Jumping into a long-running title can be intimidating, and the BRPD especially so, with a huge list of long standing characters and a history that not only extends through the twelve year run of the title but also from Mignola’s Hellboy, the series from which BRPD spun off. While “BPRD” #120, part one of a two part arc, does little to ease in new readers, there is still plenty to get excited about that should have those who give it a try running to wikipedia and picking up previous trades.
ART BY: Laurence Campbell
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse
RELEASE: June 18, 2014
Review By: Ooknabah
While Mignola’s Hellboy is by far his most well known and celebrated work, BRPD, the series following Hellboy’s former employers/guardians has now gone on to eclipse its father series in quantity by far, and some might argue quality as well. Fans of the Hellboy movies may recognise the Bureau for Paranormal Defence and some of its characters, but what has always set this book apart is its dark and foreboding tone.
While Hellboy has always been fortune’s favourite son, a wisecracking demon almost gleefully ripping it up with various Nazi/demonic/eldritch horrors, the BRPD has always shown the more human side of a world wrapped in conspiracy and horror: where people are small, weak and very, very mortal, but stand to fight. They may win at the end of the day, but never without cost. And never without the palpable sense that they are constantly being worn down and depleted. For fans of happy narratives, this is depressing, but for horror fans, it’s pure gold.
Very little of note actually happens in this issue, with multiple flashbacks and info dumps setting the stage for what is to come, however the sense of foreboding is very strong and helps propel the reader further along, trying to figure out what it is all leading towards. Laurence Campbell’s art does most of the heavy lifting in that regard, and he pulls it off beautifully.
It’s a difficult job to step from behind the (stark and stylized) shadow of Mignola’s own art work, or from series stalwart Guy Davis, but Campbell manages to both maintain the general aesthetic set by his predecessors while taking it into new directions. There is a grit to his work that makes the world feel dirty and used, bringing to mind the art direction of True Detective: That’s high praise. The only complaint that can be levied is that Campbell doesn’t get to really let loose with any prolonged action which I’m now dying to see.
That is the general takeaway from this issue: Anticipation for what is to come. One almost envies a future trade reader who will be able to simply flip the page and see what’s next. But that anticipation also elevates the sense of dread and heightens the horror: well worth checking out.
Ooknabah AKA Brent Hirose is a writer, actor and gigantic nerd from Vancouver B.C. You can listen to his podcast about that at HugeNerds.Podomatic.Com or check out his many other projects at BrentHirose.com