Brad Hawley

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.

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (Vol. 3): Russia: If there is horror to be found, the B.P.R.D. will find it!

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (Vol. 3): Russia by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Tyler Crook (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer).

As in all my reviews of long series, I do give spoilers for previous books in the series, so I can now mention the major event of volume 2: Abe is shot by the runaway teenager Fenix, and at the close of the volume, Abe seems to be brain dead and barely alive physically. I can also mention what happened when he was shot: Devon observed the shooting, but he not only did not arrest the girl, he let her go. And he reported officially that he had no idea who shot Abe. We find out at the beginning of this book that Devon has been sent to find Fenix (and who shot Abe, if possible). Devon travels the railroads in boxcars, seeking for word of Fenix.

Meanwhile, Johann and Kate fly to Moscow to investigate a supernatural event. They meet with the director there, who seems more fort... Read More

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (Vol. 2): Gods and Monsters: Abe confronts a teenager with second sight

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (Vol. 2): Gods and Monsters by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Tyler Crook (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), Clem Robins (letterer).

This volume consists of two stories: “Gods” and “Monsters”. “Gods,” the primary story in this volume, introduces us to a great new character: Fenix, a sixteen-year-old girl who seems to be able to sense things before they happen. She is on the road as a runaway, but she befriends other teenagers on their own for various reasons. Given that she got them out of town before the last catastrophe hit, they trust her for her intuition to keep them ahead of impending doom, particularly in Houston, which was destroyed by a volcano. Fenix got her friends out of town at the last possible second.

Back at the base of operations for the B.P.R.D., Kate forces a sit-down conversation between Devon and Abe. Abe wants Devon fired because Devon has a... Read More

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (Vol. 1): New World: Abe Sapien Tackles Monsters with an Old Friend from the B.P.R.D.

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (Vol. 1): New World by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer).

This volume jumps back and forth between Abe out in the field and what is going on at the B.P.R.D. base back in Colorado. At the base, Kate is trying to manage all the teams in the field, Johann is still obsessed with the possibility of getting another body so he can feel physical sensations again, and Devon is assigned his own mission in France. Meanwhile, come-to-life mummy Panya seems to be manipulating creatures on the base for her own secret purposes.

Out in the field, Abe tracks down an old friend and fellow-agent who went missing in previous B.P.R.D. volumes. The two of them work together to figure out what mysterious creature is haunting the woods and what connection it might have to the large number of disappearances in a nearby small town. At the center of the... Read More

B.P.R.D.: Vampire: The story from B.P.R.D.: 1947 and 1948 is continued

B.P.R.D.: Vampire by Mike Mignola (writer), Joshua Dysart (writer), Gabriel Ba (artist), Fabio Moon (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer)

It’s essential to read B.P.R.D: 1947 and 1948 before reading Vampire, which continues the story of Anders, an early B.P.R.D. agent who, after being taken hostage by two vampire sisters, has had a supernatural cure: The spirits of the two vampires have been locked away inside him, and they are trying to get out. Anders asks the professor for the opportunity to leave the B.P.R.D. before he gets even worse. And, primarily, Anders wants to seek out and destroy vampires as his way to seek revenge.

On his journey, Anders traces family bloodlines and history and rumors that will lead him to the gathering of witches and vampires to worship Hecate. When he is assisted by a local young woman who is seem... Read More

The Crossroads at Midnight: An excellent collection of five horror stories

The Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard (words & art)

In this wonderfully disturbing collection of five short horror stories in a 340-page book, Abby Howard takes us on five very different journeys. The Crossroads at Midnight is a near-perfect collection of tales, with flowing artwork that makes the horrific quite surprising when it makes its appearance. In the first story, “The Girl In the Fields,” we meet a teenager — about fifteen-years-old — who is misunderstood by their parents. They call their daughter by their given name — Francine. However, Francine insists on being called Frankie. Her less-than-progressive parents seem to be always ready to pick a fight with Frankie, and they are so intrusive as to read private information off of Frankie’s computer. Frankie does not back down from these fights, but does retreat to the backyard to lean against the fence crying. She is interrupted by a kind voic... Read More

B.P.R.D.: 1948: A great follow-up to 1947

B.P.R.D.: 1948 by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Max Fiumara (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer)

This is another early B.P.R.D. story, this one taking place in 1948. The B.P.R.D. headquarters have been moved from New Mexico to New England. The professor is still magically visited in his office by Varvara, the little Russian girl who oversees the supernatural branch of the Russian government. She is always written well by Mignola, who is accompanied by Arcudi on writing duties this time. And I particularly like it when she tells the professor that he is a “strange little moth. . . . You can’t find enough flames to burn your wings on, so you light your own.” This line captures well the uncanny insight of the young girl who is wise beyond her apparent years.

The professor and the B.P.R.D. are called to a science facility in Utah when scientists start getting killed by a giant bird-like cr... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 14): King of Fear: The End of a Hellboy Universe Trilogy

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 14): King of Fear by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (art), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 14): King of Fear continues the story started in volumes 10: The Warning and 11: The Black Goddess, and since it is deep into the history of the Hellboy universe, this is not the place to start reading Hellboy or B.P.R.D. Instead, start with Hellboy volume one. These volumes do not read well out-of-order.

In King of Fear, the surprising return of Lobster Johnson at the end of volume 11 is explained: He has somehow taken over Johann’s form, and Johann seems to have vanished in his being replaced by the Lobster. Kate returns to Munich with Lobster Johnson in tow, and she meets up with her romantic interest, Bruno. Bruno and Kate go on a journey together in hopes that Lo... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 13): 1947: Vampires in the early B.P.R.D. days

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 13): 1947 by Mike Mignola (writer), Joshua Dysart (writer), Gabriel Ba (artist), Fabio Moon (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer)

In B.P.R.D. (Vol. 13): 1947, at an air force base in New Mexico, the Russian Varvara, a little girl, is able to mysteriously appear to the professor late at night in his study. She questions why he has not revealed to Hellboy the larger mysteries surrounding him, but the professor says it is too early. And at that moment, Hellboy comes in, Varvara disappears, and we realize just how young Helloby really is: He certainly is too young to understand the enormous forces that want to use him for their own purposes. The professor then walks the young Hellboy off to get a glass of milk before going back to sleep. It’s 1947, and Hellboy is not old enough to go into the field. This story, after all, is about early B.P.R.D. days.

The professor is ... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 12): War on Frogs: Defeating the frogs one battle at a time

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 12): War on Frogs by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Herb Trimpe (artist), Guy Davis (artist), John Severin (artist), Peter Snejbjerg (artist), Karl Moline (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), Bjarne Hansen (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer).

The events in B.P.R.D. (Vol. 12): War on Frogs do not take place between volumes 11 and 13; instead, volume 12 is a flashback of sorts and should probably be read after B.P.R.D. (Vol. 5): The Black Flame.

In the first story, Kate finds Abe and offers him a look at an old file about Abe’s seeing the two frog brothers under Cavendish Hall, both of whom probably perished with the collapse of the Hall. But since they were the first frog creatures the B.P.R.D. ever encountered, Kate thinks it wise to send out a small group to reexamine the ruins. She hopes Abe will lead them, but Roger doe... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 11): The Black Goddess: The search for a missing agent continues

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 11): The Black Goddess by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (art), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

The Black Goddess is the second volume of the Scorched Earth Trilogy, and it continues the events started in Volume 10: The Warning. But it also is a story that is far into the Hellboy universe, and thus this is not a good place to start reading. Begin with Hellboy volume one and read that series before reading the B.P.R.D. series in order as well.

In The Black Goddess, Abe, Kate, Johann, and Devon are still on the hunt for Liz and her captor Gilfryd, who has warned Liz and Abe repeatedly that the frog creatures will lead the world to a massive catastrophe. Abe apparently has some important role to play in these future events, as does Liz, but we are still unclear about what thos... Read More

Head Lopper (Vol. 1): The Island or a Plague of Beasts: Don’t miss this adventure series!

Head Lopper (Vol. 1): The Island or a Plague of Beasts by Andrew MacLean



Head Lopper (2016) by Andrew MacLean is about a master swordsman and his journeys. By his side is his trusty sword and his less trusty head in a sack. The head belongs to Agatha, the Blue Witch, and though we know the Head Lopper, Norgal, is the one responsible for cutting off her head, we do not know for what purpose he carries her head with him wherever he goes. But a lot of the fun and humor of the comic comes from the dialogue between Norgal and Agatha. Norgal is reticent to speak most the time, and Agatha just won’t keep quiet, so it is an interesting dynamic that exists between the two.

When the comic opens, we are witness to Norgal in action: Coming into Castlebay by boat, Norgal comes aboard just as the boat comes into the bay and is attacked by a giant monster, which Head Lopper dispatches in a fairly grote... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 10): The Warning: The start of an excellent trilogy

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 10): The Warning by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (art), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters) 

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 10): The Warning, along with B.P.R.D. (Vol. 11): The Black Goddess and B.P.R.D. (Vol. 14): King of Fear, make up the Scorched Earth Trilogy. In The Warning, Lobster Johnson becomes an important figure, so reading the Lobster Johnson series at this point might make sense for some readers, though the series can be read on its own. In other words, in The Warning, many of the strands from various parts of the Hellboy universe are starting to come together. At this point, if you haven’t read a good portion of the Hellboy series and the B.P.R.D. series up to volume ten, then you are going to very lost picking up this book. I suggest sta... Read More

Abe Sapien (Vol. 2): The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories: Abe flies solo

Abe Sapien (Vol. 2): The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Patric Reynolds (artist), Peter Snejbjerg (artist), James Harren (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

Abe Sapien (Vol. 2): The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories is a collection of three stories:

In “The Haunted Boy,” Abe thinks he is going out on a simple mission, a regular, run-of-the-mill haunting: Two boys fell through the ice into a pond. One died and the other survived. Recently, there have been sightings of the ghost of the dead boy. The B.P.R.D. has been contacted to assess the situation. The professor sends out Abe Sapien to investigate. Not surprisingly, the case takes a strange, and much more dangerous turn. But first, we get to watch Abe do fieldwork by diving into the pond at night to reveal the secret behind the mystery. There’s a dramatic action scene... Read More

Abe Sapien (Vol. 1): The Drowning: Abe Sapien disturbs a shipwreck

Abe Sapien (Vol. 1): The Drowning by Mike Mignola (writer), Jason Shawn Alexander (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

The Abe Sapien series is nine volumes long, and it is an essential part of the Hellboy canon. The series is as good as the Hellboy series and should not be missed by any fans of Mignola’s Hellboy universe. Abe Sapien: The Drowning starts off mysteriously in 1884 as a man boards a ship from a Victorian steampunk-like blimp and begins shooting men with writing on their chests. The action is accompanied only by the words of “You Gentlemen of England” by Martin Parks. It is a fantastic, haunting, opening sequence. The man, we soon find out, is Sir Edward Grey, British occult detective and special agent to Queen Victoria (Mignola has written a series about Sir Edward Grey). Grey, unfortunately, goes down with t... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Seventh Annual Speculative Fiction Haiku Contest

Time for our seventh annual SPECULATIVE FICTION HAIKU CONTEST!  Anyone can do this!

As a reminder, here are the rules:

For haiku, the typical subject matter is nature, but if you decide to be traditional, you must give it a fantasy, science fiction, or horror twist. We expect to be told that the peaceful wind you describe is blowing across a landscape of an unfamiliar, distant planet. And if your poem is about a flower, we hope that elegant little touch of beauty is about to be trampled by an Orc. We welcome the sublime as well as the humorous, the pedestrian along with the momentous.

Though you may use the traditional three-line haiku following a 5-7-5 syllable pattern, feel free to break that pattern. Many poets who write English haiku adhere to other expectations:

Written in three lines, though sometimes in two or ... Read More

Dark Ark (Vol. 1): Forty Nights: A ship of horrors

Dark Ark (Vol. 1): Forty Nights by Cullen Bunn (writer) & Juan Doe (artist)

Dark Ark is a wonderfully disturbing horror story about the flood of forty days and forty nights. But this story is not about Noah’s ark. This is about a different ark — one that we have never heard of. Noah’s ark saved the natural creatures for the new world, but the dark ark saves the unnatural creatures. It’s a great premise that allows Cullen Bunn to put a bunch of vampires, monsters, and other unholy beings together in one place.

Issue one gives us the backstory, which explains why these creatures do not go ahead and feast on the animals in Noah’s ark: The counterpart to Noah on the dark ark is a sorcerer commanded by Satan, or some such demonic being, to build this ark. If he does not, he and his family will suffer eternity in hell. However, if he successfully builds the ark and saves the creatures aboard, maki... Read More

Baltimore (Vol. 1): The Plague Ships: An excellent origin story

Baltimore (Vol. 1): The Plague Ships by Mike Mignola (writer), Christopher Golden (writer), Ben Stenbeck (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), & Clem Robins (letters)

In volume one of Baltimore, we meet a tough, rugged man with a wooden leg. At the beginning of the book, we witness Lord Baltimore’s chasing vampires in a coastal town in France in 1916. The town has been struck by the plague as well as vampires. The night is dark, and Baltimore is in the midst of hunting a hoard of them. Though he will kill any of them he can, he is set on tracking down and killing one particular old vampire with a scar on his face and a missing right eye. Therefore, he plans on keeping one vampire alive long enough to get some information.

This plan, however, does not work out: He is helped in an unusual way by a witch and is frustrated that all the vampires die before he can get that information. After being knocked unco... Read More

Frankenstein Underground by Mike Mignola: For all Frankenstein fans

Frankenstein Underground by Mike Mignola (author) & Ben Stenbeck (artist)

One of the best books in the wider Hellboy Universe, Frankenstein Underground takes the famous literary monster and places him in a battle for light against darkness. This book is one of my favorite comics I have read recently. Frankenstein’s monster seems to have a patchy memory, and other than recalling random events here and there, he only remembers one name — Frankenstein — which he thinks is his own. In the opening scene, “Frankenstein” is on the run, as he has been throughout his long life. The comic book shows Frankenstein throughout the years as he has been chased in many different areas of the world. But in this most recent chase, he enters a cave and encounters a witch of sorts who heals and comforts him. The five-issue story will come full circle, from physical healing to spiritual healing, but there are many dire events t... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 9): 1946: The early years of the B.P.R.D.

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 9): 1946 by Mike Mignola (writer), Joshua Dysart (writer), Paul Azaceta (artist), Nick Filardi (colors), Clem Robins (letters)

Hellboy first appeared in 1944, a result of German paranormal experiments. B.P.R.D. (Vol. 9): 1946 takes place two years later, when Hellboy's father figure, Trevor Bruttenholm, takes a trip to Berlin on the part of the two-year-old B.P.R.D. He wants to investigate the paranormal work the Germans were doing during the war, but the Russians have arrived first, claiming all the artifacts and papers that Trevor wants to examine. He goes to the Russians to ask for cooperation, and he meets the young, mysterious Varvara, who is in charge of the Russian operations even though she looks only twelve-years-old. She has uncanny knowledge, and she seems to know Trevor's thoughts before he speaks. And she knows of his young ward, Hellboy. She will play a major role in what is happening in the... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 8): Killing Ground: Trapped inside the base

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 8): Killing Ground by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), & Clem Robins (letters)

 B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground introduces us to a transformed Johann, eager to try everything he can now that he has escaped his containment suit. And Liz continues to be haunted by her dreams, though she finds comfort in befriending the ancient mummy, Panya, who has joined them at B.P.R.D. headquarters. Abe has recommitted to the team now that he feels he has put his past to rest, as we saw in the last volume. Daryl the wendigo is transferred to the new facility as well, and finally, Daimio is haunted by his past now that his teammates have discovered his familial connection with a war criminal.

All these plot points are expertly brought together by writers Mignola and Arcudi. The wendigo causes more problems than expected, Panya ha... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 7): Garden of Souls: Abe Sapien’s mission

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 7): Garden of Souls by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), & Clem Robins (letters)

B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls starts in London in 1859 at the scene of a mummy “unrolling.” Langdon Caul puts in an appearance, and as those who have been reading the B.P.R.D. series up to this point know, Abe Sapien and Caul are the same person, so the presence of Caul is central to the overall story. And the mummy’s unrolling leads to quite a surprise . . .

In the present of the story, we check in with the main B.P.R.D. team: Daimio is receiving a mysterious treatment privately in his room. Liz seems unable to connect with anyone, though she tries, first with Abe and then with Kate. Kate is healing from the events of the last volume, and Abe is still haunted by his past and refuses to discuss it, even when Liz asks directly about it. Johann continues... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 6): The Universal Machine: The collector’s shop

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 6): The Universal Machine by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Steward (colors), & Clem Robins (letters)

In B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine, the team is still reeling from the death of Roger, and given the difference between Hellboy stories and mainstream DC and Marvel comics, we have every reason to believe that Roger will stay dead, even though Johann keeps claiming that he is still alive. We still have the core team minus Roger: Liz, Abe, Johann, and Daimio, the most recent addition to the team and their appointed leader in the field under the direction of Kate Corrigan who now usually works from home base in the new B.P.R.D. headquarters.

In this arc, we see Johann and Daimio becoming a main focus and are more fully fleshed out as characters. Johann and Liz try to get Daimio to tell the story of how he died and came back to life three days later. ... Read More

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

B.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... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 4): The Dead: The B.P.R.D. relocates

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 4): The Dead by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), & Clem Robins (letters)

B.P.R.D.: The Dead is the second main arc of the B.P.R.D. series since the first two volumes were collections of short stories. The Dead advances the plot started in B.P.R.D. (Vol. 2): Plague of Frogs. In this volume, we find out that the frog cults continue to spread, moving quickly and resulting in the deaths of many people. The B.P.R.D. so far has not had any luck in stopping them. While Roger, Liz, and Johann are back at the bureau worrying about the frog monsters, Abe and Kate go in search of the history of the man Abe saw in his vision in the fifth, and last, issue of Plague of Frogs. In doing so, they uncover more of Abe’s past, another tie to the first Hellboy storyline, and a haunted hous... Read More

The B.P.R.D. (Vol. 3): Plague of Frogs: The Hellboy mythos grows

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 3): Plague of Frogs by Mike Mignola (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), & Clem Robins (letters)

The B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs is the first extended B.P.R.D. volume since the first two volumes were collections of short stories. Plague of Frogs is a five-issue mini-series. The comic book opens with bloodshed: One scientist visits another to see the fast-growing fungus being watched at a facility. The visiting scientist, out of the blue, shoots the other man in the back, claiming that "the Master commands." Security guards enter and shoot him.

Quite a dramatic opening for an excellent B.P.R.D. story. After this violent start, the comic shifts focus to Abe Sapien who is dreaming of being under the ocean watching an endless flow of dead bodies. We are given the impression that this is a dark premonition. He is still disturbed by the bad dream when h... Read More

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