Wake the Dead
by Steve Niles, Chee (IDW, 2004)

Steve Niles, whose brilliant vampire tale 30 Days of Night was finished by a string of hit-or-miss sequels, comes up short in this reimagination of Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein.

The story is removed to a suburban setting, and Victor and his pal Iggy are trying to bring a pig back to life in Victor's mother's basement. One pig gone wild later, Victor decides he needs human trials for his experiment -- and a quartet of local jocks conveniently die in a car crash that very night. And, fortunately for Victor, his best friend commits suicide that same evening, so he has the brain he needs.

Besides a few obvious plot blunders -- Why stitch together a new body from four mangled cadavers when his friend's body was intact? Wealthy or not, how did Victor, just out of high school, manage to equip the basement with lab equipment that would make most hospitals jealous? And what made Niles think shooting a pistol at a window would set the curtain on fire? -- this tale feels forced and unnecessary. It certainly adds nothing new to the original novel. It lacks any kind of real character development. It introduces a last-act love triangle subplot that does nothing to advance the story. And, well, it's just kind of dumb.

It relies heavily on artwork by Chee to push the story along, but Chee has a flawed understanding of the human body, particularly in the ways it breaks and tears under duress. Striving for realism but never looking realistic, his work here is just, well, gross.

review by
Tom Knapp

12 July 2008

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