Structurally, Flesh and Stone is a form of story not seen since the Hell on Earth run began, yet frequently used during the Plague of Frogs sequence. It’s a spin round all the primary cast over a period of time, all of them with different priorities on different missions, before everything coalesces.

The primary concern is a giant spider monster with no apparent heat signature in relatively rural surroundings. Johann Kraus leads a team including Enos and Howards, neither of whom are inclined to follow any lead other than their own, and Mike Mignola and John Arcudi bring out both characters well in the course of a mission taking several months. Howards is key, and as yet it’s unclear exactly what he is. Is he living two lives simultaneously or has another’s personality been transferred into his body? The ambiguity has an appeal, and there’s space here to supply another dose of the caveman’s saga, one that eventually has great relevance in the present day. Connected with this Mignola and Arcudi deliver a nice tie-in with earlier B.P.R.D. sequence The Black Goddess via use of protective runes.

Secondary plots include the torments of Iosef, still uniquely occupying a space between life and death, and what’s left of the Zinco corporation in New York. Liz and Fenix are seen, but their interactions amount to little more than keeping people reminded that they’re alive.

James Harren draws the entire story, and once again supplies fantastic monster interaction. There’s a point where the spider monster is running down the B.P.R.D. agents and it seems as if it’s heading out of the panel toward the reader. Harren’s portraits of individual agents have become better, now easily distinguished without being named, and he embeds his people in convincing environments, sympathetically coloured by Dave Stewart. There’s a great little artistic touch right near the end where Howards modifies the B.P.R.D. emblem on his jacket.

The long slow slog of B.P.R.D. missions is effectively punctuated by moments of extreme danger, and very few people emerge from Flesh and Stone any happier. It makes for a downbeat, but engaging experience. Hell on Earth continues with Metamorphosis, and the cleverly titled Flesh and Stone is also absorbed with the previous Devil’s Wings into the bulkier B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth 4.