By Daniel Vlasaty
Apparently, I am just out of the loop when it comes to new comic books. Because this book came out of nowhere for me. I love Black Hammer and I also love Leff Lemire's writing, and I especially love David Rubin's weird/beautiful art. So, right off the bat Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil is a win-win-fucking-win book for me. But, really, when you think about it how good can a spin-off book actually be, right? Why make a spin-off at all, other than as a cash-grab? These are a few of the things I initially thought about the book before I even read it. And let me tell you, fuck all that noise. Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil is a solid first issue, and a great book overall, as a companion piece to Black Hammer and also as its own thing entirely. Plus, the title's pretty great, too.
Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil is wacky and ridiculous and just as mysterious as its predecessor. Jeff Lemire seems to be using this book to explore more of the strange and the weird that he can't fit into the world of Black Hammer. That book is weird enough as it is, but it's trapped in a world without superheroes and villains, a world without the color and energy we get in the "real" world, the world the superheroes used to occupy. And that’s the main difference between this book and Black Hammer. In Black Hammer, we are shown the world these heroes were transported to during their epic battle with the Anti-God. And here in Sherlock Frankenstein, we are planted wholly in the world those same heroes left behind.
Here we're following Lucy Weber – the Black Hammer's reporter daughter – as she investigates the disappearance of her father and the other heroes, forever convinced that they're still alive out there somewhere. No matter how alone she is in this belief. Her investigative work brings her hot on the trail of Sherlock Frankenstein, one of her father's former enemies, a genius-level super criminal. The only problem – no one's seen or heard from him in years. But Lucy's convinced that he had to have something to do with her father's disappearance. And this takes her on a tour of the underground world of villains.
This is what we get in this first issue. A tour of the dark and scary sides of a world missing its superheroes. Jeff Lemire has created a world here, both in this book and in Black Hammer, that is both mysterious and engaging. I can't get enough of it. And like I said before, this book might be a spin-off of Black Hammer, but it's still really complementary, adding more and more pieces and layers to the world and mystery of the O.G.
I'm telling you that this book is good and that I most definitely loved it. And that probably has a lot to do with the art. Nothing against Lemire and the writing (it's damn good), but Rubin's art is out of this fucking world. Weirdly I find it hard to write about artists whose work I love. It's easy to write about art that's only okay, or art that's maybe bad, or whatever. But David Rubin is one of my favorite artists working right now, and how am I supposed to get how great his art is across in this review without just saying OH MY FUCKING GOD I CAN'T EVEN TELL YOU HOW GREAT THIS STUFF IS, MAN!!! But I'll try – that's what I'm supposed to do as a reviewer.
Basically, Rubin's art is full of an energy and life I don’t see in many working comic artists these days. It's in the bold colors and solid line work. It's in his inventive panel layouts and the way his text and lettering become another part of the art. It's in his character design and the creatures he creates. His art is all the good things a first-time acid user expects his acid trip to be. It's trippy and surreal but also believable and grounded. If that makes any sense. And if it doesn’t: SHUT UP BECAUSE HIS ART IS FUCKING MAGNIFICENT.
I'll admit I was skeptical for about a half a second when I learned this was a spin-off. I should have known better. I should have just kept that bullshit to myself and trusted Jeff Lemire and David Rubin and also Black Hammer, which has easily become one of my favorite on-going books, one of the books I am most excited to see on the new release list. Sherlock Frankenstein can work as a stand-alone, meaning if you're not reading Black Hammer I think you'll still be able to enjoy this book. But if that's the case I only have one question for you: what the fuck's wrong with you? Start reading fucking Black Hammer already, and then read this. And then read everything else you can find by either of these dudes. They're two of the best creators working today.
Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil #1
Dark Horse Comics