The Modern Frankenstein – Paul Cornell, Emma Vieceli, Pippa Bowland (Heavy Metal Comics)

That place where ethics and scientific boundaries meet, has always been the basis of Frankenstein novels right from Mary Shelley’s original, but this is explored even deeper and in contemporary fashion by writer Paul Cornell in The Modern Frankenstein. Cornell, who’s probably best known for his work in Doctor Who has teamed up with fellow Brit, artist Emma Vieceli (also Doctor Who) and Pippa Bowland to take a fresh and very different look at this timeless story.

Dr James Frankenstein is something of a contentious figure, due to a borderline obsession he has with the future of humanity. This drives him into conducting immoral surgery procedures and experiments, which he believes, is for the greater good. Young Elizabeth fast becomes captivated by Frankenstein and turns into his most ardent supporter as well as his lover. She is further enamoured by him when he “cures” her mother of dementia, which convinces her of his god like status and her willing to walk to the ends of the earth for this man. With a secret project involving testing on human subjects underway, he tests that commitment fully, begging the question should principles and love ever mix?

The Modern Frankenstein is a modern-day romantic horror, but the horror is not in your face or gory, rather a slow creeping chill, that sits nicely alongside the romantical angle. Frankenstein is portrayed as a tortured genius type, with a suave look, that belies the horrifying underbelly of his work. This is captured brilliantly by artist Emma Vieceli, as is the bright-eyed innocence of Elizabeth as she is slowly led astray by Frankenstein. It’s the classic sexy villain, Patrick Bateman, Norman Bates set up and it works very well. This is not a retelling of Shelley’s classic and bears little resemblance to it, but this is a thoroughly enjoyable read that steadily takes your nerves on a journey of love, obsession, and terror. A moral story for the ages given new life once again. “It’s alive, it’s alive” …..Chris Andrews

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