Written by Mike Mignola
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
While Johann is locked in spectral combat with the spirit of a possessed prisoner of Russia’s Special Sciences Service, Kate learns about the deserted town of Rampayedik and its mysterious zombie looters.
Two Multiversity writers, David Harper and Brian Salvatore, take a look at the latest offering from Mike Mignola and Tyler Crook and, well, agree on just about everything. Hit the jump for more.
Brian: So, David, here we are again, discussing the Mignola-verse. This time, we’re taking a look at B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia #3. Before we dive into this issue specifically, have you been enjoying this miniseries so far?
David: Oh yeah, it has a little different feel to it than most do, but I think that is because it is so centered on Kate and Johann, and they are two characters who don’t frequently share the spotlight. What about you? While I’m at it, I have to ask, are you a casual B.P.R.D. fan like you are on Hellboy?
Brian: To answer your second question first, yes, I am a casual fan. I don’t read everything, but I have been loosely following B.P.R.D. for the last number of years. As for the mini so far, I have enjoyed it. I love stories set “behind enemy lines.” and this has that feel.
David: Definitely, especially because of the Wikileaks aspect of the Russian forces. It makes Kate especially hold them at a distance.
David: It’s all very “Cold Monster War.”
Brian: Which is, frankly, awesome.
So how do you feel about having Kate and Johann as the leads here?
David: I love it. I mean, let me start with sharing that as much as I love Hellboy, I actually enjoy B.P.R.D. more. Hellboy can be an insular, lonely read, but B.P.R.D. is very vibrant and all about the interpersonal while still maintaining the same tone and ideas. It makes them a great pairing, but I must confess it means I love B.P.R.D. best.
But Kate and Johann interact plenty but rarely as mission leads, and I love what is happening with Johann keeping her in the dark and Kate simmering in her rage of being left in the dark. It makes the interpersonal pop even more than usual. What about you? Are you Team Kate or Team Johann?
Brian: I am a huge fan of team books and, especially, when some of the more minor characters get to be in the spotlight. So yeah, this is an inspired pairing for lead characters.
As for if I fall on either side, right now I’m playing “wait and see.” I sympathize with Kate, but I also think that Johann is thinking with her best interests in mind. I think Johann potentially realizes how fucked up this situation can get (and how quickly), and is trying to handle it the best he can. He also has an in with the director, and so is trying to exploit that to its logical conclusion. Is staying neutral a position that will label me a pussy?
David: Absolutely not! That’s totally my deal too! It’s hard not to see Kate’s side, and you know in the end Mignola and Arcudi are going to make both of their reasoning pay off.
Here’s a question for you: did you read Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain?
Brian: I did not – however, I just picked it up at my LCBS on Friday, and so hope to find some time to read it this week. Do you think my enjoyment of this book would have been different if I had read that?
David: Well, it certainly makes it more interesting in one specific way. That is one of the things I love about Hellboy and B.P.R.D. – so much of what shows now pays off later. And in The Abyssal Plain the Russian guy that is so interested in Johann – Iosif – is introduced, but only Abe and he know the nature of that interaction. It adds a really interesting layer to his presence.
But it still works plenty without it.
Brian: I think that is one of my favorite aspects of B.P.R.D. and its universe: you can drop it anywhere and enjoy it, but if you read everything, it elevates the story that much more.
David: Exactly. I actually jumped into B.P.R.D. and Hellboy mid-way through and went back to the beginning and have been reading single issues since. Thanks to my local library!
So, for you, is there anything about this mini that isn’t working for you?
Brian: Well, the only thing I can think of is something I have a love/hate relationship with in comics is goofy Russians speaking in broken English. Let’s call this: Rocket Red syndrome.
David: Haha! I LOVE ROCKET RED. How dare you?!
Brian: This issue has the least amount of that, but it just seems like a lazy way of writing foreigners sometimes. And again, it isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it can wear a little thin.
David: I understand. I could easily see that. That doesn’t bother me because instead it entertains me because I am simple.
I can’t really say anything bothered me. That’s the thing about this book. I almost never have complaints. I adore the characters, love the writing, Tyler Crook’s art is fantastic (even if at first I was super sad about Guy Davis leaving); it’s all great.
Brian: I don’t have any specific complaints about it either. The central mystery is fun, we’re getting a spotlight on some less often focused upon characters, and the art is great. I especially love the detail given to the Russian agency by Crook; everything is just slightly out of date and less streamlined than the American version — everything from the cameras on the exploration suits to the military transport.
David: Totally agree. I have to admit, I love Guy Davis and was initially hesitant to see Crook take over as the regular penciler, but man, his work has been fantastic. How do you think he’s transitioned in?
Brian: I think the transition has been fine. Another advantage to such a large world within the books is that there is a lot of room for various interpretations. Crook is not mining the same territory that Davis did, and so they both work.
David: I actually started to notice some Davis like elements in there with this issue, but nothing significant. It could have just been me thinking like that because it’s B.P.R.D.
So all in all, a really solid third issue, right? Do you have anything else to add?
Brian: Tonight, my wife and I went to a screening of the new silent (!) film The Artist. And while I really enjoyed it (really, go see it if you can, America), it was hard to get past my own expectations of what a silent film should be. That is my only complaint about this book – going in, I thought i knew what I was going to get, and I’m not getting that. That isn’t to say I’m getting something bad, it just isn’t the flavor I expected.
That said, I have not been disappointed, and I think this issue has gone down the smoothest so far, so maybe I’m getting used to the style and am able to appreciate it for what it is, not what I expected it to be. However, that is hardly the fault of the creative team, or really anyone. Except me that is.
David: Yeah, I have to say, I don’t have any specific complaints, but so far it hasn’t been the best B.P.R.D. mini ever, and that I blame on myself because I love Abe Sapien and want to know what is going on with him!
What would you give it on a 10 point scale? We’ll do our average out again.
Brian: Yeah, not my favorite B.R.P.D. That said, it will probably be one of, if not the, best books I will read this week. I’ll give it an 8.
David: Bingo bango. That was what I was going to give it. It’s a really solid, but unspectacular, issue. It does B.P.R.D. things quite well. 8 here too, so 8’s all around!Continued below
Final Verdict: 8.0 – Buy