3 out of 5
And then THAT happened.
The Abe Sapien ongoing series was the first Mignolaverse book where I started to waver. After several pretty solid standalone mini-series, and with Arcudi having first stepped Abe up to badass agent status (finally moving him beyond the mopey mopester he inherited from early B.P.R.D.) and then completely sidelining him in a coma, I was pretty excited to see him get his own title. And Scott Allie’s kickoff in the first issue really exceeded my expectations: Allie landed on a moody, noirish tone – helped immensely by the horror comics dread inherent in artist Sebastián Fiumara’s heavily inked panels – and set Abe up as sort of a wandering observer, befuddled after waking from his unconscious state into the Hell On Earth the world had continued to evolve in to, but still armed with knowledge of his past and his earned sense of confidence. We’re filled in bit by bit on his ‘escape’ from B.P.R.D., and shown that there are agents tasked with tracking him down, giving some urgency to his walkabout, and then as he witnesses the strange mutations in the wake of the Hell-beasts ravages, and comes across a strangely welcoming preacher, it feels like Allie may have tapped in to something with a lot of potential, exploring mankind (and its relation to its monsters, whether borne from the depths or not) in a way that the pulpy Hellboy and ongoing B.P.R.D. title never really did.
…But then things go sort of haywire with the preacher in a most unimaginative fashion (people freak out because stuff is CRAZY!) and it escalates to an almost laughable extent, before giant monsters with poorly defined definitions start wrecking things. Fiumara’s creatures look super cool, but they break from the more grounded EC vibe of the art and go towards Godzilla extremes, playing havoc with our sense of space and perspective. The (I suppose) requisite action sequence, instead of amplifying things, just pisses on any of the built up tension and concepts for fisticuffs, and also pretty much tosses aside the ‘hunt for Abe’ plot point as well. This, I recall – and as I re-experience – is why the Abe title was my first ‘out’ from the Mignolaverse, as it had this habit of tip-toeing toward interesting bits before tossing it away for big scale stuff that seemed more appropriate for the ongoing, preventing the book from finding its own identity.