Comic Picks By The Glick

B.P.R.D. vol. 14: King of Fear

November 20, 2010

Normal service has finally been resumed.

After a volume of short stories and a side story about the organization’s past, we finally get the next “proper” volume in the “B.P.R.D.” saga. Regrettably, it’s a little underwhelming. Picking up after the events of “The Black Goddess,” Abe, Liz, and co. decide to take the fight to the frog monsters by going back to where they first encountered their new partners, the subterranean race featured in the very first “B.P.R.D.” story “Hollow Earth.” Meanwhile, Kate and her German boyfriend take the Lobster Johnson-possessed Johann back to the place of his death to get their psychic back and recovering-living-mummy Panya makes ominous statements about Liz’s future with the organization.

It sounds like a great setup but then this volume succumbs to “James Bond Villain” syndrome halfway through the book. M.I.A. villain The Black Flame makes his reappearance and promptly sets about explaining how the world will end, Abe’s role in it, and how the group is powerless to stop things. That last part, coupled with Liz’s latest encounter with the now-dead Memnan Saa, made me realize that all this talk about the end of the world and our heroes’ inability to prevent it has become incredibly boring.

Then, in his afterword, co-writer Mike Mignola explains that we’re only through the “first” cycle of “B.P.R.D.” stories. How many more cycles are we going to have to go through before these people finally achieve some kind of meaningful victory in this war? There are still plenty of moments of great deadpan absurdity in this volume and Guy Davis’ art looks as good as ever. Mignola states that he and Arcudi know where they’re going from here on out, so I’m hoping that this volume is a momentary lapse and not a sign of decline in this great series. They’ve earned some credit with me for their past efforts, so I’ll be seeing if the “Hell on Earth” cycle re-energizes the series.

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