Reading Comics: Arcudi, Harren, & Stewart’s BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Long Death #3

April 23rd, 2012 by | Tags: , , ,

I’ll probably do a longer post on this subject in the near future, but I’m positively obsessed with how every act of violence in this bit from John Arcudi, Mike Mignola, James Harren, Dave Stewart, and Clem Robins’s BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Long Death 3 flashes orange. It only flashes when depicting specific aspects of violence, though, like in a video game. But the shade of orange Stewart used here reminds me of Jurassic Park and the flies trapped in amber more than anything else. Every comics panel is a specific moment captured in time, but the orange and the context makes it feel like these moments are extra important. They’re preserved.

I’m not sure if it was Harren, Arcudi, or Stewart’s idea, but I’m in love with this effect and their execution of it. Especially the bottom tier of the second page here — that fist swung out wide like a pregnant pause and then the gross, flat “whump.” You ever hear a “whump?” It sounds like a car wreck from a couple blocks away, and a really hard hit to the stomach.

Now to figure out how to explain to other people how cool this is, without just going “look how cool this is omgggggggg.”

You can buy all three issues over on Dark Horse Digital. A-one, a-two, a-three. It follows up on a couple years of BPRD tales, but I think it’s raw enough to stand up on its own. You might miss the finer points, but you should be reading BPRD anyway. Catch up.

(I can never figure out why some actions in BPRD get SFX and others don’t. Extra emphasis, maybe?)

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9 comments to “Reading Comics: Arcudi, Harren, & Stewart’s BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Long Death #3”

  1. I think my favorite thing about the Mignolaverse is that despite his fantastical apocalypse, all of the stakes feel very real – BPRD isn’t like Marvel or DC where their cities are regularly trashed by guys tossing each other through buildings, but there’s no cost to all of that besides maybe someone mentioning it in the next issue so we can proceed to the next fight. In BPRD entire countries are laid to waste in a way that I doubt the writers have much interest in taking back – you really feel the sort of national depression and confusion there would actually be if a volcano hellmouth randomly opened up beneath Houston. I hope it never ends.

  2. I was turned off of super violent comics for the longest time, probably because of stuff I saw as a kid in Spawn and other titles. This miniseries, along with the Strange Talent of Luther Strode, though? Good, visceral stuff. I like to refer to them as “blood and thunder” comics for uh, no particular reason. It’s just good to see violence with actual consequences for once.

    I think another thing that makes that orange work so well is the fact that it’s the complimentary color of blue, making for a huge hot/cold contrast so those panels are all the more intense. Dave Stewart really is the king of comic colorists.

  3. Just started B.P.R.D, its great

  4. I think what Harren really nailed in this series was body language. Johan, despite (or because of) his new suit, is still all slumped shoulders and loose limbs. Daryl, after spending most of four years curled up in some way, really just unwinds into a tornado of thin arms of pure muscle and big, big teeth. And the were-jaguar, every single panel its in is just damn perfect . I really can’t wait for Harren to get another go, but its going to be a hell of a lot of work to top this.

  5. I’m always annoyed with myself for dropping BPRD a few years back (for budget reasons). I just sort of missed the next series and never caught up, but have picked up and ultimately dropped so many bad on goings over that time (mainly thinking of Marvel books here, but I’m not supposed to speak of them on here anymore right??!) thanks for making me kick myself again Brothers!

    I should take it upon myself to get back into this, but I’m one of those guys that’s really into encyclopedic knowledge so may have to go back and start over…

  6. ‘It follows up on a couple years of BPRD tales, but I think it’s raw enough to stand up on its own. You might miss the finer points, but you should be reading BPRD anyway. Catch up.’

    ive just recently gotten into BPRD with the last few minis, and i can confirm it does stand on its own quite well. i didnt even realize this stuff tied into older things until Tucker mentioned it. this relates to one of my pet peeves about people ‘not wanting to get into comics because i just dont know what going on’. uh, well, read it and process information on the fly like a person who likes fiction? its a skill any halfway intelligent adult has, yet some people just choose not to do it.

  7. @joe.distort: Yeah, how do those people process James Bond movies, or stories about the Cold War? “Who’s this Kruschev guy? What’s his deal?” Or any movie ever, really. A good movie is good. It can become great if you know more, but this stuff still has to stand alone to sell. And I mean, it’s got a thirteen page fight scene. These aren’t hard comics.

    @Jet: Cripes, yeah. Harren is a beast. I didn’t even think of the body language stuff. I was too busy being shocked at the moose.

    @Brett Marcus Cook: I never hit on the hot/cold thing. Wow. Good eye.

  8. wow, this stuff looks amazing… i read the first few BPRD trades but fell behind after that, i might have to go catch up after seeing this stuff.

  9. I tweeted at David about it, but man, I started reading BPRD after catching a preview for The Devil Does Not Jest on this very site. Since then, I have been regularly amazed at what those creative teams accomplish. The centerpiece of Long Death is a wordless fight scene between a creature that we know almost nothing about and a monster that doesn’t need a beastly form to murder.

    The actual fight is so brutal and vicious that I found myself wincing and re-reading panels just to soak it in. And to echo what Jet said, I was amazed at the use of body language. The monster, an actual monster whether in beast form or not, runs around on all fours, and uses its claws and teeth to kill the Wendigo. It gives into it’s beastial nature.

    The Wendigo retains its humanity. It has a broken picture of a family, a reminder that it wasn’t always like this. And true to form, it fights more like a human. It runs around upright, it fights by landing haymakers and slamming the beast to the ground, then mounting and pummeling it.

    Just by watching how they fight, we see how they view themselves. Fight like a beast, feel like a beast.

    tl;dr BPRD is so good.