REVIEW: ‘BPRD: 1946-1948’ TPB

Reading Time: 3 minutes

BPRD 1946-1948 Cover

BPRD: 1946-1948 is a massive trade paperback that collects three separate storylines and two shorter stories at eight pages each. Mike Mignola co-wrote the majority of the stories with Joshua Dysart, except for “BPRD: 1948,” which he co-wrote with John Arcudi. The artists involved include Patric Reynolds, Paul Azaceta, Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon, and Max Fiumara. The colorists are Nick Filardi and Dave Stewart. And Clem Robins did the lettering.

Each storyline in BPRD: 1946-1948 builds on the Hellboy universe and focuses on Professor Broom and the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). In “BPRD: 1946,” Professor Broom returns to Germany to recover artifacts and documents related to anything occult that the Nazis might have had their hands in before their defeat. Broom is aided in his research by some disgruntled soldiers that are waiting to be discharged. He soon finds out that most of the occult material is in the possession of Russians and a peculiar child named Varvara. Varvara agrees to cooperate with him and soon Professor Broom and his soldiers find themselves fighting ghosts, vampires, gorillas, and a Nazi head floating in a jar. The weirdness doesn’t let up in 1947 where soldiers working for the BPRD are dispatched to Germany to find out who or what is killing prisoners of war which leads to vampires, witches and a much-needed exorcism for one of the soldiers. And in 1948, Broom has to work with scientists in a Utah Air Force base to find out how nuclear bombs are causing strange dangerous monsters to appear.

BPRD 1946 interior art by Paul Azaceta

The writing throughout each story arc is solid. There are mythologies within the mythology of Hellboy and the BPRD. For example in “1947,” there’s a story of a composer that wrote an opera that offended the audience that then burned the opera house and tossed the composer into an opera house. Those eerie stories within each main story add to the creepy ambiance of the world that Broom and his supporting cast operate in. But it’s the tidbits of backstory offered about the soldiers in “1946” and “1947” that stand out because it helps shape the characters regardless of how long they are in the story.

I especially enjoyed Mignola and Arcudi’s writing in “1948” where Professor Broom and Dr. Anna Rieu appear to form a connection only for it to be dashed because one only believes science and nuclear bombs can explain the interdimensional creatures, but the other believes it is more supernatural. Hellboy isn’t in the stories a whole lot, but the scenes he is in are written to be heartfelt. You genuinely feel sorry for him when Broom neglects him or feel happy for him when Archie Jackson begins to look after him by making him pancakes. The final few panels of “1948” that focus on Hellboy, pull at your heartstrings. It’s great writing by Mignola, Dysart, and Arcudi.

BPRD 1948 interior art Max Fiumara

The artwork throughout each story fits in well with Mignola’s style. Azaceta, Bá, Moon, and Fiumara’s linework is loose, especially on the characters, but still very detailed in the backgrounds. Readers should take the time to look at Azaceta’s attention to detail in his postwar Germany. The panels that show the sequence inside an abandoned insane asylum enhance the horror because Azaceta took the time draw in the implements used to experiment and torture it’s former inhabitants, along with bloody smears and handprints on walls. There is a similar attention to detail in backgrounds from Bá and Moon in “1947,” specifically during the gala scene.  I equally enjoyed Fiumara’s artwork of the ghastly creatures like the giant bird in “BPRD 1948.”

I haven’t read a lot from the Hellboy universe, so getting a chance to read this BPRD: 1946-1948 helped me get some insight into the BPRD’s past, especially Professor Broom. As a fan of horror, I enjoyed reading the stories and accompanying artwork contained within. We get the occult, disfigured ghosts, vampires, witches, and interdimensional monsters along with character-building moments. Dark Horse did well in collecting these three-story arcs together because some characters from “1946” still have roles in “1947” and “1948,” which makes the book read like one long story as it transitions from one year to the next. This collection also includes sketches at the end of all of the contributing artists.

BPRD: 1946-1948, TPB is available now, wherever comics are sold.

BPRD: 1946-1948, TPB
5

TL;DR

BPRD: 1946-1948 helped me get some insight into the BPRD’s past, especially Professor Broom. As a fan of horror, I enjoyed reading the stories and accompanying artwork contained within.