Frankenstein: Comics Greatest Monster
With I, Frankenstein about to hit theaters, we look at the famous monster's comic book adventures!
Dr. Frankenstein’s monstrous creation has a long history in literature and film, crafting an enduring legacy that has informed popular culture since the world’s most famous monster rose electrified off the slab in 1818. Mary Shelley’s classic creature has a long history in comic books as well. Some of the greatest creators comics have had to offer in each era of sequential storytelling have gotten their crack at some iteration of the Frankenstein’s Monster. From classic gothic atmospheric horror, to humor, to adventure, there have been many attempts to find comic book success through the exploitation of the not-so-good Doctor’s creation. Here are some of the more memorable comic series that have featured the most fearsome icon in horror fiction.
The History of Frankenstein at Marvel Comics
With the loosening of the Comic Code in the early 70s, Marvel Comics was eager to add their own pantheon of monsters to their already growing stable of superheroes. Looking to exploit the marketability of the Universal characters, Marvel turned their attentions to the most recognizable of horror icons, including Frankenstein. The first Marvel character that utilized the Frankenstein name appeared in X-Men #40 by writer Roy Thomas and penciler Don Heck. This version of the classic creature was sent to Earth by aliens in the nineteenth century to scout for an invasion. The X-Men defeated the creature and while this particular battle won’t go down in history as one of the merry mutant’s greatest struggles, it did inform Marvel that their universe was ripe for such classic monster action.
The “real” Frankenstein would pop up via flashback in Silver Surfer #7 by Stan Lee and John Buscema, before Marvel launched The Monster of Frankenstein (later retitled The Frankenstein Monster) in 1973. The newly minted horror title began with a four issue adaptation of Shelly’s novel written by Garry Friedrich and drawn by Mike Ploog. It is Ploog’s art that made Marvel’s early Frankenstein comics examples of Bronze Age perfection. Every line denotes a call back to the character’s gothic roots and the book remains an illustration of the pinnacle of the often overlooked Ploog’s career. After the adaptation, Frankenstein raged and terrified the 1890s before pulling a Captain America and falling into suspended animation and awakening in modern times. Frankenstein’s solo title lasted a memorable eighteen issues and remains one of Marvel’s horror success stories. Frankenstein would again appear in issues of Marvel Team-Up (teaming with Spider-Man), Iron Man, and The Avengers. A clone of Frankenstein’s Monster would be featured as a Nazi tool in a memorable issue of The Invaders while another clone, this one altruistic and intelligent, was created by SHIELD to become part of their Howling Commandoes unit of monster agents. Marvel’s Frankenstein remains a fascinating example of Bronze Age experimentation with some of the era’s greatest art thanks to monster master, Mike Ploog.