Dark Horse Comics’ Hellboy & the BPRD: The Secret of Chesbro House #2 strikes a brilliant balance. It somehow manages to be fun and terrifying all at the same time. Writers Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, with artist Shawn McManus, colorist Dave Stewart, and letterer Clem Robins, work together to create a weird and wonderful issue.
Mignola and Golden really take advantage of how much they set up in the first issue. When issue #2 begins, Hellboy is already diving into action. And it’s all action for the entire issue. From the first page to the last, things are moving at an incredible speed. Yet somehow, Mignola and Golden still find time for moments of quiet horror. Dark rituals and skulls that whisper secrets give these action-packed moments an extra pump of adrenaline. You’ll have fun reading this, but you’ll also be up at night thinking about it.
McManus brings a levity to many of the scenes. When we see a girl offered up to some demonic entity, we’re not as frightened as we could be. That’s because McManus doesn’t feel a need to milk these moments. But at the same time, McManus’ nonchalant treatment of these moments add to the terror. The fact that a possessed skull and a ghost with eight arms visually reads as “business as usual” makes each moment feel ignored by the characters. As though, letting the moment sink in would surely make Hellboy and the other characters go mad.
We’ve still got the cool blue scenes where Hellboy stands out in bright red, like we had in the last issue. And much of the issue sticks to that motif. Occasionally, the color palettes seem to blend, creating a purple hue. But mostly, this issue is about a world where Hellboy stands out. He’s in a haunted house, fighting ghosts. Everything about it should mean that he’s right at home. But we see that he’s just not quite like the ghosts or the people. He’s the middle ground. When he fights a monster at the end, also shown in brilliant red, we see that the color of their skin is different. Hellboy might be from Hell, but his whole identity has been changed by the years he’s been on Earth.
Many of the sound effects from Robins are playful and flashy. He fills scenes with them. They overlap each other, lead the reader from one panel into another, and give each panel they’re in a sense of chaos. Except for one page, where Hellboy beats a monster’s face. The “SPLUTCH” noise of his fist making contact looks more or less the same in the three panels we see. It makes Hellboy feel like the consistency in the madness. He’s reliable and he’ll get the job done.
Dark Horse’s Hellboy & the BPRD: The Secret of Chesbro House is fun and scary. It jumps right into the action from page one, and keeps the rollercoaster going until its last moments. But even in the chaos, this creative team delivers subtle horrors that will stick with you. Pick up Hellboy & the BPRD: The Secret of Chesbro House #2, out from Dark Horse August 11th, at a comic shop near you!