This is the third BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) trade paperback set in the Hellboy universe. It collects stories from BPRD: Plague of Frogs #1-5. The art is by Guy Davis. I happen to like his style (I particularly liked his work in the two NEVERMEN collections), but he’s no Mignola (who does write the entire story, however).
Unlike the first two volumes in the series, PLAGUE OF FROGS begins a major new ongoing storyline that continues on for several more volumes. What follows is a brief, spoiler-filled discussion of the collection’s plot.
The full team (Abe, Liz, Roger, Johann, and Kate Corrigan) plays an active role in this mission. The story opens with some strange goings-on at a BPRD lab involving some weird fungus growths, which after a brief clash sends the team to a small town that has a distinctly Lovecraftian vibe. The town of Crab Point, Michigan might as well be Innsmouth, because there an esoteric order/cult is in league with the human-fungus hybrid alluded to at the beginning of the story, and plans on unleashing a horde of people who have been transformed into frog-men who worship elder (evil) entities. Ultimately, the team has a bad time of it and is unable to completely contain the frog-men threat, which sets the stage for the next volume in the series.
The story ties in very nicely with some long-running loose ends from earlier Hellboy stories: we have the return of Sadu-Hem and the frog men originally seen in HELLBOY: SEED OF DESTRUCTION and HELLBOY: CONQUERER WORM, along with Rasputin’s prophecy to Abe in HELLBOY: WAKE THE DEVIL. The book closes with some tantalizing hints about Abe Sapien’s origin which we have been wondering about since the character was first introduced — Abe has been as clueless about this as the reader has, but that all changes here. Further exploration of this is to play an important part of future books.
I highly recommend this one, as it’s a very good adventure in and of itself, plus, let’s face it, unless you plan to skip the next few volumes, you need to read this one up to figure out how it all got started. If you enjoy Lovecraftian elements in your Hellboy (rather than just the one-off monster-of-the-week stories), then you’ll certainly enjoy this one, as it significantly advances the overall plot and sheds some light on a few past mysteries.
Review copyright 2010 J. Andrew Byers