Hello and welcome to another great character spotlight! In this week’s edition, I’ll be continuing with my look at some gems from Dark Horse Comics with Abe Sapien! That’s right, the aquatic and super intelligent member of the B.P.R.D. is going to be front and center, so get ready! Abe was created by Mike Mignola in 1994 (Hellboy: Seed of Destruction).
Abe was originally a Victorian businessman and scientist named Langdon Everett Caul. He was part of a secret society called the Oannes Society. This group believed that all life and knowledge came from the sea. After an expedition in the sea yielded the capture of a strange jellyfish creature, the society performed some sort of ritual that released the spirit of the being. At this point, Caul was transformed into a fish like being. They referred to him as icthyo sapien. The society believed he was going to evolve into an ancient god, so they sealed him up in a container and buried him in a secret laboratory beneath what is now Washington D.C., and waited. They never had the chance to check back in on him, because the Civil War started. He wasn’t found until 1978 by workmen. The B.P.R.D. didn’t know what to do with him at first, but then they decided to dissect him. Luckily for Caul, Hellboy asked them to change their minds, and they did. Abe had no memory of his life before the change, so the Bureau named him Abe Sapien, because the date attached to the case he was in was dated the day of Abe Lincoln’s assassination.
Abe quickly caught on to the ways of the other agents at the bureau, and then went on his first mission with Hellboy in 1981. After Seed of Destruction, Abe then had his first run in with the spirit of Rasputin the Mad Monk. The spirit tried to kill Abe, and when it couldn’t it made a prophecy that Abe would die by impalement one day. This almost became true when Abe was impaled and seemingly died at the hands of the Ogdru Jahad cult followers (Plague of Frogs). He then had an out of body experience that led him to see his former life as Caul. He also learned about his dead wife, Edith Howard, who had committed suicide. She becomes a specter that ends up having to be exorcised, and Abe is left with memories of a wife he never knew. Abe would also be affected by the Oannes Society once again when he was contacted by an ageless mummy named Panya. The society had trapped the mummy on an island in Indonesia, and the remaining life forces of the society were trapped there also, inside of cyborg bodies. They had a plan to use bombs to start tidal waves to wash out half the planet. Abe managed to stop them and returned to the bureau with Panya.
Abe later led a mission back down to that same area to confront the Black Flame and his army of frogs (King of Fear). The Black Flame told Abe that he is an evolved frog man, and will eventually become evil, as Rasputin also stated during the Conqueror Worm story line. At this point, some of the agents, most noticeably Agent Devon, start to not trust Abe. More recently, Abe was shot by a psychic girl named Fenix, who is a girl that has been on the radar of the Bureau for a while now. He’s been in a coma ever since, but the most disturbing thing about that incident was that Agent Devon told the Bureau he didn’t know what happened or where the girl is, even though he knows everything. Abe has been under close watch while in a coma, and has shown some sudden brain activity. When and if he wakes up is still a mystery.
As usual, check out my recommended reading list along with some great covers below. See you next time!
Hellboy: Seed of Destruction – Tpb
BPRD: Hollow Earth – Tpb
BPRD: Plague of Frogs – Tpb
BPRD: The Black Flame – Tpb
BPRD: Hell on Earth: New World – Tpb
BPRD: Hell on Earth: Gods & Monsters – Tpb
Abe Sapien: The Drowning – Tpb
Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest & Other Stories – Tpb (2011)