It's been a rough few years for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. Their star smacker of things most foul, Hellboy, quit. There's been a fairly constant plague of frog monsters. The Black Flame nearly killed them. Roger the Homunculus did get killed, and then decided he preferred being dead. And Abe has had to face mummies, cyborgs and his own past.
Things are bound to start looking up for the BPRD soon, right?
Well, the next "BPRD" miniseries is called "The Killing Ground," so I wouldn't count on the team's fortunes turning brighter anytime soon. Normally, the BPRD goes to the source of trouble, jaunting around the globe and facing all manners of horrors and, more often than not, causing massive amounts of property damage. In "The Killing Ground," the fight is coming to them. The monster hunters have become the hunted, when the enemy brings the fight to BPRD headquarters, turning their home into the titular Killing Grounds.
"BPRD" is the brainchild of Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, the team having originated in the pages of "Hellboy" before getting their series, or rather, series of miniseries. Right there with Mignola, guiding the adventures of the paranormal investigators and playing a vital role in the crafting of the "BPRD" world is writer John Arcudi, who with Mignola is co-scripting "The Killing Ground." CBR News had a chance to talk with Arcudi about the new Dark Horse Comics miniseries, and like the BPRD itself, the conversation was both tantalizing and mysterious.
"Well, it's about the BPRD's attempt to try to cope with the rapidly changing dynamic of the very small world they inhabit," Arcudi told CBR News. "There is a new member, a new 'guest' and a complete change of life for an old member. Anyway, they fail miserably in that attempt, and there's a monster on the loose as a result. Vague enough for you?"
Don't expect Arcudi to let the identity of that new member slip out, either. " I'd like to, really, I would, but I think it's more fun if everybody guesses, instead," Arcudi laughed.
The unnamed new member is brought aboard by Abe Sapien after his adventures in Indochina, which are depicted in the current miniseries, "BPRD: Garden of Souls." "Garden of Souls" leads straight into "The Killing Ground," with lots of revelations about the backgrounds of Abe Sapien and kind-of-undead Captain Daimo, who in this miniseries will grow more distant from the team. All of this will set the stage for changes in the status quo of the BPRD. Big changes.
"And the truth is, this is only the beginning,' warned Arcudi.
The cover to "The Killing Ground" #1 shows a hulking man wearing BPRD togs who might just be the new member -- or he might be bodiless member Johann Kraus, who's been trapped as an ectoplasmic spirit in a high tech wet suit since his introduction. The nature of "The Killing Ground's" threat is also unclear, but a glance at issue #2's cover shows a monster that looks quite a bit like the Wendigo that appeared in "BPRD: The Universal Machine."
One thing that won't be seen in this miniseries is the "Frog War," which is Arcudi's name for the ongoing "BPRD" subplot involving the froglike monsters that serve as agents of the Ogdru Jahad, first seen way back in the original "Hellboy" miniseries, "Seed of Destruction." The monsters were responsible for the death of Hellboy's mentor Dr. Bruttenholm, and have consistently proved to be harbingers of unpleasantness in the various "Hellboy" and "BPRD" series. The frog monsters have returned to repeatedly plague the BPRD, but they were dealt a serious blow with the events of "The Black Flame," in which Liz Sherman's actions resulted in the apparent mass suicide of the frog monsters. They may be down, but the frog monsters aren't out, and their fate is something that forthcoming "BPRD" miniseries will address.
"'The "Frog War' is coming back very soon. Very," confirmed Arcudi.
Between "Garden of Souls" and "The Killing Ground," Dark Horse will release ten issues of "BPRD" in 2007, all co-written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi and illustrated by fan favorite Guy Davis. Taken together, it's quite a lot of supernatural goings-on, and it's all building to something big. "We're planning a huge three-series arc coming up," Arcudi said. "More accurately, three interconnected arcs that will make for a huge storyline. It's gonna be fun, honest."
Arcudi's work on "BPRD" stems from his friendship with Mignola. Indeed, Arcudi was hand picked for the job. "Mike [Mignola] and I had been talking about working together for years, and it just seemed to come together right when he was finishing 'Plague of Frogs' that we could team up on this book,' Arcudi explained.
The collaboration obviously worked, as the creators have several "BPRD" minis behind them and several more in the works. Finding the right mix for collaborators is tricky, and the partnership between Arcudi and Mignola is a fluid one, with roles changing depending on the comic they're working on. "It varies from series to series," Arcudi said. "On a few, there has pretty much been an equal division of labor, and on some, Mike steps back and lets me run, interjecting (or he might say interceding) when he feels it will best serve the story. It's a different kind of partnership, I've got to tell you, and it's working quite well... right?"
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