As a fan of comic artist and creator Mike Mignola, I’ve always loved the literary universe he created that is the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense ( or B.P.R.D. for short ). Founded near the end of WWII in 1944, the B.P.R.D. is a government organization charged with investigating potentially devastating cases with a supernatural or paranormal bent to them. The real twist tho is that most of the field agents in the B.P.R.D. are paranormal beings whose origins are tied to the occult ( making them suitably experienced with handling these cases ). Among them are Hellboy ( a red skinned demon adopted by the founder of the B.P.R.D., Prof. Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm ), Liz Sherman ( a woman born with the power of pyrokinesis ), Roger ( a homunculus or stone man created thru alchemical means ), Johann Strauss ( an ectoplasmic spirit that inhabits a containment suit ), and finally ( my personal favorite ), Abe Sapien ( a half man half amphibian ). Abe Sapien was found in 1978 immersed in a liquid tube in the basement of a Washington D.C. hospital with no memory of his Life or how he got there. The only clue as to his origins was a placard found at the base of the tube with his species classification “icthyo sapien” and a date April 14, 1865 ( the day Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, hence, his name).
Now, finally, he scores his own series. However, judging by the way it starts, I’m not too impressed. To be fair, I cannot really blame the writers for this particular story arc, but the overall writing staff who have plotted this character’s trajectory up to this point. Abe has since become less mysterious because past issues have dealt with his origins. It appears that Mignola has taken a page from Marvel’s Wolverine play book and given us way too much information on a character whose whole charm and appeal centered around the fact that he seemed to “pop” into existence. Also, Abe has regressed to a more primitive incarnation ( much like Wolverine had when Magneto ripped out his adamantium ) and as a result, has gone AWOL from the B.P.R.D. team ( who, in this issue, is badly in need of his experience and talents ). Abe Sapien , in my opinion, is a character more suited to one-shot issues ( much like Will Eisner’s the Spirit ) rather than story arcs which pressure the writers into adding unnecessary traits, situations, and backgrounds in order to hold our interest in the character. Not that this issue doesn’t have its draw. The gorgeous artwork by Sebastian Fiumara fits well into Mignola’s mood and emotional gothic tone palette. Here’s a couple of preview pages,
I will have to see the other two issues in this three-part series before I render any final judgment upon it. I just wished Abe Sapien could exist without the need for a convoluted character history. However, this seems to be the norm for comic characters nowadays, and I find that maybe I’m just nitpicking too much. I jumped at the chance to do this review because of my love for the character, but I think in this case, that same love is preventing me from giving other writers a chance to make their contributions. Call it my need to keep this character ( one that I’ve found the most engaging in recent memory ) pure. I’m getting grumpy and obstinate in my old age.
Abe Sapien #1: Dark and Terrible part 1
Writer: Mike Mignola, Scott Allie
Artist: Sebastián Fiumara
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Sebastián Fiumara
Genre: Action/Adventure, Horror
Publication Date: April 03, 2013
Format: FC, 32 Pages
UPC: 7 61568 21535 9 00111