At the time of this writing, there are currently 15 volumes of B.P.R.D. collections. I have never read one before, but I tackled B.P.R.D Hell on Earth: Gods and Monsters and found myself engrossed. It’s a very complex and heart-pounding story that didn’t need the other 15 volumes of back issues to keep me glued to the page. Mignola has a talent for making his books feel stand alone while still building upon all the things he’s been doing in the past for the good readers that have been with him since day one.
This trade is divided into two sections, the Gods and the Monsters sections, of course. Each presents its own story that is connected to the other, but at first glance it doesn’t seem so. With a script by Mignola and John Arcudi we get the story of how hell has quite literally been unleashed on earth.
The Gods section deals with a band of young adults led by a psychic woman who aids them in wandering the southwest dodging volcanoes and monsters. The B.P.R.D. team is sent in to find them.
Gods started off slow. I know who the characters are in the Hellboy universe and for about 20 pages I wasn’t seeing any of them. It’s a very lackluster and almost boring first act until we start to see the familiar faces. Once they come in the story really gets started with plenty of exposition. There are some very tense standoffs that keep you engaged in the story, and once you cross the threshold of the final act you can appreciate the slow start. It all makes sense in the end and was absolutely necessary. All I can really advise is, if you’re not digging the first section? Fasten your seatbelts for what’s to come.
The art for Gods was done by Guy Davis and I praise him for attempting to bring a new style of drawing to a Mignola book. I can also say that his drawings of destruction, gods, monsters and one of my favorites – Abe Sapien – are great. His bold edges and simplistic faces on figures are not great when he’s drawing regular old people, but when he’s drawing the weird stuff it really sings.
Monsters offers a story of what Elizabeth Sherman is up to. No longer affiliated with the B.P.R.D., she finds herself living with old friends in a trailer park, and receiving an unexpected welcome.
As I’ve said, before Mignola knows how to write accents perfectly, and since this story takes place in a trailer park it’s got plenty of them. The story itself isn’t as welcoming as Gods was simply because it seems like there’s something from a prior volume that I’m missing, but it was still an exciting read. The story presents a different kind of action from its predecessor – going for a more normal type of combat between Liz and her assailants. The plot is anything but a normal day in the trailer park.
Art in part two was done by Tyler Crook, who manages to draw in a style similar to Davis, but he brings his own flavors with him. There aren’t deep black lines across every characters’ face or hair. It fits in well with the first half of the comic, but it is a better show of character expressions. He also draws gore very well. It’s incredibly disgusting gore, however, he makes it exciting and cool to look at.
If you like anything remotely Hellboy you should read this. There’s a lot for even non-fans to like provided you like weird paranormal things. Plus, this comic’s final two pages will have you screaming with questions about what will happen next.