Archive for B.P.R.D.

My Pappy Said Son You Gonna Drive Me to Drinkin’ if You Don’t Stop Drivin’ that Hot Rod Lincoln

The Goon #40

Let us step back to those terrible days, long years ago, of Prohibition, when some drunkard with a goat fetish roused the ire of the temperance societies and got hooch banned in Lonely Town. While the Goon and Franky were just teenagers back then, they still knew how to earn a dishonest buck, and they set about brewing their own rotgut whiskey. Alas, their truck was too broken-down to outrun the cops and make their deliveries, so they upgraded their vehicle and were soon keeping Lonely Town awash in low-grade liquor. But they ran afoul of the other bootleggers in town, the Boyles — Rev. Papa Grits Boyle, the snake-handlin’, wizardin’ patriarch, Randal, the stitched-together hot-rodder, Moon Pie, the knife-wielding psycho, and Snakebite Verna, the rotten black-widow sister. There commences a moonshine war that culminates in Franky and Papa Grits accidentally summoning the Devil by dancing the Charleston. The Devil figures  they’re all awful sinners and demands a hot rod race to determine who will go to Hell.

But that’s not all! While Franky’s brewing up a particularly vile batch of firewater, a wild skunk-ape is attracted by the stench and drinks the whole vat dry! And then it mutates into a green-skinned, pop-eyed, snaggle-toothed monster hot rod! Can the Goon capture the hooch monkey? Or will it continue to terrorize the world?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So very, very many thumbs ups. A comic that nearly perfectly replicates both the hot-rodding hoodlums genre and the Kustom Kulture artwork of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth? This is drop-dead glorious stuff. Why aren’t you reading “The Goon” already? Do you hate glory!?

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – Exorcism #2

BPRD Agent Ashley Strode is visiting the spiritual plane with Father Ota Benga, a priest who has kept the demon Andras imprisoned within his soul for over a hundred years. They must engage in spiritual contact with the demon, drive it from the priest’s soul and into the waiting body of a goat. Does Ashley have a chance of vanquishing the demon and saving Ota’s life?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent story from Mike Mignola, excellent art from Cameron Stewart. A nice short two-issue series with plenty of pop, shocks, and horror. Go get it, you’ll like it.

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Bloody Hollywood

American Vampire #28

Vampires have attacked and gravely injured Henry Preston, and his wife, the American vampire Pearl Preston, wants two things — revenge and to make sure Henry is cured. Calvin Poole, another American vampire, comes to Hollywood to help his friends, and the two of them fight off an attack from rival European vamps who want to finish all three of them off. Cal convinces her to go to the local office of the Vassals of the Morning Star for help, and Agent Bixby tells them that there’s a secret coven of vampires in L.A., hiding out in the homes of Hollywood’s elite. Pearl agrees to help hunt them down, but she’ll have an unexpected partner — Agent Skinner Sweet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Action, great dialogue, Rafael Albuquerque’s art, and the return of Skinner Sweet? Come on, folks, if you’re not reading this yet, the first issue of a new storyarc is a great jumping-on point…

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – Exorcism #1

BPRD Agent Ashley Strode is on hand for an exorcism of a child in Indiana when everyone is surprised by the possessing demon speaking directly to her and telling her it will never let the child go free unless she sees to it that another demon trapped on Earth goes free. Additionally, if the demon is freed, the monsters and other horrors plaguing the world will be eliminated. The attending priest is furious at her for talking to the demon, but the Bureau thinks it might be worth it to send Agent Strode to Mexico to meet with Father Ota Benga, a priest that the demon had mentioned as “the keeper of the cage.” What Ashley finds is a 154-year-old African priest whose faith and willpower was so strong he willingly accepted possession by a demon over 100 years ago to save an innocent victim. Ota Benga himself is the demon’s prison, and that’s what’s allowed him to live so long. Can the demon be destroyed before Benga dies?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent story — scary and dramatic and funny. And combined with Cameron Stewart’s wonderful artwork, this is definitely something worth reading.

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Ghost to Ghost

Dark Horse Presents #13

This month’s highlights include Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto rebooting Ghost for the era of paranormal reality TV; Carla Speed McNeil’s always-amazing “Finder: Third World”; John Layman and Sam Kieth looking at android psychology in the ongoing battle against xenomorph aliens; John Arcudi and Jonathon Case’s deformed detective in “The Creep”; Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten sending the heroes of “Criminal Macabre” up against a horde of werewolves; and much, much more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun stuff this time, particularly “Finder,” “The Creep,” and “Aliens.” The “Ghost” reboot was interesting, at least for a first chapter. There were a few stinkers in this issue, too, but on the whole, it’s still worth reading.

Alabaster: Wolves #3

Dancy Flammarion has a new benefactor — the ghost of the werewolf girl she killed in the first issue! She drags her out of the burning church and helps nurse her back to health, but Dancy doesn’t trust her. She demands answers to her questions about her former guardian angel, and Dancy tells her about the time the angel guided her to a werepanther she had to kill, and about the panther’s cruel owner.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good, creepy fun. Moody, good dialogue, excellent characterization. I loved this all the way through.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Devil’s Engine #2

Estranged BPRD agent Andrew Devon, flighty precognitive Fenix, and Bruiser, Fenix’s dog, are out walking along a deserted highway, the lone survivors of the colossal train crash that stranded them out in the desert. They finally locate a semi truck they can use for transport — only to discover there’s half a dead body inside. And then they get attacked by giant monsters. They manage to flee, but there’s not enough gas to get them far. Is there any hope for them? Meanwhile, the Nazi bastards running Zinco are working hard to get their old diabolical, world-ending tricks going again.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent apocalyptic action. Outstanding monsters and tension. Just an all-around great comic. It’s amazing how good nearly all of the BPRD comics have been for the last few years.

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Gang of Freaks

Dial H #2

Nelson Jent is busy experimenting with the phone booth that turns him into different bizarre superheroes. The Human Virus, the Shamanticore, Pelican Army, Hole Punch, Double Bluff, Rancid Ninja, Skeet — but he always has to turn back into overweight schlub Nelson Jent, and Nelson Jent feels utterly powerless to protect his friend Darren, still stuck in the hospital. He raids one of the criminal syndicate’s targets after turning himself into the digital superhero Control-Alt-Delete, but gets ambushed by the meta who hurt him in the previous issue — he has trouble remembering which powers he possesses with each new body. Meanwhile, the syndicate’s boss, Ex Nihilo, plans to release his own Big Bad, never realizing until too late that his supposed minion was far smarter and more powerful than he was. Will Nelson’s newest persona, the Iron Snail, stand a chance against the deadly Squid?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So very, very strange characters — and vast numbers of them, too, which makes it even more fun. Seriously, the great pleasure in this is how spectacularly surreal it all is. I need more comics like this in my life.

Morning Glories #19

Well, shallow, cynical Zoe is really an enthusiastic murderer, specializing in stabbing seemingly random classmates to death. But nerdy Hunter saw her last killing, so now he’s on the target list, and we get treated to Hunter running for his life, while flashing back on his own mother’s slow death from cancer. So what’s going to be the twist on Zoe’s murder spree? Or will there be one at all?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Harrowing stuff — like a combination of the tensest parts of a slasher movie and the weirdest parts of a conspiracy thriller. Man, would I like to see some answers sometime soon, ya know?

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Transformation of J.H. O’Donnell

J.H. O’Donnell has been a background character in the BPRD books for a while — a brain-fried occult specialist who’s probably a bit crazier than anyone working for the organization should be. How’d he get that way? We get a flashback to O’Donnell’s trip to catalog the library of a recently-deceased necromancer in 1987. He had Hellboy along for protection, but once he finds the secret entrance to the necromancer’s real library, he finds himself being followed by the greatest occultists in history — all of them dead, all of them very dangerous. And he can’t even count on much help from Hellboy, who has to battle a bull-headed demon in the sub-basement. And once the occultists show O’Donnell their secret faces and whisper their secret spells in his ears, it’s pretty much all over for him…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderfully creepy and weird, with outstandingly moody art from Max Fiumara and colors by Dave Stewart. This is just a one-shot, but it’s the perfect kind of eerie horror that Mike Mignola does so well.

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Space Bunnies

Saucer Country #3

Michael Alvarado, ex-husband of New Mexico governor and Democratic presidential candidate Arcadia Alvarado, has gone to see his not-entirely-ethical hypnotherapist, who is helping him relive his last abduction experience. Michael’s terrified subconscious insists on seeing the aliens as giant bunnies — but before he gets too far into his account, the governor’s bodyguard bursts in, knocks Michael around, and hauls him out. Meanwhile, disgraced professor Joshua Kidd meets Harry Brooks, the governor’s chief of staff, and Chloe Saunders, the Republican consultant working for the Alvarado campaign, immediately proves his bona fides on the question of alien abductions and gets a lot of his suspicions confirmed when he meets the governor herself. And the shady hypnotherapist breaks a few patient confidentiality agreements by calling up a Limbaughesque conspiracy-minded talk radio host to spill the beans on the Alvarados’ experiences. And Michael is about to get one more abduction experience, too…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Holy zippers, I’m loving this series so much. It’s fun for me, as a former New Mexican, to watch the setting details from the Land of Enchantment flash by, and we’re about to get even more fun background on UFO abductee culture. The art is fun, and there are just trainloads of excellent weirdness getting dropped into our laps. Are you reading this? You need to be reading this. Go read this now.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Devil’s Engine #1

Andrew Devon, estranged agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, is traveling with Fenix, a girl who might be psychic and might just be crazy. They’re getting ready to board a train that will take them to the BPRD’s headquarters when Fenix gets one of her feelings and decides they shouldn’t ride the train after all. Unfortunately, her dog is already packed into cargo, and she won’t go anywhere without him. Elsewhere, the diabolical Nazi-loving Zinco corporation is up to its old tricks — including hanging out with Nazis who should’ve died decades ago. And Fenix’s premonitions about the train continue as the trip goes from bad to worse.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see Fenix again. Not so nice to see Andrew Devon, who’s still a jerk. The developing mood of doom is very well-done, too — we don’t get anything quite as horrific as the cover suggests, but it’s still looking to be a hard road forward for our heroes.

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Western Wickedness

All Star Western #8

While Nighthawk and Cinnamon tear up New Orleans looking for the anti-immigrant terrorist group called the August 7, Jonah Hex goes deep-cover inside a fighting ring where he has to battle the deadly fighter Z.C. Branke. But Z.C. likes a man who can give her a good fight, and they end up spending the night together. And Dr. Amadeus Arkham, meanwhile, spends his evening getting buzzed out of his skull in an opium den and then arrested by the local police. Too bad Arkham decided to blab about Hex’s real allegiance to exactly the wrong cop. And in the backup story, we learn about Cinnamon’s hard life as an orphan, how she grew to become one of the West’s most dangerous bounty hunters, and how she and Nighthawk escaped from a collapsed mine.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Plenty of action, humor, drama, and some nice character moments. I sure hope this’ll finally allow us to be rid of Dr. Arkham as a character — there’s just no reason at all why Hex would let him keep tagging along.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Pickens County Horror #2

Agent Vaughn is stuck inside a mountain cabin. His host is an eccentric professor researching the local vampires. His partner, Agent Peters, is cooped up in the bedroom recovering from her injuries. And outside is a log of ugly green fog, a lot of messed-up vampires, and a lot of ominous mushrooms. Who will survive, and what will be left of them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Truly outstanding creepy, claustrophobic horror. Go get the whole thing, it’s just two issues.

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City of Owls

Batman #8

The Court of Owls has sent out hordes of Talon agents — combat-trained assassins who can revive themselves as long as their blood isn’t too cold. A bunch of them attack Bruce Wayne in Wayne Manor, but he and Alfred manage to fight most of them off. Unfortunately, they’re also targeting almost 40 public officials throughout Gotham City. So Batman mobilizes the rest of the Bat-family — Damian Wayne, Nightwing, Red Robin, Batgirl, the Birds of Prey, and — ugh — the Red Hood — to help out in the crisis.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But not a real enthusiastic one. The action is excellent, and the rest of the plot is fine. But it’s still just an introductory issue for the upcoming “Night of the Owls” crossover.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Long Death #3

Johann Kraus failed in his attempt to kill Ben Daimio when he lost the magic knife that was supposed to do that job. Daimio actually has the knife and tries to commit suicide with it, but can’t follow through. He seeks out the wendigo — a good man trapped in the body of a supernatural killing machine — but can there be a winner in a battle between two seemingly immortal monsters?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent work all around — action, drama, and horror, with great art and writing. And the loss of one long-time character is handled pretty well.

The Defenders #5

The Atlanteans have discovered a giant door containing an image of the miraculous machine that the Defenders have obtained. Namor, Dr. Strange, Red She-Hulk, and the Silver Surfer investigate, and after the Surfer blows the door open, they discover a dead, armored giant with a huge, antique submarine rammed through his chest — and they’re attacked by squid-faced women who’ve been imprisoned in the tomb for hundreds of years. After they run the squid-women off, they investigate the submarine — and discover that it’s the Nautilus. And that Captain Nemo may have been Namor’s father…

Verdict: Thumbs down. It’s not just that this is a dull, confusing story, with weak action, mediocre dialog, and sketchy art. It’s that I suspect Matt Fraction is trying for all he’s worth to write a Grant Morrison story. And he just don’t have the chops. Honestly, I think I’m done with this title. I ain’t made o’ money…

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I bet some of y’all are fans of “PhD Comics,” right? Well, they’ve got a live-action movie, believe it or not…
  • Former Lubbockite Micah Ian Wright wants to get back into comics after he blew it all with a fake biography.
  • Speaking of Lubbock cartoonists, here are some Lubbockites making a webcomic about… knitting? Yeah, a bit off-the-beaten-path, but it’s still pretty good.
  • iZombie writer Chris Roberson has had enough of DC’s shenanigans.
  • John Scalzi discovers there’s something on the wing of the plane — and that there’s a serious iPad artist out there making monsters.

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The Horror in the Hills

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Pickens County Horror #1

Here’s the beginning of a new two-issue miniseries. It’s set in a small rural county in South Carolina, during the ongoing slow destruction of the BPRD world. We start out with a small family of country vampires who discover something unexpected and terrifying out in the woods. Jump forward to a few days later, and two BPRD agents, Vaughn and Peters, arrive in Pickens County to investigate reports of a strange fog — they’re not really expecting to find anything at all, but a combination of green fog, mysterious mushrooms, figures in the dark, and a creepy academic obsessed with vampires puts both of them in serious danger.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’ll be honest — almost anything titled “The Pickens County Horror” would probably get a thumbs-up from me, because it’s such a perfect horror-story title. At any rate, I got a lot of joy from the story itself — mostly mood and creepiness for now, but I’m very interested in how Mike Mignola and Scott Allie are going to combine vampires, mutant mushrooms, and apocalyptic horror.

American Vampire #25

Travis Kidd is a ’50s vampire-hunting hoodlum, facing Skinner Sweet, the original American vampire — and Sweet’s powers aren’t being negated by the new moon anymore. Does Travis have any chance to survive? Can he prevail against the vastly more powerful Skinner? Why does he have such a mad-on for Skinner anyway? Does Agent Hobbes have any part to play in all of this? And what’s Pearl Preston been up to lately?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yeah, I left all the spoilers out, ’cause this one’s darn good and has a bunch of really fun stuff buried in there. If you aren’t reading this comic… well, I really don’t know what’s the matter with you. It’s just about the best horror comic on the stands right now.

Morning Glories #17

The majority of this issue focuses on Jade and Ike, stuck sitting in a magical cavern under the academy, waiting to see if Casey and Ms. Hodge are ever going to vanish like they said they would. In fact, our spotlight character is definitely Jade, as we get plenty of flashbacks to her past. For the most part, Ike needles her, Jade reacts, sometimes furiously, sometimes sadly. It’s a very dialogue-heavy issue, as Jade and Ike discuss Casey’s trustworthiness, Jade’s suicidal tendencies, religion and atheism, and what the Morning Glory Academy may really be all about.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Like I said, an issue very heavy on dialogue — and luckily, it’s very strong, entertaining, snappy dialogue that’s fun to read, whether Ike and Jade are insulting each other or talking philosophy. The snapshots of Jade’s past are also very good. This storyarc is supposed to finish up next issue, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.

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Dysfunctional Family Circus

The Goon #38

Eric Powell takes a break from the usual mad shenanigans to give us a look at the life of Kizzie, the Goon’s aunt, a circus strongwoman who raised him from infancy. We follow her from childhood, contending with the jeers of her schoolmates and the thuggishness of her brother Rooney, as she grows up to be a young woman, unusually strong from working on the family farm. She breaks her engagement with her fiancee because she unwisely falls for a conceited trapeze artist. Despite getting a job as the strongwoman, things don’t go well for Kizzie — she has an abortion, her beau dies, she quits to get a factory job, and Rooney makes a return to foist off his unwanted child on her. Something familiar about this little tyke…

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one is just plain glorious. All I can think to say about it — just plain glorious. Why ain’t more of you guys reading “The Goon”?

Batman #7

If you thought we were going to get a break from the Court of Owls, you were way, way wrong. Batman gets his heart restarted by some random fangirl with a car battery and jumper cables — something that seems medically unsound — and makes his way back to the Batcave, where he learns that Alfred has already acquired the body of the Talon, the assassin who’d almost killed him. After an autopsy, Bruce reveals to Dick Grayson that the Talon’s body was infused with electrum, which allowed the Court to resurrect him with electricity any time he was killed. And he also learns that the Talon was Dick Grayson’s great-grandfather, and that Dick was initially chosen to be a Talon, too, before he was orphaned. And the Court is hardly down for the count — they plan to wage war on all of Gotham City.

Verdict: Ehh, I really don’t know. It all seems fine, well-written, you name it. I’m just not so fond of the way the Court of Owls is turning into a way to rewrite Bat-continuity willy-nilly.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Long Death #2

Johann Kraus has let his obsession with capturing or killing Ben Daimio get away from him. While he was stalking Daimio for destroying Johann’s old temporary body while he’d transformed into a jaguar demon, Daimio ends up killing almost an entire BPRD squad. He leads a small squad back into the wilderness, and they meet up with a wendigo, which uncharacteristically does not attack them. When the squad comes across the bloody remains of a family slaughtered while camping, Johann is able to possess one of the more intact corpses to take the battle to Daimio, with the aid of a magic dagger.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bloody character study of two people who have slid a long way down the scale from their best moments. Excellent suspense, very nice creepiness, and outstanding art, too.

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The Owls in the Ruins

Batman #6

So it’s Batman vs. the Talon, the elite assassin of the Court of Owls. Fair fight? Probably not when Batman has spent the last several weeks, starving, weakening, going crazy, then getting stabbed through the stomach and beat like a rented mule. Can the Dark Knight survive and escape?

Verdict: I dunno. It’s written great, the art is fine, it’s dramatic, there’s lots of action and suspense and freaky stuff. But I really couldn’t get past the fact that Batman shoulda been dead by Page 5. I like Batman better when there’s an actual human underneath the cowl, not an indestructible behemoth. I wish DC would just go ahead and declare that he’s a metahuman and get it over with.

The Amazing Spider-Man #679.1

Horizon Labs is stuffed full of people doing awesome mad science. In fact, there are seven main labs. One of them is run by Peter Parker. One is run by this weird kid named Uatu Jackson. And no one knows who’s in Lab 6. At least until the day Uatu and Peter discover that the guy in Lab 6 is Michael Morbius — better known as Morbius the Living Vampire! Oh no, and he’s just gone bloodlust crazy! Will Spidey be able to stop him by himself? Or will he need help from Uatu’s mad-science monster-fighting gear?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action and dialogue and just the right amount of silliness.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Long Death #1

It’s a normal day in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense — until ghostly agent Johann Kraus suddenly finds his containment suit taken over by a terrifying monster! And then Johann wakes up — it was just a dream… but as a spirit, Johann isn’t able to sleep. Has his fancy new containment suit given him the ability to sleep and dream again? Before that question can be answered, Johann has to lead a BPRD team into British Columbia near where Abe Sapien investigated a series of disappearances not too long ago. However, Johann has his own agenda, and he leaves the team on their own so he can look for the missing Ben Daimio. And that leaves the team almost defenseless when they’re attacked by a monster. Will anyone make it out alive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Johann’s dream is as horrific as all git-out. The rest of the story is a lot more mellow, even including the attack by the jaguar demon. Excellent action and horror — yet another great story that makes you wish you could kick Johann Kraus’ insubstantial butt.

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #12

The final issue! Not a whole lot of actual plot going on in this one — just a review of the current sorry state of the planet — wrecked by giant monsters with humankind reduced to near-savagery — along with a meditation on our species’ ability to persist in the face of certain doom and thrive.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very nice ending — we get to check in one final time with the series’ recurring characters and we get some hope for mankind’s survival. It’s been a great run — glad I got to read it all.

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