Hellboy and the BPRD: 1952 #3
By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Alex Maleev and Dave Stewart
Hellboy and the BPRD (B.P.R.D., of course, but for site purposes, just go with it) #3 is another fast paced, in-and-out kind of issue. One that doesn’t even really have Hellboy in it as much as the rest and that’s okay considering the latter half of the book’s title (BPRD). Mignolaverse books have been going strong without Hellboy being front and center for years and years so as great as it is to see Hellboy again in a monthly comic, it’s great that Mignola and John Arcudi have chosen to not just shove him on to every panel just for the hell of it.
Mignola and Arcudi, as ever, are masters of their craft. The action is hot and heavy, the foreshadowing is intense and thick and the cliff hanger for the next issue is bone chilling and awesome. Everything that these two write, and arguably everything in the Mignolaverse in general, is always deep and layered with meanings and it’s always up for interpretation. This being Hellboy’s first assignment is more ominous than anybody might have expected. Certainly there was no expectations for this being an easy assignment (why else would Hellboy go?) but to seemingly have this much of an impact on everything else that will happen to Hellboy and beyond, this early in his career, just amplifies the weight and burden he had to carry.
Artist Alex Maleev once again seems to capture the essence of Hellboy. Everything just feels right about this book, and considering who started it all that might be one of the best compliments that anybody can give him. Maleev just fits in so well and his characters just look so good you’d think he’d been drawing Hellboy for his entire career. As mentioned before, he’s undoubtedly influenced by Mignola’s style with his heavy blacks and even the Mignola signature character focused panels—the backgrounds tend to fade away when a character is speaking or something important is happening. It forces the reader to focus on the character and/or the dialogue happening instead of distracting them with intricate backgrounds and other details that might not otherwise add to the moment. It’s a fantastic practice and execution and one (maybe due to being such a fan of Mignola) that this reviewer has come to really appreciate.
Speaking of appreciation, Dave Stewart ladies and gentlemen. Master colorist and Mignolaverse veteran Stewart effortlessly applies the perfect tones and shading from an expertly chosen palette of colors that not only amplifies the work from Maleev, but also serves to tie everything from the Mignolaverse together. Having that unified color look across the entire line is something that might be overlooked, but it really adds to the unity of it all, especially when reading various Mignolaverse titles back to back.
Once again, Hellboy and the BPRD shines and it provides just enough Hellboy to continue the long stretch until we get another Hellboy in Hell issue. Hellboy as a character will never grow tiresome, because there’s just so much depth to this character and his history. These guys make it look easy, but once again Mignola and crew have another winner on their hands. There’s not a better time to get into the world of Hellboy and the Mignolaverse.