Issue: BPRD: King of Fear #1
Release Date: January 6, 2010
Writer(s): Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Artist(s): Guy Davis
Cover(s): Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Clem Robins
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
The frog creatures that first showed up back in 1993 are back again, only this time it’s the end one way or another. King of Fear will wrap up the Scorched Earth trilogy and is supposed to be the actual, real, no-joking-around end of the “Frog War” storyline.
This issue sets up two different paths in the story: Liz and Abe on one path, and Kate, Lobster Johnson, and Bruno on the other. First up is Liz and Abe in a meeting where the BPRD are being told that the Armed Forces of the US are no longer backing them up on anything. If they want to take care of some supernatural funny business, they are on their own. Which seems to be the way Liz would prefer it. Being a fire goddess and all, I’ve no doubt that she can handle herself, but she seems a little reckless and quick to put the rest of the BPRD under fire.
The other thread of the story has Kate and Bruno traveling in Austria in an attempt to get Lobster Johnson’s ghost to move on now that Memnan Saa is dead (Johnson wanted revenge on Saa, so his spirit hijacked Johann’s ectoplasm in order to manifest itself). Kate’s hoping that getting Johnson’s spirit back to his body will allow it to leave and return Johann back to the BPRD. Bruno wonders if Johann will disappear when Johnson does, but Kate refuses to entertain the idea of losing another team member. It’s a valid question, though, since both do disappear when they all get to the place where Roger and Hellboy buried Johnson’s dead body.
What I like here is that this series is heavy on the strange and unusual supernatural-type subject matter. It’s not “heavy” on it; that’s what it is. I also like that there’s a government agency that handles those types of things around the world like it’s as normal and everyday as going to the store to buy a jug of milk. However, if you’re not up-to-date on the entire Hellboy/BPRD story, or all you know is what happened in the movies, just jumping in at this issue will be confusing. Most of these characters have been around for a very long time, and the history in the comic is very extensive.
Don’t let that scare you away. If there’s one comic title I think is worth going diving into, it would be this one. The writing is inventive, entertaining, and very well thought-out. While the Frog War story wrap up may have been a long time coming, I don’t think it will be unsatisfying for new and old readers alike.
The art looks great. Davis has a distinctive style of line work that suits the Hellboy universe well. Coupled with Stewart’s color work, the art gives this issue a look that the title deserves and needs. I think anything more “mainstream” in style would detract from what makes this title work.
For a first issue leading into a series of plotline/storyline conclusions, this hits all the right buttons with me. I’m very eager to see where Liz’s story goes because she’s kinda looking somewhere between crazy and worn out.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars