By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, James Harren & Dave Stewart
Well, folks…they’ve done it again! The Mignolaverse is as exciting as ever right now with a long string of mind-blowing new additions lately. This month, the flagship B.P.R.D. series is back with a vengeance as the fantastic Reign of the Black Flame arc draws to a close. This has been an astonishingly exciting story arc for this long-running series and the final issue was just as thrilling.
Mike Mignola and John Arcudi have been very generous to long-time readers lately regarding the amount of crazy action we’ve gotten in B.P.R.D… Hell on Earth really feels like the apocalypse as enormous and grotesque aberrations roam the landscape spreading destruction everywhere they go. The two teams of B.P.R.D. and S.S.S. agents finally link back-up in order to escape the chaos that recently ensued. The team dynamic is better than ever for this series, and this latest trend continues in issue #119. Everybody has the potential to be a fan-favorite, which is impressive to say the least, especially among such a large and diverse cast. Their fight through the decimated streets of New York was fast-paced, exciting, and just wonderfully executed.
The main conflict in this installment, of course, featured the end to the battle between Liz and the Black Flame, who both look amazing, by the way. Like previous issues, this part of the story felt bigger than almost anything we’ve seen in the past for Hell on Earth, but this was especially the case for B.P.R.D. #119. Liz’s new “super-hero tone” shines brightly, both literally and figuratively, and there are some absolutely wild moments throughout her encounter with the Black Flame. Her new level of power and control is quite a sight to behold and it will be very interesting to see just how far she goes in the future. Of course, the arc closes with a great moment between Liz and Johann before a quick swap to some familiar faces from the days of Hellboy, showing that they aren’t going anywhere just yet.
What more can we say about the artwork for this story arc? James Harren is probably the very best artist currently contributing to the Mignolaverse, but the visuals in B.P.R.D. #119 might even surpass those from previous installments. The sense of urgency as the team makes their way through the city, the wildly epic battle between Liz and the Flame, and even the more somber emotional tones of the fewer quiet moments are illustrated with absolute perfection. Every panel perfectly captures the feel for the associated scene. The visuals are very well-detailed but still fairly stylistic and unique. This issue just looks and feels very dynamic and has a perfect visual flow. As always, the monsters and other supernatural aspects in the book are very creative and interesting, with a unique overall appearance throughout. Once again, Dave Stewart is a phenomenon unto himself. The colors in this latest issue of B.P.R.D., like the illustrations, may even go beyond previous installments as they add a ton of life and enhanced realism to every panel. The battle scenes and wild creatures look particularly vibrant and powerful.
While it’s been said here many times before, B.P.R.D. is one of the most incredibly consistent and high quality books being published. The Reign of the Black Flame arc is another perfect addition to the ever-expanding Mignolaverse that this team should be very proud of.