Review by Frank Plowright
It’s frequently the case that collections of series organised by Mike Mignola mess with the publication order of individual comics. As he tends to plot smaller stories within a larger background this has no great effect, and occasionally allows for smoother storytelling down the line. That’s the case here where tenth B.P.R.D. paperback The Devil’s Wings features along with the 11th, Flesh and Stone, those stories continuing directly from Hell on Earth 3, but there’s then a jump to the 14th volume The Exorcist for the final two stories. Better they’re placed here than interrupting the ending to the Hell on Earth sequence.
There’s little movement concerning the ongoing apocalypse as everything here focusses on individual, smaller stories prompted by the background. This is bread and butter material for B.P.R.D., almost always insightful, intriguing and offering new or additional views of the cast. Because these stories are handled so well by primary writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi it’s difficult to understand the frustration of some online reviewers who’re more concerned with seeing all-out action thrillers. Aren’t there enough of those in comics?
It’s obvious from small touches that the bigger situation is being progressed, but the sheer variety in toying with forms of horror is a delight. In this collection we’re given the B.P.R.D. equivalent of giant Japanese monsters clashing, exorcisms, demonic possession, a haunted house, cavemen, the continuing horrific experimentation of the Zinco corporation and so much more.
And everything is drawn so well. The sample art is the work of James Harren and Mike Norton simply on the basis of their drawing the most pages, but no-one disappoints. Every artist buys into the idea of detail and character, and the cast are always embedded in plausible surroundings, never mind that there might be a sixty foot monster in the background.
Cameron Stewart and Chris Roberson collaborate with Mignola for two stories promoting former bit player Ashley Strode into someone with a specific talent, and building on an already charismatic character. She’s the solo star of the final two stories before the usual generous selection of process pages.
If there’s a complaint about Hell on Earth 4 it’s that Fenix and Liz are barely seen, but they’re forcefully back as the series finishes in Hell on Earth 5.