Comic Picks By The Glick

Franken Fran vols. 1-2 Omnibus

February 29, 2016

Fran Madaraki just wants people to be happy.  As the greatest creation of the legendary mad scientist Dr. Madaraki, she has the surgical skills to bend science and medicine to her will in order to accomplish just that.  Whether it’s the head of a zaibatsu who wants his son brought back to life, a high school boy who wants to save the life of the girl he just confessed to, a young man regretting the double suicide pact he planned with his girlfriend, Fran is here to bring them all happiness!  She goes about doing this by.  Any.  Means. Necessary.  So if this means grafting a face onto a head that has been reconstructed to hold two brains, or putting a girl into a caterpillar-like larvae to regenerate, then it’s okay as long as everyone gets what they want in the end.  From a certain point of view, that is.

The stories in this omnibus edition of the first two volumes of this series read like a crazed hybrid of Tezuka’s “Black Jack” and “Tales From the Crypt.”  Fran’s desire to bring happiness to the human race is genuine, but the majority of her patients are less-than-upstanding members of it.  So the stories being told here take lots of weird, disturbing, and sick twists along the way.  While Fran’s laid-back attitude does tend to give the stories a whimsical feel at times (even when the surgery and the blood get going), you can usually expect the narrative to take a sharp right turn into horror.  This works really well in the second story, which is easily the best one in this volume.  Yet you’ll be able to anticipate exactly when, and sometimes how, things will go wrong as the stories go on.

Mangaka Katsuhisa Kigitsu does have an impressively demented mind when it comes to thinking up these stories and situations.  As a result, my interest was held throughout this first omnibus even after I started getting wise to his approach.  He does, however, take a very hands-off approach to continuity, so it looks like the series is going to live or die by the quality of his stories rather than any kind of uber-narrative.  The mangaka’s art is also well-suited for the twisted horror stories he’s telling, but don’t be fooled by the cover.  It may make the series look like a surgery fetishist’s wet dream, except that the contents it hides cater to an entirely different (and far more bloody) set of fetishes.

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