B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Wasteland (#107 – 109) – Mike Mignola, John Arcudi

5 out of 5

My first Mignolaverse recollection of artist Laurence Campbell was on a Sledgehammer 44 arc, but I’m surprised I didn’t take notice of him on his premiere, Wasteland, in which – no offense to any artist who’s come before – he makes a stamp as the best horror artist B.P.R.D. has had yet.

The marriage of tone to art helps, here, as Campbell is suited to particularly nightmarish hellscapes, and the encroaching storm of Black Flame-enhanced zombies stalking Johann and his crew, on an on-foot trek to Chicago, offers up plenty of nighttime, red-hued scenes of madness, as well as a stunningly frightening Lovecraftian monster that bursts through the ground to kick things off.  The bat-faced creatures, which we’ve seen elsewhere, are infinitely more terrifying and ferocious here as well; when these creatures enact violence, you believe it.  I do recall on later stories that talking heads didn’t work well in Laurence’s heavily shadowed style, but given that his crew here is both constantly on the move, and well defined by major details – a scar, a sling, glasses – that’s not an issue in Wasteland.  So we can focus on this perfectly distilled Walking Dead spin, which is further helped along by some great – and satisfying! – story connective tissue from Arcudi, as well as some sub-plotty character threads that enhance the tale instead of distract.

Special nods to Stewart’s colors on this: working in phantasmagoric painterly blends to match Campbell’s looser style, it’s a reminder how chameleonic he has to be to handle the broad stable of Mignolaverse artists.