Sea and then drifts out of sight) by choosing the same locale and introducing readers to the explorer's great-grandson, Robert Walton IV who has just found the Monster frozen in a block of ice. With this framework for the adaptation (as Walton IV retells the classic tale from Shelley’s novel to a young midshipman) Friedrich opted for a period timeframe and chose the year 1898. Whilst this was fine for the adaptation, it quickly proved to be a dead end for Friedrich and Ploog (who also did some plotting) as they struggled to find a truly working concept for the monster's story beyond the novel.

The range of late 19th century original storyline options simply turned out to be extremely limited, and Frankenstein Monster almost immediately became a highly unbalanced comic book stuck in a completely alien time frame for Marvel and devoid of any clear storytelling direction.

 
Caught in a downward spiral, Friedrich and editorial began to move away sharply from Shelley's characterization of the Monster and depicted Frankenstein's creation as a violent and mindless brute which even lost its ability to speak after a fight with a vampire damaged its vocal chords. Friedrich had thus turned the Monster into what Boris Karloff had called an "oafish prop" (Jones, 1995) when he had to play a mute Monster in Universal's 1939 movie Son of Frankenstein and thereafter quit the role because he felt that such a degraded monster left little room for development.

In a last attempt to salvage the series, Marvel had called in Doug Moench (26 at the time and the main author for Marvel's black and white magazines) to replace Friedrich as of the September 1974 production of Frankenstein Monster #12. The idea was to transfer the Monster from 1898 to the present day timeframe, and Moench accomplished the task in a no-fuss way which worked well with the artwork from the also newly assigned penciller, 24-year old Val Mayerik. By the time issue #17 rolled around, Moench had fixed the title's most troubling weaknesses by introducing and establishing a regular supporting cast, setting up sorely needed story interest through a mysterious "bad guy organisation" called I.C.O.N. (International Crime Organization Nexus), turning up the overall plot speed, and adding more background credibility as he sent the Monster back from NYC to the Swiss Alps.

 



Monster of Frankenstein #12 (September 1974)

 
The resulting story arc in Frankenstein Monster #16-17 was undoubtedly the strongest of the title's run, but Moench and Mayerik were up against a problem rooted in the title's past which virtually precluded securing a successful continuation - the pronounced and deep division among its readership with regard to the title's timeframe setting.
 


Doug Moench in an official 1975 Marvel picture

  According to Marvel's own analysis, the 1970s setting found pronounced approval with two thirds of the readers but at the same time alienated the remaing third. The damage caused by initially starting out in 1898 was significant for a title which was already dragging along in bi-monthly publication and thus had a hard time attracting new readers to replace those who dropped out.

Things were also hampered by Marvel's somewhat lukewarm handling of the newly gained possibilities once the Monster had gone from a Marvel character in its "own world" to one which could potentially interact with the Marvel Universe at large. This option, however, was limited to appearances in Giant-Size Werewolf by Night #2 (October 1974) and The Avengers #131-132 (January - February 1975), and as both these storylines were quite detached from the main title's ongoing plot they did little to nothing to push Frankenstein Monster in any way.

It is tempting to imagine, for a second or two, a character such as Dr Doom appearing in the Swiss Alps... but unfortunately, editorial could not.

 
Nowhere did the rift in the title's readership become more apparent than in the letters pages, which had originally been called Monster's Mailbox before being renamed Let's be Frank!
 
This new heading sounded rather appropriate for the critcism which more often than not raged in this readers' forum - it almost seemed as though there was nothing short of either loving the title or hating it.  


Click to read entire letters page

 
The letters page from Frankenstein Monster #17 depicts this is an especially pronounced way as it contains very little positive feedback in contrast to a wave of sharp criticism. All of this, however, was in stark contrast to the comments which would be published on the letters page of Monster of Frankenstein #18, which would overall lament the previous decline of the title but praise the upward turn Moench had produced with issue #16. But by that time, it was already too late.

By mid-1975, Marvel had lost $2 million and found itself in bad financial shape. In response to this financial crisis, Marvel's owner Cadence installed a new company president who immediatley proceeded to cut down the number of titles produced. As a result, Marvel's range of horror titles almost collapsed: by the time the autumn production run preparations were due, the fate of many Marvel horror title was sealed, and the number of Marvel's horror comics went down from 19 to 9. The first high-profile victim - by name and popular culture status - of this 1975 horror genre cancellation wave was The Frankenstein Monster. After 32 months and 18 issues, it was the end of the road for the title in September 1975, and only one month later the Monster would be followed by Man-Thing and the Mummy. Sudden as the cancellation of the title appeared to be in the end - taking place without announcement of any kind and right in the midst of the storyline (usually, Marvel tried to wrap up things in such cases) - it could not have come as a surprise, given the fact that Moench was transferred to other titles after issue #17 and the plotting for what turned out to be the final issue handed to Bill Mantlo - Marvel's "fill-in king" of the late 1970s and an obvious case of a free writer with nothing to lose on a title bound for limbo. In this case, Mantlo's assignment lasted for one single issue before the final curtain fell on The Frankenstein Monster.

 
 
Having filled Monster of Frankenstein #16 right up to the brim with action and plot interest, Doug Moench successfully continued his multi-layer approach in Frankenstein Monster #17, and what this issue lacked in terms of storytelling pace as compared to the previous issue it more than made up with in terms of characterization and plot development. Moench continued his mission to bring the title back into line with its literary roots as the whole underlying dilemma of the Frankenstein story once again started to unfold - only that now it included the Monster again, which through its regained ability to speak returned to being the focal point of the story.
 
On the metastory level of character development, Moench instantly took advantage of the Monster's return to speech and the end of silence after 7 issues and 14 months (which was even heralded in a blur on the cover of Frankenstein Monster #17 - "Because you demanded it -- the Monster speaks!"), and depicted the Monster's thoughts as centering quintessentially on the question of its identity, and its opening lines on the splash page immediately redefined the Monster.

It was no longer the lumbering, mindless heap of flesh whose sole driving force is to wreak bloodshed and revenge upon the descendants of its creator, but rather an essentially human being faced with complete uncertainty - and before it can come to terms with anything, the Monster, like all human beings, needs to know and understand its roots - its true identity.

 
 
Moench was now firmly in command of a plot which clearly reflected on the story from a perspective very close to Mary Shelley's. At the same time, Moench added new elements from the modern setting which actually worked and provided increased plot value and story interest. It was a long way from some of those awkward twists and turns which had plagued some earlier issues of Frankenstein Monster, and it was done in the same swift but determined way which Moench had displayed in transferring the Monster to the present timeframe.

Frankenstein Monster #17 thus continued the action-driven liveliness set by the previous issue (and which had been sorely lacking throughout many issues of the series before) in spite of also featuring some rather heavy philosophical issues.

 
  But it worked, and not the least because I.C.O.N. kept adding speed and zap in the same tongue-in-cheek fun tradition which make Nick Fury's S.H.I.E.L.D. or James Bond's SPECTRE so effective as plot tools.

Most of all, I.C.O.N.'s android Berserker (what a great codename to contrast with Indigo, Cardinal and, above all, Rainbow) provided a credible antagonist for the Monster - and a persistent problem for the group of supporting cast regulars trapped in the Frankenstein residence which kept them busy and added the necessary momentum to the overall storyline.

 
However, central to this issue is Moench's step of bringing back the drama of the Frankenstein theme by asking the same quintessential questions raised by Shelley's novel: is Frankenstein just a misguided scientist who actually means good, or is he a madman, a megalomaniac who sees himself as God? And where, most importantly, does his creation take its place in life - if at all? If it is not a monster - does that make it a human being, or just something else?
 
 

   
 

Left: Original art for The Frankenstein Monster #17 (July 1975) pencilled by Val Mayerik, inked by Bob McLeod and lettered by Artie Simek (scanned from the original in my personal collection).
Right: the same page as it appeared in print (colours by Don Warfield).
[click for larger images]
A short "motion comic" sequence featuring this page has been compiled by Andreas Rohrmoser

 
It is at this point that the series reached its best in terms of the depth of original storytelling and plot handling, and Mayerik's art throughout these pages is amongst his best on the title as he depicts the white-out of the Monster's thoughts and feelings in a similiar surrounding.

Doug Moench had been working with Val Mayerik at the time, and when he took over Frankenstein Monster asked Mayerik if he would be interested in joining him on that book. Mayerik's enthusiasm showed in his artwork, and his style soon fused with Moench's writing to form a distinctive rendition of the Frankenstein theme for Marvel, including the Monster's appearance itself.

 


(click to view larger image)

  In Frankenstein Monster #17, Mayerik's artwork renders both Moench's dynamic and ponderous plot in fitting visualisations.

One example is the page layout shown here, where staggered and slanted panels form visual equations of the perturbed context, and key elements of the storytelling are drawn to protrude out of their actual panel, such as the head of the Monster, the flying feet of Caccone, or the word balloons of the bottom panel - all adding speed and depth to the artwork.

20th century popular culture has established a strong relationship between the human mind and the human brain in the context of the Frankenstein theme, mostly ignoring the fact that this topic is a century-old matter of philosophical and scientific debate (Smart, 2007).

As a consequence, much of what is commonly referred to as identity is therefore associated with the brain - which in turn raises the intriguing question also brought up by Doug Moench in Frankenstein Monster #17: whose brain was brought back to life by Victor Frankenstein inside the Monster's skull?

 
The question had been raised before in the letters pages of Frankenstein Monster, but somewhat surprisingly Moench closed the lid on this almost immediately after he opened the subject by immediately having Veronica Frankenstein inform Caccone, Prawn and the Monster that all of Victor Frankenstein's notes have been lost over time.
 
This handling of the "brain question" was in sharp contrast to previous pop culture interpretations of this aspect of the Frankenstein saga (the seeds of which were sown in the 1931 Karloff movie where the Monster is given a defective brain due to the bungling of Frankenstein’s assistant), but actually in sync with the original novel, where Shelley alludes to how Frankenstein got hold of some of the body parts, but never mentions the brain specifically.  
 

"Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave (...) I collected bones from charnel-houses and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame (...) The dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials." (Mary Shelley (1831), Frankenstein, Chapter Four)

The underlying reason for Universal's 1931 portrayal of the bungling lab assistant’s accidental acquisition of a defective brain was, of course, to present this as the cause of the monster’s malevolence and socially disturbing behaviour. However, this completely reverses the central theme of the book, where Frankenstein's creature starts out in life with the full potential for good but is essentially twisted into evil by an unjust and unwelcoming society. Shelley made it clear that she felt that the social milieu has an important impact on character, and her novel strongly suggests that criminality and violence are to be understood as the result of unhealthy societies - not defective brains or, to update the concept, "bad genes".

The source of the monster’s perceived evil nature is indeed one of the central themes of the Frankenstein novel, but the adaptations of Shelley's work in popular culture effectively did away with this. It is therefore all the more astonishing that a comic adaptation working with original plot material would actually turn its focus to exactly these questions - but that's just what Doug Moench did in Frankenstein Monster #17.

 


Berserker redux as a typo sneaks into a cover blurb

  In adressing the brain question with the answer that all records of Victor Frankenstein have been lost, Moench provides the readers of the comic book with basically the same amount of information - namely none - given by Shelly to the reader of the novel. It is admittedly a subtle way of telling the readers that this question really is of secondary (if any) importance, but it is followed up by a Monster whose words and thoughts display a sensitivity and depth not associated with a "man-brute" - as one of the blurbs on the cover screams out virtually in contradiction to the contents of the issue.
 
However, the amount of thought and consideration invested by Moench into bringing the Monster closer to its literary essentials was not to be rewarded. The creative team had managed to counteract the downward spiral the title had found itself in for so long, but it was not enough to save the book in a time when Marvel itself was in a deep crisis.
 
And so, Moench wrapped up his writing, and fittingly enough the last panel on the last page of Frankenstein Monster #17 carries the caption "FIN", even though this issue would only be the penultimate and not the final one. But the book did end there for Moench, who brought his plot and storyline to a point which culminated in a last scene which equalled many Hollywood closing takes in the tradition of Casablanca when the Monster and the Berserker walk away from the reader and off into the distance, "a man who is no longer a monster... and a machine who is no longer mindless".

With this final take on the Monster, Frankenstein Monster #17 almost also becomes the de facto ending for the title itself as Moench's replacement Bill Mantlo immediately steered away from any closeness to Shelley and virtually wrote issue #18 as though it came from a different series.

 
 
Moench (and Mayerik, who stayed on for the last issue), on the other hand, had done what could be done and created two truly entertaining issues with Frankenstein Monster #16 and #17. In the end, it turned out to be Marvel's swan song for the Frankenstein Monster.
 
WHERE TO READ IT
 
The commercial disappointment Marvel experienced with the series, together with the fact that the majority of the 18 issues of Frankenstein Monster have little relevance for the Bronze Age other than possibly being linked to individual nostalgia, has provided obvious reasons for a limited access to Frankenstein Monster #17 today.

It is available, of course, as the original 1975 comic book from various sources and at affordable prices - according to the 2013-14 Overstreet Price Guide these should start around $9 for an acceptable grade (fine, 6.0) copy before reaching $28 for a near-mint (9.2) copy.

 
  Alternatively, Frankenstein Monster #17 is available as a black & white reprint in the single volume edition of the highly affordable Essential Monster of Frankenstein. To date, no digital copy of the issue has been made available, again illustrating the niche appeal of the series as a whole.

The title did, however, have its followers in other countries where licensed reprints were published.

An English version is available from the ranks of comic books published in Britain by Marvel UK, where the Frankenstein Monster appeared in Dracula Lives! In Germany, the Williams Verlag publishing house held the Marvel franchise in the mid-1970s and published a total of 33 issues of Das Monster von Frankenstein, of which issues #22-23 featured the contents of the original US issue #17. Splicing original contents into instalments in such a manner required the creation of additional covers and splash pages, which were produced in house. As the examples from Das Monster von Frankenstein #23 show, quality and technique varied according to whether new art was produced or existing artwork blown up to full page size.

 

 
  And so the Monster once again disappears out into the unfathomable distance, just as it did in the original novel...

"But soon," he cried, with sad and solemn enthusiasm, "I shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning miseries will be extinct (...) ." He sprung from the cabin-window, as he said this, upon the ice-raft which lay close to the vessel. He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance." (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Walton in continuation [final page of final chapter])

What remains in the case of Frankenstein Monster #17 is a subtle and clever interpretation of Mary Shelley's original concept of the Frankenstein theme, blended into a distinctly 1970's period flavour comic book which is, all things considered, still very well worth a read today.

FIN.

 
POSTSCRIPT
 
In October 2015 Marvel published a Collected Edition paperback of its Bronze Age Monster of Frankenstein material (ISBN 978-0-7851-9906-9). Unlike the 2004 Essential edition, this not only features colour but also includes the Giant-Size Werewolf by Night and Marvel Team-Up issues and therefore makes all of the Monster of Frankenstein material available again once more, with Marvel's promotional text displaying the usual enthusiasm.
 

"Gothic horror in the macabre Marvel manner! One of the most terrifying figures in all of fiction lurches into his own 1970s comic-book series, collected in color for the first time.

 

  Witness a dramatic retelling of Mary Shelley's literary classic, then follow the Monster in his quest for the last living descendant of his creator, Victor Frankenstein. It's an odyssey that will lead him into confrontation with Marvel's other groovy ghoulies, Dracula and Werewolf by Night! Plus: the full rage of the Monster is unleashed in lavishly illustrated, but rarely seen, tales from the heyday of Marvel magazines. It's enough to bring the dead back to life!

Collecting FRANKENSTEIN (1973) #1-18, GIANT-SIZE WEREWOLF #2 and MARVEL TEAM-UP (1972) #36-37 — plus material from MONSTERS UNLEASHED #2 and #4-10, and LEGION OF MONSTERS (1975) #1."

 

 
The 536 pages reproduce a few pages of original cover artwork on the final pages and feature a different take on the chronological ordering compared to the Essentials edition (i.e. inserting the black & white "Frankenstein 1974" storyline from Monsters Unleashed between issues #11 and #12 of the colour Frankenstein Monster), but no informative text on the publication history etc. which is by now a standard feature of the Masterworks and Omnibus formats. But unlike Dracula, Man-Thing and Werewolf by Night, the Frankenstein Monster is a very unlikely candidate to ever see publication in one of those more prestigious formats, making this Collected Edition paperback the best option which readers are likely to ever see.
 

 
BIBLIOGRAPHY

COOKE Jon B. (2001) Son of Stan: Roy's Years of Horror, originally published in Comic Book Artist #13, available on-line and accessed 10 September 2007 at www.twomorrows.com/comicbookartist/articles/13thomas.html

SHELLEY WOLLSTONECRAFT Mary (1831) Introduction - Frankenstein, Colburn & Bentley

SMART J. J. C. (2007) "The Identity Theory of Mind", in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, avalaible online and accessed 8 December 2010 at plato.stanford.edu/entries/mind-identity/

 
 

The illustrations presented here are copyright material and are reproduced for strictly non-commercial and appreciative review purposes only.
Text is (c) 2010-2016 A. T. Wymann

page first posted to the web 15 December 2010
revised and reposted 12 April 2014
updated 3 September 2016