Hellboy & The B.P.R.D.: The Return of Effie Kolb #1

by Nick Devonald on February 18, 2020

Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Zach Howard
Colors: Dave Stewart

This is a return to the classic Hellboy story the Crooked Man. Like most of the standalone Hellboy stories no prior knowledge is needed but if you’re familiar with the Crooked Man you’ll definitely get more from the story.

It’s set 9 years after The Crooked Man and the only cast member remaining from that story is Tom Ferrell and of course the titular Effie Kolb. Since Hellboy's been a paranormal investigator for a long time there are plenty of one-shots when he meets a character he obviously has a history with. A lot of these times the character is brand new to the reader. A few lines of dialogue is all that’s needed to establish that shared history. What I like about this issue is that it’s a similar set-up, only this time we’ve actually met Tom Ferrell and know all about their shared history. It’s a nice touch. It also serves as a reminder that while Hellboy doesn’t age the rest of his world is not so lucky. And for new readers enough of the back story is explained that you'll have no trouble following along.

I don't want to go into too many details surrounding the story but it is suffice to say it pays its respects to the original tale before introducing us to a whole host of new characters, a few of whom I suspect will play an important role in future stories of Hellboy & The B.P.R.D..

Looking back over the past year there have been a lot of good releases in the extended Hellboy universe. This is definitely a good time to be a Hellboy fan. This issue is written solely by Mike Mignola, and while I’m a fan of nearly all the writers who are involved in Hellboys world he is of course the maestro and it’s always welcome to read a story solely penned by him.

What I like about Hellboy stories is that they don’t conform to a standard storytelling format. The story is told exactly how it needs to be told. Sometimes quick, othertimes slow and meandering. This issue falls into the latter category. While most of the issue serves as a catchup to events that have transpired since The Crooked Man and introducing the new story it's fair to say that not a whole lot happens. And in other comics that might be a problem but under Mignola's expert storytelling it allows for a slow build up of tension, creepy vibes increase after each page turn. By the end of the issue we’ve been introduced to all the main players and are ready for the concluding issue.

The Crooked Man was illustrated by Richard Corben and always stood out for its unique style. Zach Howard manages to emulate this style really well while also making it his own. In a few flashbacks to earlier events he captures the characters from The Crooked Man so perfectly you could be forgiven for thinking they were drawn by the same artist. There is an incredible level of detail on display here as well. I hope he continues in the Mignolaverse.

And of course colors are done by the legendary Dave Stewart. What can I say about his outstanding colors that hasn’t been said hundreds of times before? He’s a real master and doesn’t drop the ball here either. He colors so much of the Mignolaverse it could be argued that he’s nearly as important to it as Mike Mignola.

It's nice to return to a classic Hellboy tale. Excellent writing, great art and of course the legendary Dave Stewart on colors make this a tale Hellboy fans won't want to miss. The only criticism I can make is I suspect it will read much better as a complete tale rather than a two-part story. And if that's the only criticism  I can aim at it then you know you're in for a treat.

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