Story: Mike Mignola & Scott Allie
Art: Ben Stenbeck
Colors: Brennan Wagner
Letter: Clem Robins
Cover: Ben Stenbeck
Alternate Cover: Simone D’Armini
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Available: Today! Get thee hence, pilgrim!
Back today (finally!) is the second issue of the five-book Frankenstein Undone arc, by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie and Ben Stenbeck. For those not aware (you can read my review of issue one here), Undone picks up at the end of Mary Shelley’s novella and fills the gap to the creature’s appearance in 2015’s Frankenstein Underground.
Having traversed the frigid north and found a mentor of sorts, Frankenstein has…well, settled would be too strong a word for it. Continuing to chafe at the viciousness and competitiveness of men and admiring the nurturing nature of women (a significant theme in the source novel by Mary Shelley), the creature is told of a mystical kingdom of nigh-all-knowing men and women located north of anything…known to some as Hyperborea. In fact, from hence is where Arobas, the creature’s mystical guide, hails, as the last of his kind. Until, that is…
He is not.
Finding himself alone again, unknowingly duped into participating in Arobas’ passing, Frankenstein once again is left to wander the frozen wastes…until he comes upon the ice-locked sister ship to Captain Walton’s own. An adventure-seeking tub searching for…Hyperborea.
Having found tolerance, if not forgiveness, the creature now searches for a higher form of being, for a like mind.
But is that what he and his new mates will find in the ice-covered spires of Hyperborea?
Guess you’ll have to read and figure it out for yourself!
I raved at length in my issue one review about Mignola and Allie’s fidelity to Shelley’s (as opposed to Universal’s) creature, and issue two offers more of the same. Here, we see growth in Frankenstein—of both his philosophy, and his prejudices. And his determination to find a similar, if not like, enlightened mind. The evolution of the creature’s thoughts and beliefs are as powerful as they are at times heart-wrenching—again, in solid tune with the source material. Mignola has written so well for so long (as has Allie), that it’s easy to take his tale-weaving for granted. Make sure not to—take the time to absorb the story the authors tell and not just tear through it like any other comic: this is literature, not pulp. Trust me—you’ll be glad you did.
In a mirror of the previous issue (and much of Mignola’s work), the imagery performs a lion’s share of the story-telling. There is more dialogue in this issue than last, as there’s more verbal information to address, but where it can be, talk is eschewed on behalf of action, panorama or gestures.
And once again, Stenbeck is at the top of his game. A perfect blend of realism and cartoon, all creatures and figures are imbued with meaning, significance, identity. We’re clearly in the midst of a story, but suspension of disbelief is easily and eagerly engaged. Thought and emotion are conveyed expertly, matching what dialogue and tone Mignola and Allie offer.
Wagner continues to capture the polar cap, the ship and (spoiler alert!) Hyperborea itself with grace and fluidity. Bold color palettes make for vivid and engaging imagery, while subtle shifts in shade and tone draw the reader into the darker and more haunting portions of the tale, with hue matching (and even establishing) mood and tone well throughout.
And as per usual, Clem Robins’ lettering is top notch—never disrupting the visual presentation of Mignola and Allie’s tale or the flow of Stenbeck’s artwork, and becoming effectively vivid and LOUD when it needs to.
Another high-end presentation, all the way around.
If you’d like to check in on Frankenstein’s backstory yourself (as well as his other stories, for that matter), you can track it down on Amazon, comiXology, darkhorse.com or best of all: your local comic store.
Score: 13 (of 13)Review by Andy Patch