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In 2001, Hellboy quit the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D). If that was not bad enough, Liz Sherman is currently in hiding, Abe Sapien is in a coma, and Johann Kraus is left with Kate Corrigan to go with to Russia as backup this time around. The Russians have an assault team assembled for Johann and Kate to lead into the fire.
If only it were that easy. As if these men could make up for the loss of Hellboy, they charge heroically to their deaths, combating evil. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi have teamed up once again to continue the Hell on Earth: Russia issues for #4, bringing the storyline into sharper focus with each successive single issue release.
Art was done by Tyler Crook while colors were by Dave Stewart. Lettering was done by Clem Robins, and the cover was by Dave Johnson. This senior team has created the perfect setting for huge monsters and grand explosions.
It becomes obvious that this mission into the mines could only have succeeded with Johann Kraus’ help. Kraus, with his deep conceptual thinking, is certainly poised in this issue to shake things up for Kate Corrigan as they continue through Russia’s hellish atmosphere. Different from Hellboy in that way, Kraus is a deep thinker, which contrasts very much with Hellboy’s simpler thought process.
By no means lacking in courage or skills, Johann Kraus does maintain his image as the thinking man’s character. Kate Corrigan, on the other hand, is frustrated, brash, and hard to deal with when in Russia. The missing key members of their team take its toll on her psyche, leading to bursts of impatience and rage.
Fans of Hellboy will remember her friendship with Hellboy from previous B.P.R.D issues as well as her concern for Abe Sapien from Issue #1 of Hell on Earth: Russia. She will come face to face with the concept that some people just accept the fact that they will die.
Exposure to the contagion found in the mines of Russia changes the structural chemistry of every living human it touches, turning them into mindless killers. Unluckily for him, Johann Kraus is on the hunt for this contagion with a set of monsters, each of which is more grotesque than the next.
On the one hand, you have a blue Jabba-the-Hutt-type creature, and on the other, you have what looks like the giant brain bug from the end of the first Starship Troopers movie. It is a lose-lose situation, no matter which ugly monster Kraus will find first. The concept of Kraus’ mortality will also come into play, since Kraus is technically dead and without a body, but is a sentient free-feeling personality.
The feel of this story is a different kind of desperation. In comparison to Hellboy’s policy of casual violence, B.P.R.D always seems to have a more serious edge. This is definitely true with B.P.R.D Hell on Earth: Russia, since the first issue has already set the stage for the almost rapid deceleration of Russian society due to this spreading contagion.
The ending of the story is quite explosive. While some fans will clamor in fury, true fans will wait impatiently for the triumphant return of one of the series best loved characters. Entertaining as always, the conclusion is sure to be jam-packed with excellent plot twists as well as a rescue operation. B.P.R.D Hell on Earth: Russia is on sale here through Dark Horse!