Review: Hellboy and the BPRD 1953: Beyond the Fences #2

Ever since Hellboy’s demise a couple of years ago, fans of one of Dark Horse’s flagship titles have mourned his loss. Dark Horse has remedied this issue by mining the Mignolaverse’s early years, focusing on Hellboy’s first missions. These mini-series have taken Hellboy back to its roots, giving us monster hunting action and mystery without all of the baggage of the 100-plus issue plot line. If you’ve ever been interested in Hellboy but intimidated by the backlog of issues these serve as great jumping on points. If you’re a longtime fan (like myself) these serve as small reminders of the early days of Hellboy. Fun, fast, and funny, it will take you back to when you first picked up an issue of this beloved horror comic. Hellboy and the BPRD 1953 Beyond the Fences #2Beyond The Fences #2 takes place during Hellboy’s second year as a B.P.R.D. agent. Written by Mignola himself (with help from Chris Roberson) and drawn beautifully by Paolo and Joe Rivera, it’s a fun but dark story of missing children, murder, and mystery, all taken place in an idyllic suburban California town in 1953. Mignola’s writing shines and Hellboy’s pulpy roots are exposed as we explore the secrets that this quaint town is hiding. At the end of issue #1 Hellboy and two B.P.R.D. agents, Stegner (an ex-military grunt) and Xiang (ex-FBI who has some psychic abilities) found themselves facing off against the creature that is thought to be responsible for the missing children. Instead of finding themselves face to face with the Jersey Devil they instead find that it is just a mutated dog, though the mutation has caused it to become huge and violent. Anyways… guns blaze, Hellboy punches, and the creature runs off, for now.

Unlike the first issue which had more of a noir tinge to it, this issue is pure action. After their first confrontation with the beast they find later that it has molted from its skin and turned into an ever larger creature. In Hellboy fashion blood and guts are splattered about (very tastefully though) and we are left on a cliffhanger. It’s a fun story, and feels very monster-of-the-week which is perfect for this mini-series. Mingola can’t seem to stop himself from connecting the dots between every one of his comics, and we catch glimpses of past and possible future events through Xiang’s visions. Which adds a deeper story element to an otherwise one-off storyline. This goes back to the idea of the new reader vs the old, where Mignola cleverly designs his stories to be accessible to both types.

I am an undying fan of Mignola and over the years have read many of his series, and I have to say that all of them are satisfying in one way or another. But Hellboy was the comic that started it all, and still remains an incredible title. No one writes like Mignola, and while Beyond The Fences isn’t the first of his books that I would recommend to a new reader of Hellboy, it still scratches that itch.

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Hellboy and the BPRD 1953: Beyond the Fences #2 Writers: Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson Artists: Paolo Rivera, Joe Rivera Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/23/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital