ABE SAPIEN: DARK AND TERRIBLE #2

By: Mike Mignola, Scott Allie (Writers), Sebastian Fiumara (Artist), Dave Stewart (Colorist)

The Story: As we get to know some of the reasons of Abe departure from the B.P.R.D, we can also see how some people reacts to all these changes that were brought with the war on frogs and the incoming apocalypse.

The Review: In a recent interview about his whole universe of comic, the one that turns around Hellboy and B.P.R.D, Mike Mignola revealed just how things would work out from now on and which title would show what. While the former would be more about its titular hero and how the afterlife might just change a tad after all that is happening in the real world, the latter would be much more about what is actually happening in the world and how the bureau wants to prevent things from going worse. With two very different directions from these two titles, where does that leave Abe Sapien and his adventures?

The answer here is that while those two books shall focus on the much bigger stuff, Abe Sapien will focus more on the little people, on just how normal citizens do react to all this kind of craziness. It is a smart take on such colossal events and it is full of potential, yet do Mignola and Allie manage to take advantage of such a direction and setup?

In many ways, yes. Akin to the first issue where we could see people discussing the apocalypse on a train, here we get something a little bit bigger as Abe continues to run away from the B.P.R.D, getting to a small town, to a church more specifically. Here, we get to see just how bad it can be for small villages that had been very close to the rampage of the creatures unleashed. They have no running water, they live on supplies and some of them have been horribly mutated by the close presence of these beasts. Here, both writers waste no time in explaining us just how these people live in harsh times, yet they have at least one thing on their side: faith.

The way the writers bring up religion in such difficult times for the Mignolaverse is actually quite clever, yet used in a way that also shows just how fragile the human mind and how twisted hope can be sometime. Here, we see a kind man, a priest named Henry, trying to make sense of all this chaos happening by comparing it to the bible and its mythology. How the mutated people react to this and how the priest keeps his faith despite all that’s happening actually does give us a good view on the many ways people are reaction to the end of the world. It makes for some good scenes and some good analysis.

Does the titular character get the same treatment, though, is he actually interesting on his own without the bureau around him. I’d say yes, as we are treated to the mystery of just what Abe has become. We get some scenes where we are brought up to speed as to the evolution of the character, from Langdon Caul to the character we knew from B.P.R.D to this current form he has. The opening scene from this issue is actually very well-done, as we just get to see his motivations as he talk to Panya, a character from the B.P.R.D ongoing that just motivates him even further to get toward discovering what he has become and why. Unlike Hellboy, Abe truly wants to know the reasons and to remove the veil of mystery around himself, which brings him to going away from his job at the bureau.

Even though we get his motivations, is the character properly interesting, though? Once more, the answer would be yes. Even though the comic is called Dark and Terrible, our protagonist is anything but, as we are treated to a character that is, without a doubt, a good guy. During the whole comic, we get to see how he tries not to make people afraid of who he is and to stop the possible violence around him, going even to defend the crazed priest that had given him sanctuary. Even during the fight he has with some of the normal people, he tries to make it stop as he doesn’t want to hurt anyone. This makes for a pretty sympathetic character that is easy to follow and like.

What’s a little bit harder to like, though, and one of the sole weakness of this issue, is the fact that we don’t know anything about the direction of this series. While we do get the motivation and the direction, we have no idea just how Abe will achieve such a thing and we have no clue in this issue. While the story itself is pretty solid, it does not lead us anywhere or even tease us about a potential thing like that. While following Abe as he sees the ramifications on the apocalypse could be interesting, it does not seem like the strongest of direction for an ongoing.

What gives this title a lot of strength, though, is Sebastian Fiumara. That guy can draw amazing monsters, but he also has an uncanny hold on the human figure as well, especially the faces. Each character speaks very well just by their actions and by their expressions, which makes some of the more silent moments really strong. It seems that Mignola knew about this strength, as there are several moments where there aren’t any characters at all, just landscapes showing us how devastated the area is when Ogdru Hem tramples upon them. These scenes focusing on the backgrounds and the like are especially atmospheric and well-used, which does set up the tone immediately, thanks to the right amount of details and the expertise of Fiumara.

Another expert on this issue would be Dave Stewart, who gives us some slightly somber colors in most of the scenes, focusing a little bit more on the shadows than on the light, to great result. Another effect that he does well is the use of warmer color in the more horrific moments and during the action, while he uses colder colors during the more enigmatic ones.

The Conclusion: Even though the direction of this series isn’t entirely clear, this issue gives us some very good exploration of how the normal people of the Mignolaverse reacts to the apocalypse while giving us a good lead in Abe Sapien. With the expert art of Sebastian Fiumara and the colors of Dave Stewart, this issue is elevated to another level thanks to their great storytelling as well. Recommended.

Grade: B+

Hugo Robberts Larivière

Grade

Conclusion