With Hellboy and the BPRD: The Secret of Chesbro House # 1, readers are treated to some expected delicacies for such a story from this creative team.
Hellboy in a classic spooky mystery adventure? Check.
A creepy and vague medium for talking to the ghosts of a haunted house? Check.
Are some unsuspecting people afraid when evil shows itself and Hellboy tries to hit him?
You guessed it… check it out!
A haunted house seems like a natural place for a Hellboy story and something you can never go wrong with. And when you have two screenwriters like Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden teaming up for a comic, you know it’s going to be worth it. Coming as no surprise to anyone, Hellboy and the BPRD: The Secret of Chesbro House # 1 is an almost perfectly executed debut issue that takes what we already know we’ll love with a proven formula and brings just a pinch of surprise for keep us interested.
It’s a classic Hellboy adventure with that signature dark twist that always makes us want more. While this may not be the most groundbreaking or even the most crucial story in the character’s long history, this problem represents another in a series of minis or shots that show just how we can still have fun with Hellboy. It’s a condensed story that uses a haunted house as a catalyst to take us through a new tangle that Hellboy can’t get out of, but will certainly try anyway. It’s a timeless type of story that leans heavily on what works for the character and you know what, I loved it for that.
Maybe at some point, years ago, it would’ve been a mini number four or even more, but the pace that only two issues make it work in this story is in favor. Haunted houses can fall into predictability, and going through the stages a bit faster makes for a more enjoyable reading experience overall. The structure is tight, even leaving room for a flashback without losing momentum, and leaves with a cliffhanger that leads wonderfully to the next and final issue. But for all of its clear storytelling prowess in such a small space to breathe, we also find that this debut issue doesn’t do enough to surprise us.
The house of Chesbro House houses a curse, fallen on “the usual stuff” as Hellboy would say and from what we find out, it looks a bit too much like the usual stuff it will take to break such a curse. The setup is executed so well and there’s just the right flair of grim assistance and dry humor that makes the issue so memorable, but the second issue will have to capitalize on that narrative weight to give us something that sets it apart from so much. other Hellboy hauntings.
While the narrative is very straightforward, the illustrations by Shawn McManus and Dave Stewart take some interesting risks that make the problem different. It helps us as readers not to worry too much about possibly knowing where the story might end because it’s a visually distinctive approach. Hellboy himself looks leaner and it’s immediately noticeable but in a good way. McManus brings a unique approach that’s easy to appreciate and Dave Stewart’s ever-iconic coloring keeps things familiar.
Clem Robins has found himself on quite a few Hellboy comics, especially lately and in this issue we really see his lettering work come to life. They guide us at the right time, help us linger when we don’t want to for fear of what’s to come, and easily navigate the exhibit when we need to know more. It’s great to see such synergy between everyone on the creative team helping elevate what could easily have been a rather mundane comic book.
Hellboy and the BPRD: The Secret of Chesbro House # 1 is a comic book for any fan of the character, whether they’re longtime readers or those with a passing interest. It’s very accessible to new readers and requires almost no prior knowledge to fully enjoy it and it hits all the right notes for fans always hungry for more of Hellboy. While the premise doesn’t leave you guessing as often as you’d like, there’s no denying that this is another great comic in the ongoing Hellboy franchise.