I'll freely admit that I'm about four volumes behind on "B.P.R.D." right now; it's a fun series, but one that I enjoy saving up in large chunks and reading in one fell swoop. When I heard that the series was changing its name to "B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth" and offering up a jumping on-point for new readers, though, I thought it was a good chance to get current and see what happened in my absence.
Mike Mignola and John Arcudi do a solid job of introducing the characters; everyone gets a brief scene, giving their basic motivations and reason for being a member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. As for the plot, it's all in the early strokes. Arcudi and Mignola opens the issue with a scene involving people disappearing in British Columbia, and before long it comes back around to the forefront as our main characters start getting pulled into this new danger. I do wish we'd had a little more actual plot showing up in this issue, though; for an issue that's supposed to be a strong place to start, I feel like there needs to be a bigger hook to make those new readers want to stick around.
The big star for me this issue, though, was Guy Davis' art. From the first scenes in an laundromat in Marekeos, to large expansive views of B.P.R.D. headquarters with multiple screens, there's an immense amount of detail packed into every panel. Something as simple as the store front signs makes a big difference, and Davis pays that attention to everything. Scenes in the forest and the cemetery in particular just ooze ambience, and it's a reminder to me on why Davis is such an integral part of the title.
"B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: New World" includes in the inside front cover a set of brief character blurbs, a nice way to help out people who haven't read all previous 68 "B.P.R.D." issues. "B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth" hasn't justified its new subtitle just yet, but hopefully we'll see that shortly. This wasn't a bad debut issue for the new direction, but it could have been a bit stronger, too.