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DC Showcase: Jeff Lemire’s ‘Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.’

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[Editor’s Note: This review of Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. was written by Jonathan Gamer]

Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is a nine-issue run focusing on the bizarre and scary adventures of Frankenstein and his allies. This series began in 2011 when DC Comics rebooted the DC universe with Geoff Johns’ Flashpoint and ran until 2013, after an additional eight issues by Matt Kindt.

Lemire is a multi-award winning creator best known for writing and drawing comics such as Gideon Falls, Sweet Tooth, the Essex County trilogy, and the Eisner Award-winning Black Hammer. Alberto Ponticelli is best known for drawing Joshua Dryart’s Unknown Soldier series from DC/Vertigo, an Eisner-nominated series from 2009.

I was fascinated with Agent of S.H.A.D.E. in particular because Jeff Lemire wrote it. It presents a fresh version of Frankenstein’s monster facing off against monsters, along with connections to trademark DC heroes like Ray Palmer/The Atom, Animal Man, and Swamp Thing. Plus, with James Gunn and DC Studios’ Creature Commandos coming to HBO Max later this year, it was time I gave this short run a read since Frankenstein will appear in the show.

DC Comics Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

Unexpectedly, I thoroughly enjoyed this particular run on the series, and even more surprisingly, I was intrigued to read more comics featuring this iteration of Frankenstein’s monster. I’m sure you’ll feel the same excitement as you delve into this series.

The story of Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

The world of Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is a delightful blend of the bizarre and the unexpected, thanks to Jeff Lemire’s imaginative storytelling. From Frankenstein and his friends exploring a living planet to the complex dynamics of Frankenstein’s family, every issue is a thrilling adventure.

The world-building in this run surprised me because of how intriguing it was. An example is the hideout called “The Ant Farm.” The Ant Farm is the BPRD headquarters if it were small, and you had to shrink to the size of an Ant to enter it. No. I’m not making this up.

I love the interactions between Frankenstein and the rest of the cast, whether it’s Frankenstein and Nina, the intelligent fish-woman creature, having a nice chat at the end of issue nine, or Warren Griffith making sarcastic remarks to his allies while taking down their enemies.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (DC Comics)
Frankenstein and Nina Mazursky in Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (DC Comics)

Another character I found entertaining was Father Time, who has the power to be reborn and have the body of anything or anyone. In this run, he’s portrayed as a Japanese schoolgirl, but still has quite a commanding presence. It sounds weird, but thanks to Lemire’s writing, Father Time’s interactions with Frankenstein and the team made me chuckle.

The whole run gave me some Hellboy BPRD vibes, thanks to Jeff Lemire’s way of fleshing out the characters and the stories he tells. It’s not as groundbreaking or profound as, let’s say, Hellboy in Hell, but this run was still very entertaining.

The visual style of this colorful DC Comics series

The art is excellent, thanks to Alberto Ponticelli’s inking and penciling skills. Ponticelli captures the tone of the comic while also drawing creepy but cool monsters, especially the monster planet in the first arc.

Another highlight of the art is how colorful the comic run gets. One issue will have some panels that utilize dark colors like black, but then you’ll get a page filled with pink monsters slaughtered by the green-colored Frankenstein. This is all in part thanks to talented colorist José Villarrubia.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. fighting a giant monster
Image from Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (DC Comics)

Recommended reading after Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

If you were worried that you would need to read other comics featuring Frankenstein, the other characters in it, or Rotworld, have no fear because you don’t need to do that. Agent of S.H.A.D.E. feels like a stand alone.

Creature Commandos Present: Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Book One contains issues one through seven of Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., and Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory miniseries focusing on Frankenstein and also introduces Father Time and Lady Frankenstein. Pick it up at your local comic shop or most places books are sold.

If you want to read more Frankenstein comics, you can always read Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos, also written by Jeff Lemire, set in the Flashpoint universe. 

DC Showcase: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown Comic Review

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As for Matt Kindt’s run on Agent of S.H.A.D.E., I don’t have an opinion on it yet, but I am interested in reading it to see how it compares to Jeff Lemire’s run.

If you want to read something similar to Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., I highly recommend the Hellboy comics by Mike Mignola and Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. Both have identical tones, good writing, and incredible artwork.

Connections to the Creature Commandos show

Considering what James Gunn has said about the upcoming Creature Commandos animated series, it’s no surprise he might make it similar to The Suicide Squad, especially since Agent of S.H.A.D.E. does have a similar tone. The comic has its share of scary and gruesome moments, making me think we’ll see James Gunn’s Slither (Great film, by the way) influence the tone for Creature Commandos.

DC Creature Commandos
DC’s Creature Commandos (DC/HBO)

Frankenstein, Nina Mazursky, and Lady Frankenstein will appear in the show but with a different design. Judging by the line-up, they seem to be the only characters from Agent of S.H.A.D.E. appearing in the show. Frankenstein and Lady Frankenstein will likely be like themselves from the comic series or make them lovers dealing with problems similar to how Peter Quill and Gamora were in the Guardians of the Galaxy films.

Nina Mazursky will probably be similar to how she is in the comics, not just costume-wise, but also in her personality. After all, Gunn loves giving each character a particular quirk, just like how he wrote the characters in his Guardians of the Galaxy films and The Suicide Squad.

My verdict on Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

Overall, Jeff Lemire’s time on Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., was short, but it was one that I enjoyed. I can’t wait to read more about DC Comics’ take on the legendary creature that originated from Mary Shelley’s novel.

You can find Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. via most places comics are sold and digitally at DC Infinite Universe. Have you read this comic series? What did you think of it? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

[Note: This review was written by Jonathan Gamer]

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Lizzie Hill

I'm a lifelong fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book movies. In July 2021, I launched The Cosmic Circus as Editor-In-Chief with a small but passionate group of writers. @MsLizzieHill on Twitter and Instagram.

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