I just updated my Hellboy chronology for my most recent reading (not all at once, I’ve fallen behind) and made a couple of changes—it seems to me for various reasons New World should be out in 2009, rather than 2008. But it’s guesswork, ditto interweaving Hellboy’s adventures with the BPRD timeline. That said …
BPRD Hell on Earth: Russia by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Tyler Crook and Dave Stewart, has Josif Nichayko (a Soviet occultist who first appeared in The Abyssal Plain) bring the BPRD team to Russia to deal with an Oghdru Hem infestation that involves zombies who don’t seem to do anything but build a strange tower. Nichayko, who will appear in several more volumes, makes a nice addition to the cast (the BPRD gets blander as we keep losing supernatural agents) and the story holds together well. On the downside, the resurrected mummy Panya always feels (I think I’ve said this before) like a shoe that ought to have dropped by now (cover by Mignola, rights with current holder). However I was fascinated to learn what’s become of the sinister moppet demon Varvara.
BPRD Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Engine and the Long Death by the same team plus James Harren, collects two miniseries. In one, Devon tries to bring the psychic Fenix safely to BPRD HQ despite swarms of monsters and his refusal to believe in her clairvoyance. In the second, Johann finally settles things with Captain Daimio for destroying the new body he acquired several years earlier. The first story is the first time I’ve really liked Devon; the second is too much monster-mash action as a wereleopard squares off against a wendigo. And the backstory on Daimio could have used more filling out … But this being Hellboy, his apparent death doesn’t mean we won’t see it.
BPRD Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror and Others, by Mignola, Scott Allie and multiple artists has a BPRD agent discover the secret agenda of vampires (as Mignola has written in previous stories, to wait and build up strength until we lose all knowledge of how to destroy them); another shows what’s going on with one of the BPRD’s slightly crazy scientists; and the third has an agent hurled back in time to the stone age after touching an ancient sword. The first is so-so (I’m curious if the vampire plot will even matter the way the world is developing), the third quite good, the second fun but odd; Professor O’Donnell seems surprisingly sane given what happens to him here.
BPRD Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master by Mignola, Arcudi, Crook and Stewart has one BPRD team investigating the possible resurrection of Rasputin in Scotland, while the Zinco Corporation attempts to use old Nazi occult tech to bring about his resurrection on its own terms. Rereading, I realize this is a big turning point—when the big resurrection happens it’s the moment at which things go from bad to a whole lot worse (I wonder what’s going to be left of the world when this finishes up, if anything). Reuses one agent from The Long Death and another from The Abyssal Plain, and gives us more on Nichayko.
HELLBOY IN HELL: The Descent is the launch of a new Hellboy series written and drawn by Mignola that takes place after Hellboy’s death in The Storm and the Fury. Arriving in Hell, Hellboy enters the demonic city of Pandemonium .. and finds it almost empty, as the inhabitants of Hell have fled in fear of the chaos Hellboy may be bringing with him. I’d forgotten what an odd, moody, absorbing style Mignola has when he’s doing writing and drawing both, very different from his collaborative work. Setting this in the chronology is a headscratcher as it could be any time after his death, having no reference to the outside world or the chaos in BPRD Hell on Earth. Until I have a reason to think otherwise, I’m putting it the year the first issue came out, 2012.