Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1954: The Unreasoning Beast – Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson

4 out of 5

Roberson’s writing is a bit on the nose, which I suspect / fear will be his style going forward, but The Unreasoning Beast is nonetheless a fun little one shot, continuing the rewind that shows us how Hellboy and crew evolved and, in this case, how their roster may have expanded organically over the years.

HB and Susa show up at the Koestler’s home to investigate husband Thomas’ reports of nighttime hauntings.  He thus far seems to be the only victim – of, eh, a ghost monkey – though his wife can confirm noises and whatnot.  Hellboy – in his classic trench coat and shorts of yore – props his feet up and waits, chatting with the Koestler’s son, Victor, and waiting for any signs of B.P.R.D.ness.  Susan, meanwhile, does some scouting of her own.  Between the two, the unravel a minor mystery concerning the source of the noise.

With Chris scripting, there are plenty of dialogue and panel pointers to know where this is going ahead of time.  If this story is any indication, the Roberson era will be made or broken by the art; this time it’s made by Patric Reynolds.  Reynolds was uneven to me on Joe Golem, but seeing his art here, I wonder if he’s just not suited for action or big set pieces.  The intimacy of a suburban home and the minor key characterizations are perfect here, with Dave Stewart’s color blending more nuanced than I’ve ever seen before, as though motivated by Patric’s moody environs to deliver his best possible efforts.  When we do finally shift over to ghost stuff, because it’s so fully grounded in the ‘mundane’ reality of the Koestler’s home, it’s really effective.  The book looks fantastic.

The ending beat is a bit uneven, as though we should know who a character is (looking him up, I think he’s new…), but if this is the slow and steady way Chris and Mike rebuild the world after Hell on Earth – by fortifying the past – I’m still onboard, especially if the issues are as solid as this one.