The monster awakes. Artist: Mike Ploog.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1973
Creators: Mary Shelley (original character), Gary Friedrich (writer) and Mike Ploog (artist)
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By 1973, when comic books had been in their present form more than a third of a century, the idea of using Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein Monster as a character was …

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… hardly new. Prize Comics had made a series of the character, and he'd starred in an issue of Classics Illustrated. Just a few years earlier, Dell Comics had done Frankie as a superhero.

In fact, he wasn't all that new even to Marvel Comics, which had used him as a villain in X-Men #40, flashed a cameo of him in Silver Surfer #7, and referred to him any number of times in its monster stories of the 1950s and early '60s. But Marvel's use of the character began in earnest in the early 1970s, when the company was going whole-hog into supernatural/horror characters like Morbius the Living Vampire and Brother Voodoo. Marvel's Monster of Frankenstein series began with a cover date of January, 1973.

The Marvel version of the Monster began with a four-issue adaptation of Shelley's original novel. Gary Friedrich (The Blue Beetle, Ghost Rider) wrote the script for it, and Mike Ploog (Werewolf by Night, Ghost Rider) did the art. It was faithful to the story even to the point of leaving the monster trapped in the ice at the end — so of course, the fifth issue began with him being rescued.

After that, the storyline stayed in 1898, the year of the rescue, for a few issues. In #7, the art was taken over by John Buscema (She-Hulk, The Avengers). That same issue launched a three-part crossover with Marvel's version of Dracula, in which the Monster's vocal chords were damaged — just in case anyone was wondering how Shelley's intelligent, articulate monster started sounding like most movie versions of him. (Dracula was killed in the fracas, but you know how it is with vampires.) Friedrich and Buscema stayed with the character until the 11th issue, at the end of which he was again placed in suspended animation.

To the great surprise of practically nobody, he next woke up in the present day, where he'd be available for crossovers with most other denizens of the Marvel Universe. Writer Doug Moench (Weirdworld, Master of Kung Fu) and artist Val Mayerik (Howard the Duck, American Splendor) handled the character for the remainder of his run, which ended with the 18th issue (September, 1975).

While the character was running in his own comic, he also had a series in Marvel's magazine-format (i.e., made to look like an issue of Mad magazine or Creepy) Monsters Unleashed. He was also the subject of a book-and-record set from Power Records, as were such other Marvel series as Conan and Captain America. About a year after the series ended, the Monster was seen again in Marvel Team-Up #s 36 and 37, where the eponymous team-up involved him, Man-Wolf and Spider-Man.

Since then, Marvel doesn't seem to have had much use for its version of Frankenstein's Monster, tho the first four issues were reprinted in the 1993 mini-series Book of the Dead. They did use the character again, in a 1983 edition of the novel, heavily illustrated by Berni Wrightson (who has done scores of fantasy/horror stories for DC Comics, Warren Publications and others). But this bore scant resemblance to either the Friedrich/Ploog or the Moench/Mayerik version.


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Text ©2003-03 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.