Filed under: Comic Reviews, IDW Comics | Tags: Ben Templesmith, Damien Worm, Frankenstein's Monster, IDW, Jack the Ripper, Menton3, Steve Niles
The latest release from IDW sees Steve Niles merge two well known characters in issue #1 of Monster & Madman. Billed as a “secret history of Jack the Ripper and Frankenstein’s Monster” the mere mention of Niles’ name on this had me pretty sure it was going to be on my pull list.
While the merging of two characters like these seems a fairly wild idea there’s no argument that this 3-parter could be another winner for the IDW/Niles combination and this opener surprised me on a number of different levels. With the main characters involved it could well have been a basic blood-soaked tale of violence and murder but that couldn’t be further from the truth as we open with Frankenstein’s Monster wandering through the snow considering his place in this world. A fairly sombre and deep approach to the character but one that shows the care and intricate nature of a character that gives the issue a real soul.
The wander through the snow brings our Monster face to face with hunters from a nearby ship, collecting pelts and heading back into civilization with their boat of tradable goods. Cue the chance for our Monster to get a job on the outskirts of human existence and we’re flipped between him living & learning among the brutes of the sea. Content to blend in and disappear it’s clear that some members of the crew have seen him for the monster he is and quickly try to corrupt him by turning him into a killer for hire….offering him more work if he can bring back the heads of their enemies and targets.
While our Monster struggles to continue his learning and grasp the reality of these “jobs” he finds solace and depth as seeing the value in human life and turning against his would-be employee out in the open seas after the crew turn against our main character. Set adrift we end with our monster lost at sea and washing up on a beach…..only to be confronted with our shadow figure of Jack the Ripper in the closing pages. Much more powerful and effective than I was expecting but then I’m cursing my sense for thinking otherwise….after reading the likes of Freaks of the Heartland, Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem and Frankenstein: Alive, Alive! It’s fairly obvious that horror with depth brings us much more connection with the characters and makes for more interesting stories.
While Steve Niles lays out the characterisation with style its punctuated further with some amazing artwork from Damien Worm. While comparisons with the general look of the artwork may be made between the likes of Ben Templesmith or Menton3, previous collaborators with Niles, there is still something unique in Damian’s work. The comparisons are obvious but there’s much more depth to the pages and the gloomy tones have you leaning in further to test whether it’s a dark page or just your eyes. This partnership combines to give us a well-rounded, deeply moving first issue and a glimpse of that cover alone should surely draw in the attention it deserves.
A recent announcement will also see Niles & Worm team-up on October Faction – a new ongoing release from IDW…..so that’s ANOTHER thing to keep in mind for this creative team.
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