Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Hellboy Project: Abe Sapien Vol. 1: The Drowning

Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Jason Shawn Alexander

As I've been reading my way through the full body of the Hellboy mythos, I've been struck time and again by how much I like a lot of the supporting characters, often more than I like Hellboy himself.  I think that's why I prefer BPRD to Hellboy at this point, and why I was excited to get through the pile to the point of being able to read this book

This story, set in the 80s, tells the tale of Abe's first solo mission, during a period where Hellboy had left the Bureau.  Of course, there is water involved in the mission, as Abe has been sent to Saint-Sébastien, off the coast of France, where some form of ancient evil was stabbed with a magical dagger artifact thing, with the idea that he can retrieve it.

This, of course, sets off a chain of events that frees the ancient evil, or at least his creepy dwarf helper things, and Abe has to figure out what to do about it.  This is not the Abe of the BPRD volumes I've been reading lately, who is beginning to understand his strange origins and who has confidence as a field agent.  Instead, this is a very shaky, uncertain character, who is wracked by self-doubt and misgivings.  It's an interesting reminder of how far the character has come.

The art, but Alexander, is wonderfully moody and atmospheric.  Dave Stewart has coloured the entire book - most of it happens on land - in thick undersea blues and greens.  Alexander's Abe is lithe and expressive, looking both a little more alien than usual, and more human at the same time.

This is a very successful addition to the canon, even if the cover makes it look like Abe is wearing a fish for a hat.

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