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Peter Snejbjerg! Abe! Varvara! Iosif! Panya! Ah!
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Peter Snejbjerg
Following the deadly events of The Return of the Master, the reanimated director of the Russian occult sciences division leads a rescue mission through a blizzard as the B.P.R.D. engage in battle with more bat-faced monsters. Why are the Russians obsessed with a fallen radio tower in the middle of nowhere?
David: So Brian, we’re back for another of our busy month of reviews and other content, this time with B.P.R.D. #105, also known as the first issue of the Cold Day in Hell arc. Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, illustrated by Peter Snejbjerg, I’m going to do something I don’t normally do and kick off with an opinion: this issue fucking ruled.
What did you think? Am I off base? Am I going crazy, or in a glass case of emotion like my beloved Varvara?
Brian: You’re not off base. This issue hit every note: it looks gorgeous, it has great characters, gave us a big reveal, and had me angry when it was over.
I am on record as a huge Peter Snejbjerg fan, so it should come as no surprise that I want to frame about 10 pages from this book on my wall. Art is as good a place as any to start, so what did you think of his work?
David: I loved his work on Abe Sabien: The Abyssal Plain, but man, this was some rock awesome stuff. The open with the screens of anarchy and Abe reacting to it – brilliant, brilliant work. He’s an exceptionally gifted artist, and this was a book that had a huge diversity to what he’d be asked to bring to life and he nailed it all. I love it whenever he’s in the Mignolaverse, but Snejbjerg certainly crushed this issue.
Of course, it helps that this was an absolutely jam packed issue. I do have one question to ask though: did you know that was Iosif who rescued Giarocco and her folks at the end of The Return of the Master? Because I somehow missed that.
Brian: The last panel of “Return of the Master” just shows a rescue from a large airship – some might have guessed Iosif is behind it, but there is no way to know for sure. Iosif, as promised, is really becoming a major player in the B.P.R.D. game, and this issue shows why – he is a character that is interesting, unique, and captivating. His bizarre appearance only helps his character stand apart from the others in the book; he is somehow less human than Abe Sapien and more human than Johann – a true half-man in this world.
Now, onto the man of the month, Abe Sapien. Were you surprised how just, well, sudden his awakening was? We are obviously reading in a time of solicitations and so we knew that Abe was going to have his own series and, therefore, wake up soon. But his awakening was a non-event – one page, he’s awake. What are your thoughts on how his reintroduction was handled?
David: I think Iosif has been one of the two or three most fascinating characters in the book right now, and I love that he’s getting a significant amount of focus at this point. It’s incredible to think that he started as what just seemed like a plot device for an Abe Sapien mini-series at one point.
As for Abe, I thought his reintroduction was handled just fine. Granted, we’ve read the first issue of Abe, so maybe we know a little more than is shown here, but I think it stands to reason that Abe would have seen what was going on with the world and thought, “what if they blame me partially?” I don’t think there’s really a whole lot of ways they could have handled this, bit it makes a whole lot of less that it wouldn’t have build up given how much they needed to accomplish in this issue. My biggest question from that scene wasn’t about Abe though…it’s what is Panya’s motivation?Continued below
Brian: One of the great things about the Mignolaverse is that everyone has the same motivation, but different ways around it – they all want to prevent the world from ending, preferably with them left intact. So, I think that Panya believes that Abe being free will lead to some sort of good result – or, at least a better result than him being stuck at HQ would allow.
Now, as the world’s leading Varvara fan, what do you think of her mini-origin tale and, specifically, her containment? To me, this was the most “Lost” the book has ever been. I was expecting someone to bang out “Good Vibrations” on a numeri-pad.
David: Oh, I didn’t think Lost at all. It made perfect sense given what we previously knew – mostly from 1946 and 1947. We knew she effectively owned the Secret Sciences division. We knew she was scary as hell. We basically know she’s a demon in a little girl’s body. What they did to take her out was nefarious, pure evil and enjoyable as hell to read. I love the secret mission of this arc, and it’s a brilliant little piece of the puzzle. How much worse could things get if Varvara got out? I mean, she’s going to get out, but how much worse could it be?
I loved everything about it. It was so damn awesome.
I also liked the look we were given at all the different parts of the world. We knew things were bad, but holy shit man, things are BAD.
Brian: C’mon dude – guys at a base for years at a time, sending out a jamming signal? That is total “Lost,” dude.
But yeah, the scope of just how terrible things are is pretty astounding. One of the really nice reasons for the “Abe Sapien” series is that it appears we’ll be getting glimpses into the minutia of the broken down world, as Abe travels around. It’s funny, as I was reading this, I thought “this is pretty much David’s ideal book” – Panya, Varvara, Iosif, snow. If only Ashley Strode showed up…
David: Yeah, it is, but it’s not like that’s the first thing in fiction to do something like that I’m sure. Either way, it’s totally awesome.
And yeah, this is kind of a murderer’s row for me, isn’t it? And that’s without even mentioning it features the return of Abe! Killer stuff man. Do you have anything else to add about this before getting to grades?
Brian: My only additional comment is just that this feels, in a few ways, like the beginning of the next chapter of “B.P.R.D.” – I know that ‘Hell on Earth’ is still in the title, but this really feels like a new era. The world is in ruins, Abe is awake, the Russians are a more prominent faction, and Liz is back.
David: It totally does, in the best of ways. I’m going to give this a 9.0. It’s the B.P.R.D. book I always knew I wanted. What about you?
Brian: 9.0 sounds fair to me. Is it time for #106 yet?
David: Not quite, but I can’t wait to see where we go from here.
Final Verdict: 9.0 – Buy