SUPER-FLY FANDIMONIUM by Max Lake – FRANKENSTEIN AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1 REVIEW

If I had to sum up Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1, I would have to say weirdness abounds in this comic but that’s all good. In fact it’s all great! DC’s version of Frankenstein is based on the classic monster from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s book, but looks more like the Universal version armed to the teeth. He originated in a Batman Detective Comics story from 1948 and since then has been reworked over the years by Len Wein, and more recently, Grant Morrison in his Seven Soldiers of Victory epic. Now Jeff Lemire takes his spin on the character with Alberto Ponticelli handling both penciling and inking and colors by Jose Villarrubia and what a spin it is!


The book starts innocently enough, but quickly end up horrible as monsters rampage through the community of Bone Lake, Washington. The scene cuts to Frankenstein coming to S.H.A.D.E.’s new headquarters, the Ant Farm, which a miniaturized impenetrable super fortress flying over New York. Then there’s Father Time, who you’ll have to see for yourself. There’s really no time to ask questions, and all the craziness is accepted at face value by Frankenstein and the other members of S.H.A.D.E. as they enter a Matrix-like tech to go over the monster attack, and while it’s something that may have come off as stupid from another writer, Lemire pulls it and all the other surreal aspects perfectly.


A surprise cameo in the book is made by Ray Palmer, who is better known as the Atom but did not indicate any connection to that identity here. However, the reason he works with S.H.A.D.E. is his shrinking technology and it powering the Ant Farm. Then there’s Division M, better known as the Creature Commandos who appropriately are called in to fight the monster invasion. While I don’t know much about the Creature Commandos other than they date back to the 1980’s, you don’t need to know anything to see that this new version of the commandos is anything but campy; they are very bizarre but totally kick butt. There’s a merwoman scientist complete with a fish bowl helmet, a werewolf who’s eager to please, a vampire created by the offshoot of the Man-Bat serum, and a mummy, who is crazily (but somehow appropriately) the medic. To top it all off, Frankenstein’s four armed wife and fellow agent, the Bride makes an appearance too, but she has gone missing after investigating the monsters. It’s up to Frank and the gang to get her back.


The art, similar to Travel Foreman’s work in Lemire’s other DC book, Animal Man, is very different than your usual artistic fare. However, the art’s weirdness is perfect for the surreal world of Frankenstein and S.H.A.D.E. There’s a great two page spread action scene depicting Frank and the Commandos taking on monsters that is illustrated really well. I really like the Creature Commandos’ design and Frankenstein looks pretty intimidating. I really dig what I’m seeing here. Ponticelli is doing great work and Villarrubia’s colors add nicely to the mix.


Despite all the monsters and mayhem, horror’s not the driving force here. It’s more sci-fi, dark humor, great action and all around weirdness. With issue #2 now available (and also a good read), see for yourself why Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. should be on your pull list and what the fuss over Jeff Lemire is about. Lemire brings his best and has a great art team backing him up to bring out some pretty interesting characters and places in the new DC Universe. It’s weird, it’s different and it rocks because of it.

SUPER-FLY FANDIMONIUM by Max Lake – Resurrection Man #1 Review

Resurrection Man is certainly one of DC’s lesser known properties, as he had his own series between 1997-1999, and was created by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Jackson Duice. While making a few appearances since then, Resurrection Man has remained a mostly unknown hero but now stands in the spotlight with his own new series as part of DC’s New 52, with creators Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning returning to writing duties and Fernando Dagnino doing artwork with Santi Arcas handling colors. Resurrection Man #1 surprised me with its great quality and interesting premise, and I was not very familiar with the character at all until this issue.


The book’s premise is that Mitchell “Mitch” Shelley has a problem: he comes back to life every time he dies. Each time he is reborn, he is born with a new and different super power, which also seems to guide his actions after dying. Why is this a problem? Shelley has died and been reborn so many times that his soul has become very attractive to individuals on both sides of the afterlife, and he must stay on the run. I really like how Resurrection Man’s powers are described. In fact, in the opening scene, Resurrection Man is coming back to life and the details he uses to describe coming back to life make for an inviting hook to read the rest of the book. The rest of the book continues to show these powers and the struggles Resurrection Man must go through.


It’s a really different super hero book, certainly one for more mature audiences. Like both Swamp Thing and Animal Man it reminds me of classic Vertigo while still being set in the DCnU and having a super hero feel to it. The book has such a cool vibe to it, that it makes me wonder why this character’s first series only lasted a couple years. Perhaps it was a bit ahead of its time in the late 90s? Whatever the reason, I hope people don’t hesitate to give the book a try now: it’s great.


Spanish artist Fernando Dagnino, who previously worked on Superman prior to the New 52 launch, has a presence that definitely brings a lot of fantastic energy to the book, with great illustrations of Resurrection Man’s powers, people, buildings, planes and a pair of hottie bounty hunters—whatever he draws comes to life well on the comic page. Resurrection Man doesn’t have much of a costume, as it seems he is always reborn naked, but the look of the character is someone who has been carrying on for a long time and is tired for it. The overall tone of the art is somewhat dark, but it suits the nature of the comic quite well.


The end left me wondering if Resurrection Man’s problems were only starting, and I was disappointed it came to an end so soon. It plays out great as a first issue though, introducing the premise, the character and the problems he has very well to first time readers. Lanning and Abnett do such a great job here that I’m hopeful DC capitalizes on the new series and releases some trade paperbacks of the original series so I can see their earlier work with Resurrection Man. I definitely wasn’t expecting to like Resurrection Man #1 as much as I did. I totally want to see where this book is going, so I plan to stick around. A grown up super hero comic, Resurrection Man #1 is a fantastic new series that is certainly going to be one to watch.

SUPER-FLY FANDIMONIUM by Max Lake – DEMON KNIGHTS #1 REVIEW

When people think of DC Comics, they don’t usually think about fantasy. There have been past exceptions with titles such as Warlord and Amethyst but despite a relatively recent run of Warlord, DC has not done much with the fantasy genre. Now writer Paul Cornell takes Jack Kirby’s magical hero Etrigan the Demon, places him smack dab in the Dark Ages, adds a few other familiar faces and creates a fantasy comic worthy of attention in Demon Knights with art by Diógenes Neves penciling, Oclair Albert inking and Marcelo Maiolo doing the coloring.


The story opens with the fall of Camelot, and it provides a quick origin of Etrigan explaining how his human form Jason Blood came to be possessed by the Demon form. Then it jumps to the Dark Ages where Etrigan the Demon travels with fellow immortal and his lady love, Madam Xanadu. They stop at a pub to get a pint and everything goes to hell. Things happen quickly, with the characters thrown together after meeting. Other notable DC characters that pop up are the immortal Vandal Savage and the Shining Knight, who is not all “he” pretends to be. It is really cool to see familiar characters existing in the past and associating with one another in this world of swords and sorcery.


Etrigan, Xanadu and the others find themselves in the way of a rampaging horde sent out on a mission to conquer everything in their path. The rulers behind the horde are the Lord of Chaos Mordru (who has fought the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Justice Society previously in different time periods) and the Questing Queen, a new character. Quickly uniting under the threat of invasion, the warriors visiting the pub quickly find themselves in over their heads.


Not everyone is introduced fully, as some characters don’t get much of a time to shine or are hidden in shadows. One character that doesn’t show up is Harry Tanner, Eminence of Blades, another immortal who was seen fighting alongside the Demon Knights in Stormwatch #1 (also written by Cornell) in a flashback. Regardless, the table is set for high adventure in a tale of gathering heroes worthy of a well executed Dungeons & Dragons game and the best fantasy novels. All of the characters are interesting and have potential to shine, and their adversaries are ruthless in their quest for power.


Cornell really writes an intriguing tale with these characters and it works well in entrancing the reader and ends with a compelling hook. The artwork is also quite good and is packed with detail. Etrigan sports a new armored look which suits the setting well, and Maiolo’s colors are especially nice, livening up Neves’ pencils and Albert’s inks. The creators’ work combines to bring about a great start to what looks to be a compelling series.


Overall, Demon Knights #1 provides a great fantasy story with an unlikely teaming of old and new DC characters who certainly will have their work cut out for them. You need not know anything for this book, and it does a good job of introducing Kirby’s Demon in the series’ setting of resistance against the overwhelming horde. Magic, mystery and swordplay abound as the issue comes together and make Demon Knights #1 an adventure worth taking.