Through the twenty-seven pages of “Joe Frankenstein” #1, co-creators Graham Nolan and Chuck Dixon introduce readers to a super laidback version of Frankenstein’s monster and a down-on-his-luck teen complete with an adolescent attitude and built-in snarkiness. The update primes the legend of Frankenstein for a leap to the screen — big or small — by tying the story of the world’s most famous monster to a relatable youth. Dixon and Nolan combine to deliver a readable, believable situation that brushes up against the unknown.
Using a basic Crayola box of eight colors as a basis for the atmosphere and temperature of the issue, colorist Gregory Wright pitches in variations with deep red-oranges and shades of blue pervading throughout the issue. Set in Buffalo, New York in the winter and featuring a re-animated patchwork corpse, the blues make plenty of sense and set the temperature of this comic to cool. The non-human inhabitants bring along a hefty swath of green hues as befits monsters and vampires.
Nolan’s art is instantly recognizable, as his style is nearly intact from when he worked on higher profile books for DC such as “Hawkworld” and “Batman.” The artist serves up a diverse range of characters via ethnicity, age and body type — all of which are amplified by the presence of the supernatural in the life of Joe Pratt.
Pratt, the protagonist of the tale, is visited by Frankenstein’s monster, but not before his own world delivers a coven of vampires to him. Dixon and Nolan temper Pratt’s reactions, balancing them between expectations and acceptable limits for other media. Fairly shallow as a character, Pratt is an everyman of the Charlie Brown variety where he cannot even buy a break because he can’t find two cents, let alone the capital to change his luck.
By the end of “Joe Frankenstein” #1, buying a break is the least of his worries and the last of the readers’ interests as the mysterious foe sets things in motion against Joe and his monstrous protector. A solid start to the series, “Joe Frankenstein” #1 gives readers a wink and a nod as though promising more intrigue, action and shadowy suspense with an unspoken guarantee.