Frankenstein: New World has returned readers to the world of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. in the distant future, long after our world has ended and been reborn, and this final issue in the limited series run highlights perhaps the biggest flaw in many of these four part series from Dark Horse – they’re not long enough. The story comes to something of a close here, yet readers are left wanting more as it just doesn’t feel like enough.
Previous entries in the series spent a good deal of time introducing this new, evolved world; a world where humanity and most other life on the planet was destroyed millennia ago (check out the events of B.P.R.D. The Devil You Know to see how all that went down). We spent a while with Lilja, one of the few humans left alive living in the centre of the Earth, watched over by their Oracle, the ageless Frankenstein. Since then the two of them have set out for the surface, and we’ve gone along with them as they’ve explored this new paradise, and made new friends.
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Last issue things went badly for their allies, the frog-like Bonji, when their village came under attack from their vicious rivals, the Varsu. This issue picks up where that left off, with Frankenstein and most of the Bonji prisoners of the Varsu, brought in chains to their sacred space to answer for the crime of one of the Bonji having looked upon their god. Not only has this act condemned the entire village, but it also transformed the man who looked upon the god, Bih’tak, into a monster. Whilst Frankenstein is forced to fight against the transformed Bhi-tak, Lilja and the village children try to mount a rescue, and something evil lurks in the shadows, watching it all.
Despite this being the end of this series it really feels like we’ve only just scratched the surface of this story. The end brings this particular chapter to a close, but there are still several important plot threads left hanging that means there surely has to be more coming. Which is a good thing, because as enjoyable as this issue is it would be a bit disappointing if this is how it all ends. Going off past Hellboy books, however, and the popularity of the series, I think it’s pretty safe to say that there’ll be more coming in the future. But how does this opening chapter stack up?
Overall, this is a decent start to the story, and the main focus is Lilja and Frankenstein, and the relationship that they’ve built. This issue really shows that off, as when everyone else is either cowering or running away, Lilja is the one running towards the danger in hopes of helping her friend. We get to see Frankenstein go from a mythical, inhuman figure for her, into someone that she genuinely cares about, and is willing to put her life of the line for. And this issue bonds the two of them in an important way, in a way that could change their dynamic a great deal going into later stories. Whilst discovering this new world and its mysteries has been an enjoyable part of the mini-series, it’s these two characters that make it a comic worth reading month after month.
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The art on this issue, provided by Peter Bergting and Michelle Madsen, continues the signature look of this universe, and continues to make the new world both beautiful and creepy. This issue really shows off that balance well, particularly with Murk and his minions having a much larger presence throughout. The art team are able to make a setting that felt wondrous and awe-inspiring a few issues ago into something sinister without really doing much different, and these subtle shifts are deftly done. This is also one of the more action packed issues of the series, and the artwork when Frankenstein is left to fight the huge monster that was once Bih’tak are filled with energy, and are easy to understand.
Frankenstein: New World has been an enjoyable return to this universe, a great continuation for long time fans, and an easy, interesting jumping on point for new readers. There’s a great character focused story at the centre, tons of new things to discover, and some interesting mysteries and a looming threat still to be resolved. Hopefully readers won’t have to wait too long for the next part of this story.
Frankenstein: New World #4 is out now from Dark Horse.