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Hell Notes: The Mystery of Fenix

By | September 19th, 2013
Posted in Annotations | 9 Comments
Logo by Tim Daniel

Fenix hasn’t been around all that long. Though she was introduced in 2011’s B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Gods, the space of time passed within the comic itself has only been about nine or ten months. In that time she’s caused no small amount of trouble, especially for Abe. So this Hell Notes I wanted to check out what little we know about her…

Please note, this column contains spoilers for those that have not yet read up to and including B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Lake of Fire (Part 2).


Gods

This arc was Fenix’s introduction, and the last story from the great Guy Davis. Fenix wasn’t a point of view character in this story. Everything we learn about her we learn from the outside, which meant that even by the end of it, she was still very much an enigma.

Gods began in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption in Houston. Fenix, a sixteen-year-old girl, had saved a bunch of people from being caught in the disaster. One of these people, a guy called Jorge, described her as having some kind of fit and then afterwards insisting everyone go North. Apparently she had always been “a little psychic,” but he’d never seen anything like this.

Fenix’s premonitions also kept the group ahead of the bat-faced creatures that have been plaguing the B.P.R.D. in virtually every arc since Gods. Because Fenix’s followers survived, word spread, and the legend of Fenix began.

This caught the U.N.’s attention, and they immediately assigned the B.P.R.D. to the case, specifically Agents Sapien, Kraus, and Devon.

Meanwhile, Fenix’s group were staying in an abandoned community pool. Fenix had a fever and a near constant cough, but refused to be taken to a doctor, to the point that she was using her newly acquired dog, Bruiser, to keep people away from her. Her followers however were growing concerned that her sickness could be interfering with her abilities. And you know, they may have actually had a point…

Fenix didn’t keep them safe this time. Jorge, Fenix’s most ardent follower, was killed, and many more would have been too if the B.P.R.D. hadn’t shown up. They quickly dealt with the monsters and began to round up Fenix’s followers. For a moment it seemed like everything was going to be OK, and then this happened…

The whole thing was witnessed by Devon, who interpreted this as confirmation of all his worst fears about Abe, and so he let Fenix go and told the B.P.R.D. he didn’t know who was responsible for his shooting. Because of this, Abe would spend the next four months stuck in a tube, slowly changing…


The Devil’s Engine

In the wake of Abe being shot, Devon was assigned the task of tracking down Fenix and bringing her in for questioning. Fenix, however, was already on her way to Colorado to find the B.P.R.D. and had gotten as far as New Mexico, apparently to turn herself in. She seemed pleased that now Devon had found her, she could get a free ride.

Devon was the point of view character in this story, so while it was our first real introduction to Fenix as a character instead of a plot element, we’re still left guessing about a lot of her motives. On the surface she seemed to be a petulant teenager, always expecting more and better from the adults around her, while getting annoyed when they had any sort of expectations of her. Underneath that she was very wary about trusting anyone. Fenix doesn’t like to explain herself, and will only do so if she’s forced to.

For Devon, this was tough. Fenix will simply refuse to do things while offering no explanation. When she said she didn’t want to get on a train, Devon couldn’t tell if she was just being difficult or if there was a genuine reason. By the time he gets it out of her that she’d had some sort of precognitive feeling about the train they were already on board. When Devon complained about her “vague whining,” Fenix explained that she doesn’t have visions, she feels things in her heart, and she lets that feeling guide her. As you can imagine, this wasn’t exactly comforting to him.

Continued below

So then Fenix jumped out of the train window, and Devon was forced to follow… and then an earthquake hit and everyone on the train was killed except for Bruiser, Fenix’s dog. And Fenix’s bad feeling still hadn’t gone away either. Before long the bat-faced monsters showed up and Fenix, Devon, and Bruiser were forced to lock themselves in one of the train’s boxcars to stay safe.

Trapped, with what appeared to be little time before the monsters would tear their way in, Devon finally asked Fenix outright why she shot Abe. Her answer one readers had been waiting for for over a year at this point, so to say that we emapthised with Devon’s disappointment is a bit of an understatement.

Yep, that’s as much explanation as she’s willing to give.


The Return of the Master

Regardless of all their arguing in The Devil’s Engine, Devon and Fenix come out of it having forged a bond. Devon demonstrated he’d be willing to die to protect her if he had to on two occasions, so Fenix had someone in the B.P.R.D. she really trusted. He helped her come up with her cover story to tell Kate, that she was sick with a fever when her group were attacked by monsters, and when Abe showed up, he just looked like another monster to her. X-rays from a physical showed traces of pneumonia, so Kate bought it.

While they were talking, Kate noticed Fenix’s pendant, which was given to her by her mother before she died. Curiously, the pendant is made of Enkeladite. That name should ring a bell for readers of B.P.R.D.: 1948, which dealt with the creatures involved with Project Enkelados’s experiments. Enkeladite is the sand fused into glass by the Enkelodos explosion. Enkeladite was believed to be responsible for the emergence of mysterious monsters in Utah, and virtually all of it was destroyed during the reclamation of the damaged land. Some troops on site had taken a few bits as souvenirs, but most of these were tracked down. The most notable missing piece was the one belonging to Dr Rieu, who wanted to study it further. When Professor Bruttenholm came for it, she told him it had gone missing, goading him by suggesting it had been magicked away. So Fenix’s pendant could be from either of these sources. A connection to Dr Rieu could be interesting though.

Someone with the ability to foretell disasters would be a massive asset to the B.P.R.D., but Fenix never had much control over her ability, so Kate arranged for her to be trained by Panya. In one of her sessions Fenix saw a vision of New York on fire, not just as some outsider, but through someone’s eyes. A hint about this can be found in the sketchbook of the trade, where Tyler Crook’s sketches are labelled “Eris,” the name of the Goddess of Discord in Greek mythology. So who is Eris? I can’t help but wonder if perhaps Panya has anything to do with this…

“Eris” from the sketchbook of B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master

There was another part of Fenix’s vision that I was curious about too. In the initial stages, when Fenix is struggling to free her mind from her fears and anxieties, we get a glipmse at what is troubling her. It’s all pretty easy to figure out, with plenty of monsters… except for this guy:

No, that’s not her father.

Anyway, all this vision stuff freaks out Fenix and she swears at Panya (a lot), telling her to stay out of her head. And Panya herself is such a mystery, I think Fenix may have actually been right to want her out of her head. So Fenix’s stay in the Bureau at this point wasn’t much fun, however Johann was quick to point out that doing her part to save the world was never going to be fun. This doesn’t exactly endear him to her.

Things went from bad to worse when Johann discovered Bruiser had escaped from Fenix’s room and attacked Panya’s pet pelimonkey. So once again, Fenix runs away.

Continued below


Lake of Fire

All that was back in March. When we catch up with Fenix again it’s August, so she’s been on her own for a while, steadily making her way back to her former home. We’re only two issues into this five-issue arc, but I’m already loving it. It’s a welcome change of pace, with a real focus on characters, especially Liz and Fenix.

For the first time we get a glimpse of her past. In the first issue we get to see her and her family where they lived by the Salton Sea. Her mother’s still alive at this point and Fenix seems pretty happy and not much younger than she is now, so I’m guessing this memory we’re seeing is just prior to the events B.P.R.D.: King of Fear, right before this thing showed up:

Hell, Fenix could have actually been in that crowd watching this moment unfold. And it’s probably where her mother died, given the monsters that red cloud created.

In the second issue, we go back a little further, to when Fenix Espejo was much younger. (Yep, we finally learnt her surname, which means “mirror” in Spanish by the way.) It seems Fenix really is her name too, or at least it was a nickname even as a child. Curiously, there seems to be some dispute as to whether Fenix is her mother’s daughter. I’ll be interested to see what all this means, since it’s usually pretty clear who the mother of a child is.

We also get a better look at her premonitions, and it certainly seems they’re more than just a feeling. It seems a ghostly child communicates them to her.

This ghostly figure also refers to Fenix’s mother as if she is her own mother, something that upsets Fenix a great deal. Not to mention it’s just plain creepy.

Meanwhile, in the present Fenix has arrived at the Salton Sea and is witnessing the growing cult surrounding the eggs there. She’s offered shelter by someone that should be familiar to readers. He’s Bob, the same guy that helped out Abe in Abe Sapien: The New Race of Man arc which concluded last month, though looking a little worse for wear. I wonder what Fenix will think when they get talking and he mentions Abe?

As for the rest of Lake of Fire, we’ll have to wait and see. We’ve got three more issues, and already these first two have been most satisfying. I hope we’ll get to find out how Fenix’s mother died, and the circumstances in which she gave Fenix her Enkeladite pendant. By the look of her abandoned home, it seems not just mother died either…

As usual, I’d love to hear some theories in the comments section.


//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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