REVIEW: The Creeps: Night of the Frankenfrogs
The Creeps: Night of the Frankenfrogs
By Chris Schweizer
Amulet, 122 pages, $9.95
After being nominated for his historic graphic novel series The Crogan Adventures, creator Chris Schweizer is back with a brand new young adult’s adventure series. The Creeps are a motley collection of middle school students in Pumpkins County. As Amulet describes their new heroes: Carol, a big-city girl new to Pumpkins County, who finds kindred spirits in Mitchell (monster expert), Jarvis (military brat with logistics know-how), and Rosario (girly girl on the outside, muscle underneath).
We meet them after their reputation is clearly established in the school so we avoid originitis and move right into their latest case. Principal Garish hates their antics, regardless of their effectiveness mostly because it means the mess is left to custodian Pinto to clean up, which somehow requires half the school budget. Here’s the first of a series of exaggerations that disrupt the flow of the story as you scratch your head and wonder how that works.
The kids are divided over the forthcoming biology lesson involving dissecting frogs leading several to circulate a petition, angering their teacher, Miss Yamamoto. They ten sadden her when they claim not to care about their science education, a fairly typical comment from immature students so her reaction feels unrealistic (can you tell a teacher is reviewing this?).
When the collection of frogs go missing, the students, in trouble for their comments, are on the case and the mystery begins. There are several threads to trace throughout, including the real nature of dreamy new student Tom Rigby. Their investigation takes them below ground to the secret lab of kid genius Perry Milburn, with an ego the size of Montana and gadgets worth of Doc Ock.
When the kids do find the frogs, they discover they have been enhanced, turning them into, well, Frankenfrogs, using brain matter from several of their peers. And again, here’s where the story reaches a point where you wonder how on earth can this happen, especially in less than sterile circumstances. The physical and mental well-being of these altered students is barely addressed as the action moves at a frenetic pace.
The dialogue is interesting but his characters feel not fully realized and it could be Schweizer’s working with too large a cast and too big a story for a first offering. He also crams each page with lots of small panels, lots of dialogue and that makes for some tough reading. His use of color is interesting as he uses a variety of flat palettes to shift mood and setting.
Younger readers may find this engaging but for me, this introductory story doesn’t entirely rise to the occasion.