The Return of the Monster"
From Marvel Tales#96 (June, 1950)
Reprinted in Where Monsters Dwell#32
Writer- Stan Lee (?)
Artist- Syd Shores
- Cast of Characters -
an American author on vacation
member of the Von Frank clan
created by Mr. Frankenstein
The Fanatics, the bad guys [Eric named]
The story begins "on board a train in a Bavarian country". Cliff Armstrong, young American author, explains to his traveling companion that he intends to discover whether the events of Mary Shelley's novel had any basis in fact. His companion thinks the whole expedition is foolish, but Armstrong refuses to abandon it.
Stopping in a Bavarian village, he can't help but notice how everyone watches him suspiciously. At the local inn, he is surprised to find a lovely young woman behind the desk, and asks her what her name is.
Nina: "You...you...do...not...know...my...name...sir? It is Nina...Nina...FRANKENSTEIN!"
Cliff: "FRANKENSTEIN! Then...it's true! Such a man did exist! And if he existed...then the monster did, too!"
Nina: "As if you didn't know! Here's your key...room 300!"
There is no explanation for Nina's strange behavior, so Cliff heads to his room. Looking down from the window, he sees people watching him fearfully-- he still can't understand why.
Night falls, and Cliff begins to wonder if he should have come here to begin with, when he notices a figure on his balcony! A shadowy figure, clutching a dagger, is lurking outside! Carefully, Cliff walks onto the balcony, creeps towards the figure, and grabs her arm-- it is Nina, intent on killing him!
Cliff brings her inside and explains why he has come there. Nina then realizes that he is not one of "them".
Nina: "The fanatics! The ones who captured my father...he who is the last of the male Frankensteins! They think he knows the secret of...the monster...of how to revive it once again! People say that the secret was handed down from father to son! I don't know...father never talked about it!"
Cliff: "But why do these people want the secret...if all this is true?"
Nina: "They are agents of a powerful country that wants the secret so that they can manufacture the monsters...an invincible, deadly army that will conquer all Europe...then the entire world! You are a stranger...we thought you were one of them...the fanatics!"
So far, no one has pursued the fanatics, because their base is in the old Frankenstein castle, and everyone is afraid. But Cliff is not afraid, and so he and Nina head off together to face the fanatics!
Inside the castle, the monster has been completed, and the fanatics are about to bring him to life. Mr. Frankenstein, tied up, warns them not to do it, but they ignore him, and flip a switch. As life flows into the monstrous creature, Mr. Frankenstein dies, his heart having given out. His death distracts the fanatics, who do not see the monster arise-- and begin to destroy the laboratory, killing all of them! The monster does not stop until they are all dead, then runs out of the castle, and into the night.
Cliff and Nina see the monster as it passes by, and head for the castle to find her father. The monster rampages throughout the countryside, killing everyone it finds, until the entire village is decimated. With no one else to kill, it turns back towards the castle...
Cliff and Nina find her father's dead body, just as the monster returns! Cliff makes a feeble effort to stop the creature, but it knocks him down, giving him a black eye, takes Nina in its arms, and walks into the castle dungeons!
Cliff revives and pursues the monster into the dungeons, and assaults it by throwing rocks and pieces of wood at it! This inflames the monster, and it begins to chase Cliff through the tunnels! Cliff finds the remains of a passageway to the surface, which he surmises is from the last time the monster was defeated. To his luck, it leads to the surface, where he is reunited with Nina, who apparently found a faster route out.
It's only a temporary respite; the monster will escape the tunnels eventually. Fortunately, Nina noticed a pile of dynamite, and they light a stick, then throw it into the tunnels! The castle is destroyed, crushing the monster, who, in its last moments, utters its first words...
Weeks later, in New York Harbor, Cliff Armstrong returns from Europe to inform the public there was no truth to the Frankenstein legend. Reporters notice that his hair is almost completely white, but he simply remarks that he "must be getting older". Cliff's big story is the identity of his female companion...
Cliff: "Nina, gentlemen...Nina Armstrong!"
Ah, a happy ending. Well, not so much for Nina's father, or that decimated village. But take what you may.
This is one contrived story. Cliff Armstrong comes to a village with absolutely no idea how to begin his search for the Frankenstein legend...and the inn he checks into is run by a Frankenstein? Okay...
The dynamite near the end defies credibility. Yes, dynamite just tends to be lying around when you need to blow up a castle, doesn't it?
I also must wonder at Nina Frankenstein. Did the author know that was a name from Dracula?
All the same, Frankenstein Monster stories are a rarity at Marvel, so I can't shrug it off completely. And the monster looks okay, if rather unlike any other version I've ever seen.
A reader of the 70's incarnation of the Frankenstein Monster, the Fanatics' plot couldn't help but remind me of ICON...now that would be an excellent way to tie this in, and bring back ICON as well...Snood.
Don't go looking for this issue of Marvel Tales in the Spider-Man rack. I think Marvel Mystery Comics (formerly Marvel Comics--which gave us many of the Golden Age heroes) became Marvel Tales with issue#93, August, 1949.--Snood.
My Rating: 7/10
Could this story have happened in the Marvel Universe?
Maybe. There are a couple of complications.
First, there's the monster. When I first read the story, I thought the monster was a brand-new creation of Mr. Frankenstein, but on a second read, it appears to have been intended to be the same monster from the novel-- the same one who would've been frozen in ice at this time during the Marvel Universe.--I see three possiblities: (1) A new monster (which would make the most sense...it would take just a touch of retcon); (2) The story takes place after the monster was awakened in the 1960s-70s (the story fits more in fifties, but the same can be said for the early Silver Age stories, which are now supposed to have taken place in the 1990s); (3) The monster was found, revived, and ended up back on ice again (Didn't DC keep doing that with some of their Golden Age characters? Solomon Grundy comes to mind. They kept ret-conning in new stories, and then having him back in whatever situation he'd been in before the new story.)--that's the worst of the bunch, in my opinion. I'd go for #1--Snood.
Second, there's Mr. Frankenstein. Where does he fit into the Von Frankenstein family? At this point in time, the only Frankenstein family left was that of Basil Frankenstein. Basil died in Invaders#31, but maybe he survived, only to die here a few years later. That would make Nina Frankenstein the sister of Ludwig, Veronica, and Victoria Frankenstein. Maybe it could work.
--I believe that is the correct lineage as was originally given, but when all put together by Roy Thomas in the Book of the Vishanti, Ludwig is the son of Basil, and Veronica and Victoria are the daughters of Ludwig. This was probably done to accomodate Marvel's constantly shifting timeline. If Mr. Frankenstein is Basil, then I'd put Nina as the sister of Ludwig, and aunt of Veronica and Victoria. Mr. Frankenstein could also be the son of Basil and brother of Ludwig (for some reason, I like the name Reinhold for him. Why not?). Anyway, that would make Nina the cousin of Ronnie and Vickie.--Snood.
Should this story be added to the Marvel Universe?
If there are some new Frankenstein Monster stories in the future, sure. But the ideal time to work it into continuity would've been the Book of the Vishanti entry on the Frankensteins from Dr. Strange, and it wasn't.
by Prime Eternal
Last updated: 08/02/02
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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