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The Review Brew – December 17 2014

BPRD Hell on Earth 126

Writer: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Artists: James Harren and Dave Stewart
Reviewer: Brett Israel

I’ve always been afraid to jump into the BPRD/Hellboy-verse in that there’s so much history, I couldn’t imagine not being lost. While I’ve taken a look at the start of each series, the current stuff has always intrigued me as well. Thankfully, this week I decided to just jump in with the newest issue, and I was not disappointed.

The start of the book has a text piece explaining the world, which was minimum, unlike the Marvel ones it was just the necessary amount of info needed, and it drew me right in. The premise is this: an evil group called the Black Flame have more or less sent the world into the apocalypse, and giant monsters are roaming free. The BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) are around to try to make the world right and fight this group. From there, you’re thrust into the story about the group hunting a giant spider-like monster that ran rip shot through an area of land. Enos, a hard assed type man and Johann (Schmidt?), a gaseous being in a containment suit, discuss how to go after this monster, deciding to have Enos leading a small crew, with a mysterious tracker named Howards with them. The story also splits with two smaller stories, one being a group of scientists (I believe from the Black Flame) testing the effects of some mutation that’s taken over the world, and another about two Russian men, Leonid and Director Nichayko, fighting a huge Kaiju like monster. While this issue isn’t totally packed with story, it gave me just enough to intrigue me to continue reading, and I get the feeling the complete story will be outstanding. There’s a sense of desperation in the world, one you would expect in a post-apocalyptic world, but the air of mysticism and monsters makes every page a surprise. While it’s clear Mignola is on as somewhat of an overseer and Arcudi doing scripting duties as well as plot, Mignola’s presence is still clear, and Arcudi has a strong voice that comes from this world, even before the characters.

While the two writers certainly complement each other, James Harren brings this world to life, much in a way I haven’t seen from this world since Guy Davis defined the title. Harren has incredible panel to panel storytelling chops, and while I really enjoyed the words, I could take this book with his images alone. The design of the Kaiju beings are unique as well as terrifying, really giving this world not only the sense of bleakness it needs, but a scale of destruction and seemingly insurmountable odds. The panels which incorporate chases or battles also contain a sense of motion, never letting the reader feel like the story is stalling at all. On top of that, the colors by Dave Stewart, the multiple Eisner award winner, ground this to the Hellboy like aesthetic, in a truly masterful way. While Stewart certainly has his own palate, it’s hard to argue with success and pages this enjoyable to look at.

I can definitely see how this book seems pretty sparse, and this review appears to be coming in with faith for the future rather than just this issue stand-alone. That being said, it wouldn’t be fair to the creators of this book to pass over a faster chapter because it’s fast. In that sense, the chapter still contains the craft and skill they have. This issue was a lot of fun and has added yet another book to my pull list. The only trait this could improve from is personal, that being slightly more knowledge in the BPRD universe. However, all this issue made me do was want to go back and catch up.

4.5 Frogs out of 5

Deathlok #3

Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Artists: Mike Perkins and Andy Troy
Reviewer: Ray Willis

Deathlok returns in this issue taking down terrorists but is he really taking down the right people?

This was a good issue from Nathan Edmondson and Mike Perkins. Henry Hayes goes to Germany and reminisces about the past with his fellow soldiers before succumbing to an improvised explosive device (IED). When he arrives and his called over by an ambulance, he becomes activated and begins his latest mission dealing with terrorists taking over a weapons firm. The writing from Nathan Edmondson is good while not as much of the dialogue is going to Hayes, he fleshes out more the story of finding out how S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to find this Deathlok. Andrea hope looks further into finding out how to locate him. We don’t get as much information as to who Deathlok is working for but also we know from last issue that someone else is tracking down Hayes as well. We even get a few surprise appearance from an old Deathlok and Tony Stark of all people. Edmonson does make Hayes’ handler during missions questions why she is doing this for her company, after so many acts of atrocity that Deathlok is done. The only thing is that the story at home does not move much along at all.

The art from Mike Perkins is really good. Every issue has me saying “wow” every time Deathlok goes into the field. The armor look on the character is a nice change from the usual corpse look of the character. The gadgets that Deathlok uses is something I wouldn’t have thought of. Ina few panels he kills some of the terrorists with a tracer swarm that bores into the enemies, piercing them. Seeing the holographic display and various ways Deathlok takes guys down is brutal but fun to see. Also the characters faces are really well done. Andy Troy’s colors are really on show here, fleshing out the entire issue itself. The colors really let Deathloks gear shine, especially the holographic display and the tracer swarm.

Overall this was a good issue of Deathlok. The story was good giving more of the story and Andrea hope trying to figure out location of Deathlok along with other characters. The art by Mike Perkins has been really good on this series and I have been enjoying his work. I really never heard of Mike Perkins before this series and now I have to go back and check out some of his other works. Andy Troy’s colors really bring out the tech and characters. My only knock would be for the relationship with his daughter that has not been really fleshed out yet.

4.5 out of 5 Tracer Swarms

About Armand (1273 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill
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