In Review: B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #14

This battle for the future of Earth lived up to the twenty-five years of hype. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Hellboy pulls back his right fist to hammer Rasputin who raises his arms as if about to cast some spell. Before the pair are the bones of several corpses and behind them is the massive figure of a Ogdru Hem, its tentacles barely coming into view below the title. The colors make this seem as if it’s happening in a subterranean locale, due to all the blacks. Hellboy is the eye catcher on this cover due to his bright reds, while the light blue hand and eyes of the villain make the mad Russian pop. This is great. But why wouldn’t it be when it’s by Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart? This image makes me extremely fearful of what’s going to happen in this issue. Overall grade: A+

The story: Three people, and a corpse, meet in France for the moment when “We shall have our chance.” In Fresno, California a preacher at a megachurch tells his massive audience that the end of the world is approaching. Elsewhere, the aliens that put an assassin on Earth decades ago to kill Hellboy realize they can’t stop what’s occurring. “Only Hellboy stands against the dragon,” one member of the crew states. The captain, adds, “He and his friends.” Mike Mignola and Scott Allie don’t pull any punches in New York with Liz, Hellboy, and Abe rushing the giant Rasputin. Liz turns into flying flame, but is easily deflected by the giant, never touching him. Next is Abe and then Hellboy joins the battle. While these titans battle, the surviving members of the B.P.R.D. are followed on their quest running through the caverns under the Big Apple. Unfortunately they encounter a monster as dangerous as Rasputin. Without spoiling, my heart broke on 7, the dialogue on 13 made my heart soar, only to have it break at the bottom of the page, I was gobsmacked by 17, and stunned by 18 and 19. The panel that crosses the bottom of 20 and 21 had my jaw drop, and 22 had me echoing the first speaker’s words. The final speaker’s words were chilling, for I don’t know what could possibly be left. A great climax, with next issue being the conclusion. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: A great collection of the known and the unimagined by artist Laurence Campbell. The book starts with what seems a normal room in a old mansion in France, though there is a skeleton sitting at the table, while a woman gazes into a glass ball that’s glowing crimson. The megachurch looks like anything one would see of such people on television today: stadium sized crowds with the speaker’s face on oversized screens behind him. The fourth page was a shock, returning to the aliens of the Hellboy universe. Where there are shown to be in the first panel on Page 5 made my heart race. This rapid beating didn’t let up for the rest of the issue with Liz dramatically racing at Rasputin, whose action against her is akin to the batting of an insect. The actions on 6 shook me, with that first panel on 7 only the opening visual salvo of this final battle. The second panel on 7, though small, is full of so much loss, and it’s solidified by the third panel. I was happy for the third panel on 8, because there is at least some response. The creature encountered at the bottom of the page compared to the one who challenges it is both hopeful and damning. The second panel on 9 is a classic Hellboy image and it’s the last that will ever look like this. I was happy to see the figure that starts 10, though this individual’s face is not shown. The anger in the third panel on 11 is awesome. I loved what’s shown on 12 and how it effects another on 13. The image at the bottom of 13 is heartbreaking; seeing this item without its master is horrible. The solid color on 15 tells the reader exactly what’s occurred to the person in the proceeding panel. The action on 17 is great, but I didn’t lose track of what was occurring in those two small panels. Foreshadowing what? I was stunned by 18 and 19. The reveal that crosses 20 and 21 is enough of a reveal to warrant a series of its own. The top panel on 21 made me realize that it really happened. I’m full of hope for the individual shown in the second panel on the last page and not surprised, but gladdened, by the individual that speaks with the survivor on that page. True, whenever this individual appears bad things happen, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I loved this. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Red is eminently important on the first page, being the color putting all others to shame. The faded screens of the megachurch show how man has become faded with his delusions about how the world is really run. The apocalypse is obvious by the overwhelming oranges on the aliens’ screens as they watch the Earth burn. These oranges return when Liz powers up. I like that colorist Dave Stewart has Rasputin in dark green, while New York has mutated into green as well, showing that the antagonist’s influence has taken over his surroundings. The yellow sound on Page 7 shot through my soul. The light blue utterance at the bottom of the page matched the inhumanity of its speaker. The oranges and reds on 12 and 13 are terrific. The panel colored entirely in crimson on 15 made me happy and sad: glad I didn’t witness the action and upset because I almost feel I should have. Oranges and reds return for 19 – 22 and dominate this setting from here on. However, the bottom of 20 and 21 have a very different set of colors to create an entirely different tone. And I like the change of eye colors on 21; very telling. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Clem Robins creates this issue’s dialogue, scene settings, yells, and sounds. Once the battle begins the dialogue ends and the characters are yelling at each due to their strength and size. The scene settings are in italics, easily notifying the reader of the change of locales. And the sounds are to die for — and some characters do. Every punch, hit, fall, and squeal is amazing. The creature encountered in the cave has a a wail that would do a shoggoth proud. I was happy to see that the sound on Page 7 repeated on 18; it was justice through sound effects. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Let me use a word I’ve often employed in reviewing the previous issues: WOW. This battle of gods for the future of Earth lived up to the twenty-five years of hype. I am saddened and upset, yet this is the ending that was always eluded to. Why wouldn’t it be like this? However, the word “No” has never held such promise. Highest possible recommendation. 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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