B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia #2A comic review article by: Zack Davisson
Every good comic character needs an evil twin right? Superman has Bizzaro. The Flash has Professor Zoom. Batman has Catman. Now Johann Krauss has his evil double in Director Iosif. Also a corpse-in-a-containment suit, Iosif (who first appeared in Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain) heads the Russian Occult Bureau which is the Soviet version of the B.P.R.D. And like most things in real life, the Soviet imitation is much, much scarier. In B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia, Johann and Kate Corrigon have gone to Moscow to meet with the Russian Occult Bureau to take a look at something horrible (of course) that they have found. Director Iosif thinks that Johann's unique abilities will be of the most use to the Occult Bureau. But Johann is pretty sure he doesn't want to do what Iosif is asking, This second issue in the series is a bridging issue, which means lots of set-up for a big payoff down the line. Bridging issues like this are always tough to review. They are essential to the plot, and I know that in a collected format they would flow pretty well, but here you are just stuck with a lot of set-up, a cliffhanger ending and the wait for next issue. After spending so much time with Liz in the two previous B.P.R.D.series, it is nice to have a few issues focusing on Johann. Unfortunately, Kate doesn't get a lot of play, and is ushered to the sidelines pretty quickly. Johann and Iosif spend a lot of time talking and commiserating about their mutual condition. These guys are bonding hardcore before Iosif tosses Johann into a room with a possessed dad guy, shoots the dead guy in the head, then locks the door and tells Johann to get to work. Iosif is not a nice guy.
The scale of Hell on Earth takes a big jump with this series. Hell on Earth: Monsters was a personal story, but Russiagets the team back on an international scale. When you have the government involved with the walking dead and some foreshadowing for a radioactive zone, you sense that things are going to get big fast.
As always, Tyler Cook is a good replacement artist for Guy Davis. He is close enough to Davis' style that it isn't a shocking transition, but at the same time is individualistic enough that he isn't a clone. This is the first time that Cook got to draw some really big entities after the more human evils of Monsters. He doesn't disappoint.
All in all, the second issue of B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia does exactly what it needs to do and sets up the stage for fun to come. This is a solid if unspectacular issue.
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.