Don’t get me wrong: “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” #5 (and the miniseries in general) is entertaining enough. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi clearly enjoy sending Hellboy on missions again, and Alex Maleev and Dave Stewart’s visuals look great. At the same time, however, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this comic is ultimately a bit disposable.
Aside from Bob’s fate, there’s very little memorable about “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” #5. There’s a fight, some exposition and a wrap-up that shows Bob’s true allegiance and also gives him the comeuppance that he earned after trying to blow up Hellboy back in the second issue. In some ways, it’s Hellboy by the numbers. Nazis, monkeys, monsters all show up almost as if it’s because they’re expected to, not for any driving reason. Most of the B.P.R.D. is still devoid of personality, too (heck, three of the four human members aren’t even present for the big finale), making this less “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” and more “Hellboy and some other people you probably won’t remember.” It’s frustrating, because those original “B.P.R.D.” comics had a strong, engaging cast right off the bat, and we’re not seeing that here just yet.
On the other hand, there’s no denying that “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” #5 looks dazzling. That first page — with the long shot of the castle, the bright green ooze dripping down onto the body and the monkeys looking on — is fantastic and it’s just a series of establishing shots. Maleev’s art has beautiful shadings and such a strong energy to it, while Dave Stewart’s colors just glow right off of the page. The big moments get their time in the spotlight but even the little bits shine. Who knew that a monkey’s cigarette falling out of its mouth could be so engrossing? Maleev and Stewart, that’s whom.
I’m willing to give a future “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” miniseries a whirl (especially if Maleev is still drawing the book), because Mignola and Arcudi have written some great comics involving the B.P.R.D. in the past and it’s nice to see Hellboy on Earth once again (even if it is in the 1950s). If they return to this idea, the next miniseries needs a bit more focus on the rest of the characters; they’ve got title billing as well, after all. Let’s see Mignola and Arcudi work their magic on them, too.