Saturday, February 28, 2015

The PURGE: Frankenstein's Monster

So after finishing out my Fantastic Four run (on a very low note thank you Mark Waid, et al.) I had a couple of issues of The Frankenstein Monster in my collection from 1973-1974.  And while the second one was so-so, the first one, Issue #9 was maybe one of the best comics in my collection.

I think the cover tells you why:
That's right.  Frankenstein's Monster goes up against Dracula.  There really can be no better premise for a comic book.  There really can't.  And despite unbelievable expectations set up by this awesome cover, the book delivers in spades!  To make things even better, it's drawn by under appreciated industry legend John Buscema.

The set up is simple, the angry mob wants to kill Dracula for, you know, being Dracula, but instead they get their hands on the Monster and try to burn him at the stake instead.  Sadly, the Monster has renounced life and is content with his end.  Content, that is until Dracula strikes again.  As he is burning to death (?), he hears the screams of a young woman (what are the chances she is young, and quite sexy?  100%) who has been feasted upon by Dracula.  And the book pulls no punches, he straight-up kills the woman.  70's comics had wherewithal. (you can't say "balls" anymore, so I'm bringing "wherewithal" back, feel free to use at your leisure).

The minute the beautiful woman screams, the angry mob forgets about the Monster and remembers that they still hate Drac.
Like typical men, they let their thirst for vengeance over come their need to protect their women.  Luckily, the scream snaps them out of it.
It's the super-outdated writing like this that lends real charm to older comics.  In this post-Postmodern era, sentiments like this are just absurd, but it's the absurdity that makes them hilarious to read.

But there is no time for chuckles, Dracula is afoot and the Monster must do something about it.  He can come back and be killed later (and says as much).

Long story short, the Monster locates Dracula's cave while Drac is off trying to find a new coffin to sleep in (dawn is coming).  Apparently his old coffin was destroyed in an encounter with the Monster last issue (note to self: get issue #8).  While in Dracula's cave, the Monster encounters a woman who has been turned into a vampire by Dracula (again issue #8 is a must get).  The woman tries to turn the Monster, but only manages to paralyze his vocal chords in an unexplained move off panel, before the Monster gives her the old "stake through the heart" trick.  Again, straight-up death.  Body count: 2.

It's then that Dracula shows up (no sign of the coffin, despite the fact that he stole it from the coffin maker, whom he promised not to kill, then did.  Body count: 3) and is enraged that the Monster has killed one of his brides.  The epic battle ensues and is quite a row.  It's all visual and Buscema really shines in its telling.  But the end result is this:

That's right.  Frankenstein's Monster just flat out kills Dracula.  Kills him. (Body Count: 4, with a bonus point for killing Dracula).  The Lord of the Freaking Vampires.  The Master Vampire.  And the Monster kills him.  Final.  Dead.  To make doubly sure of this fact, not only does the Monster toss Dracula out into the sunlight where he burns to death, but as his undead flesh is melting away, the Monster makes with the oak stake again and rams it through his rapidly sublimating heart.  THE Count Dracula is definitively killed in The Frankenstein Monster issue #9.

Now, THAT'S a story.

They don't make them like this anymore folks. This is comic book storytelling at its purest.  Great action, simple plot, mostly unambiguous characters (I can make a case for the Monster being a very compelling character that is more complex).  It's the age old tale of at least reasonably good versus certainly evil.  And the end result is the absolute death of a classic monster.  (who, of course, would later come back in endless other incarnations, because no matter how totally the Monster killed him, you can't kill Dracula, and that goes double in a Marvel Comic).  I'm not kidding when I say this is one of the best single-issue comics in my collection.

Next up, I start reading through my Gambit collection.  I remember liking it a lot for much of the run.  Let's hope it holds up...

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