REVIEW :: B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth-New World #1 – 5

January 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm By:

What does Hell on Earth mean?  In terms of publishing, it’s Mike Mignola giving an official name to the series’ next uber-arc.  All the B.P.R.D. material to this point has been retroactively dubbed Plague of Frogs and will be re-collected under that title, in snazzy, reasonably priced hardcovers forthcoming.  Hell on Earth is the landscape of the series now.  Hell IS on Earth now.  Crazy Guy Davis-drawn monsters are running amok cutting swaths of destruction across the world.  The B.P.R.D., now a U.N. sanctioned organization, finds their jobs harder than ever and not just because of the monsters.  Because they are U.N. sanctioned, they have more to answer for and are constantly hamstrung in getting the job done.

The neat thing about all of it is that information I just splayed out for you is delivered subtly in the book.  It’s all background or hinted upon or briefly mentioned at the most.  John Arcudi and Mignola world building through atmosphere but different than how they usually do.  This is an emotional landscape more so than the Gothic/Horror/Strange landscapes that they usually build for us.  A landscape of frustration as the world is ripped asunder.  The frustration of being able to do more and accomplishing nothing.  The B.P.R.D., when they most need to stick together, is falling apart.

The main plot is more concerned with Abe Sapien and a former B.P.R.D. regular cast member hunting down the source of a plague that is turning a small town into possessed monsters.  When the source is discovered it is devastating in its human element and twisted because of it.  I won’t give it away.

I haven’t forgotten though, and it would be stupid of me to ignore, that this is a comic book about killing monsters and when it comes time to do that between the in-fighting and campfire conversations about survival, it delivers.  The action centerpiece in issue #3 is the most scrumptious of chase-fights.  Abe is at the wheel of a pick-up truck and Ben Daimio is in the back with box full of guns and grenades fighting/being chased by a big black mega-demon thing. The art of the action sequence sometimes seems lost in this modern day of freely used double splashes.  A proper action scene takes into account setting and geography, the physical proximity between characters and their surroundings.  The progression of panels must flow in such a way that those things interact with each while showing the passage of time properly freezing momentum at its most dynamic but also most information conveying.  It is such a delicate balance.  Guy Davis with his deceptively scratch style accomplishes it and makes it look easy.

You’ve heard the buzz now is the best time to get in on one of the finest of monthly comics.


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