So if you’re looking for an example of how NOT to do a volume-ending cliffhanger, look no further than this. At the end, we’re told that a major character is on life support, but with no brain activity leading to the final words, “He’s gone.” While it may be upsetting for the characters, anyone reading this will be expecting the individual in question to eventually recover. If not in the next volume, then maybe sometime further down the road. You’d think that seasoned vets like Mike Mignola and John Arcudi would realize this, and to be fair maybe this particular turn of events will take on a new meaning in the next volume. Still, I’ll be looking forward to the next volume, “Russia,” based on the quality of work here rather than the cheap trick on the last page.
Despite the ending, this is still another solid volume of “B.P.R.D.” as the organization continues to navigate the treacherous post-cataclysm world that has been thrust upon them. Two mini-series are collected here with the first, “Gods,” focusing on a pre-cognitive homeless girl and the following that springs up around her. The decaying relationship between Abe Sapien and Agent Devon also gets a spotlight as well (more on that later). It’s a good story, striking a nice balance between character and weird violence but it’s mainly notable for being the last full one that’ll be illustrated by Guy Davis. Davis has been the regular artist for this “series of mini-series” since the beginning and his loose, sketchy style has been perfectly suited to drawing all of the unearthly monstrosities and strange allies that the B.P.R.D. has encountered over the years. He will be missed, but the main reason the man is leaving is so that he can focus on his creator-owned “Marquis” series instead, and trust me -- that’s a good thing.
With Davis’ departure, newcomer Tyler Crook has been tapped to take his place. “Monsters” is his first arc and it shows us what Liz Sherman has been up to since her disappearance at the end of the “King of Fear” mini-series. As it turns out, she’s been holed up in a trailer park inwardly moping about her life’s current lack of purpose while outwardly beating down any of the trash who gives her lip. Fortunately the moping doesn’t last long once she finds out that the majority of the park’s residents are part of a cult and has to rely on her training in order to make it out of there alive. The story picks up immensely whenever Liz is on the page and taking charge, which is most of the time (thankfully), and Crook acquits himself well as an artist here. Looking at his style, it appears that the main reason he was chosen was for reasons of “artistic consistency” as he has some of the same looseness that Davis had, though his pencils are much tighter. Crook isn’t really called upon to draw any really crazy stuff here so I’ll be interested in seeing what he’s really capable of in the next arc.
Even with all this, the thing about “Gods and Monsters” that sticks in my mind is the conflict between Abe and Devon. On the surface, it seems like a giant red herring because who could really believe that Abe of all people would turn on the B.P.R.D. and all of humanity to be king of the new world order. Then when I started to think about it, an intriguing possibility presented itself. What if Devon is right?
In “Hellboy,” the title character has always struggled with his destiny to be the “Beast of the Apocalypse,” and has fought it in just about every way he can. Repeating that struggle over here in its sister title strikes me as being just a little bit redundant. However, if they’re going to show the flip side of that struggle -- and events in this volume would appear to push Abe in that direction -- then that seems like a much more interesting path. Having one of their best go over to the dark side and then being forced to stop him, now that’s a “B.P.R.D.” story that I’d like to read. It gets even better when you consider how Hellboy’s return to the organization has been teased for quite some time now. Calling in Abe’s oldest and best friend to put him down, it gets downright biblical when you think about it.
Good volume overall, with some electrifying potential. In my mind at least.