In Review: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1955–Occult Intelligence #2

A page turner with incredibly fun visuals for those who like their terrors in all sizes.

The cover: Hellboy is up to his knees in muck, accompanied by three weapons bearing soldiers. If only they could have heard the monstrous sea turtle rising up behind them they wouldn’t be in so much danger. Fun cover by Paolo Rivera that shows the heroes in eminent danger from a giant sea creature. I like how the protagonists are clearly seen on this cover, giving the reader someone to root for in the impending battle. The colors are also good, with Hellboy an eye catcher in his crimson, while the interior of the turtle’s mouth a glowing green that matches its eyes. Overall grade: A

The story: Picking up from last issue, and from the cover, Hellboy is trying to take down the monster marine reptile, but encounters trouble early on when the beast’s sharp teeth start tearing at his shoes. The military personal raise their rifles and unload their lead, but it’s useless on the creature. Hellboy suddenly gets an idea to take the turtle down and does so explosively on Page 4. His final line of dialogue on the page demonstrates his personality well. This second installment crafted by Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson continues to go back and forth between Reynolds Air Force base and London, where Professor Bruttenholm has a conversation with a familiar face who doesn’t seem to be telling him the truth and Susan Xiang’s story expands. It’s just so cool to see that supernatural occurrences aren’t limited to the big guy in the Marshall Islands, but with the prof and Susan, too. In fact, the professor is practically a spy as he goes investigating a location and finds himself in a world of trouble. Hellboy and his friends aren’t just fighting monsters, but humans who seek to gain power that’s unnatural. Highlights include the flashback to a previous tale on Page 9, the discovery on 20, and the return of a seemingly unimportant character who’s on a mission, but is more than willing to set it aside to kill the red hero. This is so much fun! Overall grade: A

The art: The battle with the sea turtle is terrific stuff, with the normally huge Hellboy outsized by the beast. I like how a friend offers him advice, from a distance, in the fourth panel on Page 2, and the hero takes a pause to listen. The actions the protagonist takes on 3 are great, with the results on 4 gross fun. After this enjoyable fight, artist Brian Churilla goes on to craft a great give and take between Bruttenholm and another character, where honesty is visually shown to be lacking; the prof’s reaction at the bottom of 7 is outstanding. The gory mess on 8 is delightfully icky. I love the stance of the superior officer shown on Page 11, complete with smoldering stogie — it endows this fleeting character with so much personality. The fine details in Susan’s setting also give it a smart tone, though this is one of home and ancient artifacts. Page 15 is textless, showing Bruttenholm going somewhere. The empty streets he travels set an ominous tone, and when someone is seen from a distance the tone becomes more threatening, ending with him only shown in silhouette. The final page has something surprising happen to the title character and it’s impressive. I really like the fulminations and how they dominate the panels they’re in. Plus, it’s hard not to gulp with Hellboy in the final panel. Churilla is able to capture the horror, mystery, and humor of this character well. Overall grade: A 

The colors: As with the previous issue, Hellboy dominates every panel he’s in because of his stark red skin. Every other character is given lighter shades from colorist Dave Stewart to age this story over sixty years. The sounds in the opening battle have some bright colors to make the violence more intense, with the flat violets in the second panel on 4 being my favorite of these. The location where the professor is first shown is composed of bright whites and elegant light browns which suggest opulence. Colors in one panel on Page 13 demonstrate for the reader that all is not right with Susan. A shock of red follows this panel at the top of 14, which is the brightest coloring of the book. This dynamic color only increases its departure from what’s normal in this world. Some glowing greens on 21 also show something unnatural. These colors look great. Overall grade: A

The letters: Clem Robins creates yells, sounds, groans, dialogue, scene settings, and a distant whisper. The sounds are again a real show piece, with those on the first four pages highly entertaining for their size and shape, as well as for what they say. If a reader were to read them aloud while going through this issue, one’s enjoyment of the book can’t help but increase. And though it’s only in one panel late in the book, the distant whisper looks exactly as it should sound. Overall grade: A

The final line: Danger on several fronts thwarts the heroes as they try to defend themselves from supernatural threats. A page turner of a story with incredibly fun visuals make this a must-read tale for those who like their terrors in all sizes. Overall grade: A

To order a print copy go to https://www.tfaw.com/Comics/Profile/Hellboy-and-the-B.P.R.D.-1955—Occult-Intelligence-2___548299?utm_source=darkhorse&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=darkhorse_buy&utm_term=buy+Hellboy+and+the+B.P.R.D.%3A+1955–Occult+Intelligence+%232

To order a digital copy go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/c75f59fd18cd4250aa21caf10376a0e2/hellboy-and-the-bprd-1955-occult-intelligence-2

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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