Written by Keith Champagne
Illustrated by Dev Madan
Published by Darby Pop Publishing
Set to debut this Halloween, Universal’s most famous monster plays the part of private eye in this brainchild of DC Comics’ vet Keith Champagne (Ghostbusters, The Mighty, Green Lantern) and artist Dev Madan (Batman & Robin Adventures, Plastic Man). Together, they created a book with good intentions, but little follow through.
The comic follows Frank N. Stein, who is described as a having “the face of a monster, the brain of a stranger, and the soul of a poet.”
But at the heart of the book, Mr. Stein has evolved from the misunderstood monstrosity of which we are all familiar, the once lumbering terror of a beast who once threw a little girl into a pool to see if she would float.
Now he has some experience behind him…as well as the internal monologue of Sam Spade, a shrew of an ex wife and a pack a day habit.
The short anthology follows the Dr. Frankenstein’s creation as he solves small crimes in Monstertown.
From dealing with the fallout of a job gone bad to finding potential superheroes in their infant state, the book attempts to parody anything and everything it might share a shelf with. From “Sin City” to “Superman” to “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” “Frank” takes pokes at assorted stories in an effort to get a giggle.
Unfortunately, some of the stories fall flat as the the only character development in tale falls on Frank’s shoulders. Due to the brevity of the stories, readers are only given a few panels to get to know other characters before their are framed, killed off or take leave to their own tales. This leaves the reader to depend on Frank for a ride, and he is a man of few words.
The problem with the comic is that it is bit unfocused, with the established Universal monster offerings exposition in true Philip Marlowe style as he jumps from comic to comic. But the problem is that without the ability to be either witty, charming or tap into his inner monster, Frank just becomes a bland figure in other’s people stories.
While the story might be a little muddled, the art is first class. Jumping from style to style as the character jumps from comic to comic, Frank takes on many different modes, from ‘50s greaser to Frank Miller protagonist. The changing styles keeps the book interesting as the classic figure from horror gets a makeover with each twisted tale.
All in all, the comic had great potential, but went for the laugh instead creating a true narrative. It would be great to see the character fully developed and actually solving crimes instead of poking fun at other established books. But for now, this monster mash is a mangled mix of ill-conceived ideas with a slick look and style.
Some things are better left undead.