Rise of the Black Flame #1

by H├ęctor A on September 09, 2016

Story: Mike Mignola & Chris Roberson
Art: Christopher Mitten
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Clem Robbins
Publisher: Dark Horse

With the Mignolaverse in a state of flux, Dark Horse has launched a new mini-series detailing the origin of The Black Flame (mysterious villainous entity) helmed by future B.P.R.D. writer Chris Roberson The consistent quality across almost all B.P.R.D. and related titles has always been impressive. While artists may change between arcs having a great colorist and great letterer helps that a lot. But perhaps consistency is boring? Maybe reading comics that are always good gets old? Well, it's not and it doesn't!!!


Despite having colored around 200 Mignolaverse comics Stewart always dazzles me with some of his choices. In this case, it's that completely red panel that flashbacks to the heyday of the Thug Cult. That same panel is imbued with a lot of motion by Christopher Mitten, and it stands out not only because of the stark color difference but because the rest of the book is very quiet.


If I'm not mistaken this is the first comic book by Mitten that I've read, but his art instantly brought Guy Davis' work to mind, even though their linework isn't really similar. I went back and read some of Davis' comics from his original B.P.R.D. run and I think that what prompted that association was the way they frame their conversations, there is a lot of close-ups within wide panels, allowing you to get a sense of the scene while still placing an emphasis on character acting.


It's a small detail but I think it really shapes the mood of the book, the comparison is really propped-up in my mind comparted to the art on the last two B.P.R.D. books I read it, Cometh the Hour and End of Days, both drawn by Laurence Campbell (who also drew a fantastic cover for this issue). The art on the book relies a lot less on close-ups and is more operatic, the quieter script benefits from Mitten's subtler approach.


The issue itself is a slow burn, where even the cliffhanger at the end is really understated. This is an interesting contrast with the larger-than-life stories that the Black Flame(s) have been featured in in the past. The issue starts with a recap of sorts from all the different versions of the character, and the rest of the story has especially strong callbacks to the Black Flame story from Lobster Johnson. At the same time we are introduced to a cast of characters that, even if some of them are connected to Edward Grey, are entirely new to the reader. And that's my favorite part of this issue, Roberson and Mignola crafted an interesting narrative with unknown characters without a big, shocking action moment. With Roberson taking over from John Arcudi for the third and final B.P.R.D. arc, I think we might see more from these characters in the future.


I enjoyed myself a lot reading Rise of the Black Flame #1. There might be nothing that wins readers new to the Mignolaverse here, but there's compelling writing and very good art.

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