ADVANCE REVIEW! B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia #4 will go on sale Wednesday, December 21, 2011.
What are the elements necessary for crafting a truly horrific story? Nightmare creatures bent on destroying humanity? Dark underground settings, teeming with unnatural life? The overwhelming uncertainty of who you can and cannot trust? Well, friends, if any or all of these things stand out to you as key ingredients in a big nasty batch of horror, delight in the putrid pages of B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia #4.
In this book, the buildup and tension of Issue #3 begins to pay off, and all of the horrific set pieces come to life. Iosif finally begins to reveal the details of why Kate and Johann have been brought in to assist the Russian Occult Bureau, and the motivating factor behind the hordes of worker zombies is brought to light. Kate is none too happy with this revelation but, in her helplessness, continues the role of a sideline character, merely watching as events unfold. And what terribly twisted events they are! Johann steps up as a true hero, seemingly aspiring to fill the massive gap left by the departure of Hellboy. My only complaint with this issue is that I don't have the next issue immediately at hand to offer the comforts of a resolution. We are left standing on the precipice of a potential catastrophe with no hint as to the possible outcome.
The storytelling team of Mignola and Arcudi works in a fluid and seamless fashion, so that the story never really feels like tidbits pieced together from multiple minds, but one cohesive tale molded from some ghoulish collective conscience. I found myself furiously flipping through the pages on my first read through, eagerly devouring the story content. Upon revisiting the issue, a slowed pace allowed me to pick up on some of the finer details, and really admire the fantastic artwork.
While I tend to gravitate toward a more highly detailed style of illustration, I find myself being drawn in by Tyler Crook's art. Each stroke is intentional, and lays a masterful foundation for the atmospheric dread that permeates the world of B.P.R.D., without muddling each panel with unnecessary detail. Dave Stewart puts the proverbial icing on the cake with his undeniable command of color. The palette, while not overly extensive, perfectly captures the essence of evil that surrounds our cast of characters, and helps to further instill the sense that everything is not all right with the world. The lettering by Clem Robins has a very natural feel that is highly complimentary to the line art. I always appreciate a letterer who is able to forgo the computerized fonts and achieve a more hand drawn feel to the text.
In the end, my jaw was left firmly planted upon the floor. I felt as if I was one of the drooling zombies from the pages, salivating for what's to come. B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia #4 does a perfect job of tying up all of the details form the story thus far and setting the stage for, what I can only assume, will be a terribly thrilling finale. I wait with bated breath.
Rachel Deering is horror incarnate. Before most children learn to read, she was cutting her teeth on Warren Publishing magazines like Creepy and Eerie, and the beloved multitude of EC titles. Feeding her ever-growing hunger for horror on a steady diet of Hammer flicks and anything having to do with werewolves, it became all-too-clear that she was beyond the help of even the saintliest of priests. Her family abandoned her in a remote forest, where she was raised by Bernie Wrightson and his Swamp Thing. Today, she works as a freelance writer, editor, and letterer for comics and lives in Columbus Ohio with her wonderful wife and tiny chihuahua.