Review: Franken-Castle #18

Published on June 29th, 2010

It is with great trepidation, that I read this issue. It fills me with dread to even consider opening up an issue of Franken-Castle anymore. Rick Remender seems to have done the impossible, and turned something with such high potential into one of the most fragile series Marvel is currently publishing. I’d rather walk on dangerously thin ice right now, than read an issue of this. The amount of wonderful stories that could come from this are certainly plentiful (which is something we’ve known for as long as I can remember, I know, just bare with me), yet the way I see it, Remender seems to be taking this down the most linear path possible.

I know it’s probably in Frank’s nature to want to deal with Daken and his own murder first, rather than to deal with monster-stuff, but why change him into a monster to then not have anything in the comic acknowledge the tranformation? I am aware that the first story-arc for Franken-Castle dealt with nothing but monsters, I only hope that we see more of Frank with monsters, especially after this series has changed it’s title. It pains me to see the potential for this reinvented character ignored; it frustrates me as I know that realistically, the potential should be ignored to stay true to the character.

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Though, as frustrated with this series as I am right now, I cannot stop reading Franken-Castle, and I will not stop. This new concept for the character is too good, even though it’s being abused. Reading Franken-Castle #18, certainly helped with the manifestation of this new ‘love/hate’ stance I’ve taken.

The interior content in this comic is challenging enough, in many ways. But let us start by looking at the front cover. Never in my life have I set my eyes on something quite so utterly repulsive. I’m having trouble deciding whether Frank has been drawn in the brain-dead walk of a stereotypical monster on purpose as a bad joke made at the expense of the book’s genre, or if it is just really bad art. Lady Gorgon is drawn terribly on the cover, too. She looks like the inbred daughter of a Bangkok transvestite and Lady Gaga as dressed in her Alejandro music video, with what looks like about as much flexability as dead body with rigamortis. The background is too distracting and too hectic as well. I cannot believe this cover was not sent back to Mike McKone and Morry Hollowell to be re-done.

Anyway, the comic itself now. If you read the previous issue, you will know that Frank has created a list (seems everyone loves making lists since Nick Fury made one in Secret Invasion and Osborn in Dark Reign, to name but a few) of people he intends to kill for various reasons. This issue deals with Frank taking Lady Gorgon off his list. What baffles me is this though… Frank finds her, then after many badly drawn fights, she dies (I will not spoil how she dies, though it matters not), and on the final page, Frank tells his tech-pal to take her off his list and to open up Daken’s file as his next target. Oh wait, what? Sorry, so what was the point of this issue then? Lady Gorgon was on the top of his list, and not Daken, the guy who killed him? That’s like Iron Man deciding he’s going to shout at his gardener for not mowing his lawn on time, before going after The Mandarin or something. That is what pissed me off when I reached the final page, the fact that this issue was ultimately pointless. It was an unecessary waste of time.

Even if there is a previous story which revolved around something I am obviously not aware of between Lady Gorgon and Frank, I still think having him deal with her first on his list is pointless given what Daken did to make him the monster he now is. It seems illogical.

The story itself is not good either. The artwork is nothing to write home about, and the colours are annoying. I know the atmosphere the colourist is desperatly trying to create in this comic, but it just hasn’t worked. The ninjas of The Hand were not even coloured red at any point in the issue, which is quite embarrassing. Plot wise, nothing was looked at in enough detail to make me care about anything. The reasons for Lady Gorgon wanting to be accepted back into The Hand, and the significance of this mystic sword she has were not given enough room to flirt with my interests.

The story and the art feel sadly wasted, and I feel sick thinking that this issue could be the start of a progressive downfall for the series. I only hope that the upcoming crossover with Dark Wolverine picks things up. I suppose we shall have to wait and see. For any of you who are more optimistic about the future of this series, then you’ll want to pick up Dark Wolverine #88 for ‘part 1’ of the crossover with Daken.

Final words? I am disappointed. I want to cry.

Rob Andrews
Rob@comicimpact.com