The Midnight Comic Club Episode 8 – Frankenstein at Marvel & DC

As we come together for the eighth meeting of the Midnight Comic Club, we celebrate the November 32, 1931 release of James Whale’s Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff by looking at how Marvel and DC have integrated the character into their universes!

Starting with Marvel, check out Menace #7, X-Men #40 and the fantastic Monster Of Frankenstein trade paperback if you’d like to learn more.  Scroll on down for some images of those books as well as plenty of others mentioned in the episode. I also mentioned the Avengers: Legion Of The Unliving trade which you can check out here.

I should probably link to the episode, so here it is!

Here’s a few more of the Marvel books I mentioned: Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos, Howling Commandos Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fear Itself: Deadpool/Fearsome Four and Punisher: Frankencastle.

Moving on to DC, these are some of the books I mentioned: Showcase Presents Superman Volume 2, The Demon By Jack Kirby, Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger Volume 2, The Creature Commandos, Seven Soldiers Of Victory Volume 2 (though you should also check out Volume 1 as well), Frankenstein Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. Volume 1 and 2 and Elseworlds: Batman Volume 1.

Halloween Scene: Old School Round-Up

bride-of-frankensteinAs I mentioned yesterday, I got to an early start when it came to watching horror movies this fall. So, I’ve got a lot to talk about! First, if you haven’t already, check out a pair of lists I wrote for CBR. One’s about movies and shows to follow Stranger Things up with while the other focused on the best classic horror movies to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime!

Continue reading Halloween Scene: Old School Round-Up

Halloween Scene: The Trade Pile

wytches vol 1Even with all the Halloween-related work I had going on this season — which included healthy doses of Warren’s Eerie comics and Marvel scare books — I still had some time to read a few other things leading up to the big day. I’ll hit these up in a quick hits fashion, but still wanted to call out a few fun aspects of each book. Continue reading Halloween Scene: The Trade Pile

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Ghostbusters Dracula & Frankenstein

I don’t usually post these commercial compilations, but this is the only place I could find the Ghostbusters commercial with the live action appearance by Frankenstein and Dracula, so feel free to stop after the first entry or go on through the whole thing. I knew that TCT would be tricky when I decided to go vampire themed this week. Vampires were never the star of the show when it came to kids cartoons and toys in the 80s and 90s, so I wasn’t exactly sure which way to go and then I remembered the awesome array of monsters that appeared early on in the Ghostbusters line from Kenner.

I never had either of these fantastic facsimiles of the Universal Monsters, but I still have that Venkman figure with the green ghost that attaches to his chest causing his arms to spin around. Frankly, if these guys are so scared of ghosts as we can plainly see by their action features, maybe they need to rethink their line of work.

Buffy Season 8 Trade Post: Volumes 1 Through 8 & Fray

buffy season 8 volume 1 the long way home

It’s vampire week here on UnitedMonkee! Let’s kick things off with one of their all-time biggest enemies, Buffy The Vampire Slayer! Like most of the internet, I loved the series (yes, even the first season). Even so, when Dark Horse first announced they were continuing the show’s adventures with Season 8, I was a bit skeptical, even though series creator Joss Whedon was acting as executive producer of the whole thing. See, back in the day, I bought a ton of Buffy comics from Dark Horse until I realized that they were just kind of filling in holes and playing with the mostly un-chronicled summers. Later on I picked up the Buffy Omnibus volumes and read in the intro that that was part of the whole deal because they didn’t want the comics to step on the toes of the show. As a reader, though, I got a bit bored reading about Season Three characters when Season Four was in full swing, but that’s old water under an old, far more crankier bridge.

The timing thing was obviously no longer an issue with the show being off the air. And, adding to the “good” column, Whedon would have an unlimited budget to work with and some of the best names in comics, TV and film like Brian K. Vaughan, Brad Meltzer, Georges Jeanty, Drew Goddard, Jane Espenson and Karl Moline.

Really, there was no chance I wasn’t going to start reading this book because I was working at Wizard at the time and free comics were everywhere. Like my fellow Buffy fans in the office, we got to reading and really enjoyed it. I might have been a little taken aback by the whole idea of this army of Slayers working around the world S.H.I.E.L.D.-style, but once I got used to it, I was all in. Continue reading Buffy Season 8 Trade Post: Volumes 1 Through 8 & Fray

A Feast Of Friday The 13th Frights!

abbott and costello meet frankensteinI was looking at the calendar last week and realized that there wouldn’t be another Friday the 13th until November. I celebrated last month’s by watching Funhouse and The Shortcut, but wanted to go all out for this one. So, here are a review I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks along with a few new ones! Continue reading A Feast Of Friday The 13th Frights!

Halloween Scene: Phantom Of The Opera (1925)

Much like Dracula, I thought I knew the story behind Phantom Of The Opera from seeing it done many other times in many other forms: disfigured guy loves woman singing in opera, does some nasty stuff to get her the lead, wears funny half-mask, chandalier falls, yadda yadda yadda. As a nice surprise, while all of those things did happen, there was also a lot more going on in this mostly silent film starring Lon Chaney.

First of all, there’s a bigness to this movie as a whole that I wasn’t expecting. The opera set looks gigantic and seems to have a thousand people on it at all times. As the poster here boasts “a cast of 5000 others” it definitely feels like that between the performers, the back stage people and the ubiquitous mob of people going after the Phantom.

On a similar note, there’s a lot going on under this opera house. I thought he was just hanging out in a room somewhere, but there are actually caverns that were torture chambers. This is a nice way of getting to one of my favorite aspects of this movie: the Phantom is basically a death-trap supervillain from a comic book. The girl doesn’t really want to be with him so what does he do? He puts her lover and his cop friend first into a room that generates intense heat and then another that can either drawn them or blow them (and the opera house) to smithereens thanks to barrels and barrels of gunpowder.

The version of the movie that’s on Netflix Instant is a little odd, though I’m not sure if other versions differ. This one has music and even some opera singing on the soundtrack which is all well and good, but there is some really funky stuff going on with the color. Of course, being from 1925, the original film is black and white, but every scene is also tinted with yellow, green, blue or red (I think that’s all, though there might be more). This is kind of neat, but I think it takes away from the starkness of black and white that would have served the film better. Also, it’s very distracting when cutting between two different scenes and the color compeltely changes. There’s also a whole portion that suddenly turns into actual color. Not sure what that was about, but I wonder if a fully black and white version exists out there, I’d like to see that if so.

I’d also like to see more Lon Chaney movies. I must admit that I didn’t really realize that Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney Jr. were two different people. As I’ve said, my experience with these older horror movies is pretty limited, but I’d really like to learn more about both men. Let me know in the comments if you know of any good books or documentaries about them.

I can’t say I was scared by this movie, but I still really enjoyed it. The actual reveal of the Phantom’s true face has been spoiled for me for years, but the way it was done had kind of a derp feel to it. It did become scarier as the movie went on, especially when he’s hanging out on top of the roof of the opera house. Even without being scary (my 17 month old didn’t even flinch when they revealed his true face, though it might have been because I laughed) this is still the kind of movie that has a lot of coolness going for it.

Halloween Scene Trade Post: Frankenstein Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. Volume 1

Frankenstein Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. Volume 1: War Of The Monsters (DC)
Written by Jeff Lemire, drawn by Alberto Ponticelli
Collects Frankenstein Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #1-7

Back when I read the first issue of Frankenstein Agent Of S.H.A.D.E., I was pretty psyched about this as a comic. I dug the crazy sci-fi set-up created by Jeff Lemire, the spy elements and, of course, the idea of a team of monsters going out and smashing other monsters. For the most part, I’ve liked the weirder New 52 books that I’ve experienced and this is definitely up there. Since reading that first issue, I’ve read a few more Lemire books, like the soul-punch that is Lost Dogs and the first volume of his Vertigo book Sweet Tooth and have become a big fan of his. I also want to check out Swamp Thing which everyone seems to love and have The Complete Essex County waiting for me on my Kindle Fire.

Anyway, I should stay on topic. Here’s the deal with Frankenstein. He works for an organization called S.H.A.D.E. which stands for Super Human Advanced Defense Executive that’s run by Father Time who happens to randomly regenerate his body every so many years and is currently in the guise of a small girl wearing a domino mask. Frankenstein’s ostensibly married to the multi-armed Bride of Frankenstein, but they’re estranged. He also winds up leading a new team of monster-human hybrids based on the classic Universal Monsters: vampire, wolf man, sea creature and the mummy. They go on missions that include stopping an invading horde of extra-dimensional beings, saving a sentient planet from its own demons and fighting OMAC.

I was already into this concept because it’s monster soldiers, a concept I like just about every time I encounter it, including the Marvel miniseries Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos. But Lemire takes things in directions I never would have thought. This isn’t just a big monster fight book, there’s also a great mix of alternate dimensions and even super-tech. The S.H.A.D.E. HQ is actually a shrunken down floating city with an impenetrable bubble around it. You have to get shrunk down and then teleported just to get inside. I love that kind of stuff and there’s a lot of that in here. Oh, I should note here that the shrinking tech was designed by none other than Ray Palmer, which marks this series’ closest connection to the larger DCU as far as I’ve read (aside from the OMAC appearance later on).

All of which is a commentary on Lemire’s versatility as a writer. Dude made a name by writing and drawing real world-based stories and has moved on to some of the craziest comics on the stands. I’m a big fan of that. I’m not as big a fan of Ponticelli’s artwork though. It can get really messy and hard to read. I appreciate the scope they’re going for on this book — our team of monsters fighting legions of evil monsters at one time — but it can get confusing at times. I will say that he does some really interesting things with page layouts where they look like splashes, but wind up actually containing several scenes. Take the page below, see how it all seems like one thing at first glance, but then you realize the water’s surface winds up acting like the panel break? That’s pretty rad. Maybe it’s an inking thing, because when he was inked by someone else on issue #7, it looked so different I thought it was a new penciler altogether.

Anyway, I had a great time reading this comic for all kinds of reasons and would definitely recommend it to anyone. I just did some looking around and saw that Lemire’s only on the book for another few issues. This news would generally bum me out, but then I saw that Matt Kindt took over and I’m pretty excited to see what he does/did with his run.

Haha, oh man, as I finished writing this I remembered that my pal Kiel Phegley had written about some upcoming DC cancellations on CBR. I hadn’t had a chance to read it yet post-NYCC and catching up on things. So, I just gave it a glance and saw that this book will get the axe with #17. That’s a bummer, especially because it feels like the kind of project that could have just as easily been a long-running Image series with like, two tweeks. Ah well, that’s Chinatown or whatever.

Halloween Scene: The Invisible Man (1933)

The Invisible Man is the Universal Monster I have the least experience with both in their original formats and the movies they spawned down the line. Aside from cartoons, I think the only legit Invisible Man type flicks I’ve seen are Hollow Man and Chevy Chase’s Memoirs Of An Invisible Man. I think I also read the original H.G. Wells story in college when I was working on a paper comparing the original characters with the versions Alan Moore used in the first League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume. From what I remember, the movie follows the book pretty faithfully.

The flick follows Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains) who has discovered the secret to invisibility and it’s driving him a bit batty. The movie opens when he, covered in bandages, asks for a room at a local inn. Soon enough, the pesky woman who owns the place wants her rent, but Jack doesn’t want to pay, so he strips off his clothes and runs around messing with stuff. As reports flood the police of an invisible man, they understandably don’t believe until they “see” and then try to trap him. There’s a few more twists and turns along the line and there’s a love interest of sorts, but I don’t want to get to spoilery.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t know if I would classify this as a horror movie. Sure, Jack does some bad things, killing a few people here and there and making threats, but it’s hard to find a character too scary when you see him hanging out in his PJs for a solid portion of the movie.

However, I do think The Invisible Man is worth a watch. The story itself is interesting and well performed by everyone involved (I especially like the town drunks who frequent the inn’s bar) and of course Raines does great work as Jack. But even if all that didn’t interest you, there are some pretty groundbreaking effects going on here. I mean, it’s easy to figure out how these things would have been done today, but it’s pretty bonkers to think of them doing something similar back in 1933! If you haven’t seen The Invisible Man I recommend remedying that (it’s on Netflix instant now along with a bunch of other Universal Monster movies), just don’t expect huge horror thrills.