ADVANCE REVIEW: “Abe Sapien #9” is a Contemplative Journey into the Surreal

"Abe Sapien #9" (w) Mike Mignola (a) Max Fiumara Dark Horse Comics $3.50
“Abe Sapien #9”
(w) Mike Mignola
(a) Max Fiumara
Dark Horse Comics
$3.50

Issue #9 begins a new arc for Mike Mignola’s aquatic protagonist. The set-up page at the beginning of the issue does a reasonable job establishing how and why Abe wound up in the rural backwater which serves as the setting, but readers who aren’t familiar with the world of BPRD might find themselves a bit at sea when it comes to understanding the way things work.

One thing that is both startling and delightful about the world is that, at this point in its history, the population have almost become accustomed to the paranormal. That Abe is able to simply walk about the small, mundane town in which he finds himself with only momentary astonishment from the people he meets is a testament to this wonderfully skewed reality. As the story progresses, there is enough exposition to fill in the critical details, and the character of Police Chief serves splendidly as an investigative foil, as his research into Abe helps to fill in many of the blanks.

Teaming Abe with the lawman seems a completely natural move and helps get the story moving immediately, as they begin to unravel the mystery that Abe is attempting to solve while also delving into some strange happenings in this tiny hamlet.

Max Fiumara’s somewhat surreal artistic style lends a great deal to the work. His style is different enough from Mignola’s own so as not to seem imitative but carries enough similarities to hit many of the same notes. His use of shadow and emphasis on specific features in his figures really does more than the text itself in terms of providing the characters with personality and also foreshadowing coming twists.

There is a simplicity to the design which helps give the story an easy-to-follow narrative track. Fiumara manages to pack the pages with dialogue and actions without ever making them feel crowded. As a result, the story feels far lengthier than its twenty-six pages would suggest.

Overall, this first installment in Abe’s latest adventure has a certain contemplative feel to it. Mignola is easing readers into the story in a way that is compelling and accessible for new entrants into his world. This was my first trip with Abe, and I’ll absolutely be returning next month.

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Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He also hosts the weekly Infinite Crossover podcast in cooperation with Fanboys Inc. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-life Smallville.

Opinons expressed in this piece reflect only the opinion of the writer and not of any employer. contact: joshuadepstein@gmail.com

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Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-world Smallville.

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