I am truly a sucker for comics that marry epic supernatural storytelling with small-scale dramatic beats. Constant cosmic destruction quickly can get boring while long sequences of characters talking, runs the danger of becoming stagnant and ignoring the visual side of the medium. But if you can successfully combine the two, as BPRD #145 does, you end up with a thrilling adventure that manages to remember just why we care about the giant lizard stomping his way towards the BPRD's Colorado base. There's a lot going on at this point in BPRD. The base is being evacuated by a reasonably stressed out Kate Corrigan who realizes Panya is up to something. Liz and Johann are stalling for time, fighting a losing battle against the Ogdru Jahad, but Liz is falling apart from exhaustion and Johann is being tempted towards oblivion by forces beyond his control. Last of not least, Valslskjlkdjkfj and Ioseph have returned from Hell with some friends familiar to those who know Mignola's lore (no not Hellboy, sadly). While this last point does feel like a bit of an afterthought (though a pretty cool one and no, it's still not Hellboy), the issue is generally very successful at balancing its stories while progressing them each.
This last arc (and to an extent the entirety of BPRD Hell on Earth) has been about sacrifice. As the earth comes closer and closer to extinction, the cast of BPRD doesn't consider giving up but instead grit their teeth and fight forward, losing friends, family, and in some cases, their humanity in the process. Roger is dead, Abe and Hellboy are missing, Kate is alone, Panya is old and tired, and Liz is near death. Unlike every other superhero book on the market, the apocalypse of BPRD hasn't been avoided. Despite the best efforts of the Bureau's best agents, the world is cracked and broken as an elder God rampages across a brutally changed world.
And in the midst of this brutal, large-scale destruction, this issue takes some time to quietly focus on a couple of characters who have been quietly developing for over a hundred issues. Kat Corrigan who has, over the course of BPRD gone from a bit Hellboy backup character to a realistically developed leader and mother to the team, confronts Panya about her increasingly erratic reclusive behavior. Panya finally let’s go of her secret and, surprisingly, it's not one based in mythology but characterization. She is old and wants to die. In a small parallel to the team as a whole, Panya, in the face of overwhelming exhaustion, wants to give up and let it all be over but Kate can't let her go. It's a wonderful little moment earned both by this issue and those that came before.
By the end of the issue, there are a couple of larger plot swerves I won't spoil here, but that little character moment remains my favorite part. Entering its home stretch, BPRD Hell on Earth is proving itself to be a worthy finale in terms of mythology, spectacle, and heart. There's a lot of ground left to cover, but BPRD #145 proves Arcudi, Mignola, and Campbell are more than up to the challenge.
[su_box title="Score: 4/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]
B.P.R.D. - Hell on Earth #145 Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi Artist: Lawrence Campbell Colorist: Dave Stewart Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital