Story: Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson
Art: Shawn Martinborough
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Clem Robins
What They Say:
Tales from the Mignolaverse!
Cryptozoologist Woodrow “Woody” Ferrier joined the B.P.R.D. to find exciting and previously undocumented cryptids, but unfortunately, most of his cases end in disappointment. But a trip with Hellboy to small-town Virginia where a huge and mysterious creature stalks the woods might provide him with just the opportunity he’s been waiting for!
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and longtime collaborator Chris Roberson give us a new tale from the world of Hellboy. Featuring art by Shawn Martinbrough, colors by Dave Stewart, and letters by Clem Robins.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Sometimes the job you sign up for isn’t the job you get. Some dedicate their education and careers to being teachers and Professors but end up stuck in administration. Others want nothing more than to study cryptozoology in the field, but end up, well, stuck in administration.
Really, it’s the same tale all over.
Woody Ferrier joined the B.P.R.D. in 1953 to discover animals previously thought to only exist in myths and legends. Unfortunately for the poor guy, all he seems to run across are mutated animals, demons, and mutated demons, none of which fit the criteria for being an honest-to-goodness cryptid.
To make matters worse, his duties at the Bureau require him to spend less and less time in the lab and the field. Given all this, it’s unsurprising that he acts just a bit grumpy when he and Hellboy answer a call in Sutton, West Virginia in March of 1957. The locals believe a flying saucer landed in the nearby forest, and now some sort of alien monster threatens to terrorize the town. Woody and Hellboy investigate, but, frankly, neither seem that interested. I guess when you spend your whole life fighting Nazis, demons, and sorcerers, a UFO seems like small potatoes. Another day, another dollar, another opportunity for something weird to happen.
Unfortunately, this blasé attitude might just well cost Woody his life.
Mignola and Roberson tell a simple, straightforward, and entertaining tale. Woody and Hellboy’s skepticism and disinterest in the UFO add good moments of humor, given the strangeness the two encounter on an almost daily basis, and Woody’s frustration over his career at the B.P.R.D. is very relatable. That said, the story plays it too straight. Aside from two fun-ish twists, the comic presents a very linear and formulaic story that’s very surface level. It’s easy to plot out the beats and predict where it will all end. It’s not bad by any means, but it lacks any sort of bite that would give it character and purpose. It’s forgettable.
The art fares better. Shawn Martinborough’s clean, minimal style suits Hellboy and the world of the B.P.R.D. well, although it lacks the fluid linework that makes Mignola’s work so unique and memorable.
Dave Stewart’s colors bring the world to life and do well creating the emotional atmosphere of the scenes. The style is much more impressionistic than realistic, and that fits the story very well, adding depth and pathos to the story.
The comic isn’t very gloomy, though, and the horror and action stay at a minimum. Maybe it’s unfair to compare this to Mignola’s original Hellboy work, but it’s difficult not to find this lacking. It would help immensely if it had some twist or surprise, or if the art and colors tried something more daring.
One possible way the comic could have done this was to lean more heavily into UFO tropes. Spoiler alert, but the flying saucer the two discover was actually a weather balloon—one of the classic objects that were often mistaken for UFOs (at least according to Project Bluebook and the like). That bit was a fun nod to UFO lore, and could have led to other references. Maybe Woody and Hellboy encounter some swamp gas that makes them see things, maybe a family from outside town talk about how they had an hours-long firefight with alien goblins a la The Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter. Shoot, the story is set in West Virginia, the comic could have referenced The Flatwoods Monster or the Mothman. Any of those references could have added that extra dimension this story lacked.
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1957 Falling Sky is rather disappointing. The story is too predictable and straightforward, and while there’s nothing wrong with the art, it doesn’t go the extra level to compensate for the lackluster plot. While I did like Woody Farrier and his unique disappointment with his job, I wish the comic had done more. Dr. J gives this a…
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dark Horse
Release Date: August 10th, 2022