Sunday, February 13, 2011

Retro-Review: Frankenstein #1, Part 4!

frankenstein01_19The fourth and final story in this issue is “The Mananimals,” by Dick Briefer. As one might expect, the splash page is a thing of beauty, if a bit weirder than usual, with it's men with the heads of a chicken, alligator, or snake (one of each), a boa constrictor with a human woman's head (complete with pearl necklace), the bull with a tough-looking man's face (smoking a cigar), and the... well, I'm not sure, but I think it's supposed to be a deer with a woman's face (wearing a blue skirt and stockings... and featuring breasts that would not belong where they are on an actual deer).



Our story opens as Frankenstein has been out for a very long walk, and decides to take a nap in a convenient cave. He discovers a field mouse, which he promises to take home and puts the mouse in his pocket. Next thing you know, Frankenstein's attacked by a huge snake with the head of a man, asks Frankenstein to be quiet so he doesn't have to share Frankenstein with his friends. In response, Frankenstein pulls a huge boulder out of the cavern wall and throws it through a wall. Smoke and fog come from the newly-made hole, and when Frankenstein enters the hole (having forgotten about the man-snake, it seems) he sees what appears to be a cow, whom he gently pats on the rump. However, it turns out it's a cow-woman (a cow with the head of a woman) who kicks him with a hind leg for being so fresh! Next, Frankenstein sees a whole bunch of “mananimals” (as a text panel calls them), a truly bizarre sight!

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The mananimals advance of Frankenstein, and as he dodges, he knocks over the throne on which a man with a crocodile's head is sitting... or rather, we think it's a man with a crocodile's head! Turns out it's just a mask, covering a rather awesomely huge head! Angry, the former crocoman orders the mananimals to capture Frankenstein! Through force of numbers, they succeed, and bring him to the operating room. We learn the man is really Professor Hugo Von Hoogenblotzen, who's been engaging in experiments taking parts of humans and animals and assembling them together! And Frankenstein is just perfect for a project he'd been wanting to make... a Manelephant!

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A manmonkey brings in the elephant, while Professor Von Hoogenblotzen washes up along with his womankangaroo nurses. Then, as the mananimals watch, he goes to work (all the surgical tools are kept in the woman-kangaroo pouches). Before the surgery can begin, Frankenstein imagines what he'll look like afterwards!

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Frankenstein then starts laughing, because he realized he couldn't be an elephant because he's not afraid of mice! He then entices Hoogenblotzen to reach into his left pocket and take out what he finds there. Discovering the field mouse, the Professor tosses it away... towards the elephant, which naturally begins to panic! Next thing you know, the elephant charges towards Hoozenblotzen...

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My, how “A Fish Called Wanda”! (Okay, this time it's an elephant used, not a steam roller, but you get the idea). The operating table is knocked over in the confusion, and Frankenstein leaves the bizarre grotto, patching the hole he made with yet another large boulder. The story ends with Frankenstein wandering off into the sunset, with the captioning on the top of the panel reading, “And so, as the glowing sun of a new day rises, we take leave of our friend Frankenstein and bid farewell to the picturesque monsters, ghouls, and vampires that have given us so much merry entertainment.” On the bottom of the panel, another caption reads, “This is the only comic book in which nobody got punched. Frankenstein is a regular feature of PRIZE Comics.”

Of all the stories in this issue, this last one is probably the most disappointing, and perhaps that's because nine pages wasn't really enough to flesh it out properly. Even putting aside that we don't know why Frankenstein was out walking (or even if this encounter occurred anywhere near Mippyville), there's still the matter of the man-snake being completely forgotten! Of course, Frankenstein only patched the hole he made... however the man-snake got out of the grotto and into the part of the cave Frankenstein was in may still be open, so perhaps there was the possibility of a sequel tale...

Still, those few plot points aside, this story probably had the best gag in the issue, with that last caption about this being the only comic book in which nobody got punched!

Next week: A new book!

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