B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (Vol. 4): The Devil’s Engine and The Long Death by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Tyler Crook (artist), James Harren (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer).
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (Vol. 4) gets off to a quick start. In The Devil’s Engine, we begin in New Mexico with Fenix the psychic boarding a train that, she says, makes her uncomfortable. This can be only a bad sign from a psychic. She’s accompanied by field agent Andrew Devon from the B.P.R.D. who is escorting Fenix back to the Colorado B.P.R.D. base. When Fenix’s predictions about the train start to come true at the start of the story, Devon’s and Fenix’s journey turns into a road trip from hell. They must face some of the monsters that are roaming the world and take them head-on. Also, Devon has a burning question that he’s been curious to ask Fenix about.
Marsten, back at Zinco, is engaged in shady business in his underground lab as he tries to bring back his master via science/supernatural methods. Things aren’t going as planned for him, but he’s been spying on the B.P.R.D., and the records he finally gains access to gives him some ideas about what to do next in resurrecting his master.
In The Long Death, at the Colorado headquarters, Johann Kraus continues to lament his loss of a body that allowed him to feel, to experience sensations, again. And most disturbingly, Johann has a dream, and he isn’t supposed to dream, given that he has not needed sleep at all ever since he’s been in his containment suit. When problems arise in British Columbia, Johann decides to lead a team since Abe Sapien is still in a coma, but Johann abandons his team of B.P.R.D. agents because he has a side mission of his own that he’s not told anybody about. In this story, we get some real closure on a plotline that’s been going on for quite some time. It is a sad, but satisfying, ending.
These are both great stories, but I prefer the more mysterious story in The Long Death. The Devil’s Engine is more straightforward. In The Long Death, we also get plenty of horror and violence, and our heartstrings are tugged on as we watch some agents we are led to care about face violence way beyond their own power to combat it. But the monsters in both stories are horrific in their own terrible ways, and overall, this volume is another five-star entry in the Hellboy Universe.
Highly recommended, but as always, it is not a standalone volume. It must be read following all the volumes that precede it. That is one of the reasons I like the Hellboy comics so much: They don’t spend much time repeating information from previous volumes as if every book is a starting point for new readers. It does not pander to a new audience in this way; instead, it assumes readers have read all the volumes before, and that way, the entire story can focus on advancing the plot rather than rehashing old information. If you aren’t reading Hellboy yet, what are you waiting for?! Get your hands on Hellboy volume one and start reading!