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Abe Sapien: The Drowning #4 (of 5)

Posted: Saturday, May 10, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Mike Mignola
Jason Shawn Alexander, Dave Stewart (colors)
Dark Horse Comics
Abe Sapien, the amphibious agent of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), stands inside a circle of ancient runes encompassed by a ring of candles. "Ettu Ess Emmen Su. I will be delivered into the sea," he chants. A soul within him new, yet old, speaks words that he neither understands nor whose function he comprehends. "Emmen et atun su. Into the heart of my Father. En ettu anom suc eno ess. And I will--" Abe stops and turns to the window where pecking at the pane are the servants of Hell. Abe Sapien: The Drowning has been a great series thus far, with incredible writing and story, as well as perfectly moody and creepy art. Although this issue may be the weakest issue of the series, it is still an above average comic.

Since the last issue sucked up all the action, this issue is left with all the exposition. The Lipu dagger, an ancient artifact that Abe and his team were sent to retrieve, is the only thing keeping a spirit called Cedu-Barra trapped within the dead body of the Dutch warlock Epke Vrooman. The stories of Cedu-Barra, the old woman who could control sea creatures, her mother, her son, and bloody history island of Saint-Sebastien, are woven together very neatly and fascinatingly, but take up the entire issue.

True, the reader has better understanding of what is going on, but essentially you are left exactly where you were at the end of issue #3. I felt slightly cheated by the lack of development in the story. With the pages of action in the last issue I had hoped to see something more resolute in this one. Although Abe has a direction and an understanding of the implications of what he has gotten himself into, he doesn’t have a definite path to it.

My expectations aside, Mignola, Alexander, and Stewart continue to create a remarkable comic. The opening is a stunning departure from the mysticism grounded in reality of the series, bringing Abe spiraling toward the face of the nebulous supernatural. Jason Shawn Alexander and Dave Stewart render Abe's assault by the ravens of hell (or are they pigeons?) with dazzling motion and disturbing atmosphere. The birds swirl around Abe, who is within the ring of candles, simultaneously blurring their bodies together and the entire space around Abe. Only the luminous yellow eyes are distinguishable in the feathered tornado of claws and beaks. All the while, Abe mutters the strange chant unperturbed even by the mirages of Hellboy and fellow agent Liz Sherman demanding to break his concentration. The effect is unsettling and energetic, which is a good contrast for the remaining pages of exposition.

Now that the back-story is completely out of the way, the final issue can focus on Abe actually doing something.

Final Word: Buy the previous issues before stepping into the deep end. It's worth it!



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