A spinoff series of comics set in the Hellboy universe, which picks up after Hellboy leaves the titular Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
The first series (retroactively dubbed BPRD: Plague of Frogs) follows the remaining agents as they continue trying to prevent The End of the World as We Know It, fighting the rapidly multiplying frog monsters and confronting several particularly nasty villains. Long story short… it doesn't work. The second series, titled Hell on Earth, follows the bureau trying to save what remains of civilization and kill the Eldritch Abominations rampaging across the planet…with limited success at best. And by the third series, The Devil You Know… well, who knows what's going to happen anymore?
The book was scripted by John Arcudi from 2003 to 2015, from plots co-written by Mike Mignola and himself. It was at first illustrated by Guy Davis, whose artwork set a very different tone from the original series. Davis left in 2011 and was replaced by a number of artists, Tyler Crook and James Harren being the most prevalent.
Provides Examples Of:
- Advanced Ancient Humans: The Hyperboreans, the First Race of Man.
- Amplifier Artifact: The strange plug-thing Liz uses on the mountain-sized Ogdru Hem.
- Apocalypse How:
- By King of Fear, Regional Class 1s are occurring all over the world. Munich is destroyed by ancient Hyperborean robots, Nebraska gets ravaged by Katha-Hem, Houston is obliterated by a supervolcano, a gigantic crustacean creature is sitting in the Salton Sea and breathing toxic vapors into the atmosphere, and half the Indonesian archipelago's just disappeared. England is also devastated by Hellboy's battle against the Ogdru Jahad.
- And as of The Return of the Master the ante is upped further with an earthquake that is seemingly felt everywhere on Earth, resulting in dozens of Ogdru Hem popping up all over the world, from New York to Vladivostok. As if that weren't bad enough, the Salton Sea monster has finally started moving, and it's leaving behind eggs.
- Nunn-Jahad, one of the Ogdru Jahad - the progenitors of the 369 Ogdru Hem wreaking havoc around the world - breaks free from its crystal prison and falls to Earth in the beginning of End of Days.
- Apocalypse Maiden: In King of Fear, it's been revealed that Abe will also have a role in the end of the world.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Vril. Flamma Reconditus. The Secret Fire. The power of God Himself. Apparently a force of creation, but also of destruction when necessary. Mostly seen in modern times to make things that have crossed the Godzilla Threshold go BOOM.
- Art Shift : In issue 6 of The Devil You Know series, which is after Hellboy’s return from the dead, the first 3 pages are drawn by Mignola himself, taking place in Hell before Hellboy’s resurrection as he encounters Edward Grey and the now-deceased Roger, before we cut back to the present in the current art style
- In the final issue, Mignola draw the last few pages in his art style to bring the series full circle
- Ascended Extra: Agent Devon goes from being a Mauve Shirt to a vital member of the central team. Giarrocco and Nichols also made their first appearances as corpses in a vision of the (possible) future, before later becoming main characters.
- Back from the Dead:
- Subverted with Roger. They even spend an entire story arc letting you think it's gonna happen.
- More or less the plot of Return of the Master. Hellboy's Big Bad Rasputin seems to have finally, successfully been resurrected. As he is repelling an attack from the B.P.R.D., Zinco Corporation, unaware Rasputin is alive, try to resurrect him themselves, but inadvertently bring back the Black Flame instead. The ensuing worldwide chaos destroys the real Rasputin's fortress, leaving his fate ambiguous.
- Karl Ruprecht Kroenen and Leopold Kurtz, the Nazi scientists who died in Wake the Devil, have somehow been brought back to life and are working for Mr. Marsten, Pope's successor as CEO of Zinco, in the latest arcs of Hell on Earth. In their effort to bring back Rasputin, they inadvertently brought back the Black Flame and caused even further global destruction.
- Hellboy returns to the world of the living at the end of The Devil You Know: Messiah, seven years after his death by Nimue's claws.
- Badass Normal: Many of the BPRD agents, especially Carla Giarocco.
- The Beastmaster: Panya can telepathically control non-sentient creatures. This also includes humans who are severely mentally disabled.
- The Berserker: Agent Ted Howards, after being awoken from his coma, forgoes the BPRD's armor and firearms, and runs screaming into battle with nothing but a broken Hyperborean sword. He is devastatingly effective.
- Big Bad: The Black Flame, Memnan Saa.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Moreso than Hellboy, for sure. Guy Davis doesn't make much use of gory discretion shots. Killing Ground is especially violent.
- Brain Monster: The short comic that introduced Lobster Johnson involves a scientist who gained psychic powers in an experiment, then used those powers to kill his colleagues. When the Lobster shoots the psychic in the head, his brain crawls out of the bullet hole, grows several times larger, then flies around the room. The Lobster barely kills the mutant brain before it strangles him with its spinal cord.
- Broken Angel: The "Seraphim" in B.P.R.D. The Dead. It's not made clear if it's a 'real' angel, or a Nazi approximation of one.
- Cerebus Retcon: The flashback to the first time Hellboy cut off his horns. Before it was portrayed as a way of Hellboy rejecting his evil heritage and no worse than filing your nails, but the first time Hellboy cut of his horns (with a hacksaw) it's like a child mutilating himself to fit in (President Truman was going to the military base for a visit, and Hellboy wanted to dress up so he put a hat between his horns, and a soldier thought it looked funny and laughed at him).
- Clue from Ed.: Used very sparsely, generally to point you out which prior stories a referenced event occurred in. They are not attributed to an editor.
- Comic-Book Time: Averted in the sense that the series does not employ a sliding timescale, and most events are dated around the time the arc is published, with, for instance Hellboy quitting the Bureau in 2001, and not being heard from for nearly ten years. The characters are more ambiguous. Tom Manning and Kate Corrigan seem to have aged in real time, but that may be due to Guy Davis's different art style. Liz Sherman looks older than she did in 1994, but she was canonically born in 1962, making her over 50 at present. This was mentioned by a fan in a letter to the editor, who responded with "They look pretty good for their ages, but they're pseudomilitary. They work out."
- Cosmic Horror Story / Lovecraft Lite: Although the "Lite" is becoming debatable, especially with the Hell on Earth arc.
- Crossover Cosmology: Deities and monsters of classical mythology make regular appearances, while God was responsible for the creation of the (originally non-evil) lovecraft elements mentioned above.
- Crystal Prison: The Ogru Jahad's prison.
- A Day in the Limelight: Several miniseries focus on the adventures of a specific character.
- The "War On Frogs" series consists of individual stories centred for different characters.
- "The Universal Machine" is this for Kate Corrigan. "Garden Of Souls" is almost completely devoted to Abe Sapien, with some supporting action for Ben Daimio.
- Several miniseries focus on the adventures of regular BPRD field agents—the redshirts of Hellboy. Agent Giarocco has been prevalent in two series now. This becomes increasingly common as the organization begins to lose the superpowered agents in one way or another.
- Demon Slaying: But boy is it getting more and more difficult.
- Deus ex Nukina: In 1948, the BPRD is sent to investigate the appearance of bizarre monsters immediately after a nuclear test. It's hinted that the nuke somehow opened a portal to an alternate Earth and let the creatures through.
- Due to the Dead: Performed by Frankenstein's creature to the remains of Agent Howards before he takes Howards' Hyperborean sword, which is still held in the dead man's hand. He recounts the legend of the man's courage and heroism, and expresses his gratitude to him on behalf of himself and the people of the subterranean world before taking the sword.Frankenstein: You have my thanks, and the gratidue of generations who will never know what you sacrificed for their ancestors. Farewell, old one... I only wish I could remember your name.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Numerous characters were seeded early in the BPRD title. Perhaps most notably, the helmet of the VES suit from Sledgehammer '44 is visible in the Colorado facility basement in "The Dead". Giarocco and Nichols also make background appearances in Liz's vision of the future, some time before becoming main characters in the present.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The tone (and the art) of the some of the earliest BPRD standalone stories are quite distinct from that of the series proper after Arcudi and Davis became the regular creative team.
- Eldritch Abomination: Ogdru Jahad and their 369 offspring Ogdru Hem, which are Sadu-Hem and Katha-Hem, among others. H. P. Lovecraft's influence here is no surprise.
- The End of the World as We Know It: And there's no escaping it. The B.P.R.D. is fighting a desperate battle to ensure something of humanity's spirit and legacy will survive after the end. But the Ogdru Hem are rising, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse have been unleashed, cities are swallowed in war with monsters and natural disasters, the world's biggest hope is dead, and Word of God has said things that are broken aren't getting fixed.
- Extranormal Institute: The BRPD's offices.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The size of an Olympic swimming pool.
- Fetus Terrible: Mrs. Kihnl's babies in New World, revealed to be more Ogdru Hem.
- Foreshadowing: It's becoming more and more apparent that the writers are willing to play the long game with their big reveals. The ancient shaman Shonchin, for instance, seems to be tied up in Agent Howards' fate and first appeared in The King Of Fear. However, he was namedropped back in John Arcudi's very first story. Mignola admits he's had the broad sweep of the entire mythos planned out since around 2001.
- Frog Men: The evil demon frog monsters.
- Godzilla Threshold: Starting with Black Flame, the B.P.R.D. is at war with the various demonspawn spilling out all over the globe. Collateral damage is barely a concern. Half of Indonesia has been obliterated along with Munich, California, Houston, Seattle, London, New York and a zombie plague is devastating Russia. The nuclear option has come up several times... The Bureau and its allies are desperately trying to Hold the Line... and it's not working. At the end of End of Days, with Nunn-Jahad wreaking havoc in the United States, a despondent Iosif Nichayko resorts to releasing Varvara, a powerful demon lord of Hell, from her prison in order to combat the Ogdru Jahad.
- Grand Finale : The third series The Devil You Know serves as this along with the whole of the Mignolaverse, though Mike Mignola continues to write more stories set in Hellboy’s past.
- The Hedonist: Johann in Killing Ground, when he (temporarily) finds a new body, spends as much time as he can working out, masturbating, and eating huge amounts of food (so much that the custodial staff complained he was single-handedly raising their monthly garbage tonnage). Many of the issue's problems could have been solved, and innocent people saved, if he hadn't snuck off-base to carouse with pretty ladies and booze.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Agent Simon Anders' fate in BPRD: Vampire.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Thanks to the vampiric Brezina sisters, Simon Anders has now become a super-vampire determined to wipe out all other vampires from the face of the earth. Even the vampire lords are terrified.
- Hollow World: The miniseries Hollow Earth.
- Humongous Mecha: The Hyperborean war machines.
- Initialism Title
- Kaiju: Many of the Ogdru Hem are such, skyscraper-sized or larger, burrowing up through the ground and crawling from the ocean to lay waste to many major cities. And then there's the Ogdru Jahad...
- Kill It with Fire: Liz uses this a lot, obviously. Also, the BPRD usually sends one "flame-thrower guy" with field teams when they expect contact. Most of the abominations can be killed with fire, though not all.
- Levitating Lotus Position: Liz talks to a Shangri La monk while he's in the Lotus Position three feet off the ground. She engages in it herself during The Black Goddess.
- Love Triangle: A damn weird one in Johann Kraus' past. He fell in love with the ghost of a man's wife he was hired to contact as a spirit medium. Naturally, this did not end well.
- Majority-Share Dictator: Landis Pope calmly walks into the boardroom of Zinco Corperation in a suit of black armour with frog monsters in tow, tells the members that he owns 51% of the company and fires them all with little explanation. He then gets the R&D department to experiment in controlling the frog monsters as part of his plan to gain control of Katha-Hem.
- A Million is a Statistic: Used and inverted by the protagonists and the antagonists in "The Black Goddess." Lampshaded by Johann during the "Hell on Earth" story, when he explains to Liz that agents of the B.P.R.D. couldn't care as much for the millions of people who die on their watch as they do their friends as part of the human condition.
- Mysterious Past: Oh, yeah. The exact amount of mystery varies between characters. Several have even gotten enough plot attention to not be mysterious anymore.
- New England Puritan: In "Dark Waters", the BPRD team is sent to the small Massachusetts town of Shiloh, where a drained pond revealed the perfectly-preserved corpses of three young women in colonial dress. It turns out that during the Salem witch hysteria, the town found the three girls guilty of witchcraft and drowned them in the pond, exhorted by a man named Uriah Blackwood (in full Puritan dress, including the hat). In the modern day, his equally-fanatized Generation Xerox descendant steals the corpses to symbolically drown them again as witches (and empowered by the accumulated shame and guilt of the town that's been festering in the pond mud), but fails when the burial rites are performed to allow the girls' spirits passage to the afterlife (Pastor Blackwood is dragged underwater and drowned by the corpses).
- Nuke 'em: Zig-zagged. Nuclear Option is brought several times against powerful entites and Ogdru Hem, and a single tactical nuclear weapon usually works nicely. Then the US military resorts to this against Nunn-Jahad, launching every still-operable ICBM at it - nine in total. Enough to wipe Rhode Island off the face of the earth - and it doesn't work, showing how powerful just a single Ogdru Jahad is.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: Frequently, especially the hybrid animals in Garden of Souls.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Given the nature of the series, this is to be expected. Basically every type of vampire has appeared at some point.
- The leading vampires have concocted a plan for taking over the world, which basically amounts to vampires hiding themselves long enough for mankind to forget how to fight them - interestingly, Mignola came up with the idea because he'd done so many Our Vampires Are Different stories, he wanted to establish where all the "classic" vampires were.
- In 1946, Bruttenholm and his team have to deal with Vampire-Human hybrids made from injecting the mentally and physically disabled, gay, and other prisoners that the Nazis had rounded up with vampire blood.
- Hellboy In Mexico has bat-like, monstrous vampires.
- Posthuman Nudism: In the "Garden of Souls" miniseries, the members of the Oannes Society have a plan to ascend themselves to godhood by transferring their minds into vat-grown superhuman bodies and powering themselves up by absorbing the souls of millions of humans. When they set their plan into motion, the would-be gods all go completely nude as soon as they're in the new bodies. note
- Put on a Bus: What the series did to Hellboy. This also happens to Abe in an awesome way in The Dead.
- Red Shirt: Just about any regular BPRD agent who has the gall to tag along with the main characters on their missions isn't coming back.
- Certain agents may be MauveShirts, however, with Agent Devon being one of the more notable examples.
- Redshirt Army (Invoking Faceless Goons as well).
- Regional Redecoration: Collateral damage is barely a concern during the war against the Ogdru Hem. Earthquakes, volcanic disasters, and attacks from the monsters have destroyed cities like Munich, Houston, Seattle, London, New York, Paris, Raleigh, and many others. Additionally, half of the islands in the Indonesian archipelago, including Borneo and Sulawesi, are gone.
- In Killing Ground, a directory of B.P.R.D. agents includes Guillermo del Toro.
- Also in Killing Ground, an image of Daryl the wendigo eating an animal carcass bears a strong resemblance to the famous painting of Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco de Goya.
- Show Within a Show: After his death in 1939, two-fisted adventure hero The Lobster became the subject of a number of these: Pulp Magazine stories, comic books, Film Serials, and finally Mexican movies with The Lobster (or, rather, "Lobster Johnson," the last name taken from the Secret Identity he was given in the pulps) as a Masked Luchador. Compared to his Real Life, they all make for massive cases of Adaptation Decay, and are all considered atrociously terrible, although some people (including Hellboy himself) enjoy them anyway. The existence of these adaptations allow the Hellboy-verse's US government to cover up the existence of the real Lobster (and the fact that he was a spy for them in WWII), and as a further side-effect, the character is more readily known, on both sides of the Fourth Wall, as "Lobster Johnson."
- Silent Scenery Panel: Lots of close-ups of thematically-important artwork and statuary.
- Sixth Ranger: While sorting the various agents into roles is a bit tricky, Captain Daimio seems to be a Sixth Ranger. Johann may also qualify.
- Sole Surviving Scientist: When the Bureau gets its new headquarters, a disaffected nuclear-proof bunker in the mountains, they find an old scientist whose been living there since its was shut down, writing down notes on a typewriter for so long the keys wore out and it punched holes in the paper, he was so far gone he didn't notice. He later releases an Eldritch Abomination into the base thinking it some kind of angelic creature.
- Species-Specific Afterlife: One short story involves Johann Krauss being haunted by the ghosts of some frog monster Eldritch Abominations. He eventually solves the problem by leading them to the afterlife specifically for abominations—and he narrowly escapes getting sucked in there himself.
- Spinoff: To Hellboy, obviously. Later gained its own in the form of the 1946-47-48 subseries and its continuations BPRD: Vampire, a showcase book for artists Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon, and Hellboy And The BPRD, telling Hellboy-centric stories from his early days with the 1940s cast.
- Steampunk: The robots encasing Langdon Everett Caul's former colleagues in Garden of Souls.
- Stylistic Suck: See Show Within a Show, above.
- Take Up My Sword: Happens in Frankenstein: New World when Frankenstein comes across the mummified remains of Agent Howards, who is still holding his Hyperborean sword a thousand years after his death. He acknowledges the dead man's courage and heroism, having heard his legend from the people of the subterranean world, and respecfully and reverently takes the Hyperborean sword, which is followed by Howards' body crumbling into dust. Frankenstein then converts the sword into a pike.
- Taking You with Me: What Project Vampir Sturm ultimately amounted to, as the last and greatest burn order: Der Weltuntergang ("global downfall"). Accepting that it was hopeless to create vampire soldiers who could turn the tide of the war, and with the vampire hybrids they had already created proving to be uncontrollable, Hitler had 120 of the strongest patients from the Ritter Institute injected with the vampire blood taken from the weakest of Vladimir Giurescu's wives, Anna, and frozen mid-transformation in liquid nitrogen (the rest were taken outside of the institute and murdered). On April 30th, 1945, right before he committed suicide, Hitler ordered General Friedrich Manstein to go to the Institute, thaw out the hybrid vampire swarm and unleash them upon the world.Hitler: The German people... They have let me down, Friedrich. And if we as a people are too weak to lead... then no man deserves to live.
- Technology Porn: One word: Helicarrier.
- The Unmasqued World: Technically since (at least) the Fifties, when Hellboy was on the cover of Life Magazine, but it doesn't seem to affect the lives of average people in any way, supernatural incidents being pretty rare. This was torn to shreds in The Black Flame though, in which a mountain-sized Eldritch Abomination rampages through the central United States and crushes several cities to rubble before The End of the World as We Know It.
- Villains Never Lie: During his efforts to win Liz's trust, Memnan Saa points out that nothing he has told her before was untrue.
- Villain Team-Up: The frogs (via the Zinco Corporation and the Black Flame) and the ancient Hyperborean slaves under the King Of Fear.
- The Virus: One of the more horrific, and common, fates in the series is being transformed into horrible demon-spawn frog monsters. No race, gender or age group is spared. It gets upgraded in King of Fear: The Frogmen are being replaced by hideous four-legged crablike "hammerheads", and the infecting agent is now airborne.
- Wham Line: Near the end of Hell on Earth: Return of the Master.Leopold: What is happening?!The Black Flame: Everything.
- Wham Episode: Hell on Earth #145: Kate Corrigan and Panya are both killed by a blast from Nunn-Jahad after the Bureau's headquarters have been evacuated, while Varvara stabs Iosif Nichayko with the dagger that killed Satan, shattering his soul into thousands of fragments and scattering them around the universe.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
- The BPRD comes down on the wrong side of this question when it fits Roger the Homunculus with a self-destruct.
- And this comes up in The Black Goddess a bit with Johann.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Large swaths of the American countryside are under the effect of an Ogdru Hem's toxic vapor, which turns people into mutant undead. The later half of Hell on Earth, but particularly the "No One's Safe in the Wasteland" arc, where Johann's team has to cross rural Illinois on foot, reads almost like an issue of The Walking Dead but with a Lovecraftian spin.