B.P.R.D. Vol. 8: Killing Ground

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Guy Davis
144 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

We’re all familiar with the hyperbole. "In this issue, everything changes!" It’s a promise that decades upon decades of comics have promised, with some huge status quo shattering event teased on the cover. More often than not, though, it’s a company-owned comic that for the purposes of trademark (or just a general unwillingness), things are back to normal within a year or two. All of that ran through my head when reading B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground, because despite the lack of a promise on the cover, this is a book where I’m willing to believe that everything does, indeed, change.

The plague of demonic frogs may be over, but that doesn’t make things any easier for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Abe Sapien is still learning about his mysterious past, and has returned from his trip to Indonesia with an ageless mummy. Liz Sherman’s dreams are haunted by a man who warns her that she can trust no one on the team. Johann Kraus has a body again for the first time in decades and is reveling in the pleasures of being solid. And the secrets of Captain Ben Daimio’s mysterious revival are about to be revealed—and that’s what everyone should really be worrying about.

Since B.P.R.D. is owned by co-author Mike Mignola, when he and John Arcudi do horrible things to the characters, you really get the impression that this isn’t an event that will be undone two months later. If Mignola and Arcudi want to kill, or mutilate, or warp a main character, there’s nothing really stopping them. So as a sense of doom slowly increases with each page in B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground, you can’t help but be a little unnerved. B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground uses a classic "everything goes wrong" formula here, with every new event increasing the descent of their fortunes. When the dust finally settles, some answers are revealed, although things are definitely going to be continued in stories to come. It helps that for a story set in a high-tech headquarters in the modern day, Mignola and Arcudi are able to write stories that make you feel like you’re in an earlier time, where floors creak at every step and there’s always something terrifying lurking around the corner. By the time you’re done with B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground, you’ve definitely completed a journey into fear.

A lot of the credit here has to go to Guy Davis. His art in B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground is creepy, with monsters and men alike able to evoke a wonderful sense of uneasiness. When even a Mandarin-style robe can look amazingly creepy, you know something’s working well. He and colorist Dave Stewart have a great synergy here; when the team stumbles into a hideous massacre, there’s a deep red that saturates every panel—but at the same time you still can make out all the individual, horrific details. And while Mignola is quite possibly one of the kings of drawing monstrous creatures, Davis’s art is pretty top-notch in its own right, bringing every one of them to life and virtually popping off the page.

Every time a new volume of B.P.R.D. is released, I’m reminded again what a strong series it is. What seemed a little dubious at first—taking cast-off secondary characters from Hellboy and giving them not only additional depth, but making their own series compelling and interesting in its own right. If you’ve been just sticking with Hellboy up until now, or are just looking for a good mix of fantastical horror and adventure, B.P.R.D. is waiting.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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