Dark Horse Comics is wrapping up their ongoing Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1950s series that started way back in December 2014 with the year 1952 with a series of one-shots beginning last year. The first one-shot, Family Ties, was excellent, and the penultimate is out this week focusing on Dr. Farrier. A Cryptozoologist, this story is set around when Dr. Farrier was hired and focuses on a mission that leaves him disabled.
Without a doubt, this one-shot will be most enjoyed by fans of the B.P.R.D. who want some gaps filled in the history. Specifically, this issue focuses on Dr. Farrier getting recruited and then going on an important mission. That mission helps Dr. Farrier see all his studies amounted to something and cement the fact that he’d never leave the B.P.R.D.
Like many of us may have experienced, the excitement of a new job goes away once you see how the sausage is made. Or, in this case, Dr. Farrier realizes the monsters he studied as a cryptozoologist are rare or maybe even not real. Instead, most monsters are either robots or demons. How boring.
That’s perfectly articulated in the opening montage, which features Hellboy and Dr. Farrier going on missions and facing enemies uninteresting to Dr. Farrier. Since he specializes in cryptozoology, he wants to see one in the flesh, and that growing need to see one intensifies once the story gets to its main plot set in 1957.
Writers Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson do well to capture Dr. Farrier’s verve for the often unseen monsters right down to the final moments in the issue. Hellboy comes off a bit less jaded than in the later years of the character, which suits him during this decade.
Ultimately, though, these two elements aren’t quite enough to sustain the narrative all the way through. A chunk of this story has the characters investigate a key alien sighting area, leave, then immediately go back. It seems like an unnecessary sequence that could have been cut out to leave more room for monster encounters or at least something else. It’s only about three pages, but it slows down the detective work of the characters and feels like filler.
The monster they encounter isn’t that impressive looking, nor is their interaction very entertaining. The monster itself is a neat one you’ll likely be familiar with, but it’s an unimpressive climax to a rather dull story.
The art by Shawn Marrtinbrough with colors by Lee Loughridge captures the harder edge of the story through sharp inks. Hellboy looks like he’s practically carved out of wood, creating a suitable superhero look for the character. The montage featuring multiple monsters encounters over the years is excellently done. In fact, it might be the best page of the entire issue.
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1957—Falling Sky is a decent monster adventure for the diehards. Sure, it’s fun to explore an adventure with Hellboy in an earlier time, but the monster they encounter, and the general point of the story, aren’t enough to warrant the price tag. At the very least, though, it handles Dr. Farrier’s rekindled love of monsters well.
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