B.P.R.D.: Being Human TPB Written by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, John Arcudi
Art by Karl Moline, Richard Corben, Ben Stenbeck, Guy Davis, Andy Owens, Jo Chen
Colors by Dave Stewart
Letters by Clem Robins
Cover by Mike Mignola Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: November 30, 2011
Cover Price: $17.99
Mike Mignola and John Arcudi have crafted the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. universe in a way that is continually referencing the past. In a world in which the dead rarely stay dead and old enemies rise to cause havoc again, it is important to know the history of most B.P.R.D. books. In B.P.R.D.: Being Human Mignola and Arcudi tackle the often brought up but seldom detailed pasts of B.P.R.D. agents Abe Sapien, Roger, Liz, and Johann. In this collection of backstories we are introduced to the dark and often devastating pasts of each character as they go on their first field mission or struggle with life as a B.P.R.D. field agent. Some stories are stronger then others in this trade paperback, but the introduction of each character’s past is all wonderfully developed and a must-read for any B.P.R.D. fan.
The first story in this collection takes us with Liz on her first field mission with the B.P.R.D. as she hunts ghosts with Trevor Bruttenholm. Mike Mignola and Scott Allie both penned this story and they have done a wonderful job of bringing back the deep connections many Hellboy fans have had with Trevor Bruttenholm. We are shown a side to the man who raised Hellboy that makes it easy to imagine how Hellboy became the gentle soul we know him as. Liz also addresses her own demons in this chapter yet still remains a bright and cheerful young girl, who is a far cry from the current dark and brooding Liz Sherman. For any B.P.R.D. fan, the contrast between Liz in this past timeline and modern day Liz is enlightening and only deepens this character study.
The second chapter of B.P.R.D.: Being Human involves Abe and Liz on a field mission as they track a renegade werewolf. This chapter by far is the least action-filled, yet shows us a side of Abe that struggles with his place in the B.P.R.D. Abe confides in Liz about his survivor’s guilt and his inability to forgive himself for the deaths of so many field agents whom he feels responsible for. The amazing thing about this story is Mike Mignola and Scott Allie deconstruct the very idea of main characters and their immortal places in comics. Liz and Abe speak about the nature of their own lives and the fact that with so much death around them they never see death as an actual possibility for themselves.
Roger and Hellboy take the leads for the next part of B.P.R.D.: Being Human and let me tell you how good it is to see Roger and Hellboy back together again. Of course this is a back-story and the future of Roger and Hellboy is already written; however, to see these two characters in the field together again was incredible. Hellboy plays the role of mentor while Roger attempts to understand himself as a living thing. Death and life are pivotal issues addressed in this chapter of B.P.R.D. Being human as Roger begins his journey as a B.P.R.D. agent and experiences the pain and violence associated with being one of the bureaus heavy hitters.
The final story in this collection was by far my favorite due to the fact that it introduces us to Johann Kraus as a living breathing person instead of the bodysuit full of ectoplasm we know him as. We are shown Johann as he is pulled from his body by a demon only to face another soul devouring demon in his ectoplasm form. The event that lead to Johann losing his body is not focused on in this story, but instead we are shown Johann’s deep connection with the realms of life and death and how truly important ushering souls to the afterlife is to this man. In all B.P.R.D., stories Johann takes it as a personal mission to see that all souls are moved to their respective resting places and in B.P.R.D.: Being Human we see the origins of these ideals.
B.P.R.D.: Being Human is not as action-packed as most Hellboy or B.P.R.D. titles, yet it provides the groundwork for characters that sometimes are hidden in the enormous shadow that Hellboy creates. By individually telling the story of each B.P.R.D. agent’s past, Mignola, Arcudi, and Allie have guaranteed that these characters will not be dismissed as just one-sided ghosts and fish men. B.P.R.D.:Being Human, at its heart, is a collection of tales that not only tell deeply personal origin stories, but also study the concepts of humanity and every persons place in it.