Hell On Earth has been a long time coming, seeing it’s origin back in 2010. The Long Death launches the continuation of Mignola’s epic B.P.R.D. event for 2012, and ya’ll better watch out. Mignola has always been a master of suspense and thrills, but with this issue, he cranks the notch up to 11, setting the bar high for what’s to come for B.P.R.D this year. Mignola and Arcudi toss all conventions and tropes out the window and you can already tell that Hell On Earth will be delivering some game-changing blows to the B.P.R.D. crew. Read on for the skinny…
“A B.P.R.D. task force is assembled to solve a new series of disappearances in the deadly woods from New World. As the team works together to find the monster responsible, tensions arise over one another’s loyalties!”
This is a gore-filled issue to say the least, especially the introductory pages. The issue opens up with Johann being invaded by some parasitic beast that mutates him into an Eldritch Abomination, with multiple eyes and slimy tendons oozing out of his brand new containment suit. I won’t tell you how he gets out of this mess, but suffice it to say that artist, James Haaren, captures the grotesque perfectly, from page one on.
While the gore slows a little in the middle, it becomes ripe, once again, the issue reaches its closing point. The big bad monster rips into the team’s bitter cold Canadian outpost, and wreaks havoc on those poor soldiers. These final scenes are truly haunting, as the agents attempt to fight off the monster while Johann finds himself elsewhere, alone in the dark forest. For a first issue, the amount of action and bloody goodness is surprising, and it shows that the creative team is not taking this event lightly; they want to push B.P.R.D. members to their limits, and see just how much destruction they can handle without the Big Red holding their hands.
However, not all is gore and blood. In fact a bulk of the issue is dedicated to character development, which we’ve seen before, however it’s a bit different this time around. Mignola and Arcudi give Johann a sense of humanity, allowing the reader to form emotional ties. With Hellboy and Abe out of the picture (at least for now), Mignola had to make sure there were other characters to step in their place, characters we can empathize with, and thus far, all signs point to Johann.
In particular, the scene where Johann – in his scholarly and out of touch with humanity demeanor (like Dr. Manhattan) – discusses Agent Giarocco’s new baby sets up the rest of the book immaculately. His inability to comprehend the complexity of human life makes you feel for him, especially considering how many people give up their ghost in the blood bath at the end of the issue. Mignola and Arcudi do a hell of a job setting up Johann, and he’ll likely steal the hearts of many fans.
The Long Death #1 is filled with little tidbits and goodies for all B.P.R.D. fans, but it’s also not a bad entry point into the Mignola universe for the first time reader. Mignola has said that this will be a memorable year for everyone involved, and The Long Death proves just how serious he is. This This book is a display of everything that is great about B.P.R.D. and I can’t wait to see what else Dark Horse can do in the coming year.