When all hope is stripped away, and all heroism is for nothing, what remains?
As the days remaining in the world’s existence grow short, the BPRD and Abe Sapien struggle to find sanity in a world gone mad, driven to extremes by mutants, monsters, and the appearance — and seeming defeat — of the Ogdru Hem. This series continues to be unique in comics and in popular culture as a whole by telling the story of not only the people who survived, but also those who continue to work to save a planet that has faced a true apocalypse…and lost.
Dark and Terrible Vol. 2 picks up right where Volume 1 left off, seeing Abe and his travelling companion, Grace, settle into a too-perfect town in Texas, trying to make headway into saving who they can. As usual, things are not as they seem. The amazing thing about this massive volume is that the primary motivator in the story-telling is character development and the exploration of what desperate people will resort to in their final hours. Unlike other post-apocalyptic genre comics, shows, and literature, magic and the supernatural are quite real here, up to and including Abe himself.
Parallel to the exploration of this new reality is Abe’s own exploration into himself. Not only has he physically changed significantly since his early days at the BPRD, evolving into a new version of himself, he has discovered his past as a member of the Cult of Oannes. The essential center of Abe’s journey is one of self-discovery. In the midst of death and chaos, Abe must find himself to know his purpose in what is left of the world and what is to come. Each of the stories in this volume brings him closer and closer to that answer while bringing mankind closer and closer to their final day.
In one of the more interesting scenes, Abe speaks with a girl who seems to be a seer, speaking in an ancient language that only her mother can understand. The girl tells him that he is the connection to mankind and its survival, but not the current age of man that is on the Earth. They are doomed. End of story. When the next age of man arrives, Abe will be there to light the way, so to speak. It is a horrific revelation, nearly tearing the girl’s mother apart, emotionally, when she realizes that, no matter what, there truly is no hope to be found. That’s an impossible concept for us to grasp. There is always hope, always a way to win the day, no matter the cost, no matter the struggle. To hear that, no, there is no hope, no way out of the apocalypse that has befallen mankind is very nearly unfathomable for both the mother and for us as readers.
Throughout the omnibus, Abe’s history is pursued by Gustav Strobl, a 19th century follower of The Black School, looking for answers to what has happened in Hell itself and what his own place in this new world will be. He follows Abe’s path, ending in Saint-Sebastian, the place where Abe’s former self first encountered the relic that changed him into the Icthyo Sapien. Strobl transforms himself, trading in a place in the armies of Hell for one alongside the coming Ogdru Jahad as the new Icthyo Sapien, the embodiment of Oannes. The final confrontation between Abe and Strobl is as inevitable as the death it causes in the humans that remain, the last of a dying race.
This omnibus volume, along with its predecessor, are massive tomes of well-told stories, turning the end of the world into a search for light and truth amidst the darkness. When all hope is stripped away, and all heroism is for nothing, what remains? In Abe Sapien, there is his own personal mission for understanding. For humanity, no matter what is foretold, there must be hope somewhere.