I might as well confess right up front that I have a soft spot for anything that has to do with Teddy Roosevelt, who is a local hero in my hometown of Oyster Bay, New York. Roosevelt resided there during his presidency, raised his family there, and is buried there as well. Growing up there, you can’t escape his influence: I attended Theodore Roosevelt Elementary school, the local park and bird sanctuary are named after him as well, one of our fire departments adopted the name Rough Riders, and a handsome bust of TR adorns the front of our Town Hall. While there are other famous citizens with ties to the area, not even Billy Joel, Jackie “the Jokeman” Martling, or even Weiner Dog inspire a greater sense of local pride.
Yet even if I can put aside my obvious bias in the matter, I would still say that Frank Frazetta’s Creatures is an entertaining and amusing little one-shot. Rick Remender and Peter Bergting have concocted a wonderfully gonzo alternate universe where Roosevelt was not only a big game hunter, cavalry soldier, and respected statesman, but also an accomplished ghostbuster, valiantly engaging supernatural menaces with his secret team of “Dark Riders” (which includes among its membership SF author Edgar Rice Burroughs). Through 25 pages of nearly non-stop action, Teddy keeps a stiff upper lip as he plows through disgruntled demigods, giant snakes, savage apes, and even a legion of ornery pint-sized Martian invaders.
If this brew of action, humor and the supernatural puts you in mind of the Hellboy universe as concocted by Mike Mignola, I’m not sure that’s a comparison that Remender and Bergting would shy away from. Bergting’s shadowy and simplified pencils even remind me of the style employed by Mignola and other artists who draw in his books. In addition to Roosevelt’s natural talents, Remender has also armed the Prez with a mystic gem that grants him superpowers, as well as a funky powerpack and monster blasters. As is often the case with Hellboy, TR meets each outrageous challenge with fisticuffs and gunplay. Unfortunately, because the tone of the story is so light, there’s a distinct lack of jeopardy to the combat; there’s no creature our hero encounters that he can’t blast apart.
By the way, exactly what Frank Frazetta has to do with any of this is not at all clear to me. My guess is that he simply okayed the use of his name and the reprinting of his painting for the cover and otherwise his involvement extends to cashing the check. I assume that Remender’s assignment was to extrapolate a story out of what was depicted in the painting, but if so he has a hell of an imagination. Studying that painting, I never would’ve guessed that the hunter with his back to the viewer was Theodore Roosevelt! Actually, Bergting’s great variant cover has a more accurate depiction of the prez-on-martian wackiness to be found within.
Frank Frazetta’s Creatures is light and fun and earns a 7/10 from this appreciative reader. A one-shot is the perfect format for this concept, as I suspect turning this premise into a series would kill the joke pretty quick. However, if Remender and Mignola were ever to join forces to have Teddy Roosevelt fight alongside the Amazing Screw-On Head, count me in!