“B.P.R.D.: THE DEAD REMEMBERED” #3 (Comic Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on June 11, 2011

Surprisingly emotional, smart and fun, B.P.R.D.: THE DEAD REMEMBERED #3 (Dark Horse Comics) is a sufficiently creepy story about witches and haunted forests. It’s a flashback episode, an origin tale, about one of the supernatural agents from the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense—a secret organization that investigates mystical threats. This issue does a great job of fleshing out the series’ supporting character Liz Sherman, finally giving her a starring role.

At the age of 11, Elizabeth Anne Sherman discovered that she’s cursed with pyrokinesis. And after accidentally leveling a city block with her uncanny power—causing the unfortunate deaths of 32 innocent people, including her entire family—the guilt-ridden Liz became the property of the B.P.R.D. and put under the guidance of Professor Trevor Bruttenholm.

As Liz’s only father figure, Professor Bruttenholm has a difficult time raising this complicated child. Full of teen angst and rebelliousness, Liz refuses to take her prescribed medications and sneaks out of her room from time to time. Although he’s concerned for her well-being, Bruttenholm understands that Liz doesn’t need to go on ghost-hunting trips with him. She actually needs normal human interaction, which he’s unable to give her.

Meanwhile, an angry ghost haunts an innocent family. This spirit inhabits the woods and is waiting to plot the next step in her revenge, seeking vengeance for her death during the witch trials. Now, using Liz as her puppet, the witch specter is able to manipulate Liz’s fire powers to cause even more destruction.

Comparisons to BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER are inevitable, but this story is an interesting coming-of-age tale from authors Mike Mignola and Scott Allie. Even though she’s a freak, Liz attempts to find her place in the world and seeks acceptance from others. And although Bruttenholm is trying his best to raise Liz like his daughter and protect her from the horrors of the outside world, in the end, the professor can’t always be there for her.

The cartoonish artwork by Karl Moline (FRAY) is spectacularly suited for the emotional story arc, and the facial expressions from Liz and Bruttenholm match so well that they give extra meaning to their dialogue balloons. The issue’s highlight is the transition between the witch’s attack and her persecution during the witch hunt, which parallels Liz’s experience.

While exploring its own mythology in the HELLBOY universe, B.P.R.D. #3 succeeds in building Liz Sherman’s backstory. This flashback episode explores Hellboy’s fiery friend as she fights against both external and internal demons. You are absolutely going to enjoy reading Liz’s path of self-discovery as she goes from teenage prisoner to superhero.