Monday, 4 January 2016
B.P.R.D, Volume 7: Garden of Souls Review (Mike Mignola, Guy Davis)
Abe discovers just how insane his past was when he’s drawn to a remote Indonesian island with Daimio in tow. Victorian England, living Egyptian mummies, steampunk robots, a monster island, and a fiendish and utterly deranged plot to save the world through destruction and living Hyperborean vessels - oy, what an awesome comic!
Garden of Souls is right up there with The Universal Machine and 1946 as among the finest books in the BPRD series. The storyline begins in 1859 England where a mummy from Thebes is being unrolled and we see Langdon Caul, the man Abe Sapien used to be, to then jumping to 2006 where we see this even more bizarre Island of Doctor Moreau, and somehow it all fits together seamlessly into one rollercoaster of a read!
While most of this book is about revealing Abe’s bonkers past, writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi hold the reader’s attention throughout with interesting storylines for the other characters too. Daimio’s haunted by a creepy talking monkey in a jar before he joins Abe in Indonesia to help save the world; Johann’s uncovering clues with lobster claws on them in the BPRD HQ’s basement as well as secrets of Daimio’s family; there’s an unsettling little girl with weird eyes being followed by cats; Liz is shown nightmarish visions of a Lovecraftian future; there’s so much great material in this single volume and it’s so well-balanced!
I suppose this book is part of the overall Plague of Frogs storyline, if only for Liz’s scenes, but Garden of Souls barely touches on any of that nonsense which is a big reason for why I enjoyed this one so much. Look how good BPRD can be when they’re not faffing about with the Frogs bullshit!
I didn’t realise that I had no idea of Panya’s origins until I read this (to be fair, there are a LOT of oddballs in the cast and it’s tricky to keep up with all their stories!) but I really liked it and it totally explains, and adds a layer to, her appearance and the pet who’s always hanging out with her.
Guy Davis’ art was good in this one - I liked how the tropical setting made him draw something besides shadowy ruins and other Mignolaverse staples. Some images like the wonderfully gothic Victorian house in the jungle and the weirdly expressive steampunk robots were outstanding. Ditto Dave Stewart’s colours (as always) who gave the book a very attractive glow you wouldn’t expect to see in a horror comic.
Garden of Souls is superb - an excellent and genuinely exciting story that also really pays off Abe’s origins that the writers have been teasing for several books up to this point. This is basically an Abe Sapien comic and if you like the character you’ll love that he has some brilliant scenes here. A fun, inventive, compelling read, Garden of Souls is easily one of the highlights from this series. If only more BPRD comics were even half this good!
B.P.R.D, Volume 7: Garden of Souls