Written by: Robert Tinnell
Flesh and Blood, Part Three
Illustrated by: Neil Vokes
Illustrated by: Bob Hall
Baron Frankenstein, Part Two
Illustrated by: Adrian Salmon
Published by: Monsterverse Entertainment
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
It’s been a while since the last edition of Flesh and Blood came out and the wait has been more than worth it.
For those not in the know, Flesh and Blood is Monsterverse Entertainment’s comic book love letter to classic era of Hammer Studios horror movies. The best way to explain the comic would be a sort of “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” or “Crisis of Infinite Earths” style gathering of Hammer horror movie characters. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it might have been like if the characters from the classic horror novels Dracula and Frankenstein had met and then were spun through a Hammer Studios blender then Flesh and Blood is the book for you.
This third issue of Flesh and Blood picks up very much where the last one left off. Professor Abraham Van Helsing and Jonathan and Mina Harker are living together in a more than awkward living arrangement. This co-habitation has found Van Helsing and Mrs. Harker involved together in relationship that is more than platonic. Meanwhile, Jonathan Harker has succumbed to an obsession with creatures of the night and Doctor Victor Frankenstein is still up to his no good brain transplanting antics. As it turns out, Professor Van Helsing isn’t the only character from Victorian era horror novels that Doc Frankenstein has been corresponding with. It is this correspondence with other nefarious scientific minds that sets events in motion and things go from complicated to all out crazy as Frankenstein attempts to toy with the forces of nature just one more time.
Taking their cue from the Hammer Horror classic Dr. Jekyll, Sister Hyde, Tinnell and Vokes engage in a compelling tale of “science” gone wrong. I have to say that this issue of Flesh and Blood has been my favorite by far as it really just goes balls to the wall in embracing the salacious nature of some of the mid-to-late Hammer releases. The first two issues very much embodied the spirit of the early Hammer films which were a bit more restrained in their sexual and violent content. While I can’t accuse the early issues of F & B of being tame, I can say that in this collection the creators are ready to let their freak flags fly. This edition of Flesh and Blood is the closest you’ll get to the violent and titillating era of Hammer films in the pages of a comic book. Fortunately, Tinnell and Vokes are able to avoid the drop in production values that the Hammer movies of that era suffered from.
Neil Vokes does a fantastic job on the art chores here. His style is cartoony but that does not keep it from making a powerful impact. Vokes is definitely playing his “A” game in this book as he maximizes his technique to deliver a horrifying story to full effect. He has a great talent for setting the mood of a scene and bringing the story elements together to deliver a purposeful punch. His work embraces the nature of the source material making moments successfully twist between frighteningly terrifying in one moment to dangerously sensual the next.
Tinnell is no slouch either. Anyone who has ever loved a Hammer horror movie will immediately recognize how well Mr. Tinnell has captured the essence of those films with his writing. The characterizations are dead on and the story’s sense of pacing is perfect. Tinnell knows what made those fantastic movies work and uses the formula to maximum effect here. There’s a big part of me that wishes Tinnell would just get on with it already and start producing modern day horror films with a classic Hammer feel. His sense for the Hammer aesthetic is that strong in the pages of this graphic novel.
Flesh and Blood issue three also contains some smaller back up features which round out the package. The continuing Operation Satan is a masterfully illustrated piece but it had been so long since the last installment that I couldn’t really enjoy this part of it all that much. I feel that Operation Satan is of such good quality that it should be a book on its own. Following that is a stylish and somewhat crudely illustrated take on the Frankenstein origin that rounds out the origins of everyone’s favorite monster maker. Despite its somewhat simple visuals, it’s still a fun read and possibly made more impactful due to its simplicity. The final pages of F & B are rounded out by a very informative and well researched article by Michael H. Price about the history of horror comics in the United States. Top all of this off with an introduction written by horror effects mastermind Tom Savini and this edition of Flesh and Blood is one that all fans of horror and horror comics will find to be a must have for their collection. This is a horror comic that I can’t recommend highly enough.