Trapped Between Guilt And Redemption- Frankenstein Undone #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Frankenstein’s creator lies dead in the icy grip of the Arctic, and the monster searches for a new purpose. Just as he thinks he’s found one with a group of unlikely companions, disaster strikes–and the monster is catapulted out of Mary Shelley’s novel and into the world of Hellboy.
Bridging Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein novella and Mike Mignola’s Frankenstein Underground, this series brings together Mignola, Scott Allie, Ben Stenbeck, Brennan Wagner, and Clem Robins for an all-new horror adventure in the far north.

Frankenstein Undone #1 picks up right where Mary Shelley’s novel left off over 200 years ago. The wretch is paying respects to his recently departed creator, aboard a ship in the Arctic, before setting off to find some lumber. His plan is to build himself a funeral pile and bring a fiery close to his tortured existence. That bit is straight out of Walton’s letters that close out the novel.
With gruesome suicide on his mind, the creature encounters a family of polar bears who accept him into their sleuth. Things appear to finally be looking up for the fiend, when tragedy strikes and a new monster is introduced. 

I don’t think there’s any doubt that Mike Mignola knows his monsters. This script collaboration with Scott Allie pays homage to the source material, while taking Shelley’s daemon in a direction that will ultimately land him in hell, fighting The Right Hand of Doom. 
If your only experience with Dr. Frankenstein’s monster is from cinema, you might be surprised to find how eloquent and introspective Shelley’s beast actually is. While familiarity with the source material provides context and eases the shock of seeing the abomination wax poetic, that opening scene draws the folks in who are only peripherally aware of the monster’s true origin.

While Frankenstein’s (I know. I know. Frankenstein is the doctor, right? Mignola and Allie offer a fair argument as to why the beast can call himself just Frankenstein. I’m gonna go ahead and roll with it for the sake of these reviews.) appearance has changed innumerable times over the last two centuries, the art team of Ben Stenbeck and Brennan Wagner appear to have landed on the pre-Karloff stage visage. Pale blue skin, scars, torn shroud. The aesthetic works really well within the known Mignolaverse, but is also a great fit for this particular story. There’s a stoic sort of beauty to the angular, grotesque face.
I didn’t have time to re-read the entire Mary Shelley novel prior to reviewing Frankenstein Undone #1, but I did hit up the Cliff’s Notes to remind myself where that book left off. Frankenstein Undone #1 does exactly what it set out to, bridging the source novel to Mignola’s previous mini, Frankenstein Underground. This is a natural extension of Shelley’s vision, and takes great care with her most famous creation.

Frankenstein Undone #1 (of 5), Dark Horse Comics, 29 January 2020. Written by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie, art by Ben Stenbeck, color by Brennan Wagner, cover by Ben Stenbeck, edited by Katii O’Brien assisted by Jenny Blenik, designed by Scott Erwert, digital art by Ann Gray.

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