Story: Mike Mignola & Cameron Stewart
Art: Cameron Stewart
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Clem Robins
Covers: Viktor Kalvachev
Have you ever taken a second to think about how long the Mignola-verse has been around for? It really is impressive. It's like a realm within a publisher that consistently title after title only pumps out quality work. I mean seriously, when is the last time you heard of a Hellboy, Lobster Johnson or B.P.R.D. story being bad. It just doesn't happen! In 2012 Mike Mignola released a series of B.P.R.D. related mini series with various writers and artists, all spotlighting horrific and creative occurences. My favorite of which is the short but perfectly paced tale, Exorcism. Also an incredible multi-talented creator, Cameron Stewart joins him on this romp. I'm sure you know him from his recent work in reinventing a super enjoyable corner of the Batman universe with Gotham Academy and Batgril. He is also working on the recently begun Fight Club 2 series, providing his art with Chuck Palahniuk's words. That's enough of me fanboying (for now) let's begin.
Ashley Strode has been a character in the B.P.R.D. since they started struggling with the war on the frog monsters. In this series we see her get a task from the demon, Sybacco. Normally for someone who deals with the paranormal and all manner of strange things on the regular, this request would be completely ignored, however the demon is posessing a child, and promises that his soul will be at risk unless Ashley performs this task. What would a demon ask a human to do? Free a demon lord trapped in a cage that other demons can't breach, of course! To do this, she will go on a strange, life changing journey with retired priest and exorcism expert, Ota Benga. Together the duo goes to a sinister mindscape, unsure if they should fulfill the request at all.
Well... sounds pretty good doesn't it? All done in two issues too! Mignola brings his dark, gritty writing style to the story. When mixed with Stewart's somewhat lighter sense of story telling we get a story that is a little frightening, and a lot of fun. These two issues contain a tale that starts with the reader thinking it is going to be a somewhat by the books, linear mission story and then flip that on it's head by making it a thrilling adventure. The dialogue all tells us more about the characters with every word balloon and the lore provided gives enough information for anyone to be able to pick this up.
Stewart's art doesn't even need to be discussed (but I will). If you know his style, you know the quality that he puts into each panel, especially when it comes to environments. Seriously, it's pretty nuts how quickly and esily he can show contrasts between small, country towns and vicious hellscapes. The human characters all look polished and feature unique characteristics that go along with their constantly appropriate facial expressions. Meanwhile, the demons don't simply intimidate, but truly radiate evil intent. From their soulless eyes to their twisted forms, these folks mean business. Dave Stewart's colors aid the story with an ambience that is muted in the regular plain but full of deep browns and reds in the nightmare settings. Striking visuals all around.
All in all, you can't go wrong with this mini. It's short sweet, a little messed up, and to the point. B.P.R.D. Exorcism is perfect in the sense that you get a story that is easy to understand but still works out your imagination, all without loading you with unnecessary exposition. Mignola and Stewart knocked it out of the park and this little chapter in the universe deserves some recognition. Obviously, these two issues aren't still being printed, but you can check your LCS to see if they have them or use Comic Collector Live (those orders come from collectors or small comic stores). It may also be in a trade, but I'm not sure which so you should just buy them all. Happy hunting!