Monday, July 7, 2014

Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible and The New Race of Man TPB

As the rest of the B.P.R.D. deals with the slow descent of the world into the Apocalypse, Abe Sapien's comic is telling a much more personal story. After getting mortally wounded, Abe has fled his home at B.P.R.D. It doesn't seem he has a terribly clear goal in mind, he's just out trying to figure out who he is and what he stands for. Fortunately, he's still the same good-hearted, heroic character we've come to love over the last decade.

Dark and Terrible covers his initial run from home. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi get some nice mileage out of the recap sequences that lays out just how horribly messed up the world has become. Things were bad when Abe was shot, but things are a lot worse now. Eventually, Abe finds himself sheltering in a small town church; a church where the paster is a bit too accepting of weird ideas and people.

I enjoyed seeing Abe's stay in this town, because I've got to think this is what life is for most "normal" people in the Hellboy universe. Chicago is abandoned. San Diego is destroyed, we know lots of other cities are totally gone too. But small towns like Grayrock live on. Cut off from aid, with no military support coming, these small towns are just hanging on, hoping that things will get better. Sheriffs, local cops, and militias are the only line of defense against the supernatural. Maybe if something big is happening, the BPRD will send a strike team or two to help out.

Sebastian Fiumara's art is moody, dark, and evocative. In other words, perfect for a Hellboy universe story. It's a little thing, but I loved the tactical gear he gives the BPRD members. Everyone has hooks, clasps, and pouches hanging off them, making them seem so much better equipped for the madness than those poor normals hiding in rags.

The New Race of Man takes us to the Salton Sea, where strange egg pods are hatching, although their odd babies are rapidly eaten by mutated coyotes. Abe does some swimming in the salty water, finding more weirdness and maybe remembering a bit more about his past. The bulk of the story takes place on shore, as Abe joins a community of monster-watchers who are just waiting for the world to end. Again, the main focus is on the sociology of mankind as it watches everything collapse. Why go back to work at Costco when a horde of tunneling monsters might pop up and kill you tomorrow?

Max Fiumara handles the art on this story, and I don't care for the art as much as in the first. The details are a bit looser, fingers don't look right, faces are more impressionistic, body shapes are less realistic. It isn't bad art, but when the monsters look as realistic as the humans, that takes a bit from the narrative.

Mignola and Arcudi are still steering their corner of comics into some absolutely amazing places. You can't go wrong with this GOOD comic.

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