Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 07.25.2012 – B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – Exorcism #2

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.5
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 1.2%
Users who pulled this comic:
Writer: Mike Mignola & Cameron Stewart
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Viktor Kalvachev

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.50

The B.P.R.D. is a big organization, and the stories surrounding it are even more massive. To be honest with you, and I am a dyed in the wool B.P.R.D. fan, I’m starting to lose track. There are currently, and I have to check the exact number, a bunch of B.P.R.D. mini-series going on at the moment. One is about an agent trapped in a truck with a girl who shot Abe, while they’re attacked by giant monsters. Another one wrapped up where we went back to see Liz Sherman as a pre-teen. We’ve still got to figure out what’s happening to Abe Sapien, and there might be another one I missed. Then there’s this one, with the full title of B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – Exorcism #2 (of 2).

The thing is this. Even though I can’t seem to keep track of the names of the different titles, and I get the idea that they’re sticking with this Hell on Earth thing even though it’s as cumbersome as the world it describes, yet that has no effect on the fact that every single one of these books is cresting at the top of available quality on today’s comic store shelves. Every single one. I have honestly never read an issue from this series that wasn’t at least “really good”, and I’ve read a lot of them. The talent working on these books, under the watchful umbrella of Mike Mignola is a little bit absurd. When the insanely talented Guy Davis stepped down, it opened the floodgates for guys who are really good at drawing B.P.R.D. books, from Tyler Crook to James Harren, and the writer and artist of this fun little two parter, Cameron Stewart.

I’ve always liked Cameron Stewart’s art work. It’s very clean, and he’s a strong storyteller. When I saw his name on the last issue, I paused, because, while I’ve got no qualms with the work, it didn’t seem like a great fit. That was dumb. Stewart switched this up here a little bit, and gave a bit of a scratchy, brushy edge to the lines. He put some angularity to the faces, and it looks very different from the last time I saw his work in Batman Inc. His storytelling is still there, but, along with Dave Stewart’s galvanizing colors, it fits right in to the Bureau’s unique feel. Plus, he wrote the story, along with showrunner Mignola, of course. Impressive.

The thing that’s fun about this series is that they will occasionally shift the focus, and find the stories of the many agents involved with the B.P.R.D., which is the case here. The story centers on Agent Ashley Strode, who got her ass handed to her by a demon-possessed boy in the first issue. She’s young, she’s a girl, and she’s in over her head. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a girl, but that’s in her head, and it’s a thing. She meets up with Ota Benga, a very old, incredible hardcore African priest, who’s also an asset of the Bureau. He’s old school, and hung with Bruttenholm back in the day. He’s so old because he’s also the vessel for a trapped demon, who’s keeping him alive, while constantly battling Ota Benga from the inside. In this issue, they take on the demon. In terms of an exorcism, it’s not really anything we haven’t seen before, but it’s done so well, and so crisply, that I found it very engaging regardless. You can’t help but root for the the overmatched Agent, and you certainly find an awe for Ota Benga, whose appearance belies an incredible power. I absolutely love the way the elderly, wizened version of him looks, with the heavy white brows, and stooped posture. He’s just lived more years than anyone ever should, and he bears it with dignity. That all comes across in the drawn rendition more than in any of the words. Stewart is clearly very gifted in terms of having his characters acting, as well as being pretty good at drawing a hideous possessed goat. It’s all about balance.

One thing I love about almost all B.P.R.D. issues is that there’s never a sense of rushing to get a story in. Since they’re all planned out in two or four issue arcs, or whatever they need, they get to play out exactly as they need to. There’s no wrapping up things because the next storyline is coming up. So with this mini, we get exactly the number of issues we need. In this case, it’s two, and having spent the last decade or so, with most of the industry shooting for six issue trades, I’ve really enjoyed short arcs lately, and this is a perfect example of that.

Since there’s not really such thing as a bad B.P.R.D. issue, it’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that I went with this issue as Pick of the Week, but it never seems to line up, and often suffers from being so consistently good that there’s just not much to say. Yet I’m glad I get the chance to spotlight something that almost every pro I’ve ever talked to singles out as the most consistently well done series in comics, as it has been for years. Don’t let the history or the titles confuse you. Get in. Join the Bureau.

Josh Flanagan
Stewart did draw B.P.R.D. once before a while back.


  1. I am always extremely excited when a mignolaverse book gets POW. Until recently with a lot of great image books being published Mignolaverse books were the only books I would pick up without the slightest page flip at the store. My confidence in the quality never faltered. I am still shocked that these books aren’t selling better and at least getting more pulls here. This page seems to be full of well educated scholars. B.P.R.D. is deffinintly a book for scholars as well as people who just want to see bloody monster fights.

  2. Great to see a BPRD-title picked. These great series deserve a lot more attention than they usually get. Comics can’t get much better.

  3. This was a supremely entertaining BPRD mini. They’ve introduced a new character, taken her from uncertain and seemingly incapable, and convincingly transformed her into someone who seems to scare lesser demons with her mere presence. They did all of that in the span of two issues. Unbelievable. And I certainly agree that Ota Benga was perfectly written and drawn to play his part in the story.

    Excellent pick, too bad you’re going to be stuck discussing it solo on the podcast. I’d love to hear what Conor and Ron thought of this mini. I imagine they’d both enjoy it.

    • Oh, and I’d certainly say that if there was ever a chance for people to give the Hellboy universe a shot this two issue mini is it. For $7 you can find out if this universe holds any interest for you. This would serve as a pretty reliable litmus test, in my opinion.

    • Not to be overly nitpicky, but this mini didn’t introduce Ashley Strode. She’s been in at least a couple of the previous Hell on Earth mini’s, mostly as a background character. They did a great job of more fully fleshing out her character here, though.

  4. Yeah, it’s nice to see a BPRD book get POTW. Mignola books have been consistently good for years.

  5. Mignola books are at the top of my list each and every time. They’re the only books I buy when I’m broke, when I’m “over” comics and the industry in general, and they’re everywhere on my bookshelf, long boxes, and on my hard drive. That being said, I think this is one of the weakest of the BPRD stories to ever come out. To each their own, but I wouldn’t recommend someone judge the entire Mignolaverse based on this series. Try “The Long Death”, “New World” or “King of Fear”, the last arc before they added the “Hell on Earth” bit to the title.

    • I think one just can’t compare these new and short minis with those arcs you’ve mentioned. The latter naturally have a lot more meat to them and are storywise on a whole different level. These new minis don’t claim to be comparable.

      I’m also looking forward to reading longer stories which center on the main characters.

  6. Great pick Josh. I hadn’t read many books drawn by Cameron Stewart before this mini, but I was really impressed with his work on this. His depiction of the characters’ facial expressions, particularly Ashley Strode and the Indiana-based family were really well done. I also really liked how in the first issue, Kate gets Agent Strode to step up by telling her that Liz Sherman saw potential in her. It was a very creative way to show both Strode’s motivation, and a different, more manipulative side of Kate than I think we’ve seen in the past. Agent Strode definitely earned her stripes in her first big adventure, and I look forward to seeing her progress even more in the future.

    *For anyone interested, the previous BPRD story Cameron Stewart drew, was titled “Another Day at the Office”, and it’s collected in the first trade “Hollow Earth and Other Stories”.

  7. you hit the nail on the head with this Josh. There are just so many arcs, all with different names that if I pick up a first issue, by the time the second issue comes out I can’t tell which storyline I started with to know if I should buy it or not. “I vaguely remember something about a train, a clairvoyant woman… ? Or was it about frogs and a clairvoyant? I know I liked it.” TPs are the way to go with this, and they are all good.

  8. nice pick.
    Sitara’s official stamp of approval 😀

  9. I enjoy the BPRD series as well. I really appreciate that (as you pointed out) the arcs don’t feel padded or decompressed and are told in the natural amount of issues for the story. I also like that I don’t necessarily feel the need to buy every mini-arc even though I know they’re all quality. My budget sometimes wants me to skip an arc in order to afford other comics. But I always come back because of the quality.

    I enjoyed seeing a new character (to me) that was an attractive strong female without an exaggerated physique. I hope we get to see Ashley Strode in action again. And the art in this was gangbusters!

  10. Love the pick. Just listened to the podcast – Did you guys have bad sushi in Houston one time or something? Why you always crackin’ on us? I went to last con here, and it took up half the convention center, not “one hotel room”. Why the hate?

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