B.P.R.D.: The Dead Remembered #1

After the recent cliffhanger in “B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: Gods,” you’d think the last thing the series should do next is a step back in time to the 1970s, when Hellboy still worked with the agency and Liz Sherman was just a teenager. But much to my surprise? It’s a welcome shift.

Unlike “B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: Gods,” this new mini-series is a much less grim, happier story; it’s a nice change of pace and a way to stop and catch your breath. Mike Mignola and Scott Allie trade apocalypses and angry gods for ghosts and an angry and scared teenager, which is a good switch. The stakes feel much lower, but in doing so it gives us a time to better look at young Liz Sherman, and her relationship with characters like Hellboy and Trevor Bruttenholm.

Allie and Mignola have the voice of a teenager down pat, admittedly one whose pyrotechnic powers accidentally wiped out her family and an entire city block. So she’s unsure of her place in life, she’s assuming everyone’s her enemy and/or afraid of her, and her guards are up. Dropping her into her first experience with the supernatural out in the field is going to be an interesting story, letting her understand more than ever that she’s not really the center of the universe when it comes to problems. Bruttenholm isn’t quite as sketched out as her – he comes across as the well-meaning adult, although Mignola and Allie thankfully also give him some brains – but watching him interact with Liz and Hellboy gives us a good glimpse into him as a character as well.

And of course, it’s not a “B.P.R.D.” comic without the supernatural. Mignola and Allie fake us out at first, showing us the house that is supposed to be haunted, and then suddenly upping the ante in time for the climax of the first issue. It’s sufficiently creepy, thanks in part to Karl Moline and Andy Owens’ art. It’s always a joy to see Moline’s pencils, and Moline himself must have been around a lot of teenagers to get those sullen expressions down pat. He’s good with the larger-than-life too; not just the supernatural creature that appears at the end of the issue (which is sufficiently gruesome), but minor elements like Bruttenholm’s circle of sage smoke, or the increasingly creepy pallor of the woods, which visually draw both our characters and the reader into its depths. Moline’s a good choice for this mini-series, and based on this issue alone I’d love to see him do more with the property down the line.

“B.P.R.D.: The Dead Remembered” is a fun start to a flashback mini-series. It’s a little surprising the book hasn’t done more up until now with the Salem witch trials, but perhaps it was just an ace up a sleeve waiting for the right moment. I’m still eager to find out how the cliffhanger of last month’s book gets resolved, but until then this is a fun way to spend a few issues.

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