Review - Frankenstein Undone #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"Soon these burning miseries will be extinct."

Frankenstein created a creature who became the embodiment of man's hubris in many ways. In Frankenstein Undone #1 from Dark Horse Comics, Frankenstein is really more of a how-to manual to improve the human condition. The issue is written by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie, illustrated by Ben Stenbeck, colored by Brennan Wagner and lettered by Clem Robins.

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.

Mignola and Allie allow Frankenstein to find solace and peace in the north amidst frozen tundras and a polar bear family. It's actually a very clever way of speaking to the humanity of the character by allowing him to spend time caring for (and being cared for) a family of polar bears as they traverse perilous landscape on a daily basis. Mignola and Allie further test Frankenstein's humanity when he encounters another seemingly like him, establishing the conflict of the story while also providing its overarching direction. The writing duo emphasize Frankenstein's character through a series of monologues primarily--it's only only until the end that Frankenstein (and the reader) better understand what type of test lies in wait for the titular character. There are a few stretches where Mignola and Allie emphasize the solitude of the setting to great effect, using the setting to tell a portion of the story.

A strong reason that the landscape tells a story is because of Stenbeck's haunting imagery of a giant creature roaming the snowy plains. Stenbeck has a very refined approach to the linework that gives the characters a sense of presence without feeling too emphatic--an achievement considering the mass of the characters involved. There are a few moments when the reader gets a true sense of scale in terms of Frankenstein and those around him, especially towards the end when Stenbeck renders his recovery. The panels are very tidy and clean, providing a solid sense of organization for the issue to unfold. Wagner's colors darken the otherwise snowy white setting quite a bit.

Frankenstein Undone #1 offers a stoic look at an even more stoic character. Frankenstein sought a certain peace from his previous life, only to discover that true peace is very hard to come by and fully comprehend. The script by Mignola and Allie is very poignant and rife with introspection. Stenbeck's illustrations are clearly presented and put together in their portrayal of a being perceived as a monster. Frankenstein Undone #1 has a lot of intelligent thought put into it.

Frankenstein Undone #1 is available now.