Review by Ian Keogh
Frankenstein Underground opens in 1956, after the nightmarish events detailed in a story featuring in Hellboy in Mexico. Barely alive, the Frankenstein monster stumbles into a cave where he’s revived by a mysterious old woman who understands his torment. His suffering also draws the attention of mystic and collector Adoet deFabre, seen in B.P.R.D., who has assorted mystical creatures bound to him, and wants to add the monster to his collection.
However, the title is because Mike Mignola’s plot makes good use of Mexico having some of the world’s largest underground caverns, adding his own supernatural speculation as to what might lurk within them. As he copes with that, the monster also reflects on his past, and how he’s been tormented through the ages.
Mignola’s known for choosing interesting artistic collaborators, and in Ben Stenbeck he’s opted for someone whose style is close to his own drawing, a feeling heightened by the distinctive colouring of Dave Stewart. Stenbeck’s people are more natural than Mignola’s own jagged creations, but pages without them have a familiar exploration of light and shade, and despite some ornate iconography, Stenbeck keeps the art appealingly simple.
As Frankenstein’s monster stumbles from one strange encounter to the next there are numerous references to people and organisations featuring in Mignola’s other titles, but these are just window dressing, and the story is easily understood. Of particular note is how sympathetically Mignola brings out the essential tragedy of Frankenstein, a gentle person cursed to be forever judged by his appearance and shunned by most. Anyone wrapped up in Mignola’s mythology will find plenty to please them, but anyone coming to this without that background could fine Frankenstein Underground a little too simple and staged.