Monday, April 23, 2012

Wendigo vs Werejaguar, or, Pick of the Week - April 18, 2012

B.P.R.D. The Long Death #3
Story: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art: James Harren
Colors: Dave Stewart

Sure, comics are a great medium for things like plot, pacing and character development. Good comics excel in these areas. But comics are also a great medium for bloody, knock-down-drag-out brawls between vicious, kick-ass monsters.

The thing that makes B.P.R.D. The Long Death #3 special is it shows that these things are not mutually exclusive.

When was the last time you saw two crazy monsters tear each other apart while completely understanding and empathizing with where they’re coming from?

The Wendigo is the soul of a good, family man who’s wrongly locked in a prison meant for the souls of murderers. Captain Daimo/Werejaguar is unable to come to terms with a horrible act he committed in the past.

They’ve both been tortured and tormented and have finally reached the point where they have nothing left to lose.

When they collide in this comic, the fight is one for the ages.

Artist James Harren’s pacing is perfect. Each panel is a critical beat in the rhythm of this brawl. In poorly drawn comic book fights, muddled panels and bad pacing make it hard to follow exactly what’s going on. Here, the clean panels show you every bite, rip and drop (in this case more like gush) of blood.

But it’s the beats between those moments we’re shown that really make a difference. The gathering of strength before the strike. The exhale of breath after the jaws let go. Colorist Dave Stewart alternates between backgrounds of a deep blue night sky during these quieter moments and a bright, fiery orange when the beasts collide.

You feel every punch, throat bite and neck stab. I found myself imagining the sounds of the battle (and not only during the well placed “ROOOOOOOOOAAAAARRR” from the Werejaguar to break the silence toward the end of the fight).

When all the dust settles, the outcome hits home for Johann, who's been growing on me more and more since B.P.R.D. Russia, which makes the somber end to this comic that much harder to swallow.

Great characters. Better fight. Comics!

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