Feature: Abe Sapien Alone Annotations 

Hell Notes: Abe Sapien Alone

By | July 11th, 2016
Posted in Annotations | 4 Comments

Hell Notes Logo

Welcome to Hell Notes, Multiversity Comics’ annotation column for the Hellboy Universe. Back in January 2015 I kicked off a three-part Abe Sapien piece. Given that “Abe Sapien Dark and Terrible” is about to come to an end next month, now seems like a good time to wrap that up. If you missed the previous parts, here’s Part One: Langdon Everett Caul and here’s Part Two: Abe Sapien, B.P.R.D. Agent.

Spoilers ahead for “Abe Sapien”, “B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth”, “Hellboy in Hell” and many other series as well. Hopefully you’re up to date. Also note, this is not a recap of the “Abe Sapien” ongoing series. This Hell Notes is focused on the character Abe Sapien and his journey of self-discovering in the ongoing series.

Also, check back at Multiversity Comics later today. We have an exclusive preview of “Abe Sapien” #35.


In the last part of this Abe Sapien–themed Hell Notes we ended things with Abe Sapien meeting the sixteen-year-old psychic Fenix Espejo. The encounter left Abe badly wounded. Though he’d been wearing body armor, he’d taken bullets to the mouth and throat, and he was airlifted back to B.P.R.D. headquarters in critical condition. Shortly after he became brain dead. Johann tried to commune with him and found Abe’s spirit unresponsive and feeling trapped, something Johann had only seen in people just prior to their death.

The a miracle occurred: Abe’s brain function returned—but along with it his body began to change. Abe remained unconscious for a little over four months and in that time the world radically changed. He awoke during the week of catastrophic events following the return of the Black Flame1.

This must’ve been a hell of a shock to Abe. I mean, when he was shot, he thought things were already bad—there was an Ogdru Hem sitting around in the Salton Sea, a volcano had erupted in Houston, and monsters were spreading across the southern states—but when he woke up, everything was so much worse.

Ogrdu Hem were now roaming over practically every country on Earth, the Salton Sea monster had begun laying eggs, and all manner of new monsters were appearing all over the place.

Interestingly, Panya seemed to know when Abe would wake up. She had cut all the video feeds in advance and she made sure she was the only one there when Abe emerged from his tank. She fed Abe everything he needed to know to make him leave the B.P.R.D.: he’d been shot by psychic, Devon had gone from suspicious about Abe to absolutely convinced he was connected to the frog monsters and the end of the world, and the Bureau would not stop until it got answers. She preyed on Abe’s worst fears and used them against him.

Panya’s always been portrayed as an ambiguously mischievous character. We’ve never quite known where she stands. Sometimes she’s helpful, other times not. She likes to rile up Johann, and she’s been shown to be somewhat creepy while training Fenix. But lately we’ve learned a little bit more about her, and it puts a new spin on the way she got rid of Abe. We now know that Panya knows what’s to come. Not only does she know, she also knows she can’t change it—and she accepts that. That’s a big deal. So many of the antagonists in the Hellboy Universe see the future and try to guide it and sway it to their advantage. Panya’s acceptance of what is to come may perhaps explain her seemingly flippant attitude. She sees the futility in what others do, and is reluctant to expend her energies fighting a losing battle.

Panya knows Abe isn’t going to find his path at the Bureau. Everything Panya told him was to speed him on his way, to get him on his own, to get him closer to the truth. Whether or not you approve of her methods, you have to admit, she gets the job done.

Panya certainly knows more than she's letting on

Panya’s words did the trick and Abe fled the B.P.R.D. determined to prove he wasn’t what the Bureau seemed to think he was. At this point he was just running away aimlessly. The world had changed so much, he didn’t have any idea where he should be running to. He tried to piece together what he could, listening in on conversations while keeping himself hidden. Apparently the Salton Sea monster had started moving, laying eggs as it went, making its way toward San Diego.

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Back in his earliest days at the Bureau, Abe had worn a hat and jacket to conceal his body. Over time, he gradually shed this outfit, so to see Abe dressed that way again, lurking in the shadows like a hunted animal is pretty heartbreaking. But if Andrew Devon, a fellow B.P.R.D. agent that had worked with Abe for years, could turn against Abe, he could hardly expect the world at large to be hospitable.

Yet Abe did find hospitality. He was welcomed into a church in the small town of Grayrock, Colorado. The town had seen hardship—it had been narrowly missed by a horde of hammerheads, cut off from supplies, and many of the townsfolk had mutated. They had no obvious reason to welcome Abe.

Things started to make a little more sense the next morning when Father Henry, the local priest, gave his daily sermon, praising the changes the town and its people had undergone. Father Henry even went on to declare Abe was an angel sent by the gods. This must’ve been a regular occurrence, steadily getting more frequent and intense, and the the townspeople had had enough. So they decided the best solution was to lynch the father and his ‘angel’.

A strange thing happened as Father Henry struggled against the rope—he spoke, saying words Abe had heard before: ‘Do you hear? Sunken bells are tolling for thee. Out of the caverns of Num-Yabisc, dark and terrible deep, the ocean is calling her children home.’ These were the same words said to Abe by the decapitated head of Father Nicholas Budenz in “Hellboy: Wake the Devil”, and repeated in Abe’s dreams throughout “B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs”.

After his little speech Father Henry turned into an Ogdru Hem called Ghennu-Hem and started smashing up Grayrock. Abe was able to keep Ghennu-Hem under control (relatively speaking), which is pretty damn impressive. Normally choosing to fight an Ogdru Hem would be suicide, even one in the early stages of development like this one, but Abe’s new form was tough as hell. And Abe didn’t even go into the fight armed. He resists using a rifle and instead fights with his bare hands. Abe’s always been a good fighter (check out “Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest” if you don’t believe me), but his strength has always been roughly human. In this new body, he’s able to pick up a massive chunk of stone and concrete and hurl it through the air.

He also seems slightly more durable too, but that’s hard to gauge since Abe has always been able to take a beating. But you know who isn’t more durable? Agent Joseph Vaughn.

Abe and Vaughn were hardly best friends, but the two had worked together off and on since the 1980s, so there was some camaraderie between them. Though Abe didn’t know it, Vaughn was one of the few agents at the B.P.R.D. that didn’t think he was connected to the the frog monsters. At the very least, he thought the matter needed much closer scrutiny instead of leaping to conclusions because of something the Black Flame said. Abe lost one of the few people that would have genuinely stood by him.

We’ll get back to Vaughn later. After all, when characters die in Mignola’s stories they simply become more interesting.

With the B.P.R.D. trying to deal with the Ghennu-Hem situation, Abe Sapien was able to escape. When he finally had some time to think about what to do next, he decided to investigate what might be in store for the world next, so he headed to the Salton Sea where an Ogdru Hem had emerged when the world-changing disasters first began back in “B.P.R.D.: King of Fear”.

I think it’s interesting that at this point in time, Abe still hadn’t looked at his face. He knew his body had changed—there are some panels with him looking down at his hands, but he never looked in a mirror. On his way to the Salton Sea he glimpsed a reflection of himself in water while bathing, but he never looked closer. This is our first clue that despite what Abe says about wanting to find out what’s really going on, there are some things he would prefer to ignore.

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When Abe arrived at the Salton Sea he discovered that what he had heard was true—the Salton Sea monster had moved on to San Diego, laying eggs as it went. At the Salton Sea only a single egg was left whole, watched over by ‘pilgrims’ that thought the Ogdru Hem were newborn gods. Two of these pilgrims, Gene and Judy, bumped into Abe and decided he looked an awful lot like the frog monsters, but instead of being terrified, these two were excited by the possible connection. They saw Abe as part of something that would bring them enlightenment.

Judy drawing the Abe Ichthys
I think this stuff freaked out Abe more than if they had screamed and run away. He seemed more comfortable with the reaction of Barry, a friend of Gene and Judy’s. Barry was immediately suspicious of Abe. He didn’t believe in the stuff Gene and Judy did, and he saw Abe as dangerous and evil, even going so far to pull a knife on him. This enraged both Gene and Judy to the point that they demanded he leave them and go back home.

During the night Barry, feeling alone in a world he didn’t understand, killed himself. When Gene found him, he mutilated his body, goading mutant wolves to feed on him. He used Barry’s death to convince more people to join his New World Order, with Barry as an example of the fate for non-believers.

As for Abe, he continued his investigation. Prior to his arrival, there had been two eggs at the Salton Sea and one had hatched, so he set out to find the hatchling in the Salton Sea.

While in the water Abe felt like himself again. He didn’t feel like he was in a different body anymore, but rather that he was in a familiar body. Then Abe had a vision of the place where Langdon Caul found the mysterious egg that turned him into Abe Sapien.

Shortly afterward, Abe found the Ogdru hatchling: dead, just like everything else in the Salton Sea. Abe became convinced that he was looking in the wrong place if he wanted to discover what the future held—The Salton Sea had no future.

But Abe was wrong about that. Something was born at the Salton Sea, something he couldn’t have anticipated. Gene was convinced Abe had a power that needed to be awakened, and he told stories to others about how he had sat one night around a campfire and Abe had told him all manner of secrets. Gene’s fanatical obsession with Abe spread, gathering more followers.

I think Abe was scared by Gene’s reaction to him. In some way it stirred up fears he wasn’t consciously acknowledging. Though Abe never mentioned it to anyone, back in 2006 he had started investigating himself, and he found a record of an egg similar to the one that had created him. This egg had been discovered by Sir Edward Grey during an investigation in 18812. When Abe came to see the egg for himself, he had discovered it was a dormant Ogdru Hem. So the idea that he could be connected to the Ogdru Hem was already in Abe’s head, and on top of that he had Gene creating a religion around Abe and the Ogdru Hem.


At this point in his life, Abe is driven by fear more than anything else. Considering Abe’s experience when he dove into the waters of the Salton Sea, you’d think he’d head to the sea where the Salton Sea monster disappeared, but instead he headed out into the desert, as far from water as he could get.

Somewhere around Phoenix he met Elena, a woman descended from the Mayans and Aztecs. She told him stories about her people, and how in the ancient past they had fought god-like monsters like the Ogdru Hem emerging all over the world3. Elena observed that Abe was like her ancestors, fighting monsters to save the world, but this only served to remind Abe that he had fled that life to wander aimlessly in the desert.

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Abe never really told Elena why he was out in the desert—I’m not even sure he knew at the time—but he did speak about Captain Daimio4, a former B.P.R.D. agent that turned out to be a monster and killed many innocent people. Abe knew Daimio himself was a good man, but Daimio had a side of himself he didn’t understand and couldn’t control. Andrew Devon had drawn comparisons between Abe and Daimio back when he was trying to convince the Bureau to take a closer look at Abe and at least consider the what the Black Flame had said about him was true, that Abe really was a more evolved frog monster.

While Abe spoke to Elena, I wonder if in some way it betrays what he was really thinking about. Was he afraid that he was on the verge of suffering the same fate as Daimio?

Elena seemed to have a pretty good read of Abe, and she told him quite plainly that he wasn’t really looking for answers in the desert—he was running away. Abe shrugged off this observation, but at least one part of their conversation stuck with him. Abe decided he was never going back to the B.P.R.D. to put on body armor and fight monsters—he’d played that role before and he could never be that person again.

Next, Abe went to Payson in Arizona, which was having a bit of a zombie problem. J.J., the local police chief, was looking into the matter, but he had certain blindspots, most notably a group of young people that had made camp at the local golf course. When Abe showed up, he wanted to talk to them, but J.J. wouldn’t let him—as far as J.J. was concerned, these kids were homeless in a world that was going to hell and they didn’t need Abe showing up to harass them. Their lives were hard enough already.

The thing is, these young people at the golf course were absolutely behind Payson’s zombie problem. But J.J. was stubborn and Abe… well, he just wasn’t very convincing. Throughout this arc (“To the Last Man”) Abe was incredibly reckless and simply going through the motions like he was still a B.P.R.D. agent, but a really, really unfocused one. He didn’t take precautions with contamination while dealing with potentially contagious growths on animal corpses, and later he ended up blind drunk and blabbing secrets to J.J. even though he’d just met the guy. And J.J. clearly wasn’t impressed.

So why was Abe drinking so heavily? It’s rather out of character for him. Well, since waking up after being shot by Fenix, Abe’s memories of his former life as Langdon Caul had been returning. What he remembered exactly at this point was never clear. This information wasn’t shared with readers and Abe only ever mentioned it while at the pinnacle of his drunkenness. So Abe has these memories, but he wasn’t dealing with them. He was pretending they didn’t exist.

“To the Last Man” didn’t end happily for Payson. Virtually everyone in Payson was killed by zombies (J.J. was unfortunate enough to be killed by his own dead son) and Abe was unable to do a thing about it. He always arrived too late, finding only the aftermath and no survivors. And Abe totally shouldered this failure. To be fair, there was probably always the chance that even if he had been thinking clearly while in Payson, the zombie attack still would have happened. For the most part this was just bad luck. But the thing is, Abe didn’t stick around to solve the problem. He just felt guilty and then left.

Whatever was going through Abe’s head at this time, I think there was at least a part of him that had begun to buy into this idea that he was a monster, that he was destined to doom the world, and so this rebellious part of him became fixated on saving whomever next fell into his path. In this case, it was a woman called Grace. I think looking after her made him feel human.

When Abe found Grace, she was being kept in a basement, chained to bed. The man that had tied her there thought that when the end of the world came, he and Grace should be a new Adam and Eve. Abe killed the man in self defense and saved Grace, but Grace didn’t speak about what had happened to her. Abe made certain assumptions, and decided to keep quiet until she was ready to talk about it.

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But Grace’s trauma was deeper than her abduction and imprisonment by some strange man. All this had happened in the wake of her sister and daughter’s death during an Earthquake in Gallup. Grace is so distraught by the events she can’t even look at her own reflection… she looks too much like her daughter.

I find Grace an interesting character because she accentuates Abe’s own struggles. He’s been avoiding his reflection too. In fact, it is only after Grace meets Abe that he looks at himself in the reflection for the first time, a broken and distorted reflection. Before that, the only time he’d seen his new face was a brief glimpse in a watery reflection on his way to the Salton Sea.

I also think that focusing on Grace’s problems made it easier for Abe to ignore his own. The only hitch was that whenever he told her she needed to face her problems, she could always fling it right back in his face and tell him he needed to face his own problems. Grace soon got really good at picking up when Abe was talking bullshit. It was easier for Abe to lie to himself when he’d been alone.

On their travels Abe and Grace encountered a couple with a son that was half-transformed into a frog monster. The couple had been able to slow the transformation by pumping their son full of horse tranquilizers, but this was not a permanent solution, so they’d gone looking for a local healer. Everything went completely wrong here, and the frog monster killed everyone except Abe and Grace, but what’s really interesting here is the way Abe reacted to anyone mentioning any similarity between him and the half-changed frog monster. He was very defensive—he won’t even consider the possibility of a link between himself and the frog monsters.

And that’s the state of mind he was in when he and Grace arrived in Rosario, Texas, the place where Abe had been shot by Fenix two years earlier. I feel like he didn’t really want to go to Rosario, but he was trying to prove something to himself: that he’s not connected to the frog monsters, that he’s not connected to the Abe cult that sprung up at the Salton Sea; that he isn’t hiding from the truth.

But when Abe got to Rosario he found Abe Cult followers waiting for him, led by Gene from the Salton Sea, then everyone started turning into monsters, and B.P.R.D. agents appeared and… Abe bolted.

Abe soon found a way to rationalize his change as a coincidence: if the gas that had been turning people into monsters was coming from the location where Fenix shot him, then maybe when he’d been exposed to the gas himself two years ago and it’d changed him too. It allowed him to think of the changes he’d undergone as an accident that had happened simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wasn’t something deliberate.

While in Rosario Abe and Grace took shelter with Dayana, a priestess of La Santa Muerte. Dayana’s power protected those in her home, but the situation in Rosario had been getting worse with each passing day, and some of her followers were suggesting moving to on to another town. Dayana’s powers (the exact nature nature of which I’m a bit vague on, to be honest) allowed her to perceive a few things about Abe. She told him that his change was not a coincidence and that it did not have anything to do with Rosario, that he needed to go ‘home’ to find the answers. It seems from Dayana’s conversations with Abe that even she did not know where he had to go, only that he had to go to the place that meant home to him.

I find it interesting the way Abe speaks about Hellboy in this arc (“Sacred Places”). Back when he first woke up, Panya had told him that Hellboy had died. Yet while he was in Payson when someone mentioned Hellboy was dead, Abe replied, ‘Don’t believe everything you hear.’ But in this arc he finally accepts the truth. However, this opens a whole other layer of doubt in himself. While talking to Dayana, Abe was a little more honest about what he was truly afraid of. He knew people thought Hellboy was the Beast of the Apocalypse, and with Hellboy gone, Abe had begun to fear that the role was really his.

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Instead of going home as Dayana advised, he put off searching for the truth for a little while longer and traveled with Grace and Dayana’s group to Burnham.

In Burnham, for the first time in a long time, Grace and Abe found some peace. And for the first time Grace could look at her reflection and see herself. But Abe still couldn’t. However, he does start to finally discuss his memories from his life as Langdon Caul. However, Dayana feels his focus on Langdon was blinding him. Langdon is who Abe was, but Abe wasn’t even considering what his life as a B.P.R.D. agent may reveal about himself. Abe considered that to be the known portion of his life, and so it went unexamined.

Curiously, Megan, a girl part of Dayana’s group, is the one who finally gets through to Abe. She was only twelve, but she’d had a rough life already, growing up in a world that’s going to hell. The adults around her tried to shield her from the horror, but Megan didn’t want to be shielded, and she had become adept at picking when adults were lying to her.

Grace and Dayana were both good at calling Abe on his crap, but on one did it as neatly as Megan.

And the thing is, Burnham was not the safe place that Abe and everyone in Dayana’s group thought it was. It was the eye of the storm, the place from which all the zombie problems in the south originated. Burnham was another Payson just waiting to happen. And this time Abe was going to do something about it.

Abe killed the man behind the zombies and with Dayana’s help he dealt with the demon whose power was used to resurrect the dead. Hopefully that means the zombie problem is dealt with (We haven’t heard about it since then, so fingers crossed)5. Unfortunately, Grace didn’t see it this way. She had found peace in Burnham, and from her point of view Abe had just destroyed that.

Now alone and with no excuse to cling to to stop him investigating who he was, Abe headed for Langdon Caul’s former home on Rhode Island.

But, you know, I think Abe already knew which home he should have been going to, even if he hadn’t consciously recognized it. While swimming North, his thoughts dwelt on Hellboy, Liz, Kate, Roger, and Bruttenholm. He specifically called them his family. Abe knows where his home is.

In Suwanee, Florida, Abe finds an Ogdru Hem that’s creating frog monsters. If you want to know how Abe feels about frog monsters, I think no moment says it clearer than this:

Abe doesn’t use guns anymore. Since being shot in the face by Fenix, he has repeatedly avoided using guns, even in his most dire situations. Then frog monsters show up and he immediately grabbed a gun and killed them all. Abe has nothing but contempt for frog monsters. And again, I think this stems from trying to prove something to himself. It’s all about trying to squash that voice in his head that thinks he might be a frog monster.

At this point Abe had come to accept that he’s running, but he still hadn’t been able to focus on something to move toward other than returning to places where he’s already looked for answers. He and Kate checked out his Rhode Island home a decade ago—he had no real reason to believe he’d find anything new there, yet that’s where he was heading. But at least he’s finally figured out what he’d like to find.

‘I recognize you. You’re like me.’

Later, when the Suwanee Ogdru Hem spewed out gas again to change more people into frog monsters, Abe charged forward into the gas. It was almost like he was daring it to change him… and yet it had no effect. He was pulled into the Ogrdu Hem and while he struggled for his life, he saw a vision of Langdon Caul standing before a church holding aloft the stone egg.

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The vision of Langdon told Abe there was nothing of the Ogdru Hem inside him. Later, Abe awoke to find the Ogdru Hem and the frog monsters had gone. Somehow the contact with him had driven them away. At last Abe had some certainty that he was not connected to the frog monsters or the Ogdru Hem. In fact, he was something they feared.

Following the events in Suwanee, Abe finally allowed himself to explore Langdon’s memories and afterward, for the first time he was able to look at his reflection and see himself plainly, without distortion.

As Abe continued further North, he found a group of people following Maggie, a girl bearing the mark of the Right Hand upon her forehead. Maggie didn’t speak English, but Hyperboean, a language used by the T’shethuan shamans from ages past. Her mother somehow understood her though… well, she understood her words if not her meaning.

Abe learned a lot from Maggie. She knew what Abe was destined for, that he was destined to carry the spirit of the Hyperboreans and humanity into the new world. But she also knew he wasn’t going to save humanity. Abe and those that would follow him were going to replace humankind. As for Maggie, she had the duty of leading some small fragment of humanity to Hyperberum6… What that is exactly is kind of open to interpretation, but this is the same place that the original Right Hand followers went, both the Hyperboreans and the faithful T’shethuan shamans that learned from them.

Maggie also told Abe he is connected to an older power than even the Ogdru Hem; he is connected to Vril, the secret fire. However, he’s not like Liz—he’s not a weapon. Maggie also pointed out a figure that had been following Abe (though he had never noticed): Edith Caul, the wife of Langdon. But Edith had only one thing to tell Abe, that there was nothing more waiting for him at Rhode Island.

At last Abe finally knew where he had to go.


Abe traveled to Professor Bruttenholm’s apartment in Brooklyn and there uncovered audio tapes of sessions the Professor had conducted with a hypnotized Abe back in 1982. Listening to the tapes, Abe discovered that Bruttenholm knew about Langdon Caul, and that it was Langdon’s connection to Captain Elihu Cavendish that led Bruttenholm to join the Cavendish expedition to discover Hyperborean… an expedition that led to Bruttenholm’s death.7

Furthermore, Abe learned that Bruttenholm had asked Abe about his encounter with a spirit in the church of Saint-Sēbastien in 1981. What I find interesting here is that Abe had claimed to have no memory of this event in Abe Sapien: The Drowning, but under hypnosis, he does remember it, though very reluctantly. Abe describes what he saw as ‘like an angel’, which I think is particularly telling. On a some level what he had seen in the church meant something to him, even if it wasn’t consciously processed.

Bruttenholm had then pressed further, speaking first to Langdon, then in turn hypnotizing him so that he could talk to the spirit that had been inside the egg Langdon found. The new spirit answered Bruttenholm, but not in English. It answered in the same language Maggie had spoken in—in Hyperborean.

Bruttenholm’s hypnosis sessions had upset Abe though, and it makes me wonder why Bruttenholm never told Abe what he’d discovered.

But then, after all this time with Abe wandering aimlessly around the southern states, I think it was Abe himself that decided he didn’t want to know. I think it’s entirely possible that while Abe was under hypnosis, Bruttenholm probably asked him if he wanted to remember what he had learned. And because Abe was in a state of hypnosis, unable to lie to either himself or Bruttenholm, Abe would have answered honestly… he would have asked to forget.

I think this is why everyone Abe bumps into keeps telling him that he knows where to look for answers, because on some level he always knew about those tapes, but he willfully ignored them. Of course, that’s just a theory, but it fits in so well with Abe’s long period of denial that I find I rather like it.

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Back in the present, Abe never got to finish listening to those tapes because Agent Vaughn showed up. You remember Vaughn, right? He was the guy that did all the way back in the first arc. Sent by Gustav Strobl to lure Abe, Vaughn approached Abe as if everything was fine, as if he was still with the B.P.R.D. and just doing a routine inspection. But Abe had seen him die, and he knew something was up. At the last moment, Vaughn tried to warn him, and paid for it by dying all over again.

This is Abe’s first encounter with Gustav Strobl.8 Abe knew nothing about this guy at this point, but Strobl knew a hell of a lot about Abe. He knew what he is, and he knew how to bind him to his will. Initially Abe seemed trapped and utterly helpless, but then…

…Abe spoke in Hyperborean and broke through Strobl’s constraints. I think this is our first glimpse at Abe’s real power, and it’s a hint that, like Langdon Caul, the memories of this other life are buried, but could potentially be accessed at will in future.

Once Abe escaped from Strobl, he went to the place where Langdon found the stone egg over a century and a half ago in underwater Hyperborean ruins. Waiting for him there was Shonchin, a T’shethuan shaman that longtime readers should recognize by now.9 He’s the guy that taught Liz how to channel Vril and defeat Katha-Hem, and he’s since appeared to her other times to help and guide her. In “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: End of Days”, Shonchin reached out to Panya and was instrumental in defeating the Black Flame. He’s even had an encounter with Abe before, saving him from a fiery death in “B.P.R.D.: King of Fear”.

Though apparently Shonchin’s relationship with Abe goes back much further than that. He had once been a T’shethuan shaman and friend of Shonchin. He had spent his life fighting Ogdru spirits and trying to save humanity from its destructive worship of the Black Goddess. At the end of his life, shaman-Abe was captured by followers of the Left Hand and tortured. He was told they would set him free if would renounce the Right Hand Path, but shaman-Abe would not. The followers of the Left Hand Path whipped him, stabbed him, and cut out his eyes. They were going to kill him, but at the last moment, shaman-Abe was changed.

At last Abe had found someone at least partially like him. He could look at Shonchin and say they had once been alike. More than that, they had been friends.

Unfortunately, there’s someone else that Abe may soon have to look at and acknowledge a certain similarity…

How the hell did Gustav Strobl become this?!

While shaman-Abe seemed to attain his Icthyo Sapien form (Is that the right term?) by a kind of ultimate noble act, Gustav Strobl seems to have found a way to cheat the process. He traveled to Saint-Sēbastien, to the the church Abe had discovered in 1981, and there he found the ‘angel’ Abe witnessed back in 1981, and Gustav merged with it—it’s a little like when Abe’s stone egg merged with Langdon Caul. The question is, just how similar is this process? After all, when Langdon merged with the stone egg, Abe Sapien was an all-new person. What does this mean for Gustav?

And I wonder if someone knew this was coming—like maybe Fenix. Is it possible that she shot Abe because her powers confused what Abe is with what Strobl has become? And come to think of it, who was the spirit in the Saint-Sēbastien church? Had it too once been a T’shethuan shaman? Are there other spirits like these out in the world, waiting to merge with people?

Oh, and why did Strobl see a T’shethuan shaman at the end of the “Shadow Over Suwanee” arc?

I want to point out, that’s not Shonchin. This is another shaman, one that (as far as I know) we’ve never met before. What’s this guy’s story? Does he have some relationship to the spirit in Saint-Sēbastien? I have so many questions at this point!

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It’s been fascinating to go back through “Abe Sapien” and reread it now that it’s nearly all out there. “The Shape of Things to Come” (the arc when Elena tells Abe about her shaman ancestors) didn’t seem connected to the main thrust of the series initially, but in retrospect its purpose is much clearer. That arc was all about Abe learning about his people, he just didn’t know they were his people yet.

Given what we know about the T’shethuans and that Abe is not meant to be a warrior, I can’t help but wonder what role he’ll fill at the end of “Abe Sapien Dark and Terrible”. After all, the end of the series is only five weeks from now. There’s so much to wrap up in only two issues…


I’ve talked about the aliens in “Hellboy: Seed of Destruction” and “Hellboy: Conqueror Worm”, and the theory that they may actually be Hyperboreans (see the Extra Credit section at the end). It’s an interesting theory, even if it’s one I’m rather skeptical about personally. But now we know Abe is connected to the Hyperboreans and T’Shethuans that ascended to Hyperberum, the facial similarity between the aliens and Abe is starting to look less and less like a coincidence…

Why do you think? Could the aliens be space shamans?


1The return of the Black Flame: See “B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master” and “B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: A Cold Day in Hell”.

2The Mona egg: See “Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland”.

3Elena’s ancestors: There’s a strong implication here that the Aztec and Mayan god monsters were actual Ogdru Hem, and the people that fought them were T’shethuan shamans. See Hell Notes: The Right and Left Hand Paths for more information.

4Captain Benjamin Daimio: I don’t know when, but someday I’ll do a Hell Notes about Daimio. In the meantime, if you’re curious about him, read every “B.P.R.D.” story from “The Dead” to “The Long Death”. It’s a hell of a tale.

5Zombies: I know I kind of rushed through the zombie stuff in this piece, but that’s because this was more about Abe’s journey than the creatures he fought along the way. Don’t worry though, I’ll be talking about the undead real soon…

6Hyperberum:: Again, see Hell Notes: The Right and Left Hand Paths for more information.

7Professor Bruttenholm and the Cavendish expedition: See “Hellboy: Seed of Destruction”.

8Gustav Strobl: I shouldn’t need to tell you who this guy is. There was a big spoiler warning at the beginning saying you had to have read all of “Abe Sapien”, and he’s in practically every issue. But, if you need a refresher, “Abe Sapien: Witchcraft & Demonology” (issue 30) covers virtually his whole history.

9Shonchin: Yet again, see Hell Notes: The Right and Left Hand Paths for more information.

//TAGS | Hell Notes | Mignolaversity

Mark Tweedale

Mark writes Haunted Trails, The Harrow County Observer, The Damned Speakeasy, and a bunch of stuff for Mignolaversity. An animator and an eternal Tintin fan, he spends his free time reading comics, listening to film scores, watching far too many video essays, and consuming the finest dark chocolates. You can find him on Twitter @MarkTweedale.


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