Oscar’s Reading Response #6: The Destroyer

Considering the title of the story being “The Destroyer,” the story mainly focused on the grief that a mother felt at the death of her beloved son. And in this comic book the grief is the motivation for her to create these futuristic technology that many people have never been able to do. The story follows the creation of a “monster” created by doctor Frankenstein, in this story the monster is causing all sorts of chaos through out the planet. However, a doctor who had peace in her life for a little while is slowly getting pushed into the inner parts of the play, she had a son and due to a mistake of identity. The son was gun down by a police officer, the mother in her grief created the future edition of the monster using her very own son’s corpse. I personally like the irony of the story because when she explains to her son that they will judge him as they are currently judging the monster, they will soon come to call her “The Destroyer.” Which in on its own is contradiction that she created the future human, one that is not easy to kill and can do many unordinary things. The contradiction reveals a deeper aspect that the mother has had time to think of the consequences and she is willing to give up her name to make a new life for her son. In the end the mother and father parish due to the monster but the son lives on, however she has down loaded her self into his mind. This reveals a new step to maybe revive herself in the future, or maybe be able to download people into a digital world. This all is connecting to real possibilities, that we could run into soon. As well as the characters back story and their social analytical views, is something that everyone experiences eventually. Most of the events use real life locations, and even things that have ended up happening with real policemen. Connecting the real world to the story of comic book, and eventually can be a true event.

Akai & The Destroyer, Ronald Gordon

Victor Lavalle’s Destroyer is a story about a scientist who brings the dead back to life. However, Destroyer takes a different turn when compared to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in an interesting way.

The story gives an exact detail of this by how it presents one of it’s main characters The Destroyer.

In the beginning of the book, Frankenstein’s monster was living alone in the polar ice caps, just minding his own business. But after one of the whales he swam with was killed, he was reminded of the cruelness of Humanity. The Humanity that outcast him and forced him into exile, the Humanity he though he had finally escaped from.

When remembering that The Destroyer was the original Frankenstein’s Monster, the one that was rejected and hated by even Victor Frankenstein himself, it’s only natural that the Monster would hate Humans and the world they built that excluded him. So he in turn sets out to destroy it and rid the world of the people that outcast him.

On the other hand, we have Akai. Dr. Baker’s deceased son whom she revived after him being killed in a police shooting. Akai is the exact contrast to Frankenstein’s monster, solely because of how he was received and brought up.

Akai isn’t the product of a Mad Scientist trying to make the perfect creation, and he isn’t something that was shunned by his creator. Akai’s revival is a product of grief and mourning that overtook Dr. Baker, who missed her son and hated the world for taking him from her. Akai was born of something that Victor Frankenstein didn’t have for his Monster, Love, and it’s shown with how he’s presented in the story.

Whenever Akai is mentioned or showed off to the other characters, he’s treated as not only a Human, but a spectacle. Something that hasn’t happened yet. Unlike The Destroyer, who was seen as a monster throughout his revival and outcast before he could even learn to speak.

Where Frankenstein’s Monster was molded into a ball of hate by the world around him, Akai was made to counteract him. Which in a way backfires in terms of Dr. Baker’s plans because of how she wanted a Destroyer of her own to repay the hate she was dealt by the world, yet she still accepts Akai for who he is. Her son, a creation she bought to life and loved enough to bring back from the clutches of death, not some Monster she created out of her own curiosity.

I enjoyed this contrast because of how it made this relationship between two characters feel. They’re both the only two things like them in the entire world, yet they couldn’t be more different if they tried. While one has spent years being isolated and alone, driven to hate and scorn the world it was birthed into, the other chooses to see the good in the world and the good they can bring if given the chance.

It’s also ironic to see that while Victor Frankenstein wanted something to cherish and call his own, Dr. Baker wanted something that would destroy the world she had grown to hate. Yet both wound up with the opposite of what they’d hoped for.

People’s Choice Posts #6: ‘Destroyer’

Time for this week’s People’s Choice, on Destroyer reading responses. Get your votes in (complete with your chosen post–author/title/link, an excerpt from it + rationale for choosing it). This time around, comments are due by Sun 10/25. As always, looking forward to seeing your choices 🙂

The morals and ethics of Destroyer, Shamach campbell

After reading the graphic novel “Destroyer” by Victor LaValle all I can say is the title does it justice. The story is essentially a modern-day version of Frankenstein, more specifically what if Frankenstein was around in a climate like today? The story opens with “The Destroyer” relaxing in the artic when an innocent whale gets killed by fishermen, he kills them and learns about the world while he was away. Seeing how society advances and how cruel people can be he sets out to seek and destroy all forms of cruelty. Meanwhile, an organization wants to hunt down a lady for her research and her reanimated son. Chaos incuses, a lot of people and property get eradicated, the son and the destroyer meet, sacrifices are made now the son must live his own life with the knowledge of what it’s like being both black and immortal in these times.


There are a lot of interesting themes and concepts brought up in this novel, from race to ai technology to immortality, but one of the main themes that’s I felt was the strongest was the concept of morals and ethics. Though out the story many people have died at the hands of the destroyer, and that is only a result of the creator messing with something he should not have. We always ask the question of “can we do this?” but not “should we be doing this?” and as a result the guilty, the innocent, everyone suffers from the destroyer wrath. Later in the story, the organization wants to achieve immortality by 3D printing with biological material, the only problem is the rate of cellular decay is short and pointless. They 3D printed a live chicken that expired in minutes so imagine what happens when it comes to humans, should something like that be ethically sound.  Not to mention the use of nanobots to bring back the son, his cells are rapidly decaying and the nanobots fix it. But there may come a time when those nanobots can’t keep up or replace his body completely, living the rest of his life (probability in constant pain) because his mom was angry and want her dead son back. Even his father gets transformed into an android permanently because of this. Overall the moral and ethical ramifications are what I found interesting about this graphic novel since a lot of people want to focus on achievement and not just the aftermath.

Edward’s Reading Response #6: “Destroyer”

Victor LaValle’s “Destroyer” is a graphic novel, that takes the original story of Frankenstein, and puts a modern spin on it. The story stars Frankenstein’s Monster and Dr. Josephine Baker, a descendant of Victor Frankenstein and a scientist who revives her dead son. There are a lot of parallels in “The Destroyer”, such as how Dr. Baker revives her son Akai vs how Dr. Frankenstein creates the Monster, by combining body parts and in the case of Akai, using nanotech to create parts of his body. One thing I found interesting is that in the afterword, LaValle mention’s how Frankenstein’s author, Mary Shelley, had her deceased husband’s heart in her desk. In the first chapter, we see that Dr. Baker has (what I presume to be) Akai’s heart, and uses that as a starting point for his revival.

“The Destroyer” touches on the topic of artificial life and race. Dr. Baker talks about how artificial life will be what comes after humanity falls and that Akai is the start, partially organic, and artificial will eventually evolve to be that of purely non-organic life and machine. This evolution reminds me of a concept I recently heard about called Theseus’s Ship. It’s an old Greek story about a hero and a ship, where throughout the story parts of the ship get destroyed and have to be replaced, and by the end of the story, no part of the ship is the same as when it first left the harbor. The philosophical question then becomes is the ship the same ship as the one that originally set out since everything has been changed. In “The Destroyer” the majority of Akai’s body has been replaced, much like Theseus’s ship. Dr. Baker tells Akai that “You’re something entirely… new. Even the monster, in the end, is only human. You’re an entirely new life form”. Plier’s, Akai’s dad, also has had his body merge with The Bride, a big robot, and Dr. Baker herself becomes just a consciousness stored digitally within Akai. All these characters change and become something different than what they originally started as, though their personality, mostly, stays the same.

The one character that seems to change the most is Dr, Baker. Throughout the story, we’re shown flashbacks of Dr. Baker and how she met Pliers. She originally is shown to be fairly quiet but enthusiastic about her work at The Lab, but after she has to quit her job at The Lab and after the death of her son due to, police brutality, she turns to vengeance against a racist society that has failed her, her son, and other Black people. This, in the story, parallels the Monster who is also vengeful and holds hatred towards society. Akai’s death also seems to be an allusion to the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year old boy, like Akai, who was shot, within two seconds, by police in 2014. Other points that LaValle covered in the story are how Black people are discredited for their work and their inventions were stolen, as shown when Dr. Baker mentions how The Lab took The Bride from her and they even used it against her. Also, when Dr. Baker talks about artificial life being humanity’s next step, and how they will judge and fear those who are artificial and in comparison to the beginning of the story where the Monster is watching a video that talks about how humans are on the verge of wielding power over life and death; I find it interesting that humans can even think about artificial life when there still racial inequality. Humanity is thinking far into the future before facing present-day issues.

The discussion of power over life and death in “The Destroyer” and other Frankenstein related works, make me think about a recent quote I heard from a game I play called Destiny 2; the quote being, “Life and Death are liars’ tools. Weave your own lie.” Victor Frankenstein and Dr, Baker have both surpassed the limitations of normal human life expectancy, both through their work and in Dr. Baker’s case, her consciousness. Both can be seen as starting points to human immortality, which was something that Dr. Baker was working on when she was at the Lab. In real life, there are some ways scientists are looking into this such as the use of cryonics to freeze human bodies and preserve for years, to then unfreeze sometime in the future. This also raises a few questions such as would some of us even want to be immortal? In what ways can we achieve immortality? And what would it look like if every human on the planet was immortal? One answer to the last question, I believe, can be shown in a text we read earlier his semester; Issac Asimov’s “The Last Question”, and how the human’s in his story achieved immortality and needed more space in the universe for the ever-growing population. Victor LaValle’s “Destroyer” was a very interesting and enjoyable reading, that covers a lot of topics, and raises a lot of questions.

Justin’s Reading Response #6: Destroyer

“Destroyer” by Victor LaValles is a graphic novel depicting of someone who goes by the Name of Doctor Frankenstein that creates some form of a monster in the stance of a teenage girl. While I have never read the oringal 1818 Frankenstein, this gives a similar feeling as to what would happen if there was a modern day Frankenstein, instead of it being some giant green monster. Throughout the novel, we see this sort of creature made by the doctor going about having some form of haltered of what is today. In seeing that the world has not changed since the last time it woke. Humanity has seemingly not changed, and still has this form of hate towards every single human the creature comes across and see, especially after seeing a whale die by the selflessness of these humans. As time went on, the creature did a number of stuff in their lifetime, even with being distasteful of humanity and vice versa. With killing a fisherman, to learning about how they were created with some of form of printer that only keeps living things alive for only a few moments, something that Doctor Frankenstein would be cherished for in the near future. For all of the Doctor’s life has been nothing pain and shaming. This possible off-spring sequel is great continuation of the oringal Frankenstein. I should give it a read pretty soon.

Reading Response #6: The Destroyer

In LaValle’s “The Destroyer”, there as a lot of blurring the lines between humanity and artificial life.  Building upon Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, It tells parallel stories of the monster coming back from hibernation to destroy, a Director’s quest for immortality and a family’s story of suffer that pushed them to different paths of life.  All three have stories of artificial life.  Akai’s “revival” through nanotechnology, the director trying to imitate life by using a 3D printer to try to create living beings and the monster’s origin all are example of artificial life.

Death is a theme very prevalent in this story.  The fear of death from the Director who wants immortality to surpass humanity is an example of this.   The death of Akai was the motivation for the Josephine and Pliers to choose different routes in life.  Death is a common theme in science fiction.  People use technology to surpass death like in “The Last Question”.   People fear death and use technology to try to conquer it.

“Artificial life will be Humanity’s next great ‘concern’.”  I really like this quote from the graphic novel.  Josephine says it to Akai when explaining how she will protect him by being the destroyer.   I feel this is a great quote because it is a big theme in most science fiction stories.  In science fiction stories like “I’ Robot” by Issac Asimov and “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke,  we have examples of  stories where AI are the biggest concern of the story and spark conflict.  We, humans, fear things outside of our control that we believe can destroy us.  From the powers exhibited by the nano-technology composite life Akai, I can understand the fear the people may have for him if he displays his powers.   I think that Josephine created a monster that replaced another monster like an upgraded version.  The Frankenstein’s monster was organic with inhuman strength while Akai seems to be able to completely disassemble any matter into its components using his nano-machines like guns and organic material in addition to strength.  In the wrong hands, the ability that Akai has could destroy anything that comes across his path.  We do not know whether or not Akai will become a monster like Frankenstein in the future.

Itmam Chowdhury’s Reading Response #6: Destroyer

Lavalle’s Destroyer starts off with Frankenstein’s monster causing havoc as he kills humans and destroys anything around him. I’ve read Shelley’s Frankenstein before and I remember how the monster was eagerly against humans as they rejected him due to his appearance and how he’s the only one in his kind. I’m assuming the monster still has that rage in him as he’s still against human beings. In Shelley’s Frankenstein, the monster would lose control and starts attacking when humans were afraid of him and we see that in the start of Destroyer as the people are scared of the monster. 

Later on in the comic, we see Dr. Baker bring her son, Akai, back to life using Frankenstein’s technology after her son was murdered from a police shooting. This action would make Akai to be more like the monster and not completely how he used to be prior to his death. It’s interesting to see how Dr. Baker wants to bring her son back so badly but does she think about the consequences it can have on him prior to bringing him back? I get how bringing someone you love back is something desirable but Dr. Baker brought her son back as not fully human and I’m wondering if she ever thought if this is something Akai wanted. Dr. Baker encourages her son to hurt people so he can protect them both but Akai refuses to do so. This is one example of how Akai’s life changed as he’s expected to use the powers he obtained to hurt people. Even though Dr. Baker took advantage of the technology she had to bring her son back, I feel like bringing Akai back is bigger than a mother and son reunion. I feel like Dr. Baker wanted revenge towards cops as one of them taking her son away. Frankenstein’s monster was mindless of his surroundings as he just destroyed anything he desires but Akai does have control over himself and doesn’t hurt people the way the monster does.

Towards the end we see an interaction between Akai and the monster as he tells the monster they are the only ones of their kind. This intrigued me because in Shelly’s Frankenstein, the monster wasn’t pleased that he was the only one of his kind. One focus I see in this comic is the chaos the monster causes and I’m wondering what it would be like if there were more of him. I wonder if Akai could’ve managed to change the monster as both of them are similar and in Shelly’s Frankenstein, it seems like the monster just wanted to be accepted in society but that didn’t happen which made the monster go against humans and kill them. This comic really touched on the idea of death and the use of technological advancements to bring back the dead. It’s interesting to think about the idea of bringing someone back but I wonder if it is worth to do so as their fate is already decided. 


Max’s Reading Response #6: “Destroyer”

When fear reigns, death and destruction thrive.

Appropriately, destruction is a central theme of LaValle’s “Destroyer.” It is both a motivator and a consequence; a plan and a result. Acts of destruction are a culmination of years, decades, and centuries of fear and hopelessness, and once unleashed, there is very little that can stop their metastasis.

Who is afraid in “Destroyer?” Everyone. A white woman, whose fear of Black people led her to assume Akai, a child carrying a baseball bat, was a grown man with a gun, was afraid. The police, who murdered Akai within seconds of encountering him, were afraid. Dr. Baker was afraid of living without her son and afraid of a system she believed would never deliver justice. The Director was afraid of death. Frankenstein’s monster was afraid Dr. Frankenstein’s bloodline would produce more hopeless creatures like him. Akai was afraid for his parents.

What happened as a result of all that fear? Pure death and destruction. No justice, no resolution. Akai, it appears, will wander like his Frankensteinian ancestor — always an “other”. Always with fingers pointed in his direction.

While the timely social and political messages of “Destroyer” are at the forefront, lingering behind them is a profound pessimism about the role, and perhaps even existence, of modern technology.

Early in “Destroyer,” Frankenstein’s monster is brought up to speed about the technological advancements since his Antarctic exile. The harnessing of electricity and the triumph of manned flight are juxtaposed with the atrocities of chemical and nuclear warfare and factory farming. The development of the iPhone is juxtaposed with the recording of a white police officer shooting an unarmed Black man in his back. With every positive technological step forward, “Destroyer” shows at least one step back.

Frankenstein’s monster also learns about the ideas of artificial intelligence and artificial life, and how those technologies will allow humans to “cheat death” — an idea antithetical to the golem’s goal of ensuring another creature like him will never come into being. The Director, whose goal is to triumph over natural death, is also in direct conflict.

All in all, I had a difficult time enjoying “Destroyer” as a whole. While I appreciated its relevance to current events and had deep sympathy for Akai and Dr. Baker, the whole thing came across as rushed and underdeveloped. LaValle had a ton of really interesting ideas, but it was almost like he was given a particular number of pages he had to fit his story into without being allowed to go over. I wanted to learn more about the explicit motivations behind Frankenstein’s monster’s drive. I wanted to know more about The Director, who had very little dimension.

Finally, LaValle touched on a number of important feminist issues in passing, but he didn’t do enough with them. The instantaneous firing of Dr. Baker when she announced she was pregnant is one example. The statue of Justice, beautifully rendered with Dr. Baker on one end and her husband on the other, with Justice dismissively quipping “she’s so shrill,” is another. In his writing of a character as strong as Dr. Baker — a character whose rage and despair and wrath must be understood for her to be empathized with — LaValle stumbles. It’s easy to have empathy for a mother who lost her child. But it isn’t as simple as that. Dr. Baker wants to burn the entire system to the ground. This, in a vacuum, is the act of a villain — regardless of how devastated she was over her child’s death. A reader needs to see, realize, and understand the specific nature of the injustices experienced not just by Black people in general, but specifically by Black women, living in a white, patriarchal system. I don’t think LaValle was able to adequately capture that.

Phillip’s Reading Response #6: Destroyer

I am not someone who reads graphic novels and of the few that I have read in my life, this story has been one of the most intriguing. I am a huge fan of the story of Frankenstein. Growing up I have always been amused and curious about this story of a scientist who tries to create life. For me, Frankenstein and Destroyer go into the idea of bringing life to something completely devoid of life. This topic has been touched on by many scientists and science fiction writers because one of the biggest conflicts for humans is death.

This story takes a different approach because in this story, Dr. Frankenstein created a monster and the monster for many years hid out in Antarctica, while the Frankenstein family continued to age and the story’s setting takes place now in modern times with descendants of Dr. Frankenstein. This is concept is truly interesting because the original story of Frankenstein takes place around 200 years ago and at that time there was no modern technology as there is now. In the classic story of Frankenstein, the villagers think burning him would be the solution compared to Destroyer where much more modern means of attack could be used. Frankenstein was so successful because it had a great balance between science-fiction, horror, and social commentary.

This story involves the last descendant of Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Josephine Baker. Her 12-year-old son recently died in a police shooting, and she must deal with her grief and the return of Frankenstein’s Monster. After she is contacted by the authorities, she uses her family’s famous technology to reanimate her son. The social allegory is a subtle thread throughout the issue. The connection between real-world violence and the Monster’s exaggerated violence is powerful.

When Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818, she could not have contemplated the technology of today. The connection between science fiction and real science is blurrier than ever. Dr. Baker is a more relatable and realistic figure than the original Dr. Frankenstein. She is not a cackling madman, bent on beating death. Instead, she is a loving mother. Lavalle perfectly updated the protagonist for modern audiences while having both scientists share the same obsession with death.

Rather than being gigantic, green, and lumbering, this Monster is more corpse-like and human. I feel that this creates a different perspective on the monster. Michaela Dawn’s choice of a grayish hue for the Monster also harkens back to the original novel. The portrayal of Dr. Baker as a normal, non-mad scientist and average middle-aged mother, is a great contrast to the source material and Monster. Smith’s choice balances out unrealistic and realistic elements.

Overall I thought that reading this graphic novel was both interesting and informative. Obviously there are certain ways to read and analyze different types of text, but reading a graphic novel definitely requires a certain kind of analysis that isn’t just about the author, but also the illustrator as well as the person coloring in the novel. I think that this is a fantastic story with a great base and I think the next issues will be just as enjoyable.