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Abe Sapien #9 – Review

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

The Story: In his pilgrimage, Abe discovers a little town who may have a problem with virulent dead horses as well as other unseen ones.

The Review: I have a certain fondness for what is dubbed the Mignolaverse, the universe in which titles like B.P.R.D., Hellboy in Hell, Lobster Johnson and many other series take place in. Having started my comic fascination with the greatest creation of Mike Mignola, I have been a fan ever since I opened the first trade, Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction.

However, that being said, being a fan does not render me blind to occasional weaknesses in some comics done in this universe. While I have a certain respect for what Scott Allie and Mike Mignola are trying to do with Abe Sapien, there seems to be a few faults that doesn’t always allow the title to reach the potential it once reached.

One of the best aspect of the book is in how it portrays the general civilian and how they are trying to cope with the way things are in the world. Some try to interact with the weirder aspects, while some try to go on with their life just like in this comic. The sense of community and how Abe changes some things and try to interact with them is perhaps one of the most enjoyable angle of this issue. His general soul-searching does not allow for him to be placid when others are in need of help, which makes his general discussions and his actions rather nice to read.

Another area in which the book is also neat is in how it deals with the supernatural as well as the unexplained. Necromancy, deals with the devil as well as the general horrors that are to be found across America are generally handled well, with their very nature playing with the book and its ongoing plot and subplots rather nicely.

Where it falters a bit is in the fluidity of the tale, as scenes jumps around quite a bit in this issue. The focus switch quite often, with Abe, the chief of police, some hippies on a golf course, a store owner and some other citizens of the town all get one or two scenes, which does not help the story flow in a way that feels natural. While it does help set in tension and some elements of uncertainty and horror to the tale unfolding, it is sometimes a bit unclear what the direction for the story is. Combine this with the fact that the story is mostly setup and you do get some rather unsatisfying tidbits in a story that is nice in some aspects.

One of the nicer aspects, of course, is the art of Max Fiumara who returns to the title after last month’s fill-in by Michael Avon Oeming. Being on par with the rest of the series, there is a certain emphasis on ambiance that is set very nicely with a series of panels showing sceneries and Abe interacting with the environment, all done without one line of text. Continuing with this kind of talent, the panel-to-panel flow is excellent here, with a nice pace set in every scene, despite the disparity of the script.

The character work is also quite neat, with a certain elongated look given to faces and limbs, which creates a style that befits most characters, especially Abe. Where it isn’t so great, however, is with faces as they aren’t expressive enough in some cases, whilst in others they are perhaps a bit too much, with not enough details given to faces in most occasions. Still, the body language for most characters makes up for it in most cases.

The scenery and backgrounds, though, are exceptional, with a great precision brought to them that allows for the town and the environment to really have an identity of their own. Providing a lot of contexts as well as some rather inspiring and horrific imagery, Fiumara does a lot with the surroundings, which is something that adds a lot to the art in general.

Dave Stewart provides for a lot of this effect with his colorization, playing with shadows as well as multiple types of shading to propose an ambiance of horror in this issue. The way he makes night and day contrasts in their palette is striking, playing bright and dark very well with the tone of the scenes as it fits with the tone of the scripts as well as with the themes. It’s a bit subtler than in some other titles he does the colorization, but he is still very good at what he does, which is shown here.

The Conclusion: The pacing and fluidity of the plot might be disjointed in quite a few places, but the ambiance, art and general depiction of horror as well as the characterization of Abe makes this issue worth it nonetheless.

Grade: B-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière

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