Note: This is a review of an issue scheduled for release on 6/27 and as such may contain minor spoilers.
“Field agent Ashley Strode, last seen in B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs, is deployed to a Mexican village after a demon commands her to release one of its brethren, or lose the soul of a small child.”
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Exorcism #1 is the latest offering from the popular series by Dark Horse Comics. This book is listed as an adventure/action/horror. I would class it more as a supernatural thriller. This comic is part one of a two part case file. This installment focuses on a case of demonic possessions that have been occurring. The first begins in East Africa in 1890. A woman called Edwina who would appear to be the wife of a high ranking British soldier called James Keating is possessed by forces unknown. James has called in a native African priest (at the dismay of his fellow officers) as a last resort in an attempt to help his wife. The priest assesses the situation and begins a traditional exorcism. The situation soon turns volatile and the evil contained within poor Edwina rears its ugly head. After a well crafted action/horror set piece, the action shifts to present day Indiana, USA. There is a new case of demonic possession this time involving a young farm boy called Tommy. A new exorcism is already in progress and this time Agent Ashley Strode is on assignment by the B.P.R.D to investigate. There is a much more reviling outcome during this ritual and Agent Strode is forced to travel to Mexico in order to find answers. Her questions lead to more unanswered mystery as the story comes full circle.
This is a new case file from the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence and is a two part story. Issue one has a good pace and the characters are very well executed. I guess it’s what you would expect from someone as experienced as Mike Mignola. Although the theme of the story is nothing new, it is executed with style. I do feel like things could have been pushed a little more into the darker side but this book being part of Dark Horse and a long running series, it has a certain standard to conform to. It would have been interesting to see an original script draft to see what level of “studio” filter was used. The story is never dull and what keeps your interest is the depth of the characters that Mignola has created. I was instantly attracted to the youth and strength of agent Strode but I also feel like she has a more vulnerable side to explore. Maybe that will show more in issue two?
It has to be said that the artwork on this issue by Cameron Stewart is fantastic. The character expressions and background detail are all very good. The horror related images are very well crafted without having to resort to gore or shock factor to look good. The art story flows just as well as the written story. If I had any criticism, it would be that the panel shapes are a little uninspired even if they are both functional and adequate. The thing that I really enjoyed was the coloring by Dave Stewart. In a world that is filled with glossy ultra bright super heroes, it is nice to see more subtle color work that enhances the source material without dominating it. Clem Robins lettering is also very good. The text is clear, easy to read and really well placed so that it does not intrude on the artwork.
I think that fans of the series will really enjoy this comic and it’s even worth a look if you are looking for something new to read. I for one have been left wanting more and want to read issue two so that I can see how the story unfolds. While this book may not be an instant classic, it is still a worthy purchase and makes good reading.