Only in Mike Mignola and John Arcudi’s realm can a light-hearted romp involve summoning demons from the pits of hell, an infectious disease that blows you up like Veruca Salt on bad blueberries, a few nice axe chops and a beheading, and enough puss and bile to fill a swimming pool. The Devil may not jest, but Mignola and Arcudi do.
The concluding second-half of Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest is essentially the punch line to a story told with dark humor. The tale is a riff on the classic “secluded farmhouse” motif so favored by H.P. Lovecraft and other weird fiction writers. A man bitter at the academic world denied to him take refuge in a rural farmhouse where not even a loving wife and new baby can calm his soul. The man lusts for something greater, and plunges deep into musty, worm-ridden tomes until he succeeds in summoning a demon of considerable power.
One thing about summoning demons though; if you don’t know the spells to bind and control them, it is just best to leave well enough alone.
Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest #2 had me chuckling in spite of myself. The story is actually quite sad; we are talking ruin and damnation for an entire family, including the wee baby. But the visual cues and beats give the story its dark comedy feel. After all, when you have Abe wacking the head off an obese zombie in a yellow dress only to have the body come at him again until Abe screams out, “Goddammit. Hold still you fat sloppy…” — well, it makes me think that this issue was a bit tongue-in-cheek.
A small Hellboy bit is worked into the plot, but it almost seems like filler and just gives Hellboy an opportunity to razz the new guy and drop the final punchline. Liz Sherman pops up for a panel or two.
James Harren does a good job with the art. Nothing stand-outish, but his style suits the tone of the story, which is light and action-orientated. I do have to say that Harren sure loves his speed lines! His Devil was very cool though, and I like how Harren gave him a classic look. That demon could have happily been on the cover of a Dio album. Sometimes you just summon up more demon than you were really hoping for.
Overall, I enjoyed Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest #2. If it has any flaws, it’s that it is too light-hearted and too quick a read for the $3.50 price tag. As comics veer further up in the dollar range I expect something a little more substantial for my cash. While these kinds of stories are a lot of fun, I would probably rather read them in a collected edition all together rather than in a two-issue miniseries like this.
Zack Davisson is a freelance writer and life-long comics fan. He owned a comic shop in Seattle during the ’90s, during which time he had the glorious (and unpaid) gig as pop-culture expert for NPR. He has lived in three countries, has degrees in Fine Art and Japanese Studies, and has been a contributing writer to magazines like Japanzine and Kansai Time-Out. He currently lives in Seattle, WA with his wife Miyuki. You can catch more of Zack’s reviews on his blog Japan Reviewed or read his translations of Japanese ghost stories on Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai.