Sunday, 29 July 2012

B.P.R.D. Volumes 1 - 14.

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense
Left to right: Johann Krauss, Liz Sherman, Abe Sapien, Roger, Kate Corrigan.

In this series Mike Mignola takes the members of the BPRD and gives them life beyond the associations with Hellboy. Much in the same way as the 'Hellboy' series, Mignola creates a central storyline (a 'war' with subterranean 'frogs' that threaten to overwhelm and destroy the planet) with a number of short stories and character exploring 'asides'.  Again, in the same way as the 'Hellboy' series, other contributors come to Mignola's aid - most notably Guy Davis and John Arcudi.

Mignola admits that he wasn't quite sure where the series was going to go at first. Arcudi, he says, helped give the story a more definite trajectory and focused the narrative threads on the war that was brewing beneath the surface of the earth and BPRD's role in challenging it.

I think what's particularly good about the series is that it also allows  the development of the characters in the BPRD team. Eerie Krauss  goes through grief, Abe Sapien a crisis of confidence, Roger (the homunculus) a search for identity, and other characters like Captain Daimio  and Liz Corrigan strange and often devastating experiences. There's also the strange Fu Manchu style character and his attempts to manipulate Liz Sherman's power. So it's not just about the 'war' with the strange frog creatures (seen in earlier volumes of 'Hellboy') that drives the plot. But I don't think you'd ever expect that from Mignola anyway.The plot itself is healthily complex, there are man bits and pieces of information you need to maintian in your head as you go along - thanks Mr Mignola - enaging though, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Arcudi and Davis do a fantastic job in my view. Although I can see that the artwork may not be to everyone's taste - it isn't like Mignola's work if that's what you like - it does remain true to the simplicity of colour and frame sequencing that characterises past Mignola work. As you can see above the characters are evocatively drawn and the frogs are consistently meancing throughout the series. Overall a well recommended read for those seeking to persue the battle with the occult into areas beyond 'Hellboy'. It's not just a 'spin-off'.


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