Matt Johnson

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1953 – Comic Review

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HB and co. are back diving into danger and mystery, and generally getting themselves in trouble in this fantastic two-part issue.

See my reviews of Klaus #1 and RUMBLE #9.

 

hellboy

Title: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1953
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Ben Stenbeck
Cover Artist:Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: November 25th 2015

Order a copy of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953–The Witch Tree & Rawhead and Bloody Bones to be delivered right to your doorstep!

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1953 is a double feature containing the stories The Witch Tree and Rawhead and Bloody Bones.  Both issues are set in the second year of HB’s tenure as an “honorary human” and show his early development with The Bureau.

The Witch Tree opens in Shropshire, England with Hellboy and Trevor at the door of a country estate.  We immediately see Hellboy being his usual overeager self and Trevor having to reign him in as they attempt to interact with humans.  A sickly bedridden man tells a tale of a witch’s corpse that has been kicking around in the area since the times of Boudicca.  He was entrusted to it’s care and, in a moment of weakness, set in motion events that would lead to her attempted resurrection.  There’s a brief history of Boudicca and her relationship to the witch, ending with her having been hung by Roman legionnaires at a tree that still stands in the forest.  The group head to the tree and find a surprise that isn’t quite what you’d expect.  Some clever alliances are formed and Trevor keeps the group alive and mostly whole.  The story as a whole is well put together and the characters play exactly as they should.  There are moments of funny, and some genuine “huh, that’s cool” surprises.

Rawhead and Bloody Bones is the shorter of the two stories.  The bulk of the story is spent with HB and Trevor talking to a couple who have bought a bar in Yorkshire and renamed it to Rawhead and Bloody Bones in an attempt to grab some interest with a tie to a local legend about some gruesome characters; grave-robbers and murderers.  Standard fare for the era.  Since the rename of the bar, strange things have been happening, culminating with the couple’s dog being killed.  They are afraid and have reached out to the pro’s for some help.

As the four step outside to symbolically purge the sign and the cursed name, the story’s namesakes arrive.  It appears they’re about to either try to start a conversation or cause trouble when Hellboy accidentally wins the day.  I think he saves everybody, but whether that’s from being talked to death, or clawed there, it’s hard to say.  His genuine surprise at the way events unfolded is one of the things I’ve always really enjoyed about the character.

1953 is cool because, while it shows Hellboy as the wisecracking beast we all know and love, it also shows his inexperienced shock and awe at things that are supernatural and still kind of new to him.  HB is always a bit bumbling but that aspect is exaggerated here too.  The art is exactly what you’d expect from a Hellboy issue…and I don’t say that in a ho-hum way.  I mean that as in, the art style of the series has always been some of my favorite out there and I wasn’t let down here.

Of the two stories, The Witch Tree is the stronger/more entertaining, but they’re both great reads and satisfy my love of all things Hellboy.

If you haven’t read previous Hellboy or B.P.R.D. stories it’s time to drop everything you have on your plate at the moment and head out to buy them all.  Then watch the movies.  Then read them again.  Also, I just reviewed RUMBLE #9, which is written and illustrated by some heavies from the Hellboy world, and is excellent as well.

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