"Joe Frankenstein #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Graham Nolan and Chuck Dixon
Illustrated by Graham Nolan
2015, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on February 25th, 2015
Joe Pratt has a pretty crappy life. He's a pizza delivery boy out in Buffalo. He just lost his job and probably his girlfriend. He was also just attacked by a pack of vampires and saved by a strange giant of a man. You know, the usual. See, Joe fulfills the dream that a bunch of orphans probably have. He's got some really famous relatives, one in particular you might have heard of. A guy by the name of Victor Frankenstein.
Writers Graham Nolan and Chuck Dixon take some pre-existing monster stories and bring them into the modern day. Frankenstein's monster (or "creation" as he prefers to be called) has been watching over the family for decades and has done pretty well for himself. There's a scene where we see one of his houses and it's pretty swanky. He's excelled at staying hidden and protecting his creator's lineage.
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The vampire mix is a nice touch. It gives Joe and his new buddy some instant adversaries. It seems that Joe's bloodline is pretty important to the bloodsuckers. We don't know why specifically yet, but what started as a normal pizza delivery has thrown Joe into the middle of a supernatural battle royale. Fortunately, he's got a monster of his own in his corner.
Nolan's artwork is pretty stellar. He's got this action quality to almost every scene, adding an intense flair to the panels, especially when the vampires bare their fangs and leap into action. He's got a talent for character design that instantly gives you an idea of the type of person you're dealing with. Joe shows up with a beard consisting of about seven hairs and this rundown look on his face. He's directionless and just kind of putzing through life. Meanwhile, Frankenstein's monster is calm, cool, and collected. He's the complete opposite of Joe in every way. This isn't the hulking beast we first saw in Mary Shelley's novel. This is a man that has seen the world and experienced quite a bit of culture throughout his days.
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This book feels real. Sure, it's set in a real life town, but Nolan provides some landmarks and icons that ground it in our world. The characters are also very natural. You want to believe that vampires and monsters are running around out there after reading this comic.
Joe Frankenstein is a great blend of genres, mixing adventure with horror without losing any of the fun and excitement. The main character has had a ho-hum life so far but in one night it's completely turned upside down. Things are only going to get more interesting from here. Plus, how cool is that name? It sounds like an action movie star.