The “Mignolaverse” of comics at Dark Horse (“Hellboy,” “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth,” “Lobster Johnson,” “Witchfinder,” “Abe Sapien”) has kicked into high gear for 2012, and so far, it’s been coming up roses. Part of the expansion of comics for the year has meant some new collaborators stepping on board, like Scott Allie and Jason Latour joining Mike Mignola for the two-part “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror” mini-series.
“B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror” has taken advantage of the expanded publishing schedule to focus not on the regular cast of “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth,” but instead two other members of the organization, agents Vaughn and Peters. This second half of the mini-series picks up right where the first issue left off; the pair of them trapped in a cottage with an odd man inside, a deadly fog and horde of vampires outside and Peters wounded and delirious. It’s a classic horror story set-up and Mignola and Allie use the situation well.
What struck me in reading “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror” #2 was how well Mignola and Allie take the basic horror story structure and make it work in the realm of “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth.” Long stretches of exposition explaining what’s happening usually don’t work well in comics, but Mignola and Allie have it feel natural, as Vaughn learns just how bad of a situation he and Peters have landed in. It’s once the exposition stops, though, that you start to realize that things are rapidly shifting from bad to worse. Even better, that sudden realization that it’s not just worse, but rather, it’s too late to stop what’s coming next.
While Vaughn and Peters aren’t as robustly fleshed out as the regular cast of the comics, there’s an advantage to working with such new characters and I’d like to see a follow up to “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror” down the line. (Perhaps a new member to the core of the B.P.R.D.?) Vaughn in particular has a strong drive in the face of disaster and that’s something that the group could certainly use.
Latour’s art in “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror” is amazing. He and colorist Dave Stewart depict the assault on the inside of the cabin perfectly; big splashes of color that leap off the page at the reader (especially that particular hue of sickly green), and strong drawings that show the spectral forms whirling around the room in such a way that you can almost see them actually smack the gun out of Vaughn’s hand. Latour’s sense of movement is incredibly vivid and I want to see a lot more from him down the line. Half of the power of “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror” #2 is how visually arresting the attack scenes end up looking, and that’s thanks to Latour’s great art.
“B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror” was a fun two-issue sideline and I’d like to see more of these stories in the months to come. As much as I enjoy the regular cast, it’s a nice reminder that other people work at the Bureau too. And with a story this creepy, well, there’s certainly nothing to complain about. A good job from all parties involved. “The Pickens County Horror” was aptly named; as a character you’ll want to steer clear of Pickens County, but as a reader it’s a trip you’ll definitely want to take.