Frankenstein Mobster #0

By Mark Wheatley
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I think the first time I really took register of Mark Wheatley’s work in comics was when he created the original Radical Dreamer series. Each issue folded out into a gigantic map-sized poster, with gorgeous painted colors and imaginative alien worlds and technology swirling around the page. It’s been a little frustrating, then, to see so much of his art lately in black and white; thankfully, that particular void in my life is about to be filled with Wheatley’s new Image series The Frankenstein Mobster.

Monstro City is one of the few places in the world where humans and monsters co-exist these days. The most dangerous part of town is what’s called the “Dead End”, where it’s mostly monsters living together, and crime runs rampant. Once, human detective Terry Todd would be there as a force of justice. Now he’s gone… but his daughter Terri has just arrived and as the newest addition to the police force of Monstro City, she’s here to help, starting with the kidnapped daughter of mummy cabdriver Ozmed DuTrek. What she doesn’t know, of course, is that she might be seeing her father again sooner than she’d think.

The Frankenstein Mobster #0 is a nice little introduction to the world of Monstro City and the people in it. It’s also one of the few books that really seems to have a purpose for being a #0 issue; the titular character of the Frankenstein Mobster is only in the shadows here, with the main thrust being to introduce both the city as well as Terri. Terri herself is a fun character, with just the right level of strong spirit and cunning that you can see why she’s risen up through the ranks to become a police detective. Just as important is the character of Monstro City itself. I love the identity that Wheatley’s given it, with its different parts of town and the kind of people that live there. It’s easy to see the attraction to want to come back to Monstro City over and over again. (As a reader, that is!)

Wheatley’s art hasn’t lost any of its charm since the last time I saw him draw a full-color comic story. There’s a great sense of gloom about Monstro City as Terri first enters the town, but at the same time there’s charm in the Dead End’s delapidation and disrepair. Maybe it’s the medusa streetwalkers, or having cabs driven by mummies that use beaded seat covers for a more comfortable ride. There are lots of little details here that shows how well-defined Monstro City is in Wheatley’s head, and he’s doing a gorgeous job of showing it to us.

After his work as co-author of the also-enjoyable Hammer of the Gods, it’s great to see Wheatley back in the saddle with a series entirely his own. This is a really fun teaser for Frankenstein Mobster, and I think there’s enough potential here for Wheatley to have far, far too much fun with this mixing of b-movie monsters and mobsters. The Frankenstein Mobster is scheduled for an October 2003 release; in the current Previews for books shipping in October, it’s on page 119 in the Image Comics section. Or, if your retailer prefers, they can order it using code AUG03 1206. What should you be asking for this Halloween? The Frankenstein Mobster #0, of course.

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