I’ve been waiting for this week ever since I read an interview with Mignola about Hellboy in Hell at least a year ago. So no jokes, no pithy remarks, let’s just get to this Beast (of the Apocalypse). Okay, one joke.
Hellboy in Hell #1
Flashback to 2004. A twenty-year-old college student, on a whim, sees a film called Hellboy, having read a flattering review of it. After the film, this student not only becomes obsessed with watching everything director Guillermo Del Toro has made, but starts to read the source material, written and drawn by a comic book artist and writer named Mike Mignola.
Eight years later, and much has changed in this man’s life. His hairline is starting to recede and he suddenly has these awful things called bills to pay every month. Yet, his love of Hellboy has remained. That man, ladies and gentleman… look it was obviously me, enough with the dramatics, let’s get to the review.
Expectation is a terrible thing. I think we can all agree, that we would all be better off without it. There is no way the first issue of Hellboy in Hell could have lived up to years upon years of expectations. Of hints of what was to come, and threats from Hellboy’s evil foes. It is merely the first issue in a new arc of Hellboy comics. And quite honestly, all expectation aside, it’s mysterious, but nothing all that new.
This is not to say that it’s a bad comic. Most of the lack of stunning visuals is likely due to Mignola’s desire to not blow his artistic wad in the first 30 pages or so. Still, it’s annoying when one of the most evocative images from the issue is spoiled for you on the cover. However, the panel below was creepy. You’re expecting the things in the water, and some other kind of monsters. He ends up in the outer edge of Hell, after all. And, Hellboy is dead, so how scared can you really be for him? He’s already dead, and in Hell, so I guess you hope he does well, but he’s kind of screwed already, so you’re more mystified than scared by the events which occur. Yet, I didn’t expect to see Hellboy fall through a giant humanoid stone’s gaping mouth to get on the border of Hell. His giant stoney head is smoking as well. What is that thing, is it even made of stone? The little red thing is Hellboy, and that’s all I know.
I’d say the storytelling is the reason to pick up this issue. Yes, the art is typical Mignola fare, but so far it’s nothing as grandoise as he’s hinted he wanted to take this new Hellboy series in. We have seen giant monsters from Mignola before. We have seen a rocky landscape, and water-dwelling beasties before. No, it’s the intrigue, of Hellboy being dropped on the threshold of Hell, and saved by a mysterious (not so much for anyone who has been reading a lot of Mignola) man in a cloak, who is able to fly, and transport Hellboy via magic out of harms way. This storytelling is what makes you want to read the next issue. The art is, sadly, nothing new.
For the most part, anyone can start this series fresh, having never read any other Hellboy issues, which is its greatest selling point. Not since the first issues have you been able to pick up a Hellboy comic, save for a one shot, and know entirely what is going on, unless you’d read the previous issues. I say for the most part, because there are certain characters from older issues whose identities will be unknown to you if you haven’t read any of the preexisting volumes in this issue.
My absolute favorite part of this comic, was the “Brief History” on the first page, which explains in two paragraphs, 19 years of Hellboy material. It gets right to the heart (wink) of Hellboy’s current state, and his origin. And I quote.
On December 23, 1944, Hellboy appeared in a fireball in the ruins of a church near East Bromwich, England. In 1952 he was granted honorary human status by a special act of the United Nations and began working as a field agent for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. He quit the B.P.R.D. in 2001 and traveled to Africa, where he was abducted by mermaids. After several years lost at sea, he returned to England, fought some giants, fell in love, and learned that he was a direct descendant of King Arthur and therefore the rightful King of all Britain.
Shortly thereafter he fought a dragon and was killed.”
And I thought I was f-----g concise. Bravo, Mignola. Oh, and if you’re wondering why I haven’t littered this thing with images, it’s because I don’t want to spoil the art, although one of the best images is on the f-----g cover itself!
Dark Horse just dominates the horror comic realm this week. As if the first issue of Hellboy in Hell wasn’t enough, they release the second issue of Colder. I’m imagining the reaction of other publishers thinking about releasing a horror title this week was something along the lines of…
Still, even though it’s also a Dark Horse release, I feel bad for Colder. Seriously, no matter what, how the s--t are you going to compete with Hellboy… in Hell!? It’s like two sisters, and even though the younger one (she’s legal) is pretty cute, funny, and very smart, her older sister is really hot, has her huge tits out, and is giving free lap dances while hand feeding people appetizers. And it’s a variety of appetizers! How does she balance the tray while giving lap dances? Does she put it down next to her, or does she keep it in her outstretched palm? Is she a stripper, and is that why I emphasized they were free lap dances? Wouldn’t the reader assume they were free, if this woman was in her house? Are they in a house, or in a club? If the two sisters are in a club, where did the older one get the food from? Is it a club that serves food? Is it a bar that serves food? Look, it’s a frigging simile, just accept it, and move on. I’m talking to myself right now.
Paul Tobin’s plot is coming along, though I wish he had written in that people react to the guy who has blue skin. Everyone seems completely fine with this blue guy walking around, no one stares at him. I don’t know about you, but if I saw a guy with blue skin walk by, it’d take all my energy not to say “holy s--t, that guy is blue!” We are introduced to “The Hungry World” which appears to be what crazy people see. All the buildings have weird architecture, some of the stairs look to be out of that Escher picture, as in upside down. It’s a very Lovecraftian place, and one wonders if the geometry is non-euclidian (if you’re not a huge Lovecraft nerd, Google “Lovecraft” and copy paste that big word before the parenthesis).
Juan Ferreyra does a great job of illustrating this vision of the psychotic, this “Hungry World.” I mean, the buildings are weird yeah, but I don’t see what’s so terrible…holy crap, what the f--k are those?!
I’m sorry, what was I…Um, Colder issue 2 is…as a study in psychosis, the book is…
Seriously what the Hell are those?! Those are terrifying! Why didn’t I see something that scary in actual Hell?! Ah! what the…ah! Well, at least that’s over with…
Bah, Good holy bejebus!
I need a shower. Scariest comic of the week, those guys in the robes earned this comic scariest of the week. Now those are some damn monsters! Also, it has some great gory panels. It has one that earned my new coveted title of gore panel of the week. I had several gory panels to choose from, but ultimately, it is that teardrop, and the wide eyes that make this panel so disturbing. Not to mention the forceps, and the knife, slicing through the tongue.
GORE PANEL OF THE WEEK
Chasing the Dead #2
Okay, I take it back. I feel a little bad for Colder, but I feel horrible for Chasing the Dead and its second issue. If Hellboy in Hell is the older, hotter sister who is toplessly feeding people appetizers whilst giving out free lap dances, and Colder is still a cute, younger sister (legal) who is, well, acting like a normal woman, then Chasing the Dead is the third deformed sister (also legal, not that you’d want to) who is chained in the basement (aha, they are in a house, I knew it!) who moans to be fed all night, but her cries are muffled by the load rap music upstairs. This metaphor has become way to extended, I need to end this. Long metaphor/simile/flash fiction short, this is closer to what IDW’s reaction probably was than the Aliens audio above.
I have to say though, I am pleasantly surprised by the story. No lie, kind of figured this would be one of a myriad of typical zombie comics, or that if it wasn’t, it would be a slightly original, but still primarily zombie based, book. It’s called Chasing the Dead, can you blame me for these assumptons? It makes me want to check out the source material by Joe Schreiber. Either way, the writing by Mathew Scott, and Tim Westland is good. Whether this is from great source material, or just skillful adaptation, I’m not sure.
The art by Dietrich Smith is scary at times. Observe.
His faces still seem kind of weird in some panels, however. The color is really great in this, with lots of whites since it’s a snow storm, so the other colors really pop. Of course, Smith probably has nothing to do with that, but I thought I’d point it out nonetheless. Its kind of like how I never mention the cinematographer, or DP in film reviews. Poor guys, I’m sorry, I really should mention you, much as I should mention the people who work on the color in comics.
But I’m not going to. So, to make you forget I ever mentioned this…
See, that’s what I mean. Crazy stuff like this happens all the time in this issue. People just appear out of nowhere, same with dead bodies. From out of thin air, a dead woman appears in the SUV the main character has been driving. It makes things really frightening. It makes me want to go reread the first issue, and see if the dead woman was in the car before. I don’t think she was though, because they clearly showed an empty passenger seat. I think. Horror that confuses you is the most terrifying. If you have no idea what will happen next, then you will be legitimately irked out. Chasing the Dead really has its hooks in me. Even with those weird Tom Goes to the Mayor-style faces.
Shite, you still here? Congrats to all three of you that read this in entirety. Way to have an attention span, you sexy readers you. Now where did that topless appetizer serving sister go? The metaphor/simile/flash fiction has taken over, I repeat, the extended metaphor/simile/flash fiction/day dream has taken over the article. Abort article, I repeat, abort article!