Ever since the end of the Frog saga, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense has been in a whole new era -- one labelled, appropriately enough, "Hell on Earth." But with "B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth -- Monsters," the third miniseries of the new regime, came another passing of the torch, as newcomer Tyler Crook replaced longtime artist Guy Davis on the title. His arrival comes amidst seismic shifts in the team's makeup, as pyrokinetic Liz Sherman has been AWOL since "King of Fear," and the amphibious Abe Sapien was grievously wounded at the end of "Gods," the most recent "B.P.R.D." miniseries from Dark Horse Comics set in the present day.
CBR News caught up with series writer John Arcudi to discuss the developments in "Monsters," the upcoming miniseries "Russia," and the two-issue "Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest."
With the first issue of "Monsters" in stores now, representing Tyler Crook's debut on a series that Guy Davis helped define, CBR asked Arcudi how it felt to be working with a new artist. "Honestly, it took some getting used to. Guy was as much a part of the B.P.R.D. as Mike and I are," Arcudi told CBR News. "Tyler, however, can draw like a son of a... well, he can really draw, let's just say that. So it's not a matter of making do, it's a matter of adapting. Already I'm finding myself discovering new things about the characters that I hadn't seen before, so that's one definite plus to having a different artist to collaborate with."
Storywise, "Monsters" #1 features an exchange about the religious implications of "Hell on Earth," with a minister changing his position about the events unfolding, perhaps exploring some "real-world" effects of Apocalyptic beasts turning up on prime-time news. "From my point of view, if we didn't attempt the real-world implications, we wouldn't be doing our jobs," Arcudi said. "The characterization of our heroes is so, so important to this book, and most of that comes from having them cope with change and tragedy; which is to say, dealing with real world stuff in a real way. So how could we just ignore the outside world?"
Following on the heels of "The Dead Remembered," a flashback miniseries by Scott Allie and Karl Moline, "Monsters" is the second consecutive series focused on Liz Sherman, which Arcudi said is "because she's left the B.P.R.D. and hasn't had much face-time, really."
"She is still a central part of the over-arcing storyline and we need to keep up with developments in her life to complete that picture, but being away from the B.P.R.D., we needed to find creative ways to focus some time on her life," Arcudi said. "Scott and I discussed this dynamic (the sort of flashback story he wrote in 'The Dead Remembered' and then the update in 'Monsters') and decided the best way to do it was to have them come out in five consecutive months. I think it works great."
Liz, however, will play "not very much of a role at all" in the September-debuting "Russia," which reconnects with the rest of the B.P.R.D. crew. That series also picks up threads from the "B.P.R.D.: 1946" and "1947" miniseries, which were set shortly after Hellboy's arrival on Earth. "Oh, we're picking up threads from a few different places, as readers will see by the end of the first issue," Arcudi said of "Russia." "It's not the part of the world that interests me nearly so much as the characters. But then, it's their Russian-ness that makes them so appealing, so I guess the way that part of the world shapes its people is very attractive to me."
Aside from Liz's appearances in "Monsters" and "The Dead Remembered," recent "B.P.R.D." miniseries have effectively taken Liz and fellow agent Abe Sapien -- two of the Bureau's major players -- out of circulation. Arcudi said this will give him a chance to spotlight other agents, "which has been a lot of fun." "Johann, for instance, has really been going through some serious changes. But I have to say, as you've just seen, it also gives us opportunities to focus on Liz -- and, as you'll soon see, on Abe as well."
Catching up with Abe, Arcudi is writing the two-issue miniseries "Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest," beginning in September. "It's a bit more trippy, and a bit more nasty than what we've been doing with Abe lately," Arcudi said of the miniseries. "It sort of gets back to the roots of the B.P.R.D. and we got the amazingly talented James Harren to work with us. And it was a blast, I can tell you that much." "The Devil Does Not Jest" is set after the previous Abe miniseries "The Abyssal Plain" but before "Hellboy: Seed of Destruction."
The series sets Abe in the home of a demonologist, with all that that entails. "It makes everything creepier, or at least I hope it does," Arcudi said. "Oddly enough, one element of the story is about getting into the personal life of a demonologist, the day-to-day stuff, but it's exactly that stuff that ended up being the weirdest, most horrifying stuff of all."
"B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth -- Monsters" #2 is on sale August 10.