"B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Volume 1 - New World" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally released as B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #1-5 and B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Seattle
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by Guy Davis
2011, 144 Pages
Trade Paperback released on August 30th, 2011
I have a confession to make. I've never read a Hellboy comic. Now, before you lambast me for calling myself a comic fan without reading a single funny book featuring the de-horned devil, let me say this in my defense: I have seen both live action and both animated films. I know that's not saying much, but I'm a big fan of those. I just haven't gotten around to reading any of the comics. I guess technically I still haven't as B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth doesn't feature Hellboy at all. He's mentioned at least once though. Does that count?
B.P.R.D. (The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) is the organization that Hellboy works (worked?) for. This book focuses on the other members of the group as their status quo has just been drastically re-written. Abe Sapien and Johann Kraus, whom you may remember from the movies, are very prevalent. The Bureau is currently housed under the United Nations and Dr. Kate Corrigan is charged with staying on top of everything as the world is pretty shaken up nowadays. There's also a mummy named Panya (who may or may not be evil) and creepy Andrew Devon (who thinks Abe is the Anti-Christ).
As mentioned, there's a lot going on in the world now and, as a result, the B.P.R.D. is spread pretty thin. Monsters are showing up all over the place and Kate is doing everything she can to keep everything contained. At least now they don't have to worry about staying in the shadows. The public is a little wary of them, though. This first volume begins with Abe on the hunt for a doomsday cult, but goes off on his own in search of a Wendigo. He ends up unearthing a very creepy demon. Meanwhile, Johann yearns for a physical body which can cause some problems as he's shirking some of his responsibilities.
As a new reader, I did have a few bits where I was somewhat confused or didn't know who someone was. Fortunately, co-authors Mike Mignola and John Arcudi make this book very accessible. Just enough background is given to provide exposition without boring returning fans. The story moves at a quick pace and manages to bounce from character to character without losing focus. Each character is given time to shine, too.
Guy Davis turns in some pretty great art here as well. One thing I've noticed from the art I've seen in the Hellboy universe is that it has a very unique look. That's mostly due to Mignola's style which Davis manages to mimic while putting his own spin on it. The people are a little blocky, but the creatures are terrifying. The Wendigo is something that's going to keep me up nights.
While I still have some questions, most are about continuity and there are fortunately back issues out there to catch me up on the world of Hellboy and B.P.R.D.. It's clear by this book Mignola's afterword that he has a plan in the works. The world has been shaken up and the B.P.R.D. is struggling to hold it together while their members are starting to fall apart. He says there's a reason this series is called "Hell on Earth." I'm looking forward to finding out why.