REVIEW: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1954 – The Black Sun #1

So when my editor asked who wanted to take this on, I happily volunteered. It’s been a while since I have picked up a Hellboy issue. I guess with books like Clean Room and Providence, I have found my fix for all things supernatural elsewhere. But seeing as this is Mignola’s last run with the character, I just couldn’t pass up the chance.

For this issue, Mike teamed up with co-writer Chris Roberson, line artist Stephen Green and color artist Dave Stewart. I was really excited to see what this team could bring to the Hellboy Universe, but upon opening the PDF, I was a little disappointed to find out that the review copy did not have colors. Being a huge fan of Dave Stewart’s work, I would have loved to see how he handled some of the scenes that Stephen rolled out. Besides that hiccup, though, I can fairly say that the team did a pretty decent job.

The art for me was the best part. Stephen killed it with his pencil and ink work. The whole issue felt exactly how I imagine a Hellboy to be. Clean lines, hard shadows, and perfectly rendered faces. Stephen nailed the classic Mignola style, while also adding his own flair. There was this one scene where Hellboy is bouncing around inside of a cockpit, and it really felt like there was movement. This is extremely difficult to do, so I was impressed. My favorite scene, though, was when Woodrow and Heurlin were sitting at the edge the water. Backgrounds, to me, are what makes a comic book, and there was plenty of detail here; it wasn’t just a barren icy tundra.

Mike and Chris, however, did not impress me too much. The story had all the elements you’d expect: developing character bases, navigating the plot, some witty banter, and a cliffhanger ending. In that aspects, I have to give them some credit. Especially in the character development. Taking a story about Yeti’s and a demon from Hell, and somehow splashing in the racial adversity found in academia is pretty awesome. The rest however felt like we, writers and readers, were just going through the motions. I did enjoy the mid-story twist, though. The idea of a Roswell, NM event happening in Fletcher’s Ice Island is pretty great. But that was short-lived when I got to the final page. For my unwillingness to spoil anything, you’ll just have to see it for yourself.

All together I would have to give this issue a 3 out of 5 stars. The art from Stephen was fantastic, and I really wished I got the opportunity to see how him and Dave collaborated on it, but the writing just wasn’t all there. I really wish I could say it was mind-blowing, and that this was a great beginning of the end for Mignola, but I refuse to lie. There is still potential for this arc to get better, but I would seriously just suggest waiting until the trade came out. Unless you are a die-hard Mignola/Hellboy fan; then you might as well just get this arc issue by issue out of principle.

Writer: Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson
Artist: Stephen Green
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Mike Huddleston

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