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B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs
Review by Steve Welch

Story
B.R.P.D.: Plague of Frogs

Story
Mike Mignola
 
art
Guy Davis
 
Colors
Dave Stewart
 
Letters
Clem Robins

Publisher
Dark Horse Comics
 
Format
Softcover Collection
 
Publish Date
January 2005
 
Cover Price
$17.95
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy, introduced the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) in one of Hellboy's many adventures. Although this book does not feature Hellboy, it boasts a colorful, off-beat, and at times tragic array of characters, conveniently summarized at the beginning of the story:

Johann Kraus, a medium whose physical form was destroyed while his ectoplasmic projection was out-of-body. That essence now resides in a containment suit. A psychic empath, Johann can create temporary forms for the dead to speak to the living.

Liz Sherman, a fire-starter since the age fo 11, who accidentally burned her family to death. She has been a ward of the BPRD since then, learning to control her pyrokinetic abilities and cope with the trauma those abilities have wrought.

Abe Sapien, an amphibious man discovered in a long-forgotten subbasement beneath a Washington DC hospital sealed inside a primitive stasis chamber. All indications suggest a previous life, dating back to the Civil War – an unfolding mystery for Abe.

Roger, a homunculus made from human blood and herbs. Discovered in Romania, Roger was first brought to life by Liz’s pyrokinetic touch. Whether or not he is actually alive is up for debate, but his child-like love for that life is not.

Dr. Kate Corrigan, a former professor at New York University, and an authority on folklore and occult history. She has been a BPRD consultant for 10 years, now serving as a special liaison to the enhanced-talents task force.

BPRD: Plague of Frogs is a great story for fans of Mike Mignola and his characters. BPRD served as a supporting cast in a number of the Hellboy miniseries, and Mignola then spun the group off into its own multiple miniseries (this trade is the third arc of BPRD).

Mignola’s storytelling talents and love for the mythical, mystical, paranormal, and occult is evident, and this miniseries is the first BPRD storyline actually written by their creator. Without giving the story completely away (what fun would that be?), it begins with a shootout in a hidden laboratory that results in the escape of a giant fungus and the beginning of a plague of frogs. The BPRD soon discovers that it must stop a madman from completing the doomsday work begun by the deranged monk Rasputin in the original Hellboy story arc, "Seed of Destruction."

Mignola not only takes the reins to write this story, but along the way continues to develop the characters and ultimately resolves one of the most mysterious aspects of the BPRD – the origin of Abe Sapien. The story is done brilliantly, paced well, and contains vampiric man-frog monsters, a fungus creature, animated corpses, a doomsday prophet, and our old friend Rasputin. What more can a fan ask for? In his afterward, Mignola admits that he came up with Abe Sapien’s origin while hallucinating from a severe fever in Prague during the shooting of the Hellboy movie. He must win the award for the most creative and coherent hallucinations then, as the origin gives way to even more mystery. But that, friends, is another story. One that Mignola will hopefully tell in the near future.

Art
When I first saw Guy Davis as the artist listed, I thought, what an odd choice. Could he pull off the mood necessary for the Mignola script? The good news is that he does, and does it well. I would like to have seen Mignola himself tackle the art on this series, but Davis tells the story and is well suited for a script like this that involves multiple lead characters and as Mignola acknowledges, he’s a great “creature guy.”
Bonus Features
This book is light on extras, but does contain some nice sketches and prelims done by Davis to get the feel of the characters. It also has some script and thumbnail samples by Mignola, with commentary by Davis as to how the two collaborated to get the final product polished.
Final Words

A complex, entertaining story that gives you everything you’d expect from a Mignola series. Readers unfamiliar with the characters can jump on and get up to speed quickly, although it’ll probably prompt them to go back and read any Hellboy or BPRD they haven’t read yet.

Recommended


Steve Welch is an avid collector of pre-hero and Silver Age Marvel comics as well as original art by Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and other notable creators. He works in the medical publishing and communications field, but his heart belongs to comic books, his wonderful wife of 12 years, and their three great danes. He sells comics and original art through his company Albino Rhino Comics, is an avid scuba diver, and believes that life is too short to drink bad wine.
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