ABE SAPIEN #4

By: Mike Mignola, John Arcudi (Writers), Max Fiumara (Artist), Dave Stewart (Colorist)

The Story: Abe encounters some new people as he informs himself on how the world sees him and what is happening on a global scale.

The Review: Who could have thought, more than a decade ago, that Mike Mignola would be creating a whole universe as a result of the adventure of a single character, Hellboy? With so many potential, the Mignolaverse had been born when Mignola had created the B.P.R.D title spinning off from the adventures of his own creation. Since then, we have seen the development of a fascinating universe that has now a lot of angle covered, with Hellboy showing us the adventures of the beast of apocalypse we grew to love, B.P.R.D demonstrating us how much the world is kind-of screwed right now and Abe Sapien, which focus a lot more on the human elements of the Mignolaverse, an angle that was under-represented before.

I have to say, I rather like this approach to the character of Abe Sapien and to the world in general, which is put much more in focus in this issue than it had been in the first arc. What we get here is a protagonist that is unsure of his role in the world, how he is affected by it and how he did affect it throughout his actions. Showing us a main character full of questions and with a philosophical approach to things does wonder in making us invested, as Abe is much more like us despite what he looks like. How he interacts with others, how he ponders on such heavy subjects as identity and fate is something that is rather fascinating, which gives us a very different type of book in the Mignolaverse.

In this issue, we also see a bit more of what had made the book pretty good to start with: the point-of-view of the regular person, the normal citizen caught in this unexplainable chaos. Abe, in this issue, encounters a couple and another man, who recognizes him as being an ancient agent of the B.P.R.D, which warms them up to him despite his monstrous appearance. It is a nice connection to what has happened before, which then sets up for a conversation about how those three got here and how they perceive such events. This whole scene shows us a bit more about what I suspect might be the main theme of this book: humanity. What is humanity and just how could such catastrophic events change others. The way that they show how some people might have altered their train of thoughts and their perception in contrast with how humane Abe is gives us a really solid take on the characters and universe, which is pretty great to read.

As good as the interactions, the themes and the characters are, however, I regret to say that there isn’t that much to the plot. Sure, Abe encounters some people, they discuss and some animosity is shown throughout it all, yet it does not lead up to much despite hinting for further developments down the road. Hinting and teasing can be fine, yet when there is pretty much all there is to the actual plot of what could be a long-term ongoing, it’s hard to appreciate an issue with so little actually happening in it.

Despite that little flaw, there is a major advantage to the book and it would be Max Fiumara. The scope of his panels, the flow of how the story is told, the incredibly expressive poses and faces all adds up to give us a visually pleasing issue. I especially love how he draws those scenes with Abe merely doing his stuff in nature or on the beach as we read his thoughts or what is going on the radio. He creates a very calm atmosphere as Abe ponders, observe and just acts. I am especially amazed at the fact that he can make him acts and feel so human despite his appearance.

Dave Stewart also deserves a very special mention here, as the atmosphere wouldn’t be half as effective without the contributions of his colors. The scene at night in nature is especially well done as he give us just enough darkness to make the scene a tad threatening, yet also infinitely wondrous to the eyes.

The Conclusion: Despite the fact that there is very little happening, the more thoughtful approach to the character, the world and what is happening makes for an amazing read that is only enhanced by the stunning art of Fiumara and Stewart.

Grade: A-

Hugo Robberts Larivière

Grade

Conclusion