B.P.R.D. (Vol. 12): War on Frogs by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Herb Trimpe (artist), Guy Davis (artist), John Severin (artist), Peter Snejbjerg (artist), Karl Moline (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), Bjarne Hansen (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer).
The events in B.P.R.D. (Vol. 12): War on Frogs do not take place between volumes 11 and 13; instead, volume 12 is a flashback of sorts and should probably be read after B.P.R.D. (Vol. 5): The Black Flame.
In the first story, Kate finds Abe and offers him a look at an old file about Abe’s seeing the two frog brothers under Cavendish Hall, both of whom probably perished with the collapse of the Hall. But since they were the first frog creatures the B.P.R.D. ever encountered, Kate thinks it wise to send out a small group to reexamine the ruins. She hopes Abe will lead them, but Roger does instead since Abe still refuses to enter the field again. But with these original frogs not having been seen for eleven years, the trail is ultimately a cold one. However, Roger soon stirs up the cold trail, and we get some excellent actions scenes with spectacular art. But in the end, there’s only so much that can be discovered from some frog creatures that do not speak English. But what I like about this opening story is that we are privy to Roger’s thoughts about his task, his place in the Bureau, and his larger place in the world if he, too, is simply another creature like the frogs.
In the second story, which takes place in 2004, we encounter the frogs again, this time via religious, healing, tent revival-type gatherings in which people are turned into frogs instead of healed of their ailments. The one turning people into frogs is an innocent-looking little girl, but the B.P.R.D. are more than prepared to handle her and those in league with her, enabling her to spread the plague of frogs.
The third story takes place in 2005, and in it, a B.P.R.D. group is out hunting frogs, and one of the crew tells his story of meeting Hellboy when he was first with the B.P.R.D. and out in the field with Hellboy’s leading the party. This member of the B.P.R.D. — Lieutenant Bradley — has been with the organization for eighteen years, so he is leading the crew this time around, particularly since Abe still won’t enter the field. They are in an old abandoned naval ship off the coast of California searching for frogs. Unfortunately, Bradley and his men get trapped in their search and are picked off one by one by the frogs. Will back-up forces arrive in time to help the remaining B.P.R.D. members?
My favorite story is the fourth: There’s not much to say that won’t give spoilers, but Johann must risk his “life” so to speak to deal with the ghosts of a group of frogs who still have souls remaining since they apparently were only recently turned from people into frogs. The art in the story is fantastic and does a good job of wordlessly showing the threat Johann faces in freeing the souls of the frogs.
The final story is about Liz and her many missions against the frogs. One of the few female members of the B.P.R.D. struggles to befriend Liz, but is consistently given the cold shoulder, even after finally, apparently, getting on a first-name basis with Liz after their close-encounter with frogs one day, a mission that is the focus for this fifth story.
Overall, this is an excellent group of tales that establish quickly in one short volume all the mini-wars against the frogs that the B.P.R.D. has been waging over the years. This volume helps us understand just how widespread the frogs and their nests are. The B.P.R.D. has to be relentless in their pursuits to take out of commission as many frogs as possible. This is a highly recommended volume whether you read it after B.P.R.D. volume 5 or volume 11.