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Destroyer #1 (of 6)

Written by Victor LaValle
Illustrated by Dietrich Smith
Colors by Joana LaFuente
Published by Boom! Studios

In modern times, Frankenstein’s Monster has generally been seen as a sweet-natured guy who doesn’t know his own strength. He was a family man in The Munsters, a hero in the recent Dean Koontz novels and comics, and a stalwart friend in Marvel and DC comics. But in the original book, he was a scary dude, and this week, Victor LaValle brings that horror back to life using the lightning of police violence.

In LaValle’s story, the Monster has been hanging out in Antarctica, a gentle loner who loves animals and quiet. But the modern world breaks in, he responds with violence, and he returns to civilization to hunt Victor Frankenstein’s last known heir. Meanwhile, that heir has been using family recipes to recover from the pain of losing her 12 year-old son to a scared policeman’s bullet.

The second half of the book is great, the art blending the alchemical and technological into arresting visuals. Dr. Baker is a thoughtfully-constructed character, and her story carefully explains the madness of her grief. But the first half is an art mess, a jumble of stiff characters and inconsistent proportions – the Monster is maybe person sized or maybe whale sized, characters teleport around set pieces, people wake up without any indication they’d been asleep… I guess it makes sense for a story about Frankenstein’s Monster to feel a little stitched-together at this point. The saving graces of this half are the phenomenal colors by Joana LaFuente and the commitment of LaValle’s script to the horror of Mary Shelley’s original work.

This book is going to be awesome, on track to blend the antique atmospheric horror of Frankenstein with the too-real modern culture of fear and tension between citizens and police. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, make sure to check out next weekend’s Resistance Con,, at the Durham Convention Center, put on by Ultimate’s own Brockton McKinney and with a comics panel including your favorite employee, Marta Mickelson.

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics