here is the thing about hellboy-- anybody who has talked to me about hellboy has probably heard this speech before-- hellboy (& thus hellboy) is a fantastic idea. i mean, golly. the nazi's summon the beast of the apocalypse, with the help of rasputin (the antichrist) except the american's stop them & raise the devil-monster on apple pie & bullets. how great is that? so solid. & his friend is an amphibian & a firestarter? okay, lets roll! usa, usa. mignola's art? gasp out loud great! look at those lines, curls & curves. look at that combination! move over chocolate & peanut butter, here comes hellboy! except...in execution, it is always pretty mediocre. panel layout, carry through, scope & impact...all just falls short. in fact, i usually bring up the hellboy movie at this point & point to it as a perfect example of what i mean. beautiful, right? del toro makes those colours drip on screen. well cast-- perlman is awesome, his relationship with selma blair has unexpected chemistry, & doug jones just makes everything better. but...it really is only an okay movie. a good movie to turn your brain off during. you know?
anyhow, in my experience, short stories are the best medium for hellboy. there isn't enough time to get let down, maybe? or maybe mignola underestimates how much people will "get" the central conceit. maybe in a short story the buy in takes over-- the reader groks, immediately, the monster paranormal buster. you know? any way you slice it, the shorter hellboy arcs stick better. b.r.p.d. capitalizes on that. there isn't any hellboy-- we're all abe sapien the fishman, roger the golem, johann the psychic entity, a little lobster & a little liz. i liked it a lot; is abe just the guy who will shoot a fool? that is pretty great. the stories in here are all worth a spin. & the "bonus features" in the back? normally i don't care about that sort of thing, but these concept sketches are fun & interesting, & i'm going to wikipedia stanislav szukalski in a second because of them. my point is, after all that complaining i did, that this works to the strength of the hellboy franchise, & i'm pleased about that.