By d. emerson eddy — Hellboy and the BPRD: The Beast of Vargu is kind of a new beginning for the title. It does not follow the previous yearly format, and it is not the expected “#26 in a series”, as it essentially becomes the new heart of the Hellboy universe since BPRD itself has now finished. And it does so with the creative team responsible for some of my personal favorite Hellboy stories in the Wild Hunt Arthurian trilogy and The Midnight Circus. It's an interesting and welcome choice to start off this new era with a one-shot tale from Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Dave Stewart, and Clem Robins, offering an easily accessible tale for new, lapsed, and old readers alike to dive straight in to.
Rather than 1957, this story jumps ahead to 1962 and follows Hellboy as he searches Romania for a creature that has been reportedly causing disappearances. The setting and approach is much more akin to the old Hellboy short stories than the continuing narrative that we've been accustomed to in Hellboy and the BPRD.
The line art from Duncan Fegredo is incredible. The griffin-like design for the Beast of Vargu itself is very impressive, but what really makes this story stand out is the change when it shifts to the story being told with puppets. The detail and intricacy that goes into the puppet Hellboy and Beast is amazing, looking like real wooden puppets with hook joints and everything. It's a very interesting choice and brings the story within a story aspect of this tale fully to life.
Dave Stewart maintains a relatively muted color scheme for the story. With the usual red of Hellboy popping against some contrasting grays of the beast and a tendency towards either a diffuse green or burnt orange for the backgrounds. I don't know if it was intentional, but to me it helps give the story that kind of timeless feel.
There's also a back-up story, “The Secret God of the Roma”, from the same creative team. It's another wonderful example of how Mignola and his collaborators have used fables and allegory to give greater insight into Hellboy's character. This tells the tale of a half-man, half-god trying to find the good in himself. Fegredo repeats the excellent puppet motif through the tale-telling.
Overall, this is a great story, whether you're in for the long haul or you're just looking for a singular entertaining tale. Mignola, Fegredo, Stewart, and Robins give a masterclass on storytelling, playing with stories within stories and building another new folk tale into the Hellboy mythos.
Hellboy and the BPRD: The Beast of Vargu
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Clem Robins
Publisher: Dark Horse
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d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.