The Modern Frankenstein review – a paranormal romance interpretation of a classic horror story.

Just in time for Halloween comes the collected edition of The Modern Frankenstein, a romantic take on the classic horror story. Elizabeth Cleve is a brilliant young medical student, attracted to the waspish, charismatic surgeon James Frankenstein. He wants to further medical science… by any means necessary. So how far is Elizabeth prepared to go?

As one of the most iconic horror stories in history, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been the subject to many adaptations and reinterpretations. This latest offering from Heavy Metal’s Magma Comix imprint takes the story down the paranormal romance route, though it has plenty to offer on science and morality also. Paul Cornell has a strong history of creating layered complex characters across several mediums whether it be novels, TV or comics. The two main characters in this series are strong examples of this.

Frankenstein is a standoffish type that you would expect to find as the male protagonist of many romance stories, but his terrifying level of devotion to science and the consequences of his actions make him far more compelling than your standard romantic hero archetype. Elizabeth meanwhile possesses intelligence and ambition that – whilst leading to a natural chemistry with Frankenstein – proves to be a dangerous combination as the pair push both natural and moral boundaries to their limits in the name of science. Her initial aim in medical science is to help those who really need it like her seriously ill mother, whereas Frankenstein is mainly interested in progress and the next evolution of the field. The passionate relationship leads Elizabeth to make some dangerous decisions that wane from her philosophy, that proves to have dire consequences.

Emma Vieceli’s art is a natural fit for the series. She has a delicate style that is well suited for the romance genre (a genre much of her work has centred on) and her distinct character designs reflect this. But that doesn’t mean she can’t handle the scary stuff. Her depictions of the monstrous experiments of Frankenstein’s and the grislier moments prove she has a strong understanding of what makes horror work. She is also supported by some strong colouring work from Pippa Bowland that flow perfectly from the warmer romantic moments to the horror scenes.

This is an imaginative take on a classic horror story that will appeal to several different audiences. Those who enjoy paranormal romance will be particularly satisfied.

The Modern Frankenstein is out now 28 October Heavy Metal Entertainment (9781736817919, p/b, £16.99)

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