It is completely appropriate that the opening line of dialog in Matt Kindt and Alberto Ponticelli’s “Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.” #14 is “Are we there yet?” Kindt inserts quite a bit of humor in a book that features a modern interpretation of a classic horror character in an incredibly horrific situation.
Regular readers of “Animal Man” and “Swamp Thing” are undoubtedly aware of the “Rotworld” crossover. The Rot has also claimed a foothold in “Frankenstein,” which is not surprising given that Frankenstein is a cobbled mosaic of corpse parts reanimated. Coincidentally enough, he’s joined in this issue by his vampire teammate, Velcoro, another undead/not living anomaly. The duo set on a quest to reconstruct a machine originally created by Victor Frankenstein, which will halt the Rot and save the world. Kindt avoids reducing the crossover to “Red Skies” fluff, but on the flipside keeps the adventure specific to Frankenstein and crew.
As he has done throughout this series, Alberto Ponticelli visualizes the strange, odd and truly bizarre into scratchy, frantic images. With his lines polished up by Wayne Faucher’s inks, the artist does a great job conveying the emotions of Frankenstein and Velcoro despite their gruesome features. In addition to fighting through Rotworld, Frank and Velcoro take on a pair of behemoths and employ a zany array of gadgets concocted by S.H.A.D.E. that Ponticelli, Faucher and colorist John Kalisz imbue with life and power.
Kindt earns his stripes by not only participating in the “Rotworld” crossover, but also by his continuous expansion of the Frankenstein and S.H.A.D.E. mythology, delivering a handful of new acronyms that are as comic book sci-fi as can be. Kindt further seasons the issue with a buddy film zest, with Frankenstein as the straight man while Velcoro cracks wise and plays the card. That dynamic makes Frankenstein’s occasional one-liners even more impactful and even comical. When the dust settles and this issue closes, Kindt delivers a fun story that nicely balances plot and character as Frankenstein fights against the terrible and unknown. His quest nearly complete, Victor Frankenstein’s creation has a few more battles to finish before he can rest. Although there are only a pair of issues left, Kindt and company still deliver the good, the bad and even the ugly — but the ugly is undoubtedly a plus for this issue as Ponticelli makes ugly look so good.