Fans of Dark Horse Comics’ Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, aka B.P.R.D., know everything is not exactly kosher in their comic universe. The world was radically altered when everyone’s favorite firestarter, Liz Sherman, torched the center of the Earth with a particularly powerful fireblast. And all that is just fine by Dark Horse’s Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie.
“Since Liz torched the center of the Earth…” Allie said, “basically when she did that, all the monsters and all the weird shit that’s hidden in the Earth has been coming to the surface.” This leads to all kinds of problems for the B.P.R.D. — problems Allie and his co-writer, Hellboy and B.P.R.D. creator Mike Mignola, can’t wait to deal with.
“Abe (Sapien) and Johann (Krauss) are the core weirdos at the B.P.R.D., but they’ve got soldiers and investigators all over trying to figure out what’s going on,” Allie added. “So Mike (Mignola) and I wanted to get away from the core characters and do screwed up little horror stories. Because when you’re doing stories with your core characters, the reader knows that nobody’s going to die. Although we did recently kill Hellboy. But generally there’s a pretty high degree of safety for your main trademark characters.”
So Allie and Mignola now have a blank slate to work with. They’ve got B.P.R.D. agents all over the place and can put them into any situation they dream up. The fact that they aren’t dealing with their bread and butter characters allows them an entirely new level of creativity. “We wanted to do horror stories where you get away from the idea of a central hero,” says Allie. “You just have characters in nasty situations, and Pickens County is the first of that bunch of stories.”
The Pickens County Allie is referring to is Pickens County Horror, the first of this kind of story from the B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth series, and it’s crawling with vampires. “It’s a mash-up of Lovecraftian stuff with traditional vampire lore,” Allie said, when describing Pickens County Horror. “It’s a pretty suspenseful approach to vampires where you get a lot of their backstory.” Artwork is by Jason Latour with color by Dave Stewart.
And Pickens County Horror is just the beginning of the problems the B.P.R.D. will be facing in early 2012. Allie tells us the in the upcoming title The Long Death, they revisit an old mystery within the organization. Allie continues “Captain Daimio is a member of the team that turned into a monster, and we’re going to revisit things with him. There’s going to be a showdown between him and other members of the B.P.R.D. because things ended badly. Whether he’s a hero or a villain is what the story dives into.”
Following The Long Death, the B.P.R.D. will feature The Devil’s Engine. According to Allie, “Opportunists are trying to take advantage of what’s going on in the world since Liz screwed things up. Some of the apocalyptic plans we’ve seen people try to enact over the history of the B.P.R.D. come back a little bit. The Devil’s Engine, the title of the story, refers to a couple different aspects of the story, but part of it is an attempt to hasten the end of the world.”
An additional one-shot currently scheduled for the B.P.R.D. is one fans have been asking a lot about since they heard rumor of it. Entitled The Transformation of J.H. O’Donnell, this story deals with the current events within the B.P.R.D. but is mostly a flashback story. “O’Donnell is a character from the book who appears to be completely nuts, and the reason he’s nuts is he knows everything about the Lovecraft stuff,” Allie said. “We’ve never explained why he’s like that. O’Donnell and Hellboy went on a research mission back in the late ’80s. It should have been a pretty simple thing, to retrieve some books from a necromancer who’d died. They go into the necromancer’s house and get separated and all Hell breaks loose. O’Donnell went crazy that night. It was on a B.P.R.D. mission so they’ve taken care of him since then.” But The Transformation of J.H. O’Donnell will show readers just what happened that night to drive O’Donnell over the edge.
It seems like Allie and Mignola have some great stories on tap for the future of the B.P.R.D. This angle of focusing on supporting characters is allowing the writers unlimited creativity, and the readers are really going to benefit with some unique and unpredictable stories. Keep an eye out for Pickens County Horror and the rest of the forthcoming B.P.R.D. adventures. You won’t be disappointed!
Upcoming B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth titles:
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death #1-3: February 15, 2012
Artist: James Harren
A B.P.R.D. task force is assembled to solve a new series of disappearances in the deadly woods from New World. As the team works together to find the monster responsible, tensions arise over one another’s loyalties!
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror #1-2: March 28, 2012
Artist: Jason Latour
As the world goes to hell, a backwoods vampire clan shelters themselves in their Gothic southern home, covered in fog and fungal horror, ready to create havoc for a trespassing B.P.R.D. crew.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Engine #1-3: May 15, 2012
Artist: Tyler Crook
Caught between bat-faced monsters, a devastating earthquake, and the mad science experiments of Zinco, Devon and Fenix form an uneasy alliance in order to get to safety!
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Transformation of J.H. O’Donnell: May 30, 2012, One-shot
Artist: Max Fiumara
Twenty-four years ago Hellboy took mild-mannered Professor O’Donnell to the secret library of a recently dead necromancer. Since that day O’Donnell has been the Bureau’s expert on the powerful ancient forces intent on ending the age of man. Find out what O’Donnell saw in this supernatural thrill ride.
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