“B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth” (and before it, “B.P.R.D.”) is in many ways a long-running occult soap opera. Over the years the cast composition has changed and we’ve seen characters enter and exit in particularly memorable manners. With “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death,” though, Mike Mignola and John Arcudi have quietly snuck up on readers with a conclusion to one of the longer-running plots to the series and in a rather memorable manner.
With most of the team MIA or in a coma, it’s been the ectoplasmic Johann Kraus that’s been the spotlight of the series recently. Here, though, Kraus serves more as narrator as we get the set-up for a long awaited confrontation between former team leader Ben Daimio and the mythical Wendigo. The first two issues had us being refreshed on the nature of these two figures, learning their history again and their importance in the “B.P.R.D.” universe. Mignola and Arcudi assist that by introducing two new foot soldiers in the B.P.R.D.’s ranks; while having a pair of observers is a time-honored tradition in fiction, they’ve both been entertaining enough that I’d like to see more of them.
More importantly, though, the big confrontation is brutal. Not just physically (although we’ll get to that in a moment), but emotionally. Daimio’s actions this issue that lead up to the fight are difficult to read; the character has gone through hell over the years, and see the decisions that he makes at this point is a disturbing reading experience. James Harren helps that a great deal; I feel like he’s able to show just enough to chill the reader, but not wallow in the moment either or make it too gruesome.
If anything’s gruesome, it’s the state that we’re seeing Daimio in. Harren draws him in such a ragged, horrible state that it makes you jump when you see him. Daimio was never an attractive man, but this is above and beyond those earlier drawings. Harren’s an excellent artist (he reminds me a lot of Adam Pollina’s comic work), able to show the utter anguish on Daimio’s face and his grasp of sequential art progression from one panel to the next is strong. When the fight begins, the art fairly explodes off of the page, bursting from one moment to the next. High energy isn’t a fair enough description for what Harren can do in comics and I want to see a lot more of his art down the line.
“B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death” #3 is probably not the best introduction to the series if you haven’t read any of it to date. It’s not only the conclusion to a mini-series, but to a story that’s been running throughout the comics for years. For those who are familiar with the “B.P.R.D.” world, though, I think they’ll find “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death” #3 quite satisfying. It’s about as good of a conclusion to this little chunk of the “B.P.R.D.” universe that we could get.