Tuesday, July 19, 2005

DOC FRANKENSTEIN #1 Burlyman Entertainment, 2004



I’m in a Frankenstein sort of mood this week, so I thought I’d offer up a helping of monster mayhem in the form of Doc Frankenstein, a book that I don’t think gets enough love.

Doc Frankenstein, the character and the comic book, kick ass. No – kicks major ass. It’s got everything a growing boy needs: monsters, blood, guts, jet fighters, gunplay, hot women, giant aliens, explosions, cowboys, Eskimos, and carnage carnage carnage. It’s like they made this book just for Dave!

Created by Geoff Darrow and Steve Skroce, Doc Frankenstein is a bi-monthly comic written by the Wachowski Bro – um, the Wachowski Siblings, and published by their fledgling publishing company, Burlyman Entertainment. This is not your typical start-up comic company. The Wachowskis threw some money at this one, and the production values are very high. It’s got beautiful color and is printed on nice slick paper.

Doc Frankenstein picks up where Mary Shelly’s story leaves off, and recasts the Frankenstein Monster as an ass-kicking juggernaut of ass-kickery. Okay, I think I’ve just exceeded my self-imposed “kick-ass” quota, but sometimes, there’s no other phrase that fits. The Frankenstein Monster, who is now called “Doc Frankenstein” is immortal, indestructible, and damn smart. At the dawn of the 21st Century, Doc has constructed a well-financed empire of his own, but has made some powerful enemies, who show up in force at the end of this issue. In an extended flashback narrated by Doc we get part of his back story, including a huge double-page gunfight with banditos in the old west and a slobber-knocking brawl with a yeti. The Wachowski Bros. florid narration adds a certain gravitas to the proceedings, but never detracts from the pulp fun of the book.

And the art – man, Steve Skroce’s art is frickin’ gorgeous. It’s reminiscent of his co-creator Geoff Darrow’s detailed artwork, but is not as hyper-detailed and always keeps the focus on the important elements on the page. I’d call it Geoff Darrow-lite, but that doesn’t do justice to Skroce’s work. Skroce, who has worked on Marvel books like Gambit and Amazing Spider-Man and did storyboards for The Matrix, has a beautiful, clean style and a firm grip on visual storytelling. Darrow provides the pretty cover, which has a fantastic logo.

I think it’s keen, but don’t take my word for it. I’ve digitally cut up some panels from the sequence where Doc comes out of his self-imposed Arctic exile to help a little Innuit girl being chased by a yeti. The captions are Doc narrating.

Let’s take a look:



Man, things don’t look good for that little girl. Check out the scary yeti! The coloring, the fine hair, the sense of motion - is that a thing of beauty or what?



Fortunately for the little girl, she’s fallen into the right icy tomb. It’s time for a monster throw-down! Frankenstein’s monster vs. a yeti? Only in comic books, my friends!



Sure, the yeti looks scary, but Doc Frankenstein was literally made to kick ass. Now, THIS is a quality panel – if you like splattering gore and flying yeti eyeballs, that is. Fortunately, I do.

Check it out:



That is one lucky little Eskimo girl. What are the odds that she would fall right into an icy hole occupied with the one guy in the world that can beat a yeti's face into paste?

Doc Frankenstein returns the lost girl to her people and decides to re-join the world of humanity. The yeti fight scene is the perfect synthesis of character development and graphic monster violence. Love it.



Needless to say, I highly recommend Doc Frankenstein to any fan of pulp mayhem. Burlyman is on their third issue now. Go buy it. You CANNOT GO WRONG with Doc Frankenstein.

26 comments:

Dan Coyle said...

Wow, that's Steve Skroce? Real sort of Richard Corben influence there.

Hey, Burlyman's other book doesn't get enough love either: Shaolin Cowboy. Issue #2 had the title character kung fuing a CRAB! A very pissed off crab who could TALK! You can't make this shit up!

Anonymous said...

As always, your writing syle is delightful.

kelvingreen said...

Oooh, I dunno, that line about cutting up blocks of ice and sticking them together with the "mortar of self-abnegation" is a bit on the high-school poetry side.

So, does the KFC guy turn up in the second issue and deliver a long nonsensical monologue for 21 of the 22 pages?

But I'll give them this: yeti vs Frankenstein combat is cool as heck.

Konstantinos Stamoulis said...

I second Dan's recommendation of Shaolin Cowboy. It kicks ass.

Bigseek said...

I picked up #3 on a whim last week and Doc Frankenstein clearly kicks ass.
I seem to remember an interview with Darrow a while back where he was upset that the Wachowski bros. were getting all the credit but I couldn't google it up.

Anyway great comic and great blog.

Sean said...

You know, I enjoy this book alot despite the writing. The villains are horribly over-the-top and that bit in issue three with the frankenstein turkey or whatever the hell it was couldn't have been worse. Still, I think the core concept of the monster becoming a science hero like Doc Savage is cool enough and that art...Damn, Skrose rocking that book.

David Campbell said...

I'm with you guys on the Wachowski Siblings writing - I think the book succeeds DESPITE their writing. And yeah, Skroce's art is just insane, sort of Corben meets Darrow...

Konstantinos Stamoulis said...

Dave,
are there any photos from the recent CCI you 'd care to share with the unlucky fools who couldn't make it?

David Campbell said...

Yeah, I just got them, I'll throw them on this week. I look really fat and sweaty in all the pictures, which sucks, but oh well...

Winterteeth said...

Ummm...we are comic book/internet geeks. Do you think we are strangers to fat and sweaty?

Anonymous said...

Bah. Without lion humping, how could you consider it a classic?

Konstantinos Stamoulis said...

Three Hurrahs for sweaty, oily and fat comic book geeks. Are you with me?

Hurrah!

Alan Moore said...

Hurrah!


PS your blogs are stupendous

Grant Morrison said...

Hurrah!

Dave's Long Box is the Bomb! And so is VM.


Cheers, mate!

Grant Morrison said...

I forgot to mention that comic book geeks are teh r0xx0rs. Cheers to them also.

Chris Arndt said...

This surprising. I recall clearly from X-Man and Amazing Spider-Man that Steve Skroce was an awful penciller who kept doing characters with puppy dog eyes.

His hands (in the art) were also wierd, distorted manga-spiders that I half-suspected would detach and kill the other characters and then the reader.

His Matrix panels looked good. I prefer Darrow's tech stuff, of course.

David Campbell said...

You gotta admit though, Chris - that's good stuff. I don't remember ever being blown away by Skroce's work, but his work here is great.

And wow, Grant Morrison AND Alan Moore? First Moses himself commented on my blog, and now this?

Konstantinos Stamoulis said...

I am a bit skeptical if these posters were indeed Moore and Morrison.

Okay, someone using the word stupendous must have probably been Alan Moore, but r0xx0rs? A bit too edgy - even for Mr. King Mob, don't you think?

Brad Curran said...

"You gotta admit though, Chris - that's good stuff. I don't remember ever being blown away by Skroce's work, but his work here is great."

I haven't read his X-Man or Spidey stuff, but I liked his work on Gambit and Wolverine. He did some excellent, cinematic action scenes in those issues. I'm going out on a limb admitting that I've read and enjoyed issues of Gambit, here, so I hope you appreciate how much I enjoyed his work there.

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