Readers of "B.P.R.D." know that the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is in the midst of its darkest hour, which followed quickly on what should have been their greatest victory. The chaos wrought by the conclusion of the Frog War -- a mega-arc that was seeded in the pages of "Hellboy" before the standalone "B.P.R.D." series debuted -- has overturned order on Earth, leading to regular natural disasters and the rise of monstrous beasts that had been buried for aeons.
This is the "Hell On Earth" era, and Dark Horse Comics is in the midst of building out an entire world in ruin through multiple concurrent "B.P.R.D." miniseries, employing the writing talents of editor Scott Allie and Cameron Stewart, who also draws his arc, entitled "Exorcism," and rotating through a roster of artists including Jason Latour, Max Fiumara, and James Warren in separate titles. In May, however, the regular creative team of co-writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi and artist Tyler Crook returns with "B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Devil's Engine," a three-issue arc following the Bureau's core cast.
CBR News spoke with Arcudi about the upcoming series, the fate of Abe Sapien, and playing well with others in the "B.P.R.D." sandbox.
CBR News: John, we're in the midst of some big "B.P.R.D." events right now. "The Long Death" saw a certain character meet his end, Abe Sapien is still out of commission, the world is going to hell in a handcart, and Scott Allie and Cameron Stewart are introducing new dangers in separate miniseries and one-shots. Picking back up with the main book and regular artist Tyler Crook in "The Devil's Engine," what piece of the "Hell on Earth" puzzle are Devon and Fenix tackling here?
John Arcudi: A couple of pieces, but not the least of which is the Devon/Fenix piece. This series explores their dynamic, and speculates a little bit about the role both will play in the future by virtue of a challenge that's presented to them that's unique to this changing world. Beyond that, this series also lays the groundwork for a Zinco project -- Zinco's most important project, in fact. Ooooooohh, cryptic!
Fenix is still new to the crew and reluctant to get involved. Will we see her perspective change as she gets more into the thick of things?
Yeah, it will. It has to, but that doesn't mean that she's going play nice. As much as she may want to help, and see the need to help, it's hard for her to get out of her very self-sufficient (and self-serving) frame of mind. As a result, she's becoming more and more fun to write, I have to say.
The promo text mentions an earthquake, something of a regular occurrence in "Hell on Earth." What part do natural (or at least somewhat-natural) disasters play in creating the overall setting for the series as things get worse?
"Somewhat natural disasters" is what we're all about now. The landscape is literally changing in the "B.P.R.D." Universe and that has to be addressed every time it changes. Think about how natural disasters do that in the real world, and then imagine one happening at least once a month. It's gonna make life very unstable, uncertain, erratic to say the least. So the metaphorical landscape, the narrative landscape, is going to reflect that. Oh, and add in a healthy does of demonic monsters and "erratic" doesn't begin to cover what's going on in this book!
Yeah, there are still plenty of monsters. What can you tell us about the nasties in this series?
They'll be familiar in appearance, but they'll be much nastier in behavior -- and in diet.
Can you give us any clues about Zinco's plan this time around?
It's a big plan. Again, the biggest. And it's only beginning.
It looks like this arc will address Abe Sapien's fate. He's been one of the central agents, then there were some revelations about his origins at the end of the Frog War, and currently he's comatose after being shot by Fenix. Whatever the outcome of "Devil's Engine," what can you say about Abe's character arc to date?
It might look that way, but...
Abe's probably the most complex character now, due to his history, and his apparent future, and his own misgivings and doubts about both of those things -- and everything else's, for that matter -- which I find very appealing and "real." He's fun to write and explore, and him hanging out in that tank has been kinda a bummer on that front, but we'll just have to see how that plays out, won't we?
As the regular "B.P.R.D." writer, what has it been like having other creators like Scott Allie and Cameron Stewart fleshing out different areas of the "Hell on Earth" world? And what have you enjoyed about seeing several additional artists contribute to "B.P.R.D.?"
Honestly, it's a little weird. I've gotten very proprietary about the characters -- ironically, even the ones Mike created, but especially Daimio, and Daryl, and Panya, and Devon, and Ashley (who Cam is using in "Exorcism") but Scott has worked to make it less weird. He checks in with me, asks advice about this character or that, and I don't think he needs the advice at all. I think he just wants to keep me feeling involved (and it's working, by the way). Of course, Scott and Mike did a great job on "Pickens County," so that makes me feel very comfortable, and I know Cam will kick ass, too. Everybody wants this to be good stuff, you know?
As for the new artists, it's been pretty cool. I still miss Guy, I won't lie, and I think we were all a little worried when he decided to take a break, but folks like James Harren and Max Fiumara, and specifically Tyler on this arc are all just killing it! Tyler outdid himself on "The Devil's Engine." He's gotten in the groove, and his action stuff really clicked, but his character work is even better. I love how he handled the Devon/Fenix tension. Just great stuff!
"B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil's Engine" #1 is on sale May 16, 2012.