Dude, You’re Getting a Dell Frankenstein!

October 26th, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

Covering Frankenstein is probably the best way for me to end the Dell Monster Trilogy, just because it is easily the best of the three comics. I realize that doesn’t mean much, and believe me, it doesn’t. It’s still pretty bad. It’s just that it’s the only one that feels like it could be a comic book worth reading.

Dracula was very loosely based on the source material and wasn’t quite as fun a concept as it could have been. Werewolf had literally nothing to do with its source material and despite the utter insanity of the story, was really boring for the most part. Frankenstein is the closest to the source and comes across as genuinely amusing for an old 60’s comic at points. It isn’t much, but it’s still the cream of the crop.

Like the other two, the creative team is believed to be Dan Segall and Tony Tallarico. Much like Dracula, Dell refers to the comic book adaptation of the Frankenstein movie that they released years earlier to be Frankenstein #1. The start of the superhero stuff is considered the second issue.

I can’t be the only one who sees Dell Frankenstein and thinks of Captain Murphy from Sealab 2021, can I? I kept hearing his voice for every one of Frankenstein’s word bubbles.

It begins promising enough with the shot of an abandoned castle that hasn’t been touched in about a century. We soon after find out that this is in America and that it’s only miles away from a major city (Metropole City), but at least the atmosphere is there. A huge bolt of lightning crashes through the roof and hits a slab below. On the slab is a body lying and dressed in red spandex with boots. For no reasons explained, his head is green-skinned and the rest of his body appears Caucasian. The bolt awakens him and he sits up, confused.

He wanders around the castle, trying to remember who he is. Things seem familiar, but he can’t place it. He finds a journal dated 1866 and tries to read it, but it explodes into dust.

Keep in mind that even though the castle is in America and the monster is carrying around a torch nonchalantly, this is STILL more faithful to the source than the other two comics. Our monster friend looks into the dusty mirror and exclaims, “A man! I am a man!”

Despite the book exploding earlier, he’s still able to read it. He spends 2 months in solitude and decides that he needs to explore the outside world. He knows that the world will not accept him for looking like a giant, green-faced freak. Luckily, his creator left a few flesh-colored rubber masks for him. He’s able to put them on and appear as just a really tall dude. Since he doesn’t have a name, he picks up a stone slab on the ground that says “FRANK” before being cut off. He decides to give himself the civilian name of Frank N. Stone.

Yes. Really.

Instead of being a complete tard like the popular incarnation of the Frankenstein Monster, our hero finds out that according to the notes, he is fifty times smarter than the average man. No, this does not come into play at all throughout the entire three issues. Yes, he does some smart stuff here and there, but it’s nothing that Spider-Man or Batman couldn’t have figured out for themselves.

Not even two minutes after walking out of the castle, there’s a car crash nearby. He runs over to the burning wreckage and effortlessly tears the door away. He saves the driver and flings the car down a hill like it was nothing. The old man recognizes how strong Frank Stone is and knows that he is from the castle, as part of some kind of legendary prophecy.

At first, Frank wants to run, but the old man insists that his secret is safe with him. An ambulance drives over and Frank decides to come with them. The old man is revealed to be millionaire Henry Knickerbocker. He tells the workers that he’ll let his private doctor take care of him, so they drive to his mansion and wheel him in. From seeing the ambulance guys and the private doctor in action, Frank begins to rethink his fears of mankind. They seem pretty cool after all.

Henry and Frank go out for a stroll to discuss their connection.

Frank gets into the life of being a millionaire and having his own butler. His butler William says that there are some gentlemen there to see him and we can tell from the beginning that these guys plan to rob him. Frank is distracted as on a neighboring rooftop, a woman is being assaulted. He needs to do something, but knows that if he saves the day as Frank Stone, he’ll blow his cover. He excuses himself, changes into his red spandex, removes his mask and uses his super-strength to grab the woman before she goes over the edge. He punches out the attacker and hands him over to the police.

Meanwhile, William the butler discovers the two men fishing through Frank’s desk for money. They steal a handful of cash, pistol whip William and take off. Frank comes in, sees that the criminals have gone away and stews in anger. A short while later, he decides to take a ride back to the castle.

“It’s all too true… the things that the doctor wrote about in his books… they’ve all come true. Man has learned nothing in a thousand years… The world is full of violence and crime. If men cannot save themselves… then I must do what I can to save them!”

He spends the next few days honing his abilities, such as throwing boulders around and crashing through walls.

Off on an island in the Caribbean, we meet Mr. Freek, a man who isn’t so much a midget as he’s a mad scientist who had been rendered very short due to “an unfortunate accident”. He has a bulky henchman named Kilo to order around, but quickly replaces him with Bruto, the largest gorilla in the world.

I like the direction this is going. With Dracula and Werewolf, I was a bit disappointed that as weird as the stories were, they never went the full nine yards. The two of them fought common criminals and evil generals. Nothing too exciting given our heroes. But having the Frankenstein Monster go toe-to-toe against a giant gorilla with a tiny mad scientist hanging on him is exactly what I was hoping for when I started reading these comics.

Mr. Freek and Bruto go on a big rampage through nearby Seaboard City and steal some gold when possible. William reads the headlines and figures Frank would be interested in this. He walks in to find his boss in his true form.

At first I thought Frankenstein changes really fast between those last two panels, but now I see that William takes his sweet-ass time when it comes to responding to things people say.

Frank and William visit Seaboard City as everyone leaves the place in fear of the monstrous gorilla. With the city reduced to a ghost town, Mr. Freek takes a stroll solo to enjoy his victory. He then finds Frank Stone casually hanging out at a table as William smugly delivers tea. He ignores Freek’s angry outbursts and questions and offers him some tea. Freek tears away the tablecloth in a fit of rage, while Frank calmly remarks at his lack of manners. Freek screams for Bruto to step over and help him out, but once Bruto shows up, Frank and William are long gone. I have to admit, it’s a pretty slick scene.

Bruto tears up the city in search for Frank Stone until Frankenstein shows up to challenge him. The two throw down, but only briefly, as William appears in a window, cheering Frankenstein on. Bruto climbs up, grabs William and uses him as a hostage. Frankenstein lets him leave for a moment, but stealthily follows them and waits for Bruto to discard William. Soon after, it looks like it’s time for Round Two.

Then the fight plainly stops. Mr. Freek has Bruto escape, they get on a boat and leave back to their island. Frankenstein decides not to go after them, since they won’t be doing anyone any harm. Then he gets back into his Frank Stone disguise and plays ignorant when the returning citizens ask him about the gorilla.

The two return to Metropole City, where they’re met with a bunch of reporters, photographers and Miss Ann Thrope, the woman Frankenstein rescued earlier in the story. She brings the media with her to give credit to the man who saved her life. Frank Stone is wary of his secret identity already being compromised, but to his surprise, Ann tells everyone that it was William of all people that saved her. She gives him a kiss on the cheek and lets him soak in all the attention. Meanwhile, she hints to Frank that she knows his secret. Frank figures that she’s not 100% certain and that he has to be careful with her.

The two walk off to be alone. Ann admits that she was lying about William saving her. She really knows that Frank Stone is the one who came to her rescue. To prove it, she does the Lois Lane trick of faking being in danger in hopes of causing Frank to act. She falls off the roof and he’s too late to catch her. Fortunately, she lands on a cushion she placed there earlier. Frank pretends to be a klutz and falls off the roof himself, also landing on the cushion. This causes Ann to question her idea that Frank is Frankenstein.

She doesn’t buy it completely and knows that there are already too many coincidences. Frankenstein saves her while Frank Stone lives next door. Frankenstein saves Seaboard City from Mr. Freek when Frank Stone is in the city visiting. And you know, also the whole thing about him being freakishly tall and having the name Frank Stone.

It’s an interesting double-edged sword when it comes to women in these Dell monster/superhero comics. On one hand, they’re really lazy about their inclusions. Each story has a whopping ONE female character, not counting background extras and they all look almost exactly the same. It’s like Dell is a movie studio and they keep casting the same actress.

On the other hand, when you get past all that, they’re pretty solid female roles that you wouldn’t normally expect around that time. B.B. Beebee from Dracula was headstrong, skilled in many ways and rarely needed the hero’s help to the point that she eventually became his crime-fighting partner. Judy Bowman from Werewolf doesn’t have too much of a role, but she’s still shown as being wholly competent. Ann Thrope is a more tenacious version of the old style of Lois Lane. She’s smart enough to figure out that Frank Stone is Frankenstein from day one and even his attempts to trick her don’t cause her to falter on her instincts. Compare this to Lois, who would occasionally get the idea that Clark is Superman, only to have it be proven wrong due to some prank and forget about it for about six months.

Yes, this is a rad cover, but I’m afraid the story isn’t quite like what they promise. It’s like they took aspects of the comic and merged them into this awesome image of Frankenstein with a wrench vs. Frankenstein with jewels while a computer rallies in the background. You’ll see what I mean.

Frank is relaxing at his estate when Ann shows up with a newspaper. She wants to gauge his reaction at seeing the headline in order to prove her instincts true.

Frank knows he needs to spring into action, but he doesn’t want to reveal himself in front of Ann. He just doesn’t trust her enough to blow his cover. He fakes an appointment and has her follow him around town for a while until he’s able to lose her. Finally, he’s able to go after some of those escaped criminals. And there you see that Frankenstein’s greatest weakness is priorities.

He finds a bunch of bad guys robbing a race track. Frankenstein busts in, ready for a fight, but the criminals respond strangely. They announce, “Program F-13!” and give themselves up, all while seeming completely out of it. Frankenstein picks up one of their briefcases and it emits knockout gas. Frankenstein passes out, along with everyone else in the room. Civilians appear to see what’s happened. A team of medics with glazed over eyes storm in and take Frankenstein away in their ambulance. According to one, Program F-13 is terminated and E-1 is in effect, whatever that means.

Frankenstein wakes up in a cell and immediately tries to escape by busting the door down. What he finds on the other side is a computer with hypnotizing powers.

And so, YouTube user comments were invented!

From there, Frankenstein starts robbing banks and announcing stuff like, “B-2 in operation.” The police are amazed that he’s turned to a life of crime and are prepared to shoot him on sight. William can tell that something must be controlling him, so he puts his neck on the line by driving to one of the robberies and hijacking the getaway car.

Frankenstein is free from the mind control and relates the story of the evil supercomputer. Apparently, whoever created it programmed the computer with more information than it could handle, which caused it to gain intelligence and become evil. He goes to the police to explain his story and for no explained reason, they completely believe in his innocence. I can’t wrap my mind around that.

“Hi, I’m Frankenstein. I’ve been fighting crime for about a week, then I started robbing banks. My apologies for that, but you have to understand that an evil computer kidnapped me and brainwashed me by being really… uh… hm. How did it brainwash me? Anyway, I’m better now and I want to help and not be arrested. Fire bad.”

“Hm. That is a pretty tall tale you’re telling, but that part about the fire certainly checks out. Oh, what the hell! Welcome back, Frankenstein!”

Ann, meanwhile, notes how Frank Stone has been “out of town” for the past few days, while Frankenstein’s been on a rampage. She’s now almost positive that they’re the same man. She goes to the jewelry store, figuring it to be the next target. She’s too late to find Frankenstein, but the other mind-controlled criminals grab her and take her hostage.

Frankenstein and the police commissioner want to go after the computer, but Frankenstein has no idea where it is. After all, he went in knocked out and left mind-controlled. The computer then calls them up, saying that it has Ann has a hostage. It wants Frankenstein to surrender himself in exchange for her freedom. He plays along, but tells the commissioner that he has a plan.

Now, part of the agreement is that the mind-controlled bad guys would be given an armored police car to transport Frankenstein to the secret hideout. That leads to this panel and its amazing typo.

Whoa! WHOA! WHOA! What the hell kind of police force is this?!

Once let loose in the computer’ lair, Frankenstein falls down a trap door and into a cell with no exit. The computer’s plan isn’t so much to hypnotize Frankenstein over again, but to trap him and keep him as a prisoner. The computer has its henchmen move it into the police van and they go off to find a new headquarters. Ann is still a hostage and wonders to herself why Frankenstein doesn’t jump up through the trap door and escape, considering he’s able to pull that off.

We find out why just after. It wasn’t Frankenstein, but William in disguise. Dude certainly has good arms for a doughy butler type.

Now look back at the cover to this issue. William dressed up as Frankenstein at one point and at another point he clobbered the real Frankenstein in the head with a wrench to stop him from stealing jewels. They decided to merge that into some cool Frankenstein vs. Frankenstein image that doesn’t pay off. Also Frankenstein is punching William right in the chest on that cover. That should probably cause his torso to explode.

William has a device on him that signals the police to where he’s being held. Frankenstein recues him, admitting that he didn’t think the computer would be smart enough to leave and find a new hideout. Then he discovers a rather thick electrical cord. Frankenstein realizes that while the computer has a portable power source for when it’s being transported, it must need a LOT of constant electricity to function otherwise.

Therefore, Frankenstein goes with the easiest and probably most foolish way of stopping the computer: turn off all the power to the eastern half of the country. That way they’ll be sure to get that nasty computer.

They would panic because of a threat that they’re in the midst of neutralizing?

The power outage certainly causes much annoyance around that half of the country, but it does cause the computer to power down. That still leaves the criminal henchmen, who will obviously cause problems once they’re free from the mind-control. The writing gets a bit lazy here as Frankenstein gets in a helicopter, flies around and by chance looks through a window to see Ann tied up. He enters the building and beats up all the bad guys.

With everything wrapped up, Ann wonders about William’s role in the adventure. How do you explain him dressing as Frankenstein if Frankenstein isn’t Frank Stone? Frankenstein talks his way out of it by saying that William is his #1 fan and gets to help him out in adventures. Ann feels frustrated, knowing that if she sees Frankenstein walking around in Frank’s mansion, it doesn’t prove anything. Well, yes, if you ignore that Frank Stone and Frankenstein are freaking tall and William is dumpy and average height.

The last panel shows the computer as reprogrammed, giving out weather information. You can tell it’s no longer evil because its dialogue is spelled correctly. Frank thinks it’s great to see a computer reformed and wonders if such possibilities are there for humanity.

One more Dell comic to go through before I can retire.

Is Mr. Freek wearing a toupee?

Another thing, I’m wondering what the deal is with that last blurb. Are these guys such pussies that they can’t leave the cover open to interpretation? Yes, we know Spider-Man isn’t going to die in any given issue, but it’s nice for the cover to suggest that maybe he will. No advertisement should say “Our hero faces a threat that could possibly kill him, but don’t worry. He gets out fine!”

Mr. Freek reads about Frankenstein’s computer adventure and grows furious. He… Hold up a second. How does a villain on his own secret jungle island get a daily newspaper? Who the hell delivered that?

In Metropole City, Frank and William discuss how quiet things are. I guess having a super-strong monster on the loose to beat up wrongdoers will cause people to rethink their positions on right and wrong. Then Ann shows up. Frank gets ready to have to deal with her yet again, but she’s there to see William. Since he’s Frankenstein’s #1 fan, he and Ann have been chosen by the mayor to prepare a “thank you” rally for him. Frank lets him go take care of that and says he won’t be able to make the show due to… thinking. So important, that thinking.

The next day, an entire stadium is filled with people wanting to celebrate Frankenstein. Underneath the stage, Mr. Freek and Bruto ready themselves with hissing crates. It turns out that the whole thing was Freek’s idea, under the guise of a huge Frankenstein fan. Once the time is right, he pulls a switch and the trap door opens up. Frankenstein falls downward, where he meets up with a couple giant spiders.

Due to the smoke-filled riots, the police are too busy to help out. Ann and William decide to save Frankenstein themselves.

Look at ‘em go! Say, am I the only one who sees a little Edward G. Robinson in Bruto’s face?

They’re taken to Freek’s island, where he makes Frankenstein fight a bunch of jungle beasts. Most of which are genetically enhanced. Frankenstein outfights them all by using them against each other. He’d throw one jungle cat into another jungle cat. He’d throw a giant snake at a crocodile. He’d get a giant tarantula to web up Bruto the gorilla. Mr. Freek sees all his plans going up in smoke, so he runs off into the danger-infested jungle.

Frankenstein goes into a speech to his friends about choosing good and evil and keeps it strangely casual, even as Mr. Freek dies a horrible, painful death off-panel.

“Yeah, so AS I WAS SAYING…”

The next story is another strange piece of storytelling. The three return to Metropole City to find it completely empty. Not a sign of anyone anywhere. Luckily, it isn’t as bad as it initially seems. Frankenstein notices the lack of buses and how clear the streets are, which clues him in that this was a planned evacuation. They journey outside the city to find the entire population camped out in the mountains.

The mayor relays the story. A few days ago, a loud booming noise hit the city for thirty seconds, shattering glass all over. Someone hijacked the radio and warned everyone to leave the city or else he’d turn the sound back on. They had no choice but to take off.

Frankenstein decides to check it out since he can “withstand fifty times the noise level of an ordinary person.” I don’t know if your powers really work like that, dude, but okay. Driving around, he sees an old man taking a stroll. Strangely, he doesn’t even notice when Frankenstein drives into a garbage can. He taps him on the shoulder and the man freaks.

The man has been driven deaf by all the noise in the city. The same noise that scared away all the birds. It’s driven him mad and out of revenge, he’s created a device called the Screamer. That must have been a bitch to make without working ears. He goes on a long rant about how much he hates noise and how he’ll deafen anyone who tries to stop him.

Okay, see that part where he says, “I’ve met my match in a little old man who says his name is Cy Lantz!”? Not once in that old man’s ramblings did he even once bring that up. Not once!

Rather than just put in ear plugs or something relatively simple, Frankenstein gets a device that would give the opposite frequency of the Screamer. He corners Cy Lantz and causes him to press the button again, only this time, Frankenstein has his own device to cancel out the noise. He takes him to the police, telling him that he’ll be getting his wish by going somewhere very silent. Not only is that kind of a dick thing to say, but Frankenstein says that while standing behind Cy.

If you’ve been paying attention to past reviews, this whole little adventure was referenced in Dracula #4. Dracula and Fleeta were going to stop Cy Lantz themselves, but Frankenstein beat them to it.

The last story has Frankenstein return to his mansion and put on his Frank Stone disguise in time for Ann and William to arrive. Ann is more suspicious than ever, what with Frank not being part of the city-wide evacuation. The sly debate continues until they hear an announcement on the radio that due to the city being evacuated earlier, there are a ton of looters everywhere. Frank knows he’s in a pickle with Ann being there when he really needs to spring into action, but then the radio announces that ordinary citizens can do a service by presenting themselves against the looters and scaring them off.

Frank drags Ann with him outside and finds some guys stealing from a jewelry store. Frank runs over and tosses both of them around like ragdolls. Ann gets smarmy about it, knowing for certain that only Frankenstein is that strong. Frank covers by pointing out that they were also out to steal his car, which drove him in a rage.

Hold up. Considering William later says he saw the whole thing, are we to assume that Frankenstein’s mansion is in the middle of a commercial area? How strange to have a jewelry store right across the street.

Anyway, Ann doesn’t believe Frank, but then sees a guy stealing some of her belongings. She goes on a berserk rampage, showing the same kind of adrenaline-fueled strength that Frank described. Trapped in her hypocrisy, Ann decides that maybe she will give up her silly thoughts that Frank and Frankenstein are the same.

Frank returns home, but feels depressed at the thought that Ann might one day find real proof about his dual identity. He needs to better hide his masks.


And on that strangely depressing note, Frankenstein comes to an end. I still hold my stance that it’s the only Dell superhero comic that had legs to it. It wasn’t a very good series, but it’s still a genuinely fun read in its own way.

At least the general idea of Frankenstein as a comic book hero never truly died. DC and Marvel both used the monster back in the 70’s, but it’s the current super-ridiculous-badass incarnation that Grant Morrison created that I find myself flocking to. He may be different now than how Dell envisioned him then, but considering the excess of bizarre and fantastic concepts (duking it out with gorillas to killing bloodthirsty cows with a giant sword), maybe their incarnations take the form of kindred spirits.

And I am all Dell’d out.

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5 comments to “Dude, You’re Getting a Dell Frankenstein!”

  1. “It wants Frankenstein to surrender herself in exchange for her freedom.”

    Franks true secret, REVEALED!!

  2. Goddamn it. Fixed.

  3. I dunno, Frank there reminds me more of the lead from Space Mutiny than the guy from Sealab.

  4. How does a deaf man who hates noise know when there’s noise around to hate, exactly? I mean, sure he can generally assume a city is loud, but can he tell if it’s an especially loud city?

  5. dude, thats ted danson!
    look at the frankreveal page!