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"The Modern Frankenstein #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Heavy Metal


Written by Paul Cornell
Illustrated by Emma Vieceli
Colored by Pippa Bowland
Lettered by Simon Bowland
2021, 30 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 28th, 2021


Dr. James Frankenstein is a star surgeon, capturing the hearts and minds of his students and colleagues alike, including young Elizabeth Cleve. What makes him so charismatic and alluring? It could be that he's willing to push the boundaries of ethics and science for the good of humanity...but who is he to play god? Mary Shelley's Frankenstein gets a whole new look in this series from Heavy Metal's Magma Comix.

The beauty of The Modern Frankenstein is how reasonable James sounds when explaining these ideas. So what if he has to break the oath he took when he became a doctor? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, right? Elizabeth sees this firsthand when James provides a mysterious treatment for her mother who is suffering from dementia. Having her mother appear to be in full control of her faculties again is an easy way to convince Elizabeth.

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There's clearly an attraction between James and Elizabeth. They're drawn together in a way that would be almost sweet if it didn't surround all this human mutilation and unethical surgeries. Writer Paul Cornell pulls us into the story through these two, providing two unique perspectives. The one part that makes me feel uneasy about this romance is the fact that James is effectively her teacher, so it does look like he's taking advantage of Elizabeth at times.

The personalities of each character are on full display thanks to artist Emma Vieceli. You can see the doubts on Elizabeth's face as she struggles to comprehend what she's being told. She has to reconcile the horrifying things this man is doing with the fact that they did lead to her mother getting better. Is it worth the risk? There's an underlying sense of determination to Elizabeth that causes her to soldier on.

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The design for James is pitch perfect. He appears charming and confident, however there's an uneasy feeling about him, like you can't quite trust him. Again, this is based purely on how he looks and acts. Vieceli delivers some brilliant character work in The Modern Frankenstein #1.

Letterer Simon Bowland adds to this with a direct and specific voice for James. He's the smartest person in the room and he knows it. That kind of swagger shines in how he speaks to people he thinks can't keep up, however that's reined in when he's talking to Elizabeth. He sees something in her.

Click images to enlarge

Much of this debut issue takes place in the hospital, creating a sterile environment shown well by colorist Pippa Bowland. Everything is very clean and precise with nothing out of place. This makes James' secret lab stand out as it doesn't quite fit in with the rest, adding to that unsettling tone.

The Modern Frankenstein is not a horror comic that's going to jump out and scare you. Instead, it slowly seeps in under the guise of a modern day medical drama with a bit of romance. Before you know it, you're caught up in these characters' lives as they prepare to do something absolutely horrible and you can't help but watch. It's like a creepy version of Grey's Anatomy.


Story: fourstars Cover

Art: fourstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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