Spotlight On Abe Sapien

Posted by No_Name_ (17403 posts) - - Show Bio

One of the greatest characters (in our humble opinion) to come out of HELLBOY comics is Abe Sapien. Named for former President Abraham Lincoln, Abe Sapien was found in a water tank with a note stating the date of the former President's assassination (April 14th, 1865) and not much else as far as clues revealing his identity and origin were concerned. Abe is interesting. He's intelligent, unique and a very mysterious half-man, half-amphibian creature that -- after being discovered -- eventually went on to work for the B.P.R.D. as one of the organization's most respected detectives. Yet, who is Abe really? What is his origin? Where did he come from and what do we really know about his past?

One of the interesting things about this particular character is the fact that not even Abe has the answers to the questions posed above. Since being discovered, there is a mystery that has surrounded this particular character. He is mysterious because his past is unknown both to him as well as to the reader, and this is part of the reason that makes his particular story so interesting.

ABE SAPIEN: DARK AND TERRIBLE

Unlike most comic book series, HELLBOY books are split into two or three issue story arcs that feel really self-contained and accessible to new readers, while still maintaining a certain level of complexity. On the surface they seem simple when in fact they are built up over the course of several years and backstory. Such is the case with the newest ongoing series at Dark Horse from HELLBOY creator Mike Mignola, ABE SAPIEN: DARK AND TERRIBLE. In this new ongoing series Abe's identity is thrust into the forefront of the story, being the focus of the plot as well as the character's ambitions. During this story Abe realizes there are things he does not understand about himself, and after being prompted by his allies, he embarks on a sort of journey of self discovery. The current series brings Abe full circle, calling back to his very first solo adventure which was first published in 2008 in ABE SAPIEN: THE DROWNING.

ABE SAPIEN: THE DROWNING

THE DROWNING is a perfect portrayal of a timid, young and slightly nervous Abe who is a bit uncomfortable in his own skin. The character is a bit naive, and he sometimes compares his own experiences and his own actions to those of Hellboy begging the question, 'what would Hellboy do in this situation?' or 'Hellboy wouldn't make this mistake.' The result is a great portrayal of the character in a different place in his own career, unsure of himself and his own abilities, constantly questioning whether or not he is doing the right thing and it is moments like these that give us insight into the fact that he doesn't actually know who he himself is. The story gives us a look not only at Abe's first adventure on his own, but it also gives us some perspective into the type of character Abe used to be. The way Mignola writes the character in the 2008 THE DROWNING is very different from the motivated, controlled, self-assured character we see in the current ABE SAPIEN: DARK AND TERRIBLE.

ABE SAPIEN: THE ABYSSAL PLAIN

One of the things that makes him stand out to other B.P.R.D. characters is his intellect. Abe has a way of speaking that is very different from other characters, and one of the qualities that makes him stand out is his level of compassion. He cannot pass a man who has suffered without wishing him some sort of peace -- hoping that his death was not a painful one. An example of this can be seen in ABE SAPIEN: ABYSSAL PLAIN. In this scene Abe demonstrates compassion for a complete stranger, keeping the dead man in his thoughts even while on a mission. It's interesting to see the stark differences between him and Hellboy, especially, and this moment really highlights that.

ABE SAPIEN: DARK AND TERRIBLE

The current series is one that is bringing the character full circle and allowing him to dive into a journey of self exploration in search of the answers to questions pertaining to his identity: who he is, where he has come from, and what his purpose is are all questions being explored in his current series. And while we don't know much about the details of his life, we do know that Abe Sapien is an incredibly likable character and it has been interesting to watch him undergo changes since we were initially introduced to him in HELLBOY: SEED OF DESTRUCTION #2. If you haven't been reading the current ABE SAPIEN: DARK AND TERRIBLE series, and you are unfamiliar with the character, you may want to dive right in. What do you think of Abe Sapien? Are you a fan of the character? Have you ever read any of his own off-shoot stories?

#1 Edited by OmgOmgWtfWtf (6083 posts) - - Show Bio

It's so sad that the Hellboy comics are so underrated. Abe Sapien is such a unique character and everyone should give him a read.

#2 Posted by Pokeysteve (7018 posts) - - Show Bio

Great article. I don't often actually READ them and choose instead to skim. I kind of want to read Hellboy now to learn more about Abe. I hope "Spotlight On" is going to be/is a regular thing. Been here for over two years and can't remember any.

#3 Posted by Zeeguy91 (1075 posts) - - Show Bio

I started picking up his solo series and I am very impressed with it so far. I've never read a Hellboy comic, so this is a welcome introduction. The continuity is a bit confusing, but nothing I can't suss out.

#4 Posted by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio

needs more love

#5 Posted by DonFelipe (1088 posts) - - Show Bio

I always wanted to check out the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe. Pretty much all the characters in it are quite unique and weird in someway.

What mini series (solo and team) would be a good starting point?

#6 Posted by Mucklefluga (2434 posts) - - Show Bio

Never read Hellboy but Abe seems cool.

#7 Edited by RUSTMAN (183 posts) - - Show Bio

@donfelipe said:

I always wanted to check out the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe. Pretty much all the characters in it are quite unique and weird in someway.

What mini series (solo and team) would be a good starting point?

For Hellboy - going back to the start is probably your best bet - the first trade Seed of Destruction is a great read and it just gets better from there. The good thing about Hellboy is that most of the trades are fairly self-contained so you can pick any one up and still enjoy it.

There are a whole lot of BPRD trades and it may seem daunting at first, but just jump in and pretty soon you'll be as hooked as the rest of us. I found BPRD: Being Human to be a great intro to the characters.

#8 Posted by Mezmero (859 posts) - - Show Bio

He's the hardest working creature from a black lagoon in comics. I'll definitely need to get into Hellboy books at some point. Thanks for the cool article.

#9 Edited by LarryDavis (143 posts) - - Show Bio

@donfelipe said:

I always wanted to check out the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe. Pretty much all the characters in it are quite unique and weird in someway.

What mini series (solo and team) would be a good starting point?

It's super easy to get into, actually. They've re-released BPRD in large (but not oversized, unfortunately), affordable (~$23) hardcover volumes, easily numbered. 4 are currently out, and that covers up until the past year and a half or so -- it's all of Plague of Frogs, before Hell on Earth (the current storyline) started.

Hellboy is in Library Edition hardcovers, which are actually not much more expensive than the trades (they contain two trades each, plus extras, for ~$32), but are huge, with fantastic paper quality. It's really The Way to read it. Hellboy and BPRD don't have much to do with each other past a certain point. Hellboy leaves the BPRD fairly early in the series (around the fourth trade, I think?) and that was when BPRD started.

BPRD also started as mostly unconnected short stories, which is most of the first HC volume. Then, when it started the overarching Plague of Frogs story, it became pretty much the consistently best comic on the stands. It still is.

and @babs this is a great article, and it's always good to be reminded that SOMEBODY on staff is reading Mignolaverse stuff.

#10 Posted by DonFelipe (1088 posts) - - Show Bio

@rustman & @larrydavis

Thanks for the info! I will give it a shot and start with the 2 trades you mentioned: Seed of Destruction and BPRD: Being Human.

#11 Posted by Ganthetsward20 (687 posts) - - Show Bio

I've jumped in with this new series never having read any hellboy or BPRD book, so everything is new and confusing...which has made it sorta cool to read and try and piece the history together.

#12 Posted by DCWarFan73 (113 posts) - - Show Bio

The Hellboy universe is awesome. I love the main characters and Abe is one of the best and interesting ones out there. I have to pick up the latest collection as I have neglected my Hellboy purchases for a time.

#13 Posted by Billy Batson (56930 posts) - - Show Bio

Mignolaverse is always solid.

BB

Online
#14 Edited by new_onslaught (52 posts) - - Show Bio

Great article!

I've seen the movies and enjoyed them so I gave the comics a shot, but the first volume of the Library edition didn't do it for. But there were some scenes in the second story with the B.P.R.D. agents, I enjoyed and was thinking of skipping Hellboy and getting the first B.P.R.D. HC. Will I be too lost if I do that?

Also, a question about Abe. In the movies, I think he needed a device to breathe out of water (haven't seen them in a long time). Does he have the same problem in the comics?

#15 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6885 posts) - - Show Bio

I love Abe Sapien's character from the Hellboy and BRPD-verse! And just like you said, the real attractive quality of his character is his mysteriousness and lack of knowing what his true origin is. That's why the current story in "Dark and Terrible" I'm on the fence on for liking, partially because I want to know the origin and then partially not since for me it would be ruining the mystique of the character. In the end my curiosity outweighs my timidness so I will definitely read more into this because whether we know the true story behind his origin or not, Abe Sapien is one awesome character!

#16 Posted by KEROGA (935 posts) - - Show Bio

Gotta love BPRD!

#17 Edited by Mbecks14 (2068 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the Hellboy universe seems so fascinating, and I love its aesthetic but I don't know where to begin to get into it

#18 Posted by TheCheeseStabber (7223 posts) - - Show Bio

Anyone else see a Big Daddy in the Last picture O.o

#19 Edited by Benzo (621 posts) - - Show Bio

I always wanted to get into the Hellboy and the B.P.R.D comics but I do not know where to start.

#20 Posted by Billy Batson (56930 posts) - - Show Bio

Great article!

I've seen the movies and enjoyed them so I gave the comics a shot, but the first volume of the Library edition didn't do it for. But there were some scenes in the second story with the B.P.R.D. agents, I enjoyed and was thinking of skipping Hellboy and getting the first B.P.R.D. HC. Will I be too lost if I do that?

I think you'd be fine with just B.P.R.D. I did the same and it wasn't really confusing.

Also, a question about Abe. In the movies, I think he needed a device to breathe out of water (haven't seen them in a long time). Does he have the same problem in the comics?

Nah, that was just in the movie.

@benzo said:

I always wanted to get into the Hellboy and the B.P.R.D comics but I do not know where to start.

The trades for both are numbered. Or you can get the Hellboy library editions and Plague of Frogs edition for B.P.R.D.

BB

Online
#21 Edited by new_onslaught (52 posts) - - Show Bio

@billy_batson: Thanks! Good to know that someone else did what I have in mind and it worked

#22 Edited by StMichalofWilson (3405 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerx said:

needs more love

Indeed. Such and awesome character

#23 Posted by G_Money_Christmas (862 posts) - - Show Bio

Anyone else see a Big Daddy in the Last picture O.o

I was going to say that haha

#24 Posted by Vortex13 (12156 posts) - - Show Bio

He is actually one of my favorite characters. Period, and he needs more respect.

#25 Posted by Arkhamc1tizen (2100 posts) - - Show Bio

Love abe

#26 Edited by new_onslaught (52 posts) - - Show Bio

The article made me order the first volume of B.P.R.D. :D

#27 Edited by CitizenJP (570 posts) - - Show Bio

Love Abe! I actually picked up "The Drowning" trade last week. ( 7 ^_^)7

#29 Posted by MyNameWasDeleted (679 posts) - - Show Bio

Nice article- more 'Spotlight On' please.... and thank you.

#30 Posted by ravisher (605 posts) - - Show Bio

always liked him

This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.