Following Hollow Earth it was unclear what direction the B.P.R.D. comics would take. Four one-shot stories were published every other month from May to November 2003; The Soul of Venice, Dark Waters, Night Train and There's Something Under My Bed. At the same time during the 'off' months Dark Horse published the out of continuity anthology Hellboy: Weird Tales.
Dark Waters was published in Jul 2003. The story was later collected in B.P.R.D.: The Soul of Venice & Other Stories in August 2004.
The Town of Shiloh, Massachusetts drains a pond in the center of town. At the bottom the townspeople find the bodies of three girls chained together. When the bodies turn out to be 300 years old, yet perfectly preserved, the B.P.R.D. is called in.
Abe Sapien and Roger arrive to investigate. Along with the girls, the town also found artifacts associated with witch trials. Local history tells the story of three sisters - Priscilla, Prudence, and Pollyanna Trask - accused of witchcraft and killed during their 'trial' back in 1693 - which consisted of chaining them together and throwing them into the pond, to see if they would float as true witches do.
Pastor Blackwood, a descendant of Uriah Blackwood, the priest who condemned the witches, concerned for the soul of the town, visits the bodies. He attempts to exorcise the girls, but the room fills with black sludge. When the mud leaves the room, Blackwood tries to steal the bodies. When he is caught he somehow uses the mud as a weapon, making it attack anyone who stands in his way. While Abe and Roger fight off mud men, Blackwell goes to the ocean to "drown" the girls again.
Abe reasons that the girls' anger at their unjust deaths, combined with the townspeople's lingering guilt over their crime, has congealed together into an evil force, that Blackwood can now manipulate, in the mistaken belief that he is doing God's work. The quickest way to resolve this is to give the girls a proper, sanctified burial at sea.
Abe and Roger distract Blackwell so Shiloh's more liberal Reverend Lucas Shaw can recite the prayer and beseech God to welcome the Trask sisters into His embrace. This breaks the cycle and the girls sink into the sea, forgiven. Maddened and insisting that the sisters do not deserve Christian burial, Blackwell swims out to reclaim the bodies, but the ghosts of the three murdered girls drag him underwater.
With the danger passed, Shiloh decides to reinvigorate its tourist trade by embracing its colorful history, including the witch trials. No one laments the loss of Pastor Blackwood, who in the last panel is shown bound to the bottom of the lake by the same chains used on the suspected witches - punished for the misdeeds of his ancestor, whose hate and intolerance he shared.
|B.P.R.D. Publication Order|
The Soul of Venice
|B.P.R.D. Trade Paperback Order|
|B.P.R.D. – Volume 2: The Soul of Venice & Other Stories|
The Soul of Venice