COMIC REVIEW: Hellboy & The BRPD: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1 | FanboysInc

COMIC REVIEW: Hellboy & The BRPD: 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1

By Vernon Miles

COMIC REVIEW: Hellboy & The BRPD: 1953 - Beyond the Fences #1

Writers: Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson

Pencils: Paolo Rivera

Inks: Joe Rivera

Colors: Dave Stewart

Dark Hose

 

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The cover of the issue should be enough to guarantee Hellboy & the BRPD‘s new spinoff a shot in your collection. The cover sets the perfect tone for the comic, showing Hellboy in the style of Norman Rockwell,  both visually separating the series from other Mignola-drawn issues and gives a clear directive for what the reader will encounter. Inside the comic, the writing and art successfully manage a difficult balance between maintaining the Hellboy franchise’s distinctive flair while making a unique mark.

COMIC REVIEW: Hellboy & The BRPD: 1953 - Beyond the Fences #1If there is a criticism, it’s that there’s not much in the writing for the issue that sets it above and beyond most Hellboy stories. The plot itself is a fairly paint-by-numbers supernatural mystery so far. Some victims go missing, the locals suspect a monster, the team is sent to investigate but some authorities are skeptical. It could easily by the first half of an episode of X-Files or Supernatural, but really the only mark against the otherwise high quality launch for the story is its unimaginative introduction to the mystery. The trade off, though, is good character moments with the eponymous Hellboy. In particular, Hellboy interacting with young fans and shrugging off teasing about his fame strikes a particularly genuine chord. It shows us another side of the usually gruff and grizzled paranormal investigator. Given a choice between focusing on advancing plot and advancing character, Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson wisely choose the latter.

Both visually and in the writing, Hellboy works really well in the suburban 50’s setting. He seems very quickly accepted by the police and public citizens they encounter in the neighborhood, with his demonic appearance only briefly given passing mention. It remains to be seen whether the infamous 50’s prejudices come up in the rest of the story. While Paolo Rivera knocks it out of the park as the artist, Joe Rivera’s work on inking and Dave Stewart on coloring also deserves particular praise. The work with light and shadows on nearly every page is masterful. Towards the end, scenes of nighttime exploration, marked with limited cones of streetlight and a few flashlights, highlight the artistic team’s abilities. It’s a stark contrast to the, literal and metaphorical, brighter and more public daytime investigation.COMIC REVIEW: Hellboy & The BRPD: 1953 - Beyond the Fences #1

The “Best There Is”: The art and writing of “Beyond  The Fences” adapts perfectly to the 50’s suburban setting, launching a mystery that already carries a Lovecraftian air of dread and deep disturbance, but balances those grim aspects with heartwarming character building for its central protagonist. The art is the star of the issue, but the writing adequately sets up enough of a mystery to lure audiences back for more.

The “Isn’t Very Nice”: Hellboy’s there for the job, so the audience is tagging along, but there isn’t given much motivation for us to invest too heavily into that mystery. We only get passing glances at the local town, and vague references to monsters, but nothing to set the audience on their seat until the next issue comes out.

FBI Score: 9 out of 10. Just about everything in “Beyond the Fences” works, individually and together. The art is outstanding and compliments the writing style, which in turn enhances the disturbing nighttime investigation scenes. It’s not the best issue of Hellboy ever, but even a moderate one is still a thrill to read.