BPRD – War of Frogs

In the early days of the plague of frogs, the B.P.R.D. joined forces with the military, rooting out nests across America, from a decommissioned submarine, to a bizarre church revival, to the site where Hellboy first encountered the monsters, the ruins of Cavendish Hall.

The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense’s ongoing war against the frog monsters explodes in five short stories set before the occurences in B.P.R.D.: The Black Flame.

* Collects B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs #1-#4, “Revival” from MySpace Dark Horse Presents #8-#9, and an original eight-page story by Guy Davis.

* Series writer and New York Real Estate mogul John Arcudi and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola join up with an incredible team of artists: John Severin (Two-Fisted Tales), Karl Moline (Fray, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Peter Snejbjerg (Starman, The Books of Magic), Herb Trimpe (The Incredible Hulk), and multiple Eisner Award-winning series artist Guy Davis.

I love Hellboy.  I love the concept and ideas behind B.P.R.D. and I think Mike Mignola should leave his entire collection of planning notes and journals and sketches to me when he gets bored of this world is a pretty cool guy having given us Big Red and the team of agents for the B.P.R.D.

In War On Frogs, we have five small vignettes by Mignola and John Arcudi and artists, that show us incidents and occurences during the overall War on Frogs.  Now, if you’ve seen the Hellboy movie, or if you’ve only read Seeds of Destruction by Mignola, you can easily pick this up and read it without any hassle.

In Chapter 1 Roger finds an unexpected shrine within a cavern system beneath a lake.  He takes care of the business and yet, it’s that final panel that speaks so much more than words that made me like Roger even more than before.  In this instance, artists and writers work wonderfully well together.

Chapter 2 leads us to a religious revivalist tent where we meet a little girl with some dramatic powers, until she can no longer contain her true shape and she becomes one of the frogs and destroys everyone within.  It’s up to a crack unit lead by Capt Benjamin Daimio to stop her before she infects and kills more people.  Nope, no nice ending here.

In Chapter 3 we follow a unit of B.P.R.D. operatives as they are on a search and destroy mission on a submarine, clearing it of frogs.  Out of the five stories contained within War of Frogs, I didn’t feel the magic in this one.  I like the small homage to Hellboy, where the leader of operatives recalled that seeing Hellboy slay a lake monster encouraged him to become an operative in the Bureau, but as far as the story goes…not particularly memorable.

Johann Krauss gets an outing in Chapter 4 when he realises that the frogs him and his team just took out, are still somehow with them, in ghost form.  Krauss discovers that the creatures that they fought as frogs still somehow maintained enough humanity to want to cling to this world, in the shape of frog ghosts.  It is up to Krauss to leave his suit and lead the frogs to a different place, only is he strong enough to withstand the Sadu-Hem?

Liz is cause for speculation in Chapter 5 and as always, I felt very drawn to Liz and not just because we share the same name.  Out of all the characters created, I think I have the most empathy with Liz as she tries to make sense of her power and her place within the world.  Also, I loved loved Karl Moline’s art in this story.  Agent Strode expresses her concern about Liz’s withdrawal in this chapter.  Liz refuses to acknowledge anyone and it is through Agent Strode’s recollections that we see Liz in different scenes as the almost out of control fire power.  Liz initially refuses to acknowledge anyone else and is for herself, by herself. Then nearing the end, she makes a connection with Agent Strode.  Back in the present we watch as Agent Strode watches Liz sitting by herself in the cafeteria, holding onto a flower.  As the panels pan out wider and wider, we see Liz sitting by herself in a vast empty space looking more and more forlorn.

Overall, these vignettes are quick reads, but they are like tapas, tiny smidges that don’t satisfy as much as a main dish would, however, they give a unique perspective on some of the core characters and the far-reaching consequences of the war on frogs.

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