The big moment has arrived for our adventurers – will they save the missing girls and bring down the Black Flame, or will they all suffer a fate worse that death?
Previously in Rise of the Black Flame: Young girls have gone missing from the cities of Siam, and investigators, adventurers, and those who may be more than they seem, have ventured deep into the jungle to hunt the Cult of the Black Flame to save them.
NEVER BRING A KNIFE TO A CULT GATHERING
The team has dwindled from five to three, and the tension created by writers Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson bring the dread and realization they may not make it out alive. Fortunately, no one knows how cults work, or why, so by the time the group gets to the main temple floor, most of the cultists have killed themselves, while nine priest prepare a young girl to be the vessel for the Black Flame.
For the past four issues, we have learned that “Farang” has had visions of something ominous throughout his life, and as he holds off the final nine priests so everyone can escape, we learn how his destiny and that of the Black Flame are intertwined. Going back and rereading the first four issues, the fate of the German makes perfect sense, as the build up has an ultimate payoff better than simply dispatching the cult.
One of the best parts of the series is seeing the characters change because of their adventure. At one point, the group sits around comparing scars, while the youngest member, Officer Sandhu has nothing to show. It makes sense then that by the end of the adventure, he has the most visible and grotesque scar of the group – at least among those that make it out alive.
The writing for this entire series is tight and spot on, and at no point does it feel like Roberson or Mignola are cramming in additional bits to increase the issue count of the series. It does seem a bit rushed in places, but overall this is an adventure worthy of reading again and again.
ART BY MITTEN
It is rare that we get a Mignola drawn adventure set in the Hellboy universe, but every artist who has taken on a Hellboy series delivers amazing art that is in that style. Christopher Mitten does a fantastic job bringing the lush jungles to life. There are times where I half expect something horrifying to jump out of the shadows to drag our heroes to their doom. All of the characters are on model throughout the series, and at no point will you ever mistake one for another.
Aiding Mitten’s art is the fantastic coloring by Dave Stewart. When the Black Flame finally appears in the final act of the issue, Stewart’s use of blacks and blues, and making it all seem natural simply blows my mind. My guess is Stewart does everything on a computer, but the final panel is so spooky, and so well rendered, I want to hang it on my wall.
BOTTOM LINE: FANTASTIC SERIES
The Rise of the Black Flame seems to have flown under the radar of many readers, but from the beginning, this series has drawn me in month after month. Though two of the five member team will not be back (in their original form), I really want to see more adventures of the survivors, as they feel like a proto-BPRD for the Victorian Era. The final chapter in this mini-series had me on the edge of my seat, and I was very satisfied with the way the story ended. The Rise of the Black Flame is exactly as the title implies, and it is a fantastic read from start to finish. If you get a chance, pick up every issue in this series.