There’s been a trend in recent years, especially in pop culture, of making historical figures into chasers of the supernatural or monsters. The biggest one of these I can recall has been Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

The latest part of that trend is taking place in an AfterShock comic that focuses on the creator of the Frankenstein tale, attempting to explain how she wrote it in the first place. She experienced it first-hand!

MARY SHELLEY: MONSTER HUNTER #1

Writers: Adam Glass and Olivia Cuartero-Briggs
Artist/Cover Artist: Hayden Sherman
Published by: AfterShock Comics
Cover price: $3.99

SOLICITATION: THE UNTOLD STORY BEHIND THE OFT-TOLD TALE. For nearly two centuries, scholars have wondered how on earth Mary Shelley, a nineteen-year-old girl, was able to conjure one of the most frightening and enduring horror stories of all-time: Frankenstein. But with the recent discovery of Mary Shelley’s secret memoir, the truth is finally revealed: Mary Shelley didn’t just write Frankenstein, she lived it. Traveling back to that historic Geneva winter of 1816, Mary, her fiancé Percy, sisters Claire and Fanny, and the celebrated poet Lord Byron find themselves guests of the eerie Frankenstein Estate. The macabre and frightening events that follow lead Mary to both a gruesome and shocking discovery. Their mysterious host is not at all what they expected, and their intentions will change the course of Mary’s life forever. Brought to life by Adam Glass (ROUGH RIDERS, THE NORMALS, THE LOLLIPOP KIDS) and Olivia Cuartero-Briggs (TV’s The Arrangement) with art by Hayden Sherman (COLD WAR, The Few, Wasted Space), MARY SHELLEY: MONSTER HUNTER is historical fiction at its most (After)shocking!

MONSTER, MONSTER, WHO’S GOT THE MONSTER?

I always appreciate Adam Glass’ writing. He tends to make characters shine and stories told in a pretty rapid clip. When you’re writing in comics, you need to do that or you’re in danger of losing your readers.

The comic kicks off with a tour guide telling fans about Shelley’s final residence at 24 Chester Square. Someone accidentally discovers a memoir by the author, and it transports her (and us) back to the time all this took place.

Like many mystery stories, this one is told in what TV refers to as a “bottle” format. In other words, everything largely happens in one location. Yes, we do see some pre-event happenings that brings the group together, but once they’re in the mystery location, we’re pretty much set there for the rest of the tale.

The characters are very interesting, and the plotting moves at quite a good pace. We meet the various players in the book pretty quickly, and we learn things about them that will help us understand how they will act in the pages ahead.

The one that grabs my attention is, of course, Shelley herself. She’s not your typical Buffy-style heroine. She’s not equipped with all the monster-hunter gear she might need, for example. But she is curious, and for a woman in the 1800s, that can be a deadly desire.

I always worry in historical pieces that the dialogue will be unintelligible. After all, over a hundred years ago, they used different phrases and names for things, so it could be a tough slog. However, when the characters speak in this book, they do so in a way we can easily understand, and that’s truly appreciated.

Like many mysteries, this story has occasional events that move the plot along after some discussion of what’s happening. As a mystery fan, I know that these “info dumps” will be important to the resolution of the story later, so I pay attention.

For those of us who know some of Shelley’s history, we get a big surprise at the end of the issue, beckoning us to come back for the next part of the story. It was a good surprise on several levels, but there’s no way I’m going to spoil it here! You should read it!

CRAGGY, TIMELY ART

Artwork in historical tales can also be tricky. The way that this title handles that is to employ a craggier, sketchier style of art. It fits the mystery genre very well, and it isn’t so “craggy” that we can’t understand what’s going on.

The expressions are particularly well done, communicating what the various characters are feeling instantly. There aren’t as many “action” sequences, so I have to reserve judgment on that until future issues have come.

BOTTOM LINE: MYSTERY, MYSTERY—WE’VE GOT A MYSTERY!

I’m always fascinated by the creative process. I always mention on my podcast that a writer I know watched a documentary on the slaughter of pigs, and that inspired him with a story for a comic! I wouldn’t do that, so I’m intrigued when others experience it.

As I mentioned, Shelley is not your typical “monster hunter,” and that’s good because we feel the danger she’s experiencing strongly. It also explains how she could come up with a tale of horror, although I believe creators create, and I didn’t need this story to explain how Frankenstein was developed in her imagination. But that’s just me!

If you’re also a mystery fan, I recommend this title. If you enjoy stories told in a different era that’s free of cell phones and TV, you’ll like it as well! And if you enjoy female leads, well, that’s what this comic is all about!


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Mary Shelley: Monster Hunter #1

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Mysterious!

Mary Shelley is not your typical “monster hunter,” and that’s good because we feel the danger she’s experiencing strongly.

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About Author

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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