B.P.R.D. vol. 2 TPB: The Soul of Venice & Other Stories – Various

3 out of 5

Some mostly non-Mignola B.P.R.D. attempts; mostly very much okay.  You can feel the Mignolaverse still testing its seam at this point, seeing if more at-length B.P.R.D. stories could fill any unseen void.  As such, these stories are rather inconsequential, farmed out to other creative teams who maybe drawn a cool Abe or LoJo – and hey, there’s Guy Davis, definitive B.P.R.D. artist to come! – but not quite nailing the narrative style Mignola has, which hints at something more and abuses / uses existing myth without it feeling hacky or derivative.

Michael Avon Oeming’s (with Mike Gunther and Mignola assisting on story) title tale is closest to the mark, though, typical of Oeming’s works, it kinda goes off into unreadable action antics toward the end.  Brian Augustyn and Guy Davis, thanks to a solid central idea from Augustyn coupled with Guy’s visuals, provide us a quality haunted town tale, using witches and mud worms and a crazy priest, but again – it kinda flops toward the end, though more from a story perspective.  Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins Lobster Johnson / haunted train story is fun, but very much just feels like an excuse to get Lobster in there.  Joe Harris and Adam Pollina’s toys-come-to-life contribution is the sole exception to okayness in the set, with a plot that really doesn’t feel like it belongs in the slightly more ‘grounded’ ghosts and ghouls of the Mignolaverse, with Pollina’s art establishing zero sense of space or consistency from panel to panel.  However, this is then backed up by a new offering from Mignola, with Cameron Stewart on art, showing all involved how to do a one-shot tale within this world.

The trade is backed up by sketches from all the involved artists.