With “Hellboy in Hell” due to wrap up shortly and the twin titles of “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth” and “Abe Sapien” also moving towards a conclusion, Mignolaverse fans might be a little alarmed. That’s why the “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” series of miniseries seems so perfectly timed. Set in the 1950s, “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences” #2 is akin to a nice, warm bath, as Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson, Paolo Rivera and Joe Rivera give us a comforting way to unwind, relax and enjoy.
The concept of a young Hellboy working with the B.P.R.D. is just rife with possibilities; after all, it’s literally decades between here and the original “Hellboy: Seed of Destruction” miniseries. Mignola and Roberson serve up a Hellboy who is a little brash and self-confident, but can also deliver the goods when needed. He’s not just the protagonist; he’s the hero. Considering all of the horrible things that happen to him near the end of his life, it’s a pleasure to see this rendition of the character be much more successful.
Along those lines, Mignola and Roberson have come up with a fun mix of obstacles for Hellboy and Sue to tackle. With monstrous dogs, family drama and strange gemstones, there are all sorts of things happening that are rapidly converging in the second issue of this new miniseries. What’s nice is that the connections between the different threads all feel very natural; the path leading Hellboy and Sue to the school all clicks together and it’s a good, solid display of plotting.
I’m loving the Rivera brothers’ artwork in this miniseries; Paolo and Rivera are known for their smooth character work, and there’s no denying we get that here. The ’50s fashions are handsomely drawn, and all of the settings — from school to farm to forest — are meticulously constructed; we don’t see blank panel backgrounds over and over again. I also love how their styles still give us a craggy-looking Hellboy; he’s big and blocky in a way that no one else is, and it gives him just the right otherworldly touch without slipping too far out of the overall look and feel of the comic. Clem Robins’ lettering in the fight outside the barn is especially fun, too; it integrates perfectly into the art to feel big and exciting without ever distracting from it.
“Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 – Beyond the Fences” #2 is a nice reminder that — while the parent titles are concluding or winding down — there will always be something entertaining in Mignola’s line of comics. This is just fun, through and through.