In Review: B.P.R.D. #136

It's impossible not to be drawn into this nightmarish confrontation. Recommended.

The cover: In the bottom left of this cover is the tiny figure of Professor J.H. O’Donnell, looking in fear at the creature that’s casting a shadow upon him. It’s the Ogdru Jahad, the supernatural/cosmic horror that foretells the end of mankind. It is one of the seven and it has driven him insane, as he’s now barefoot and wearing a straight jacket. The shadow of this creature makes up the majority of this cover and it’s what I chose to focus on to accompany this review. The image by artist Laurence Campbell and colorist Dave Stewart was the correct illustration to go with, as this entity is now on earth. Overall grade: A+

The story: Liz looks in on Fenix, who lies unconscious in the B.P.R.D.’s medical unit. She looks at the teen with a doubting stare. Meanwhile, Iosif Nichayko is in contact with Liz Sherman as his plane moves to where a massive asteroid has crashed in Russia. Sherman doubts the Bureau is even needed in this situation, but Nichayko counters, “Dr. Corrigan, I don’t know what quality of video we can get you in this atmosphere, but you must trust me. This is definitely a matter for the Bureau.” The tiny plane begins to peel away from the city being besieged by three horrors that defy description that are three times as tall as any man made structure. Behind the trio of monsters, four times as tall and fifteen times as long, is the Ogdru Jahad. Back at B.P.R.D. Headquarters, Professor J.H. O’Donnell, who’s been restrained by a straight jacket raves, “You see, you see? It’s all backward. It’s reversed. This shouldn’t happen. It can’t happen! An Ogdru Jahad on earth! It can’t happen! There are the seven that are the one!! Seven that are the one!!!” Just when it seemed that the team had gotten a moment to breathe, this issue happened and Mike Mignola and John Arcudi are putting everyone through hell. Liz and Kraus go to Russia to help Iosif, and things do not go as planned, in fact both of them have something unsettling happen to them. As this is occurring, Panya pries into Fenix and has a meeting of minds with something she shouldn’t have. Add to that, something has come out of the sea that shouldn’t have, and this series seems to be speeding to an end that would make George R.R. Martin jealous at the loss of life. To quote Kraus, “We’re nothing, Iosif…It’s over.” This is a wowser of an issue. Overall grade: A+

The art: I really like when the art lures the reader into the story and then smacks them across the face. Laurence Campbell is doing that throughout this book; case in point, the first page. The fruit of Fenix’s labors is rotting on the vine, which then transitions to Liz looking over the teen while she’s in the B.P.R.D.’s med center, then the art moves to a cool shot of a Russian Special Services’ plane flying into a black cloud. Visually, I expected this plane to be tooling in darkness for a page or two before something catastrophic happens, but instead the story demands the horrors be shown, and Campbell delivers. It’s a three-quarters page spread and it’s fantastically perverse. The way Campbell has set up Pages 2 and 3 is perfect for the reader to have these terrors revealed: The dialogue at the bottom of the second panel leads back to the plane, which draws the reader to look at the creature just behind it. The tendrils atop this creature leads the reader to the lightning above it, which moves across the top of the page to the Ogdru Jahad. Lightning leads the reader back down to see the creature in the bottom right, and the fire brings the reader to the center beast. It’s a superior example of composition. The book is also a slick examples of contrasts: Liz with Johann, Liz with Iosif, Liz’s silhouette as she exerts energy, and the two figures on Page 19. Campbell has reality standing next to the fantastic, and it makes the story all the stronger and insane. My favorite page is the last one, because of the individual revealed. Just wow. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This is a dark book, thematically and visually. Dave Stewart doesn’t get too many initial moments to insert colors into the apocalypse. The first page has the tomatoes appropriately bloody red, and, as the page continues, the colors become darker: the dim interiors of the med center and the dark cloud in Russia. The dim colors continue onto 2, where Iosif’s helmet has a sickly yellow, but it’s on the spread where colors begin to appear, and they stand for strength. The fire, the eyes of the creatures, and the deadly bits of the Ogdru Jahad are brightly lit. Because they are, readers instantly identify colors with power. This is further emphasized when Johann and Liz go into action. Pale coloring, such as on 19, gives an eerie lifeless quality to figures, which perfectly suits the tone of the event occurring. Stewart continues to show he’s the right person for this series. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Clem Robins has created dialogue, radio transmissions, sounds, yells, weakened dialogue, and an otherworldly font for something. His sounds are always terrific, and the otherworldly font suits the speaker splendidly. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Against the unexplainable, humanity fights to survive. It’s impossible not to be drawn into this nightmarish confrontation. Recommended. 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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