Mike Mignola and Cameron Stewart’s “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Exorcism” #2 is in many ways exactly what it bills itself as. After a first issue in which Mignola and Stewart set up the situation of B.P.R.D. Agent Ashley Strode discovering the long-term possession/demonic-containment that Ota Benga has had inside his body, this issue picks up right where the story left off. The duo are psychically moving through Benga’s own body so that they can release the demon, let it take a new host and kill it once and for all.
On the plus side, there’s no confusing the promise inherent in “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Exorcism” #2. We get an exorcism and the ensuing struggle to defeat the demon Andras once and for all. But in terms of basic plotting, there’s not much there. I can’t tell if this has something to do with regular “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth” co-author John Arcudi’s absence (that slot instead taken by artist Cameron Stewart) or if this was merely a thankless overall story, but either way it feels a bit slight. In many ways it seems to exist primarily to wrap up a story thread from the “B.P.R.D.: 1947” mini-series, rather than perhaps a vehicle to launch Agent Strode into a greater role.
“B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Exorcism” #2 succeeds primarily, then, on Stewart’s art. Stewart’s always been a powerhouse artist, and this is definitely one good-looking comic. Early glimpses of Strode back in the real world look nicely eerie, but it picks up more steam once Benga and Strode finally confront Andras itself. Andras could have looked ridiculous given its owl basis, but instead comes across as dangerous. More importantly, Andras in the real world is a moment that could have felt quite silly, but rapidly turns nasty. It makes a laughable scene described in words into a genuine threat with art.
In general, it’s hard to go wrong with Stewart’s art. The storytelling is strong, the figures are remarkably crisp and clean (I’d go so far as to say that Stewart’s art is probably the cleanest and smoothest the “B.P.R.D.” properties have ever seen), and he’s great with body language. When Strode whips her head around upon hearing Andras proclaim, “Now I am free to inhabit another form,” you not only get the sense of movement, but also the fear radiating out of her body. Stewart’s an artist who makes this sort of thing look easy, even though it’s of course not so simple.
“B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Exorcism” #2 is a perfectly reasonable conclusion to the mini-series, although I’m still not entirely sure if it had a greater point of existence than, “This might be fun.” Ultimately it’s nice enough for a little diversion in the “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth” realm, and that’s good enough for now.