Following its first story arc as an international agency, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense will be adding to its ranks in the five-issue "B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: Gods" miniseries launching in January from Dark Horse. Even as internal conflicts between Abe Sapien and Devon, Kate Corrigan and Panya and Johann and nearly everyone complicate operations in the field, the uptick in natural disasters and powerful monsters makes their missions more dire than ever before. Produced by the regular B.P.R.D. creative team of Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davis and Dave Stewart, "Gods" will introduce at least one potential new member to the team. CBR News spoke with Arcudi about this latest "B.P.R.D." outing.
"New World," the first miniseries of the "Hell on Earth" cycle, concludes next week, and throughout this series readers have been shown how the B.P.R.D. operates under its new status as an international organization. As "Gods" begins, Arcudi told CBR that further shakeups are in store. "'Gods' will really make people look at the B.P.R.D. (or at least some of its members) very differently," the writer said. "For years we've been saying there is no such thing as a status quo in our book, but I think people now are going to see we mean that. Nobody is safe. Nothing that gets in the way of telling the best stories is off limits."
The current series also checks back in with Ben Daimio in a big way, as Abe Sapien connects with the scarred agent to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances, which turn out to be the doing of a monster baby. Asked whether Daimio would return to active duty with the Bureau, Arcudi said, "That sounds as if you're assuming Ben was ever off active duty, which I don't think he was. Will he rejoin the B.P.R.D.? He may not live long enough to do that."
In "Gods," the focus shifts to the situation in Texas, where a massive volcanic eruption is only the beginning of the problem. Though Kate Corrigan is on the scene in "New World," in "Gods" she will return to her oversight and liaison role. "Gods' is taking place a couple of weeks after the 'New World' mini, so Kate is back home overseeing stuff. It's become a field operation involving Abe and Devon, but it at least starts out being more about some new characters," Arcudi said.
One of those new characters was revealed earlier this week in a series of teaser images by Ryan Sook. An seemingly prophetic woman named Fenix will apparently be joining the team, after saving a group of transient homeless people with whom she is traveling from one of the sudden, unexpected catastrophes. "While we won't be showing any of it, the gist of it all is that Fenix has a history with this group, though not a very long one," Arcudi told CBR. "The conceit of this storyline, as it relates to Fenix, is that the disasters of the world have swelled the ranks of the already considerable FTRA [Freight Train Riders of America] population because they have basically disenfranchised the youth of America and the world from their future. Why not live for today, be nomadic? There's nothing left to hold onto. She's part of that mix."
However, despite the promotional campaign - and an obvious need for the Bureau to recruit due to its expanded global presence - Arcudi said Fenix's membership is not set in stone. "Certain members of the B.P.R.D. may want to make Fenix a new member, but this is not her chosen path in life. She's too distrustful of authority," the writer told CBR. "How exactly that all plays out, I'm not gonna say."
As to how the different agents perceive her, Arcudi said, "You're going to know before the end of "Gods" how she interacts with at least two members of the B.P.R.D. in a very real, very important way. She's a volatile person, at least right now."
In addition to introducing Fenix, "Gods" ratchets up the chaos associated with the new "Hell on Earth" era - but the two aren't entirely unrelated."'Gods' is about a lot of things. It's getting us back to the world outside of the B.P.R.D.'s own internal problems, a world that's falling apart, Arcudi said. "We really thought it was important to show that happening unambiguously. Fenix is much more a part of that world than she is a part of the B.P.R.D. While 'Gods' is plainly an introduction of Fenix into the B.P.R.D. storyline, it certainly is not her initiation into the B.P.R.D. itself."
From the solicitations for the first two issues, the main threats of "Gods" appear to be natural disasters and a series of horrifying monsters. As to the titular gods, then, Arcudi said that answers would be forthcoming, but not right away. "The gods of the title will only become more apparent to the literal minded readers out there a few miniseries down the road," Arcudi said, "but in a more metaphorical sense, the gods are the apparently warring spiritual futures of the world. Vague and heady enough for you?"
Divine intervention or no, the threats in the "Hell on Earth" era will involve widespread devastation, Arcudi said. "The world is in for a world of hurt, I can tell you that much. And there will be massive destruction and loss along the way. The new global presence of the B.P.R.D. is going to be totally justified." Even so, the writer told CBR, there will still be moments of subtle horror of the sort that have run throughout "B.P.R.D." since its inception. "I couldn't write this book if I didn't feel there were opportunities for stories of personal despair and fear, otherwise how can we ever hope to involve the reader - or the writer, for that matter?"
In addition to being part of "Hell on Earth," this miniseries is also the first arc of "Gods and Monsters," a set of stories that Arcudi said would be "as much about what happens to characters other than the usual B.P.R.D. crew." "In other words, we're going out in the world and we're seeing how the lives of citizens are being changed by this changing world. It's not all about the team anymore, and both 'Gods' and 'Monsters' will be our very concrete way of expressing that," he said.