Overview

BPRD: The Black Flame #4

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BPRD: The Black Flame #4

Credits

  • Words: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
  • Art: Guy Davis
  • Inks: Guy Davis
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: The Black Flame, Part 4
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Nov 30, 2005

An ancient evil is awakened and the plague of frogs intensifies as the Bureau faces its latest and most challenging case.

Still reeling from the death of their fellow agent, Roger the homunculus, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense faces one of its greatest threats. For months, monstrous frog creatures have been appearing throughout the world. The frogs are now becoming more numerous and aggressive as one of their demonic masters, Katha-Hem, awakens. The instigator of it all, a madman called the Black Flame, is getting everything he ever wanted—and it’s not at all what he expects.

Fans of the Hellboy mythos are certain to enjoy this latest installment in Mike Mignola’s supernatural saga, as threads that were put in place as far back as the first Hellboy miniseries return to the spotlight. For those not as familiar with the ongoing story, strap yourself in for a wild ride. Mignola and co-writer John Arcudi have been delivering an excellent cross between horror and pulp adventure, a tale of monsters, mediums, military strike forces, and just maybe the end of the world.

The concept of a freak with a human soul is a common one in comics yet in BPRD, it never fails to strike an emotional chord. In Mignola and Arcudi’s hands, the members of the Bureau have become every bit as fascinating as their big red friend, Hellboy. The Black Flame seems to be pushing each of them to the breaking point. Abe Sapien, puzzling over the mysteries of his past and fearing the toll this takes on his work; Liz, orphaned and alienated by her terrible power, losing someone close to her once more; disembodied Johann incensed by the treatment of an ally who’s died, a state he knows only too well; and poor sad Roger, perhaps never truly alive but filled with childlike joy of simply being, until even this is taken from him. As ever, a consistent theme of the series is what it means to be human, beyond physical appearance or the circumstances of one’s birth. And with the human (or non-human) condition, there comes pain and loss.

Guy Davis illustrating this story is the next best thing to Mignola himself and his work brings many of its own personal charms. Davis has a particular knack for the grotesque, filling the pages with primal creatures, Lovecraftian entities, and the odd Nazi super-villain. He heightens the dramatic qualities of the story with his tense layouts and amorphous shadows. Davis also skillfully conveys the emotional turmoil of our freakish heroes, an often impressive task given the frequent lack of pupils, human features, or (in the case of Johann) an actual face. Colorist Dave Stewart proves why he’s one of the best in the business with a somber, foreboding palette that perfectly complements Davis’ art.

BPRD: The Black Flame succeeds in several areas that the comics medium has always been strong with—crossing genres, commenting on the human condition, and telling a rollicking good adventure story in the process.

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