[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
In 1956, the B.P.R.D is struggling. They are short on agents, and they do not yet have anything more than military surplus for supplies. They have begun to receive funding from the government, but they are still reliant on other agencies for support. Hellboy and a pair of recruits pushed through training are assigned to investigate a series of deadly paranormal occurrences in Mexico, Dr. Bruttenholm meets with the CIA director discuss a concerning find from a recent operation, and CIA consultant Linneberg discusses a change of pace for Susan Xiang.
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D: 1956 #1 takes the reader back to the early years of the Cold War to witness the struggles of the Bureau and Hellboy in these times.
This first issue takes it slow. We have a series of conflicts lined up for Hellboy, Bruttenholm, and Susan that will shape their stories in the issues to come. We also get to see their counterparts in the Soviet Union and their approach to handling the paranormal in the time of the Cold War.
The conflicts wisely have emotional challenges for the protagonists too. Hellboy is dealing with a loss, Bruttenholm realizes that the B.P.R.D’s mission will come second to U.S’s devotion to beating communism and the Soviets, and Xiang is being angled for a desk job despite being a successful and eager field operative.
It isn’t the most exciting first installment, but it’s paced nicely and sets up the story well. It displays the personalities of the characters, and it’s interesting.
Artists Yishan Li, Mike Norton, and Michael Avon Oeming collaborate for the art, and it holds a nice and atmospheric balance throughout. There is a particularly emotional scene of Hellboy dealing with that aforementioned loss that is rendered quite well, and it easily jerks a tear out of the reader’s eye. Dave Stewart’s color work is good too, and it helps keep a solemn yet foreboding tone throughout the book.
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D: 1956 #1 is a welcome return for the Dark Horse hero and his allies at the Bureau. It’s a solid and well-paced read that eases the audience back into this part of the Mignolaverse. It earns a recommendation and is easily worth checking out.
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D: 1956 #1 comes to us from writers Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson, artists Yishan Li, Mike Norton, and Michael Avon Oeming, color artist Dave Stewart, and cover artist Dave Johnson.