Something terrible is stalking Frankenstein and Lilja. Having emerged from the bowels of the earth, filled with darkness, this awful creature is following them across the new world. But this lingering shadow is far from the only threat that our brave explores will have to face in the latest issue of Dark Horse‘s new B.P.R.D. series, Frankenstein: New World.
In the previous issue our two valiant explorers had found a new civilisation on the surface: a group of frog-like beings called the Bonji who were willing to take the two of them in and make friends with them. It’s here that we rejoin them, with Lilja making friends with the children of the village and joining in their games. However, when she chases the ball into one of the huts she finds a member of the village in pain, covered in some strange kind of infection. Calling upon Frankenstein to help him, they learn that their new friends aren’t the only sentient beings that have made a home on the surface of Earth.
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The injured villager tells a story of how he and his friends travelled to a neighbouring area, where they explored the sacred ruins of a more war-like, violent species. The three of them ended up coming face-to-face with these people’s god, and it infected them. Only he was able to escape and make it back home, as his friends met a horrible end at hands of the other tribe. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like this is the end of the incident, and the peaceful Frankenstein finds himself being drawn into a fight that he doesn’t want in order to protect an innocent, peaceful people.
It’s interesting that there seems to be a big bad introduced last issue, and explained in more detail at the start of this one, yet it then goes on the back-burner as a whole new threat is brought in for Frankenstein to deal with. But I liked the choice of having these Varsu coming in to present a threat for our lead character to deal with. They’re not monsters, they’re people, no different to the ones that he’s just made friends with. They have a different culture and a different belief system that puts them at odds with other people, but they’re not dark, evil beings. And that puts Frankenstein in a position where he’s facing similar positions to those in his past, murky, messy choices that are testing his convictions. It’s certainly adding more depth to the story than a blank slate world reboot would make you think.
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As with the previous issues, the art by Peter Bergting and Michelle Madsen looks great throughout, and the issue really comes to life both in the flashback scenes and when the Varsu attack the village. The comic takes on a more sinister tone thanks to some subtle shifts in the artwork and the colours used, and it helps to reinforce the idea that these are horrific, awful things happening, even if they’re happening to a group of people that aren’t human. It helps to humanise the Bonji, to make them more sympathetic to the more vicious looking Varsu. It would have been easy to make two groups of monsters here, but the art team do a great job at making sure that didn’t happen.
The world of Frankenstein: New World continues to expand and become more complex, and the more we learn about it the more interesting it is. There are multiple plates spinning now, with the plot having changed from one simple quest to a story that is drawing the characters deeper into the lives of the people they meet. It’s clear that the writing team have some big things planned here, and it should be exciting to see some of it revealed.
Frankenstein: New World #3 is out now from Dark Horse.