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Abe Sapien #5 – Review

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

The Story: Abe discovers along with other survivors the dead body of a person he had a conversation with in the last issue as he tries to elucidate just what is happening in the area he currently is in.

The Review: When a creative team reach a certain height, one that seems to show the true potential of a title, it is usually great. Readers that follow a title or a character and that see it develop into something that they become invested in is something that is truly pleasant when it comes to reading any long work of fiction, be it comics or anything else for that matter. However, there are always time when the readers wonder if those in charge of such a feat can keep it up and continue their quality streak.

The latest issue of Abe Sapien, from my own perspective, was truly beautiful to read and look at, with a certain angle being covered that seemed endless in the ways it could be explored. Still, it was the first half of a two-part story, with this issue bringing in the conclusion to that philosophical and much more humane approach to the apocalypse. Does the second part actually continue the satisfying way Mignola and Arcudi approached their themes?

Unfortunately, it does not really bring us anything that match up with the brilliance of what had come before. It’s most definitely not without intelligence or without any continuation of what came before in term of themes, yet there are some flaws in this issue which brings it down a bit.
The first of them would be the pacing, which is rushed a little bit. The comic is packed with good ideas, some of them that use the setting of the apocalypse full of monster within the Mignolaverse quite well. Unfortunately, a lot of the scenes storms by, never letting Abe, the various bystanders and some of the key characters from the previous issue shine or present their theory and ideology. It does not make the idea of the comic and the lesson any less effective, yet it’s a bit of a confusing read in order to reach it.

The confusion itself is caused, in many parts, by the many ways the comic tries to go. Is it a mystery comic? Is it a study in human interactions through the apocalypse? Is it a post-apocalyptic story? A horror comic? It seems it tries to be all of these, yet barely covers some of these enough to prove to be satisfying. The mystery of why and how Barry died, while it is the driving force of a lot of events in the comics, isn’t presented in a way that feels compelling. What is attached to it, like how the others react, the ideology and theories spawning from it and the horror attached to it is very good, as is the way Abe perceives everything, yet the mystery feel a bit hollow. Barry died, yet it’s not like he had been interesting in the two-issue arc he had been a part of.

A person which has been most interesting in these issues would be Max Fiumara, who has been particularly effective as an artist. His backgrounds, his characters, his monsters and many of the details are incredibly moody and evocative, with every details participating in the overall tone of the issue. He is able to work with symbolism and horror to truly enhance some of the stronger philosophical point and the mindset of Abe, which makes this a truly visual feast. The humans look great, yet Abe is really just beautiful to look at, combining both the creature and human aspects of the character to create this expressive being on the pages.

Dave Stewart is very cooperative as a colorist, as the tone is very much enhanced thanks to his duller and smooth color transitions in many of the backgrounds. Everything fits together nicely as he creates very light, yet apparent contrasts between many of the elements, almost creating a symbiosis of colors that allow an illusion of sharp difference. It’s dark, yet bright in some very small spots, which does add up to a great effect.

The Conclusion: Some of the aspects of this issue, like the approach to the death of a character and the mystery behind it, could have been worked much better, yet the beautiful art, colorization and the subtle horror and philosophical approach saves it from being a small dud.

Grade: B-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière

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