Hellboy and The BPRD 1952
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola & John Arcudi
Artist: Alex Maleev
FC, 144 pgs, $19.99 US
In Hellboy and the BPRD 1952, members of the BPRD are sent to a Brazilian village to investigate a series of grisly, unexplained murders. Accompanying them is Hellboy. It’s his first mission.
I’ve been watching Hellboy beat the tar out of monsters for 25 years or more so it was refreshing to see him ask a seasoned agent, “Archie, you’ve been doing this a while. Is this…normal? I mean for what you guys do.” He and Archie– a kind solider that took a shine to young Hellboy when the demon was locked away in a U.S. Air Base– are walking through a cavernous room in the dark bowels of an old prison. The room is full of dead bodies in glass tubes filled with liquid. That kind of personal touch in dialogue is sprinkled throughout this miniseries, like when it is remarked that Bruttenholm did not say good-bye to Hellboy and Bruttenholm curtly replies that Hellboy did not say farewell either. “He hates it here, Margaret,” says Bruttenholm. “We’ve tried to make it a home for him, but he hates it.”
When Hellboy first encounters a dead body in the Brazilian village, he hangs back as the human members of the BPRD team investigate. Hellboy just does not know what to do.
The day before I started this miniseries I had finished BPRD: The Devil You Know volume 3: Ragnarok, the end of the BPRD / Hellboy saga started more than 25 years ago. That volume and everything preceding it makes BPRD / Hellboy one of the greatest achievements in modern comics. As soon as I finished that volume I dug out my Hellboy collections with the intent to start reading the saga all over again. But I remembered I had Hellboy and the BPRD trade paperbacks I had not yet read. 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, and 1956 going back to the early days of Hellboy’s career in the BPRD. New adventures populated with familiar faces from other Mignolaverse stories, including Bruttenholm and Varvara, one of the great “partnerships” in comics. “Because the professor is being my favorite. My favorite human of all.” (Chad Boudreau)
Mr. Higgins Comes Home
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
FC, 56 pgs, $14.99 US
I’ve read so much of the Mignolaverse that I feel like I’m running out of material. Mignola and his collaborators are still releasing new product but it was kind of nice to have a backlog of trade paperbacks and floppies on my reading pile because I could read Mignola when I wanted to read Mignola. There was no waiting for new releases.
For some strange reason I have extra time on my hands around the store these days so I wandered among the shelves and spied a Mignola book not yet in my collection: Mr. Higgins Comes Home. I bought it. Got to support local, you know.
A pair of fearless vampire hunters question a man hidden in a monastery. Meanwhile, at Castle Golga, preparations are underway for the annual celebration of the undead. The man– Mr. Higgins– has a history with Castle Golga and does not want to return. The hunters, though, need him in their fight to rid the world of vampires.
This story feels a lot like the old movie The Fearless Vampire Hunters in the best of ways. The landscape, the castle, the vampire hunters, the bits of comedy sprinkled around. The familiarity is easily overlooked when one spends time with the art as provided by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell. Every panel is packed with delicious detail– the rooms filled with knick-knacks; the scenery lush. The relatively simple character faces are expressive. There is a strange flatness to some of the panels and a crookedness to others. The designs are other-worldly and sinister, and yet also whimsical without being dismissive of its subject matter.
I was not familiar with the artist but a quick Google search revealed his UK origins, where he has worked in editorial illustration, concept design, storyboarding, and narrative art of various forms. Listed among his clients is Aardman Animation!
There are many things I miss while having ComicReaders closed to the public. One of those things is watching people browse and discover comics. My love of Mignola as a writer and artist led me to Mr. Higgins Comes Home and Warick Johnson-Cadwell. I am grateful for the opportunity to make that discovery. (Chad Boudreau)
Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #5
Dark Horse Comics
(a) Duncan Fegredo
FC 32 pgs w/ ads $2.99 US / Higher in Canada
We are five issues into Hellboy’s latest mini-series and Mike Mignola drops one heck of a bombshell in this issue. Seriously! I won’t spoil it but there’s a hint on the cover.
For the last few years Hellboy has been a pretty good read but it has been more and more overshadowed by its brilliant spin-off title B.P.R.D. This latest mini-series has been pretty good, bringing several story elements that have been building over the years to the foreground and now this issue. Damn – Mike is still has a few surprises up his sleeve.
Things are about to change for Hellboy and I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series. (Shane Hnetka)
Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #1
Dark Horse Comics
(a) Ben Stenbeck
FC 32 pgs $2.99
Sir Edward Grey – the Witchfinder graduates from background supporting character to his own mini-series. This mini-series looks at one of Sir Edward’s many occult cases. In London 1878, there have been several murders. Each man appears to have been drained of blood and torn to shreds. Sir Edward is called on the case and quickly discovers that a man called Lord Wellington and the dead men were all apart of a expedition that had disturbed some ancient evil that was resting in the remains of an ancient city out in the Sahara Desert.
Ben Stenbeck art’s is pretty good for this mini-series. After his work on the B.P.R.D.: The Ectoplasmic Man one shot, he seems to be becoming one of Mignola’s stable of artists along with Guy Davis and Duncan Fegredo. Mignola’s writing as always is spot on. Although I was hoping for a story about the history of Grey and how he wound up living in the shadows observing Hellboy’s various adventures – that story will apparently be told later down the line. For now I’ll have to enjoy this series. (Shane Hnetka)