Exorcism is something we are all well aware of thanks to a popular movie from the 70s, but it isn’t all head spinning and pea soup vomit. Possession is a scary business, and someone who’s called in to administer or assist in an exorcism must be strong of will and heart. B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Exorcism #1 is about those kinds of people, those with the grit and determination to tangle with demons.
Written by Mike Mignola and Cameron Stewart with art from Stewart and Dave Stewart, Exorcism is very familiar territory for the team and you can feel their ease in telling the story. This issue works well as a jumping on point for those uninitiated with Hellboy or the B.P.R.D franchise. I feel confident about this because I’m not very well versed in those comics myself, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and never felt too lost or confused.
For one, Mignola and Stewart don’t spend time attempting a recap to get readers up to speed. It really isn’t necessary for the story they’re telling here. A few times characters will mention how the world’s been crazy lately and everything’s going to Hell, which is enough to let us know craziness has gone down without clogging the story up with unnecessary exposition. Exorcism benefits greatly from having a fairly new B.P.R.D. agent, Ashley Strode, as our lead. She’s quite relatable, particularly to new readers, because she seems as unsure of what’s happening around her as we are. But she’s also shown to be quite capable as important folks have put their faith in her.
Being the first of a two-parter the story takes a little ways to get you where you’re going, but it’s by no means boring. It begins with an exorcism in progress, quickly followed by another, and both will have grave consequences for the characters involved. Though, if you’re looking for a book in where people fight off demons in action-packed sequences, you’ll be disappointed. Exorcism is methodical is its unraveling, and this first issue is far more about preparation than execution. But I will say the setup does promise good payoff, we’ll just have to hope issue two delivers.
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews you’ll know the artist having a good grasp of the characters is very important to me. Cameron Stewart has a strong understanding of how to portray different, unique looking people and he populates his books with them. For instance, Ashley has these bright, wide eyes and a giant B.P.R.D. coat that almost engulfs her. She looks timid and unsure of herself, but her stature, the way she carries herself let’s you know she’s determined to get the job done. All this information can be gathered just by looking at her because Stewart’s so capable at translating those qualities through his artwork.
Dave Stewart is one of my favorite colorists, and when I saw his name on the cover I knew I’d be checking this book out. No stranger to the world of Hellboy or B.P.R.D., his ability to infect a mood and atmosphere on the page is perfect for these comics. When a woman in under the power of a demon the colors are leached from the scene, and later on when a demon makes an actual appearance everything takes on this red hue as if the heat of Hell itself was radiating on the page. These are subtle additions but they really enhance their scenes.
If you’ve been interested in checking out the B.P.R.D. titles I would suggest picking up Exorcism #1. It will give you a good sense of what the line has to offer without needing to study up on what’s been happening lately. The book looks really great, so even if come the end you weren’t wowed with the story their mapping out, you at a least got to enjoy some damn fine comic book art.