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

The Story: Despite the help he gave them, it seems some citizens are actually not that fond of Abe.

The Review: It’s always frustrating to see a book handle some elements very well, yet others in ways that put things down in terms of general quality. The characters could be great, yet the story and direction pointless. The setting could be amazing, yet the art could also no match the scope. There are always tons of things that can go wrong when creating anything, with fiction not being an exception.

Abe Sapien is a book that has a potentially great handle, a very well put-together characterization for its lead character, yet there are quite a few things that don’t let the book be as great as it could in the divided version we get every months.

One of the area where it excels is in how it handle the supernatural, with both Mignola and Allies presenting a bit of necromancy, its effects and its price. Not stopping at just introducing those kind of elements, the way the supporting cast reacts to such news, how Abe perceive and acts around the subject along with the intricate mysteries of how it works and how it changes the world permeates the book with an identity of its own.

Another area where the writers are good, yet perhaps not in a complete way, is with the characters themselves. The confusion of Abe about his identity, his research for companionship and how he tries to change his ways as he wanders around makes for a rather compelling lead. His insecurities, faults yet well-meaning behaviour along with his connection to the unknown makes him a very good main character, with his actions, questions and many other things connected to him fuelling the more entertaining aspects of the book.

Where the writers aren’t as capable, though, is in how they divide their book. While many scenes are here to build up suspense and horror, some of these scenes end up wasting a good number of pages of the book as it just teases readers more than it hints at bigger things. When it does amount to something, it does so in a way that is a bit unsubtle and almost clumsy, such as the scenes with the young goths in the cemetery. While they do bring out the elements that the story needs, showing them with characters that borders on the more stereotypical aspects of a trend is not exactly the best way to go to push forth the more horrific aspects of the concepts brought up.

Another area which could use a bit of work is the pacing, which is sometimes a bit too slow for its own good. While this series has always been strong in setting up an atmosphere around Abe, his actions and the world that surrounds him, there are many scenes that seem to take too much time to be properly efficient in what they are trying to convey. In ways, it feels a bit like some lower form of decompression that works half of the time.

Still, a book can be forgiven a lot of things if the art is potent. Thankfully, Max Fiumara is very much so, bringing out some of the best aspects of the scripts with talent. The atmosphere, the more introspective moments and some of the more horrific elements are very well done thanks to his elongated, yet expressive lines. Abe, as always, looks simply fantastic thanks to his mix between monstrous being and expressive human, with the best of both worlds showing up in his design. The emotions, the uncertainty and a wide range of expressivity shows up in his poses, face and through his interactions with the environment, making him as interesting visually as he is in the story. The humans, all the while, don’t all share the same complexity, with the longer lines not always fitting with them, yet they are expressive and detailed enough to contribute to the plot.

Where Fiumara shines, though, is with the atmosphere, with the backgrounds and scenery being a large part of this particular effect. With plenty of details and a good sense of scope, distortion and depth, he is able to bring just the right tone in each panels to make the readers even more interested in what’s going on visually.

Another part of that effect pass through the colors, though, with Dave Stewart being a huge help here. Focusing heavily on the darker aspects of the world, with shadows and shading going through a somber palette, Stewart is able to bring the horror and the uncertainty of darkness to the forefront. Without forgetting about contrasts he is able to work with a good amount of brightness to balance things out without throwing his own approach and style through the window, setting the book with an even clearer identity as a result.

The Conclusion: There are some slight problems with the pacing, with the division in the book and with some of less interesting characters, yet the strong artistic directions, neat ideas and the charm of Abe Sapien as a lead character manages to make this issue lightly enjoyable nonetheless. It’s certainly not the strongest this series has been, but it is still a nice read.

Grade: B-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière