Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Frankenstein’s Womb – A Review

Frankenstein’s Womb

Publisher Avatar

Writer Warren Ellis

Art Marek Oleksicki

Warren Ellis appears to have carte blanche with Avatar and I think it is paying off. What I admire about Ellis is that he is unwilling to be pigeonholed and is willing to write about almost anything. Given how much I enjoyed Crecy I’m willing to pick up these one off graphic novels by Ellis without even paying attention to what the book is about. Now Aetheric Mechanics I thought was not as good as Crecy, but you at least got some entertainment for your money. This book gets better the further away you get from it.

It serves as both a biography of Mary Shelley and an examination of the various issues she must have touched upon in her writings. Or Ellis was merely connecting her work to other ideas from the time and trying to derive how disparate people end up creating the future without even meaning to create it. At the same time he gives us a biography of Mary Shelley that sheds a lot of light on whom she is and perhaps why the Frankenstein novel has even more levels then I would have thought. In fact it makes me want to go and read the novel again. I started it at one time and never finished. I now own a hardcover version that contains all the beautiful Bernie Wrightson illustrations of the novel.

I said I like this book better and better the further I get away from it and that is because when you are reading it the exposition is heavy and it is very much a talking heads book. Mary stops her carriage and goes to explore the Frankenstein castle. She meets the monster of her creation and then goes on a Christmas Carol type tour of her life in the past, near present and the actual future even past her time. She sees how electricity revives the dead today just as she said in her book, we see her mother die at the moment of her birth and many other things. Within the book philosophies are espoused and people are exposed for what they are and will become. You become so engrossed in the narrative of the story you almost forget it has art. After you finish reading it and mull it over you start to realize just how many ideas and thoughts Ellis filled this book with.

The art itself serves the story very well. The art is in black and white and Oleksicki’s heavily lined realistic style adds to the mood. His ability to convey expression and make a book that is almost all talk and no action flow smoothly is a testament to his skills. You don’t close the book thinking about the art, but you do realize that art made this work or else one might have been bored reading all the text.

Overall Grade A – It is a graphic novel that leaves you thinking, lets you learn more about Mary Shelley and perhaps about life. It is almost a quite A, like the movie Gattaca was to a movie like Dark Knight, this is to Scalped, both great, one introspective and one a hell of a ride.

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