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Seven Soldiers of Victory: Frankenstein #3

Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2006
By: Ray Tate



"The Water"

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

Frankenstein this week is a pretty straightforward affair, and that's the worst thing you can say about a Grant Morrison project. I keep wondering if the sheer volume of material already written about Shelly‚€™s creation hasn‚€™t haunted Morrison. Perhaps, there's just nothing new to say and only adventures to be had.

Morrison unfortunately does not even do that this issue. Frankenstein is more of a witness than a player, and it doesn't help that Frankie's own Emma Frost upstages him. The character is admittedly enjoyable to follow, but despite Doug Mankhe's trappings and Morrison's tweaks, she's still Emma Frost.

Frankie happens upon a town gone mad. The town folk revert to the intellectual level of pet rocks. All the animals in the town go carnivore. What has happened to this town? Can Frankenstein stop the madness? Frankly, I didn't give a rat's behind. There's not enough weirdness in the story that makes me want to care, and any allusions made refer only to the myths associated with Frankenstein's Monster. SHADE may be a nod to SHADO, the alien-fighting organization in Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's UFO, but that's really straw-grasping.

Without the buoyancy of the surreal and a pop culture background tapestry, the nature of the villain becomes noticeably out of place and nonsensical. While it's true that we do not know when or how life exactly began. We do know that all life arose from relatively complex organic molecules, not simple, inorganic compounds. You can't get simpler than Frankenstein's antagonist. Amoebae are more complex, and that's why what Morrison proposes is impossible.

The impossible is antithetical to science fiction. The impossible can only occur through magic. Science fiction requires a scientific basis. You can say Superman magically flies, and that would be the end of it. Superman however is an alien being who is a creature of science fiction. Therefore his flight must have a scientific or reasonable enough explanation, rather than gnomes blowing pixie dust. Smallville for instance gives a potent visual explanation open for interpretation. My interpretation is that he draws gravity or some other force from the earth to fly. The point is that they show his flight has a natural cause and effect. It's not the product of virgin sacrifice and blood glyphs written in air.

Saying that the reason for the town's madness stems from an impossibility that's allegedly science fiction runs counter to the whole point of science fiction. The use of such a plot device leaves a massive hole in the story, and I can't help but think that Morrison could have avoided this damage by choosing another enemy that had a sounder basis in fact.



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