Overview

BPRD - Hell on Earth: Russia #1

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BPRD - Hell on Earth: Russia #1

Credits

  • Words: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
  • Art: Tyler Crook
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Sep 21, 2011

The BPRD heads to Russia to investigate a bizarre find while the life of one of their own hangs by a thread.

When a Russian expedition uncovers mutated human remains and strange lights in an underground mine, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is called in for consultation. But recent events have called the Bureau’s practices into question. Can they be trusted given Agent Liz Sherman’s role in the current cataclysm affecting the world? Just what is causing the eerie transformations of Russian citizens? And are Abe Sapien’s days numbered after being left comatose by a gunshot wound?

Mike Mignola and John Arcudi turn in their usual stellar work with the opening of this latest BPRD miniseries. Already our curiosity is piqued at the mutating Russian populace and how surprisingly prepared the government appears to be. The writers’ approach to this issue is an example of solid serial storytelling. We’re given the hook for a seemingly standalone mystery while ongoing sub-plots from the previous series are examined. Mignola and Arcudi provide just enough information to recap recent events without losing either long-time or new readers. Kate Corrigan and Johann Kraus’s meeting with Russian officials adds fascinating political intrigue to the story as the BPRD’s methods are questioned and the increased scrutiny the Bureau is facing becomes apparent.

Russia’s paranormal agency has played a part in earlier Mignola/Arcudi stories, such as the BPRD: 1946 miniseries. It will be interesting to see its current incarnation and whether the supremely creepy demon-child Varvara still has a place within it. The unusual character that appears on the final pages is sure to hold readers’ attention as well.

Also of note is the uncertain fate of Abe Sapien. In many other series, we could expect our scaly hero to pull through but BPRD has never shied away from status quo changes and real, lasting character deaths. With Hellboy off having his own adventures, Abe has been largely the heart and soul of this book. Whether the writers would truly shuffle him off this mortal coil is an intriguing and unsettling question.

Tyler Crook’s artwork continues to impress. He captures the grotesque and stylized elements of the monsters this universe has seen under Mignola and Guy Davis but manages to make his own style distinct. Crook also shows skill conveying emotion through his characters. Kate’s weariness and indignation come across strongly in this issue and the creepily cheerful cab driver is a stand-out character. Crook has a way of charming readers with his solid cartooning, then sucker-punching them with something truly horrific—a useful ability on a series like this.

BPRD continues to be a solidly crafted horror/adventure serial with many surprises to keep its readers guessing.

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