B.P.R.D. (Vol. 6): The Universal Machine by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Steward (colors), & Clem Robins (letters)
In B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine, the team is still reeling from the death of Roger, and given the difference between Hellboy stories and mainstream DC and Marvel comics, we have every reason to believe that Roger will stay dead, even though Johann keeps claiming that he is still alive. We still have the core team minus Roger: Liz, Abe, Johann, and Daimio, the most recent addition to the team and their appointed leader in the field under the direction of Kate Corrigan who now usually works from home base in the new B.P.R.D. headquarters.
In this arc, we see Johann and Daimio becoming a main focus and are more fully fleshed out as characters. Johann and Liz try to get Daimio to tell the story of how he died and came back to life three days later. He is reticent to tell them, but eventually reveals his story of a military expedition gone wrong. In exchange for telling his story, Daimio asks Johann to talk about himself, to explain his earlier years as a psychic who could communicate with the dead, connecting loved ones on earth with their dearly departed. As he tells Daimio, Liz, and Abe, he had “all my life, walked along the edge of mortality and eternity, and had seen much on both sides of that line.” His story about a particular series of séances is one of my favorite parts of this comic, though his story is a sad one. Liz also tells a tale. And finally, Abe completes the circle of storytelling, though he does not tell the story they all want to hear, the one about his past.
In this volume, another new character is introduced: Andrew Devon, who, like Johann, is working to try to revive Roger. He brings to Kate news of a copy of an old book entitled Flamma Reconditus, which is supposed to be “A True Record of the Workings of the Universal Machine,” which, Devon tells her, might actually have a “formula for regrowing Homunclulus.” Therefore, it might hold the secret to bringing Roger back to life. Kate and Devon head to France in an attempt to buy it from a man who has the only known remaining copy. Their mission will turn out to be much more complicated than they first expect. And more dangerous. It is the main story of this volume.
This is another great entry in the B.P.R.D. series, though it does not advance the plot on the level of the Hellboy mythos as much as I would like. Still, the two main plotlines — the storytelling exchange and Kate’s search for the long-lost manuscript — are enjoyable, well-written, and as always, drawn and colored expertly by Guy Davis and Dave Stewart. Hellboy even puts in an appearance, giving Guy Davis his first chance to really work with the character. Finally, Daryl Tynon, the wendigo, is introduced to the series. For me, this was another five-star comic book. I highly recommend it.