Or, if you want to be all ‘Ted Mosby’ about it, call it ‘Ten Comic Book Frankenstein’s Monsters’; whatever blows up your dress. However you want to describe ’em, here’s a bunch of sewn-together flesh golems for your Halloween enjoyment! Welcome to Ten Things!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with ‘An Amateur Comics Historian’, and ‘Count Floyd’s 3-D House Of Horrors’, Presents:
TEN COMIC BOOK FRANKENSTEINS!
With the relaxing of the Comics Code Authority in 1971 or so, comic publishers were once again able to deal with the existence of creatures of the night and evil vampires and such. (The CCA specifically forbade such portrayals; some say as a targeted attack against the 1950s popularity of EC Comics horror titles.) When ‘Tomb Of Dracula’ proved to be a surprise hit, Marvel expanded their ‘Public Domain Monster Hero’ roster with a solo book for the second most notorious literary monster. Frankenstein’s tenure at Marvel was short-lived, racking up 18 issues before the monster returned to the shadows of the Marvel Universe, appearing as recently as 2007…
Originally known as Benviktor, Frankenstrike is one of the many alien identities that can be adopted by Ben Tennyson, the eponymous hero of ‘Ben 10’ and its various continuations. Using the DNA of an alien race known as ‘Transylians’, Ben becomes a hulking patchwork monstrosity, who is (cleverly) able to manipulate electricity and magnetism, evoking the lightning that brough the movie version of Frankenstein’s Monster to life back in the 30s.
8) YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN
Actually, I believe this one is pronounced “Fronk-en-steen.” Created as one of the interim Titans for the lost year created by DC’s ‘One Year Later’ event, he is notable mostly for getting ripped to shreds by Black Adam, or as the Teen Titans call it, “how most of us end up leaving the team.” Thankfully, unlike Pantha, Risk, Wildebeest and the hordes of other DC Comics heroes who have been maimed and mutilated in the modern era, his status as dead patchwork monster-thingy allowed him to reform, though he wisely turned down another shot at Titans membership. Having your arms sewn back on twice is clearly twice too often…
7) SPAWN OF FRANKENSTEIN
Around the same time that Marvel launched their shot at capturing lighting in a bottle (or a series of corpse-pieces, your call), DC Comics also went to the Frankenstein well with a very literate and well-drawn series of tales. Appearing as backup stories in The Phantom Stranger’s 70s comic, the Spawn of Frankenstein was drawn less from the iconic movie version and more from the original novel (with a heaping helping of whole cloth.) Wandering through the world, this reclusive and more-human-looking Frankenstein is fondly remembered for Mike Kaluta’s art, and was even referenced/brought back during the adventures of a later DC Frankenstein.
Another hero about whom little is known, ‘Frank’ was a member and/or ally of the First Line during the 1970s. If you’re unfamiliar with the First Line, they’re the super-team created to fill in the gaps made by the sliding timeline of the Marvel Universe, as seen in the 12-issue miniseries ‘Marvel: The Lost Generation’, circa 2000. Whether he is meant to be the same Marvel Frankenstein as #10 is unclear (and seems unlikely, based on the visuals), so I’m treating him as a separate superhero hero. It should be noted that at least TWO clones of Frankenstein exist in the Marvel Universe, so his pedigree could be even weirder than we think…
5) PRIVATE ‘LUCKY’ TAYLOR
War comics were a big deal in the 1950s and 1960s, but by 1980, pretty much only Blackhawk and Sgt. Rock were still active. In the wake of the ‘DC Implosion’ of 1978, the ‘Weird War Tales’ comic went from an anthology to featuring recurring characters who barely skirted the line of the title’s military focus. Among them were the Creature Commandos, featuring Velcro (a pseudo-vampire), Shrieve (a werewolf) and Lucky, whose run-in with a landmine in the Pacific Theatre earned him his Frankenstein-like patchwork body and his nickname. Sadly, his role was usurped by a different patchwork monster in later Creature Commando stories…
4) FRANKENSTEIN JR.
Created by scientist Professor Conroy, ‘Frankie’ was controlled by the Professor’s pre-teen son Buzz, and served to fight off super villains who would endanger Civic City. An interesting American use of the “boy with giant robot pal” theme, there is (to my knowledge) no reason given why Conroy would give his mighty mechanical man the face of a literary monster. One presumes that he, like young Bruce Wayne, knew the value of instilling fear in the criminal population…
Dell Comics’ monster heroes were another stellar-yet-ridiculous idea borne of the simple fact that ‘We have the license!’ When the Batman television show made superheroes all the rage again in the mid-60s, Dell Comics created this iteration of Frankenstein (as well as a loose adaptation of the Werewolf and a lunatic adaptation of Dracula) to capitalize on it. As with many Dell books of the era, quality was a secondary concern to getting the damn books on the stands, and so the three-issue run of Frankenstein’s solo book is full of wonderfully lowbrow goofiness. Most impressive is the punny name of his lady friend/Lois Lane analogue, the aptly named Miss Ann Thrope…
As referenced twice earlier, Grant Morrison’s revamped Seven Soldiers quasi-team maxiseries featured a new take on Frankenstein’s monster, one who quickly supplanted any previous DC iterations. His pedigree and back story were intriguing enough for him to play a minor role in Final Crisis, headline two miniseries featuring the Creature Commandos (in which he replaces Lucky Taylor as official Boris Karloff impersonator), and even a starring role in his own series as part of the official rollout of the New 52 in 2011. He has also been part of Justice League Dark, and crossed paths with Batman in his quest to resurrect Damien Wayne…
Making his debut in 1940, Dick Briefer’s monster is notable for a number of reasons: First, his series is generally regarded as the first ongoing horror title in comic book history. When World War II broke out, the rampaging monster actually did a full-on face turn, fighting in the European theatre against the forces of evil, transitioning from monster to weird superhero, and eventually to a humor feature. Running for nearly a decade, Frankenstein even made a comeback during the comic book doldrums of the 1950s, only to finally fade out thanks to the Comics Code’s focus on monsters. For my money, though, Briefer’s comic work is pure gold, years ahead of its time, and rightly regarded as classic comics by those in the know. (It even manages the difficult task of being both genuinely scary and genuinely funny during the books’ run.)
Feel free to follow along (@MightyKingCobra) for more Ten Things madness on Twitter! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, but given the specificity of today’s Halloween entry, this one might be.
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