Advance Review: FRANKENSTEIN UNDERGROUND #1

frankenstein-underground-01-dark-horse-2015

FRANKENSTEIN UNDERGROUND #1
Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Ben Stenbeck
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 18, 2015

The Frankenstein monster makes his second appearance in the Mignolaverse in this mini-series that gives the monster the spotlight.

A Frankenstein story isn’t a Frankenstein story without the character going through hell, and Underground looks to be no different. In a life that spans hundreds of years, the monster has been hunted, abused, sold, and everything in between. His path of misery has landed him in 1950s Mexico, which is a refreshing choice. When you have a title set in the Mignolaverse, you can expect many monsters and mythologies and it will be interesting to see what comes out of Mexican folklore and onto the pages of Frankenstein Underground.

Mignola doesn’t waste time in introducing the main villain of the story, Fabre. His motivations are a tad shallow, but he makes up for it in vileness. Fabre’s minions are a highlight of the issue. They all have a great design and tell their own stories from their appearance alone.

The pace is strong and jumps to different scenes and settings often to keep the comic interesting. Mignola’s dialogue helps keep the reader in the know and easy to follow. While there were many characters shown and history recounted, it doesn’t feel like much happened in issue #1. The advancement of the main plot stagnates and there isn’t a balance of the past and present. Despite the missteps on the present day storyline, Frankenstein Underground does end on a cool cliffhanger with an extremely unsettling — at least I found it to be unsettling — final panel.

Ben Stenbeck’s art is a major reason to give Frankenstein Underground a shot. You can see his own style within the pages, but he still shows tons of Mignola influence to make it a perfect fit within the universe. The bold shadows and assymetrical monster design are great and really stand out.

I’ve only read the major Hellboy titles and the color palette looks to be more diverse in Frankenstein Underground compared to other Mignola titles. There is still an abundant amount of grays and blues, but select panels show off more colors and help the contrast of the world outside of Frankenstein. Stenbeck and Mignola go with the “less is more” approach to the panels and focuses instead on larger panels on each page. The approach is a success as they are able to really heighten the scope and the emotions they want to convey.

Frankenstein Underground is a good, not great, beginning. The issue feels more like an extended prologue than the actual beginning of the monster’s mini-series. While not the strongest start, I do think the cast of characters and mysteries brought forth will make for a very interesting mini-series. Stenbeck’s impressive art display won’t hurt either.

The Verdict: 7.5/10

 

 

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