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    Hell Notes: The Early Years of the B.P.R.D.

    By | November 28th, 2014
    Posted in Annotations | 5 Comments

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but next month a little comic called Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. kicks off, and I’m rather excited about it so I thought I’d take a break from all the end of the world stuff I’ve been going on about lately and take a look back at the formative years of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

    This going to be full of spoilers for Sledgehammer 44, B.P.R.D.: 1946, 1947, 1948, B.P.R.D. Vampire, Hellboy: The Midnight Circus, and B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Wings.

    Before I go to the Bureau though, there’s someone I simply must talk about…

    TREVOR BRUTTENHOLM

    Without Professor Bruttenholm (pronounced “broom”) the B.P.R.D. as we know it wouldn’t exist. Born in Essex, March 5, 1918, he was schooled in Oxford Preparatory School, then Eton, then Trinity College, and finally Oxford. He was interested in the paranormal from a young age, joining the Eton Ghost Club, and while he was at Oxford he became fascinated with a nearby allegedly haunted church in East Bromwich1. Trevor’s uncle indulged his interests and even told him stories from his youth when he knew the paranormal investigator Sir Edward Grey. Sir Edward would become a major influence on Trevor’s life.

    After Trevor graduated Oxford in 1938, he travelled to southwest France to an old church near the Garonne River. As a boy his uncle had told him a tale of “Père Pierre le Bègue,” a 700-year-old portrait of priest which depicted a monster at his shoulder. The artist, who had gone insane while painting the portrait, claimed the monster had been there throughout the sitting. The priest’s congregation promptly killed both the priest and the artist, and the painting was hidden away.

    Trevor never truly expected to find the painting, but it was just where his uncle had said it would be. However, during the night, he felt a presence, and a creature like the one depicted in the painting appeared before him. Acting quickly, Trevor set fire to the painting, and the monster vanished. This had been his first encounter with the supernatural, and he later remarked he had never been more afraid in his life. However, this fear had not paralysed him as it would have others. Trevor had not only acted quickly, but smartly, and it had saved him. This was probably his most defining characteristic as a supernatural investigator. He was fearless, decisive, and he had good instincts.

    Two months later he joined the British Paranormal Society where he met the famed psychic Lady Cynthia Eden-Jones, and when the Second World War began, Trevor was drafted into the Intelligence Services. During the war he focused his energies on his studies of the occult and travelled throughout Allied territory, meeting with many experts. In 1939 he met Dr. Howard Eaton. The two were sent to Eastern Galicia to recover a grimoire for the British Museum’s library, a mission which would have ended in disaster had it not been for Trevor’s bravery and quick thinking. Dr. Eaton was so impressed with this young man, a decade his junior, he resolved to step out of the library and become an active paranormal investigator in the field.

    In 1943 Trevor joined the Wild Hunt. Arranged by the mysterious Osiris Club2 the hunters were to track down and kill resurrected giants in the British Isles. It’s possible Trevor may have even been inducted into the Osiris Club at this time, though no one really knows for sure. In 1944 he was involved in Project Epimetheus, a programme which created a super soldier by harnessing Vril energy3. The project was led by Helena Gallaragas, daughter of Professor Kyriakos Gallaragas who had created the Prometheus armour nearly a decade earlier4. The project was considered a failure, despite Helena’s objections, and the Epimetheus armour, or “Sledgehammer” as it was more commonly known, was studied in a facility in Colorado before being put into storage and practically forgotten.5

    On the 21st of December, at the urging of Lady Cynthia, Professor Bruttenholm joined U.S. troops at the very same East Bromwich church he had been studying for nine years since his days at Oxford. Lady Cynthia believed an event of some importance would happen and that it was centred there. Two days later, on the night of the 23rd, Lady Cynthia saw two spirits at the site, a monk and a nun. Their pain was connected to the pain that stained the ruined church. The spirits warned her that something was coming, and then hellfire erupted. In the centre of it, was a small demon child. Professor Malcolm Frost, an American and member of the British Paranormal Society, saw it as a monster and insisted the creature be killed at once, but Lady Cynthia and Trevor saw something else, a “Hell-boy.” The name stuck, and the incident was afterwards referred to as “the Hellboy incident” and the demon-child as “Hellboy.”

    Continued below

    Hellboy was transferred to Peerlo, an American air force base in New Mexico. There a group of American paranormal experts, along with Professor Bruttenholm, studied him. In 1945 the group was officially called the Brueau for Paranormal Research and Defense, funded by the U.S. government to study Nazi occult activity, and Professor Bruttenholm was made the Bureau’s first director.

    1946

    Throughout 1945 the relationship between Trevor and Hellboy grew from one of Professor and test subject to real affection, and in 1946 Trevor adopted him as his own child. However, he still had questions about him, so when the opportunity arose for the Bureau to go to Germany and learn more about the Nazi’s occult studies, he left his new son at Peerlo and went to Berlin with Dr. Howard Eaton. They were far from welcome there. The Americans didn’t want them stirring up trouble with the Russians over “hoodoo crap.” Bruttenholm and Eaton were given a small team of soldiers to work with, though they were hardly enthusiastic about working for the B.P.R.D. instead of going home to the United States.

    I supposed this is the B.P.R.D.'s first field team.

    First Sergeant Maes was especially frustrating to work with, and often fought with Professor Bruttenholm. Only P.F.C. Clark was really helpful. He had been present at the East Bromwich church the night of the Hellboy incident, so he had some understanding of the importance of the Bureau’s work (Hellboy was still classified and unknown to the world at this point in time). Clark could also read German, so he became rather invaluable, though only as much as their access to Nazi paperwork allowed. Most of the American’s acquired papers were only as recent as 1937.

    The Russians had a firm hold of Berlin already by then, with their own version of the B.P.R.D., the U.S.S.R.’s Office of Arcane Studies and Esoteric Studies, collecting vast warehouses of Nazi occult items. I’m going to refer to the Russian equivalent of the B.P.R.D. as the Special Sciences Service (which is what its name would be changed to later), or better yet, the S.S.S., because it’s so much easier and that’s what we all know them as in B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth. I know it’s not technically correct for this period of time, but I’m sure you guys will forgive me… right?

    OK, so where was I? Ah yes, the S.S.S. had a virtual monopoly on the Nazi occult items and documents, severely limiting the work Bruttenholm and Eaton could do. Eventually Bruttenholm became so frustrated by their progress he decided to speak to the director of the S.S.S.

    Varvara was nothing like what he expecting. A young girl with blond curls, clothed in a frilly, white dress, and carrying her “dolly Katiya” everywhere… and yet there was a darkness about her too, she drank vodka far too frequently for a Russian child, and she was delighted by the drama of war with no cares for the lives torn apart by it. She was also shrewd and knew immediately why the Professor had really come to her. However, she was enamored by his curiosity of the supernatural, and so she agreed to share any information she found regarding Hellboy, but nothing else.

    Eventually Trevor did uncover something in the American files, though it didn’t seem much at first. In early 1945, five thousand Dewar flasks of liquid nitrogen were delivered to a psychiatric institution seventy kilometres outside of Berlin. However, the institution had been abandoned since 1939.6 Trevor and his team went to investigate and soon learned from the locals of an inmate that had escaped and was being kept secreted away by his mother in a barn. When the Bureau found the inmate, he was almost unrecognisable as human. He had been half transformed into some kind of bat-like monster. The inmate freaked out when he saw soldiers and injured Private Ash in the chaos that followed. Then Varvara unexpectedly showed up with the S.S.S., thanked Trevor for leading them there, and proceeded to torture the inmate for information (a process he did not survive). Meanwhile Private Ash turned on his fellows who were forced to kill him. Clearly some very uncool stuff had happened at the asylum.

    Continued below

    The B.P.R.D. team returned to the asylum with the S.S.S. (not a comfortable partnership I might add) where Varvara led Trevor into a hidden basement. There they learned Hitler’s true purpose for the asylum.

    In December of 1944, Adolf Hitler had met with the vampire Vladimir Giurescu to discuss Project Vampir Sturm7. It was supposed to be the birth of a vampire army at the command of the Third Reich, but upon meeting Giurescu, Hitler had decided such creatures could not be adequately controlled and had Giurescu and his six wives destroyed. The weakest of his wives faced a nastier fate. She was first taken and drained of blood before she was incinerated. That blood was taken to Germany’s last asylum where it had been injected into one hundred and twenty of the strongest patients who were then frozen before they could fully transform. The rest were executed and buried in a group grave behind the asylum. In the event that the Nazis lost the war, the vampire-infected patients were to be released on the world, for Hitler had decided, “If the German people are too weak to lead then no man deserves to live.”

    Trevor found this news very distressing, for only twenty tanks were in the secret chamber, not one hundred and twenty. One had been smashed, tank 112, which had been the number tattooed on the inmate they had found previously. The remaining nineteen subjects had suffocated when the power had been cut to their tanks and they had thawed out. Someone had taken the other hundred. While Trevor was still processing this discovery, a mysterious man appeared in the room with them.

    Baron Konig relished the notion of Giurescu’s children being loosed on the world. Konig believed Giurescu had gotten what he deserved for dealing with humans, but he was furious that Giurescu’s wife, Anna, had been violated to breed the creatures of the asylum. He vowed to make all of humanity pay for the indignity she had suffered.

    Konig would have killed Trevor had Varvara not interceded. She revealed herself to be a demon that had escaped from Hell and chosen to live on Earth. She declared Trevor was under her protection, and at her demand, Baron Konig fled as quickly as possible.

    Trevor was safe, but the visit to the asylum had cost many lives. The ghosts of the inmates had killed many Russian soldiers, taken Private Steiner and cut him up in the chair they had once been experimented on, and Trevor’s friend, Dr. Howard Eaton, had been impaled.

    Varvara and Trevor had no idea where to find the one hundred missing tanks, but it just so happened Varvara been keeping secret prisoners of various Nazis, from which they learned of the only place large enough to hide one hundred tanks. U.S. and Russian troops headed to the hidden bunker where they found the Nazi scientist Herman von Klempt had constructed a rocket and filled it with the vampire tanks. The rocket’s destination: the United States.

    Trevor and First Sergeant Maes managed to get aboard the rocket just before it launched, but there was only one parachute on board. Maes insisted Trevor take it, because with supernatural terrors in the world like these, the world was going to need Trevor more than it needed him. The rocket exploded over the South of France.

    Three days later, Trevor was visited in hospital by Varvara and her dolly Katiya. Katiya had seen better days though, looking like she had been through an inferno. That’s because she had. When von Klempt’s rocket had launched, all the troops in the bunker had been incinerated, meaning Trevor Bruttenholm was the sole survivor of the whole ordeal.

    Varvara’s purpose in visiting Trevor was to ascertain if Herman von Klempt had been killed. Professor Bruttenholm thought he had. Von Klempt had apparently been in the rocket when it exploded after all. Varvara was not so convinced.8 She also brought Trevor some papers. True to her word, she was giving him everything she had found concerning Hellboy. The papers contained details about the Nazi operation that had summoned Hellboy into the world, Project Ragna Rok, and the mysterious man behind it all, Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin. Those papers would be virtually all the Bureau learned about Project Ragna Rok for the next forty-eight years, and they were freely given because Varvara had taken a liking to Trevor.

    Continued below

    1947

    This was a big year for Hellboy. Thanks to the noble work of General Norman Ricker, he convinced Hellboy to forego his usual breakfast of hot noodles and try pancakes for the first time. To Hellboy’s surprise, he discovered that he loved “pamcakes” much to the consternation of the populace of Pandemonium.

    Pandemonium in Pandemonium.

    This love of pancakes led to him meeting Lieutenant Archie Muraro, a pilot stationed at the Peerlo air force base. This pair quickly became friends, with Archie taking on a kind of big brother role.

    But there were troubling matters too. Baron Konig, true to his word that “all men shall pay” had been killing imprisoned Schutzstaffel officers. This was hardly a pressing concern for Congress though. If Nazis died, it was just things balancing out after the war. Despite it being a rather unpopular decision, Professor Bruttenholm was determined not to ignore the matter, nor would Varvara let him. She had begun visiting him, unseen or heard by anybody else (except perhaps the young Hellboy, who heard her voice on at least one occasion, though he had no idea what it was and quickly dismissed it).

    Though the B.P.R.D. was now in its third year, it was still a small operation. Trevor had his office, there were sleeping quarters for the B.P.R.D. agents, they had part of a hangar for storage… and that was pretty much it. At this point virtually all agents were academics with very limited (if any) field experience, and certainly no combat experience, which was essential for this particular mission. When Trevor assembled his team, he got every combat-experienced agent they had… a team of only four, three of which had ended up in the Bureau only because other options had been denied to them for various reasons.

    Frank Russell had been in bomb and mine disposal during the war. His exemplary record opened doors to an officer position in any intelligence organisation he wanted. He chose the B.P.R.D. He was the only guy on the team that actually wanted to be there.

    Gabriel Ruiz was a U.S. marine raider and specialist in jungle warfare. He attempted, unsuccessfully, to sue the marines for discrimination and refused to retire from service. He was transferred to the B.P.R.D.

    Jacob Stegner was declined for intelligence service after the war due to a poor psychological evaluation. He had been a survivor of the battle of Normandy, a part of his life he refused to discuss.

    The last member of the team was Simon Anders, a former merchant marine. He spent twenty-four days in a boat alone in the South Pacific. It was something that never left him. He wasn’t military, so he was ineligible for disability, and when he applied for service after the war, he got the B.P.R.D.

    This damaged team were sent to France, to follow the only lead they had on Baron Konig: a party that occurred in the Château Lac d’Annecy in 1771. Following an almost two-hundred-year-old lead was laughable to Russel, Ruiz, and Stegner, not to mention the vampire-hunting equipment Professor Bruttenholm had given them. They saw the mission as a way to enjoy a holiday in France on the government’s dime.

    Simon Anders however took his work seriously. He read all the material given to them by the Professor on the flight to France, and on the evening they arrived, he wanted to begin the investigation immediately. The Professor had arranged for the local library to stay open late for them, so while the others spent the night drinking, he went to do some research.

    Simon never made it to the library though. His journey instead took him into the world normally unseen, to another library altogether. Simon was completely unaware of this and assumed he was where he was meant to be. While he was busy with his research, he was approached by a woman, Katharina, with her own interest in the party in 1771. Simon fell under her spell as she spoke of it, and when she suggested they visit the Château Lac d’Annecy by the moonlight, he agreed.

    Continued below

    When he arrived at the Château, there was a party in progress, and Katharina’s 1940s clothes transformed into a ball gown before his eyes. Some part of his mind registered the strangeness of this, but the spell he was under was stronger, so he dismissed his misgivings.

    Inside the Château was a most opulent party from another era. Katharina introduced Simon to her sister, Annaliese, who admired how handsome he was. When the clocks struck midnight, the party’s guests cried out joyfully that it was “the festival” and were swept up into the air and away into the night, Simon along with them.

    As for Russell, Ruiz, and Stegner, they were quite drunk. Some of the locals in the pub had heard them talking loudly about the Château Lac d’Annecy and informed them it was a waste of their time. It had burned to ruins a hundred years ago. The three wandered back to their hotel, Frank Russell singing at the top of his lungs. On the way they passed an woman surrounded by cats, and Jacob Stegner stopped to give her some money. It was a small act of kindness that would serve him well later.

    Simon Anders, though he didn’t know it, had been whisked away to Czechoslovakia, to a secret place made to honour the witch queen, Hecate, referred to by vampires as “the source.”9 When he’d been back at the library Simon had been trying to discover what had happened at the party in 1771, and now Katharina informed him he would see it with his own eyes. Once a year Hecate appeared to those that gathered in her name in secret places.

    The vampires were not pleased that Katharina and Annaliese had brought a human yet again to the festival. They did not want him telling others what he would see. Other vampires thought he was of little concern though. They believed vampires had been virtually forgotten by humans and if Simon said anything he would be dismissed as a lunatic.

    Simon should really have held his tongue. Perhaps if he had things might have turned out better for him. But he didn’t. He told them that not all humans were unaware of vampires, that there was a vampire called Konig slaughtering prisoners of war all across Europe. Of course, Simon had never seen Baron Konig, so he had no way of knowing he was standing right in front of him. Konig was furious at the accusation, and further enraged when the heads of the great vampire families turned their ire on him. He had broken the agreement made by vampires to wait in the shadows until humanity had utterly forgotten them.

    But Konig argued he hadn’t been the first to reveal himself to the humans. Vladimir Giurescu had that honour. However the vampire families decided Konig had done far worse. He had left bodies scattered across Europe and in the process betrayed them all. His punishment was a swift execution.

    Other than that, Hecate’s festival went without a hitch. How much of it would later be remembered by Simon is unknown. Perhaps most of it faded like a dream. It certainly seems the Bureau didn’t know about the vampires’ plan to wait until they were forgotten by humanity.10

    In the morning Russell, Ruiz, and Stegner awoke in their hotel to find Anders had not come back, nor had he shown up at the library the previous night. Russell and Ruiz weren’t particularly worried. They figured Anders had met a woman (Two, actually), but Stegner wouldn’t be dissuaded from finding him. The three set out for the ruins of Château Lac d’Annecy armed with crucifixes and their guns loaded with silver bullets. Stegner was not overly comfortable with this given that he was Jewish.

    While exploring the ruins they found Simon’s notebook, and as they delved into the cellars they found two stone coffins bearing the likenesses of Katharina and Annaliese. The coffins were empty, but the cellar wasn’t…

    Ruiz blew up a few of the vampire servants, but he wasn’t fast enough in his escape and was taken, forcing Stegner to relive a moment from his past he had been trying to forget.

    Continued below

    Jacob Stegner had to call the Professor afterwards and tell him the rest of the team had been killed, a failure that cut the professor deeply, and a painful reminder of his previous failure to keep his team alive in Berlin in 1946.

    Simon Anders in the bed of the Brezina sisters.
    That evening, while Stegner tried to deal with his comrades’ deaths, he was approached by the old lady he had given money to the previous night. She told him she knew where he would find Simon, and she would tell him because he was kind.

    The old lady’s information led Stegner to the Brezina sisters, Katharina and Annaliese, who died in 1701 in a castle now abandoned in the Österreich Mountains in Austria. In their time the sisters were visited by men from all corners of Europe, and they took them to their beds and slaughtered them when they were done. It served their vanity to be so admired, but they feared mortality, and so they sought to control their own fate by allowing themselves to be turned into vampires by Baron Konig. My point is they were pretty messed up even when they were just human.

    When Stegner found Anders, he was nearly dead, bitten all over by the vampire sisters. They were quickly killed, and Anders was brought straight back to Peerlo air force base, despite protests from Stegner that Anders wasn’t well enough to make an international flight and should be taken to a hospital. Professor Bruttenholm arranged for a Mr. Ota Benga (Not the Ota Benga from the history books. This is another guy.11) to come to Peerlo to help Anders. This was not something Trevor was entirely comfortable with. He feared that using the supernatural to combat the supernatural was a slippery slope. Ota agreed and said Trevor would do well to remember it. Varvara, invisible at Trevor’s side, clearly did not agree.

    Stegner, despite having seen the Brezina sisters revealed as vampires and even killing one himself, still struggled with the nature of Anders’ illness. As far as he was concerned, Anders needed a doctor, not an exorcist. Benga specifically requested Stegner stay to watch the exorcism so he could better understand the creatures he was fighting. Even still, he remained skeptical, and earned himself admonishment from the Professor’s secretary, Margaret Laine, who believed he should’ve trusted the Professor after all he’d seen.

    Ota Benga had been unable to exorcise the vampire spirits in Anders, but he had been able to seal them away. How long the seal would hold, he couldn’t say. He suggested Trevor have Simon killed. He cautioned that his enemy had many faces, and it would not always roar like a lion. It was a war, and they should not take prisoners. Ota was speaking as much about Hellboy as he was Anders, and before he left, he suggested Trevor should cut Hellboy’s throat.

    Trevor ignored his advice in both cases. Anders was allowed to recover, and Trevor went out to play catch with his adopted son.

    This wasn’t something they got to do very often. The Professor was frequently busy with his Bureau work, and Hellboy was left to wander the base with his dog, Mac. Frequently it fell on Margaret Laine to babysit him. She was actually the one to expand Hellboy’s interests from “The Lobster” comics12 to books such as Pinocchio. The Professor had never been very good at getting Hellboy to read books, but Margaret managed it.

    Despite being so busy all the time, the Professor did try to make time for Hellboy as much as possible. In June, he and Hellboy travelled to Tanzania to investigate an incident involving hyenas. Hellboy was separated from the Professor and spent a week by himself on the Serengeti. One night, he saw a vision of the spirit of Africa, though when he was found he did not remember it or anything else that happened to him while he had been lost.13

    In July, shortly after the Roswell incident, the B.P.R.D. was relocated from the Peerlo air force base in New Mexico to a new facility in Fairfield, Connecticut. This meant Hellboy had to leave his new friend, Archie, behind.

    Continued below

    1948

    Archie wasn’t gone for long though. In 1948 he transferred from Peerlo to the Bureau to look out for Hellboy. It was a good thing too because Hellboy really needed a friend. This was a year of difficult transition for him. He was growing up fast and eager not to be treated like a kid anymore, which led to him stealing cigarettes…

    It was a difficult year of transition for Simon Anders too. He had gone from being a very mild man to picking fights for seemingly no reason, and it was worrying Professor Bruttenholm. He had taken in a demon child and now a dangerously damaged human soul. As Varvara herself noted, “You are a strange little moth, Professor. You can’t find enough flames to burn your wings on, so you light your own.”

    Meanwhile there was trouble at the Carmelo air force base in Utah. Project Enkelados (the U.S.’s first step towards a space program, working on a rocket design that could be propelled through space by atomic blasts) had seemingly had a very successful testing of an atomic explosionblast, however, shortly after there were attacks in the surrounding area by unearthly creatures. Colonel Betz of Carmelo knew Professor Bruttenholm from when the Bureau had been stationed at Peerlo, and so he called him in to investigate the matter. The Professor wasn’t entirely sure this was a case of paranormal activity though, as by all accounts the creatures seemed to be hurt by conventional means.

    The Professor was introduced to the team behind Project Enkelados, including the wunderkind, Dr. Anna Rieu, with whom the Professor was immediately smitten. He had a theory that the creatures that had been attacking people may have been related to the tests conducted by Project Enkelados, a theory unpopular with the team, except for Dr. Rieu who had had similar thoughts, but kept them to herself. On the night of the test, she thought she had seen something in the explosion, though no one else had. As the only woman on the team, she found herself in the frustrating position of only being listened to when there was a man agreeing with her.

    In private she confided to Bruttenholm her own suspicion that the creatures were connected to the Enkelados test, showing him images taken of the explosion. The Professor couldn’t see anything, but he didn’t doubt her experience either. It was perhaps this that fostered her own interest in Bruttenholm. He was willing to investigate her theory rather than dismiss it.

    A team of combat-ready B.P.R.D. agents, including Stegner and Anders, had been assigned the task of finding any of the creatures in the dessert. Anders had been eager to fight, but he was reckless and unfocused in his task. As a result, the creatures were blown to bits, leaving nothing substantial for Professor Bruttenholm and the Carmelo base scientists to study. More worryingly, he had put other agents at risk and Stegner wanted him suspended from duty, but he couldn’t get the Professor to listen long enough to make any immediate decision. The Professor’s attentions were completely on Dr. Rieu.

    Enkeladite.
    With no biological samples to study, Rieu and Bruttenholm set out for the blast site to investigate. There the sand had been blasted into glass, “Enkeladite.” The pair managed to acquire a sample, but were prevented from further examinations by the appearance of a humanoid creature. Fortunately, unknown to either Rieu or Bruttenholm, Colonel Betz had arranged for them to be tailed. A good thing too. If Sergeant Yessler hadn’t been there, the pair of them would have likely been killed. Instead the only casualty was the creature, and in excellent condition for an autopsy.

    The creature was certainly no supernatural being, but its biology was utterly foreign, perhaps even alien. Rieu believed there was another possibility, that the creature was of Earth, but not their Earth. She believed the Enkelados explosion had torn the membrane between parallel realities. The idea was scoffed at by her colleagues, even those that had suggested the creatures were aliens, but Professor Bruttenholm thought she was on to something.

    Continued below

    Keep in mind at this point the world still didn’t know about Hellboy. Those that did had to have clearance from the State Department. Hell, even the B.P.R.D. itself was barely four years old and still largely unknown. The paranormal was still fringe science, regarded as superstition. So as soon as Bruttenholm started talking about geomantic soil, Rieu realised they were not at all on the same page, and when she brought this to his attention he dismissed her worries as “semantics.” (Aaaaand now we know why Bruttenholm remained a bachelor)

    The problem was the Professor wasn’t interested in researching the problem. He thought destroying the Enkeladite was the solution, “removing the insult from the earth.” Rieu wanted to examine the way they were using atomic blasts. She feared that the military would jump on Professor Bruttenholm’s solution simply because it was the most convenient for their own ends.

    She was right about that. Colonel Betz had no interest in hearing theories or granting a budget for studies. He wanted a quick, cheap solution, and the reclamation the Professor spoke of fit the bill.14 This is a flaw in Bruttenholm, as he responded to the problem purely on instinct, because he had relied on it in the past and it had served him well, when really he should have been looking at the evidence scientifically. Perhaps he was right about what was happening, but it was his methods that were the problem. This is something that has since changed over time, as the Bureau became more and more an organisation that employed scientists, but back in the forties I guess they played things by ear a little more.

    And Anna Rieu may have been right about what had really happened in the desert. B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Broken Equation explored parallel worlds, and everything that unfolded in that story fit in with Rieu’s theories. However, no other atomic blasts had incidents of monstrous creatures afterwards, and after the reclamation there were no more monsters. So maybe Bruttenholm’s solution did work. Although, it may have had more to do with Simon Anders going rogue in the desert and hunting them all down.

    This had always been a dangerous mission. In the end it cost the lives of two agents, but there was a good chance that it could have only cost one if it hadn’t been for Anders’ recklessness. He had become a liability and could no longer be ignored. He was a threat to his fellow agents, so he decided to redirect his anger into hunting vampires, and set out to find the site he had been taken to the previous year where Hecate had appeared. The vampire spirits of Katharina and Annaliese Brezina were growing stronger all the time, but with them came memories, which Simon Anders could use to piece together their past.

    The pieces led him to a small town in Czechoslovakia, Český Krumlov. Hana Norarov, a local, had been contacted by the B.P.R.D. to aid Simon Anders in his search with her knowledge of town history and vampire folklore. But it was an elderly woman with a handful of rings that proved to be the most useful in his search. The rings had been the same ones worn by Baron Konig, and were all that remained after he had been murdered and turned to ash. The woman gave the rings to him with a piece of advice, to follow the local river to its heart.

    Hana and Simon did exactly that and soon Simon found himself in a forest just like the one he’d seen in the Brezina sisters’ memories, and shortly after he came to the same ruins he’d been brought to the year prior for Hecate’s festival. What was really interesting though was what was underground: an ancient, hidden temple. Throughout history the goddess Hecate had been worshiped in secret temples all over the world. This was no doubt one of them.

    The spirits of the Brezina sisters lured Simon deeper into the temple until he came to a resting vampire, Wilhelm von Rosenberg, the same one Hana had told him so much about. Given that Simon was on a quest to hunt and kill vampires, I’m pretty sure you can guess what he attempted next. It didn’t play out as he though it would though…

    Continued below

    Had Anders been human, this would have killed him, but the spirits of the Brezina had changed him over time. That said, he still lost something, even if it was only a degree of control he formerly had. The Brezina were no longer just phantoms in his mind, they were loose, though still anchored to Anders. And with his “death” Anders was transformed to something more than a human, but not quite a vampire either. With his new-found power, killing Rosenberg became easy.

    But really he should have been more suspicious. After all, he had found Český Krumlov too easily. When he emerged from the temple he found witches waiting for him. They had seen visions of him, of what he was becoming, a vampire-like creature with the power of Hecate’s blood in his veins, and yet not subservient to it. He was an aberration, like nothing else in the world, and he had to die before the Brezina sisters were unbound from him and his transformation complete. The Brezina sisters were not too happy about this, and they unleashed their wrath on the witches (Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá did a fantastic job on this sequence). When the witches had all fallen, Anders went back to Český Krumlov to kill the one that remained, the one that had led him into the trap to begin with, Hana Norarov.

    With that last murder, the locked door made by Ota Benga in Simon’s soul was thrown open and the sisters were free. I don’t know if they remained spirits or if perhaps the bloodshed from all the witches somehow allowed them to reborn, but the last time the Brezina sisters were seen in the story, they had gone to the Heads of the Vampire Families to warn them that Simon Anders was coming for them. They were clearly unsettled. Perhaps for the first time they weren’t certain if they would survive him. The Vampire Heads decided they would do nothing about Simon though. They didn’t believe he could ever find them.

    Trevor Bruttenholm came to Český Krumlov for Simon, but the man he found was not the man he had once known. Simon had been consumed utterly by his curse and his drive for revenge. However Simon still saw Trevor as a friend, and he had waited for him to say goodbye. And then he rode off into a weird spirit realm on the back of a giant bear. Make of that what you will.

    That’s the last we’ve seen of Simon Anders for now, but I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing him again. (Especially since the trade collection had a number “1” on its spine…)

    So, while Trevor had been busy dealing with monsters from another world in Utah and Simon going all vampire, Hellboy had come to a defining moment of his life. He was becoming more and more aware that he was different. It wasn’t just being the only child at B.P.R.D. headquarters, being told to go away when talk got too adult. And it wasn’t Malcolm Frost phoning and visiting the professor, trying to get him to see that his adopted child was the Beast of the Apocalypse. It was that there was a gulf between him and even those he was closest with. He wasn’t human, but he wanted to be, so one day he stole a hacksaw, locked himself in his room, and cut his horns off.

    It was the act of a hurt child wanting to belong, and when he cooled down, he let his horns grow back, and he returned to the relatively happy and lively kid he had been before. He was still stealing cigarettes and still trying to sit in on adult conversations, but now he’d taken to sneaking out at night. Can you blame him? He’d been hidden away for most of his life, and there was a world out there he wanted to be a part of.

    One particular excursion led him to A.T. Roth’s Circus Spectacular, the midnight circus. There among the various performers, he saw a woman with red skin like his. After the show, he went to her tent. He expected to be turned away, especially given the “gentlemen only” sign, but the woman had no qualms with treating him as an adult…

    Continued below

    A.T. Roth would have none of it though, and steered Hellboy away to the sideshow, using the story of Pinocchio to make him feel guilty about running away. He showed Hellboy a vision of Professor Bruttenholm, old and weary from searching, and freezing cold. A.T. Roth goaded Hellboy to light a fire to save his father, trying to get Hellboy to start the flames that would claim the whole world, but instead Hellboy ran away, terrified, past a hall of mirrors where he saw a monstrous vision of his adult self.

    Hellboy was eventually found by the Professor, not knowing that A.T. Roth and the woman he had seen in the circus had been Astaroth, his paternal uncle, and Gamori, his half-sister, both trying to use him for their own ends. Though he dismissed this all as just a nightmare, the vision Hellboy had seen had undoubtedly stuck with him for he began to cut off his horns again. I’d argue it was no longer about fitting in though. Rather it was in defiance of the monstrous reflection he’d seen in the circus mirrors.

    1949

    By 1949 Hellboy was no longer a secret, or at least not enough of one that he wasn’t allowed to tag along on a B.P.R.D. interview in a civilian area. They were investigating a Captain August Breccan. A number of people that Breccan had reasons to despise had either gone mad or committed suicide, and always strange symbols were found at the scene. Hellboy, while sitting in on a meeting, thought it was odd for someone who was only out for revenge to go to the trouble of necromancy. And he was right. Breccan had been collecting souls that weren’t bound for Hell and corrupting them for power. Hellboy had good instincts for that paranormal even when he was just a kid.

    With a little convincing from Hellboy and Jacob Stegner, this became Hellboy’s first tag-along into the field for an interview with Breccan’s doctor. However, the doctor was not in. Breccan was though. He attacked Stegner and Bruttenholm, and though Bruttenholm’s charms protected him, they didn’t offer him any offensive capabilities either. There was another person there that wasn’t affected by Breccan’s necromancy, and he wasn’t going to stand by and do nothing.

    This is the moment the door of innocence closed for Hellboy. It was hardly how Professor Bruttenholm must’ve imagined introducing Hellboy to the work of the Bureau, but something must have clicked because only three years later…

    1952 and Beyond

    In 1952 Hellboy became an official B.P.R.D. agent. And next month, in the pages of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1952, the story of his first assignment is finally being told!

    Hellboy, Jacob Stegner, Archie Muraro, and two new characters, Susan Xiang (who I think may be the Bureau’s first female field agent), and Robert Amsel are sent to Brazil to investigate a series of murders and… Well, to say more would spoil the fun.

    Meet the team.

    1952 is just the beginning though. Mike Mignola plans to follow with more stories, with each new trade paperback set during the following year. So there’s 1953 somewhere over the horizon. That should be an interesting year. Hellboy has referred to it as the happiest time of his life, when he travelled all over the British Isles with Professor Bruttenholm and Harry Middleton, and had his first encounter with fairies. (Plus Malcolm Frost died in 1952, so not having him around urging people to kill Hellboy was probably a nice reprieve).

    Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1952 #1 will be out next Wednesday, December 3, with Mike Mignola and John Arcudi writing, and Alex Maleev on art duties. It’s going to be great. Oh, and there’s also a Mignola cover variant out there for issue #1, so keep an eye out for that too.

    1The East Bromwich Church: The same church where Hellboy’s witch mother, Sarah Hughes, had been chained in a coffin upon her death to protect her from Azzael, Hellboy’s father. Azzael had killed Hellboy’s maternal siblings and dragged his mother into Hell.

    Continued below

    2The Osiris Club: An off-shoot of the secret society, The Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra. They have a particular interest in the end of the world, Hellboy, and his stone hand.

    3Vril: God’s power, the fire of heaven. I wrote an entire Hell Notes column about it.

    4The Prometheus Armour: Professor Kyriakos Gallaragas had created a prototype Vril Energy Suit which was nearly captured by the Nazis in 1937. Helena was the sole survivor from the Prometheus team. See Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus.

    5The Colorado Research Facility: In the 1950s research and experiments were performed based on Professor Gallaragas’s work. The project was ultimately shelved and put into storage. In October 2004 the facility became the new base of operations for the B.P.R.D. during the beginning of the Frog War.

    6The abandoned psychiatric institutions of Germany: As part of Action T4, mental patients in Germany had been put to death.

    7Vladimir Giurescu: An extremely powerful vampire that fought in the Napoleonic wars. The goddess Hecate considered him her son. See Hellboy: Wake the Devil.

    8Herman von Klempt: Varavara was wise to doubt von Klempt’s death. Since then he has shown up several times: 1959 in Brazil, 1997 (Hellboy: Wake the Devil), 2001 (Hellboy: Conqueror Worm), and given the way B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Reign of the Black Flame ended, it looks like we may see him again in the near future…

    9Hecate: I’ve written an entire Hell Notes about her.

    10The B.P.R.D.’s sketchy knowledge on vampires: It seems that the B.P.R.D. first learned about the vampires’ agreement in 1966 when Hellboy bumped into some vampires in Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead.

    11Ota Benga: An exorcist. In 1890, when he was still a priest and a young man, he saved a woman by taking the demon Andras into himself and binding him. With his foolish youthful bravado, he thought he could handle it. The presence of the demon stretched out his life far beyond what was natural. See B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Exorcism for more details.

    12The Lobster comics: A series written by Adam Horowitz with art by Isaac “Janky” Rosen, which ran 38 issues from 1942 to 1946. It was based on pulp adventure stories which were themselves based on the real-life Lobster, a character who was incorrectly believed to be an urban myth.

    13Hellboy’s week on the Serengeti: Hellboy did eventually remember seeing the spirit of Africa forty-six years after the event in the New York Explorer’s Club while talking to a mummy. See Hellboy: Makoma.

    14Enkeladite: Not all Enkeladite was destroyed. Dr. Rieu smuggled out a piece for her own studies, and in the modern B.P.R.D. stories Fenix Espejo wears an Enkeladite necklace.


    //TAGS | Hell Notes | Mignolaversity

    Mark Tweedale

    Mark writes Hell Notes, The Harrow County Observer, and The Damned Speakeasy. An animator and an eternal Tintin fan, he spends his free time reading comics, listening to film scores, and consuming the finest dark chocolates. You can find him on Twitter here.

    EMAIL | ARTICLES


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