Monday, 17 March 2014

BPRD, Hell on Earth, Volume 7: A Cold Day In Hell Review (Mike Mignola, Peter Snejbjerg)


The first half of the book follows Johann and a smattering of BPRD agents as they embark on a rescue mission to Chicago to discover the fates of their non-communicative colleagues who went in before them. The second half deals with Nichayko, the zombie director of the Russian version of the BPRD, as he reveals more of Varvara’s (the creepy doll-like girl living in a jar) backstory.
BPRD: Hell on Earth has officially stalled. The series has been steadily becoming less and less interesting, especially in the last couple of volumes, but this seventh book was by far the worst. The Johann story was dull at best and read like so many other BPRD stories that I kept pausing to ask myself “have I read this before?”. And yes, this is the addendum to the tedious Abyss of Time story arc from Volume 5: The Pickens County Horror.
Reading Johann’s story made me realise what BPRD has bizarrely become: Starship Troopers. All those giant bugs appearing from the ground and the skies with the BPRD agents firing guns at them just felt exactly like the Starship Troopers movie/awful CGI TV show. And that’s all that seems to happen in BPRD books these days: bland characters with guns firing at bland monsters. Johann’s not a bad character but he’s written here as just another grunt – the person we’ve gotten to know for so long has disappeared.  
The good news is that Abe Sapien’s back from the dead. The bad news is that he’s in the book for a whopping two pages before disappearing. Why does this series need Abe? Because the cast are a series of non-descript human characters who I couldn’t care less about. We need Liz, Abe, and Hellboy back or we need Johann to at least be written like he used to be! We need something more than nothing.
The other story with Nichayko is only slightly more interesting but still doesn’t feel like it deserved the space it got – it was just too forgettable. Nichayko goes to an outpost, monsters attack, BPRD go in and save him, the end. It’s about as rote a BPRD story as you can get. Sure there’s some ok stuff about Varvara’s real identity but it’s so fleeting that it doesn’t make up for the dreariness of the rest of the story.  
BPRD: Hell on Earth desperately needs two things: a plot and characters worth reading about. The last couple books have been complete stinkers but this latest one is so shockingly boring and uninspired that the only positive is that the only way this series can go is up.

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Volume 7: A Cold Day in Hell

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