One of the biggest questions I had about the “Abe Sapien” ongoing series was why we needed this over additional “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth” comics. It’s almost a year into the book, and I’m glad to say that the question has been answered. If “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth” is the monster-fighting, scary-moment adventure comic, then “Abe Sapien” is the quieter, creepier book where things rustle in the shadows. Mike Mignola, Scott Allie and Max Fiumara take the sunny state of Arizona and transform it into a place of dread.
Allie as the co-writer for “Abe Sapien” might account for part of the shift in tone from “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth.” Allie’s always been a champion of horror stories at Dark Horse, and here Abe Sapien’s stories have become a little stranger, a little more introspective — but no less dangerous. Burning hundreds of monster eggs in “Abe Sapien” #10 isn’t the main event, it’s just the backdrop for the horrible things that are going on within a small Arizona town that’s rotting from the inside out. The inhuman creatures raging across the globe are dangerous, certainly, but it’s the humans that you ultimately need to worry about.
Mignola and Allie use their alien-looking protagonist of Abe Sapien as the perfect collision of the two factions; he looks more monstrous than anyone else in town, even as he’s still trying to find his own humanity. This isn’t the first time in a story where the creepy looking person is the best and the best looking person is the creepiest, certainly, but Abe Sapien is a character who works especially well with this sort of setup. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that even as the young adults continue their descent into rotten behavior, the rest of the world is so twisted and warped with evil that it’s more than likely to respond with a few occult creatures of its own to be thrown into the mix.
The biggest attraction here, though, is Fiumara’s art. Both he and his brother Sebastian Fiumara (they’re trading off story arcs) draw some beautiful pages, and “Abe Sapien” #10 is no exception to that rule. Everything from an open pit to the gills on Abe Sapien’s body are drawn with loving care, a series of delicate thin lines that give an amazing amount of detail. Fiumara can draw domestic bliss on one page, and then scenes of something rather akin to the apocalypse on the next. Add in Dave Stewart’s always excellent colors — there’s something about that little red lizard that just sears itself onto your retinas — and you end up with a book where there’s something to just marvel at with every page. (Or in the case of Abe Sapien wearing a college sweartshirt, something to giggle at.)
“Abe Sapien” #10 is a good issue, and more importantly it helps solidify the purpose of this series and where it’s going. For a book with a protagonist that I’ve never cared that much about, “Abe Sapien” is rapidly becoming an enthralling read. The future of the world may still look awful in this fictional universe, but it’s nice to see Abe making his way across it one town at a time.