by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie (Writers), Sebastian Fiumara, Max Fiumara (Artists), Dave Stewart (Colorist)

The Story: Monsters attack one of the group that Abe was with as he tells a bit more about his situation and his feelings about the B.P.R.D.

The Review: If there’s something I truly hate, it’s middle of the road issues, in term of quality that is. If a series is good, I’ll read and enjoy it. The end. If it’s utterly bad, I’ll at least know it’s not worth my cash and time, so I’ll stop reading it and that would be the end of it. It’s always a bit frustrating to see a book do well in some parts, while terribly in others, as it leaves a potential to either become totally on one side or the other. It both please and disappoint, which leaves all kind of mixed feelings in terms of appreciation.

This issue of Abe Sapien is unfortunately one of those, as there are plenty of ideas along with some terrific scenes, yet it doesn’t really satisfy as a whole. It’s a bit of a shame, as the latest issue had been pretty good and the series as a whole did things differently enough to make this whole take on the Mignolaverse rather interesting.

Where it falters a bit is the rather quick progression of events, as it leaves close to no time to see a bit more of the philosophy and development that Abe as a character push to the front of the issue. His view on what he wants to do along with how he perceive his status with the B.P.R.D. makes for something rather fascinating, yet it rapidly clash with the action along with some events near the end of the issue. The way his vision of things is handled is resolved too quickly, with nothing coming out of it as the issue concludes too fast. It seems like a bit of a missed opportunity to present Abe with a bunch of characters with a radically different view without actually doing much with them.

While it has become the formula of this series that Abe moves from one place to the other as he questions himself and how the world is now, this issue leaves a good chunk of the more problematic and humane conflicts to devote itself a bit more on monster action, which comes as a bit of a show stopper. Those around Abe quickly stop being characters and turns into victims of the horrors around them.

The action and horror is well-handled, of course, with the slow progression of the monsters coming well-put into the narrative. The violence along with the way the world has changed is also integrated rather cohesively in the story, with some nice interactions between Abe and two other survivors early on in the issue. The problem is that the end result comes as a bit rushed, with this little arc clearly deserving of more page in order to make the storytelling a bit more natural, a bit more even.

Where the issue cannot be faulted is in the art, though, as both Sebastian and Max Fiumara shows how they can play with scenery and atmosphere. Their backgrounds are lush, seemingly devoid of life but ironically full of superb details at times, their depiction of the dry land in which the characters interact is nothing short of spectacular. The scope and depth of a good lot of their panels is simply beautiful to look at, as it also complements a lot on what the book is all about. The way Abe feels a bit small and unsure come really well to the forefront when he is depicted in those landscapes, as it also enhance how dangerous the world is when the monsters arrive. The monsters, as well as the humans, are very well drawn on the page, with the Guy Davis designs reproduced aptly and the emotions coming naturally. There is close to no hyperbole in their style, with the sole exception being the violence, which comes off as brutal. The visual pacing is also top notch, which is a huge bonus to a book that usually rely on a mix of atmosphere and action. The Fiumara brothers, simply put, are at the top of their game on this book.

Dave Stewart is no slouch either, providing plenty of warm colorization to the comic, playing it against the color scheme of Abe Sapien and some subtle shadow play and dark colors. Representing the hot and dry climate well on the page, Stewart provides some contrasts with some minimal details instead of bigger elements, creating a subtle palette that enhance the setting along with the scope of some of the bigger panels, with the monsters definitely being even more clashing against the backgrounds. It’s not the best work he ever did, but it certainly is quite competent.

The Conclusion: A really good issue art wise, yet there are some missteps in terms of development of story and character that set it down a notch in terms of storytelling. An adequate issue, but certainly not the strongest one in the series.

Grade: B-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière