Thursday, March 09, 2006

Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #1-3
writer: Grant Morrison
artist: Doug Mahnke
published by DC Comics

Grant Morrison is the smartest comics writer alive. He might be the best, too.
So, I've been keeping up with his Seven Soldiers project over at DC. The whole thing is one massive story, starting in his JLA: Classified run.
Essentially, these tiny little extradimensional beings called the Sheeda are attacking humanity, and seven heroes must come together to stop them. It's a perpetual cycle, one that goes back to the beginnings of human history. Every so often, there is a culling of the race by these invaders. And every time, seven champions are called upon to defend the Earth.
So far, we've seen the adventures of The Manhattan Guardian, Shining Knight, Zatanna, Klarion the Witch-Boy, Mister Miracle and the Bulleteer (And if you're REALLY good, I might get off my ass and review them. Oh, wait. I'm lazy. Forget I said anything.)
Frankenstein starts off in 1870 as Frankenstein (referred to as Frankenstein, not Adam or the Frankenstein Monster -- Morrison isn't attempting to retell Shelley) is fighting some dude named Melmoth on a train. To say that Frankenstein unleashes eighteen boxes of hell on the guy and his Maggot minions would be an understatement. From the get-go, this is rollicking high adventure -- or so you'd think.
There's a beheading. The train crashes. Something causes the whole deal to flash in and out of time until 2005, when a town is constructed over the site.
Cut to a high school kid named Uglyhead. Well, that's not his name, but that's what everyone calls him. Frankly, they're right. Uglyhead is a repulsive nerd stereotype straight outta the internet, but Uglyhead now has super powers. He can see peoples' thoughts as speech bubbles.
And it makes him hate people more.
One girl seems to sympathise with him, and Uglyhead thinks that he might spare her what's coming. And if you think it's gonna be as simple as a Columbine-style rampage, you don't know Grant Morrison.
Uglyhead's in with the Sheeda, and he's unleashing them on his fellow students, bringing out their fears and making them reality -- making them as ugly as he is and as ugly as they feel inside.
When the girl and Uglyhead finally have their climactic meeting at the prom, she finds he's sacrificed all her fellow students to the Maggots, which need human hosts to mature into Sheeda.
Then, Frankenstein wakes up. As I mentioned before, this isn't the Frankenstein you're used to. This one might be a cobbled together corpse-man, but he's also a butt-kicking advernturer who carries powerful magic talisman's like the sword of the Archangel Michael and a big fucking gun.
Uglyhead doesn't stand a chance.
Issue 2 trades high school for Mars. Frankenstein traces Melmoth and some missing children to the Red Planet. This isn't John Carter's Mars, of course -- though from the look of the architecture and artifacts, it might be home to DC's Martian Manhunter.
A royal ass-kicking ensues.
Issue 3 cuts back to Earth, as Frankenstein investigates strange happenings in a town called Salvation Valley. Something bad is in the water. And...the Bride of Frankenstein shows up!
Let's cut to the chase. If you're reading any of the Seven Soldiers books, you're a Grant Morrison fan. You like having your mind blown. And while Frankenstein goes light on the psychopyrotechnics, it exchanges them for a heaping dose of blistering action.
Frankenstein is a bigger badass than Schwarzeneggar, Charlton Heston, Eastwood and Chow Yun-Fat put together. He's not monosyllabic, but he's a man of few words. Because, dammit, he lets his fists (and weapons) do his talking for him. He's an unliving avenger, kicking ass in the name of the Lord (or something thereabouts).
Doug Mahnke's raw, rough and jagged artwork is a perfect companion to this very unusual monster story. His Frankenstein borrows liberally from many of the Monsters of the Silver Screen, but he also has a style all his own. Under Mahnke's hand, the opposition comes off even more horrifying than our terrifying hero. Hell, you've seen nothing until you've seen a herd of carnivorous cows rampaging through a town. Yikes!
I still don't know exactly where Morrison's going with the Seven Soldiers storyline, and that's half the fun. I'm surprised by so little any more, it's always nice to read someone with an imagination to match the medium.

No comments: