It’s no secret to readers of this blog that my husband/Heroes blogger Seth loves all things Hellboy, but he has been completely unable to get me to read anything outside of Hellboy Jr. and the Beasts of Burden crossover one-shot. There’s no real reason for my stance on this. I liked the Hellboy movies, but that’s more about my love for Ron Perlman in beastly make-up than any particular attachment to the Hellboy storyline. (While we’re on Mr. Perlman, can we all have the warm fuzzies again about the Make-A-Wish kid and Hellboy story from this summer?) Anyhoo, back to comics…Seth has full shelves in our house dedicated to Hellboy and B.P.R.D., but they had been gathering dust where I was concerned until recently.
At this year’s HeroesCon, I stumbled into a conversation between B.P.R.D. artists Jason Latour and James Harren in which I mentioned that I had not read B.P.R.D. and I wasn’t sure it was for me. Not daunted at all by my hesitation, Jason immediately suggested that I start with Plague of Frogs and assured me that I would like it. August rolled around without me picking up any of the trades on our shelves until I had a week without many new comics in my reserve bag and decided to pull volume 3 and it give it a go. Cut to about a week and half later and I am about to start volume 13.
B.P.R.D. trades include a handy character section in the front that give you a paragraph of information about each character which is very helpful for new readers coming into these stories cold. I never felt hindering in my reading or understanding of the story based on my lack of prior knowledge. The main cast is engaging enough to work through any hesitation due to lack of known history. It speaks volumes to me that while being so different from us regular people, each member of the team is very relatable in their own way. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi do an excellent job of letting each character shine throughout the stories.
Guy Davis does an impressive job with the art, especially considering the number of issues he worked on during his B.P.R.D. tenure. Any artist that can put in that many issues without showing fatigue is impressive in my book. I also enjoyed the guest artist spots from those familiar to me from other Dark Horse books like Karl Moline (Fray, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba (Umbrella Academy). I would absolutely love to see a whole volume of young Liz stories by Moline.
If you want to stick a toe into the B.P.R.D. world, there are two stand alone stories in the midst of the volumes I’ve read so far: 1946 and 1947 which deal with the very early formation of the unit without the current cast. 1947 might just be the best of these two for including a little Hellboy and his dog throughout the volume. I do so adore little Hellboy.
Don’t let the fact that B.P.R.D. spun off from Hellboy intimidate you as you do not need any prior knowledge from the Hellboy series to fully enjoy B.P.R.D. Mike Mignola and company have created a series that can fully stand on its own.