Review: Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son
Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son, Volume One
Adaptation by Chuck Dixon; Illustrated by Brett Booth
Dell Rey, February 2009, $22.95
There comes a time in every best-selling writer’s life when he realizes that he’d like to make money even faster than he can write books. OK, maybe that realization comes to all of us – but the best-selling writer can actually do something about it. At that point, assuming that scruples aren’t a problem – and how on earth did he become a best-selling writer and keep his scruples, anyway? – the options are two: let someone else write a book under your name, or license something you’ve already written to another medium, and let Joe Hired-Hand do the heavy lifting in that format.
Or, if you’re Dean Koontz, you could do both.
Some years ago, he got Kevin J. Anderson to co-write a novel called [[[Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son]]], and then a couple of sequels. (There was also a TV deal at the time, though, sadly, it eventually fell through.) And now long-time comics writer Chuck Dixon has adapted that novel, which was at least half-written by Anderson in the first place, into a comics series…which, of course, still has “Dean Koontz” as the largest thing on the cover.
(I’m beginning to think that popular writers’ names have a nearly homeopathic power – no matter how much they’re diluted, the audience will keep clamoring for more.)
So, the item in hand is (if I’m following the sequence correctly) the first part (possibly half) of Chuck Dixon’s comics adaptation of Kevin Anderson’s novel adaptation of Dean Koontz’s screen treatment of some ideas vaguely derived from Mary Shelly’s two-hundred-year-old novel [[[Frankenstein]]]. I’m glad to see that originality is as important in comics as it ever was.
There’s this patchwork guy, named Deucalion, with Byronically long hair and the usual impressively-created body, living in the usual secret Himalayan monastery…when he is summoned to New Orleans, during a scene in which he gets to pose a lot with his shirt off and his hair falling artistically from his cocked head.
In New Orleans, a serial killer is systematically collecting a full set of body parts – the outside bits are all from women, but the squishy vitals are from men. Two homicide detectives – Carson and Maddison, who do their own bit of posing – have a few pages of hard-boiled dialogue that boil down to “we have no clue who’s doing this.”
Oh, and Victor Frankenstein is an immortal, amoral, immensely rich and powerful industrialist who creates people in vats at his evil corporation and is in the midst of a plan to conquer the world.
From there, we get a lot of violence – the colorist had to use quite a bit of red on this job – some more important characters, several of whom are also crazy as bedbugs and all of whom like to talk at great length, often on philosophical subjects, and no ending. Deucalion, who looks like the main character, does very little, and the two cops don’t do a heck of a lot more – this book is mostly the villains cackling and killing and showing off how evil they are.
Booth’s art is fussily detailed, in that modern mainstream style, and all of the characters except Deucalion have the faces of twenty-year-olds – utterly smooth and unlined – in subtly wrong proportions. (Deucalion has a face like that, plus some fiddly lines to show that he’s a man-made monster.)
I can’t really recommend Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son; it doesn’t have an ending, the story is terribly overwrought and still grinding its gears, and the art is an unpleasant mix of things unsuccessfully meant to be very pretty and very ugly. But, for Dean Koontz fans, the mere knowledge of its existence may be enough.
Andrew Wheeler has been a publishing professional for nearly twenty years, with a long stint as a Senior Editor at the Science Fiction Book Club and a current position at John Wiley & Sons. He’s been reading comics for longer than he cares to mention, and maintains a personal, mostly book-oriented blog at antickmusings.blogspot.com.
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