Part of me desperately wants to point out that ‘Frankenstein’ was the name of the doctor who created the creature, and that in the most correct sense, this book features Frankenstein’s Monster in action.

That part of me, however,  is a colossal douche, and thus, I am ignoring him.

(Also: It’s pronounced ‘en-cy-clo-paeee-dee-ah.’)

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Alberto Ponticell
Cover Artist: J.G. Jones
Colorist: Jose Villarubia
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously on Frankenstein – Agent of S.H.A.D.E.:  The monster known as Frankenstein first arrived in the DCU by way of Grant Morrison’s sprawling epic ‘Seven Soldiers’ arc some years ago, and has sporadically been appearing in various places ever since, as one of the finest field operatives of S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive) and has allied himself with a great many of the DCU’s heroes.  Weirdly enough, when the Flashpoint Universe debuted, Frankie was front and center, in a tale tying him to the classic DC property ‘The Creature Commandos.’  We now know that S.H.A.D.E. (Super Heroes And Dead Egalitarians) has survived the ‘Barry Allen Event’ and changes to reality, but…  What’s up with Frankenstein?


As this issue begins, we find that not only is S.H.A.D.E. (Some Hoser Attacks, Dey Eject) still in action, but that their mandate has expanded due to the influx of strange visitors and dark knights and like that.  Their new headquarters is staffed by artificial life forms, and they’re receiving additional funding to deal with all the goings-on in the relaunched DCU.  Their science liaison (Doctor Ray Palmer ((!!))) is unsure, but Father Time, head of S.H.A.D.E.  (So, He’s A Darling Eight-year-old) is enjoying their new status.  We don’t get as much personal time with Frankenstein as we did with Lemire’s other relaunched title, but what we see of Frank’s mind is intriguing.  He quotes Milton in times of stress, has moral and ethical problems with the creation of artificial life (as well he probably should) and doesn’t take kindly to Father Time’s opinions on his relationship with his wife.  Said wife has been sent in by Father Time (who is now in the body of the cute little girl with the gun seen on the cover, as he “upgrades” his form every decade or so) to investigate monstrous doings in a small town in Washington, and Frankenstein is going in to find her, as her communications have been cut off…


The art in this issue feels very much what my mind calls “Vertigo-style,” a rough-hewn, scratchy look that gives the characters an almost primitive appeal.  Frank hooks up with the Creature Commandos (mostly the same guys we saw in the alternate Flashpoint universe, including a vampire, a mummy, a werewolf and a ‘creature-from-the-Black-Lagoon’ aquatic type) and they attempt to find the source of the monsters destroying Bone Lake.  It’s all very spy-thriller, and the expositionary dialogue is handled by text boxes from the S.H.A.D.E. (Strange Hardware And Downloading Entity) central computer mainframe, which is a clever way to fit in all the explanations the writer wants without there being a lot of people having to shove it into conversation.  The issue even ends with the computer attempting to answer the question “What happens next?” as we fade to black on the town of Bone Lake.  It’s a pretty cool narrative trick…


This issue is an interesting introduction to Frankenstein and S.H.A.D.E. (Sometimes Having A Drink Exacerbates), but as much as I like Frankenstein, I am a little put off by the introduction of the Commandos into the book.  A few years ago, Marvel put out a lovely, underrated book called “Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos” which had a similar riff to this, and I can’t help but have misgivings that the title isn’t being sold as a team book, but it clearly is.  Having read the recent ‘Creature Commandos’ mini helps, as I know these characters (sort of), and I do remember the original Commandos fondly, but for some reason part of me worries that there’s too many new things going on all at once, and that I don’t want to see the book descend into chaos.  Add to that the vast difference between cover and interior art (not that the interiors are bad, but half the selling point of the book for me was how GOOD Frankie, The Bride and Father Time looked in the solicits) and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 earns a strong-but-cautious 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I enjoyed the character and the premise, though, and I’ll be back next issue for more old-school monster smashy-smashy with random philosophy bits here and there.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Why do you suppose Frankenstein gets the most ‘air-time’ of all the freaky Morrison concepts that came out of Seven Soldiers?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Xian
    September 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm — Reply

    reFSQotD: I think it’s because Frankenstein is the only character with any kind of brand recognition outside of comics and the next most popular / well-known character, Zatanna, is inexorably tied to the Batman mythos (but her “air-time” isn’t all that slight either, appearing in her own title, Birds, JLA, ‘Tec, and so on). Plus, Frankenstein has a really elemental power set and origin which requires no explanation, exposition, or flourish, allowing readers to get right into the storytelling.

    • KevinpBreen
      September 16, 2011 at 4:37 am — Reply

      Wait: Zatanna is in this book?

    • KevinpBreen
      September 16, 2011 at 4:37 am — Reply

      Wait, Zatanna is in this book?

  2. ~wyntermute~
    September 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm — Reply

    I’m kinda honestly surprised “The Bulletteer” (I think I have too many letters in there…) didn’t catch on. Beside the cheesecakeyness, it was actually a ‘kinda normal’ comic-book-noir story about the “Dark Side” of the hero psyche. But yeah, I think in this case it’s because most people know “Frankenstein” as this thoughtless golem, but the g-mo version is of the romantic/gothic mindset. We see that going over quite well in modern fiction, so.. Why not a monster-quoting-Byron instead of Sparkly-Vampires-Et-Al.?

    • September 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm — Reply

      Bulleteer was cool, but I think that 52 shot her in the foot by having her join the interim Justice League that got wiped out. Associating yourself with Ambush Bug can have serious effects on your credibility…

      • Jimmy
        September 16, 2011 at 6:13 am — Reply

        No wonder Dan Didio doesn’t get any love

  3. KevinpBreen
    September 16, 2011 at 4:38 am — Reply

    Seriously? Father Time? DC is reviving a Golden Age Marvel hero?

    • Richard
      September 16, 2011 at 9:41 am — Reply

      Different guy.

  4. Damascus
    September 20, 2011 at 2:25 am — Reply

    Like you Matthew, I was made to think of Nick Fury’s Howling Commando’s when they introduced the Creature Commandos, which I have most of that short little run and I liked it very much. I loved the line-up of the Howling Commando’s, especially that it had Gorilla Man from Agents of Atlas in it, and I’m a little tepid on this cast of side characters, but it’s only one issue so yeah, we’ll wait and see. I would say they’re copying Marvel here, except that a quick check of the Wiki tells me that the Creature Commando’s is a concept that dates back to 1980 and a book called Weird War Tales #93.

  5. Dave Pass
    September 24, 2011 at 12:46 am — Reply

    I have read a lot of reviews out there, all favorable, major as* kissing. This was a horrible 1st issue. It didn’t tell me who any of these characters were or what their motivations are. The plot was moderately interesting, but the art was pathetic, I suppose it fits the genre, but it is not going to bring me back. anybody out there want my copy?

  6. brenton8090
    September 24, 2011 at 8:12 am — Reply

    I liked it. I’ll keep reading for the first arc. Someone Hates After Dark Excitement.

    • Damascus
      September 24, 2011 at 9:34 pm — Reply

      I understand though, while I’m moderately interested in the book. They did keep everyone in the Shade, so to speak. I don’t have any clue any motivations in this book either.

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