Dark Horse’s Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #1 is a unique experience – it takes variations of comics characters that have been published for sixty or more years, dusts them off and gives them a spin that allows storytellers Jeff Lemire and David Rubín to both sneakily reference comics greats of Golden and Silver Ages while coaxing variations on them that feel new and vital.
The first issue of Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil finds Global Planet reporter Lucy Weber setting on a seemingly impossible mission: to find her father, Black Hammer, and the rest of the forgotten champions of Spiral City.
She’s followed every possible avenue of investigation and turned up nothing – leading to a fateful decision: seek out the ultimate supervillain – Sherlock Frankenstein!
The problem is that no one has seen the undead ghoul (or whatever he is) since Black Hammer and friends defeated the Anti-God and disappeared eight years ago.
That leaves her one option – to visit those of his confederates who are locked away in the Spiral City Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
Her interview with Frankenstein’s right hand man, Mectoplasm (Tremblay) yields nothing – though the villain is really just the mind of a little boy fused into a giant mecha (like Billy Batson in Shazam’s body – but here, not by choice).
Then as she’s leaving, minor villain Grimjim tells her a story that makes the search of Sherlock Frankenstein seem an impossibility…
Jeff Lemire has gained a reputation for original storytelling – and he’s on the record as loving the superhero comics of the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s – so it makes sense that he’d bring a new feel to tales of characters who would have fit in those eras.
Even moreso, his variations on the standard tropes of those eras feel like a newly discovered, complete universe from those periods – with a detailed history only hinted at, and characters you could swear you’ve known all your life.
David Rubín’s art feels like something out of the Golden Age – deceptively simple but subtle and sophisticated. The feel here is like something a Berni Wrightson might have done with his wrong hand – it’s got the impact and integrity of a treasured creation.
Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #1 has a Golden Age glow to it that I really don’t see anywhere else in comics.
It’s quite delightful!
Final Grade: A