I was very surprised that I liked Joe Frankenstein #1. Just from the name it looked cheesy and hey part of it is, but its good cheese and it works. This book is literally for those people who always scream for simpler comics that they grew up reading, but the catch is that it works for modern readers as well. Again, I was very surprised that I liked Joe Frankenstein #1. The issue starts off with us the reader in the dark as to what’s going on. We’ve seen kid on the cover with Frankenstein’s monster and then on the inside we see a teenager who can barely grow facial hair delivering a pizza… I was confused. The pizza kid is bummed because he’s two minutes late with his delivery meaning he has to give the pie out for free! Raw deal and how can I take advantage of it?
After knocking on the door though he finds a bunch of sexy ladies all in skimpy and totally not weather appropriate clothing… it’s really snowing outside which is why our pizza guy was late. They invite him in and he’s got half a chub so why not right? If I was delivering pizzas and fucking fashion magazine opened the door and then an S&M model invited me in I would be like, “well this might cost me my life… or marriage.” (Just kidding I would totally know that it was a trap).
Turns out it’s a trap! Get your gif ready.
But it’s okay because Frankenstein’s monster busts in and we discover that our ladies of the night are really vampires of the night and that no one was going to eat that pizza! After a few of the vamps turn to bones and the rest flee for their lives (inappropriately dressed for the weather still I might add), FM (Frankenstein’s Monster) has a chat with the pizza guy. He asks his name and he tells him it’s Joe Pratt, but then FM corrects him and tells him it’s Joe Frankenstein!
The rest of the issue sets up Joe’s life and it pretty much sucks. It also introduces the villain of the story, but their goal is unclear at the moment. After all you need something to bring you back and while it seems like I covered a lot of the issue that’s about the first eight pages of this issue so don’t freak out.
The story is straightforward. There’s no big surprises other than just plot stuff to be revealed later, but it’s the characters and the setting that make the story interesting. Joe is kind of a grubby teenager. He’s not thinking of his future and just coasting through life… you know, like a teenage boy. That’s not a knock, that’s years of hindsight as this comic was like looking in a mirror, but hey I turned out alright or at least that’s what I’ve convinced the people around me to think.
Seriously though I couldn’t get enough of Joe and FM who really needs a name. He never says a name other than correcting Joe and saying he’s Frankenstein’s creation so I guess FC, while the villains refer to him as just “the Monster.” FM/FC is a cool cat though and I just liked the way he deals with Joe and all of his teenisims.
The art does a lot of the work for this series and there wouldn’t be a Joe Frankenstein #1 without artist and co-writer Graham Nolan. Let me start by saying this comic has snow. If you’ve read any of my other reviews that cover snow then you’ll understand already, but Nolan illustrates believable snow and that for me at least sets the tone for the story. When you produce a believable setting in which I feel like I’m in that world then you win.
The action is pretty dynamic, though I definitely would have liked to have seen a few more panels with the battle between FM/FC and the vampires. I did love and laugh when one of them was burned by a slice of pizza! No idea if there was something on the pizza or if it was just that hot, but it was great. Overall the visual storytelling was wonderful.
Colorist Gregory Wright plays an important part as well since believable snow is only believable if you color it so and Wright does. The rest of the country may be freezing, but I’m running a fan most days so seeing snow really put me there. The coloring in general is very consistent and really some of the best I’ve seen at IDW outside of the TMNT franchise. I hope to see Wright’s name on more titles.
Is this basically just monsters and vampires via the golden age of cinema? Yeah, but our creators know that and that’s why they’re focused on the characters rather than trying to boldly reinvent the genre. Instead it focuses on the interpersonal relationships and provides a sense of humor while doing that. And damn isn’t that one of the best and simplest things about comics?
Pick this book up its pure joy.