In Review: B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #1

The story is gripping and the visuals create an unrelenting air of hopelessness.

The covers: Demon Varvara, whom most people had forgotten after the apocalypse was averted, has grown to the size of a giant, laughs after she’s raised a few unharmed buildings from a city and crushes them in her hands. This holy terror of a Regular cover is by Duncan Fegredo. Varvara looks deceptively innocent in her form as a young Russian girl, though her actions reveal her dark mind. This covers foreshadows that surviving the threat of the Ogdru Jahad was only humanity’s first obstacle to survive as a species. The Variant cover is by Mike Mignola with Clem Robins. This features B.P.R.D. Agent Ted Howards, who is still possessed/using the Hyperborean blade he discovered. Blood covers his sword as he looks solemnly at the reader. Behind him a demon rises and will undoubtedly be felled by the man. This was the cover I had to purchase because I’m a tremendous fan of Mignola’s art. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The story: Humanity has avoided extinction, but the struggle to survive continues. The first page is a document from the Director of the B.P.R.D. stating that cults have risen and citizens continue to disappear. Agent Liz Sherman is on probationary status given her actions, that did end the destruction of mankind, and cannot lead missions into populated areas. However, she has been granted permission to lead a mission in Parkinson, North Carolina. The story then moves to this location where Howards bolts through the devastation with his sword. He stops in his tracks when a tremendous beast erupts from the ground. A battle of David and Goliath proportions begins. Mike Mignola and Scott Allie keep the action quick and then move to Liz, who is not getting along with the the agents who are monitoring her. AWOL Agent Ashley Strode gets three pages, with her being drawn back into the fold after helping a family and getting a possible tease of things to come. Liz’s agents on the ground have their own difficulties from the inside and outside. Pages 23 – 25 reveal several characters who have much to do in the world’s new path. How they meet up and what will happen when they do will be thrilling and destructive, with it deliciously teased on 26 – 28. After all that’s happened to the world, can anybody catch a break? Overall grade: A

The art: Laurence Campbell provides this series visuals and they are good. However, the book does start somewhat frustratingly with something heavily obscured by its distance. Page 2 is where the art begins and it’s difficult to get a sense of the object the crows are flying about. Its image is shown again from a slightly different angle at the top of 3, but, again, it’s so distorted as to be unimportant to the reader. Things improve with Howard’s entrance. The creature he battles is very clear and there’s no mistaking what he and it do on 4 and 5. The look Howard gives in the final panel on 5 is awesome. The first panel on 6 provides an outstanding transition to Liz and those monitoring her. The vehicle that contains her monitors is fantastic and it’s shown from several different angles. Ashley’s three pages encompass an action familiar to horror fans, but Campbell makes it seem new with the point of view he establishes and the tight close-ups of characters. The call that’s made on 10 has Ashley taken aback, with the final two panels on the page being emotional high points: her body language communicating much to the reader. The most horrific visual sequence in the issue deals with the ground troops who find a mass of cricket pods. The troubles that they cause are immense and would be a budget breaker in any film. As impressive as these action sequences are, it’s the final five pages that left me screaming. The architecture on 24 sent a thrill through me, while the characters on 25 made me shudder — these two characters are responsible for so much trouble in the Hellboy saga. The character that meets them is innocently charming, though her actions soon belie that impression. Smiles and size hold incalculable horrors. I like Campbell’s art, but I’d like to see it show things more concretely consistently. Overall grade: B+ 

The colors: The new world is a drab environment, consisting of browns and tans. Dave Stewart is able to punch up this hopeless setting with sound effects’ colors, though they too are muted. Crimson appears, as does orange and yellow during the fight sequences, and they are bright. A vision allows for some change of colors, but they evaporate for the final four pages. The sky is the brightest on the last pages, with it turning a dull pea green. Stewart’s work reinforces the dark tone of this world and tale. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, sounds, transmissions, yells, and whispers account for Clem Robins’s contributions. I like the scene settings, which are in a font different from the dialogue. It’s also good to see transmissions done in a different style, rather than have their dialogue balloons’ shape account for their differentiation. Two whispers make a moment even more heartfelt. The sounds in this book are killer, with the cricket pods creating some massive ones that make the visuals stronger. Robins has definitely brought his A game to this book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The characters are beginning to converge for the fate of humanity after its greatest threat has been thwarted. This is not going to end well for several individuals. The story is gripping and the visuals create an unrelenting air of hopelessness. A compelling read for those that have been following the exploits of the B.P.R.D. Overall grade: A-

To order a print copy go to http://www.tfaw.com/Comics/Profile/B.P.R.D.-The-Devil-You-Know-1___541084?utm_source=darkhorse&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=darkhorse_buy&utm_term=buy+B.P.R.D.%3A+The+Devil+You+Know+%231

To order a digital copy go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/a7c5d9afb2d14c769dad5171000efe4e/bprd-the-devil-you-know-1

To see both covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

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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