100 issues! 100 issues of amazingly consistent, challenging, beautiful, terrifying goodness! This is where “The End” begins, and let’s not waste another second before digging right into it.
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Tyler Crook
A special B.P.R.D. task force reach the stronghold of a mad Russian scientist and his cult of followers only to find themselves trapped in a deadly fortress full of horrific black magic.
* The Bureau faces the ultimate foe!
* Celebrating B.P.R.D.’s 100th issue!
David: Well shit’s getting real now, in the momentous issue #100 of B.P.R.D. Brian, what’s your take on this action packed and intense issue from the team of John Arcudi, Mike Mignola and Tyler Crook?
Brian: My first thought is: yay! We sort of guessed Rasputin, and here we are, and we’ve got ol’ Rassy!
When digging a bit deeper, this arc (we can’t really say mini anymore!) seems like this is the turning point in the grand scheme of things. Good lord, things are moving forward quickly.
Let’s start at HQ: Is Fenix a teenager, or what?
David: Well, yeah! She says she’s sixteen multiple times here. But yeah, I like that basically everyone and their brother calls her out in this issue. Because she is ridiculous. I loved Johann calling him out especially. You’ve been able to just sense his anger lately, and it coming out at Fenix only makes sense.
But you’re right, everything is going pretty damn fast right now. How about the shit those going after Lazar are going to go through? I don’t see any realistic way they’re going to survive, but you know they are. In the immortal words of Marcus Bennett, “shit’s getting real.”
Brian: Indeed it is. The B.P.R.D. Lazar team might as well start digging their own graves, because they appear to be headed for complete and utter destruction. The insinuation throughout this issue is that Lazar has channeled the spirit of Rasputin before his minions could reincarnate him into his new body. If that is the case, which side are we going to see the B.P.R.D. come down on? WIll they be neutral, or join up with one of the two crazy cults that seem headed for a battle?
David: See, I don’t think that’s the case. We know Lazar and the Zinco chap have paired up at the very least. It seems everyone is aligned – Team Zinco (and Rasputin’s mates), Team Lazar, and somewhere, Varvara under her little glass dome in Iosif’s house. That’s the interesting thing though – there is just so much going on in it’s kind of hard to sort out exactly what is happening and where. Who is with who? It’s fun, but it’s a deluge of information to take in.
Were you surprised to see the two Rasputin minions back? When was the last time we saw them? It feels like forever ago that we last saw them, to the point I predominantly at least remember the one from the first movie.
Brian: Yeah, it has been a long time since we’ve seen those dudes. I know that team Mignola have tried to talk down the idea that going to an ongoing is a big seismic shift in the direction of the series, but it feels to me like that is exactly what is happening, at least for this arc. To bring in those guys, Varvara, Fenix, and Johann, you are sort of throwing all the disparate sectors of the B.P.R.D. world into one central location, it is really a refocusing of the brand which, though I didn’t know I wanted, am glad they did.
It is weird that in a story where there was pretty much non-stop movement, we are sort of still in the same place at the end of this issue as we were in the beginning, minus the Lazar folks fighting a much deadlier army. Do you feel the same way?
David: Yeah I do. I mean, that’s the thing that’s difficult with a book like this vs. a book like Hellboy. If you boil the book down to its basest components, it’s Johann, Abe and Kate. Expand that a little bit, and you can throw in Panya, Devon and Fenix. Keep expanding that, and you have basically everyone who is heavily featured in this issue. That’s a huge, sprawling cast. I think the idea is you have to move aspects of the story forward at a time. You can’t touch on all of them because if you do, you go nowhere with any of them.Continued below
This issue could be broken into three parts: Team Zinco, Team BPRD, and Team Scotland. Scotland and Zinco moved forward, BPRD just had some emotional sequences. Do I think that emotional sequence is as important as the more tangible movements Zinco and Scotland faced? Absolutely.
I think all of this is why renumbering it here makes the most sense. There is a lot going on, and to assign specific stories to minis is almost getting to be too micro for the book. The macro is taking over, and it’s just at too large of a scale to fit into the previous way it was. I’d like to know your thoughts on that, but I do want to share one thing that is interesting: so much happened here that I actually have a hard time retaining exactly what happened after one read. It’s kind of a blur, man!
Brian: I agree, this is a jam packed issue, but jam packed with stuff that blends together.
Let’s talk art. I know we are all big Crook fans, but the dude continues to exceed expectations by leaps and bounds. This issue has some flat out gorgeous pieces to it. Toss in that Rasputin looks creepy as ever (is this Crook’s first time drawing him?), and those terrifying monsters Team Scotland was facing, and you have an absolutely visually satisfying work. What say you, David?
David: To my knowledge, yes, it is Crook’s first time drawing Rasputin. I’m not sure when else he would have had the chance. But you know me, I’m all about Crook, and I think this is the arc where he’s really thrown off the shackles and become the best version of himself on the book. I think before, his storytelling was a bit restrained and even like he was trying to lay a little Guy Davis on his own work, but what came out here is an improvement on his already great work. I do want to note that I think this is the first arc where he’s really been able to cut loose – that is as important as anything, really.
Brian:: What I say next may be considered blasphemous, but I think Crook has established himself as one of, if not the best, second artists to take on a seminal work. He puts himself alongside Charlie Adlard (“The Walking Dead”) and Peter Snejbjerg (“Starman”) as guys who came into a franchise after a beloved creator departed and not only did fine work, but made the book their own. As you say, there was always the spectre of Guy Davis hanging over the proceedings, and now that appears to be totally gone. Crook’s B.P.R.D. is the B.P.R.D., periods, hands down, end of story. As much as I love James Harren, Tonci Zonjic and the like, there is one one I trust more to do a great Bureau comic right now than Crook.
David: See, I’m not ready to say that, if only because of two reasons: James Harren is by far my favorite artist of the second wave so far, and it’s just a volume thing. Adlard is nearly 100 issues in, and Crook has done what? 20, tops? He may get there, but it’s definitely a bit early for me to start going that far. Crook is great – don’t get me wrong – but this is the first arc where I’ve really been blown away. I’ve always enjoyed his work, but this is the first time I’ve been like, “Damn! This is some good shit!”
Before we go, I have one more question for you. We have two more issues of this arc to go. Any expectations for the end?
Brian: I think this comes down to the Jack Shepherd/John Locke thing we have going: you’re the man of science, I’m the man of faith. Before you know it, you’ll be off of B.P.R.D. screaming that “WE HAVE TO GO BACK!,” whereas I never left the island in the first place.
Or, you know, we have a difference of opinion.
To answer your question, I expect the arc to do no less than set the course for the next year or so. I see this as the thesis statement for 2013 in B.P.R.D.land. I see Zinco revealing their intentions, Johann potentially messed up big time, and Fenix establishing herself as a major player by saving the day. Those are my predictions. Yours?Continued below
David: Oh, I know where I will stand. I always know where I stand! I just think it’s early to say, especially given how divided his time on the book has been between other artists. But it’s dead! Just like everyone in Lost!
My prediction is simple: it closes with everything in an all-time bad situation, but it’s okay – Abe’s back.
What do you give this issue, my friend?
Brian: I give this a solid 8 – I want to give it more, but based on purely what is between the covers, this is an 8. You?
David: That sounds about right to me too. Interestingly enough, this may be the 100th issue but it was also undoubtedly a transitional issue. A good one for sure, but with the standard pitfalls associated with that. Happy 100th B.P.R.D.!!!
Final Verdict: 8.0 – Buy