Welcome back to the ever-expanding world of Mignolaversity! This week we welcome a new contributor, Mark Tweedale, to our Mignolaversity crew. Mark is always quick to let us know how we’re doing with this column, as well as sharing all sorts of fun Mignolaverse news with us via Twiter, so we thought he’d be the perfect guy to bring in to our little gang.
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Max Fiumara
All signs point to the mysterious element discovered in the desert as the source of the horrific monsters entering our world as Bureau agents hunt down the creature that started this chaos.
Brian: We are now 4/5 of the way through “1948,” and, at least for me, this is the first issue where the overall plot and purpose of the series has become clear. That isn’t to say this series hasn’t been enjoyable; it has, but it has been enjoyable despite having no real thrust moving the series forward. Since this is your first “Mignolaversity,” before we jump into this specific issue, what have you thought of this mini thus far?
Mark: I’m really enjoying this one, especially the character work. It seems to me John Arcudi’s having fun playing with characters outside the usual “Hell on Earth” team. Seeing Bruttenholm in love is certainly a side of his character we’ve never seen before, and young Hellboy is incredible in every single scene he’s in (“Nothin’ but trouble, Angel-face“). But it’s Simon Anders that’s really caught my eye. Since the end of “1947” he’s had two vampire spirits sealed inside him, and I’ve enjoyed the tension in this miniseries as the cracks in his resolve begin to show, especially knowing the next mini is called “Vampire”. The man’s a ticking bomb.
Brian: Li’l Hellboy forever!
But seriously, I expected Anders to be a bigger part of this series, knowing that “Vampire” is next, and this is the first issue where he has been in the spotlight for more than just a few pages. Your Arcudi observation is pretty spot on; David and I were observing how much fun he’s having with these peripheral characters, especially putting them in situations we haven’t seen before (like the aforementioned smitten Bruttenholm). Arcudi is already tasked with scripting for an inordinately high number of characters on a monthly basis, but he is really able to let loose here and have some fun.
This is a series that, to me, has continued to improve each issue. When David and I discussed #1 at New York Comic Con, we felt that the series was off to a weaker start, but we’ve happily eaten our words since, and a big part of that is due to Max Fiumara’s artwork. His angular faces and deep shadows lend a creepy tone to the proceedings, and served to elevate the book from a middling, almost plot-less first few issues to something really special. What say you?
Mark: I got a real kick out of the connection to “Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever.” It wasn’t something I was expecting and I really feel like I need to go back and reread that miniseries now, because I’m very sure John Arcudi’s up to something. Discovering the extent of the Enkeladite’s properties is of particular interest to me, especially considering Fenix wears an Enkeladite necklace around her neck. Is her necklace interfering with her at all or is it perhaps the source of her psychic abilities? I half suspect when we finally learn Fenix’s real name, her surname will be Yessler.
“1948” is laying down the groundwork for several series to come, that much is clear.
As for Hellboy, I really felt sorry for the little guy in this one. It seems like it’s building up to the moment when he cuts off his horns for the first time, though I don’t see how there will be space for that particular moment with only one issue to go. It’s possible his story in this miniseries may serve as a kind of prologue to the OGN coming out in the second half of this year, “The Midnight Circus,” which is also set in 1948. Hellboy’s plot thread doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the story going on in “1948,” but I’m enjoying it anyway, and not just a little bit either.
Brian: Between this and “B.P.R.D.” #103, it is a big month for “Witchfinder.” And I think that Fenix theory is pretty spot on, and I concur on the Hellboy front too – you are an astute fellow, my Australian friend.
Overall, this issue is slightly frustrating because I wish that it came earlier in the series. There are enough threads in this issue to last another 4 issues, but sadly, the series is wrapping up next month. I would gladly trade some of the first two issues’ meandering to see more with Anders or Hellboy. That said, that is a minor inconvenience at best.
So, it’s that time, Mark – what do you rate this issue?
Mark: I’ll give this one an 8. Like you, I wish this miniseries was a little longer, even if it was just one more issue. What’s your rating?
Brian: I’ll give it a 7.5, if only because I don’t foresee a satisfactory conclusion to all these plot points on the horizon. Thanks for sitting in, Mark!
Final Verdict: 7.75 – Buy