Abe Sapien (Vol. 2): The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Patric Reynolds (artist), Peter Snejbjerg (artist), James Harren (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)
Abe Sapien (Vol. 2): The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories is a collection of three stories:
In “The Haunted Boy,” Abe thinks he is going out on a simple mission, a regular, run-of-the-mill haunting: Two boys fell through the ice into a pond. One died and the other survived. Recently, there have been sightings of the ghost of the dead boy. The B.P.R.D. has been contacted to assess the situation. The professor sends out Abe Sapien to investigate. Not surprisingly, the case takes a strange, and much more dangerous turn. But first, we get to watch Abe do fieldwork by diving into the pond at night to reveal the secret behind the mystery. There’s a dramatic action scene, too. Part of what I like about this story is not the paranormal aspect, but the subtle development of Abe’s character as we see him wrestle with looking different around most other people. His green skin and gills make him stand out, and people tend to stare. The subtle artwork shows his reactions to these responses, in addition to the more overt cruelty elicited by Abe’s looking like a monster to many other people.
“The Abyssal Plain” starts with a Russian man knowing he is about to die in a submarine at the bottom of the sea. As the submarine slowly fills with water, the man writes a letter to his loved one. The year is 1948. In the present of 1984, Abe Sapien is on a mission to retrieve a lost, magical helmet at the bottom of the sea in the submarine where the Russian man died. It seems to be an easy enough retrieval until something comes out of the sea seeking out the helmet that has just been removed from the sub. While everyone on board runs in terror, Abe’s scientific mind takes a more objective view of the situation. The best part of the issue is the backstory of the Russian man and his encounter with Miss Varvara, a strange young Russian girl who mysteriously has a high-ranking position within the paranormal division of the Russian military. She is a pivotal character in the larger Hellboy universe.
In “The Devil Does Not Jest,” Abe is visited by the grandson of a writer he admires, and they go together to visit the grandfather’s isolated house situated on a beautiful lake, which captures the eye of the amphibious Abe Sapien. The grandfather disappeared fifty years ago, and the house is inhabited by the young man’s uncle. When Abe is down by the lake, he hears screaming and runs to the house to find the uncle murdering his nephew. Abe quickly shoots and kills the uncle, but not quickly enough to save the nephew’s life. When the sheriff shows up to investigate, he disappears into the house not to emerge. With two dead bodies in the room with him and ominous silence deeper within the house before him, Abe investigates and finds himself in trouble: The grandfather’s study of demonology was not just theoretical, as Abe discovers when he finds the house filled with dangerous forces. I will not go past this opening to the story. I don’t want to spoil the fun. Abe does find out the history behind the house and what is inside it. It’s a violent comic, and Hellboy has a cameo in it. Overall, it’s a solid story and a good conclusion to this volume.
Though it is not as good as volume one, The Devil Does Not Jest is still a decent collection, and I recommend it to Mignola fans. I cannot give it a full five stars, but it certainly earns all four of the stars I’m willing to give it here.
I love Abe, and these stories sound like they’re right up my alley.