• Frankenstein Underground #1



    Frankenstein Underground #1
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: March 18th, 2015.
    Written by: Mike Mignola
    Illustrated by: Ben Stenbeck
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    When the first issue of this new mini-series starts out, we travel to Mexico in 1956. Here a woman waiting alone in an ancient temple is approached by a creature more monster than man. It collapses, injured, and touches him – this allows her to see what happened to him, how he was shot down by those who do not understand. She is a witch and uses her abilities to heal him and he tells her his story, dating back to Switzerland in 1812, then Macedonia in 1856 through to France in 1863 and then Austria in 1911 – everywhere he went, he was hunted.

    His journey took him to Mexico where he worked in a freakshow and while he prayed for death he was put to work in underground boxing competitions only to eventually make his escape and once again find himself on the run. She tells him she can hear the Gods that were once worshipped in this temple because she wants to, and that he can because he has been touched by them.

    But there’s more to this story than that – at an exotic bookstore in France the Marquis Addet De Fabre and his cohort Nodier discuss alchemy and the origins of a creature ‘cobbled together from dead parts.’ The Marquis, who seems to collect strange, arcane objects, wants to add this creature to his collection, a collection that already includes a man-thing referred to as ‘Toad’ and a winged woman named Marchosias. It is she that the Marquis asks to acquire the creature to him, and so she sets out to do just that.

    This latest entry in the eve expanding ‘Mignolaverse’ does a pretty cool job of bringing Mary Shelley’s most famous creation into the same world inhabited by Mignola’s own creations, the most obvious being Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. Of course, Mignola’s story is more than just a retread of what Shelley already did right the first time, he takes the monster and gives him his own personality and would seem to be set to bring him on an adventure completely different than the origin story we’ve all seen done time and time again. Where it’ll go from here is hard to say but the stage has been set for what could turn out to be a pretty dark, twisted ride.

    As interesting as this inaugural chapter is, the artwork from Ben Stenbeck is equally impressive. His work here fits Mignola’s world perfectly, showing an influence but never really aping the man’s signature style. Expect heavy blacks, lots of shadows and some dynamic panel layouts as well as a fair bit of detail paid to both the backgrounds and the clothing that the different characters wear. The coloring by Dave Stewart compliments this perfectly, bathing the ‘flashback’ scenes in interesting colors to heighten their tension while giving the monster an appropriately sick looking skin tone.

    There are lots of things that can be done with a Frankenstein story and all too often we see creators rehash the same old thing over and over. Mignola doesn’t appear to be doing that here, it would seem he’s going in a completely different direction while still paying fitting tribute to what came before. This first issue promises great things to come, let’s stick around and see where it goes.