*WARNING - DEFINITE SPOILERS*
B.P.R.D. HELL ON EARTH #117
Writer: Mike Mignola / John Arcudi
Art: James Harren
Colours: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Clem Robins
Cover: Rafael Albuquerque
Variant Cover: James Harren & Dave Stewart
The Reign of the Black Flame [Part 3 of 5]
This issue starts with a large boom, literally and figuratively.
Iosif takes centre stage for most of it as he starts off with an interrogation of the captured Leopold Kurtz. He uncovers a major piece of information in regards to the body the Black Flame inhabits which origins stretches back to Garden of Souls, through Killing Ground, and then ‘loaned’ to Zinco in Return of the Master. It seems he may even have a hidden agenda as he lies to Johann about the body, knowing Johann’s at tachment to it. Then follows a full-on, one-man army battle as he engages Zinco troops and then 2 ferocious monsters of the Black Flame’s creation.
Dave Stewart has an especially standout moment when Liz reaches her destination at the top of the building, confronting the Black Flame. The entire palette changes to reveal this otherworldly realm, all hues of red, purple, violet - even the tone of the lighting is askew. Next up, Liz and the Black Flame - showdown!
Writer: Scott Snyder
Art: Rafael Albuquerque
Colours: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Steve Wands
Variant Cover: Jae Lee
Slashing its way back into our lives, Snyder and Albuquerque return with the first American Vampire issue in months… and it was well worth the wait!
Skinner Sweet returns with a vengeance, this time its 1965, on the Mexican border, still hijacking cargo - a very similar scene to the first arc years ago, but that might as well have been lifetimes ago. Heck, it was lifetimes ago. Now known as the ‘Sugar Man’, and stealing from arms traffickers, he hides out in a train car buried in the middle of a desert and reminisces the years out loud in the company of his old gal pal, Kitty.
Just a few miles north of his location, Pearl Jones has returned to her home in Kansas, under the guise of ‘Henrietta’ Jones - as her own daughter, and her current endeavours quickly become apparent.
The Gray Trader, a seed that was planted a little while back, is now coming into bloom. Seemingly a vampire with untold power, the build up established in the issue invokes a skin-crawling sensation. Whats worse, is that it seems as though this character has control over a coven of swift, winged invisible vampires. Deadly.
From the great writing, great artwork and Dave McCaig’s masterful colouring - Second Cycle is a familiar creature, but it has evolved. All the separate pieces from the previous arcs are now in the one basket, and there seems to be intent in the writing that it is all about where it’s going to go from here. SsSsSsSscrumptious!
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Travel Foreman / Jeff Lemire
Colours: Lovern Kindzierski / Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover: Travel Foreman / Jeff Lemire
Over the past 28 issues, we have seen Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man, go through some challenging ordeals. First we were introduced to the concept of the Red, then came the antagonists in the form of the Rot, a great arc crossover with Swamp Thing in Rotworld with Scott Snyder, the death of his son Cliff and the epic last few issues with the Splinter Folk, Sebastian Blood and the Totems to decide the future of the Red on Earth and save his daughter, Maxine.
Before Animal Man & Lemire leap into their next book, Justice League United, there has been one looming presence to finish up t he series - and that is dealing with the death of Cliff Baker. In one of the most human and heartfelt stories I have read in a superhero comic - as Buddy goes to tuck Maxine into bed, she insists upon telling him a bedtime story. What follows, as illustrated by Lemire, was a breakdown of the series’ events, through Maxine’s eyes and ends on a melancholic note.
This series has had amazing art over its run and Travel Foreman, Steve Pugh, Rafael Albuquerque and the art team delivered. Coincidentally enough, Albuquerque, is associated with all 3 titles I'm reviewing this week…
And so, with the bedtime story told, Buddy emerges, spirits lifted and ready to face a new day. ‘Goodnight, Cliffy’, he speaks as he looks up into the skies. Goodnight… Animal Man.
Rocket Girl #4
Sex Criminals #5
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth #117
The White Suits#2
American Vampire: Second Cycle #1
Avengers World #4
New Avengers #15
Uncanny X-Men #19.NOW
Wolverine & The X-Men #2
Animal Man #29
Saga Volume 3 [trade paperback]
Hellboy: The First 20 Years [hardcover]
Batman by Doug Moench & Kelley Jones Volume 1 [hardcover]
Wolverine MAX Volume 3: Vegas [trade paperback]