Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #1 offered an interesting and unique look into Frankenstein, and with it came some fresh social issues too. It also felt quite cinematic in its pace and art, which made me mark #2 as a must read. Can it hold up the quality of the first issue?
Writer: Victor LaValle
Artist: Dietrich Smith
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
While Dr. Baker is being investigated, the Monster becomes entangled with a conflict at the U.S./Mexico border.
Why does this book matter?
The series offers up a sequel of sorts to Frankenstein as LaValle revealed not only is the monster real, but still alive in the near future. Add in the fact that Dr. Frankenstein’s great great granddaughter is working to make her ancestor’s science work again and the monster has something to fight for more than ever.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Smash cut to almost 200 years later!
This issue surprisingly opens with the monster fleeing for his life in 1799. He rushes for help from some folks camped in the woods and promptly sees they have no empathy for a freak like him. Cut to today, and we’re quickly reminded the monster has no care for people and will let them die–and he’ll kill–without a second thought. LaValle is making it quite clear this beast is to be feared and never underestimated. The monster can flip cars and kill armed men with ease. There’s a Terminator vibe from the monster that is unmistakable and it adds a level of anticipation as far as the monster’s end goal.
Much of the rest of the issue focuses on two agents looking for Dr. Baker, the ancestor of Dr. Frankenstein and a woman who is clearly up to something. LaValle writes these agents in a fresh way so that they feel realistic and, surprisingly, likeable. Usually these types of characters serve to progress the plot or are there for the reader to hate, but here there’s a level of detail that adds a level of realism. Progress is made as far as who they work for–and possibly another threat on the board for future issues. Dr. Baker meanwhile, gets some additional character work in an thrilling action scene.
They might be the bad guys (or maybe not) but they’re written well so you’ll relate to them.
The art by Dietrich Smith continues to impress, especially in the sequence at the tail end of the issue. Smith draws some interesting science fiction elements that make them seem almost magical, but also steeped in reality. I won’t say more to avoid spoilers, but it looks cool. The monster continues to have a creepy zombie-like look to him that aids in his scary nature. There’s a nice use of tilted panels to help make the story feel unnerving when necessary too.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The pace of the issue overall feels somewhat slow in part because it consists of two sequences, though the second is quite long. It might be due to a lack of reveals, or the fact that the monster is still journeying to his destination, but the serial storytelling is noticeable in this issue.
Is It Good?
In a stronger issue than the first, LaValle adds further mysteries and interesting science fiction ideas to an already compelling premise.