"B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth Volume 2 - Gods and Monsters" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Guy Davis and Tyler Crook
2011, 146 Pages
Trade Paperback published on January 11th, 2012
The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense has seen better days. They're stretched pretty thin and the UN is monitoring their comings and goings. This trade collects two storylines: Gods and Monsters. First, Abe heads up a search for a prescient teenage girl who seems to be one step ahead of huge monsters that look like a cross between a crab and a great white shark. Meanwhile, Liz is hiding out in a trailer park after she started a fire in the center of the earth that led to all sorts of global changes that would make Al Gore weep. It's here that she runs into a redneck cult who have been drinking some weird supernatural Kool-Aid.
The two stories are told a little differently. The three chapters of Gods are broken up in an almost nonlinear fashion. First we're shown how the group of refugee kids got to where they are and then we're told how Abe and his team gets to the same location during the same time. Both of the timelines merge for the final chapter as the B.P.R.D. shoots the shit out of a bunch of ugly looking monsters.
Guy Davis drew the Gods arc and while I dug his take on the creatures, his work left something to be desired. The characters look a little unfinished, or rather like something you'd see out of a newspaper comic strip. With the serious artistic talent that has been on the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. books, Davis' art doesn't hold up. With a bit of polish, it could be great.
Click images to enlarge.
The Monsters story focusing on Liz is a little more straightforward. While it centers on our resident fire starter, we're given glimpses into the goings on of Dr. Kate Corrigan as she struggles to keep the office together with a man down. The cult of hillbillies that Liz encounters has some sort of tie in to the frogs that led into this Hell on Earth series. I haven't read that yet, but it's pretty easy to pick up the gist of it based on the script for this comic. In many ways this arc reminded me of some classic horror films where the main character finds herself lost in the woods and anyone that she thinks can help her turns on her. Think Texas Chainsaw Massacre in a trailer park.
Tyler Crook handles the art for Monsters. I'm not too familiar with his work, but a lot of his characters look...well...ugly. I'm not saying that as a bad thing. It actually fits the context of the story pretty well considering the setting and the trashy people that surround Liz here. Everything is very clear and crisp, almost too much so. The Hellboy / B.P.R.D. universe has a specific look and feel to it that Mignola has crafted over the years. It's a distinctive style and although Crook's art looks great, it doesn't fit in with that style.
Gods and Monsters is a welcome addition to the current B.P.R.D. storyline. The fact that it centers on two of the core characters of the team who are a bit more familiar thanks to the movies definitely helps. I was a little let down with the art, but the story more than makes up for it. I've learned from the comics so far that Mignola has a purpose for everything. This is just the next step for these characters in their huge journey and considering that they're facing Hell on Earth, it's a big one.