- Prometheus In Chains #1
- Red 5 Comics
- Written & Created by Rich Davis
- Illustrated by Jordan DiRenzo
- Colors by Alex Zief
- Letters by Dave Lentz
- Cover by Les Lindon Garner
- Coming June 14, 2023
Prometheus In Chains, the third nightmare from Rich Davis, is a play on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein set in the post-WWII atomic age. Both Victor & Elizabeth Frankenstein are among the Jewish scientists who fled Nazi Germany to work on the Manhattan Project.
When Elizabeth passes away from cancer caused by radiation exposure, Victor spirals into the deepest depths of depression. There he is haunted by guilt, grief, regret and other monsters of his own making.
There were a few ways this opening issue could’ve gone. As seen in many portrayals of Doctor Victor Frankenstein, he’s a driven scientist who falls prey to his obsessions. Often seen as arrogant, bordering on megalomaniacal, he’s usually unable to see any other way but through the roadblocks on his path to discovery. Rich Davis saw a different angle on an old story and zeroed in on another potential focus for Victor’s obsession.
This first issue opens with a very broken man who still hasn’t come to terms with the loss of the love of his life, Elizabeth. Davis goes deep into the weight of Victor’s grief, the sheer grinding pressure of it as the self-assured scientist works his way through the problem before arriving at the solution we all know is coming. There are flashbacks, used sparingly and without much exposition, to show the Doctors Frankenstein in their relationship, before they’re pulled apart by Elizabeth’s death. It would be cool to see Davis’s scripts, to get a look at how his grasp for storytelling with minimal dialogue is laid out.
Without panels of dialogue to tell a reader how Victor is feeling at any given time, it came down to the work of the artistic team of Jordan DiRenzo & Alex Zief. DiRenzo provides a beautifully illustrated groundwork, with some fantastic imagery to lead the reader through Frankenstein’s downward spiral. There’s more symbolism than an angry villager could shake a pitchfork at, and every page… every inch of every page… is used to give readers everything they need. That foundation is filled in, fleshed out, and brought to (un)life by Zief’s use of color to finish the mood. It’s all drab and dreary, with bright splashes of color reserved to spotlight certain things… the things that represent, in Victor’s mind, his only hope.
My praise for Prometheus In Chains is high, and my only wish is that the introductory issue could have gone a little farther. With so much storytelling done in the illustrations, there wasn’t enough time to sink in. It’s tough to get into many horror comics because of that very thing. So much in the genre depends on that build-up, the establishing shots of lurking dread and despair, and it’s a kind of magic when that can be done in a story broken into issues and released over time.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Prometheus In Chains deserves to find an audience. It’s a beautifully done story, told by a creative team that’s firing on all cylinders (letterer Dave Lentz didn’t have a lot to do in issue 1, but what was there did its job). This is a more subtle kind of horror that leans deep into the heart of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, which was never really about “the monster”.
Final Score: 11