REVIEW: Dark Horse Comics’ Hellboy and the BPRD: Night of the Cyclops

It seems like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy has encountered every type of mythical character imaginable over the course of his illustrious career. Between his adventures in Hell, his brief tenure as Santa Claus and the innumerable evenings he’s spent dealing with ghosts in graveyards around the world, the devilish hero has done just about everything. Now, Mignola is teaming up with artist Olivier Vatine and letterer Clem Robins to put Hellboy face to face with the immortals of ancient Greece. Hellboy and the BPRD: Night of the Cyclops is a fun one-shot that pushes the iconic hero into fresh, new directions.

Set in Thessaly, Greece, in 1962, Hellboy and the BPRD: Night of the Cyclops follows the titular paranormal investigator as he explores ancient Greek ruins. But before Hellboy has an opportunity to properly appreciate the architecture, he’s approached by a talking goat who leads him to a realm of fauns and goat-people. After speaking to the community’s matriarch, Hellboy discovers that these fantastical creatures used to be human beings before they were cursed by a jealous goddess, who has more misfortune in store for the long-suffering fauns. Hellboy endeavors to protect them from their formidable foes and finds himself in the fight of his life.

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One of the secrets to Hellboy’s staying power is the fact that he can star in any type of story. Mignola seems equally at ease throwing the character into the middle of either a horror story or a fairy tale. So, the rough and tumble hero fits right in with the world of Greek gods and mythological creatures. Even when he’s smoking a cigarette in his trench coat, Hellboy looks at home surrounded by minotaurs and fauns, which makes it easy for the audience to sympathize with the plight of the goat-people and adds to the emotional stakes of the story. By the time the titular Cyclops arrives, fans will be fully invested in Hellboy’s cause of him.

By leaning on the familiar archetypes from Greek mythology, Mignola is able to cover a lot of ground efficiently in this slim one-shot story. He uses the space he saves with a concise exposition to deliver a thrilling climax and conclusion, complete with a brutal battle, a satisfying resolution and a final twist that threatens to recontextualize many of the events of Hellboy and the BPRD: Night of the Cyclops.

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Considering how fast-paced Mignola’s writing is, Vatine’s ability to create space to celebrate the beauty of the landscape is especially impressive. He captures the reverent, spacious nature of the ruins of ancient architecture, before revealing in the chaos of the forest and taking readers into the realm of the fauns, which feels at once idyllic and alien. Vatine captures the tone of Mignola’s writing perfectly. As brief as the action scenes are, Vatine choreographs each moment exquisitely. There isn’t a wasted line in the entire comic.

Hellboy and the BPRD: Night of the Cyclops doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does manage to put the titular hero into a situation that feels both unique and classic all at once. Mignola and Vatine work together wonderfully to create a fun page-turner that will reward multiple readings. Fans of Hellboy, Greek mythology and good comics will all find exactly what they’re looking for in this issue.

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