I really think that the art is the biggest selling point of this series. The look and design are intense and really highlight the bleak nature of the overall world. We’ve seen the major stuff in B.P.R.D., but in Ape Sapien we’re taken to the ground level and shown how the average person is coping with the end of the world. It’s what gives this series a very different vibe compared to the rest of the Mignolaverse titles and actually compliments the franchise nicely, while keeping it from feeling like a rehash of the other titles. The story begins with Abe keeping to himself and listening to the radio while he gets some water into his system. While he listens to the radio it perfectly reflects the situation he finds himself in as a hungry wolf approaches the water looking at him as threat or a meal. As he reaches for a rock to fight the wolf, it decides to back off. The next day we find Abe at the Salton Sea which once housed the creature currently destroying San Diego. Giant eggs are all that remain and as he approaches coyotes are scavenging the remains of one of the eggs. He decides to camp out by the second egg that is waiting to hatch, but he has company in the form of… monster groupies.
When I think about this issue nothing really happens, but so much happens at the same time. It’s basically just a series of conversations, but it has a TV pacing to it. The opening was perfect and captured the entire world in a nutshell. Abe is on his own and while it’s unclear as to what he’s looking for, there are people other than the B.P.R.D. looking for him. Even still it’s a lonely journey he finds himself on.
Mignola and Arcudi are a wonderful writing team. They can take the simplest issue and make it very complex as is the case here. There are really only five or six scenes in the issue and yet due to the conversation a lot is actually covered. I enjoy the fact that this is the ground floor look at the end of the world, whereas B.P.R.D. is the big action team book almost looking down on the situation and Hellboy in Hell is the mystery underneath it all. Its great writing and meaty chunks of dialog to enjoy.
Fiumara’s art is fantastic. He’s an incredible visual storyteller and personally I think he amplifies a lot of the story. The opening sequence with the wolf (possibly a coyote) was brilliant. The layout, setting, the subtle movements and Abe’s design where all killer. Since most of the issue is just conversations, it’s up to Fiumara to keep the visuals interesting and he nails it with each and every panel. Stewart's coloring is amazing as always and he compliments Fiumara’s style very well.
Something that is unique to Mignola’s style of storytelling is that he creates story arcs that are easily accessible to new readers. Now granted you may not know everything that’s been happening in the last year of the Mignolaverse, but do you really need to understand that in order to enjoy Abe’s journey of self-discovery? No, you don’t. This is a good issue to jump on to the series, but it’s only a two issue arc meaning that you’ll have another chance with issue six as well. I had some doubts after the first story arc, but reading this issue has reinvigorated my interest in the series.
Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Artist: Max Fiumara
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 7/3/13