Review: B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth - The Transformation of J.H. O'Donnell

I really liked this book depsite it's incredibly long name, but I can see the reason being that I’ve read so much B.P.R.D.before and after Hellboy’s demise. An average reader will probably find this to be a real throw away story that adds little to nothing to the “Hell on Earth” storyline, but it’s still very interesting. Mixed with the fact that the art is fantastic and this one shot is worth of any Hellboy reader’s time. If you’re a new reader I don’t know if you’ll understand everything they’re talking about, but I think that the visuals and the surface level plot would make it an interesting read for sure. The story is quite literally about the transformation of J.H. O’Donnell from a sane scholar to a mad man kept at B.P.R.D. headquarters out of pity due to his situation. Two agents catch a glimpse of J.H. as he’s lead back to his room. One agent begins telling the tale of how J.H. became the way he is a scattered brained man that talks in circles.

19500J.H. was sent out on a research mission to collect the library of a dead necromancer named Alessandro Divizia, he and Hellboy were quick to arrive at the ironically dead guys house only to discover one rare book in his collection. Bored, Hellboy takes a nap while J.H. finds a hidden second library. Once inside he’s surrounded by cloaked figures that begin leading him down to a second basement of the house which contains the body of the dead necromancer. Meanwhile, Hellboy is attacked by a Minotaur looking creature and ends up setting the house on fire in is battle.

The story is pretty short and to the point, but the narration is great. Since the character talking doesn’t know all of the details she’s just doing her best to tell what happened, but at the same time we’re seeing what really did happen and just how close the story is. It’s an interesting narration for sure and not one I’ve seen too often with the genre. The narration and story resembled a camp fire story more than a serious tale, but it worked incredibly well for the story.

The art was fantastic! I’ve enjoyed a lot of the artists on B.P.R.D. over the past year, but Max Fiumara has to be one of my favorites. His take on Hellboy was so stylistic, different, but refreshing. Even though this story was quite haunting the art grabs your eye and never takes it away. I really hope that Fiumara is scheduled for more issues because the style was absolutely perfect for the series. Even the regular people looked very stylized and unique. Dave Stewart’s coloring also impressed the hell out of me as he adapted to Fiumara’s style and really changed it up. Seriously some of his best colors in his already amazing career.

I’m sure that long time readers of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. will enjoy this one-shot, but I really think that anyone can pick up this issue and find something to enjoy. I won’t pretend to know a lot about the universe’s history, but I was able to follow along just fine with the story and past characters mentioned. That’s the charm of this franchise is that you can always jump on at any given moment and as long as you don’t focus on it like it’s #93 in a series (which it is) you’ll be fine.

Score: 4/5

Writers: Mike Mignola and Scott Allie Artist: Max Fiumara Colors: Dave Stewart Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 5/30/12