Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Hellboy Project: B.P.R.D. Vol.9: 1946

Written by Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart
Art by Paul Azaceta

One thing that always felt like a possible error in judgment about the Hellboy series was the speed with which Mignola dispatched Professor Bruttenholm, the founder of the BPRD and Hellboy's father figure, in the very first story arc.  With 1946, Mignola works to rectify that, giving Bruttenholm a story where he is the hero.

In post-war Berlin, strange things are turning up.  Bruttenholm and his friend Dr. Eaton are there to catalogue some of the Nazi forays into the spiritual and supernatural, but they are months behind the Soviets in their efforts.  Bruttenholm does become aware of Vampir Sturm, a Nazi plot to create artificial vampires, to be released behind enemy lines or as a 'scorched earth' back-up plan in the event of their defeat.  This quickly leads us into a 'Howling Commandos vs. the Vampires' story, where Bruttenholm and the paltry company of American soldiers that he works with have to join forces with their Soviet counterparts, led by the creepy Varvara, a little girl possessed by a demon.

This story combines all the best elements of the most successful Hellboy stories, and connects to other stories that were already told, providing a depth of background.  Azaceta's art looks great, although I find his style to be a little jarring compared to Davis or Mignola.  I really enjoyed this story, even before the cyborg gorillas showed up.

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