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BPRD Garden of Souls #1


By Geoff Hoppe
March 15, 2007 - 23:29


 

bprd_1.jpg
I wish mutton chops were still cool.
Dark Horse kicks off a year and a half of regularly published issues of B.P.R.D. with part one of this miniseries that will be “the definitive Abe Sapien story.”

 

Building on the recent discovery that BPRD detective Abraham Sapien was actually nineteenth-century Englishman Langdon Everett Caul, the issue opens with a flashback to London, 1859. The London branch of the Super Adventures Club is having a shindig, and the guest of honor is a mummy they’re unwrapping. On top of being totally sketch just on general principle, I don’t think finger foods go very well with 6000 year old corpse, but I suppose that’s English cuisine for you (ba-ZING!). Anyways, the mummy’s eyes burst open, and he uses his magical curse powers to shift the narrative to 2006 where the BPRD is recovering from the events surrounding the “Plague of Frogs” storyline. Johann is learning how to drive a forklift, Kate and Liz are bonding, and Abe receives a mysterious package…

 

Guy Davis’s art is engaging despite itself. Ever since Frank Miller made Sin City look like his inkwell threw up, plenty of artists have imitated his consciously messy style. Few have succeeded. Guy Davis is an exception, thanks to his brilliant, Alan Moore-ish gift for manipulating layout. His draftsmanship, however, fails to convey the eerie magic of Mignola’s universe. While an argument can be made that a purposefully unkempt style is needed for a monster comic, there are moments when the practiced garishness of Davis’ style prevent the reader from enjoying the storyline. For instance, Kate Corrigan and Liz Sherman look like unwashed gothlings fresh from an all-weekend gamecube binge.

 

John Arcudi’s stylistic talents complement Mignola’s brilliantly unruly imagination. Mignola’s love of the strange and horrible, combined with the Blakeian mystery of the Hellboy universe, makes for a compelling idea. Unfortunately, he sometimes lacks subtlety in crafting the finer points of a plot. The edges always feel rough in a Mignola story, though his art, enthusiasm, and the genius of the concept are enough to carry the reader through to the end. With Arcudi, however, Hellboy’s splintery surface is sanded into novel-like perfection. It takes a lot of humility to let someone else play with your vision—Hellboy fans should be thankful that Mignola is big enough to let Arcudi help craft the fascinating world of the BPRD.

 

Worth the money? Fans, yes. Casual readers, wait for something with a bit more action.


Last Updated: June 23, 2021 - 00:45

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