Victor LaValle's Destroyer #1
VICTOR LAVALLE'S DESTROYER #1 by Victor Lavalle , Dietrich Smith , Micaela Dawn
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
VICTOR LAVALLE'S DESTROYER #1 is a fascinating take on the classic Frankenstein story that perfectly adapts its best elements to modern times.
100 %
Old Meets New

VICTOR LAVALLE’S DESTROYER #1

Modern retellings of classic characters are fairly hit-or-miss. VICTOR LAVALLE’S DESTROYER #1 is a rare success in this regard. This issue pays homage to Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein, while infusing some modern twists. Artist Dietrich Smith and colorist Micaela Dawn also put their own spin on the classic characters. VICTOR LAVALLE’S DESTROYER #1 perfectly rides the line between new and old.

Victor LaValle's Destroyer #1
Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #1

Sci-Fi Meets Horror

Frankenstein was so successful because it had a great balance between science-fiction, horror, and social commentary. Ruminations on the nature of life, death, and science are what makes the tale compelling. Lavalle’s writing expertly adapts these aspects to a modern setting. VICTOR LAVALLE’S DESTROYER #1 involves the last descendant of Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Josephine Baker. Her 12-year-old son recently died in a police shooting, and she must contend 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.

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When Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818, she could not have contemplated the technology of today. The junction between science fiction and real science is blurrier than ever. Modern scientist 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. A mad Transylvanian scientist would not have the same thematic oomph as a mother struggling with whether to use forbidden technology to revive her murdered son.

The Story to Come

There are a number of fascinating implications in reviving the son. I am sure Lavalle will dig into those implications in future issues. The Monster and Dr. Baker share the spotlight equally in this issue. By providing a solid background on each character, LaValle sets up a triangle of conflicts. VICTOR LAVALLE’S DESTROYER #1 is the perfect introduction to the eventual conflict between the creator, the Monster, and the son. Each of these characters has a connection to the original story. It will be interesting to see how LaValle further subverts our expectations.

Victor LaValle Destroyer #1
Victor LaValle Destroyer #1

Meet the Monster

VICTOR LAVALLE’S DESTROYER #1 begins with an excellent action sequence that introduces the infamous Monster. While hiding out in the arctic, the Monster comes across two crews: one of whale poachers, and the other, environmentalists. Sympathetic towards the poached whales, he proceeds to go on a violent and confused rampage through the ships. The Monster is emotionally torn. The Monster does not act with calculated hate, but like a child throwing a tantrum. Without text, the reader gets a good feel for the character.

Smith depicts the Monster as haunting, inhuman, and emotive. I also appreciated how Smith utilized a design similar to the original novel’s Monster. Rather than being gigantic, green, and lumbering, this Monster is more corpse-like and human. Michaela Dawn’s choice of a grayish hue for the Monster also harkens back to the original novel. Smith’s 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 the unrealistic and realistic elements.

Victor LaValle's Destroyer #1
Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #1

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Besides his great rendition of the Monster, Smith has a number of interesting layout designs and compositions. While his art definitely has a realistic bent, he is not afraid to play with perspectives for dramatic effect. For example, when Frankenstein’s Monster sits on top of a block of ice, the image is exaggerated in all the right ways. When the Monster punches through a protestor’s chest, there is equal parts realism and comic-book fun. Smith’s art is fantastic throughout the issue.

Victor LaValle's Destroyer #1
Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #1

His depictions of futuristic advancements and science fiction tools are grounded and help further the story. The art places us in a world similar to our own and not the world of movie monsters. This fits well with the more subdued Monster design and the weighty concepts explored in the book. Smith’s subtle approach to science-fiction perfectly complements the events of the book.

Victor LaValle's Destroyer #1
Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #1

Final Thoughts

VICTOR LAVALLE’S DESTROYER #1 is a great take on the Frankenstein story that perfectly adapts it to modern times. The art puts a new spin on the scientist and monster we know without changing too much of what makes the original story great. Science fiction and horror fans should definitely pick up this issue.

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