Now I know our own Tim Midura already kinda sorta reviewed the first three issues of Madame Frankenstein a few months back, but I already read the damn thing and I feel that I can certainly add a few things to Tim’s initial first impressions, so here we go:
Last time on Madame Frankenstein, our strong jawed, morally-loose protagonist Dr. Vincent Krall resurrected his lost love by electrocuting the bajesus out of her corpse. He also vowed that this new creation, named Gail after the Greek myth Galatea, would be the perfect woman. This issue has Krall making good on that promise by teaching Gail to speak, exercise proper table etiquette, and generally conduct herself as a woman would in 1930’s America.
The best thing about the comic overall is undeniably Megan Levens’ art. The black and white inked pages here are often gorgeous and make me yearn for more titles that do away with color. In addition to evoking the original 1930’s monster films like Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, the lack of colors, along with the use of shadows and negative space, do wonders for the uneasy tone. Levens is also great with facial expressions, which is important because Gail can barely speak, so body language is everything. A sequence of panels depicting her face twisting and her brow furrowing as she struggles to say “me” while pointing to a picture of her former self is particularly effective.
While I found the characters to be little simple in the previous issue, writer Jamie S. Rich is finding a way to make everyone a little more deep. There’s a disturbing quality to Krall’s lessons that go beyond the obvious sexist stuff of the times. He appears less intent on shaping Gail into a living, thinking person and more concerned with turning her into a pet, trained to please him and attend to his every whim. Their relationship is currently the most interesting part of this story and I’m looking forward to where writer Rich takes it in coming installments.
There’s also an interesting tidbit of alternate history going on for those in the know. When Gail was a young girl and, well, alive, she took pictures of herself playing with fairies in her backyard (and no, that’s not a euphemism for anything). These pictures were then circulated in a local magazine as proof of the existence of magical beings. This is a reference to the Cottingley Fairies, a series of faked photographs of fairies that appeared during World War I. The photos weren’t exposed as fakes until almost sixty years later, and became widely known after none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself got the images published in article he wrote about psychic phenomenon. This doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the review, but I think it’s plenty interesting. Anyway, in the comic the photos are exposed rather quickly by Harry Houdini (not really sure about the Houdini connection yet; seems a bit random). The joke’s on him though, ‘cause the fairies here are the genuine article, but can only be seen by Dr. Krall.
Now that’s a lot to cram into a simple Frankenstein retelling, not to mention a rivalry has going on with an old fraternity brother, but all this added on content is what makes this story worth reading in my opinion. Without it, I think this series might be a little too simplistic, and I hope to see some added layers of complexity to the story and characters as it moves forward, but for now Madame Frankenstein is telling an entertainingly twisted tale.