Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Adam Hughes
It’s been a while since I read some Hellboy. I think the last Winter Special was the last time I saw the monster hunter. Mike Mignola has brought him back for this delightful little one-shot crossover with the B.P.R.D. I’ve loved Hellboy ever since I first saw Ron Perlman play the character in the first movie. The B.P.R.D. isn’t really a comic I’ve followed though. I don’t really read the spin-offs of the main series. Let’s see if this one-shot is good enough to sell me on them.
The story is set in 1992 and starts with Hellboy talking to a young girl about her supernatural experience. She snuck into a haunted house where a man gathered his seven wives, burned them to death, and hung himself. The girl had seen ghosts of those wives before being assaulted by the ghost of their killer. In self-defense, she shot the man before realising it was actually her boyfriend. The rest of the issue focuses on Hellboy and Pauline Raskin, a B.P.R.D. agent, investigating the case.
Hellboy and Raskin hear another witness discuss how a group of medical students had stolen the man’s body. They called themselves the titular Seven Wives Club as a joke. These trainees stashed his body in the basement of the house where he committed his crime. This led to a series of seemingly accidental injuries and deaths. Of course, Hellboy and Raskin then head out to find this basement and work out what’s been going on.
It’s a good story. Predictable and a bit too reliant on exposition but a solid read nonetheless. I don’t feel it did much to make the B.P.R.D. more accessible though. I never really got enough time to understand Pauline Raskin as a character. She just seemed like a generic government agent. Hellboy is obviously the big brand and the hero of the story so it didn’t surprise me that he gets more attention. I expected more on the B.P.R.D. side though. Pauline has brief moments where you see some personality but she really just feels like Hellboy’s sidekick and nothing more. Well-written horror fun and enjoyable if you like Hellboy but not a good intro to the B.P.R.D.
Adam Hughes does the art and he does a decent job throughout the issue. Hughes has a history of cheesecake art when it comes to female characters but that isn’t noticeable here. The artwork looks like a mix of Mignola’s own style and Terry Dodson’s artstyle on series’ like Marvel Knights Spider-Man. Personally, I’ve always liked that kind of art for comics and it fits the horror genre of Hellboy extremely well. I think this is largely due to the darker Mignola-style colouring which makes the pencilwork seem creepier and less cartoonish.
The lettering is done well. Narration boxes appear to tell us of locations and information on characters. They mostly appear for the exposition that fills the issue though. It can get a bit tiresome to read due to this. There’s some solid use of sound effects and bold letters that emphasise specific dialogue. The quality of the sound effects and their contribution to the story is most apparent towards the end. Even in the opening pages, the gunshot sound manages to feel impactful and creepy at the same time.
This is a solid story if you know Hellboy and other characters in his universe. It’s not particularly accessible as a first B.P.R.D. book or even as a first Hellboy book though. If you know the premise then you have a good but predictable tale that’s way too reliant on exposition. I’d recommend this book to fans of Hellboy or B.P.R.D. but it’s not a great jumping-on point for new fans.
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club
This is a fun little horror story. It's heavy on exposition though and the mystery is as predictable as they come. It's well-written but just a bit mediocre. There wasn't a lot of character building. You get a little hint of the B.P.R.D. agent's personality but that's it. Hellboy, after the opening couple of pages is just there to punch stuff really. The art by Hughes looks great. None of the cheesecake style he built his career on and the colouring adds a gothic feel to the images. Lettering was good throughout too. Overall, a solid comic but nothing to write home about.