What if the woman of your dreams, the pinnacle of your desires, was snatched from life before you could make her yours? What if when she was here she loved another? Well if you’re Vincent Krall you re-make her al la Frankenstein. That’s when things get interesting.
I’m not going to lie, the thought of re-animating the girl you couldn’t get is beyond creepy and smacks of misogynistic undertones, but that’s more than reason enough to check it out right?
So let’s get into it.
1932, Boston. The girl of his dreams, Court, was killed in a traffic accident (which seems to be the fault of her boyfriend, Krall’s hated enemy, Henry.) Vincent acquires her and continues the research he’s sure will result in bringing her back to him. But as these things go he gets more than he bargained for. “Gail” (as he renames Court) has none of her previous life’s memories, she’s a blank slate. I worried at this moment that this could go down some pretty dark paths very quickly but instead it goes in a different direction. Vincent becomes engrossed in making the “perfect” woman, and begins a strange “Pygmalion” relationship, teaching manners and posture, all the things 1932 Boston would expect of a woman. He even seems to lose interest in her as a conquest, instead seeing her as a project, an accomplishment. I don’t know what made him seem more evil, being in love with his “creation” or seeing her as just a “creation” he could perfect.
That’s probably the hardest part of this book. It takes place in 1932 and you have to remember that, so much of the interaction between Vincent and Gail is over the top sexist, not only treating her like a thing that he’s molding, but teaching her the “manners” of the day; not to order her own food, never put her napkin on her lap, pay attention when a man is speaking, it’s absurd. And it’s especially absurd to someone like me, raised primarily around women, married to my best friend, and stay at home parent to an eight year old girl who I make sure knows that the only “place” for her in this world is wherever the hell she wants it to be.
But I digress.
Where was I? Oh, Vincent has re-animated “Gail” and he’s attempting to create what he considers the perfect woman. Along with the problems of educating a fully grown adult who knows nothing of the world he also has to deal with the problems of necrosis and the superior strength creatures such as Gail tend to posses. Along with his egomaniacal need to create her in this image, he also needs to show the world just how brilliant he is. I cringed for “Gail”, trying to navigate a carnival, a speakeasy, a cocktail party, with no frame of reference and her only guide in life a myopic psycho that she is slowly falling for. Jamie Rich seems to enjoy making us squirm for this lost lamb.
Maybe I’m getting jaded or maybe it’s just that the art is so beautifully rendered by Megan Levens but the horror aspect of the book isn’t in a graphic sense, it’s in knowing that Vincent is truly mad and “Gail” is truly innocent and we’re just along for the ride, waiting for the inevitable wreck their lives are heading toward. I usually know better than to even say this but I’m really hoping Gail gets the happy ending. And Vincent get’s what he deserves.
Oh, also? Watch out for the fairies, haven’t trusted those little things since Torchwood*.
This series gets a 4 out of 5 stars, Jamie Rich has really created something worthy of the elevator pitch “My Fair Lady meets Frankenstein” it’s solid drama with great art.
Check out the issue 5 preview… Want to catch up first? (You should, issue #5 comes out Sept 3rd!) Go to comiXology now and get the first four issues!
Madame Frankenstein #5
Writer: Rich, Jamie S.
Artist: Levens, Megan
Cover Artist: Jones, Joëlle
On Sale September 03, 2014
Diamond Id: JUL140556
Format: LIMITED SERIES
*Both the Torchwood episode “Small Worlds” and Madame Frankenstein reference the Cottingley fairy photos, though they’re called The Courtney Fairies in Madame Frankenstein.