B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death #1Posted: February 17, 2012
Comic book, 2012
Hail hail, James Harren, new B.P.R.D. king! While he lacks the balance of Guy Davis, this guy’s strengths are tremendous, and the writers know just how to cater to them. Namely, monsters. This guy’s monsters move, really move, on the page, with such velocity and force, and their appearance holds such subconscious-triggering terror, that it produces an almost physical response from your body- what you’re looking at is coming for you, and it’s bad. Your survival instinct looks up from the paper it’s been reading since the day you were born and spits out its tea. It’s not all gravy however. While Herren’s skills at depicting simple conversation have improved markedly since his The Devil Does Not Jest days, he still makes some baffling decisions when it comes to human gesture. And although he sometimes pushes the boundaries of cartoonish expression too far, there are still a hell of a lot of other brilliant subtle touches, from Johann’s fat body and chicken legs to the U.N. monitor’s face looking like a messy bowl of spagetti. But let’s not forget the backbone of why this series works, the writing. It’s all about Johann today. B.P.R.D. isn’t always about character. Sometimes it’s driven by large, planet threatening forces. But it’s in issues like this, where the character flaws of the agents are propelling the events, that I’m really enthralled. Here, Johann shits the bed. Big time. Knowing Johann as we do, having been shown his passions, his strengths and his flaws for years, we know what drove him to this. Why a baker’s dozen of human lives were sacrificed so he could make an almost blind stab at personal revenge. The level of remorse he’s shown to feel over this is going to be very telling toward just how corrupted his soul, which is all that remains of him, has become.
I’d also like to add something in here for the people who are reading these books in trade; you’re missing out. The “Kate’s in England” gag in this issue simply isn’t going to work when the DHP short they’re referencing is slammed up against the first issue of this series in the trade. I also remember Memnan Saa simultaneously debuting in B.P.R.D. and Lobster Johnson, in stories taking place a half a century apart. The monthly pamphlet schedule brings the timelines closer to your own, making it easier to feel involved in the stories.