By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Tyler Crook, & Dave Stewart
The current flagship title of the Mignolaverse continues this month with part 3 in the Lake of Fire story arc. One term I’ve often used to describe the plot of this series is a slow burn; the story is interesting and different, there are consistently new developments, but the overall plot moves forward at a slow and deliberate pace. However, this makes even more sense from a character perspective, given that there are so many of them to deal with.
The current arc largely follows the young psychic, Fenix, as well as the finally-returned pyrokinetic, Liz Sherman. Admittedly, a lot of stuff happening around Fenix is territory that has recently been covered in the companion series, Abe Sapien; she is in the same location he recently departed from, but the story hasn’t changed much in this context. However, it is interesting to see some hints that her special abilities may be starting to fail her. Furthermore, the continuation of her back story provided another intriguing new development for this relatively new addition to the book. These little twists opens up some potentially interesting new ground to cover in her side of the story for future issues. The return of Liz Sherman was long anticipated and we finally see her becoming emotionally stronger again in B.P.R.D. #112. A lot of her return has simply dealt with her own personal issues regarding who she is and who she should be, but the revelation at the end of this issue was absolutely fantastic and seems to breathe some new life into the character. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi do manage to keep the overall plot moving forward in the background of this issue, if only briefly; the conversation between Johann and his Russian counterpart in the SSS hints at this in an intriguing and mysterious way.
Tyler Crook and Dave Stewart are staples in the B.P.R.D. art department. Crook’s illustrations epitomize the look of this series and there’s no sign of boredom or fatigue in issue #112. The visuals remain as crisp and sharp as ever, while the additional details littered throughout the backgrounds really enhance the story-telling. There are some big scenes in this issue that were portrayed with a dynamic precision that really brought the story to life, particularly the final pages featuring Liz. Dave Stewart is always at the top of his game in any book he works on, but the colors employed in the Mignolaverse books often contribute a much deeper appearance to the relatively cartoon-like illustrations typically featured that really brings each panel to life and further enhances the realism.
B.P.R.D. is still in the midst of Hell on Earth, but the current arc has slowed things down a bit. This isn’t necessarily bad, as Mignola and associates are very deliberate in their pacing and the enormous plot they have constructed. However, the moments of excitement felt relatively few and far between in issue #112. Admittedly, the story was still pushed forward, however minutely. The most exciting aspects of this latest installment were the hints at future developments scattered throughout. Despite any minor misgivings with the pace of this issue, the story remained interesting and the creative team has never found themselves off-track whenever indulging in story arcs focused on specific characters.