Artist James Harren continues to shine in the final chapter of the latest B.P.R.D. arc as he flaunts awesome character designs and then guts them in violent, even more awesome fight scenes. It’s just a whole lot of awesome all around.
The story so far, nicely written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, follows ectoplasmic empath Johann Kraus and a small team of field agents as they try and put down the arc’s big bad boy: the were-panther Daimio. The previous issue saw Kraus fall short in his attempts to kill his nemesis, however an interesting twist draws from some foreshadowing from the last book that makes things interesting (and really, really violent.)
The aforementioned plot twist could have been done a little bit better. I don’t want to ruin it but, unless I missed something from even earlier editions of the series, the circumstance was pretty much laid out on the reader through a brief monologue; Kraus lays out short description that doesn’t serve the story very well, but sets the floor for the final showdown. However, at that point I didn’t really mind too much; Harren’s work is just so well done that I’m not sure if I was paying much attention to the story anyway. I just wanted to see more paranormal pugilist throw down, not to mention the grand finale of the arc.
And wow, it doesn’t disappoint. Not only is the art spot on, but the page composition, panels and flow of the pages just work very well. Harren does an excellent job moving the action between full-body panels and close-ups, and good mix that keeps things fast pace. The subtle ending does very well also; the writers use Kraus’ dry personality and matter-of-fact tone to end the book on a few short words that really leave you with an interesting ending. Some might find it a bit abrupt. I thought it was great.
Like many of the Hellboy titles, I think the character designs are where the art shines the brightest. I can’t stress enough just how cool the characters are. We get to see a lot more of the mysterious Windigo this issue, a character that is not just conceptually neat to write into comics, but is just so well done in this title. You’re not going to see me on any cryptozoology shows in History Channel hunting Windigo or anything anytime soon, but if I did, this is how I would envision it to look like.
I’ve been a huge fan of the art for this series for awhile, and this issue continues to perpetuate that for me. The writing didn’t do much for me in this issue but I’m still not sure if it was because it was lacking in any particular aspect, or if I was just too busy being blown away by Harren’s achievements. Either way, really solid story under a really solid title. ‘