In Review: B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #10

My highest possible recommendation for the week goes to this book for the drama, energy, and horrors it creates.

The cover: Hellboy sits upon a stone throne with a crimson blanket sloppily covering it partially. The hero sits in thought, as though considering all that has led him to this moment. Behind the structure are tall vertical windows showing flames engulfing everything. Max Fiumara with Dave Stewart have created a dark, sad image that may be a sign of things to come. Overall grade: A

The story: Let me start by saying that this is the most powerful issue of the B.P.R.D. I’ve ever read. Mike Mignola and Scott Allie put the characters, and the reader, through the wringer. Hellboy, Abe, Fenix, Ashley, Carla, and Andrew are making their way to the Varvara’s stronghold, unaware of what’s occurred to Andrew. Last issue a flying demon tagged the back of his head and he fell limp to the ground. As the heroes battle the winged horrors, a story is playing out in another dimension. Andrew witnesses Varvara, a flying demon, and Herman von Klempt approaching him. The demon child stands before him holding the knife that Hellboy used to kill his father, Satan. “Is understandable, your anger, Andrew…I went through ordeal once, and it left me…vosprimchivy? You say, impressible…? And now you are like us.” She carefully opens his chest from his breastbone to his navel with the knife. “So please…be open to this, Andrew. Your bitter soul…it welcomes us. Poor Andrew…” She pulls something from his chest and the demon enters his wound. In the real world, Andrew sits up and the group begins its pilgrimage, though the wounded man’s eyes bulge as though seeing this world for the first time. The tension of when this assassin will spring into action is horrific. Equally terrible are the crickets attacking the remaining members of the B.P.R.D. that remained at their crashed ship. On Page 12 everything about this series changes: battles are fought, characters — and do mean that as a plural — die, and the most devastating reveal in the history of this comic, of any Hellboy comic, occurs. I was tired after reading this book for all that happens and I was left devastated. And. It. Keeps. Going. The next issue comes out in December. I don’t know if that’s enough time to recover from this issue. Overall grade: A+

The art: Laurence Campbell is powerful. The book opens with Hellboy giving an upper right to a flying blasphemy that gets knocked hard and far. Abe is cracking the necks of the wicked things, while Ashley stabs them with her sword, but not before one creature catches her cheek with a swing of its clawed hand. The transition between Page 1 and 2 is great, starting with unconscious Andrew and then moving to the unholy three approaching him on a different plane. His reaction in the second panel on the second page is perfection, with his eye wide in horror. The entire sequence of his chest opening and the demon’s entrance is pure nightmare. The look on Varavara’s face at the bottom of Page 3 is amazing. The second to last panel on Page 4 easily informs the reader that all is not well with Devon. The battle against the crickets looks futile until Howards enters the fray, looking like a modern day Conan. Even though the reader knows that Devon cannot be trusted, the action that starts 12 is a horror to look upon. Add to that the appearance of an oversized demon that’s been partnered with Varavara, shows the heroes to be in the most dire of situations. Andrew is grotesque and horrific after the actions by Abe. The reappearance of a group of classic villains on 17 should foreshadow to the reader what’s about to occur, and the frozen smile on the demon child at the bottom of the page is a terror. The action by the agent on 19 is awesome, but leads to the most forbidding wink I’ve ever seen in a comic. 20 features the epic ending of one character’s life. This is followed by a transformation with the greatest reveal in this series’ history that relies wholly on the visuals for the reader to understand. My god, it’s awesome and awful. Wow. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Dave Stewart is making this book Hell on Earth with all the shades of crimson and orange that dominate the damned New York City skies. The first page only lightens for a small panel that focuses on the wounds that Ashley has received. Notice that colors help show the change in dimensions, with the background dramatically going dark on Page 2 and the squeals of the winged demons going dark. The ruddy reds used for the demons in this issue are fantastically evil. It’s subtle, but look at how Stewart has lightened Andrew’s eyes because he has his glasses. This is both a realistic visual and one that draws the reader to the possessed character’s eyes. The only thing that’s pure white in this issue are the dialogue balloons which stand out on every page against the hellish skies. The object shown on 17 had me recognizing it initially because of its colors, with its design becoming known within seconds. The violet on 18 is outstanding, showing the reader visually that something important is about to occur. Greens dominate the final two pages as something steps back onto Earth. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue’s text by Clem Robins includes sounds, yells, dialogue, scene settings, whispered speech, a sacred incantation. and the unique dialogue of the book’s villain. There’s a lot of yelling, but Robins doesn’t use just one generic size for each bellow, showing there are many degrees to each yell. The dialogue is an instant eye catcher being the only thing that’s pure white on the page in their balloons. The whispered speech adds to the terror of one character. The villain’s unique font for speech is another visual that further separates this individual from the others. A job well done. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: My highest possible recommendation for the week goes to this book for the drama, energy, and horrors it creates. I don’t know how anyone can survive what’s to come. What I do know is that I’ll be sweating each day until the next issue arrives. Overall grade: A+

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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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