By Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, Max Fiumara & Dave Stewart
Abe Sapien is what I like to refer to as the companion series to B.P.R.D. It consistently offers something different from the rest of the Hellboy universe, particularly in the overall tone. The latest installment features part two in the To the Last Man arc, which has Abe settling down for a time in a small town relatively unscathed by the events of Hell on Earth.
This series seems to be much more about how regular people have dealt with the aftermath of the previous events, and has also been quite introspective regarding the title character. In issue #10, Mike Mignola and Scott Allie tease us with more brief glimpses of Abe’s past that fans have been dying to gain more insight into. As always though, Mignola and company take a slow and steady approach to scripting which has always paid off in the past.
A majority of this latest installment returns the focus back to Abe’s interactions with regular people as he seems to be getting increasingly comfortable in his current surroundings. His candor may come back to bite him in the end, but for now this is a slightly different side to the protagonist than we’ve typically seen in the past. There are also increasingly more panels featuring the enigmatic Strobl as the series progresses, whose motivations and place in the story remain as mysterious as ever. There are some serious problems brewing in this little haven of a town though, and Mignola and Allie have really started building this aspect of the story up very well. There were some particularly suspenseful and creepy moments in issue #10.
Again, Max Fiumara is a personal favorite in the art department of the Mignolaverse. Somehow, he manages to up his game with each new issue he contributes to. The artwork by Fiumara and long-time colorist Dave Stewart in the latest installment of Abe Sapien has again outdone all expectations for the series. The character designs remain highly stylized and very well-suited to the overall tone of this book. Furthermore, the attention to detail is quite astonishing with highly realistic character details and excellent backgrounds that really make each panel feel full and complete. Some of the nastier critters in issue #10 are also very well-designed with quite an effectively creepy vibe.
The latest book in the story of Abe Spaien wasn’t a game-changer, nor was it packed with action, but that’s not what this series is about. This title has consistently shown a much more ‘human’ side to the Hellboy universe that offers an interesting alternative tone to that of many of the other books. Masters of the slow burn, there are still many questions which remain unanswered, but Mignola and company certainly understand how to maintain a deliberate pace that slowly peals back the layers of mystery, while still maintaining reader interest throughout.