In the Hellboy universe Abe has always been my favorite character. I find him easier to relate to compared to the other characters, in part because he’s a bit more intellectual and he acts more like I would, thinking first before leaping into situations. So it’s nice to see him getting a volume that is solely dedicated to him (the first since 2008.) In this collection of stories Abe investigates a haunted lake, a sunken U-boat containing a dark surprise, and a reclusive demonologist’s house,
In the first story, The Haunted Boy, Abe is takes a case of a haunted lake in Hardin, VT. A young boy had recently drowned and his spirit is appearing, while his friend survived…but perhaps he wasn’t the only death? Abe discovers a darkness that threatens to destroy more than one family. It’s a haunting and chilling tale, worthy of Abe’s investigation. The suspense is built up slowly, but surely and till the end when you realize you don’t have a boring simple story on your hand, but a quite haunting one instead. But my favorite thing about this story is the artwork. It’s not the normal Hellboy art, which reminds me more of expressionist works, this art by Patric Reynolds is pure realism and fits the dark tale perfectly. It’s interesting to see the characters given such depth and shadows, to feel like we can reach out and touch them. But my favorite depiction of all is Abe. He’s given such life, such vibrancy and detail that we normally don’t see in the stories. I love it. Although I have to admit the depiction of the dead boy and the demon in the tale are beyond creepy. It gave me chills just to look at it and I wouldn’t want to meet the thing at night.
The next story, The Abyssal Plain, is set out at sea in a Russian U-Boat that sunk in the 1940’s. This vessel was carrying a relic of enormous healing powers, the lost Burgonet of Melchiorre, and the BPRD is attempting to retrieve it. But all of the crew may not be dead and the powers of the Burgonet are greater than what anyone thinks and Abe will have to use all of his resources to survive. This is probably my favorite story, because it takes you in a direction that you aren’t quite expecting. And it makes you think…what does the BPRD really do? And it also gives some real insight into Abe’s character and why he behaves the way he does. And that’s the best part of this collection to me is that Abe is front and center and none of the rest of the regular team really show up.
The last story is possibly the darkest tale of all, The Devil Does Not Jest, where Abe goes to Maine looking for clues to a demonologist that vanished 50 years prior. And discovers that the professor went from studying demons to practicing bringing them into the world…and Abe and others might not survive what he finds. This tale gave me goosebumps and is not one that I would want to read in the dark. The tension builds slowly and perfectly in this story and the artwork will have you believing that every bump in the night is something coming for you in the darkness.
In short this is a fantastic collection. Each story hits that perfect feeling and the artwork makes the characters come to life. And the best part? Abe takes front and center stage in all three stories with Hellboy and Liz Sherman only briefly appearing in the last tale. If you’re a fan of Abe like me…or a fan of the Hellboy universe then this book is a must read.