Frankenstein Alive, Alive! Trio was written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson sans the “Trio” part in the 1980’s, and is a part of IDW Publishing’s new mini-series collection featuring three of the gorgeously reprinted monster -horror comic books, and a fourth issue is coming.
This POWkabam review of Frankenstein Alive, Alive! Trio examines a book that blew the doors off my feeble mind.
My LCS [local comic shop] owner pointed this out to me a couple weeks back, at Red Shirt Comics, and I became enamored with the ingenuity of the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Frankenstein sequel for both the innovative storytelling that Ms. Shelley would be honored by and the incredulous black and white spreads of artwork unlike anything I have ever seen.
Frankenstein Alive, Alive! Trio is a stunner of a monster tale and, much like Frankenstein, so much more!
And Frankenstein’s Monster, the deeply disturbed, organically rotting, humanistic, and intriguing protagonist of this yarn draws in readers from the very first and refuses to let them go without sympathizing for such a creature whose thirst for intelligence, whose guilt, and whose loneliness reveal so much more of the raw character that Ms. Shelley introduced us to (and scared the bejesus out of us with) over a hundred years ago.
Niles has brilliantly evolved Frankenstein’s Monster.
And I think he does this in a way that is a natural progression from where Ms. Shelley left the Monster.
As Dr. Frankenstein echoes the Monster’s inner guilt by declaring him a murderer, likely without a soul, the Monster attempts to commit suicide.
We do not know what a supernatural being brought to life from the warped experiments can survive or how long he could live for instance, and the Monster does survive being frozen and encased in compounded rock and/or ice.
The Monster’s inner turmoil while living amongst humans makes for a look into its inner-most hell.
The Monster’s journey eventually takes him to a sideshow at a carnival where he terrifies people for a living.
But there he does not feel so out of place.
Before he gets there, he achieves his first ever friend only to witness that mad scientist’s plot: to murder a young woman’s soon to be born child in order to fuel a concoction to resurrect the doctor’s comatose wife.
Artwork by Bernie Wrightson
His first impulse is to kill his friend before he can commit such a heinous murder.
But then he exits and reflects on how this man took him in and became his friend.
What does the Monster owe mankind to act on its behalf?
It is a conundrum left for the next issue.
**SPOILER WARNING ENDED**
The artwork of Mr. Wrightson, who famously wrought the skull-like, nose-less, visage in his version of Frankenstein’s Monster is truly as remarkable as it is chilling.
The incredibly detailed black and whites of the shadowy castle bricks and the snow and all the morose scenery, the lively characters depicted with each one having a personality all their own, and the bubbles in the many glass beakers make for a transformative experience.
The art adds to Niles’ story and makes the mystery deeper and the sense of urgency and panic and horror all come through.
How will it turn out in issue Frankenstein Alive, Alive #4 is what I want to know.
“Review Frankenstein Alive, Alive! Trio Monster’s Inner Hell” was written by R.J. Huneke.
“Quarry’s War Hits Comics: Insights With Editor Charles Ardai” By R.J. Huneke
Charles Ardai of Hard Case Crime was kind enough to speak with POWkabam Comics in an interview to discuss Quarry’s War, Hard Case Crime’s newest revelation in the Titan Comics lineup, a four-issue graphic novel written by famed Max Allan Collins (Road To Perdition; Flying Blind) based on his hard boiled assassin Quarry.
The artwork by Szymon Kudranski is compelling in its portrayal of the character Quarry, who has really no readable expression.
The poker face and the Laissez-faire attitude of the intelligent gun-for-hire with more than a semblance of a conscience is a perfect emanation of Quarry on page one of issue 1.
The insights into war, from the ‘good hunting’ diction to the portrayal of moods surrounding the American sniper team are incredibly interesting – because the snipers do not kill in battle they, like the Vietcong, are ‘strange…crawly things in the jungle’ even to their own comrades in arms.
For fans of the Quarry books, the Quarry’s War comic has backstory that Mr. Collins has never explored before on the page!
For those of you not familiar with Max Allan Collins’ oldest running series to date, we will explore the history of Quarry in detail with someone who is intimately familiar with his work, Charles Ardai.
Charles Ardai is an accomplished author, editor, noir-buff, and co-founder of the Hard Case Crime publishing company, which has in the last couple of years started to create incredible editions of graphic novels through Titan Comics, like Cynthia Von Buhler’s Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini.
How did it all start?
C.A.: Max Allan Collins is probably better known for comics than for anything else. He started doing Dick Tracy, the newspaper strip, for something like ten years; he took over for Chester Gould, the guy who created Dick Tracy. He crated his own comic called Ms. Tree, which I think was one of the longest running crime comics in history, and he did Batman, and a bunch of other things, but he really hit it big with a book called Road To Perdition. Road To Perdition was a stand-alone graphic novel that became an academy award-winning movie with Tom Hanks.
Artwork By Szmon Kudranski + Quarry’s War By Max Allan Collins
Aside from his work in comic books, Max Allan Collins has dozens of riveting novels, including his Nathan Heller series where a private detective with a penchant for cash becomes a high-profile private dick, as he ends up working with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Bobby Kennedy (in Bye Bye, Baby), and Amelia Earhart (Flying Blind); the historical fiction combined with the tragic figures of legend make for addictive masterpieces.
C.A.: [Max] started Quarry in the 70’s when he was a student in college, and he never did a Quarry comic. So here’s this guy who’s been doing comics his entire life, and here’s his longest running character – [Quarry] even became a TV series – and he’s never shown up in comics.
R.J.H.: So how did this innovative noir character, a good-guy gun-for-hire finally come to comic books?
C.A.: When we started Hard Case Crime for comics, I said Max: you’ve got to do Quarry. I want to see what this guy looks like. I’ve been reading about him for thirty years!
The magic was in the making: Quarry’s mug would come to comics.
C.A.: The idea was Quarry was a soldier in Vietnam. He comes back stateside from his tour of duty, [and] he can’t get a job. The only thing he knows how to do is kill people. He was a sniper in Vietnam; and the government trained him in how to shoot people, and he has no other skills. He discovers his wife was cheating on him, and he kills the guy she’s sleeping with, and so now he really can’t get a job. And someone shows up at [Quarry’s] door and says, ‘why don’t you do for good pay what the government had you doing for pennies over in Vietnam?’, and he becomes a killer.
And three interesting twists on the hard boiled crime genre here are as follows: Quarry stands in a United States in chaos in the Vietnam War era (this was contemporary when the first books were written by Collins), the tales take place in the middle of the country, and in many rural and suburban areas – not in the atypical L.A. or New York City – and Quarry himself is utterly unique as a character in that he is as honest a killer as he is an efficient survivor.
Charles Ardai worked as consulting editor on the first comic book adaptation of the character, Quarry’s War, along with editor Tom Williams.
C.A. But what we never saw in any of the books – and this is what is so exciting – we’ve never seen his Vietnam experience…and when they did the TV show there was an episode and part of it takes place in Vietnam, and it got phenomenal reviews. But what Max is doing [with Quarry’s War] is an interesting structure [where] half of each book is set in Vietnam – and we see Quarry as a marine sniper in Vietnam – and the other half is back home after the war. And it’s done alternating pages: every left-hand page tells the story in the present day America [being July 1972 in Issue #1] and every right-hand page tells the story of Vietnam [in 1969].
R.J.H.: Was this done to invoke a sense of the parallels between the two lifestyles?
C.A.: So if you just read the right-hand pages, you get the Vietnam story and if you just read the left-hand pages you get the current day story in America, and, of course, they get integrated.
Like most of the innovative works of Collins’ career, the integration of the past and the present pose dramatic expositions in the visuals and story on the page.
The first issue is dubbed “Partners In Crime” and throughout it we get to know Quarry’s partners, both in crime in America with Boyd, who is the interesting “passive-side” of the hit team, compiling the stakeout part of their jobs, and in Vietnam with Quarry’s sniper partner, a spotter, Lance Corporal Lance Roberts ‘who took plenty of shit for the double name’ – this quote is some of Collins’ witty genius, as he shares a character’s innards in brevity.
Getting back to the comic: the current tale in America is also in Quarry’s past, and his Vietnam story is deeper into that past.
There is a connection to the soon-to-be-dead partner, Boyd, and the partner from the war.
The connection comes abruptly in the form of a twist, like a gut-shot, as the new job’s target for Quarry in America winds up being his old Vietnam spotter Lance.
The young marine who tries to smoke pot while setting up a target in the jungle, and is quickly threatened to be killed by Quarry for potentially alerting the ‘VC’ to their whereabouts if he smokes, comes to work well with the humorless sniper Quarry. But as the reader gets to know the sniper team in the Vietnam turmoil, there is a sense of foreboding. After all, Boyd is dead in the books and now Lance is supposed to be soon-to-be-dead, as Quarry’s next victim. *SPOILER ALERT ENDING
The detail of the jungle trees, the paddy fields, and the people all seemed to be immersed in a tint of shadow that may signal the past, or just a darker world in general.
It is compelling alongside the brighter America complete with Quarry’s best stress reliever, a swim and subsequent bikini-clad dame that takes an interest in him.
*SPOILER ALERT Even the casual one night stand highlights Quarry’s need to be cautious and meticulous: as a sexy shower curtain silhouette of the buxom companion graces the background, Quarry checks out her purse to ensure no mob ties, or guns, lie in wait.
The Vietnam mission comes without backup on the opposite page, and the brains of armed Vietnamese teenagers burst from their skulls, as the job is carried out. *SPOILER ALERT ENDING
Quarry’s War from Max Allan Collins is a gem, as dirty and sharp as an unpolished diamond.
Grab the last issue (and the preceding ones if you do not have them yet) that just hit shelves at your local comic shop, like Red Shirt Comics.
And a gorgeous collection of the entire graphic novel Quarry’s War is coming soon!
Too F$&%*N Metal DARK KNIGHTS METAL 6 Shreds All! And that summarizes the gnarliest, twisted, epic DC tale to ever land a piercing note.
DARK KNIGHTS METAL 6 comes to us from one of the all-time greatest teams of ass-kicking artists ever assembled: master storyteller Scott Snyder (writer) on vocals and the Muhammad Ali-Bruce Lee tandem force of Greg Capullo (pencils) on bass and Jonathan Glapion (inks) on guitar.
And let’s not forget the Nolan Ryan of colorists here drummer FCO Plascencia.
Metal is the essence of the entire multiverse and it has permeated the weapons, the Forge of existence, and every being.
The intricate guitar solos rip through the thumping rhythms, as a story so warped with dark twistedness and innovative visions of Batman’s worst nightmares pits earth’s greatest heroes against the worst fate to ever threaten the DC Multiverse: a darkness so complete that only hungry nightmares and the screaming song of Barbatos resonating in the dark night will pervade.
Quoting (my favorite metal band) Metallica’s frontman James Hetfield from a 90’s concert in Mexico City: “You’re too f$&%in’ metal!”
He yelled this at then-bassist Jason Newsted; James continued, “you’re too metal for your own good.”
There can be no greater compliment I can think of.
Because DARK KNIGHTS METAL 6 is ‘too f$&%in’ metal.’
Barbatos, the hellish demon from the darkest corners of Batman’s being, is about to screech a song so sick and powerful that everything in the multiverse will fall to the darkness.
And then the Metal-Hawkgirl – black, silver and sharp as an embodiment of a katana – flies and, with a little help from Wonder Woman, cuts straight through the torso of Barbatos before the death-song can be bellowed.
The badass art and writing are going to go down as a legendary DC tale like no other.
The look and feel of the earth swallowed by the lost nightmare’s worlds running rampant is utterly compelling, bleak, and full of shadows.
The weapons, the expressions and the clothing are all intricate details of spikes and metal edges, and the incredulous warped characters that don the gear . . . damn it is so good!
The DARK KNIGHTS METAL crossover is something wholly new and about as different from standard superhero myth as it can get, and yet it somehow fits perfectly together and works in a legendary way.
Part of this is due to each personality crafted from the minds of Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Jonathan Glapion from the seemingly Joker demon Mouth Of Sauron-like figure with his crowing vampiric Robins on chains to the colossal Doomsday nightmare, who seems to make one of the grittiest and frightening villains in DC history even scarier.
And in the wake of nightmares, DARK KNIGHTS METAL 5 revealed that Dream of the Endless, Daniel’s whole world too, the essence of all things, stories, was at risk.
In DARK KNIGHTS METAL 6, victory is achieved in many unlikely fashions. A troop of Batmen from Earth #39, including Frank Miller’s version of the older Batman – looking like he is straight out of the Dark Knight Returns world – lends help in the heat of the final battle.
And Batman goes to the nightmare Batcave to battle the Joker demon who reveals he is not based off a Joker nightmare but is a vision of Batman himself.
The revived Batman appears outmatched.
Batman kneels on the floor of the Batcave with the Joker-like Teeth taunting him, and a gun is gun raised to execute the Bat.
But when Batman says to do it, the real Joker – looking freaking sick in classic purple duds turned modern/metal/uncompromisingly badass looking via hanging green chains and his mohawk-like hair – fires his giant Joker-pistol and the gag-flag spears through the demon.
This book, DARK KNIGHTS METAL 6, has it all.
The ending and epilogue leave the DC Multiverse blown wide open as a wall to another multiverse is breached and new possibilities of good and evil lay in wait for the Justice League.
Even Neil Gaiman’s version of Sandman is missing, despite the world of dreams and the library of tales having survived the fires of Barbatos.