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Graphic Novel Review: B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth, Volume One by Darkhorse Comics

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A fan of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comics I must confess that I quit reading them after the films were made. No particular reason, of course, at least none that I can think of. So, Dark Horse’s release of B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth Volume One — New World is the first I’ve read in years. I must say It was worth returning to the fold.

Focused on a much different B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranomal Research and Defense) than I was familiar with — gone is Hellboy and gone is the old familiar stomping ground of Connecticut and instead a few old faces are in new positions of responsibility surrounded by new faces and all new grounds to be stomped on — there is still the same otherworldly wonder of a truly good story set in Mike Mignola’s fictional universe, which was a nice surprise. I was terribly afraid that I was not going to be able to enjoy the read without having to know everything that had gone before it and that simply wasn’t true. It was enjoyable as a standalone issue much less as the first issue of a new mini-series.

Abe Sapien dives into a murky situation.My wife tells me this is doubly fortunate as she would not have agreed to allow me to spend a few month’s salary so that I could catch up on every issue that I’d missed in the past few years.

In Hell on Earth, following the global havoc created by the frog war (creatures first seen in Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction), and with the B.P.R.D. now operating under strict U.N. oversight, the bureau once again faces new horrors. It seems that people are once again vanishing from small towns; monsters are roaming in the woods; and a strange new creature arrives to create hell on earth.

Basically a typical weekend for the bureau.

Graphically this graphic novel which collects all five of its individual comics together is — typical of nearly everything associated with Mignola — visually arresting (Guy Davis does some wonderful wonderful work throughout the span of these five issues) and nearly as interesting to view as mere art in complete ignorance of the fact that there is a solid story tying all of the images together.

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, the story itself was a nice mixture of adventure and horror. While many characters (both new and old) have their own moments, though, Abe Sapien is the one that seemed to pull the whole thing along for me. It was quite nice to have my return to Mignola’s world be a story where Abe gets to be the central hero instead of the big red guy.

Truth be told I went into the reading of this wondering whether a Mignola story would be something I’d enjoy without seeing Hellboy. My answer after having read it (a few times, by now) is an loud and enthusiastic YES.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth, Volume One – New World was thrilling, visually arresting and reminded me why I used to have my childhood bedroom’s shelves lined with thousands of well thumbed-through comics. Without any hesitation I recommend this to anyone who loves comics in general, regardless of its affiliation with Mike Mignola.

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