By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Tyler Crook, and Dave Stewart
In the latest B.P.R.D. arc, titled Lake of Fire, we have been following the young psychic, Fenix, as well as the return of everybody’s favorite pyrokinetic, Liz Sherman. Admittedly, issue #111 didn’t really move the story forward or add much to it. It was a fairly enjoyable read, as anything from the Mignolaverse is at least that, but it felt lacking compared to previous installments.
Other recent story arcs in this series have been quite quick-paced and action-packed. This may be part of the root of why Lake of Fire part 2 felt a little bland compared to the usual dose of awesome obtained from a B.P.R.D. book. However, Mike Mignola and John Arcudi are masters of the slow burn, so it’s not an entirely unexpected departure in pacing. Furthermore, this particular issue has taken on a tone that has recently been much more prevalent in the companion series, Abe Sapien: aside from all of the agents of the Bureau, there are regular people trying to find their way in this new apocalyptic world in which they are currently inhabiting. While getting some interesting insight into Fenix’s past through flashback sequences, we also see her navigating this new landscape of altered human interaction. Finally, Liz’s current predicament emphasizes the fact that people may need to discard their old moralities in order to have a chance at survival in the global chaos. There also appear to be some hints at future issues regarding Liz’s fire-manipulating abilities…
It’s nice to have Tyler Crook back on art duties for this book. His style is one which epitomizes the look readers of B.P.R.D. have become quite familiar with. Its blend of both cartoonish and realistic appearance for characters is one which often feels unique to the Hellboy universe, while the attention to background details also tends to enhance not only the overall quality of each panel, but also the reader immersion. Epitomizing the current visual aspect of the Mignolaverse, long-time series colorist Dave Stewart remains on board for the Lake of Fire story arc, and his work is as exemplary as usual. The relatively monochromatic tones used for each color help enhance the cartoon-like aspect of Crook’s work, while the subtle shadowing emphasizes the equally subtle realism and attention to detail. The fairly drab palette typically employed in this series not only conveys the grim tone apparent throughout the book, but somehow remains relatively vibrant and lifelike.
B.P.R.D. #111 may not break any new ground, and it may not even add too much to the overall story of this series. However, it remains an enjoyable read that serves to emphasize the psychological and social aspects inherent to Hell on Earth. It’s nice to see the character of Fenix fleshed-out a bit more, and it is wonderful to have Liz Sherman back in the fold. It is the brief glimpses of agent Howard, stalking the halls of the Bureau with his Hyperborean blade in tow, are really tantalizing! Many fans are really looking forward to seeing more of the ancient monster slayers last seen in the Abyss of Time arc, and it’s nice to get some tangible hints of this in current stories.