Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son, by Chuck Dixon and Brett Booth

Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son is Chuck Dixon and Brett Booth’s comic book adaptation of the 2005 novel of the same name by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson, which is in turn a modern-day continuation of Mary Shelley’s classic horror story.

As the story opens, Deucalion, Frankenstein's original monster, is chilling out in a Tibetan monastery. He’s having a reasonably good time, getting some hardcore facial tattoos and—judging by his underwear-model abs—doing a lot of sit-ups, but his peaceful existence is rudely interrupted by the news that Victor Frankenstein, now known as "Helios," is alive and well in New Orleans, where he has been secretly creating hordes of genetically-engineered slaves. Victor controls his creations with an iron fist, but one has escaped and taken up serial killing as a hobby, thereby attracting the attention of Detective Carson O’Connor and her partner, Michael Maddison. When Deucalion arrives in New Orleans, hoping to expose his creator’s crimes, he turns to O’Connor and Maddison for help, but even their combined efforts might not be enough to stop Frankenstein’s plans from coming to fruition.

Prodigal Son might look to 19th century literature for inspiration, but Alan Moore’s cerebral, nuanced League of Extraordinary Gentlemen this isn't. Instead, it's a well-paced thriller with enough gross-out elements to appeal to horror fans and enough literary references to lend it a veneer of respectability. The biggest letdown about this adaptation is Booth’s competent but generic artwork, but if you adjust your expectations to “fun but forgettable” (and don’t eat anything immediately beforehand, particularly if you choose to read the bonus story at the end of the volume), this is a solidly entertaining effort.

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