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Flashback: Review of Uncanny X-Men 40 (January 1968) July 14, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, Flashback.
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In Flashback, LOTRKing reviews a random back issue (in most instances, one he hasn’t read before) and attempts to make sense of both the story and its place in Marvel history.

Remember that ol’ phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, insert the word “comic” right before book, and you probably have an accurate description of this issue. After my random number generator chose this book last week, I took one look at the cover and thought: “this book is about to get the biggest bashing of all time.” Heck, I almost even threw a note in last week to expect a big bashing this time around. Let’s examine the cover for a moment: we have the X-Men looking for a monster that looks like it came straight from the 30s horror movie, neck-bolts and all. Second we have the caption: “The X-Men Meet Frankenstein!” Now anyone who has actually read the novel will know that Frankenstein was not the name of the monster, rather the scientist who created it, “the monster” is never given a true name. Being a huge fan of the novel, it always irks me when someone gets this wrong. Name nitpickiness aside, the X-Men facing off against the 30s horror movie version of an iconic character sounds like a recipe for cheesiness.

When I actually read the darn issue, imagine my surprise when my preconceptions turned out to out to be exactly wrong! I’m lead to believe that writer Roy Thomas didn’t write the cover, because he correctly refers to the creature as “Frankenstein’s monster” throughout! Many kudos points to him! Likewise, Xavier himself admits to being a huge fan of the novel also (more kudos points awarded!) In fact, it looks as though Roy Thomas is attempting to build a long-awaited sequel to the novel, by, at first, basing several plot points from the end of the novel. In theory, fiction-to-comic crossovers can work. Heck, I’ve got what I’d like to think is a pretty cool idea for a crossover between the Fantastic Four and one of my favorite books series (that’s a story for another time chaps!)

So far, my emotional roller-coaster went from being prepped for ultimate cheesiness, to being surprised and pleased. Unfortunately, the final stop was disappointment. The story sets up to actually be a good one, I was ready to read an entertaining attempted sequel to one of my favorite classical novels. Alas, “Rascally Roy” muddles things up as he attempts to tell the “true origin” of the monster, one that doesn’t make any sense in context of the original novel. It turns out that the “monster” was actually an android created by friendly exploring aliens, intended to act as an ambassador. When the android malfunctioned and terrorized humans, the aliens chased it to the arctic, where it was eventually frozen in ice, and found in the modern time. (He was thawed, that’s how he entered this issue originally, I suppose I should’ve mentioned that.) Xavier reasons that Mary Shelley somehow heard this story and wrote the novel. Of course, this new story bears no resemblance whatsoever to the novel, except for the fact that they both end in the arctic. They may as well have written this issue to be about a strange monster attacking, engaged it, and then learned its “alien creation” story. It really has no links whatsoever to Frankenstein. I realize that this was X-Men at its low point, right before in went into the “repeats” that continued for a few years, but did they really have to use this kind of disappointing gimmick to sell an issue? I really can’t recommend this unless you want a really rather odd (and nonsensical) spin on a classic tale.

Next week: Special Edition! Not Random! Review of the 1978 Silver Surfer Graphic Novel by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby! Excelsior! (Okay, that last comment was random, but seemed to fit in with old-school Marvel-sounding hype. Besides, you know you’ve always wanted the chance to say “Excelsior!”)




1. Flashback: Review of Fantastic Four 63 (June 1967) « LOTRKing’s Comic Book Reviews and Other Random Stuff - July 28, 2008

[…] in a row of Stan and Jack goodness (don’t blame me for this week, it was chosen randomly). Unlike our last venture into the Silver Age of comics (or the Marvel Age, as Stan would have called it), this one is, for […]

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