B.P.R.D. (Vol. 5): The Black Flame: Echoes of Lovecraft

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 5): The Black Flame by Mignola and othersB.P.R.D. (Vol. 5): The Black Flame by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

B.P.R.D.: The Black Flame is another great entry in the B.P.R.D. series. This volume opens up with a board meeting at a company called Zinco. We are quickly led to see they are a company unlike any other: In the basement, they are running tests on and trying to communicate with frog creatures. Upstairs off of the boardroom is a secret chamber hiding the CEO’s secret Nazi memorabilia. Zinco will have an important part to play in upcoming events.

Back at the new B.P.R.D. headquarters, we find out that Abe is no longer working in the field even though Kate keeps asking him to do so. Abe remains haunted by his past life, which he uncovered in volumes three and four. Meanwhile, in Western British Columbia, the B.P.R.D. team is hunting frog monsters in a snowy climate, and Roger gets a chance to take charge of an attack, a real change in his character as he becomes more assured of himself. Liz and Johann are elsewhere leading another group of soldiers against the frog monster threat. And before the first issue ends, the Black Flame appears and a mysterious messenger gives Liz a gift with a lot more to give than it first appears.

This continuation of the major events of volumes three and four brings many major changes in the lives of the team members, as Liz, Roger, Abe, Daimio, and Johann are all pulling in different directions, threatening the solidarity of the core B.P.R.D. group. Also, the larger threat of Sadu-Hem has gotten even more dire as a professor at the B.P.R.D. warns them all that the frog monsters are trying to bring to earth Katha-Hem, who is supposed to eclipse even Sadu-Hem in size and power. And the Black Flame is directly involved with calling on Katha-Hem with the help of the frog monsters. In a Lovecraftian connection, when the Black Flame calls on Katha-Hem, he cries out that “the Old Ones are touching my soul!”

Given that “Katha-Hem’s breath is the wind of the million years of change,” the B.P.R.D. is facing an enormous threat, and the battle that ensues is a dramatic one. I do not want to say more than that for fear of giving spoilers, but The Black Flame is a fantastic book with wonderful art and colors by Guy Davis and Dave Stewart. I can’t emphasize enough how intense this story is, how essential it is to the Hellboy story overall all, and how fun the ride is. Do not miss reading The Black Flame.


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BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Read Brad's series on HOW TO READ COMICS.

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