Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pull List Review: Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #11

I don't think I like Matt Kindt's take on this character. He's contemplative, verbose, and self-deprecating, none of which was true when Lemire was at the helm. It's a fine enough direction to take Frankenstein in, and I trust Kindt has his reasons for doing so, but I just don't think it's for me. I'm not against the concept of Frank having flashes of memories from the lives of the people he's made out of, but I am against it turning him into a whiny punk. Also, after setting up the mystery last issue with strange panels showing horrible scenes, and then doing the same for the bulk of this issue, Kindt just has Frankenstein explain what's going on, out loud, with practically no provocation. I'm not sure how else Kindt could've have told us we were seeing bits of Frank's piecemeal past, but this definitely felt like the easiest, laziest method.

Same thing happens for the explanation of Leviathan. There's more of a reason for the character to spill the information (i.e. Frankenstein will kill him otherwise) but it was an overly-simple way to fill in those blanks. Isn't this meant to be, in part, an espionage series? Why not have our heroes do a bit of actual spy work to figure out where they are, rather than just being told, in no uncertain terms, from the first guy they ask? All of that was just weak storytelling, and did nothing to help with my dislike of Frank's budding new personality.

Alberto Ponticelli is a talented artist, handling the balance of current and "flashback" panels well without sacrificing any clarity. And the full-page splash of Leviathan in all it's horrendous glory was breathtaking. But that's the closest Ponticelli gets in this issue to being able to cut loose, to do the large-scale monster madness that is his greatest gift to this series. Other than a few panels of Frankenstein yelling, the rest of the plot is so subdued that the art is forced to match it. And a subdued Ponticelli is never as strong as one who gets to do big, bombastic action. It's true of the artist and of the main character, both, actually. Without at least one opportunity to pull out the stops and have some hard-hitting, gore-filled monster action, Ponticelli and Frankenstein are each far less interesting than they otherwise would be. I hope Kindt can realize that sooner than later and get this title back into the rhythms that made it such a strong offering within the original New 52.

For now, we have a much quieter, more thoughtful, more reigned in installment, and as far as I'm concerned, it falls flat. And the ending was 100% impossible to understand. Who is the guy screaming his head off on that last page? Am I supposed to know? Did we meet him last time and I totally forgot? Even if that's the case, his appearance on the final two pages here is jarring and forced. A real whiff of a conclusion to an already dulled issue.

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