Hellboy: The Storm #3 & B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: New World #2

Comic book, 2010

Man, I can’t imagine dark serial genre comics being done better than the Hellboy line of comics that Mike Mignola and friends are putting out at Dark Horse right now. To be able to walk into a comics shop and pick up two issues as good as this off the new release wall is really exciting. It’s only too bad that I don’t see anything else on the shelves that looks like it has even a shot at being as good.
The story of Hellboy is coming to the end of it’s second act, typically the part in the story when everything is at it’s worst. (Although, in these comics, smart money says nothing gets better, ever.) Accordingly, a couple of game changers happen in this issue that, if you’ve been reading the series for years, hit pretty hard. Even though it was itself hard to imagine when it was first announced, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Duncan Fredrigo on art. He’s got a couple hiccups here and there, but 95% of the time his work here is absolutely perfect. Dave Stewert, the only guy who can make computer coloring totally work, colors the back third of this issue bright green, which seems like it must be a first for Hellboy. And on the writing side, Mignola’s actually managing to sell the Hellboy-has-a-girlfriend thing without it tasting bad. He’s always complained about his own lack of ability to craft emotional stories, and he appears to be slowly overcoming that. Even if the only emotion on display here is “Holy crap”, it’s a larger, more resonant “Holy crap” than in his previous work.
B.PR.D., a Hellboy spinoff with a flavor of it’s own thanks to top notch writing and art overseen by Mignola himself, is hitting it equally as hard. There was a while there, during it’s Garden of Lost Souls and Killing Ground story arcs, that I thought B.P.R.D. was better than Hellboy. I’m a fan of Arcudi, the writer, and his character work was on full display at that time. But they kind of lost me during the last three continuity heavy story arcs. The book became about plot, a plot so large that it allowed for very few of the small, human moments that made this book so great. But that’s all over now, and we’re back to basics. I couldn’t be happier.

What’s strange about me for these books is that even though there are massive, status-quo changing events transpiring seemingly monthly, I always have a feeling in the back of my head as if they’re kind of at a constant plateau. It’s possible that this is a side effect of a book that’s released monthly but conceptualized for trade, but I also feel that amidst all of the world changing events that Hellboy and B.P.R.D go through, time is never taken to reflect and take toll. They always keep chugging along from one horror to the next. A little more variety in tone and pace might be nice. 4

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