By Tim Murr
I’d love to meet Mary Shelley’s spirit and find out what she thinks of how far her creation has come in the two hundred plus years since she released it into the world. Doctor Frankenstein and his monster are two of the most enduring characters in the history of literature and fit any number of genre interpretations. Not unlike much of Shakespeare’s work, Shelley’s Frankenstein can easily be adapted to any time period and any given version can emphasize the dramatic, the horrific, or the comedic.
Frankenstein and/or his monster have shown up in World War II before (check out Richard Raaphorst’s excellent Frankenstein’s Army, one of the most ambitious creature features we’ve seen in a while) and we’ve seen Hitler’s obsession with the occult (um, check out… let’s just go with Indiana Jones and Hellboy for now) and I can’t imagine many writers, directors, or artists who are fans of Frankenstein not having their own versions of Frankenstein in WWII either rattling around in their heads or collecting dust in a notebook (Dario Argento once wanted to do it and I have half a screenplay laying around here somewhere).
Somehow, though, when it comes to Frankenstein it doesn’t matter how many versions exist out there or how many versions overlap, such is the strength of the characters. And this extends to many of Frankenstein’s Universal brethren (though the stories and legends are much, much older than those films, our cultural identity of many of the classic monsters starts with Universal). Dracula and the Wolfman have both been subject to many takes and time periods and they’ve all shared the screen with each other. Yet, we never seem to tire of them.
Last year saw 451’s launch of ExMortis, a comic by Andi Ewington, the Williams Brothers, and Raymund Bermudez that pulls together many of those classic monsters in order to take on on the Nazis. Hitler has gotten his hands on Frankenstein’s journal and is set to raise an army of the dead, but standing in his path to victory are the Dreadnoughts, the super army of monsters. No story of this type should be judged on originality, but on execution alone. As an avid and lifelong Frankenstein fan I’m giving this creative team high marks. ExMortis features solid writing and fantastic artwork. The covers are terrific as well.
ExMortis offers something else for fans; value. Forty pages of story for $3.99; compare that to Marvel or DC who give you about half the content per issue for the same price. I’m a comics fan on a budget and that impressed me. The black and white artwork and monster designs are excellent as well. Bermudez captures a nice balance between a classic war movie and a moody creature feature.
Despite the wealth of art that has already been inspired by the imagination of Mary Shelley, ExMortis is a worthy addition to the canon. With issue six (of a planned seven issues) coming out, now is the time to seek out this series and get caught up, fiends! If your local shop doesn’t/can’t stock the series or you don’t have a local shop, MyComicShop.com does have them in stock.