Moody, atmospheric horror: The team that can’t miss
B.P.R.D.: VAMPIRE #1 of 5 (Dark Horse, March 2013) and B.P.R.D.: VAMPIRE #2 of 5 (April 2013) Story by Mike Mignola, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon. Art by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. Colors by Dave Stewart. Letters by Clem Robins.
If there are any “can’t miss” scripters in horror comics today, then Mike Mignola would be at or near the top of the list. If you are not picking up any of the various mini-series he’s been involved with the last few years (HELLBOY, B.R.P.D., BALTIMORE, etc) then you are depriving yourself of some ultra-premium quality work.
The imagery by Ba and Moon in the opening five pages is mesmerizing. Without dialogue or captions, the art reveals the details of a grim event while the coloring by Dave Stewart embellishes it further with dark tones and shades of red in stark contrast to the white, wintry woodlands. A dark river stained red by the floating corpses of various ladies in gowns creates enough dread in the reader to carry forward until the end of the issue.
These images also dominate the dreams as well as the waking moments of B.P.R.D. agent Simon Anders in Fairfield, Connecticut 1948. They are having a profound effect on his personality and demeanor, changing him into an angry, driven man. There is a connection between the images and a past event, involving twin aristocratic vampire ladies and their dominant escort. It revolves around a remote wooded shrine where vampires worship the goddess Hecate. Anders is determined to find the source and kill the vampires. It is hinted that there is a link between these events and Anders’ past.
The script, art, and exceptional coloring/shading by Dave Stewart work together in compelling fashion to portray the moody, atmospheric setting for the tale of Anders’ quest. It’s just another fine example of the talents of this incredible team.
Issue #2 gives a fine example of the art style that helps to immerse us into this strange setting. The cover depicts a moment of discovery in shades of gray and black, indigo and smoky blue, with just a splash of red dripping off a knife and leaving a vivid trail in the water. Throughout the book, the subtle and sometimes obvious little details move the story along and allow readers to walk the cobblestoned streets and alleys of a Czechoslovakian village with Anders and the comely local research assistant assigned to help him. Witch maps in the archives of B.P.R.D. headquarters have led him here, and the memories return as he finds the woods of his dreams.
This story is taking its time to play out, and is all the better for it. More details are layered on as the investigation continues through a village without men, some prophesizing crones, and the disturbing history of Wilhelm Von Rosenberg and descendants. The nose of the aristocratic ruler in an old portrait is remarkably similar to the profile of Anders’ nose. Pick up this series now and become enchanted. Kudos to Mignola and company.