The New Frontier

An Essay on a Theme in Frankenstein


Volume II: Chapter One

Volume III: Chapter Four

Volume III: Chapter Five

Volume III: Chapter Six

1818 Text of Frankenstein

Caroline Beaufort-Frankenstein

Map of Minor Characters

Author's Letters 

Contemporary Response 

Contemporary Work 

Romantic Era Timeline

Romanticism Links

San Jose State University Department of English

Citations and Sources


THE CONCEPT of adversarial relations in literature has been compactly honed into a neat little package in the form of modern-day super-hero tales – a far cry from the representation by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in Frankenstein.  The relationship between Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein and his creature is shaped upon the motif of finding one’s self in one’s opposite, similar to Superman finding his self, or purpose, in the form of say, Lex Luthor.  Victor begins his journey to medical school, to some degree, without a necessary place in the world; his journey is essentially one of discovering a purpose.  As the story turns out, this attempt by Victor leads to the creation of a monster that causes the deaths of nearly his entire family.  In Darwyn Cooke’s two-volume graphic novel, The New Frontier, numerous famed characters from the comic book world appear to fight an epic battle in an attempt to save America (and by association, the world).  The graphic novel genre, and Cooke’s novels especially, set up super-heroes as people not defined by their extraordinary powers, rather they are people whose powers enable them to be defined as the anti-villains.  Villains, for example, exist regardless of super-heroes, creating a need for the super-hero mantle to be taken up.  In Cooke’s work, the Flash laments that he is, “tired of using [his] gift to chase jewellery thieves and costumed clowns,” rather he became the Flash to, “be a part of something meaningful” (Cooke).  Frankenstein’s monster becomes a controller/definer of Victor’s life, much the same way someone like the Joker plays a controlling role in the Batman’s life.  Without the Joker, Bruce Wayne would simply be a petulant rich boy, wallowing in the loss of his parents.  Likewise, Victor Frankenstein would be nothing in life without the burden of his creation, menacing him into hiding or action; thus, Victor and the super-hero archetype both find meaning or ‘self’ within the adversary they face.  In The New Frontier, the superheroes become complete or meaningful by virtue of the villain, and they, “fight on!  To the last breath, fight on” (Cooke).


Works Cited

Cooke, Darwyn.  The New Frontier.  New York: DC Comics, 2004.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft.  Frankenstein.  New York: Longman, 2007.


Note:  Graphic novels tend to leave out page numbers.  The New Frontier was no exception.