In Review: B.P.R.D. #135

The end has really begun and you'll be unable to look away.

The cover: The Main cover is by interior artist Laurence Campbell and colorist Dave Stewart. It features the crystalline Ogdru Jahad spiraling through space. These creatures are in their dormant state, but not for long. This cover is eerie in its simplicity, yet creates a foreboding mood. Outstanding! Mike Mignola returns to the cover of B.P.R.D., doing the Variant cover, with flames encircling Liz and Johann (who is now inside the armor known as Sledgehammer), and behind the two are Ogdru Jahad and the Dragon. Long time readers of the Mignolaverse know this can’t be good. What is good is this illustration by Mignola and the colors by Stewart. As much as I like both protagonists drawn by Mignola, I’m always suckered into looking at Ogdru Jahad, who are just beautifully monstrous. Overall grades: Main A and Variant A+

The story: Whenever things seem to be going well for our heroes, and for mankind, one should be prepared for the other shoe to drop. “End of Days” by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi opens with a woman talking on the phone to her husband. It’s a beautiful, normal day in Argent, Kansas. This page is unsettling because this series has been ripe with the destruction and carnage that’s been inflicted on the earth since the monsters have surfaced. Everything about this page seems wrong. Before a reader can dwell too long on this oddity, the next page focuses on the Ogdru Jahad in space, as seen on the Main cover. As it comes closer to the reader, one of the crystals is revealed to be open and empty — one of them is loose! A surprising image follows: Liz picking an orange from a tree being grown from the lush farmlands that now surround the headquarters of the B.P.R.D. in Colorado. It’s revealed that Fenix is responsible for having the plants grow so well. Speaking of the child, she and Bruiser are on their way to a conference where it’s shown that Johann has defeated several oversized monsters because he commands Vril energy now that he’s within the Sledgehammer armor. What could possibly kill the heroes’ lucky streak? Page 12: he appears and he speaks. He ends by saying, “And it will all be here soon!” Then new things appear in different places. If readers thought things were big before, they haven’t seen things of this size before. An expected attack should occur on the hapless humans, but then something that can only be described as unholy occurs. The worst possible thing a reader could wonder while reading this series is “What the hell is going on?” They’re going to ask it while reading this issue, and there’s no explanation to be had, except it is happening, and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. This looks to be the end of days and I’m wondering if there’s any future for the earth. Wow. Overall grade: A+

The art: The first two pages are a beautiful contrast: “normal” Argent that’s tempered by the Ogdru Jahad in space. It doesn’t get this different in composition, and artist Laurence Campbell conveys both outstandingly. I really liked the slow pull into the second page, which generates plenty of doom. The image then cuts away to Liz in her new garden. It’s such a startling image considering how this location has looked before — Heck, even recently this setting was inhospitable. Page 5 contains two spectacular images that show how Johann is using his new abilities. There’s been nothing as visually strong fighting for the B.P.R.D. since Hellboy died. Page 10 is also terrific because it shows an individual who hasn’t been seen for some time. The transition between the second and third panel is cinematic, with the fourth panel having a brilliant dual feature, using shadows to connote a prison both outside and within — epic! Then there’s the return to “that place” on 11. The first panel on that page shows how far this location has fallen. The human is so insignificant compared to everything she encounters. The close-up on 13 is so perfect! The arrival on 15 cranks up the tension of the issue, the event on 17 is beautifully bizarre, and the bottom of 18 and the top of 19 is eerie. When it hits the fan on 22 I couldn’t handle any more fantastic imagery. This issue starts wonderfully small, before twisting and turning in this freakish new world. Campbell is digging in the dark places of his mind to torment the characters and readers. Fantasic! Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Like the art, the colors start calmly before exploding into strangeness. Dave Stewart does a sensational job making Campbell’s art humdrum with the expected colors of a normal world. Space gets a slight violet background as the deadliest creatures in humanity’s history are shown inching closer. The bright oranges of the fruit have a nice subtle green outside the border when they first appear — slick inclusion by Stewart to emphasize growth. When Johann first appears the radical coloring of the book begins, and slowly grows, page by page. My favorite coloring was the bottom of 18 and top of 19. The browns and blues made it seem like a fine art print. The final page is awesome in orange. These colors are great. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, transmissions, yells, and whispers are done by Clem Robins. There’s a lot of yelling, for good reason, and each utterance is felt by the reader because of Robins’ contributions. The sounds were my favorites. When most books are sadly going mute for sounds, Robins is allowed to make his creatures wail, and I’m so thankful for him being allowed to do so. Overall grade: A+

“Kill the Black Flame”: There’s a two paged story at the end of the issue by Matt Strackbein. This shows his reaction to when things began to go bad for the B.P.R.D. and neatly recaps the key moments in the Black Flame’s past. I like the style of the art and the commentary from Stackbein as a character which is spot on. More please! Overall grade: A+

The final line: The end has really begun and you’ll be unable to look away. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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