“Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.” #9 is an issue that works to stand on its own while also tying loosely into what Jeff Lemire is also doing over in “Animal Man.” These two titles seem like a good fit together in theme and tone, making this crossing of narratives a success. Frankenstein stumbles across a plot thread left behind, which opens up the situation to some sweet character development.
As a crossover, this issue doesn’t look to directly affect the flow of “Animal Man.” This isn’t the sort of tale where you need to follow another title to get the other half, and you don’t really need to know exactly what happened in “Animal Man” to get the set up here. Everything you need is provided in the story, so everything is simple and self-serving. It’s nice to feel the interconnectivity of the world and not be beholden to buying more just to enjoy the one title.
Frankenstein is an interesting character to follow. There’s enough here of the cultural icon that we know and understand — his visuals, his aggressive and loner manner — but he’s also much more verbose than the old groaning monster. This monster has a brain and possibly even a heart. The point of this issue is to allow Frankenstein to focus on something action-based in order to get over the emotion involving his wife from the previous issue. This set piece didn’t need to be a leftover from “Animal Man” but for corporate synergy it doesn’t hurt that it is. It’s also not important what Frankenstein stabs, it’s just important that he’s distracted and then be helped and open up.
Amidst the atrocities and the emotions, this is a strange horror comic. The lead is a green patchwork man surrounded by other monsters as his teammates. It makes sense he’d be battling only the grossest of adversaries. Here we have Alberto Ponticelli giving his version of the Rot and it’s not pretty. There are shades of Rob Bottin’s work on “John Carpenter’s The Thing” as tentacles abound and we even get a head running loose. Ponticelli does a good job of making the pages icky and action packed.
When Ponticelli brings the emotion at the end of the issue, he does so very well. His Frankenstein is broody and coarse — to see one panel where his eyes light up is surprisingly heartwarming. The final splash page gives the emotion enough room to move and make you stop after all the action. Amidst the rubble, we are afforded silence.
“Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.” #9 is a fun horror romp with a pleasing action set piece and a really sweet ending. Lemire has done a great job of tempering out the insane concepts and dark nature of the book with the truly three-dimensional portraits of the characters. This issue opens up our lead character and leaves you caring.