In Review: Abe Sapien #5
The cover: Abe is at the bottom of the Salton Sea and it’s not pretty down there: dead fish, trash and human remains. This is not going to be good. Eerie image by interior artist Max Fiumara. I like the art but the colors are so faded it’s hard to make out any details and only the “From the Pages of Hellboy” at the top stand out. Should have been brighter. Overall grade: B-
The story: Great conclusion to “The New Race of Man” by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi. If I was a bettin’ man, I would have wagered that this issue would have been about people mutating into some new creatures, as seen in Issue #3 of this series and in the pages of the B.P.R.D. Boy, was I wrong, and I’m so happy I was! The book opens with a group of people looking at the remains of Barry, the guy who tried to knife Abe last issue, being eaten by seagulls. Gene arrives, saying he went for help after finding the body, and that the group should show some respect. One person pipes in with “This is how things are now, Gene. No mercy.” Abe arrives, shocked by the gruesome scene and is asked for help in finding out what happened. Abe does find out, but I’ll not spoil the hell for you. This is a really creepy tale with how the words “monster” and “voice” are defined in this new world order. Additionally, there’s a nice two page flashback/origin of Abe’s that’s really sweet. The final two pages hint at things to come and it’s a plot thread I find most interesting. I just hope it’s not dangled for too long. Overall grade: A
The art: Tremendous work by Max Fiumara in this issue. He’s definitely got the gift for the graphic (Pages 2, 12, 16, 17, 18, and 19), and his Abe is just gorgeous. But his humans are the real highpoints of the book: each person is twisted visually in their own way, showing that “normal” humans can be just as monstrous as the creatures around them. Page 10 is my favorite of the book. It’s just so alien it’s hypnotizing. Overall grade: A
The colors: I live relatively near the Salton Sea, trust me–I can smell it when it emits a powerful odor, and Dave Stewart has captured its colors. The sky is either overcast, as in this book, or glaringly bright. I’m glad he went with overcast, as it gave the story an almost death march-like tone. When blood appears, its is appropriately shocking. The underwater sequences were the best in the book, especially on Page 10. Overall grade: A
The letters: Clem Robins provides good dialogue, narration and sound effects. Overall grade: A
The final line: Must reading for fans of the Mignolaverse or those who enjoy end of the world yarns. Not an upper of a story by any means, but an incredible experience if you venture to it. Overall grade: A
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comics Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.