MADE MEN #1, written by Paul Tobin and illustrated by Arjuna Susini, begins with a police officer out in the field. After a successful drug bust, she answers the radio call for her team to aid in halting a robbery in progress. Yet when she arrives on the scene and watches her first teammate go down with a bullet through the eye, the protagonist realizes she and her team were set up. Then, one-by-one, she watches bullets and land mines shred the rest of her friends to pieces.

Only then do we learn her true name: Jutte Frankenstein.

Yes. That Frankenstein.

It’s her last name that turns this comic from a simple protagonist’s revenge story into the realm of Gothic horror and tissue reanimation.

READ: For more Frankenstein in comics, check out our interview with Jeff Lemire, creator of SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN & THE LEGION OF EVIL!

Dead Bodies + A Frankenstein = A Solution

Image courtesy of Oni Press.

From the start, MADE MEN #1 reveals a key detail about its protagonist: Jutte Frankenstein hates her name and goes by Jutte Shelley. “My parents were pissed off when I changed my last name,” she says.

Although the story doesn’t explain why Jutte hides her family name, the story shows that she knows at least something about reanimating dead tissue. Without spoiling how, Jutte comes to terms with this realization in a rather dramatic way.

Suddenly, whether ashamed of it or not, Jutte realizes her name has power. With this power, she can bring her team back and hunt down the hitmen who gunned them all down.

READ: To see the legacy of Frankenstein, check out our review of VICTOR LAVALLE’S DESTROYER #1!

Consequently, that’s the plot of MADE MEN #1. Assassins force a reluctant character to accept her family’s legacy and use it to get revenge on those who wanted her dead. This is the source of Jutte Frankenstein’s conflict, coming to grips with her name.

Jutte Embraced Her Heritage a Little Too Fast

A weakness of MADE MEN #1 is that it misses the drama of Jutte’s identity crisis.

In order to start the revenge plot, Jutte Frankenstein needs to resurrect her team to fight the killers that reduced them all to pink putty in the first place. And this happens in a very matter-of-fact way. Jutte decides she wants to be a Frankenstein, and that’s that. No personal sacrifice, conflicted emotions, or difficulty.

READ: Take a look at another remake of a legendary character’s struggle in HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #1!

What could have been a look into the conflicted psyche of Jutte Frankenstein instead gets replaced by a series of events that had to happen to get her team of “Made Men” back together from the dead.  I would have wanted to see more of Jutte’s conflict. Why does her team’s death mean anything? Is it because it was the first family to accept her? Show that, and let me cry with her when they die — not just read that it’s awful. Why did she hide her family name? Does she think she can’t live up to it? If so, make her wrestle with the necessity of becoming a Frankenstein and struggle like hell in the lab to bring her friends back — not just don a lab coat and throw a switch.

And then, then at the end, show her earn her name, and destroy that inner conflict that holds her back from her full potential. I see layers behind Jutte’s nine-mile stare, and I believe the story could have benefited by showing that side of her.

READ: For a slightly more serious look at death in comics, read our review of THE WAVES THAT BREAK!

The Art Purports a Strong Series

The reason why Jutte Frankenstein’s character arc lets us down is that MADE MEN #1 shows so much in the character art. Arjuna Susini succeeds in bringing out personality in nearly every drawing in the comic.

Image courtesy of Oni Press.

Susini portrays Jutte’s depth of character in the range of ways. From her powerful manspread on a public bench, to her wide-eyed, teary countenance amidst the sticky corpses of her friends, there is no doubt of her dimensionality. Even the villains all have wild and crazy personalities. Yes, that killer has muttonchops and smokes a cigar; yes, that rotund hitman has a Walkman strapped to his belt. We don’t know anything about them from the story, but we know they’ll be back. We know they’ll be interesting.

Image courtesy of Oni Press.

READ: For more horror, check out our review of the upcoming series INFERNOCT!

MADE MEN #1 — Final Words

In the end, MADE MEN #1 does a sufficient job introducing what should be a good series. Like a stitched-together Frankenstein’s monster, it starts with cool villains and tough heroes sewn onto the torso of a fun premise. To top that off, it bolts an heir of Frankenstein onto its head. Even still, I wanted a little more lightning to shock this series into life. Nevertheless, once the series does get off, I expect good things.

See what you think for yourself. The issue comes out on September 6.

MADE MEN #1 by Paul Tobin and Arjuna Susini
A passable introduction to an awesome premise that could have pushed its protagonist just a little more.
70 %
Protagonist got off a little too easy
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