I just spend the weekend implementing, for the first time ever, David Allen's Getting Things Done productivity system. It's on the brain. I can't help it.
If you're not familiar with what I'm talking about, Allen has come up with a way of operating with a system that gets you and all your millions of task out of your head and into action lists. He explains how the myriad of "open loops" in our mind/psyche/life contribute greatly to stress. These open loops are the open-ended tasks, thoughts, and to-do's that we try to keep in our head.
So as I finished B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Pickens County Horror, I thought to myself, "Wow! That's a lot of open loops!"
In this case, though, that's not a bad thing. In fact, I was thinking that perhaps good comic book writing is all about the open loops and how to structure them within a story so that they're satisfying to experience as a reader. To give you just enough to keep you hungry, but not disappointed with how much is left hanging.
It is hard, honestly, to review this book because it's really very much an introduction to all that is going to soon happen in the next issue. But what's amazing is that every sub-plot or part-of-the-overall-plot has an introduction that leads up to a conflict -- and then that's it. We never come back to each particular subplot again in this issue.
For instance, the first "scene" is of an old vine-covered house on the mountain, and we come to glean that these backwood-lookin' folks are actually vampires. They're waiting for something to occur....but in the meantime their "little" boy runs out chasing a frog (how ominous!) and comes across a body that, apparently, he and the girl who was sent to fetch him, know all about. Already in this first vignette there are several "open loops" that have my mind churning: what's the Pike Place disaster? What's with the claw on the guy in the wheelchair? Are all of these people vampires? What is "it about time for"? What's with the really old vampire dude? Why does it not smell like morning even though it almost is, and what does that mean? Who is that guy buried in the ground? Why do they know he's there? What the hell just happened?!
Yeah...see, that how the whole book reads! More happened in this one issue than in some comic book's entire run! (I have no business saying that. I'm sure it's true, but I've only read the "entire run" of one comic, and plenty happened in it.) Still, I thought this was very exciting and that there was so much to follow up on and find out what happens next. But it makes it hard to review. Either I give you the blow-by-blow of the entire story, or I just tell you that it's really good, hope you trust me, etc. It's all sooooo unresolved that I don't know what to write about, and writing so much about that aspect makes it sound like I'm criticizing it for that, but I actually don't mean to...
Okay. I'll write about the art. I love the art! Not just how the characters are drawn, but the overall cover palette. I love how each "scene" seems to have a full scenic design that differentiates it very strongly from the scene before it and after it. I love the entire aesthetic--I've always loved that in these Hellboy/BPRD comics.
Honestly, I am pretty interested in reading this one's next issue. I gotta find out how all this stuff resolves! And what's additionally glorious about this storyline is that it's only going to be two issues long. So, even thought I'm in open-loop-cliff-hanger phase, I just need to hold out for one more issue to experience the resolution of it all - and hopefully get some more Hellboy too!