Review: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1953 #7

Undead centurions, a vengeful witch, and a young Hellboy ready to kick them back where they came from. Hellboy and the BPRD #7 continues the full-throttle fun of this latest run. This time Mignola brings along Ben Stenbeck for the ride, whose incredible work on Baltimore has solidified his place in the Mignolaverse forever. Stenbeck brings a realistic yet cartoony style to Mignola’s world, serious when it needs to be without ever taking you out of the comic world that the team creates. In action sequences Stenbeck kills it, drawing any type of monster that Mignola can dream up and giving it such vibrant life (or lackthereof depending on what it is). Toss Dave Stewart in the mix, who at this point needs no introduction, and you have one hell of a team for one hell of a comic.

Hellboy and the BPRD #7 continues showcasing some of Hellboy’s first missions with Professor Bruttenholm, each issue contains two standalone stories, though they share similar overtones. If you haven’t been keeping up to date with any of Mignola’s other titles but love Hellboy and just want some classic horror/action, look no further. These one shot issues are a great way to get your Mignola fix without having to wade through the backlog of recent issues (though doing so is well worth the time). Even if you have never read a Hellboy title before, these are fun, pulpy, action comics that do well completely on their own. I do highly recommend tracking down each and every Hellboy trade and catching up to these issues though, you’ll probably find that it’s your new favorite comic.

Hellboy-and-the-B.P.R.DThese two stories find Hellboy and the Professor answering a call for one of Bruttenholm’s colleagues, having to do an ancient witch and the Celtic chieftain who sold her soul to free her people from Roman rule. The second story “Rawhead and Bloody Jones” find Hellboy and the Professor investigating a haunted pub. If that sounds like a lot to swallow, it really isn’t. Mignola’s storytelling capabilities are so adept that he can weave a crazy story like this one without bogging you down with huge text blocks. Without revealing too much of this issue’s story, the witch’s body has been preserved to the present day, and kept in a church for safe-keeping. Recently the body has gone missing, enter Hellboy and Professor Bruttenholm.

Mignola really stresses Bruttenholm and Hellboy’s relationship in these latest issues, depicting their bond as father and son (or something close to that). Their dynamic makes this a really fun read, just like the Hellboy of old. Hellboy is still as cheeky as ever, making wisecracks as skeletons rip out of the earth and turn their rusted weapons upon him. While the calm composure of Bruttenholm acts as a buffer for Hellboy’s recklessness. It’s really great to see these two characters teaming together in some truly eerie stories. Bruttenholm has stolen the stage the past couple of years in quite a few series without Hellboy, which was well-deserved. But now we finally get to experience their dynamic as  partners, and it’s a lot of fun. These stories are a throwback to the halcyon days of Hellboy, delivering equal parts mystery, horror, and action, keeping it dark yet lighthearted. Not to say that the latest Hellboy comics don’t hold up by any means. But if you want to see a young Hellboy before he gets completely weighed down by his ultimate fate, these issues are the flashbacks you’ve been looking for.

The first story in this issue is definitely the main course, while the second feels a little bit like an afterthought. As a whole it works though, giving us a wide range of the kinds of cases that Hellboy had to solve in his younger days. Not every case can be a gun slinging skull-bashing adventure. That’s what has always made Hellboy such a great comic, it’s well-roundedness and pacing. Mignola knows just when to hit the brakes, slow down, and remind us that Hellboy isn’t just about beating up monsters, but it’s a journey of discovery, purpose, and self-worth, and Hellboy has always been the perfect demon to help us feel more human.

Score: 4/5

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1953 #7 Writer: Mike Mignola Artist: Ben Stenbeck Colorist: Dave Stewart Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 11/25/2015 Format: One-Shot; Print/Digital