This trade paperback collects Dark Horse and Mike Mignola's first experiments in expanding on the Hellboy universe with stories of the B.P.R.D. and its agents without using Hellboy as the main character. Certainly we (and the characters) miss Hellboy, but these stories provide a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the other fantastic characters in the Hellboy universe.
This volume includes four B.P.R.D. stories, as well as nine pages of concept sketches. Note that the cover is drawn by Mike Mignola, but Mike did not draw any of the stories in this collection. He did contribute writing for each of the stories, with the exception of "Drums of the Dead." Most of the artwork in this volume is done in the style of Mike Mignola, but is obviously not his work. I prefer Mike's art on anything Hellboy-related, however, I understand that he doesn't have time to draw everything. (How far along is cloning technology?)
The Highlights: "Hollow Earth" is a great story with lot of character development. It is notable for the first appearances of characters Johann Kraus and the King of Fear. This is the longest story in this volume, and my personal favorite. "The Killer In My Skull" is the first appearance of Lobster Johnson, and features an out of control brain! It's a little creepy, but a lot of fun! "Abe Sapien Versus Science" is a fantastic little story about Abe and Roger. Mike did the inks for this one and it shows! "Drums of the Dead" is the most unique in tone and art style of these stories. I enjoyed it, but not quite as much as the others. The art is well done (though personally I don't love the style). This story focuses on Abe (whom I do love, so maybe I'm extra picky). The sketchbook at the end of this volume is spectacular. It contains some great sketches by Mike Mignola and Ryan Sook.
Things to Consider: This may not be the ideal place to start if you want to get into Hellboy, but if you've read a few Hellboy comics and like the characters, then this is a great book for enjoying them more! There are also a few images of naked backsides. I did not find them offensive or gratuitous, but if you are extra-sensitive to that sort of thing, beware. There is a little bit of blood and gore (mostly in "Drums of the Dead"), but it is pretty tame as far as graphic novels go. FYI this book wasn't written for young children.
All-in-all a great collection if you are interested in expanding your Hellboy knowledge!
My Rating: Good if you're into that stuff (And of course, I am!)
This trade paperback collects Dark Horse and Mike Mignola's continued efforts in expanding the Hellboy universe and exploring the B.P.R.D.'s exploits after Hellboy has left. These stories don't reveal as much about the characters as the stories in B.P.R.D. Vol. 1 did, but there are some fun stories if you're a devout B.P.R.D. fan. For me it was a mixed bag.
This volume includes five B.P.R.D. stories, along with thirteen pages of concept sketches. Note that the cover art is by Mike Mignola, but Mike did not draw any of the stories in this collection. He did contribute writing for "The Soul of Venice," and Mike wrote "Another Day at the Office." This collection has a variety of writing and art styles--which I find to be both good and bad.
The Highlights: I loved the story "Dark Waters," about a town with a past of witch trials. The writing was superb and I love the art by Guy Davis. His style is quite different from Mignola's, but I think it fits the series well. I would've bought the book just for this story. "Night Train" is fun story that delves a little deeper into Roger's character, and features Lobster Johnson. I thought the art was decent, but I loved the coloring for this story! "There's Something Under My Bed" has the most unique art and tone of all the stories in this collection. That may be off-putting to some fans, but I liked it. Abe Sapien helps some kids who are being kidnapped by the monsters under their beds. Fun stuff! The other gem of this collection for me was "Another Day at the Office." It has decent art, but I enjoyed the writing and tone of this short story of the B.P.R.D. fighting zombies.
Things to Consider: I personally didn't like "The Soul of Venice" very much. Maybe I had too high of hopes. It has several great ideas, but crams them into a story that was too short for its own good. I think if it were longer I might have felt more satisfied with it. Also, it contains some fairly graphic female nudity that I felt the need to cover up in my copy. The art on this one is also so-so. "Another Day at the Office" has a bit of zombie gore. Compared to most illustrated zombie stories this was very tame, but if that kind of thing bugs you this may not be the book for you.
I recommend this volume for the collectors and fans of B.P.R.D. Anyone else who is interested should probably check out some of the other collections first, such as Vol. 1 or Vol. 3.
My Rating: Spend your time elsewhere (unless you are a devoted B.P.R.D. fan!)
This is the first B.P.R.D. trade paperback containing one long story, rather than a collection of stories. These are the issues that got B.P.R.D. its own continuing series, much like the Hellboy collections. It is also a great story with some important revelations for the Hellboy universe and its characters.
Be aware that although Mike Mignola drew the cover and wrote the story, the pencils were done by Guy Davis. In my opinion, if Mignola wasn’t able to draw it, Guy Davis would be my next choice for anything Hellboy-related. However, Davis’s art style is fairly different from Mignola’s, so keep that in mind.
Things to Consider: The story comes to a close, but it doesn't tie all of the loose ends up. This is because the story of the B.P.R.D. continues in other volumes. It left me wanting more, but not disappointed. There is also a little bit of recapping Hellboy stories that relate to this story. It didn’t bother me in the slightest, but some people are bugged by that sort of thing. I felt like those parts added context to the story and didn’t take up much space.
This is my favorite B.P.R.D. collection so far (out of 1-3), and it left me excited to read more! If you are worried about prior knowledge, this one takes care of that for you, and whether or not you know a lot about the B.P.R.D. it is a fun read! There should be more comics with giant fungus creatures and evil frog men!
My Rating: Definitely worth checking out