Comic Picks By The Glick

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth vol. 12 — Metamorphosis

January 22, 2016

Not only is this a volume all about the organization’s ectoplasmic medium Johann, it’s also the concluding chapter to the story of Pvt. Patrick Redding that was started in “Sledgehammer ‘44.”  Things start off on a down note as Johann finds himself to be at odds with the members of his current team after a mission for unspecified reasons.  We eventually find out that these reasons involve the death of a much-liked (by this writer at any rate) member of the B.P.R.D. team and the subsequent step Johann took with his corpse to ensure their mission was completed.  It leaves him feeling that he has lost touch with his humanity and a subsequent re-visit to the mission site to fix that has the side effect of making him realize how fragile he is against the monsters his organization fights against on a daily basis.  This leaves Johann to investigate the mystery of the Sledgehammer armor as the fight comes to the B.P.R.D.’s front door.

As you can see, this is meant to be a big turning point for Johann.  Shame it doesn’t come off that way.  Mignola and Arcudi bring up various plot points regarding the character to try and drive home the fact that he’s at a crossroads, but most of it feels like a bunch of huffing and puffing in order to get the character where he needs to be at the end of volume.  That’s not to say that their efforts don’t result in some good material.  The reasons Johann’s team has for not wanting to work with him anymore are disturbingly well-founded and the graveside scene between the medium and the dead member of the team manages the neat trick of being both affecting and creepy.  Yet even if there are interesting things in the story, it still feels like one where the creators had a very good idea of where they wanted to end up and not as much of one with how to get there.  Also, “Sledgehammer ‘44” is required reading if you want to get the most out of the latter half of this volume since it’s almost a direct continuation of the story that was told there.  “Metamorphosis” is a misfire, but one not without its merits -- including some great art from Peter Snejbjerg and Julian Totino Tedesco.

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