REVIEW: Ape Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #1

Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #1

Written by Mike Mignola & John Arcudi

Art by Peter Snejbjerg

Colors by Dave Stewart

Letters by Clem Robins

Covers by Dave Johnson and Peter Snejbjerg

$3.50 / 32 Pages / Full Color

Dark Horse Comics

August, 1984. There's something fishy in the Norwegian Sea.

Down, down, in the murky depths, floats a tub bearing Nazi dead, a lost U-boat from the late 40s. Rumor tells of a stolen artifact that may still rest within her hold. Dispensed by the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, the curious fishman Abe Sapien and an agent from the UK offices charter a merchant vessel and venture out to investigate.

There's your setup for the first of two issues in this new, self contained ghost story Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain. If you're a card carrying member like me and Josh, you're already blood-bound to pick this one up. There are few surer bets in comics than a new Mignola project. But maybe you've yet to sample the stuff. Maybe you've been putting it off.

Wet your toes in this one.

If you like ghost stories–in the classic sense–this is for you. If you dig on zombies, this is the gourmet flourish. Even if you just like great comic storytelling and hauntingly good art, it's all right here.

This one's an absolute clinic. A real jam session between an artist and two writers who understand how to control the tempo of sequential art. While Mignola and crew are best known for tales of the supernatural, specifically gothic horror, these guys are all about restraint and economy. In a genre often associated with flamboyance and gratuitousness, Mignola really dials it back. If modern horror flicks are all about creating a sense of panic, the Hellboy world is all about dread. The slow scare. The masterfully maintained atmosphere of creepiness. The zombies don't run, they lurch. But this issue isn't all about the horror. By keeping the story relatively intimate, Mignola and Arcui get to flesh out the situation up on deck. Often, B.P.R.D. agents are the cliched meat-filled-socks, bystanders engineered simply to serve as collateral damage. Not so here. In the short span of pages we actually get a nicely developed conflict between Abe, his BPRD colleague, and the ship's captain. And down beneath the waves, there's even a tragic love story unfolding. Don't expect your balls to ricochet off the walls as they might've with Hellboy in Mexico. This is a much slower burn, but there's a wealth of great storytelling on each glorious page.

A word on that contrast between Hellboy and Abe. They've both had their share of gothic adventures. Hellboy's even done some pretty serious soul searching of late, but his default setting is definitely madcap fun. Abe is the more melancholy of the two, and his stories often have this twinge of sadness. That's evident here, where Abe disturbs the dead U-boat and her crew only reluctantly. Hellboy leaps first, comes out swinging. Abe's not so thrilled about the business. Having to deal with the undead is a bummer, a real shame. Not that he mopes. He's not just a cold fish. It's a nice dichotomy though.

As for Peter Snejbjerg, he's operating at top form, playing with all the fantastic lights and darks and negative space of the underwater setting. While I've loved some of his superhero work in thing like The Mighty and A God Somewhere, he might function best in horror. As in Light Brigade, he really does some next level stuff here, from the quiet dread of Abe's journey through the water, to the grotesque corpses that burst forth from the open hatch. It's a great teamup of writers and artist. 

Did I mention the tender moment between a Nazi and a mermaid? Don't even wait an hour after you've eaten. Just dive in. It's more fun than a submarine full of Nazi zombies.

Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #1 (of 2) is in stores right now.

 

Story: 5          Art: 5          Overall: 5

 

Add Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #1 to your pull list.

Comments

  1. This looks really awesome…those 2 pages look great.  A two issue mini seems worth it. 

  2. SOLD

  3. My shop was sold out.  Good for Dark Horse, bad for me.  I’m looking forward to it.

  4. My Shop told me it didn’t ship to them. 

  5. Can’t wait to read it.  Hope this wasn’t too short of a response;)

  6. The sailors are Soviet not Nazi, though there is a Nazi connection. Solid story, stands alone well, but with very slight connections to the B.P.R.D. 1940’s stories for the logtime reader (and Prof. O’Donnell who is mentioned is important in other BPRD books assuming it is the same guy). Cannot wait to see how this wraps up.

  7. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Yeah, I suppose they are Soviets. Nazi plunder though. 

  8. Man I wish my shop had this it looks awesome. 

  9. I KNEW the art looked familiar, the guy drew The Mighty! that is one cool looking burgonet i have to say, female alien fish things w/ fangs.