By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Alex Maleev and Dave Stewart
Alright, here we go. Fire up the TARDIS or DeLorean and let’s head back to 1952. Hellboy and the BPRD (Yes, it’s B.P.R.D., but it doesn’t quite work with site links. Sorry Mignolaverse.) is a look back at the early years of Hellboy’s career with the BPRD. This is the start of a look at all (or at least some of, no doubt) those subtle or not-so-subtle references throughout Hellboy and BPRD proper of past missions. The really crazy stuff that eventually molds Hellboy into the character we get to see in Hellboy #1 and beyond. Admittedly, this is long overdue. Being such a big fan of the Mignolaverse there has been a serious lack of ol’ Red since that faithful day atop a castle somewhere in England.
As much as we need more Hellboy, props to Mike Mignola and John Arcudi for not taking Hellboy and shoving him on every page, simply because he’s been gone for so long—okay, since May and before that in December 2013, but still—not that we’d expect anything less from two writers and creators of this caliber. Hellboy and the BPRD #1 might seem like a slow start, but really it reveals a lot about what’s happening now in BPRD and foreshadows a lot of what’s to come. It feels like one of those introductions to a universe that people might not be familiar with so Mignola and Arcudi have allowed you to dip your toe in first. For those that are familiar and have read Hellboy, BPRD, the 1940s and all the tie-ins there’s a lot more to spot and absorb. It’s as close to a perfect first issue, for new and old fans alike, as might be possible with a 20-year-old character that has so much history to it.
Now for a big welcome to the Mignolaverse to Mr. Alex Maleev who firmly places himself high in the list of great, great artists who have worked within the Mignolaverse and that includes the man himself. Maleev, and of course colorist legend and Mignolaverse staple Dave Stewart, combine for some fantastically classic art that fits so wonderfully into the style that Mignola started it isn’t even funny. The blacks are extremely heavy and wonderful and his lurking, statuesque Hellboy contrasts greatly his bright red skin that jumps off the page amongst lots of more muted color choices. It’s almost like Hellboy standing back just taking in what the veteran BPRD agents are doing, but because he’s a bright red it’s hard not to notice him. As always Mignola has picked another fantastic artist to work within the confines of his universe and we, as fans, have been rewarded with another stellar looking book.
The possibilities are almost endless with what Mignola and Arcudi can do here as they have a lot of figurative years they can cover before Hellboy inevitably leaves the BPRD which would literally takes years to put on the page. As mentioned above, this might as close to perfect as you can get with such a devoted fan base while also trying to attract new readers. Anybody who hasn’t ventured into this world, which easily can go against anything else on the shelves, should start here. Dip your toe in, check the water before you inevitably dive in.