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Abe Sapien: The Drowning #5

Posted: Saturday, June 7, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Mike Mignola
Jason Shawn Alexander, Dave Stewart (c)
Dark Horse Comics
Abe Sapien heard the warning from the old woman echo in his mind, but nothing could stop him from trying to set things right. The servants of the ancient Cedu-Barra have stolen the souls of the townspeople of Saint-Sebastien, including his fellow BPRD agents, and hold their master’s earthly vessel up in the church at the island’s peak. As they get ready to pull the dagger from their master’s body, thereby resurrecting him, Abe pulls open the church doors and sees the unearthly face of God.

If you thought Abe Sapien was in over his head before, this final issue of Abe Sapien: The Drowning out does them all. Finally, Abe has mustered the courage to stop the minions of Cedu-Barra from releasing their master. Although the endeavor has a bullet-in-the-head solution, Abe’s resolve in the face of the horrific supernatural exemplifies his bravery and delivers a gratifying denouement.

Mike Mignola has written a compelling and developing narrative / history for Abe in this series. As this story comprises Abe’s first mission without Hellboy, we see the change in character, his growth as a person and willingness to undertake responsibility in the most bizarre and frightening situations. In issue #1, he was hesitant to even step into his boss’s office without knowing what he was getting called in for, but by issue # 5 he’s ready to enter a church full of deadly enemies to save the day. Moreover, it is his trust in the old woman who attacked him in that very first issue which allows him to defeat Cedu-Barra.

Yet, Abe Sapien is not a boastful figure. He does not relish in the victory, but broods over what he could not do and mourns the failure of his inability to be omnipotent; “I should have been more careful,” Abe laments. "If we hadn’t come here for that dagger, none of this would have happened.”

Failing his fellow agents hangs over Abe, even as Professor Bruttenholm tries to comfort him. This impressionable quality highlights Abe’s naiveté and makes this adventure all the more believable as his first. He didn’t win by shear luck or happenstance, but by trusting those who reached out him and summoning the fortitude to face the enemy head on. And even then things were not tied in a neat little bow.

As for the art of the issue, and series overall, Jason Alexander and Dave Stewart have illustrated this melancholic horror / adventure superbly. The moody atmosphere of the island reflects the murky real world and the uncanny coming together, but also foreshadows the gloomy conclusion. The high contrast of darkness acts a visible manifestation of the evil hanging over the island town. Furthermore, Abe’s shadowing is so intense that it reflects the burden of his journey. The scene is either muted or exaggerated by the colors, which expertly allocates normality with light yellow and beige, and delineates mysticism and evil in deep reds and blues. For example, Bruttenholm’s reassurance of Abe is colored in yellow and sandy brown, while the entrance of Cedu-Barra, who is wrapped in flame-like squid tentacles, appears in glowing red.

This was my first full story in the Hellboy universe and I enjoyed every page of it. You will too.

Final Word: Great Story. Great Art. Great Buy!



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