Friday, October 22, 2010

Marvel’s The Monster of Frankenstein, Part Two

The 19th Century adventures of Mary Shelley’s famous monster following Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog’s adaptation of the classic novel continued in Issue 5 of Marvel’s The Monster of Frankenstein with another standalone filler story. This time out it is a more serviceable horror yarn that sees the Monster bravely rescuing a beautiful girl from being burned at the stake. She claims that her town is under the spell of a demon dressed in black that only she could resist. The Monster confronts and subdues her abusive father in his quest to end her persecution. Along the way, there are hints that the girl is not as virtuous as she initially appeared. The Monster learns at the climax that the girl is actually a werewolf. The demon in black is revealed to be the village priest. The story is a familiar yarn having been utilized in numerous other comics and short stories for several prior decades. Gary Friedrich’s script puts the tested story to good use, but this is one of Mike Ploog’s less-inspired issues as artist.
Ploog’s swan song with the series was Issue 6. The title was modified slightly to The Frankenstein Monster starting with this issue. Ploog’s artwork here is simply stunning recalling at times Barry Windsor-Smith’s run on Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian. His Frankenstein Monster also strongly resembles Herb Trimpe’s interpretation of The Incredible Hulk and yet, there is much that is undeniably Ploog’s own brilliant style throughout. This final issue for the artist is his best for the series and does much to underline what made his artwork so beloved by comics fans.
The issue offers the first major plot advancement of the series as the Monster arrives in Ingolstadt and reaches Castle Frankenstein. Unfortunately, Friedrich seems to envision Europe at the end of the 19th Century as still being mired in the Dark Ages. Castle Frankenstein has been taken over by a tyrannical despot known as the Colonel. His Neanderthal servants (they appear to be the same ones seen in the Arctic in Issue 4) are capturing innocent victims from Ingolstadt to feed to the giant spider that lies in the pit beneath the Castle. The Monster joins a heroic Lieutenant in dispatching the Colonel and killing the giant spider. Castle Frankenstein is destroyed in the process as the Monster’s search for Frankenstein’s descendant continues.

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