1816, Switzerland. And 18 year old girl dreamed of what would become the first science fiction novel. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein tells of a scientist who discovers the secret of animating dead tissue. He composites a body out of corpses and brings it to life. Horrified by the what he has made, Dr. Frankenstein abandons it to learn what it is to be human on its own. Monster and Madman by Steve Niles and Damien Worm explores what happens to the monster after the death of his creator. One of literature’s most famous creatures meets one of history’s favorite serial killers in a fusion of fiction and real-life mystery.
Frankenstein’s monster sails out of the North Pole, haunted by the memories of the lives that his mismatched body parts had contained. He encounters the deceit and cruelties of humans again, leading him to London. The monster is rescued from a mob by Dr. Moore, who examines him for the source of his life and promises to create an undead bride. All the while, Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel murders send the city into a flurry of fear.
Niles does the main character justice, showing Frankenstein’s creature contemplating mortality and the value of life from the perspective of a monster who is so very human. Though he has been despised and tricked by the self-serving cruelty of mankind, the monster still chooses to trust others and hope for an end to his loneliness. His mind is the focus, the depth of his feeling and the sense of morality that proves itself noble in the end. Worm’s artwork evokes German expressionism with its pointed figures and gloomy atmosphere. Muted colors make the splashes of blood and light all the more striking. Blending the worlds of Frankenstein and Jack the Ripper is a marvelous idea and is beautifully executed: dark and touchingly tragic. It is a good collection and I think Mary Shelley would be approve.