Wednesday, February 15, 2012

BPRD Hell on Earth: The Long Death #1

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by James Harren

This start to the latest BPRD mini-series felt, in many ways, like a return to form for the series, which has been consistently good, but perhaps floundering for a while (since Abe Sapien got shot, I'd say). 

The issue opens on a strange scene shared by Johann Kraus and Captain Daimio, which is quickly revealed to be a dream.  That is significant, since Johann, who is a ghost, hasn't had a dream since he died and began living in a containment suit.  He believes that the dream is indicative of the normalizing effect of his new suit, which he got in the Russia arc.  Panya sees it more literally, but before they can explore it further, Johann is dispatched to lead a mission.

It's great to see Panya in the book again.  She's an ancient mummy from Egypt who is somehow still alive, if rather brittle.  She's been a favourite character of mine since she debuted in the series, and we haven't seen much of her of late.  I'm not sure that she can be trusted, and some of the scenes in this issue help that along.

Johann's mission is in the same area of British Columbia where Abe encountered Captain Daimio a while back, and like Abe did on that mission, Johann ditches his troops to search for his former colleague.  The troops don't do so well though, as a creature attacks their bivouac.

There are two things I found especially enjoyable about this issue.  The first is the introduction of Agent Giarocco, who takes charge after Johann's disappearance.  Apparently, she's been around the margins of this title for some time, but in just a few pages, Mignola and Arcudi flesh her out into a pretty likeable character.  The second thing I liked most about this comic was the art.  James Harren had worked on the Abe Sapien mini-series of a few months ago, and it was good, but this issue looks much, much better.  I was enjoying Tyler Crook's work on this title, and hope to see him again, but for now, I'm very happy with Harren.  Also, I love this cover by Duncan Fegredo.

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