Friday, October 19, 2012

Book Review: Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi

Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi

One of the popular secondary characters in the Hellboy universe is Abe Sapien, a fish man who resembles the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He's been a regular partner with Hellboy in many adventures and also has had some solo adventures investigating paranormal happenings. This collection has three of the fish man's outings.

The first story is The Lost Boy. Two boys fell underneath the ice of a Vermont lake. Only one came back out. The lake is subsequently haunted by the boy's spirit. Abe Sapien is called in to investigate. The tale is melancholic and horrific with an action-packed ending.

The next story is The Abyssal Plain, about a sunken Soviet submarine that contains a magical artifact. Abe Sapien is sent again since he is able to swim to the depths without taking all the scuba gear someone else would need. The back story of the sub is slowly revealed, including a glimpse into the Soviet version of the B.P.R.D.

The final story is The Devil Does Not Jest, about a long-missing professor of demonology, Gaver Van Laer. His grandson provides a new lead which leads to a house full of madness and horror. This tale has the most action (i.e. the most blood and mayhem), though it also delivers some creepy horror.

Overall, the book is interesting but does not have the humor that Hellboy stories have. Abe is more introspective, more of a tough-guy who will brute force his way through a difficult problem. The stories are interesting but not as entertaining as Hellboy tales.

The book does have some concept art and alternate covers in the back. Mignola does not provide any background on the stories, though that's because Arcudi did most of the writing. Reading the background gives more richness to the story.

Parent advisory: The book does contain a lot of gore, including some bloated sea zombie action. There's a very dubious history to the submarine's artifact, part of a supposed battle between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor in the middle ages.

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