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.

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