‘Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

There are some comic book characters that are always recognizable, and Dark Horse Comics has one that’s just that. There’s a good chance you have heard of Hellboy, and there’s also a good chance you know that he’s red, has shaved-off horns, and sports a noticeably long tail.

His appearance is made quite apparent by Mike Huddleston, cover artist for this new Hellboy series. The cover displays an arctic scene with a few distinct figures: Hellboy standing atop a mound of snow; a possible guide or partner alongside; and a plane high in the sky. Unknown immediately seems to be a strange symbol, a skull buried in the snow, and what appears to be some kind of abominable beast behind our red superstar.

Is this creature responsible for the buried bones? Does the symbol represent Hellboy or something more ominous? It only takes this well-designed cover to bring in the classic feel of another wonderful story. The architect of Hellboy, Mike Mignola, along with Chris Roberson, continue with what the cover brings to the table and write what’s been done time and time again to make Hellboy such a longstanding comic book.

In this issue, Hellboy and his partner from the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) go in search of an unknown creature. They go to a research facility where they soon find out that this beast they’re in search of is not so fond of company.  Several of the members of the research team encounter it when searching for one of their lost colleagues and they walk away with somewhat gory results.

As Hellboy and his partner, Woody, debate about what they’re after, they also have to deal with the fact that it’s 1954 and some of the injured crew don’t want to work with someone with differently colored skin, and they’re not referring to the red hellion. Fortunately, one of the crew stands tall and helps them on their quest which immediately gives the reader another character to root for, and quite frankly, not so upset that the others were maimed during their expedition.

The artist, Stephen Green, and colorist Dave Stewart do a fantastic job of illustrating the arctic and its 23 hours of darkness. Well-drawn lines and color help differentiate light and shadow from the guide’s lantern as they trek across the icy island. And even though Hellboy stands out, they do a great job to make sure his red tones don’t overwhelm each page.

Hellboy’s take-charge attitude first, ask questions second or third definitely comes into play during this comic book story. His charm, or not-so-subtle confidence, provides a nice balance to his brash behavior when he’s right about something or when he’s stepped into a potentially dangerous situation. These pages will quickly get turned over to the next, one after another, until you ultimately just wonder, what just happened?

That’s what happens when you get involved with the mystique of Hellboy. There are almost always mystical elements that seem to pop up in his stories, and this issue does not disappoint when it comes to that fact. It’s 1954 and Hellboy finds himself walking across the arctic. What could possibly go wrong?

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1954 – The Black Sun #1 will be available on Wednesday, September 21 in print and digital form.

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