In Review: B.P.R.D.: Vampire #5
The cover: Armed with a stake and a cross, Professor Bruttenholm searches for Agent (on leave) Simon Anders, who he fears may have become a vampire. If only the professor had eyes in the back of his head. I’m a sucker for “Look behind you!” covers, and this is a good one by Fabio Moon. I like how Anders resembles Nosferatu. Overall grade: A
The story: At B.P.R.D. Headquarters in Fairfield, CT, the professor takes his leave of Hellboy secretly, not knowing what to tell him for his leaving. The Professor’s supernatural conscience (and one of the best characters in the Mignolaverse) reminds him it was his fault Anders went seeking vampires and then ominously adds, “You think you can save the monsters you keep…You think you can control them…But can you do what needs to be done when your monsters get out of control?” We then go to Cesky Krumolv, where a unit of soldiers shows the Professor Anders’ work and the castle they believe him to be in. Bruttenholm enters without his unit of men, and the story really begins. The confrontation with Anders is good and the ending was unexpected. Mike Mignola, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon leave more of a question mark than a period of closure, but isn’t that how things should go with a B.P.R.D. tale? After the story’s climax, Pages 18 and 19 show four other characters I was not expecting, that now have something to worry about, regardless of one character’s assurances. Page 20 was a nice bit of acknowledgement by the Professor on what he does. It’s not often we’re treated to silent introspection by him, and I really liked that. That last page is a nice promise of a sequel. Overall grade: A
The art: Gorgeous work throughout by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. I love their take on the Professor. You cannot say it’s comedic at all with that solid stare on Page 2, plus the final panel on 3 has such power in his closed fists. I also loved the aftermath of Anders’ rampage that the Professor sees: nice way to increase the tension for the reader. The entire castle is wonderfully eerie, even before Anders appears from the shadows. Once before him, the Professor does everything he can to get away and every panel has the Professor in frightened mode, until his options run out. The supernatural exit on Page 16 left me in the correct state of mind: Was that real? How is that possible? How!? The transition at the bottom of 16 and the reveal at the top of 17 made the moment all the more bizarre. This is visual tour de force! Overall grade: A+
The colors: Ba and Moon have set things up well for Dave Stewart to exploit with his talents. Certain things should not be seen so clearly in the dark. Hellboy asleep should not be lighting up the darkened room so much, orange-red eyes should not dominate the interior of a castle, laughter should not shatter a panel, and “more” should not be a word of the damned. Even after the climax, the final three pages are dark and dim, brightened only by memories and things to come. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Good job throughout by Clem Robins on scene setting and dialogue, though I think Ba and Moon did their own sound effects. Overall grade: A
The final line: A good ending, assisted in no doubt, with the inclusion of Bruttenholm. Creepy, classic and cool conclusion. Overall grade: A
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic 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’s 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.