There’s a chance that even if you’ve never read any of the comics you’ve heard of the character Hellboy. Created almost three decades ago, the demonic hero starred in multiple titles as he battled the forces of darkness with his friends and allies, doing what they can to protect the Earth. However, in 2019 the final Hellboy story, B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know – Ragna Rok came to a close, and saw not only all of the beloved series heroes die, but the world come to an end. Fortunately, a small group of people were saved by hiding deep inside the Hollow Earth, where they could hope for a future.
Frankenstein: New World is a continuation of this story, where we find the last of the human race many generations later. Humanity has regressed somewhat, choosing to live a fairly simple life in their new home. The people have also formed a new kind of religion, one where a select group of monks listen to the whispers of the oracle, a being who welcomed them into the Hollow Earth centuries before, gave them a sun, and has watched over them ever since: Frankenstein.
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Frankenstein, or more accurately his creation, was last seen in the 2015 mini-series Frankenstein Underground, where he travelled into the Earth and found a civilisation living deep beneath the surface. It would appear that this is the same place that the last of humanity call home, though since changed and transformed. Since bringing humanity to their new home Frankenstein has fallen into an almost sleep state, waiting for the right time to wake up.
Our main human character for this story is Lilja, a young girl who, unlike many of her friends, holds a deep respect for the oracle. Whilst her friends joke about his ancient form, and make predictions that he’s actually dead, she holds true to the belief that he’s going to wake up one day. She believes in him so strongly that she sneaks out of her home in the middle of the night and breaks into the temple just so she can talk to him, to tell him about the strange dreams she’s been having.
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When the monks try to remove her from the temple Frankenstein awakens, and tells them that he’s seen Lilja’s dream, and must leave them to return to the surface. Refusing to be left behind, Lilja sneaks off after Frankenstein, and together the two of them will emerge on the surface to discover what new world awaits them, and what dangers the woman in Lilja’s dreams are warning them about.
As someone who hasn’t read the most recent B.P.R.D. comics, but was aware of how it ended, I was curious to have a look at what could come next for the series. Ragna Rok very much felt like a definitive ending, with much of what Mike Mignola having created being wrapped up, so I was left with the question of ‘what else is there left to tell?’, and by the end of this issue I’m still not completely sure. There’s a lot of mystery here, and it feels like we’ve only been given the first small pieces of it. But, that’s a big part of the fun of this issue.
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There are hints here, and I think that fans will start to put the pieces together and will begin to form theories at least. For example the woman sending Lilja dreams, who appears to be stuck in some kind of crystal is seen wearing a crucifix around her neck. Now, there is a very big character in the series who kind of fits that description, so could it be her? Getting to see what happened to those main characters after the B.P.R.D. series came to a close wasn’t what I was expecting the series to do, but it seems like it’s going to be throwing those hints and nods into the story too. We also get to discover the final fate of another member of the B.P.R.D. this issue too.
But it’s not just about the older stuff, and we get to see what the new world is like, what happened after the rebirth, and what kinds of creatures call Earth home now. It’s the chance to be creative, and the trio of writers on the series, Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, and Thomas Sniegoski, seem to be coming up with some weird and wonderful things for the readers.
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The art on the book, provided by Peter Berting and Michelle Madsen, fits what one would expect from something that’s part of the Hellboy universe. It fits the look established by Mignola when he created the characters, and whilst it does have a style that’s it’s own, it fits into the tone and look of the series well. The characters and environments look great, and it seems like the art team went to a lot of trouble to fill the new Earth scenes with some amazing creations.
If you’re a fan of Hellboy and his extended universe, and if you were left reeling by how his story came to an end, then Dark Horse‘s Frankenstein: New World seems to be the book you’ll want to check out. This first issue has laid the groundwork nicely, and left enough hints and teases for readers to expect big things to come.
Frankenstein: New World is out now from Dark Horse.