The latest adventures of B.P.R.D. agent Abe Sapien are pooled together in the trade paper back edition of Abe Sapien Volume 2: The Devil Does Not Jest And Other Stories (available in stores April 18th, 2012). This volume collects the Abe Sapien one-shot Abe Sapien: The Haunted Boy and two other separate two-issue mini-series, Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain and Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest. Each of the three various stories are written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi. So if you're anything of a Hellboy or B.P.R.D. fan, you'll know what kind of story and tone to expect. Never read a copy either of these titles? Not to worry, Abe Sapien Volume 2 is the perfect diving point for new readers.
To begin, The Haunted Boy sends Abe on a seemingly simple excursion to investigate a recent haunting after a young boy drowned. As simple as the assignment first appears, it quickly escalates with an explosive resolution. Artist Patrick Reynolds provided the art for this issue. His character depictions are finely detailed and contain an eerie realistic quality found in most Creepy or Eerie collections. Once the monster steps out from the shadows (and yes, there are monsters in all of these stories), Reynolds constructs a mesmerizing horrific creature certainly worth praising. Although Mignola and Arcudi's story struggles for originality, Reynolds serpentine-like art will coil around you until the point of paralysis.
Back in the water (didn't expect the wet, blue stuff to appear as an overarching theme here, did you?) Abe leads a naval crew to a sunken Soviet U-boat to recover a magical relic. Over the course of two issues, The Abyssal Plain treats readers to this sea-farthing tale and shows how Abe implements his "research" skills as a member of B.P.R.D.. Peter Snejbjerg illustrates this one. His work is slightly cartoonish for my tastes, mainly in regards to the character's facial expressions. One moment in the story the captain of the boat makes an offhand remark about how the dead will rise from the sea and kill every man aboard the boat. As he makes this false prediction, Snejbjerg takes the reigns to draw a what-if scenario which is anything but scary. The scene created is more silly and humorous than anything. With the art aside, the story is semi-interesting. It manages to build and build in momentum until finally the expected tidal wave of excitement and adventure becomes a sparse, single drop. Extremely disappointing.
The final story appearing in this volume is the two-issue The Devil Does Not Jest. After the grandson of a famous demonologist pays Abe a visit, the two set forth to uncover his mysterious murder fifty years ago. As with most of the stories in the collection, Devil offers the same trite workings. Fans of the horror genre will appreciate artist James Harren's monstrous depictions, but fans of an original story will wish they invested money elsewhere. Although certain moments of this short makes for fun, leisurely reading, the story remains easily unremarkable.
In summation, the stories featured inside Abe Sapien Volume 2 are worth reading and enjoying as brain candy but otherwise easily forgettable. As with most Mignola creations, the back of the trade features wonderful character sketches and designs. Without these intricate and lovely additions I would easily give this title a lesser rating. Even with Dave Stewart's wonderful coloring talents, the aforementioned stories lack originality. I highly recommend flipping through a copy and reading a portion at your book store before making the purchase.