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Abe Sapien: The Drowning #1
By Geoff Hoppe
February 10, 2008 - 14:24

Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Mike Mignola
Penciller(s): Jason Shawn Alexander
Cover Artist(s): Dave Stewart

Abe enters the autograph room at the San Diego comic con.
To call Hellboy a successful franchise is an understatement along the lines of “New Yorkers are somewhat unfriendly” or “Eugene, Oregon has a moderate hippie population.” The little comic that began in a comic book convention program has now spawned a successful spin-off (B.P.R.D.), a long running collection of side stories (Hellboy: Weird Tales), and one of the best miniseries of 2007 (Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus). Hellboy’s spun off into more sequels than The Land Before Time and American Pie franchises combined, with one huge difference: Mignola’s stuff doesn’t suck. Thankfully, Abe Sapien: The Drowning continues that record.

Abe Sapien #1 is set in 1981, and focuses on an inexperienced Abe’s first mission without Hellboy. Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (pronounced Broom) believes a nineteenth-century shipwreck off the coast of France hides a Lipu Dagger, a mystic Tibetan weapon. Oh yeah, and the remains of murderous Dutch warlock named Epke Vrooman. Bruttenholm sends Abe to retrieve the dagger, “and whatever remains of Vrooman.”

No complaint can be made about Mignola’s imagination, or his knowledge of the occult. His writing’s usually another matter, with important details frequently left out. The Drowning is, once more, an exception to a rule. Abe’s character is far better defined than usual, especially moreso than in 2007’s “Garden of Souls,” a B.P.R.D. arc that promised to be “the definitive Abe Sapien story.” Where that series focused insufficiently on Abe’s character, The Drowning has already dropped a few enigmatic hints that flesh out the fish-man to the extent he deserves. One hopes the trend will continue.

Jason Shawn Alexander (who did the covers for last year’s Conan and the Midnight God) is back in the form that made his work on The Escapists so good. If you’re going to draw a Mignola story, you have to be able to draw “creepy” right. Alexander has the necessary chops, and his attention to detail enhances the eldritch seascapes and artifact-filled B.P.R.D. offices to lush extent.

Worth the money? Yes. Definitely more than Land Before Time 19: Spike Files his Tax Returns.

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