Note: This review features mild plot spoilers — read at your own risk.
The full-scale war between the BPRD (and the US government) and the frogs heats up into open warfare, continuing the major storyline begun in BPRD, Volume 3: Plague of Frogs. Ben Daimio and Roger are leading full military teams against pockets of frogs wherever they find them, and there are lots of cool, creepy images of what the frogs are up to in their underground lairs. The frogs get a new leader in this story, a “Nazi-friendly” corporate exec who has a set of powered armor built (the eponymous “Black Flame”) and decides to lead the frogs to glory (or annihilation, as the case may be). Lots of big battles and explosions abound.
There are lots of cool bits in this collection, to be sure, and I really like the look of the Black Flame’s costume (sadly, he never really lives up to the cool aesthetic of his costume and doesn’t do much) as well as the gigantic critter the frogs summon to lay waste to the Earth. Both are inspired, but can’t make up for a rather lackluster storyline.
I won’t spoiler how this is all resolved, except to say that this story witnesses the death of one of the main BPRD characters. He/she will be sorely missed.
This one just didn’t grab me as much as the previous BPRD collections. Sure, our old chums are all there (sans Hellboy, of course), and it certainly advances the main BPRD storyline (i.e., the war against the “frogs”), but it was just missing some of that old Hellboy/BPRD mojo. I still recommend it if you’re a fan of BPRD, and I give it 4 stars out of 5.
Review copyright 2010 J. Andrew Byers