Wednesday, September 05, 2007

B.P.R.D.: The Dead

I have actually been avoiding these BPRD books for a while now, because initially I had been turned off by the lack of Mignola art. I also remember looking through one of the books and not caring for Guy Davis' style. I recently flipped through a BPRD book at a Borders, though, and realized that I've been depriving myself of something I'd actually really enjoy.

I like this book quite a bit. Guy Davis' art has really grown on me. In fact, I think it's great stuff. It serves the story very well. His renditions of Mignola's characters and stories achieve just the right feeling, that of horror mixed with humor mixed with pulp. The writing, too, holds that balance at the same level as the art.

The story concerns the BPRD (which stands for Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense -- it's the team Hellboy used to belong to) moving their headquarters to an abandoned military research facility in Colorado. Once there, they encounter crazy Nazi/ghostly/paranormal weirdness, of course. There are some great moments of humor and horror as the story unfolds. One such moment involves Ben, the new team leader, ordering Roger to put on some pants, then changing his mind when he sees the result of his order. Roger is also mystified throughout by everyone's insistence that he should have a gun. Johann, at one point, find this awesome looking 40's style machine/weapon that he straps to his back to fight an "angel," and the image is one of my favorite illustrations from the book (actually, you can see it on the cover up there).

There is also a secondary story about Abe Sapien's past. It's ok, but it is sort of distracting from the main story. It takes a long time to get where it's going, which is not that climactic once it's there. It feels like it should have been a standalone section in one of Mignola's Hellboy books rather than a back-up in a BPRD book.

I love the new characters Johann and Ben. (Johann is the character on the top center of the cover above; Ben is on the far right on the bottom, though you can't see much of him.) Johann adds more good weirdness and Ben's personality hits off the other characters in interesting ways. I'm looking forward to finding more out about each of them.

Another reviewer mentioned that Roger's personality seems a bit different from his outings in the pages of Hellboy. I agree with that, but I don't think the change is a bad one. It actually adds another layer to the team dynamic, and it's not so far off from Roger's previous depictions so as to be jarring.

I will definitely be picking up more of these books, provided that this creative team is still involved. I'm partial to consistent creative teams, and since from book 3 on the team all Davis, Arcudi, and Mignola, it looks like those will be the ones I collect.

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