Realized that I had a bunch of B.P.R.D. that I hadn’t read, and the library I’m retiring from has them all (thanks to me ordering them). More than that, they represent the closing arcs of the massive “Hell on Earth” story line.
This one mostly centers around Johann’s field team, but there’s some kind of ancient magical weapon that saves the day (complete with prehistoric scenes of back story). As always, the history is very well done, almost stealing the stage from the present day story.
Still with Johann. “Nowhere, Nothing, Never” is a three-part story about a mission gone bad. Johann loses a team member, and the confidence of his team. He questions his role, and the effectiveness of the containment suits he”s been using. “Modern Prometheus” addresses the suit question directly, as Johann takes on an armored suit, the World War II secret weapon called Sledgehammer (which also includes the war history of the suit, once again done extremely well). Mignola and his collaborators always shine in the wartime settings.
This has the appearance of the series conclusion. The title implies it, and the death of the Black Flame feels like it. But if anything the monster activity increases, making it a hollow victory. The collection concludes with Iosif back in Russia, releasing Varyara from her magical prison.
This whole collection is a bit of a side trip, an especially surprising creative choice so close to the series finale. The fact that field agent Ashley Strode (who appeared in only one previous story, with no last name) can become the star of two story arcs shows how vast the Mignolaverse has become. She becomes a reluctant exorcist after collaborating with a priest who became involved with the B.P.R.D. in East Africa back in 1890. He has been kept alive all this time because his body serves as a demonic prison. Ashley releases him, vanquishes the demon, then becomes the organization’s resident exorcism expert by default. So these stories require a lot of willing suspension of disbelief when it comes to demons, but they’re full of demon-fighting action (complete with a flaming sword–how cool is that?).
The series ends here, with plenty of surprises. The massive Ogdru Jahad has rampaged its way to within miles of B.P.R.D. headquarters. Liz’s fire and the powers of Johann’s new armor are powerful enough to destroy the monsters she constantly births and spits out, but not enough to stop the mother monster. We find out why the director of the Russian occult service released the demon from her glass prison: he hopes she can find a way. Travelling to Hell, they release the huge fallen angels known as Titans–but they also are not up to the task. Finally Johann fully embraces his new unity with the universe that comes with the suit, and directs its power at the Ogdru Jahad, defeating it and abandoning the armor. But by then the headquarters has been destroyed, and with it two longstanding characters. The Earth is back to normal, and the final scenes show the B.P.R.D. trying to regroup and recover from their losses. It’s a lovely series conclusion, with a tremendous climax and a bittersweet emotional ending.