B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine (Dark Horse)

bprdheaderHellboy's spinoff series about what his chums at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense do when's he's gone continues.

 

144 pgs FC; $17.95
(W: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi; A: Guy Davis)

 

 

In the latest collection of B.P.R.D., the team takes a break from frog hunting to sit around the mess hall and talk about how death was in the good ol' days. Abe, Liz, Johann, and even the mysterious Captain Daimio each take their turn with the talking stick, telling about their own unique experiences with the great beyond. Meanwhile, Dr Kate Corrigan travels to France to meet with a collector who possesses an ancient book that might hold formulas for re-growing a homunculus.

Click thumbnail for a larger image.It's pretty weird stuff, but exactly what fans of the series crave. In the previous story, Roger, a homunculus grown from human blood and herbs, was destroyed in an explosion. Roger was a great character. He's been with the team ever since he was discovered and given life when Liz touched him with her pyrokinetic abilities. At first his personality was a total blank slate, his good natured stupidity providing some nice comic relief for a while, and it only got better when Captain Daimio joined the team and Roger started emulating his gruff soldier attitude. Then, just when you were really starting to like him, he was destroyed by a Nazi in a mechanical suit. But this is comics, right? He's got to come back. Especially with Johann, the B.P.R.D.'s ectoplasmic physical medium, insisting his soul is still alive inside the rocky remains.

Mignola, John Arcudi, and artist Guy Davis make a great team on their third book together. Mignola took an unfinished Hellboy idea and adapted it to B.P.R.D. for Kate's trip to see the rare items collector, but he credits Arcudi for coming up with all of the flashback stories, which are fantastic, the best being Daimio's and Johann's. Daimio reveals how he got the scar that runs across the entire left side of his head, which, of course, would be caused by nothing less than an evil, jaguar skull-faced ghost nun in some remote jungle. Johann tells a quieter tale of a love triangle that grew from a séance, when a widower came to speak through him to his deceased wife, and Johann ended up falling for her. Also, definitely worth a mention is Abe's sad story of a Wendigo named Daryl.

Mignola fans that have passed over B.P.R.D. might want to come back for a second look. This book is full of the tiny bits of folklore and legends that make Hellboy so interesting, and the characters and story are developing at a pace to rival it. | Nick Main

Read a 4-page preview of B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine courtesy of DarkHorse.com!

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