REVIEW: ‘Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1957—Family Ties,’ Issue #1

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Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1957— Family Ties,

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1957— Family Ties #1 is written by Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson, illustrated by Lawrence Campbell, colored by Dave Stewart, and lettered by Clem Robbins. It is published by Dark Horse Comics. In the year 1957, Hellboy and B.P.R.D. agent Susan Xiang travel to a house in Dayton, Ohio. The family inside is being tormented by their elderly and spiteful grandmother, who has a copy of Witchcraft and Demonology by occultist Gustav Strohlwhich Hellboy previously encountered.

This book serves as the conclusion of Hellboy’s time with the B.P.R.D. in the 1950s and also reunites Mignola with Roberson. Both men are no strangers to Hellboy, as Mignola created the World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator, and Roberson has written the majority of the B.P.R.D. one-shots. In this story, they manage to craft a narrative of how bonds of blood can either serve as chains weighing a person down or, in Hellboy’s case, connections to a world you don’t really feel a part of. Early in the issue, Hellboy and Susan discuss how infuriating Professor Broom can be, and Hellboy responds with, “Yeah well…family is always complicated, I guess.”

This provides a great contrast to the main conflict of the issue, which features a family tormented by dark magic. Although the B.P.R.D. utilize their myriad talentsSusan’s ability of psychometry and Hellboy’s ability to beat the crap out of the forces of evilit’s the mother of the house who ultimately scores the victory. Horror often serves as a metaphor for the problems one faces in real life. Some families have to deal with toxic relationships, and they don’t have the excuse of a malevolent spirit. But they have the option to make a better life for themselves, and the ending of this one-shot backs it up.

The Hellboy franchise has always been defined by its moody artwork, and Campbell is definitely up to the challenge. His illustrations have a detailed, craggy look to them, especially where Hellboy is concerned. The World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator looks like he’s carved out of reddish stone, and his trademark Right Hand of Doom takes up nearly half his arm.

Horrific images pop up here and now, including the fly-covered carcass of a dead cat and a boy whose mouth is literally missing, and that’s not even counting the demon Hellboy has to fight. Stewart also helps set the mood with his color palette; the outside of the house is sunny Norman Rockwell suburbia, while the inside feels like a scene ripped from the Exorcist. Most of the action is set in a dark and murky background, offset only by the reddish hue of Hellboy’s skin and the greenish aura that leaks from certain rooms in the house.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1957—Family Ties #1 uses the horror genre as a vehicle to explore toxic family bonds and serves as a great Hellboy stand-alone to boot. If you are a fan of Hellboy, whether it’s the comics or Guillermo del Toro’s take on the horned hero, you will definitely want to pick this book up.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1957—Family Ties #1 is available wherever comics are sold.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1957—Family Ties #1
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TL;DR

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1957—Family Ties #1 uses the horror genre as a vehicle to explore toxic family bonds and serves as a great Hellboy stand-alone to boot. If you are a fan of Hellboy, whether it’s the comics or Guillermo del Toro’s take on the horned hero, you will definitely want to pick this book up.