Happy Halloween folks! If you are looking for a comic book series to read this haunting season look no further than Victor LaValle’s Destroyer (BOOM! Studios). After I read the first issue of this comic I immediately went to comixology and downloaded as much of the series as I could. Written by Victor LaValle (The Changeling) and drawn by Dietrich Smith (Shaft: Imitation of Life) with cover art by the amazingly talented Micaela Dawn, the story is an updated version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Destroyer’s premise is simple, yet poignant. Dr. Josephine Baker loses her son to senseless police violence when somehow his walk home from baseball practice turns deadly. But Baker is also a genius molecular biologist and biomechanical engineer who happens to be the direct descendant of Dr. Frankenstein himself.
So basically she does what any genius grieving mother with access to weapons-grade nanotech would do, she updates Frankenstein’s work to resurrect her dead child.
Josephine is compelled by more than just grief when she devotes herself to the reanimation of her son, she is also out for revenge. Revenge against the secret government agency that she devoted her life to, the woman who funded her research and who, in a Burn Notice meets Mission Impossible kind of way, is using the tech that Jo built and the man that she loved against her.
Unlike Mary Shelley’s monster, Akai is not a mere mindless zombie, he is very aware of who and what he is and is just as devoted to his mother as the original Dr. Frankenstein’s monster was to the Doctor himself. Although his mind and body are stuck at age 10, make no mistake, Akai is actually a weapon in and of himself. His mind shares space with an AI, his body is comprised of a combo of nanotech, bio-mechanical weaponry and possibly a bit of juju, which makes him less zombie and more cyborg than anything else.
Frankenstein’s monster also makes a destructive appearance in this story as an angry-loner-Hulk-strong-zombie, determined to destroy absolutely everything that resembles his creator. With bloody and visceral precision I might add.
Which basically means all of humanity is in trouble.
(I’m surprised Smith didn’t run out of red ink for all of the blood that was spilled across these issues). And when the Monster and Akai meet?
Let’s just say it’s pretty epic.
This comic is a modern retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from 1881. It is a beautiful addition to the horror comic genre, but is not for anyone who can’t handle gore and body parts. (At one point a guy is ripped clean in half) I adore Dietrich Smith’s work in this and Micaela Dawn has created some iconic covers. (I have posted enough of them on my IG for folks to get the hint) Everything from the color palette to Jo’s facial expressions are so realistic that you are pulled into the story. Lavalle’s story starts not at Akai’s time of death, but well after it and tells not only of his demise but also of the relationship between his parents through flashbacks. Although the story jumps back and forth between the present and the past, I was never confused because of how Smith used subtle changes in color, scenery and even Jo’s hairstyles to signal the reader where we were at all times.
Victor LaValle’s Destroyer takes a black mother’s pain, zombies and cyborgs and braids them together so well, each issue will leave you on the edge of your seat waiting for the next part of the story to unfold. On Oct 25, issue #6, the last in this first series dropped and the trade will be available in February 2018. But don’t wait till then, By all six issues now and see for yourself what an amazing story this is! (And let me know if you think the ending was as creepy as I did).
“Both [Shelley’s] story then and mine now are about how far a person might go to get back what was lost.” – Victor LaValle (Victor Lavalle’s Destroyer)
TBG Review Rating*
Victor LaValle’s “Destroyer” $3.99/ea.
Writer: Victor LaValle
Artist: Dietrich Smith/Joanna Fuente
Cover Artist: Micaela Dawn
*Rating System: A rating of 1= poor writing/storyline and poor artwork/lettering while a rating of 10= Excellent writing/storyline and High-quality artwork/lettering
• Have you read Victor LaValle’s Destroyer? What do you think? Comment below!