In Review: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Saturn Returns #1

The bodies are discovered and theories are being thrown about.

The cover: Hellboy is turned to the right, a snowy owl perches on two fingers of his left hand. The hero is standing in a mound of giant human skulls that grow in the background behind him into a teetering tower. Cool cover from interior artist Christopher Mitten that reveals nothing of what this issue holds. Calming and creepy. Overall grade: A

The story: Tatoskok Falls, New Hampshire, October 1975. Hellboy and Agent Kinsley have arrived after being summoned by local police to a discovery they’ve made: forty-three bodies in different states of decay within an old building in the woods. People who’ve disappeared years ago and recently are among the dead. Mike Mignola and Scott Allie are setting up the pieces to the mystery in this issue. There are several theories by the locals and charming Special Agent Oates — serial killer, witches, or strange animals. One thing is certain is the bodies have had their hearts removed. As this is occurring, Liz is having a meltdown at B.P.R.D. headquarters and decides to go somewhere. This was a solid read, but nothing intense has happened yet. I’ve faith in these storytellers that the pace will pick up next issue. Overall grade: B

The art: Christopher Mitten creates great settings, with Pages 2 and 3 having a fantastic panel that stretches across both pages that shows the scope and number of the bodies in the crumbling building overrun with foliage. It’s fantastic. The runes that Hellboy and Kinsley find look cool. The close-up of the body at the end of the second page looks frightening because of its explosive chest. Oates’s introduction has him as the perfect smiling attaché and the way he is drawn had me suspicious. The looks that Hellboy and Kinsley shoot each other on 5 made me smile with them. I was taken back by the third panel on 6: Would someone be doing that action on that object? Again, my suspicions rose. The downstairs location on 11 is fantastic. The number of bodies was a shock and the sheer number had me smelling them in this panel. The anger in the last two panels on the next page had my suspicions go in a new direction, that is until the last panel on 13. The visual response that ends 14 is fantastic: it made me laugh out loud. I love the pages focusing on Hellboy and Kinsley by the road. You can tell by the way Mitten draws them they trust each other and are extremely comfortable around one another. The smile that ends 19 speaks volumes. The last page has a young character in a harsh place, meeting a new character. This character is very outgoing, showing him to be quite gregarious. Not the typical visual cliffhanger for a Hellboy comic, but I do want to know what happens next. Mitten makes this book warm, yet unsettling. The perfect combination for these characters. Overall grade: A

The colors: I’m used to seeing the colors fairly dark in B.P.R.D. adventures, but this book is fairly bright. As usual, Hellboy stands out with his fiery reds, but other characters stand out, such as Kinsley and Oates. I also like that colorist Brennan Wagner doesn’t have to make every panel’s background dark. Even when the characters are in the open basement several panels are given light gray backgrounds to make them stand out. This a good way to draw attention to the characters. Liz’s crimson hair and orange eyes make her stand out when she’s on the page. I also have to give Wagner praise for the colors used for characters’ skin, with their noses and cheeks a little flush, making them more real. The last page’s location is given a neat rust color, suggesting this setting is rotting as much as the one that opened this issue. Neat. Overall grade: A

The letters: Clem Robins is the letterer who creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, whispered dialogue, and sounds. The scene settings are differed from the dialogue by being in italics, while the whispered dialogue is only in one panel and is simply a smaller version of the dialogue font. It’s a clever way to have the characters whisper between themselves, but allow the reader to listen in. The sounds are few, but are large. I’ve always liked Robins’s work and continue to do so. Overall grade: A

The final line: The bodies are discovered and theories are being thrown about. Nothing is decided in this issue except there’s something not right about this town. The story is fun, with some great interaction between Hellboy and Agent Kinsley. The visuals are sumptuous and only mildly disturbing. This is the quiet before the storm and I’m ready for the thunder. Overall grade: A- 

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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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