By Nick Banks
Abe Sapien #30 Early Review
Writer: Mike Mignola, Scott Allie
Artist: Santiago Caruso
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: January 13, 2016
Rating: 9 out of 10
Synopsis: In this stand-alone story, the history of Western occultism is told through the lens of the Mignolaverse’s favorite necromancer: Gustav Strobl.
Our Thoughts: Mike Mignola and Scott Allie take a break from the current Abe Sapien storyline to fill in the blanks about one of the emerging villains in the story, Gustav Strobl. Much of his past has been hinted at in other Mignolaverse titles such as Hellboy and Witchfinder General but in this stand-alone tale, we get to see Strobl’s ascent to demonic glory juxtaposed against a historical backdrop. Many references are made to individuals from history such as Aleister Crowley, Samuel Liddell, and Madame Blavatsky. This technique is one of the trademarks of Mignola’s and Allie’s writing and it works perfectly in this issue. “The Black School” is yet another reference to a once growing host of secret societies from the 19th and 20th centuries such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Ordo Templi Orientis.
The perfect counterpart to this “diabolical trip down memory lane” is the artwork of Santiago Caruso. Caruso’s illustrated scenes are reminiscent of many medieval paintings of Hell and damnation. Caruso’s style captures the hellish and period scenes equally well, alternating between images of demons feasting on tormented souls and 19th century set pieces. His art (normally reserved for covers and full page illustrations) is best served with this type of story. It will be interesting to see if this marks a greater involvement in the American comic and graphic novel medium, and if it is, this is a promising start.