In Review: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Saturn Returns #2

Loving Hellboy and the agents, but not thrilled by the Liz outing.

The cover: Hellboy turns to his right as a gray skinned creature with long nails and sharp teeth emerges from some foliage from behind him. Separating these two characters is a tendril of flame coming from an image of Liz in the foreground. She’s sitting on a VW Bug that appears to have smashed into some unidentifiable debris. She, the car, and the surroundings are covered in yellow flame. Liz looks indifferent to the fire that swallows her. Great cover by Christopher Mitten, with his version of Hellboy fast becoming one of my favorites. Overall grade: A

The story: Co-written by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie, this tale is split into two tales with one following Hellboy and the agents as they continue to investigate the bodies discovered in New Hampshire and the other following Liz who’s run away from B.P.R.D. headquarters to wander New Haven, Connecticut. I love these characters, but I’m just not interested in the Liz story. She’s not where the action is, but there may be a twist in the final issue (which is next month!) that shows how they’re related. That’s not to be found in this issue. As locals continue to be interviewed about their missing relatives, a common theme emerges: aliens. Liz has been taken under the wing of a couple who owe money to a man who’s got some hired muscle to pound it out of them. Naturally Liz uses her abilities to help her new friends escape violence, leading to one of them betraying her trust. Hellboy encounters a, or is that the, creature that may be responsible for all the bodies over the decades. Their scuffle is quick, with one agent doing something to miff the title character. This was absolutely enjoyable, but I’m just not keen on Liz’s story. Overall grade: B

The art: I am really enjoying the visuals by Christopher Mitten. The opening page quickly establishes the characters, the setting, the situation, and then takes it into a strange direction for which Mignola comics are well known. There’s little text on this page, but it really doesn’t need any because the visuals clearly communicate what’s occurring. The text free panels are fantastic throughout, for the reader is given a moment to watch a character think and wonder where the character is going. This happens in the final panel on the second page and the fifth panel on Page 3. The action on 5 is great, with the elbow in the fourth panel outstanding. I love the face of the character that ends the page, showing great fear. I was even more impressed by the action on the sixth page. Again, there’s little text, but it’s awesome. The two silent panels are terrific and the closing illustration is killer. The tease of a creature on the next page is slick — shown from the side, with very little of the face shown. I like how this panel is preceded by a skull and bones, foreshadowing trouble. The smile between Hellboy and Oates on 9 shows the comfort the pair have with each other after knowing each other for only a short amount of time. 10 and 11 are stellar: the design of the creature, the blood, the debris. Just freakin’ awesome! The snarl that ends 10 is fantastic. The throw on the next page is perfect for this character. The body on 15 is creepy as all get out, and I’m glad that Mitten didn’t have to show what those tiny characters were about to do; side note — I could hear clicking emanating from this panel without any sound effects used. The tall panels on 17 and 18 look great, moving the point of view around so well and making things tense with close-ups. Page 20 is also great and had me thinking about a Tolkien character, though this individual is much, much larger. The look of worry that ends this issue speaks volumes about what’s important to this character. I am loving Mitten’s work. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Brennan Wagner is equally wonderful on this book. The orange for the first page’s sound explodes off this opening, but the red that interrupts it is even stronger. The greens that end the page are spectral. The use of pink-violets on the next page immediately change the tone of the story and create an air of comfort and familiarity. Liz’s eyes are killer on Page 3 and her hair always has her stand out on a page and panel. When things get heated, no pun intended, on the next pages the background goes a strong orange to demonstrate Liz’s abilities. Hellboy’s reds have him standing out on his pages, with his teeth and eyes standouts against them. The mottled violet on 15’s body is beautifully grotesque. Notice that the building that’s exited on 19 has orange windows which continue the heat that received the focus at the end of the previous page. Clever. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, scene settings, yells, creature speech, and whispered text are created by Clem Robins. The sounds are in italics to visually differentiate them from the dialogue. The yells are in a thicker and larger font than the dialogue so the reader knows that this should be heard in a louder volume. The creature speech is in a large font like the yells, since it is yelled, but it’s also in italics so that when it’s read it sounds different from other characters’ utterances. The whispered text is smaller than the dialogue and further away from the edges of the balloons that contain them. They pull the reader closer into the book, making this moment in the story much more intense. This is another solid job form Robins. Overall grade: A

The final line: Only one of the plots has my interest. Loving Hellboy and the agents, but not thrilled by the Liz outing. The visuals are outstanding, making me want to see many, many more stories illustrated and colored by Mitten and Wagner. I’ll definitely be back for the conclusion, but I’m scratching my head as to where this is headed. 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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