Hellboy & The B.P.R.D. - The Secret of Chesbro House #1 Review

by Nick Devonald on July 07, 2021

Writers: Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden
Artist: Shawn McManus
Colours: Dave Stewart
Letters: Clem Robins

Over the course of his career Hellboy has come across plenty of ghosts and hauntings, so Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden deserve some recognition for telling a tale which manages to stand out from the host of other hauntings and stand on its own two feet. In this story Hellboy is investigating a haunted mansion with a dark history, Chesbro House, and is paired up with a psychic to do so. Right from her introduction Madame Zemperelli challenges Hellboy, and the dynamic between them makes for some entertaining reading. She asks some pointed questions around his nature and approach to supernatural problems, questions without easy answers that leave the reader wondering. Questions without a real answer, akin to 'what came first, the chicken or the egg?', but specifically related to Hellboy. She raises some valid points and will leave readers intrigued.

Little by little the comic reveals the history of the place, each character telling a slightly different version of the tale with extra additions, and each time readers think they’re getting a handle on the tale more characters appear with slightly altered versions of the same story. It’s done in a clever and entertaining way, with enough questions and uncertainties that the reader is left scratching their head and trying to piece it altogether.

On a separate note it’s a little unclear why this is a Hellboy & The B.P.R.D. story rather than just a Hellboy story, there’s no B.P.R.D. team in sight. Perhaps it’s because Hellboy is still working with the B.P.R.D. at this point? Or perhaps now that the main Hellboy series is finished all future titles are going to come under the Hellbo & The B.P.R.D. umbrella. It doesn't make any difference to the quality of the comic, just idle pondering.

The house itself is a fantastic venue for the story. Dark and imposing from the outside, the overgrown garden sets the tone. The inside is just as bleak, cobweb filled and haunting shadows. Shawn McManus does an excellent job of recreating a haunted house vibe, it almost feels cliched which is in stark contrast with the twists and turns of the story, forever keeping the reader guessing. There are a host of new characters introduced across the story and they all look great, their appearances telling readers a lot about their personalities. It's atmospheric and entertaining, just like the story.

And would it be a Hellboy story without Dave Stewart colouring it? Hellboys bright red contrasts sharply with the gloomy house, the reds popping off the page and leaving everything else deliberately muted. It looks great on the page.

An excellent introduction to a two-part story which feels classic Hellboy, where some of the best tales have been short stories. Filled with a haunting atmosphere, enough twists to keep the reader constantly guessing and some clever narrative tricks to keep the story entertaining readers. Great art, a real spooky vibe, and there are plenty to recommend here for readers new and old.

Our Score:


A Look Inside