Mike Mignola’s Hellboy & BPRD 1957: Forgotten Lives Comic Book Review

The new Hellboy comic from Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson and Stephen Green is a gorgeous and unusually understated story.

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy is no stranger to graveyards. Many of his adventures – alone and with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense – have taken him to some of the most chilling graveyards in the world. But Mignola and his collaborators find a new way to look at haunted burial grounds in Dark Horse’s Hellboy and the BPRD 1957: Forgotten Lives. Written by Mignola and Chris Roberson and with art by Stephen Green, the new Hellboy adventure takes readers back to the hero’s early days, solving paranormal mysteries with his mentor, Dr. Bruttenholm. This standalone issue is a heartfelt ghost story.

Hellboy and the BPRD 1957: Forgotten Lives sends Hellboy and Dr. Bruttenholm to a poor man’s grave haunted by a mysterious apparition every night. The two paranormal investigators stalk the graveyard until they encounter a spirit tortured by an unfinished business. Hellboy and the Dr. visit an estate sale where they discover the ghost’s connection to pulp hero Lobster Johnson, and this ghost story takes on new meaning for the two heroes.

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Hellboy and Dr. Bruttenholm in a pottery field

In Hellboy and the BPRD 1957: Forgotten Lives, Mignola and Roberson do a great job setting a thoughtful tone. Instead of venturing into the depths of Hell, Dr. Bruttenholm and Hellboy spend most of this issue remembering comrades they’ve lost and trying to help an unnamed ghost. This calm and melancholy approach gives the reader the opportunity to see Hellboy as something more than an action hero. He and his mentor finally have a chance to process some of the horrible things they’ve seen throughout their careers. The end of Hellboy and the BPRD 1957: Forgotten Lives takes a moment to celebrate the history of pulp fiction and storytelling, making this issue a loving tribute to the work that inspired the creation of Hellboy.

Stephen Green’s art is beautiful and haunting. It leaves a lot of negative space to reinforce the slowness of this issue. Green captures the emotions of Hellboy and Bruttenholm without resorting to melodrama or absurd close-ups. Mignola’s influence is evident on every page, but Green always brings his unique style to the work. Dave Stewart leans into this approach by incorporating textures and shades he wouldn’t typically use to illuminate Mignola’s art. These nuances reflect the emotional depth of the story and encourage the reader to linger on each page alongside the characters.

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Hellboy in a graveyard with one of Lobster Johnson's cards

Hellboy and the BPRD 1957: Forgotten Lives is quite moderate compared to most Hellboy comic books. But Mignola and his fellow creators take the opportunity to tell a thoughtful story that highlights the titular character’s depth and versatility. Green’s art is perfect. Each page rewards re-reading and the powerful ending inspires nostalgia and admiration for the work that is sure to stay with readers long after this story is finished.

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