Monday, July 26, 2010

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.

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