In Review: B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #12

The apocalypse has never been so entertaining.

The cover: The Statue of Liberty is about to be eclipsed by one of the Ogdru Hem, with blue smoke erupting from the creature’s head and blood spilling from it. Behind the iconic creation of liberty and freedom there other Ogdru Hem have arisen. This is the beginning of the end as crafted by Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart. There’s no spoilers in this illustration as this is what’s shown on the first three pages of this book. Hold on to something — this cover tells you it’s going to get rough. Overall grade: A

The story: In Berlin a man wanders into a graveyard to continue his drinking. The ground shakes and a monstrous creature emerges. “France and half of Italy are gone. Ogdru Hem are on the move on every continent. There’s something floating across Iraq, and any oil fields it goes over burst into flame. Half of Japan is on fire. Moscow is a crater.” Things are not going well for humanity is an understatement in this chapter written by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie. As the surviving members of the B.P.R.D. watch the devastation from the safety of their ship, Abe has a moment of clarity. “He didn’t bother chasing us.” The he being Rasputin who’s the one that’s brought this cosmic destruction to the world. Hellboy walks away from the screens and comes into contact with an ancient fighter of evil who’s been trying to find Rasputin in the darkest corners of Hell to ensure he never returned to Earth. This famous character tells Hellboy what was done and what has happened. It’s on Page 11 that something is given that may provide some of humanity the possibility of surviving this final battle for the world. I like how Hellboy delivers this information: it’s not questioned, it just is. That sums up exactly how the human members of the B.P.R.D. would receive this strangeness after all that they’ve seen. Pages 14 and 15 confirm something that’s been teased for quite a while. Three members of the team make a decision and walk to their destinies, while other supporting cast members are shown in different locales enduring what they believe will be end. Oh my God. It’s really going to happen. What do you do when the end is coming? You hope you’re strong enough, like these characters, to face it fighting. Wow. Overall grade: A+

The art: Laurence Campbell’s visuals continue to show the madness and the hope of the world that’s crumbling. The first page brilliantly sets the reader up for a shock by showing a drunk wandering a graveyard. The second panel shows one of the statues upon a grave: an angel weeping. What better foreshadowing could there be for this issue? The Ordru Hem that explodes from the ground in the last panel that tops Page 3 is not only monstrous, it’s grotesque. The panels that run across the bottoms of 2 and 3 show the gargantuan entities wrecking destruction worldwide. Seeing these creatures in silhouette is enough for a reader to recognize that they are death and that seeing them up close would do nothing to understand their threat or stop them — they just are. And they are destroyers of the world. Poor Portland! It always suffers in Dark Horse books! Hellboy’s visual response to what he sees on Pages 5 is outstanding: he’s done. Game over. Check please. There’s nothing that can be done. I like how all his allies are shown in silhouette in the final panel on the page, for if he can do nothing, what good are they? They’re nothing more than insignificant blots. The reveal on 6 had me cheering, though I knew this individual probably wouldn’t have anything to stop the terror, his presence at least calmed me. His four page tale is epic, with 8 containing little text — those images are budget busters in a film! The action on 10 was equally staggering. The final panel on 11 is fantastic: look at the statue, then look at Hellboy and his friend. Hope beyond death visualized perfectly. I love the first panel on 12 and what immediately follows it. The smile on 15 continued to give me a thread of hope to hold to as I continued to read. The silent look in panels two and three on 13 is brilliant. No words are needed, but they spoke volumes. The only thing missing from the final panel of the issue is music. These are brilliant visuals. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Dave Stewart uses his colors to increase the emotion of the artwork constantly. The opening page in Berlin is brown for the colors of a rainy night and the colors of an unkempt graveyard. Even the drunk is in drab colors. These colors leave the reader unsuspecting as to what will happen next, and yellows magnify the action that occurs. The greens in the top panel on Page 3 add to the spectacle. The oranges and reds of Japan and Oregon give life to their hellish fires. I like how all the screens in the B.P.R.D.’s ship makes the characters go black for the reader, as if the events are overshadowing the characters themselves. Hellboy’s once magnificently bold reds are now dulled, matching his mood and what’s happening around the world. The oranges are yellows on 8 are epic shocks that will jolt the reader. I love that green is used for a character’s dialogue balloons on 9 and are used for nightmarish expulsions on 10. I like the watercolor effect that ends 11, creating a sadness in the reader, but also a calming sensation. The reds that mark a character’s forehead now share the same coloring as Hellboy, signifying salvation. The reds that are used on the last two pages exemplify death has risen, but note how this color is not used for the last panel. Death, as shown in the colors, isn’t everywhere, yet. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: This issue’s text by Clem Robins includes dialogue, scene settings, yells, and transmissions. I like that the dialogue and scene settings are differed not only by the color and shape of the boxes and balloons that contain them, but the settings are slightly in italics. It’s a little thing, but I appreciate it. The yells are large, so the reader knows how to properly hear them. The sounds are few, but that’s not Robins’s decision. What sounds there are work. Overall grade: A

The final line: Each chapter of this series ratchets up the tension as the end looms closer. The story is fantastic and the visuals superb. I’m grateful for the insertion of hope in this issue, because without that, why bother? The apocalypse has never been so entertaining. 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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