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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

B.P.R.D. War on Frogs. Mike Mignola, John Arcudi (Writers). Dark Horse Books (2010)

This is a very enjoyable collection of stories that call back to various parts of the B.P.R.D. continuity. Roger the Homunculus makes a welcome return, in a story that returns the B.P.R.D. to the Ground Zero of the series, Cavendish Hall. The story follows up a loose end and ties it up with care. The art by Herb Trimpe and Guy Davis is suitably subdued until the action drives it forward. The second story also with art by Guy Davis features another lost cast member, Captain Benjamin Daimio. It is a sharp story about the layers of meaning the desire for a new world can contain. Given the path that Captain Daimio was to follow, it is a very nice use of continuity. The art by John Severin on an Alien-like story of a hunt on a deserted submarine is beautiful, it captures the tension, fear, stress and finally the stone cold courage of the B.R.R.D. team.
The story of Johann Kraus's tangle with ghostly frogs is wonderfully served by the art of Peter Snejbjerg with colours by Bjarne Hansen. The out of body sequence is a tour de force superbly capturing the story ideas. The final story with art by Karl Moline is brilliantly structured, it reveals itself neatly and with real feeling.
The final story is my favourite in the collection, it uses an oblique angle on the haunting of Liz Sherman to great effect. Using another strong and capable female as the central character gives it a welcome lift.
The quality of the stories overall is very high and none feel like fillers nor are they irrelevant to the overall B.R.R.D. narrative. They add depth and force to the massive struggle talking place in the main story. They show the individual cost of the war with the frogs at one end and the scale of the war by focusing on the sheer ferocity of small encounters. The stories use continuity without being trapped by it, they are straightforward enough to be comprehensible to a new reader, for anyone who has been following the series they are a clever, thoughtful pleasure.

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