Daily Archives: July 21, 2008

Quick Critiques – July 21, 2008

B.P.R.D.: The Ectoplasmic Man one-shot (Dark Horse Comics)
by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Ben Stenbeck

I love how much potential and life Mike Mignola and his various creative collaborators have uncovered in the Hellboy franchise, and I’m thrilled there’s a wealth of material on the stands. Given that B.P.R.D. comics are released on a monthly basis, one might question the need for this one-shot, but it’s a smart move, given some content in the recently released Hellboy 2: The Golden Army movie. It adds Johann Strauss to the big-screen B.P.R.D. cast, and this one-shot offers up an accessible origin and introduction to the character for readers who may otherwise be unfamiliar with him. It’s a simple, solid story, but one that still manages to tap into the appeal of the B.P.R.D. formula. Mignola and co-writer John Arcudi were smart to offer more than a simple origin and profile of Strauss. There’s a complete story here, complete with monstrous villain and the usual melancholy tone that’s inherent in the gothic property. As far as I can tell, this is my first exposure Ben Stenbeck’s artwork, and I’m impressed. His work reminds me of the art of such comics professionals as Peter Snejbjerg and Shawn McManus. His dark approach manages to touch upon Mignola’s distinctive look as well. What’s most striking about Stenbeck’s work here is the softness he brings to Johann’s face. He’s instantly sympathetic. His use of color to distinguish among the living, the dead and the in-between is thoroughly effective as well and adds a strong, supernatural energy to the mix. 8/10

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