Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Review - B.P.R.D. Vol.12: War On Frogs TPB

I usually like the BPRD books – particularly the ones by John Arcudi and Guy Davis – more than I like the Hellboy books that this series span out from. I do like Hellboy quite a lot – I just tend to enjoy reading about these characters more, even if I don’t always find their adventures that memorable. I honestly can’t remember what happened in the last few volumes in this series now, even though I only read them about a year ago, but that’s okay because I’ve got them all and am sure I will enjoy re-reading them at some point. I vaguely remember that I was getting a bit bored with the long-running ‘war on frogs’, which started in the very first Hellboy book and has been running throughout this entire series, but I was under the impression that this volume was the end of the ‘frogs’ storyline. Instead, though, ‘War On Frogs’ contains five one-shots, each focusing on a different member of the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) as they were during different stages of the war, which does not come to an end in this volume at all.

All five stories are written by the usual team of Mike Mignola and John Arcudi but this time we get a variety of artists. The first story, which focuses on the now-deceased Roger the Homunculus, as he goes after the frog monsters from the very first Hellboy story, is pencilled by Herb Trimpe – a name I never thought I’d see gracing the cover of a modern comic. Trimpe’s art is unrecognisable under Guy Davis’ inks, and the finished art ends up looking more like Davis’ art. The second story, focusing on the undead Captain Benjamin Daimo as he tackles frog monsters at some old-time religious revival meetings, is pencilled and inked by Guy Davis, and the art here is only distinguishable from the art in the first story because the art in the first story is slightly more simplistic. Then we get a story featuring Abe Sapien, who helps a crew of BPRD agents tackle frog monsters via radio contact, and the familiar art for this story is provided by another veteran comic artist, John Severin.

The fourth story here was my favourite. It focuses on ectoplasmic BPRD member Johann Kraus, who finds himself troubled by the ghosts of some frog monsters who were killed shortly after being turned into frog monsters. The art, by Peter Snejbjerg, is very nice, too. The book then ends with another well-drawn tale – illustrated by Karl Moline – which focuses on Liz Sherman, burning the crap out of some frog monsters in the days before she lost it.

This was a perfectly enjoyable read but it was hardly an essential purchase. It was a bit of a filler volume, really, which seemed to be killing time before the frogs storyline does come to an overdue end in some future volume. The only story that I really liked was the one about Johann Kraus. The art in all the stories was good, and it was good to see that guys like Herb Trimpe and John Severin are still getting work, but I was slightly disappointed when I realised (after getting the book) that this volume wasn’t entirely illustrated by the series’ regular artist, Guy Davis, whose art is just perfect for this title.

Cost: I got this for Christmas, so it didn’t cost me anything (unless you count the cost of the gift I bought in return, which you probably should). It has a recommended retail price of £13.50 / $17.99, but Amazon currently have it for £9.45, and that’s where the generous soul who bought me this got it from.

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