Posted tagged ‘Frankenstein’

Review: Shambling Towards Hiroshima

August 28, 2009

Shambling Towards Hiroshima marks James Morrow’s welcome return to the novella, it’s also his most enjoyable book in years.  This is the story of Syms Thorley, the greatest monster performer of Hollywood’s golden age, and the military’s attempt to avoid using the bomb against Japan.  Thorley takes on the role of a lifetime as Gorgantis, a giant city destroying lizard in an army produced, James Whale directed nightmare in the hopes that it will scare the Japanese into surrender.

It’s a fun story that allows Morrow to finally indulge his passion for classic horror films (his stock convention speech uses Frankenstein vs. the Wolf-Man as a metaphor for the dawning of the enlightenment).  But on the other hand he also indulges his love for his own authorial voice.  Granted I think the protagonist is intended to come off as a bit of a blowhard, but then Morrow tends to write such characters a lot.  But at least in this case the story isn’t preaching to the converted in the way of many of his others.  In this instance he’s clearly having fun, and that makes a huge difference.

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Review: Frankenstein’s Womb

August 22, 2009

Frankenstein’s Womb is the latest in Warren Ellis’ occasional line of Apparat comics from Avatar.  The central premise behind these books is what would comics have been like had pulp traditions besides masked vigilantes become the dominant genre in the form?  They’ve also consistantly been his best work over the last few years (Crecy may actually be his greatest work ever).

So, now he’s essentially written an Alan Moore comic (think From Hell but focusing on Frankenstein instead of Jack the Ripper).  Within the fairly short tale Ellis manages to explore the origins of the Frankenstein story, the history of both Mary Shelley and her closest relations, and how all of these things tie together to lay the groundwork for the modern world.  

It’s a fascinating read, on a number of levels.  It doesn’t quite read like an Ellis book, or something published by Avatar for that matter.  It’s also far more readable than any of its peers (which may only include From Hell and Alice In Sunderland, not to sleight the achievements of either of those works).  Definitely recommended.

Review: Jack Kirby’s the Demon

December 6, 2008

DC comics might be going down the toilet at the moment, but their collected editions program is awesome enough to make up for it.  Their latest must have book is Jack Kirby’s complete run on the Demon.

Now, the Demon Etrigan is just about my favorite character to have come out of DC’s long history.  He’s just like nothing else from any of their other books.  As the name implies he is a demon from Hell, but a usually benevolent one due to his having been bound to Merlin.  He also shares a body with Jason Blood, an immortal demonologist who spends most of his time in Gotham City.  Oh and since the mid 80’s he only speaks in rhyme (or occasionally blank verse).

But this is back when he could still speak like a normal person (relatively speaking, it is a Jack Kirby comic after all), and these early tales are some of the King’s best work.  Although derivative at times (there are both Phantom of the Opera and Frankenstein stories here) every page here is a masterpiece from Kirby at his peak.  And when Kirby does try for something totally new, the book soars.  The highlight here is without a doubt the Demon’s two encounters with Klarion the Witchboy, an unbelievably creepy Puritan sorcerer from another dimension that is totally unlike anything seen elsewhere.

Of course the one problem with premise this odd is that it’s really hard to carry it as an ongoing series.  Thus the book died after a mere 16 issues, and Kirby’s time at DC was nearly over.