One of the big questions I've had about "Abe Sapien" ever since the series debuted was why we needed a solo series for Abe, rather than just telling the occasional "B.P.R.D." story about the character. With "Abe Sapien" #13, though, I feel like Mike Mignola, Scott Allie and Sebastian Fiumara are starting to show why the character needs his own title.
"Abe Sapien" #13 follows on directly from the previous issue, but as the cover notes, it's a great place for new readers to jump on board. Abe had just rescued his new traveling companion Grace, but he actually knows almost nothing about her. As a result, new readers are in the same situation as Abe, and the equal footing works out surprisingly well. Grace's function within the comic is interesting; prone to freak out at the drop of a hat, it's easy to initially be a little irritated with the character. If you look into the comic a little more closely, though, it becomes clear that what Mignola and Allie are doing here is creating a character suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder. After going through a horrific situation in "Abe Sapien" #12, her gun shy nature is understandable, even as those around her seem a little perplexed.
In many ways, I feel like that's a crucial part of where "Abe Sapien" as a series is heading. Abe's trying to find more information about himself while away from the B.P.R.D., but in many ways I think that this series might turn into him helping others find themselves. Grace is a prime example of that; she's almost the strict definition of a lost soul, and the attempts to nurture and protect her wouldn't work quite the same way within the confines of the "B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth" title.
As for the plot itself, in some ways it's a little predictable (you can see all the warning signs that this isn't going to end well), but at the same time it doesn't matter. It's not really about the half-frog-person in the cart, or his parents trying to save him. It's about Abe and Grace's reactions to what's being thrown at them, and that's where everything clicks into place. It's a dark and chilling story (as is the world in general in this group of titles), and Mignola and Allie bring it to life well.
Fiumara's art is, as always, excellent. The look of terror on Grace's face as strangeness continually confronts her makes her look scared, upset, and overwhelmed all at once. It's part of what sells the story so much, with the shading and gentle edges of all of the characters. Fiumara's art is so beautiful here; who knew that a bell giving off a solitary "ding" could be so atmospheric and beautiful? And when we get to the climactic final moment with the statue -- well, wow.
There's also as an added bonus a backup story set in 1981, drawn by long-time "B.P.R.D." artist Guy Davis. Giving us Agent Vaughn's first adventure (along with Abe and Liz) involving a werewolf, it's a fun little bonus, even if it perhaps belongs in the parent title. Still, even if you're only reading "Abe Sapien" this is a nice little extra, some extra bang for your buck.
"Abe Sapien" #13 is a good example of how this title has shaped up into something interesting and intriguing. At this point, I think it's safe to say that it's justified its existence. "Abe Sapien" is another strong monthly dose of horror, and now's a great time to find out for yourself.