Weekly Round-Up #34 with Hot Wire, American Vampire, Hellboy, Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne, & more

Best Comic of the Week:

Hotwire: Deep Cut #1

by  Steve Pugh

I loved the first Hotwire mini-series, Requiem for the Dead, and am very happy to see that the title has returned for another three issues.

Alice Hotwire is your typical smart-ass recalcitrant anti-social Warren Ellis female lead character (Ellis developed the original story).  In this case, she’s a Detective Exorcist in a world where the dead have been returning in the form of ‘blue light’ electro-magnetic ghosts.  There are a number of scientific ways in which these blue lights can be dealt with, and Hotwire is the best at taking care of them.

When the book opens, she’s been off the job for six months, recovering for the events of the first arc.  She is finally pulled back to work after her replacements bungle a blue light capture, causing a massive accident.  Her first day back on the job doesn’t go well for her.  Also, she’s been seeing an old boyfriend again, despite the fact that he died a few years ago.

The writing on this title is sharp and smart, although it pales in comparison to the incredible painted artwork provided by Pugh.  He’s an artist I’ve respected since his run on Animal Man in the nineties, but his more recent work here and on Shark-Man has been very impressive.  I can not recommend this title enough.

Other Notable Comics:

American Vampire #5

Written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King
Art by Rafael Albuquerque

This issue wraps up the introductory arc of this title which means a few things.  1.  Stephen King has finished his back-up feature, and one would presume, his continued involvement in the title.  2.  Subsequent issues will now have 22 pages of story, not 32 like the first five, although the price will remain at $3.99.  I imagine that these changes may have a detrimental effect on sales.  I know that I’m not happy about the price point, especially after this book has trained me to expect a thicker story, but I intend to stick around for a while, as I’ve really liked what Snyder has done with the comic.

This issue has Pearl finish her quest for revenge in the main story, while the narrator of the back-up story finishes off his tale of Sheriff Book and Skinner Sweet.

This title is poised to go a number of places.  From the solicitation text for the next issue, it appears that the story will be jumping forward ten years, and moving to Las Vegas.  I like that, as it means that there will be plenty of opportunity for Snyder to fill in some gaps as he sees fit, as this issue kind of made things feel like they were finished.

As always, Albuquerque’s art on this title is nothing short of phenomenal, and I can’t wait to see him draw Vegas in the thirties.

And Then One Day #8

by Ryan Claytor with Dr. Harry Polkinhorn

Ryan Claytor is currently undertaking a lengthy tour of some 25 places across the Eastern US and Canada, and on Saturday made an appearance at my favourite comic store.

Claytor creates these lovely little mini-comics around the concept of autobiography.  Originally, he was telling stories about himself, but the project changed as it progressed, and as he became more interested in literary theory and how it applies to autobiography.

This comic is the second of three that basically just recount a conversation between himself and Dr. Polkinhorn, who it is safe to assume is a professor of literature (although I’m not sure where).  It is unfortunate that this issue picks up partway through the conversation, as I felt I was missing some context to what these two are talking about, but I quickly found myself interested in their discussion.  Much of what they talk about is pretty academic, but is also kept interesting by the decision that Claytor made to include whatever conversational ticks, asides, and lulls the conversation endured.  I also like that it is set on the patio of a fast-food restaurant.

This is an interesting comic.  The fact that the entire thing consists of two people talking (and, at one point, walking) makes it a graphic update of the classical Socratic dialogue approach, which I think is pretty cool.  The production values on this book are high, with nice thick cover stock and a gilded quality to the cover’s background.  I noticed that all of the books he had on offer were very well made.  Claytor’s approach to comics is interesting, and worth checking out.

CBGB #1

Written by Kieron Gillen and Sam Humphries
Art by Marc Ellerby and Rob G

I didn’t pick this up when it came out last week because of the price.  I figured I’d trade-wait it or get it at a con some day, but then the manager at my comic store encouraged me to take a second look, and I’m glad he did.

I couldn’t care less about punk or the history of punk music, but I do like it when Kieron Gillen makes comics about music, and I’ve liked Rob G’s stuff for a long time (although I think it’s a shame they didn’t work together on this comic).  I also like comics that have a strong sense of time and place, and that is something this new anthology series has in spades.

There are two stories in this issue.  The first has a punk wanna-be experience a Dickensian moment, and get visited by the three ghosts of punk – two ghosts of punk past (one giving the romantic side of things, the other more actuarial in his focus) and the ghost of punk future.  It’s a nice primer on the history of the famous New York club, and it’s a cute story.  The second story is set in the late 70s, and tells us about a punk kid who discovers that his recently deceased uncle once played CBGB.

This is an odd little project, and very much a labour of love, which makes it deserving of some support.

Fear Agent #28

Written by Rick Remender and Hilary Barta
Art by Mike Hawthorne, Tony Moore, John Lucas, and Xurxo G. Penalta

It’s been a year since we last saw or heard of Heath Houston, and in that stretch of time, I kind of forgot about the guy.  I loved the earliest issues of Fear Agent, back when it was being published by Image and each issue was an insane joyride of sci-fi weirdness.  The book got more serious as it progressed through Heath’s backstory, around the same time that it made the shift over to Dark Horse, but I still enjoyed it.

The last arc started to feel like it was stretching things a little too far, but I thought it was worth sticking around for, and now it’s nice to see that it’s on it’s last arc, as Remender intended the story to be written.  The problem is that it’s a hard title to pick up after a year’s absence.  Reading this, I feel like I should have dug out the last arc and looked over it again, because I’m feeling a little lost.  At the same time, I trust Remender (when writing his own creator-owned titles), and was able to just get lost in the craziness of the comic.  And Fear Agent is crazy.

It seems that Heath’s actions have once again changed the timestream, and he, with his remaining two companions, have to try to fix things.  As always, the art is nice, and the ‘Tales of the Fear Agent’ back-up is an amusing story.  Is the artist’s name really Xurxo G. Penalta, or is that a pseudonym?

UPDATE: The artist has graciously informed me that that is his real name.  I hope I didn’t cause offense in the asking.

Mondo Urbano Vol. 1

by Mateus Santolouco, Eduardo Medeiros, and Rafael Albuquerque

This is a very cool new graphic novel coming out of Brazil, drawn by three very capable cartoonists.  I picked this up because of Albuquerque’s involvement in it, but once I started reading, I couldn’t always tell what his contributions were.  The three artists appear to share pages almost at random, showing that this is a collaborative effort on every level.

The story is decidedly non-linear, and jumps all over the place, but is completely compelling and beautifully drawn throughout.  At the centre of this comic is a musician named Van Hudson, who has risen to stardom after purchasing a ‘cursed’ guitar.  This is not a new idea – ever since the legend of Robert Johnson was spread, writers have been making the connection between music and the devil – but it is played from a novel perspective here.  Hudson ends up dead in a bathtub, and there are all sorts of questions as to what really happened, and whether or not the stories about him were true.

This comic is not just about Hudson though.  There are vignettes about his fans and their own relationships.  There is a sequence about Hudson’s drug dealer, and another story about an anxious young man embarking on a long bus trip without a refill on his Valium prescription.  Two things recur throughout the book – a new drug called Fuckdrine (which sounds a little like Ecstasy mixed with Viagra), and a burly music shop owner.

I have no idea when or how this story is going to continue, but I do know that I’m going to be picking up the next volume for sure.  This is not quite like anything else on the stands, with it’s purple tones and kaleidoscopic story structure, and it’s just the type of comic I love getting my hands on from time to time.

Northlanders #30

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Riccardo Buchielli

I always get excited when a new arc of Northlanders gets underway.  What I like most about this title is the way each arc is set in a different place and time, this time around being in 8th Century Norway, where a group of Christians have commissioned the local Vikings to build a church.

This is a huge opportunity for the town.  There is the promise of employment and wealth, which many locals are willing to trade away some of their culture and spiritual autonomy for.  This does not extend to Erik, the gigantic unskilled blacksmith who is fired from the construction project at the beginning of the story.  Erik communes with the old gods (through hallucinogens; this hasn’t become a traditional Vertigo book with gods and goddesses wandering around), and takes umbrage at the actions of the arriving Christians – particularly a young girl that they have brought with them.  He decides to make his objections known one night, setting off ‘Metal’ in a big way.

I like the way Wood is showing these two conflicting religions and cultures.  One can read a lot into the scene where the one Christian demands that the Norsemen divert the river so it runs next to the church so that the priests and monks don’t have to travel far to urinate.

Wood is joined on this arc by his DMZ collaborator Burchielli, and as usual, the two work very well together.  I’m not sure how long this story is set to run, but I look forward to seeing this cultural conflict continue.

Rasl #8

by Jeff Smith

One of my favourite things about Rasl has been the way that Smith has employed a non-linear method of telling the story.  Most of this issue is spent on Rob’s relationship with Maya in the days leading up to his being fired from the science project on which he worked with her and her husband.  She’s been a bit of a cipher up to this point, so it’s nice to see a little more of her personality, and her optimism is a little heartbreaking knowing what we already know.

After that, the story moves to Rob’s present, where he is again visited by the creepy Munchian girl pictured on the cover (I figure with Rob being an art thief, and there being a focus on art and symbolism in this series, that her sometime-similarity to the person in The Scream can’t be completely coincidental).  We learn a little more about her too, although it’s too early to say how much truth there is in anything we’ve been told.

I’ve been enjoying this book, although I did like the longer issues better.  I thought the trade-off was going to be that the shorter issues would be bi-monthly.  It’s all good though, this is a title worth waiting for.

Time Bomb #1

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by Paul Gulacy

This is a can’t-miss comics project.  To begin with, Palmiotti and Gray have been doing amazing things lately, especially on their independent projects (check out The Last Resort and Random Acts of Violence).  Next, we have Gulacy on art, which is never a bad thing.  Finally, this is one of those 56 page square-bound Radical comics, which is a format I love.  Add all these up, and we have a definite purchase.

This book completely lived up to my expectations.  The story revolves around an underground Nazi missile complex that is discovered in the middle of Berlin when some repair work is done on a section of subway.  The exploration of said complex triggers the launching of a missile, which carries a strange bioweapon payload, which has left humanity with only 72 hours of existence.  A team of operatives is tasked with riding a ‘time bomb’ into the past to stop anyone from ever opening the bunker.  Of course, the ‘time bomb’ is not very accurate, and there is no way of knowing when the operatives would be sent, providing us with the next two issue’s worth of story.

Much of this issue is taken up with the necessary exposition and character development, which is unfortunate but needed.  It may have gotten boring with a lesser artist, but Gulacy is more than up to the task of making talking heads interesting.  This whole thing reads as much as a treatment for a movie as a comic, but I have no problem with that when the book is this good.

Unknown Soldier #22

Written by Joshua Dysart
Art by Alberto Ponticelli

I really don’t want this title to end.  With each issue, I find myself almost completely immersed in Dysart’s portrayal of Uganda, and I recognize how much I’m going to miss this title when it’s gone.

With this issue, Dysart starts ‘Beautiful World’.  Moses is in the custody of the US army, and we see his meeting, years ago, with the original Unknown Soldier.  I expected that this issue would be about his past and whatever it was the government did to him, but I was wrong.  The rest of the issue is centred around Sera, Moses’s wife.

She is still hunting for her husband, and spends most of the comic in the company of Momolu, the reporter she hired to help her track down the ‘bandaged man’.  Instead, Momolu takes her to an Acholi wedding, and Sera begins to return to herself.  Of course, this idyll is shattered when she learns that Moses has been spotted in the North, and when she runs into Jack, the former-CIA agent who has been hanging around for some time.

With this issue, Ponticelli returns to a traditional pencils and inks approach to the art, although in some panels (one of Momolu’s photos, Sera’s drive through the countryside) he returns to the more burnished look he’s been employing over the last few issues.  One surprise was the different paper stock this month.  This issue is printed on the kind of glossy paper that is usually seen on DC’s superhero books, instead of the paper (Baxter?  Mondo?  Do those still exist?) usually used for Vertigo titles.  I have no idea why this was done, and while it made the colours much brighter, it didn’t really add to my enjoyment of the book.  It seems like a strange decision to put more expensive paper in a comic that has been canceled for low sales.

Quick Takes:

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4 – As much as the notion of Batman fighting with Jonah Hex in Olde Gotham sounds cool, in execution, it seemed a little forced and hard to follow.  I like Jeanty’s art, and thought this looked even better than usual, but the inclusion of the Wayne ancestor at the end confused me, especially since he looked like the other character who was a bad guy.  I see the fanboy appeal of this series, but I’m starting to find it tedious.

Fantastic Four #581 – I was beginning to get a sense of where Hickman was taking this book, with its four mysterious cities, and its junior genius think tanks, but then he decides to give us an issue like this one, which has Reed’s father (in a sorta tie-in with The SHIELD) go to Reed, Ben, and Von Doom in their college days to get them to help him with a murderous and insane doppelganger.  This is a very weird, but quite readable, issue.

Flash #4 – The only thing that’s keeping my interest in this book is Manapaul’s fantastic art and Buccellato’s sun-drenched Mid-West colouring.  The story, with future Rogues wanting to arrest Barry for future crimes is dragging on way too long.  Even the future-Top’s explanation of what is going to happen in the book doesn’t interest me much.

Garrison #4 – This issue is almost all-action, as Garrison tries to evade his pursuers, and Agent Bracewell realizes that her counterparts in the HIA are after her.  The action sequences, which have Garrison facing off a bunch of his clones with RPG-like weapons, are fantastic.  This is a really interesting comic.

Green Lantern #56 – And I think we’re done here.  The best way I can describe this title since Blackest Night finished is to say that it’s stuck.  It doesn’t feel like there is anything new going on here at all.  The scenes with Larfleeze and Hal Jordan have been done before.  The scenes with Hector Hammond and Hal Jordan have been done before.  I don’t think I care at all about the different entities – they are kind of the silliest aspect of the Rainbow Warrior concept.  It’s kind of like this title is spinning its wheels for a year so Johns can tell the story he wants to tell (albeit slowly and uninterestingly) in Brightest Day.  It’s too bad that I’m not more interested in this, as I like Mahnke’s artwork a lot, but I’m jumping off here.  Peace out GL.

Green Lantern Corps #50 – This title gets to hold on a little longer because Bedard makes good use of what Johns seems to be forgetting in the parent title – that good comics writing needs good characterization.  I’m not a Hank Henshaw/Cyborg Superman fan, and I don’t really understand why there are so many of them, but this comic is a good example of how to use Blackest Night for source material, but to then move on from there.

Secret Avengers #3 – I really want to like this title, but I don’t really understand how an arc where Steve Rogers and crew are fighting Celestial Archons and Serpent Crowns on Mars requires a covert team.  This could be the regular Avengers.  Shouldn’t this title have the Avengers working for regime change in Zimbabwe or stealing weapons-grade uranium from North Korea?  I liked the first two pages the most – I thought I had a misprinted issue of Jonah Hex on my hands.

Uncanny X-Men #526 – I love what Fraction is doing with this book, as Hope travels to Alaska to find out about her past, and one of the ‘Five Lights’ (I hate that name) makes her debut.  I had no interest in Hope Summers as a character when she first showed up, but I like the way Fraction is making her such an important part of the book, and making her someone I like reading about.  The back-up by Heinberg and Coipel is used to set up what’s going on in Heinberg’s Avengers: Children’s Crusade series, but is also a very effective exploration of where people stand on the Magneto issue in the X-Men.  Great stuff all around, and the nicest Whilce Portacio art I’ve ever seen.

X-Men Legacy #238 – So Rogue and Magneto take a few of the New X-Men kids that never got much play in their own title to India, because one of the kids is needed at home.  It’s a good set-up, with a plot about a girl who has escaped another dimension; I just wish that the ‘Servidores’ that come after her didn’t look like Sentinels.  Can’t we think of another way to track down mutants or other powered characters?  Just once?

Comics I Would Have Bought if They Weren’t $4:

Amazing Spider-Man Presents Black Cat #2

Punisher Max #9

7 Psychopaths #3

Thor #612

Wolverine Weapon X #15

Bargain Comics:

Frenemy of the State #1 – I had to look up Rashida Jones on Google (apparently she’s a famous actress), but I’ve been a fan of Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis for years now, so I wanted to try out their new series.  It’s a fun title, featuring a dilettante based on the Paris Hilton model, who also works for the CIA (although it’s not clear yet why they need her).  The art is decent if a little too manga for my liking, and the pacing is great.

Vengeance of the Moon Knight #10 – One of the things that I’ve found hard to swallow about Secret Avengers has been the inclusion of Moon Knight.  I’ve liked the character since the Moench/Sienkiewicz days, but he’s not a good fit for a superhero team.  This issue, which is a Secret Avengers adventure, eases those concerns quite well.  Also, Ryp’s art is very cool.  I’ve loved his stuff at Avatar, and find it cool to see him work on established characters.

Wolverine: Weapon X #14 – Jason Aaron’s ‘Terminator 2 with superheroes’ epic continues, as we get to see what life is like inside a Deathlok, and Wolverine barely makes an impact on the story.  It’s good, but not as good as the previous issue.

X-Men #1 – I passed on this, but at half-price figured it was worth checking out.  I like the general idea, but wasn’t too drawn in by this book, which has the X-Men going up against vampire suicide bombers, as Jubilee gets infected with an artificial vampire virus thing.  I still don’t understand why this gets to be an on-going series, and at $4 an issue, there’s not enough to get me to come back.

X-Men: Blind Science #1 – I love the idea of the X-Club, and have been a Madison Jeffries fan from way back, but I found the first half of this Second Coming tie-in didn’t really work that well.  The book redeemed itself, but I kept thinking how much better this would have been had Matt Fraction wrote it…

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Ace-Face: The Mod With the Metal Arms

by Mike Dawson

This would be a good example of a convention impulse buy, based on the fact that I like Adhouse books, the publishers of the amazing Johnny Hiro.  I’m not sure if the stories in this book were published before in the Project: Superior anthology or if this is the first they’ve appeared, but this work was new to me.

Colin Turney was born without arms, and his strange scientist uncle crafted a pair of metal, super-strong arms for him.  Of course, he gave adult-sized arms to a baby, and so Colin had a rough time of it growing up.  Once he became fully grown, he fought crime in 60s London, before moving to the US and becoming a college professor.

Ace-Face gives us a few different stories from Colin’s life, and they are charming and interesting examples of indie superhero comics.  The book also has a couple of stories about ‘Son of Ace-Face’, Colin’s indecisive and easily frightened son, and his exploits dealing with the noisy stoop dwellers of Park Slope.  There are also two stories featuring Jack and Max, a pair of super-powered brothers who always fight.

This is a quick, fun read.  There’s nothing here that is going to stick with me, but it was a nice diversion on a summer’s afternoon.

Gangland

by a whole lot of people

I love good anthologies.  A good comics anthology is one that provides you with a multi-faceted exploration of a theme or topic.  This one looks at organized crime, but doesn’t limit itself to mafia-oriented Godfather knock-offs.  There are a few ‘gangster’ stories, like the one by Darko Macan and Kilian Plunkett that has a bored dentist sign up with some bootleggers in the Prohibition days for some excitement, or Simon Revelstoke and Richard Corben’s creepy story of gangster love.

Most of the rest of the tales are merely riffing off the notion of organized crime.  Peter Kuper gives us one of his silent, mosaic-like stories.  Jamie Delano and Randy DuBurke give us a corporate tale, while Dave Gibbons explores post-Soviet Russian mafia business practices.  David Lloyd gives us a tale from the perspective of a drug lord’s guard dog who gets recruited by the police (it’s much cooler than it sounds).  Scott Cunningham and Danijel Zezelj take a look at the Men in Black as a form of the ultimate gangster.

Perhaps the best story here is the one by Ed Brubaker and Eric Shanower, which shows us how a group of bored suburban teens got turned into master cat burglars by the local life guard.  This story reminded me of their classic collaboration ‘An Accidental Death‘, which I now really want to read again.

In all, this is a very skillful and interesting collection.  I know that it’s long out of print, but it’s worth hunting for on some comic store shelves.

Lucifer Vol. 8: The Wolf Beneath the Tree

Written by Mike Carey
Art by P. Craig Russell, Ted Naifeh, Peter Gross, and Ryan Kelly

I found this volume of Carey’s Lucifer series to be pretty inconsistent in its quality, which was unexpected for this title.

The first story included here is the double-sized ‘Lilith’ story illustrated by P. Craig Russell, and it tells of Lucifer’s betrayal of heaven, although the story is mostly centered around Lilith and the early days of the Lillim, her children.  It also tells of the construction of Heaven.  Being illustrated by Russell means that every page is gorgeous, and it is a fantastic comic.

Next, we get a one-off story illustrated by Naifeh, which focuses on a man who gets possessed by a demon.  It’s a fun, mean-spirited story, and Naifeh’s art is excellent for it.

From there, we return to ‘continuity’, and get more of Lucifer and Michael dealing with the absence of God.  I could handle that, but found that the story involving Fenris wanting to destroy all creation, and using a schizophrenic murderer to help, a little tedious.  The art was great, but the story seemed to similar to the last couple of volumes, and I found my interest wandering.

The Hellboy Project: B.P.R.D. War on Frogs #1-4

Written by John Arcudi
Art by Herb Trimpe, Guy Davis, John Severin, Karl Moline, and Peter Snejbjerg

I’m getting very close to the end of my Hellboy Project, where I’ve been reading one or two Hellboy or Hellboy-related story a day, in their original order of publication, the vast majority for the very first time.  I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve mostly bought individual issues instead of trades, and am beginning to think about the long view when I talk about these series.

War on Frogs was a mini-series that came out between other BPRD arcs, each issue focusing on one of the core BPRD characters who don’t usually get much play, and fills in some of the things that happened during the BPRD’s string of operations against the Frogs, the creatures that have been plaguing them since their title’s inception.  This series was also unique because it is the first that doesn’t give Mignola a writing credit, and for the wide stable of artists that it brings into the fold.

The first issue has a Roger story, drawn by Herb Trimpe.  It’s nice to see Roger in action again, and it reminds us of his humanity.  The third issue spotlights Liz Sherman, although it’s told from the more interesting perspective of a female BPRD operative who looks up to her, but finds her impossible to relate to.

The best issues of the series are the second and fourth.  The second issue, with art by the legendary John Severin, doesn’t really feature any of the main characters in an important role, and instead tells us what happened to a squad of operatives who were checking a boat for Frogs.  This story borrows heavily from Alien, as the single Frog picks off the soldiers.  Arcudi writes with the same suspense and tension of that famous movie, and Severin’s more realistic art style helps add to the level of terror and believability.  The final issue, about Johann Kraus, is drawn by Peter Snejbjerg, and it looks fantastic. The story, about some Frog spirits that don’t depart when their bodies are killed, is interesting.

I like the way this series sort of reminds us of what the stakes are as we move into the big King of Fear arc.

The Hellboy Project: Hellboy Weird Tales Vol. 2

by too many people to list

It’s always cool when new people get to play with someone’s toys, especially when a character or property is so tied to one particular style or aesthetic.  The first volume of Weird Tales was pretty exciting, but this second one felt a little less satisfying.

There are some really good stories in here – I liked Kev Walker’s Johann Kraus story (really, I like Johann a lot), and Jim Starlin’s take on Hellboy, as well as JH Williams’s amazing homage to teen slasher flicks.  Scott Morse, Jill Thompson, and Evan Dorkin provided amusing or whimsical tales, and the Will Pfeiffer/P. Craig Russell contribution is of course beautiful, but I found I didn’t really get into many of the stories.  It seemed to me more like a bunch of exercises that are technically very skilled, but emotionally vacant.

I good example of that would be the John Cassaday Lobster Johnson story.  It’s written in the form of a Sunday paper strip, with yellowed paper and dates that place it in the 1930s, but it works in bondage gags.  I found myself skipping over it; it just seemed a little too precious for me.  I felt similarly towards the Tommy Lee Edwards story – I just didn’t really get it.

Oh well, this was never meant to be canon, and was a pretty cool concept, even if it didn’t always work out in execution.

The Hellboy Project: B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #1-5

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Guy Davis

This is a huge BPRD arc in so many ways.  We get the last major confrontation between the Bureau, the Frogs, the subterranean dudes, and the Black Flame, which looks to have massive repercussions for future story arcs.  We get some really interesting character moments, like the ones between Kate and Bruno that happen in the first issue, as they work to lay Lobster Johnson to rest and hopefully restore Johann.  There’s also some very cool stuff happening with Abe Sapien.

As usual, this is an excellent comic, but this arc is extra special because of the way it finishes off so many storylines and sub-plots, some of which had been running for sixteen years.

As often happens in stories like this, the actual final confrontation feels quick and anti-climactic, but I read this book for the characters, and in that sense, this story didn’t disappoint at all.

The Hellboy Project: Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #1&2

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Peter Snejbjerg

Reading this, I don’t understand why it took so long for someone to realize what a perfect artist Peter Snejbjerg is for Abe Sapien.  This is a story set in the early 80s, which has Abe traveling on a salvage boat of questionable captaincy, looking for a potentially mystical artifact that was lost when a Soviet submarine sunk in 1948.

It follows the typical type of plot for a BPRD story.  In other words, the object is found, but it has a mystical defender, and so on and so on.  What I like about this particular tale is the way in which it shows Abe’s human side, as his instincts tell him to handle this issue differently than his companions.

This is a good story, with fantastic art, and some very nice covers by Dave Johnson.  Recommended.

The Hellboy Project: Hellboy: The Storm #1

Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Duncan Fegredo

And with this issue, my Hellboy Project comes to a close.  Since April, I’ve read at the pace of one or two issues a day, every issue of Hellboy, BPRD, Abe Sapien, and Witchfinder, with the exception of one of the Free Comic Book Day issues, and a couple of back-up stories that haven’t been collected in a trade yet.  I’ll probably put together some kind of posting to discuss my thoughts on the work as a whole sometime soon.

For now, I’d like to talk about this comic.  It feels like much of the story that Mignola started many years ago is coming to a point of resolution, as Hellboy recaps his adventures of the last few years, as he prepares for a major confrontation with his enemies.  Hellboy is not the same character he’s been throughout the life of this series.  He has received some news about his parentage and ancestry that has changed everything for him, and now the noble dead are rising out of their graves across England to follow him into battle with  the forces of darkness.  As usual, he’s reluctant to to deal with this stuff, but has no choice.

This comic is beautifully drawn by Fegredo, who has quickly become my favourite artist on Hellboy, perhaps even more so than Mignola himself.  It’s a hard place to jump into this story, but at the same time, the recapping Hellboy engages in makes the story new-reader friendly.

Album of the Week:

Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno – Dog With a Rope

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