Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River is a somewhat weird and confusing boat ride of a story. The shortness of this ride somehow makes it both better and worse, but it’s a decent ride regardless. Especially if you’re into Hungarian folklore.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River ~ Details

"Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River" cover art by Márk László.
Would you believe that the creepy horse lady on the left is a good person? Cover artist: Márk László.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River is the latest addition to the Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. comic book miniseries. In fact, this particular comic book is apparently a sequel to “The Miser’s Gift” story from the Hellboy Winter Special from January 2020. Hellboy creator Mike Mignola is the author of this comic book, with Márk László as the artist, and Dave Stewart as the colorist. Lastly, Dark Horse Comics is the publisher of this comic book, as they have been for all the other Hellboy comics.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River released on July 20, 2022, for a retail price of $3.99. You can purchase it directly from the Dark Horse Comics webstore.

Warning: spoilers for Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River are below. If you want to take this slightly confusing boat ride into Hungarian legend for yourself, then stop here, and come back once you’ve avoided drowning in a ghostly river. It makes sense in context.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River ~ Plot Summary

"Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River" preview page 1.
When it’s both raining and snowing at the same time, you get the worst of both weather.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River starts us off with Hellboy in Budapest, Hungary in 1989; visiting a friend of a colleague named Lajos, who had apparently disappeared a short time ago. Lajos’ friend doesn’t know where he is, but she points Hellboy to someone who might: a mysterious old woman named Grabinski. Grabinski is just as worried about Lajos as Hellboy is. Though she was a bit creepy about it (even turning into some kind of horse spirit…fairy…thing), she does lead Hellboy into the realm where Lajos is trapped.

Said realm turns out to be a creepily flooded version of old Budapest. Complete with eternally torrential rain and drowned bodies floating past. Hellboy manages to hitch a ride on a rowboat through this eerie place, which fortunately takes him to Lajos. Unfortunately, it’s also where Lajos is about to be burned at the stake to placate an angry “prince” in his “glass castle” in the depths. Then someone decides that it’s better to toss Lajos into the water to be wed to the “Maiden”, and so they do. Hellboy has finally had enough of this, and wallops everyone with a stolen oar and boat to pick up Lajos. Someone (or something) then drags Lajos back into the water, and Hellboy has to jump in after him.

Not All Mermaids Are Like Ariel

"Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River" preview page 2.
What Hellboy wouldn’t do for his buddies.

As it turns out, the “Maiden” is a mermaid who likes drowning her would-be spouses. Hellboy doesn’t take kindly to this and smashes her in the face with an oar. She doesn’t take kindly to that either, and Hellboy swims up with Lajos just as she morphs into a giant catfish monster. They reach some shallows where she presumably can’t get at them, but that’s not so safe either. A horde of very angry and very wet water ghosts swarm them. Then the barrel they’re using as a floatation device explodes. Only, a glowing man then rises out of the exploded barrel. The guy’s glow becomes so bright that it burns away the ghosts, and then suddenly Hellboy and Lajos are back in normal Budapest.

As it turns out, the glowing guy in the barrel was Saint Gerard, AKA: Gerard of Csanád. I guess he decided to help the duo out for accidentally freeing him from that barrel? Anyways, that concludes Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River. Yep, just like that.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River ~ The Good

"Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River" preview page 3.
No, she’s not actually a villain. No matter how much she looks like one at first glance.

I would say that the art of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River is the best part of it. Márk László has a very interesting art style and character designs. He somehow manages to make Lajos look almost adorable with his oversized glasses and generally ruffled appearance, which is quite the feat considering that he’s an old scholar. Combined with the highly detailed background and setting, I give him kudos for the art.

The story isn’t too bad either. I like that Grabinski turns out to be a Creepy Good character, despite her old witch-like appearance. It’s a good example of how not to judge a book by its cover, and I like how a character archetype who would normally be the villain is good instead. And again, I liked Lajos not just for his design, but also due to him being the oddly adorable scholarly type of character. It’s a nice break from the action hero characters we typically get in fiction.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River ~ The Bad

"Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River" preview page 4.
The moral of this story: never accept coins from creepy ghosts, no matter how shiny they are.

Despite its good points, the story of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Time is a River is the weakest part of it. The story as a whole is very confusing, and the ending is a bit nonsensical. The appearance of Saint Gerard came out of nowhere, and his saving Hellboy and Lajos felt more like a deus ex machina than anything else. Almost literally, in this case, considering that he’s a saint. Seriously, Gerard had zero foreshadowing and saved the main characters from an otherwise unsolvable situation. I call that “Writing yourself into a corner, and realizing that a deus ex machina is the only way out”. The result is an ending that is as unsatisfying as it is confusing. Only the rest of the story and the art keeps the comic as a whole from falling below 80%, in my opinion.

Source: Dark Horse Comics