A review that originally appeared in Black Static #11:-
Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son
(Del Rey hardback, 144pp, $22.95)
The back story behind the series of novels published under the general heading of Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein is straightforward enough – subsequent to the events recorded in Mary Shelley’s classic text, Frankenstein discovered the secret of immortality, and lives on in the modern world under the name Helios, still working to create the perfect race to replace fallible mankind. This book is the first volume of a graphic novel adaptation, with script by Chuck Dixon and illustrations by Brett Booth, of the first novel in the series, written by Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson.
In the hundred or so pages on offer, we get various plot strands set in motion. Helios attempts to create the perfect woman and retain control of his other ‘children’, while a rogue killer takes body parts to make his own monster. Detectives O’Connor and Maddison investigate this series of murders, and find an unlooked for ally in Deucalion (the original monster). Elsewhere we get a killer who preys on Helios’ new race, and a life form evolving in his laboratory that tries to control Helios’ wife to forward its own agenda.
If a picture really is worth a thousand words we get more than half a million here, and it’s only the first volume. There’s a deft interweaving of the various threads, so that they play off of each other and you get glimpses of the pattern that may eventually emerge, though nothing concrete. Add to that plenty of plot twists and characters who are all well drawn, in both senses of the word. The pacing is excellent, with splash pages complementing the smaller panel work and evocative artwork throughout. It works hard to engage the interest and it succeeds admirably, but all the same, while there’s a lot happening, it is only groundwork, with nothing resolved, and by no stretch of the imagination can this book be regarded as a self-contained work. If you want to know how it all turns out, then you are going to have to buy however many volumes follow, or go straight to the source material, the Koontz and Anderson novel that was its prototype.
Koontz writes an introduction in which he explains why he thought the Frankenstein archetype needed updating, and there’s a bonus story by him, with artwork by Booth and others, which relates the creation of a monster, and is nice to look at but no great shakes otherwise.