Right off the bat I gotta say that I’ve read very little of anything that takes place in the Hellboy universe other than a random trade I borrowed once from a friend. Like a lot of ongoing comics it seemed unapproachable thanks to its extensive cast and history, but I decided to take the chance here since the issue is supposed to function as a jumping on point for new readers. In that regard, it mostly succeeds. Beginning to end, I wasn’t lost at all, but I suspect that might just be because not very much happens over the comic’s twenty-two pages. After a brief recap of what’s been going on in the world of BPRD (basically, demons have overrun the earth thanks to a villain called the Black Flame and BPRD’s agents are tasked with getting rid of them), writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi drop us right into the action in Saitama, Japan. There, Johan the ectoplasmic being, and Enos the most badass fighter this side of Hit-girl, are hoping to find scientists working for Quantum Systems who state that they have a new means of fighting the demon hordes.
Only after getting attacked by a giant crustacean monster do Enos and his group meet the Japanese scientists they’ve been in communication with. Soon after the scientists explain that some screwy inter-dimensional experiments ended up turning their colleagues into a monster with the only survivor remaining in a vegetative state upon his return. Once they reveal what their surviving colleague foresees, the issue ends with a few dead bodies and a new big baddie demon on the loose.
However, it took me a few Wiki searches just to figure out characters’ back stories, something I wish Mignola and Arcudi had squeezed in with a bit of exposition in the first couple pages. Luckily Mignola and Arcudi’s dialogue provides each character a distinct voice that establishes their personality for new readers as well as the relationship between the BPRD agents. While there’s little character development then, it’s already become evident to me why BPRD is so popular even without Hellboy or Abe Sapien thanks to scenes like an exasperated Johan standing alone in disaster-ridden Japan after his crew has abandoned him make these otherworldly beings eerily relatable.
Joe Querio draws some fantastic-looking demons for this issue, the best among them being the previously mentioned Japanese scientist monster. Add to that Dave Stewart’s color work that give things like an inter-dimensional portal an organic feel, and just like that Mignola and company have got another fan on their hands.
Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi Artist: Joe Querio Colorist: Dave Stewart Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 8/20/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital