The cover: In a diner in Santa Fe, Johann is speaking with a B.P.R.D. agent, while just outside one of the many monsters that now inhabit the earth sits as a silent terror. Great, twisted combination of imagery that combines the unthinkable with the normal. The illustration is by Laurence Campbell and it’s great. The coloring is also outstanding, as the interior of the diner is dark, while the exterior of a “normal” day in Santa Fe is blasting with yellows, to highlight the “Hell on Earth.” Really well done. Overall grade: A+
The story: This self contained story, “Grind,” is by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi. It focuses on the arrival of the B.P.R.D. into Santa Fe, told from the point of view of one man who still lives and survives in the city–Aaron. He tells readers how the western side of the city is almost back to normal, considering they have a sleeping giant that makes up the skyline. He has to show his I.D. to get to work everyday, as the military is around, monitoring the creature. Aaron is quick to point out that there’s something at the front of his building each morning that no one’s doing anything about, and why isn’t the military involved with it? Still, he goes to work at a diner, goes through his day, and comes home to find one of the local kids doing something “not cool” to the thing outside his front door. Things change in the morning when the monster has moved and the B.P.R.D. have arrived. This story showed how the catastrophe plays on a normal person, who’s just trying to maintain his existence with the apocalypse practically on this front door. Well, there is something on this front door, but it’s smaller in size, but no less ferocious. I loved the characterization of Liz and Johann from Aaron’s perspective and how they represent hope, though their solution doesn’t come easily, or without conflict among them. The final three pages are fun and creepy and make me wonder if hope can still be had in the Mignolaverse. Overall grade: A
The visuals: The story of this issue is how normal survives during insanity, and Tyler Crook shows it wonderfully with his artwork. The establishing shot of how Santa Fe has been split is eerie and only increases as Aaron walks to work. The thing near his front door is beautifully bizarre and it’s impossible not to be drawn into this thing’s look. Page 6 is a nice progression in a scene of how a character cannot sleep with Hell just a few miles away. The bugged out eyes that end this page are reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Pages 12 – 15 are solid monster versus B.P.R.D. action shots, which show a much different battle than the last issue, and that point of view shot at the bottom of 15 is terrific. The final panel on the last page is the most perfect gut punch. Still beautiful, and still horrific. Overall grade: A
The colors: The opening introduction to the setting and the walk through it are excellently accomplished by Dave Stewart. The green skies see almost fungus-like, though off-purple is used for that. The coloring in this book is nothing bright or garish until the conflict between the two forces begin and then the violence demands bright colors, and readers get quite the eyeful of them. Even the sounds stand out significantly because of the coloring. Another well done job from Mr. Stewart. Overall grade: A
The letters: Dialogue, yells, and sounds from Clem Robins tell this story, and every reader will hear and feel that four page battle. Overall grade: A
The final line: If you’re curious about the B.P.R.D., this is the issue to try. It contains every bit of bizarre horror the world is encountering, while showing how normal people have to cope. An excellent read. Overall grade: A
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two 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.