Classic Comics Cavalcade: A Hero’s First Monster In ‘Hellboy And The B.P.R.D. 1952’

by Tony Thornley

One of the greatest creator owned characters in comics has a history that spans nearly a century. In thirty years of publishing though, there’s still years of Hellboy’s history that are completely unknown. Thanks to Hellboy And The B.P.R.D., launched in 2015, we finally start to see those stories filled in.

Since Mike Mignola created Hellboy, he’s told plenty of stories about history, both on his own and with his co-creators. There are still plenty of gaps though, and Hellboy And The B.P.R.D. was intended to fill that in. The first of the series of miniseries team Mignola with longtime collaborator John Arcudi, and superstar artists Alex Maleev, and Dave Stewart and letters by Clem Robins.

When a small village in Brazil begs for help beyond what normal authorities can provide, the B.P.R.D. is called to help. The small team called on for the mission is also assigned a special member- Hellboy- on his first mission in the field. What starts as an incredibly frightening haunting, quickly evolves into something bigger and much more frightening.

I have to say this first- this story is worth it to see Maleev do Hellboy alone. Maleev is already one of the industry’s greatest artists, and getting his work on perhaps the greatest non-Big Two hero was an absolute treat. He is able to evoke Mignola’s striking layouts and dynamic action, but he does it with his lush style. The small town comes to life under his pen, and so does the various members of the BPRD team. His realistic style also makes the horrors that much creepier, which is where Stewart’s colors really brought his work to life.

As for the plot- it’s a pretty standard Hellboy story, which is to say that it’s a great pulp adventure, but it also falls prey to a few tropes. It’s fun to watch the evolution of this story over the course of the mini, going from a young and almost shy Hellboy, to overconfidence, to something closer to the grown up and mature (yet still inexperienced) Hellboy that we all know and love. On the flip side though, the franchise’s over-reliance on Nazis as their villain drags down what was otherwise a very fun story.

Despite that, this is an absolute blast. It’s fun, it’s gorgeous to look at, and it puts Hellboy into some unique situations. It’s not the best story in the franchise, but it doesn’t need to be. Sometimes you just need some fun guns-blazing adventure.

Hellboy & The BPRD: 1952 is available now from Dark Horse Comics.

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