Review – Hellboy & the B.P.R.D. – The Secret of Chesbro House #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden
Artist: Shawn McManus
Letterer: Clem Robins
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Release Date: 7th July 2021

Hellboy is drafted in to help with the exorcism of Chesbro House so that it can be put up for auction. When the séance begins however, the participants soon discover that the legend they’ve been told is far from the truth and the spirits haunting the mansion are not willing to give up their grip on this earthly realm.

I make no secret of the fact that Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart are among my favourite creators of all time. I’ve had a love affair with Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. almost since the very beginning, and Mignolaverse titles account for about two metres of my comic shelves.

While some of my all time favourite stories are within this universe, I can’t claim that every single one is a jewel. This issue has the makings of one, but as this is only a two-part story, for me it really needs to do something special in the next issue to elevate it. The Secret of Chesbro House takes Hellboy into a tale reminiscent of the old House of Mystery, Eerie, or Creepy Tales, with the slightly over the top acting of a ’70s haunted house movie. While the story itself is interesting enough, it feels to me like this is a story that has had Hellboy shoehorned into it rather than being a story written around Hellboy, and as a whole I think it suffers because of this.

The Mignolaverse is vast and there are so many opportunities for telling stories that don’t involve Hellboy. That might seem blasphemous, but just look at how good Baltimore was, or Jenny Finn or Witchfinder, or any of the other publications that don’t have Hellboy in the title. Mike Mignola is, as I’ve said above, one of the greatest comic writers of all time, and when it comes to Lovecraftian and paranormal tales of horror, Mignola’s imagination is seemingly limitless.

The artwork in the issue is for the most part pretty damned good, there are some nicely creepy moments, and there are some really well done panels that are works of art in their own right. Hats off to Shawn McManus and Dave Stewart on another job very well done.

I will never not want to see a new Mignolaverse story, but hand on heart not every one needs to have Big Red in it, and his being in this one made the whole affair seem just a little schizophrenic. As a story in its own right, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read and I will be adding it to my pull list but this could be so much better as an entirely new world in the Mignolaverse.

Rating: 3/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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