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Seven Soldiers of Victory: Frankenstein #1

Posted: Saturday, November 26, 2005
By: Ray Tate



"Uglyhead"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Doug Mankhe, John Kalisz(c)
Publisher: DC

I am not accusing Grant Morrison of plagiarism. I am certain that he thought of this book and the conceptual spin to Mary Shelly’s Prometheus all by himself, but Seven Soldiers of Victory: Frankenstein unwittingly borrows too readily from a recognizable source to fully recommend.

The similarities between the plot of Grant Morrison's Frankenstein to "Earshot" an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was infamously banned from American airwaves during the Columbine shooting incident are too blatant to ignore. In "Earshot" Buffy gains the ability to read the minds of all around her. In Frankenstein an outcast gains the same ability through the Sheeda. In "Earshot" Buffy overhears the thoughts of an alienated outcast who intends to randomly kill his classmates. In Frankenstein the outcast intends to do the same.

Frankenstein in another way resembles Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but since this scene occurs at the finale, I feel that it's only fair to keep that information close to the vest. If you are a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan the scene will stand out. If you are not then none of these caveats will matter to you.

Morrison otherwise concocts an interesting mix. He merges the everlasting Frankenstein's Monster from Schelly's novel with the Jack Pearce/Boris Karlof creation and throws in the heroism of Hanna-Barbera's Frankenstein Jr. to establish a new noble timbre for the creature. DC published The Spawn of Frankenstein as a back-up feature in The Phantom Stranger, but the creature that calls himself Frankenstein differs strongly from the teenage, longhaired hippie version of Frankenstein's Monster.

The story begins après midi when the entity confronts a villain seen in another Seven Soldiers series. That confrontation leads to a splendid example of compression that explains without words just how Frankenstein manages to be heroically in the right place at the right time and in an environment far removed from whence he first introduced himself to readers.

Although within the plot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, the in-between scenes are well written. Morrison captures the fear and the horror of the outcast's soon to be victims and throws in subtle hints of characterization that would be lost to lesser writers. Morrison furthermore takes a novel approach when making the jock figure--which in Mankhe's hands looks like Whitney from Smallville--actually heroic and not the total sphincter that's suitable for the archetype portrayed in various media.

The true hero of the book is Frankenstein, and he exemplifies Morrison's almost instinctual knowledge about super-heroes. The dialogue he crafts for Frankenstein seems natural and characteristic, and it draws from the power and fury from the speech of heroes past without reiterating those very same words. Mankhe masterfully comports to the character dignity, strength and the eeriness of the original jaundiced creation without duplicating previous monsters from all other media.

If not for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Frankenstein would have rated higher. There is nothing technically wrong with the story, and all of Morrison's and Mankhe's strengths can be found in each scene. I look forward to the next issue.



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