Madame Frankenstein is another example of how Image Comics has learned that story drives a comic series far more than glossy artwork. Set during the early Jazz era of the 1930’s, this black and white comic rendition of the Frankenstein story is compelling and dark. A vision of tortured emotions and the angst of a brilliant man spurned by love, fame and acceptance.
Vincent Krall is the son of a chauffeur, who follows his employer; the Colonel into war and dies protecting him. The Colonel adopts young Vincent and raises him alongside his own son Henry. But Henry is jealous of Vincent’s intelligence and when the Colonel dies, he takes everything from Vincent. Even the woman Vincent begins to fall in love with, Courtney Bow. Drinking heavily, Henry drives Courtney home and crashes. In the fireball that remains, Henry crawls away and Courtney is left to die, burning alive.
Vincent, in his grief and madness, takes what is left of Courtney, and with the help of an assistant begins to reconstruct her. Using the body parts of dead girls, he brings Courtney back and names her Gail. She has no memory of her past life and slowly, Vincent teaches her how to be a woman and not a monster. Only in doing so, he teaches her to be his woman, his property and Gail, now able to think for herself, yearns for her own freedom.
It is no coincidence that this retelling of the Mary Shelly classic is set during the time of women’s suffrage and the fight for women’s rights. Gail, the creature, is the epitome of a kept woman yearning to be her own. And Vincent, brilliant and loving is still an insecure man smothered by his own short comings who instead of earning himself his own mate, has created one instead.
It is a mix of drama and pain as Vincent’s final solution is as powerful an image as can be seen in comic, in film or any other medium. Gail’s head, removed from her body, floating in a jar.
More than a horror tale. A very good book.