B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #128

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #128

Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Artist: James Harren
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Clem Robins
Cover Artist: Laurence Campbell.

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #128 kicks things off with a creepy cover. A weird looking girl, a palace in flames, and and a squad of misfits at the bottom. When it comes to the B.P.R.D., they’re all misfits. Page one makes that apparent.

“Do you know how stupid this is? Really, really freakin’ stupid!”

“If we decide to abandon every mission based upon likelihood of success, we’d have lost this war a long time ago, Agent Enos.”

It’s a cold, snowy landscape as a long line of B.P.R.D. agents ride along on horseback with Johann in the lead as they chase down a strange monster. Yet that imagery isn’t nearly as shocking as Iosif and the mysterious girl under glass. The girl is normal enough looking with her long blond hair, but Iosif is a zombie looking creature with a glass helmet and a hulking suit like some turn of the century deep sea diver. And following that is her description of the chaos in hell and the panels showing those demons at play. Then that strange little girl reveals that the forces of hell are under command…or at least they could be. It’s a rather ominous threat that quickly sets the stage for this creepy little girl.

Aside from that, there’s a little interlude with some researcher in New York studying a guy who turned into a monster and making a connection, then things get back to the team in the snow. The action cranks up and things get tense as the monster chasing them down. It all ends with a cliffhanger as the caveman comes to the rescue.

While a lot of this story is still strange and new to me, one of the things I like about it is the strangeness. There are these weird monsters they’re fighting. There’s this odd caveman guy going off on his own little journey of self-discovery. Add to it the strange hell girl under glass and the zombie guy in a suit haunted by her, and my interesting just rises up another notch. It’s intriguing. Yet what sells it is the little pieces of dialog and the imagery.

Artist James Harren and colorist Dave Stewart do a great job in this issue of making things provocative. It all starts with that stark white imagery of modern day people on horseback in the snowy woods as they hunt a monster. There’s the cinematic touch of the panels as they focus on the logo on the side of a helmet, then zoom out to slowly reveal the context of the scene. The shift between close-ups and wide shots is done to great effect. It strikes a balance between character emphasis and environment.

Fast forward to the scenes in Russia where Director Nichayko silently leaves a room filled with panic and desperation as St. Petersburg falls into chaos. James HarrenĀ devotes four panels to his exit, a thing that might ordinarily be overkill, but in this instance, a touch that adds gravitas to the scene. We see Nichayko storm away in silence down a hallway. We see him retreat into a room, and we see the door click shut behind him. Then the next page hits us with a visual surprises, a girl under glass. In fact one of my favorite visual moments in the issue is a panel of Nichayko staring at the girl with a red watercolor effect going on in the background. It’s a stark scene of just those two characters, again using the visuals to force emphasis.

With a wonderful combination of artwork and strange story elements, B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #128 is an exquisite taste of bizarre enjoyment. The visuals are jarring and rich, the dialog is genuine and entertaining, and overall it’s great. I give it a five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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