The discovery of a detailed journal kept by his patchwork dad’s creator prompts a child with mismatched parts of his own to start tracking down his many “cousins.”
Only just found in the box in which 14-year-old J.D. (for John Doe) had been left as an infant at Mr. Shelley’s Orphanage for Lost and Neglected Children®, Dr. Frankenstein’s notebook not only clues the boy in to his parentage (or at least his father’s identity), but provides tantalizing leads to the original owners of dad’s components. As J.D. has inherited eyes of different colors and hands and feet of different sizes, he figures that he’s related to said owners—and so sets out to find them or, more likely, their descendants. His search acquires particular urgency thanks to Dr. Frankenstein’s amoral daughter, Frances Kenstein, who is likewise on a quest to recreate her father’s magnum opus using body parts with the same DNA. Repetitively noting how “cute” she is and uttering “Don’t panic,” and “I’ll figure something out” with mantralike frequency, J.D. rescues an explorer in Antarctica and a would-be young police detective in LA from his acquisitive rival in this two-episode opener. Though occasionally given to clumsy turns of phrase, his narrative is stocked with jokes, blotches, gross bits, typeface changes, side notations, sketched vignettes and color illustrations.
Spindly the plotline may be, but it’s greened up with a few yuks and rises from an unusually fertile series premise. (Light fantasy. 9-11)