In Review: B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #142

Modern horror in comics is led by the B.P.R.D.

The cover: Ashley Strode has moved underground to find the supernatural horror that’s been killing children in town. She holds a flashlight in one hand and a rosary in the other. The light has disturbed some moths that wish to escape its beam. If only she would look behind her she would see she’s found the children…or more like they’ve found her. Great creepy image from Duncan Fegredo and Dave Stewart. It’s a classic horror trope to have the creatures behind an unknowing hero, but it’s as fresh as the day when it’s done as well as this. Overall grade: A+

The story: In the last two issues, Agent Strode has located what she assumed was the supernatural source of child abductions. She dealt with a spirit and thought her job done until she went outside and heard “I hunger” from a nearby shed. That’s where this story from Mike Mignola, Cameron Stewart, and Chris Roberson start the final part of “The Exorcist.” Ashley goes to the shed and discovers it contains a well that hasn’t been used in some time. As she strains to see down, her flashlight goes out. Finding a lantern on the wall, she fetches it and lights it up. “Okay,” she says, “old school it is.” Making her way to the dry bottom she hears something going SCRNCH. Lifting her light she sees a gigantic red minotaur sitting atop a pile of bones, chewing on the head of most recent missing. What follows is a conversation between Ashley and the demon, whose name she knows. She gets the creature to reveal how he got himself into his current state and why he’s been feeding on the town’s children. The demon has need of her, naturally, and it’s for a surprising, yet smart, reason. Obviously Ashley is going to have to deal with this monster, but she doesn’t do so as even she expected. This moment on Page 16 could have larger implications for Ashley and could lead to her assisting the B.P.R.D. in the larger scheme of things, but that’s not to be in this issue. Instead this issue has her dealing with the monster, though it does have say something in the third to last panel that promises bigger things for the AWOL agent. A enjoyable, satisfying conclusion. Overall grade: A+

The art: Mike Norton can return anytime to the B.P.R.D. as far as I’m concerned. He’s able to capture reality and blend it seamlessly with the fantastic, and the demon she encounters is definitely fantastic. It’s interesting to see that there are no smooth lines in this book’s borders: every panel is a like a scrawl, giving the art a frantic feel or one of madness. Given where this book goes, that’s completely appropriate. When Ashley opens the door to the shed, Norton tilts the angle of the image, foreshadowing what she’ll soon encounter is askew. The fifth and sixth panels on the second page are very cinematic in how Norton shows the flashlight going out. This would be the point in a film where people start to get anxious, and the reader of this book will certainly feel this way. The demon is a very interesting creature. It’s first appearance is unexpected, but as it’s shown more often its head changes. This is a visual clue to the reader that the creature lies with its physical presentation, so it might also lie about other things. The flashback sequence nicely shows the demon was once revered and how it fell to its current state. In fact, a reader could get this backstory from the visuals without reading the text, though the text does give more details. The final panel on 14 is great, as this is the moment the monster has waited for and now that it’s finally happened he cannot keep the glee from his face. The action sequence is also well done, though I was more impressed with the simple way that Norton was able to communicate in pictures what occurs on Page 21’s fifth and sixth panel: I knew exactly what was going on before Ashley gave it words. Norton aces this book. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This story is set at night, underground. Nothing should be easily seen in this book. Thankfully, Dave Stewart is a pro and knows just what to do to light a scene. For example, on the first page the burning house is rightfully bright orange and yellow. Notice, though, that in the second panel as Ashley has turned away from the blaze, she’s only been given a slight darkening to show it’s the evening. I do like that the B.P.R.D. logo on her shirt gets a pale blue to have it stand out from the rest of her togs. Check out the nice glare from the flashlight that Stewart gives the device while it still works. The lantern has got a strong yellow and orange tinge when she carries it under the ground. The demon has got an absolute crimson skin, which has it dominate every scene when present. I also like that his dialogue balloons are colored yellow, further separating him from humanity. Also of mention is the nice streaking effect done in Ashley’s hair to make her quaff seem more layered. The cool blues that appear on the penultimate page fit the nature of the image perfectly. Stewart always brings his A-game. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, and a text are brought to life by Clem Robins. Whenever a character raises his or her voice the words are thickened and put in italics to show their emphasis. The MUNCHes and CRUNCHes that accompany the introduction of the demon give it a nicely nasty ring. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A terrific conclusion to a three part tale that shows that modern horror in comics is led by the B.P.R.D. Recommended. Overall grade: A+

To learn more about this book and other adventures of the B.P.R.D. go to

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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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