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Abe Sapien: The Drowning #1

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Abe Sapien: The Drowning #1

Credits

  • Words: Mike Mignola
  • Art: Jason Shawn Alexander
  • Inks: Jason Shawn Alexander
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Feb 6, 2008

It’s 1981 and Abe Sapien’s first mission without Hellboy. It’s supposed to be easy but nothing ever is in the BPRD.

Writer Mike Mignola has finally been producing a number of the stories that he’s talked about doing for years. This time around fans get a look at Abe’s early life with the BPRD and his first (mostly) solo mission for the organization. It is a welcome story for even casual fans.

The story of a ritual dagger and the remains of a Dutch warlock in a sunken ship off the coast of France have attracted the attention of the BPRD. With Hellboy on his own sabbatical, Abe becomes the best agent for the job. Problem is, Abe has only been awake for two years since first being discovered and he has never gone on a mission without Hellboy. This one looks easy, though… a good chance for Abe to spread his wings. Assign him a couple of seasoned, non-powered human agents and what could go wrong? Well, everyone knows, that is the wrong question to ask.

Aside from a couple of back-up short stories and a one-shot, Hellboy supporting player Abe Sapien has not had a solo mini-series until now. As with BPRD 1946, Mignola has chosen to go back into the past with this one (although not as far back) to show what happened when Abe was the lead investigator on a mission for the first time. Fans have grown accustomed to Abe being the "Yin" to Hellboy’s "Yang" – a calm, rational, and more thoughtful presence – one less likely to bash first and ask questions later. The Abe fans meet here, however, is a different sort; newer, younger (in more ways than one) and much more insecure. Mignola’s writing has such a light touch though that this comes off fresh and natural rather than forced as is so often the case when comic book writers try to write "rookies." The other BPRD agents are still largely ciphers at this point in the story but Mignola actually makes that work as a plus by emphasizing the ordinariness of the agents and how blithely they take this extraordinary job. The plot also captivates with its mysterious opening and a nice, cinematic cliffhanger at the end.

Providing the art for this series is Jason Shawn Alexander. His style is difficult to describe with both a slightly rough, sketchy appearance but also a lot of detail, delicacy, and atmosphere. Although very different from Mignola’s own dark style, Alexander really does nail Abe Sapien perfectly – emphasizing the character’s aquatic attributes but without sacrificing the humanistic elements.

If you have not been keeping up with the ongoing BPRD series there is nothing to fear as this mini-series fully stands on its own. For fans of Mignola’s writing and the character of Abe Sapien this one is a must-have. The past is explored and Mignola gets a chance to show just what it is that makes the character of Abe a star in his own right. Aside from all that, it is a story with humor, gothic horror, shipwrecks, and an awesome fish-guy. Who could ask for anything more?

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