Thursday, 5 March 2015

One For One: B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: New World #1 - Dark Horse Comics

Originally published in 2010 it is initially quite clear to see why “Dark Horse Comics” chose this particular book from its impressive “B.P.R.D.” library as a reprint under its “One For One” banner. Written by creator Mike Mignola and frequent collaborator John Arcudi “Hell On Earth: New World” immediately captures the full attention of the reader by having the sheriff investigating two seemingly unrelated missing persons mysteriously vanish himself just seconds after talking to one of the absent men’s worried daughters.

However this enticing intrigue is then superseded by the almost suffocating sense of suspicion, intrigue and distrust which permeates the relationships between the core members of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. For whilst former Cambridge professor Andrew Devon makes his dislike of Abe Sapien abundantly clear, other team members such as ancient Egyptian mummy Panya is far more sinisterly subtle about her strong misgivings concerning Johann Kraus. Fascinatingly current field director Kate Corrigan stands smack in the middle of all these uncertainties but soon starts to manifest her own about the fish man Sapien when she learns the Victorian scientist has lied to her and driven out alone to scrutinise some strange happenings in British Columbia.

The somewhat kooky artwork of Guy Davis is equally as captivating, despite the vast majority of his characters, both male and female, seemingly having nasally suffered some boxing injuries in their time. The American cartoonist’s drawings are clear, sharp and manage to contain plenty of movement despite the majority of the twenty two pages being conversational pieces. Dave Stewart’s colours are also nice, clean and bright, despite predominantly consisting of simple base and shade layers.

Unfortunately though, all is not quite as it seems with this magazine, and it sadly is not the “jumping on point” title for the exploits of the B.P.R.D. which the user-created comic book enthusiast encyclopaedia “Comic Vine” believes it is. True the first page does contain a detailed summary of each of the five members of the now United Nations marshalled fictional organisation… and this is a reissue of the first comic in the ‘new series’ named “B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth”.

But what is not clear, having ‘cunningly’ replaced the “1 of 5” wording on the original publication’s front cover with the “One For One” logo, is that this "Dark Horse Comics" periodical is only the opening instalment of a five-issue story arc. As a result it finishes with Abe Sapien facing down the barrel of an armed woodland game hunter during the middle of the night. Hardly a satisfactory conclusion to what by all accounts appears to be a one-off ‘title taster’… especially considering the current second-hand prices of B.P.R.D. related back-issues.
Story: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, and Artist: Guy Davis

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