Published on June 9th, 2012 | by Mike Harding0
Mikey’s Library Hot Picks: The freaks walk amongst us
Way back in the glory days of 1993, Michael Jackson had been accused of Child molestation (for the first time), Meatloaf was doing anything for love(but not that), Hadaway was asking what is love, UB40 couldn’t help falling in love with you, and Snow was an informer. Despite all these horrific things, in a small corner of the San Diego Comic Con Mike Mignola and John Byrne introduced the world to Hellboy (although technically he appeared in a pamphlet two years earlier).
Skip forward a year, and Hellboy was granted his own mini series, that introduced the team known as the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D). This is the team we will be focusing on in this weeks Library Hot Picks, as frankly, many libraries across the country (and I’ve checked), have a wealth of this teams adventures in stock.
So, what is the B.P.R.D? Well the agency was created in 1944 by the late Trevor Bruttenholm (if you’ve seen the Hellboy movie they change his name to Bloom). The idea behind the team was to combat occult forces, that the Nazi’s were engaged with. Initially the agency was based in New Mexico, but later moved to sunny Connecticut, being funded primarily by the United States and the United Kingdom, although in the past various other countries have provided funding as well.
For a long time the agency was made up solely of human agents, mostly people who had gone through strange experiences, or were considered to be the best of the best. This all stopped when Professor Bruttenholm’s ”son”, Hellboy joined the team. Later the team would be joined by the following key cast members:
Abe Sapien: A Victorian scientist who was transformed into a Icthyo Sapien (Merman) as a result of an accident during an arcane ritual. Abe was locked in a water container where he remained until 1978 when he was discovered by workmen. Abe had no memory of his previous life, and was taken in by the B.P.R.D.
Liz Sherman: Liz is a young girl who has the power of Pyrokinesis (creates and controls fire). Liz accidentally killed her family at a young age, and so was taken in by the B.P.R.D. Due to his ability to resist fire, Liz became good friends with Hellboy, Liz is a conflicted character, and often leaves the team, only to later return to the only home she knows.
Johann Kraus: Johann’s story is a tragic one, he was a psychic who was roaming the astral plane during a séance. During this particular séance there was a catastrophic event in another country that mysteriously killed everyone at the séance. However, due to him being on the astral plane, Johann survived as a spirit. The B.P.R.D were able to create a containment suit for him, and so he joined the agency, using his ability to create ghosts out of his ectoplasm, and to inhabit other dead bodies.
Roger: Roger is a homunculus (a human character created by alchemy), he was found by the B.P.R.D in Romania where his body was inert. Liz Sherman, seeking to rid herself of her powers, poured all her energy into Roger, which did indeed revive him, leaving Liz in a coma. After a brief adventure, Roger returned the power, once again reverting to his inert state. Eventually Abe Sapien would reawaken him using a massive jolt of electricity.
Additionally there are human members such as Dr Kate Corrigan, who was a professor of history before at New york University before joining the B.P.R.D. Then there is Captain Ben Daimio a former marine, with a secret. Finally there is Andrew Devon, a professor of both modern and medieval language, who joins the team to disprove some of the case reports that Kate Corrigan writes.
Since they gained their own book following the departure of Hellboy (for reasons revealed in the books on many occasions) the B.P.R.D have had a number of adventures that have been collated in a number of different ways. The available volumes are as follows:
Hollow Earth & Other Stories
Collects: Hollow Earth (3-issue miniseries), B.P.R.D. (promotional piece), Lobster Johnson: The Killer in My Skull (from Hellboy: Box Full of Evil #1), Abe Sapien versus Science (from Box of Evil #2), and Abe Sapiens: Drums of the Dead (one-shot)
The Soul of Venice & Other Stories
Collects: The Soul of Venice, Dark Waters, Night Train, There’s Something Under My Bed, and a new short story Another Day at the Office
Plague of Frogs
Collects: Plague of Frogs (5-issue miniseries)
Collects: Born Again (short story) and The Dead (5-issue miniseries)
The Black Flame
Collects: The Black Flame (6-issue miniseries)
The Universal Machine
Collects: The Universal Machine (5-issue miniseries)
Garden of Souls
Collects: Garden of Souls (5-issue miniseries)
Collects: Killing Ground (5-issue miniseries)
Collects: 1946 (5-issue miniseries) and Bishop Olek’s Devil (short story)
Collects: Out of Reach (short story) and The Warning (5-issue miniseries)
The Black Goddess
Collects: The Black Goddess (5-issue miniseries)
War on Frogs
Collects: War on Frogs (4-issue miniseries) and “Revival” (from MySpace Dark Horse Presents) #8-9
Collects: 1947 (5-issue miniseries) and And What Shall I Find There? (short story)
King of Fear
Collects: The King of Fear (5-issue miniseries)
Collects: Being Human, The Dead Remembered (3-issue miniseries), The Ectoplasmic Man and Casualties (short story)
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Trade Paperbacks
Collects: New World (5-issue miniseries) and Seattle
Gods and Monsters
Collects: Gods (3-issue miniseries) and Monsters (2-issue miniseries)
Collects: Russia (5-issue miniseries) (not yet released, but coming soon)
Just when you figured that you could just go and order the books listed above, Dark Horse have also released a series of omnibus editions collecting the Plague of Frogs storyline:
B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs – Volume 1
Collects: Hollow Earth & Other Stories, The Soul of Venice & Other Stories, and Plague of Frogs
B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs – Volume 2
Collects: The Dead, War on Frogs, and The Black Flame
B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs – Volume 3
Collects: The Universal Machine, Garden of Souls, and Killing Ground
The vast majority of these books are availble from local libraries, so go hunt them down, and discover the brilliantly writing, and quirky, yet perfect artwork of these great stories.
And most importantly of all TAKE YOUR BOOKS BACK ON TIME!!!