Writer John Arcudi will be pulling a bit more of the history of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense out of the shadows with "B.P.R.D.: 1948," hitting the stands this October from Dark Horse Comics, and featuring art by Max Fiumara. The 5-issue miniseries picks up where "B.P.R.D.: 1947" leaves off, following our investigators into the Utah desert where they find, as usual, more than they bargained for.
CBR News spoke with Arcudi about the upcoming miniseries and what it has in store for our fledgling B.P.R.D. team.
"['B.P.R.D.: 1948'] takes place at a military facility in the Utah desert during some rather unusual nuclear testing: the use of low-grade nuclear bombs to propel spacecraft," Arcudi said. "It's loosely based on the actual events surrounding Project Orion -- perhaps as a result of these tests, Professor Bruttenholm and a B.P.R.D. crew (fronted by Stegner and Anders) come to Utah to investigate a strange series of sightings of some horrifying monsters. There, the Professor meets Anna Rieu, a brilliant and beautiful physicist. Seems like a match made in heaven, and sparks do fly -- but all kinds of sparks! Meanwhile, Anders proves to be a smoldering problem that comes to head at maybe the worst possible time."
Readers of the long running "B.P.R.D." titles will recall that Agent Anders was last seen recovering from possession by a pair of vampire-spirits, and Agent Stegner was less than convinced of the leadership ability of the Professor. "Stegner is still the doubting Thomas of this bunch even in '1948.'" Arcudi told CBR News. "And to be honest, there's not a lot that the Professor does in this series to dissuade him from that philosophy. As in the two previous series, the reader will have a wider understanding of what the Professor is up against and what he's really accomplishing than any of his agents, but you'll totally sympathize with Stegner's frustration."
Arcudi lauded writer Joshua Dysart's work on "B.P.R.D.: 1946" and "1947," the two miniseries that set the stage for Arcudi's work in "1948." "Dysart did a great job with those first two books," he said. "Especially '1947' which I just love -- but that's the problem, isn't it? How do I improve on them?"
In "B.P.R.D.: 1948," Arcudi shifts the focus of the story, putting the spotlight on Professor Bruttenholm. "I wanted to develop him a bit more, pull him off the sidelines and make him part of the investigation itself," the writer said. "As I explained above, he still somehow manages to get sidelined a little anyway by life's most distracting of distractions, but that's all part of his fleshing out."
This series also marks something of a new phase in the history of the B.P.R.D. organization. "We've moved away from Nazis in 1948 as we transition to the next phase of the B.P.R.D.'s history," Arcudi explained. "For that focus to shift we needed to get away from Nazis and from Europe for a bit.
"This series also has more of a science-fiction vibe than horror," he continued, "but the spookiest of science fiction vibes, I hope. I'm depending on Max Fiumara to keep me honest on that front."
Fiumara entered the B.P.R.D. universe with the "B.P.R.D. - Hell on Earth: The Transformation of J. H. O'Donnell" one-shot, and Arcudi is happy to have him further flesh out his world. "I've already seen the first two issues and they're gorgeous!" Arcudi said of his collaborator. "Max has a very unusual style that stands out even in a field crowded with talent. He fits into the B.P.R.D. world perfectly, and his creature designs are just freaking great! Unexpected and powerful, and terrifying. His artwork carries what we've been doing -- our quirky, scary universe -- one step further. More than that, more importantly, his storytelling fits perfectly with my scripts -- or rather, it makes my scripts work so much better, and I feel very lucky about that."
While "B.P.R.D.: 1948's" storyline may take place in what seems like the distant past, the series sets in motion ripple effects that will catch up to the contemporary B.P.R.D. team.
"Some of the smaller links between '1948' and the current B.P.R.D. timeline will become immediately apparent to readers, but we're also toying a little bit with what I think may be their expectations about the current continuity," Arcudi said. "I don't want to say much more than that, but I will make another cryptic comment and say that this book is also setting up some very interesting developments for the B.P.R.D. universe -- both in the near future and the next couple of years."
And as for that pancake-loving kid Hellboy?
"Yep, he'll be around," Arcudi said. "We're even moving him forward as a character in what will -- at first -- seem like only a small way. At first."
"B.P.R.D.: 1948" by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Max Fiumara goes on sale in October.