July 13, 2014

"So were to now?"
Mike Mignola & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse Comics, 2014
152 pages, cmyk, digital

Hellboy returns home and if you've been reading this comic for the past 20 years, you have a pretty good idea of where that is.
But in case you haven't been reading this comic, here's the skinny: Hellboy is an aptly named demon that happens to be a paranormal investigator and the one who will be responsible for bringing about the End of Times. He doesn't much care about it and abandons his destiny in favour of a normal life, well, as much as it can be when you're a red-skinned dude with a disproportionate right hand made of rock that happens to be the Key to the Apocalypse.
After falling in battle in one of his most recent adventures - spoilers, he dies - Hellboy finds himself in Hell and not everything is as expected.
In 1999, I bought my first Hellboy comic: "Despierta al Demonio", the collected spanish version of "Wake the Devil". What immediately caught my attention was the art. Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy, is an amazing penciler and inker and his striking blacks and monster design (I dare say, only second to the "King", Jack Kirby) were the main reasons why I picked up the comic.
What kept me coming back was the stories. Mignola's love for all kinds of myths and folklore, his ability to inject them into the character's adventures and to weave a fairly consistent and interesting narrative is the other major selling point of Hellboy.
Concerning "Hellboy in Hell", Mignola mantains his high standard as an artist and storyteller, helping him out is the understatedly efective coloring of Dave Stewart. Storywise, we have the usual romp, a few not so subtle references to classic works like "The Christmas Carol" and "Paradise Lost" and the parallels between those and the present narrative. The story moves in a slow pace, accentuating its preliminar nature (it is, after all, the first volume of a longer story). Mignola likes his moments of silent comtemplation and embarking on  his "side quests".
One of the flaws of this comic is precisely the backlog of 20 years of Hellboy. It is, at times, very self-referencial and, although gratifying for loyal readers, even with flashbacks trying to contextualize characters from previous encounters, my concern is that new readers can feel a bit lost. That is the problem of having an universe to explore and a growing handicap of present day comics.
If you enjoy long narratives with a Lovecraftian feel and incredible art, this is your book.

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