Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review - Monster & Madman #1


"Can I be of assistance?"

Ever wonder if Jack the Ripper would've been stopped if there were someone more capable of stopping him than just Scotland Yard? What if Batman were on the case for instance? How about Frankenstein's monster? The former seems more likely than the latter, but Monster & Madman #1 from IDW Publishing thinks that the latter is more intriguing than the former. The book is written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Damien Worm.

Frankenstein's monster has found his was to a frozen tundra, where he finds plenty of time to roam around with his thoughts and polar bear cubs. Roaming takes a toll on just about everyone though, prompting Frankenstein to seek passage on a ship that can take him off the desolate tundra and to somewhere more promising. Eventually, he ends up in London in 1888, living in a world alongside the Whitechapel murders, five of which were attributed to Jack the Ripper. In between is all manner of insanity.

Never let it be said that Niles doesn't have a way around the macabre and Monster & Madman #1 has that in black, grave-digging spades. Frankenstein's monster is characterized in a familiar fashion, completely brutal when the situation calls for it, but generally he tries to be kindhearted. It's hard to challenge years of pre-conceived perceptions about a character such as Frankenstein's monster, but Niles manages to make the character feel relatively new and individual. The potential for the crossover with Jack the Ripper (and possibly other historic figures) is very intriguing, which definitely helps in presenting Frankenstein as a sympathetic character.

Worm's illustrations perfectly mirror Niles' script, as Frankenstein is delivered to the reader as a brooding hulk who will take care of himself at all costs, but doesn't hesitate to help others if he feels they need it. The work is very abstract and is something Edgar Allen Poe would be proud of, leaving a lot of the action relatively vague to prey on the imagination of the reader. There are an abundance of blacks and reds pervasive throughout the entire book, all of which underscore the violent nature of both of the main characters. There are some pages that are exceptionally dark which make things a little difficult to make out, but otherwise, the darkness plays into the themes underscoring the characters themselves.

Monster & Madman #1 is a very interesting book that puts together two of histories more fabled beings in Frankenstein's monster and Jack the Ripper. The pairing of the two is something that definitely has appeal, primarily because Frankenstein's monster represents innocence in a way, while Jack the Ripper is pure guilt. Jack the Ripper is more less viewed as who he is, but Frankenstein's monster does evidence the capability to be incorruptible to an extent. It's expected that Niles will do great things with that dichotomy of characters and Worm's talents will definitely be up to the task of keeping up the pace artistically. Monster & Madman #1 is definitely a strong start to a potentially fascinating series and those looking for something a little more morose will definitely want to check it out.

Monster & Madman #1 is available in stores now.

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