I haven’t really been keeping up with the Hellboy world since the Conqueror Worm mini-series and of course the two movies. It seems like a lot has happened in that time. This issue is a nice quiet issue that finds our blue protagonist mostly just talking with another character the whole time. After some house drama concerning a funeral drives out a young lady Abe goes after and does his best to comfort her with his fish-man charm. I bet he smells like men’s locker room on a leaky submarine. That’s pretty charming. This is another example of a break done well where X-O Manowar #33, while a great series, had a real bad breather issue. It’s just story telling mechanics. If you have a long running serial story occasionally you need to just slow things down and have one or a few characters talk about what’s going on. You brush past the broad points of what has happened, show what the world is like currently, maybe have your character touch on current events in the broadest terms possible and you hint towards the future. Its storytelling 101 and it has to be done at some point and it can be done well, as is this case, or poorly, as was the case in X-O #33. I know I’ve been picking on X-O with my original review, in the Goon #50 review and now here. It’s just that issue is text-book in how it fails in comparison with these other issues. X-O is an excellent series, reading back issues has demonstrated that and while it failed, it failed while leaving a taste of excellence.
Abe Sapien succeeds by spending a lot of time with our main Reconstruction Era Man-Made Fish-Man. Abe is the focus of the issue and he’s teamed up with someone younger and with a different perspective than himself. This conflict of views leads to interesting and informative conversation. Through context I know something apocalyptic happened to the world, starting with Houston, and it involves monsters that look similar to Abe which has caused friction between Abe and the remaining human survivors. I know the world has changed greatly and has caused the survivors to split into, essentially, tribes. Some of which are dysfunctional or downright destructive. I know by how Abe talks about Hellboy that Hellboy isn’t around. I learn so much about the world and the characters that I can continue to read the series confident that the blanks will be filled in when they need to be. Right now I have enough context to start assembling the larger world. That is a successful filler story.
This is probably a more successful filler story than Goon. However this will get a lesser score because Goon does almost as good a job while also setting up conflict. At the end of the issue we get a hint of conflict but not really greater story driving content. The conflict for next issue is going to be brief and probably more serve to drive the two characters back to the group of supporting characters we get a glimpse of. It’s a good issue and if you’re curious about Abe Sapien then this could serve as a good first issue for you but it looks like it might be one more issue before we get back to the main plot which kills the momentum a little for me.
Writer: Mike Mignola/Scott Allie Artist: Max Fiumara Colorist: Dave Stewart Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 2/11/15 Format: Ongoing; Digital/Print