Hellboy in Hell is finally back, after many months. The hour is upon us, friends; a dark hour where we will have to decide the most pertinent of questions when reviewing any comic. A question which plagues our very souls, and sends us howling into the night in a state of sheer madness, unsure of the merit of artistic and prose endeavors. I ask all of you with eyes to see, and minds to comprehend to journey with me; down, down, down, ever downward we shall travel, to discover…is it good?
Hellboy in Hell #5 (Dark Horse Comics)
The title of this issue is “The Three Gold Whips.” But no, it’s not about Hellboy hanging out with Lou Reed.
Mignola has decided to focus the plot of this issue on someone other than Hellboy. Hellboy meets an ex-soldier who, along with his three friends, sold their souls to a demon in exchange for gold whips that, when cracked, produced gold coins. Old timey soldier, ya got me?
Anyway, the soldiers made it rain, but now one of them, Jules, needs to find out what he’s going to eat for Hell supper, lest he have to give up his soul.
It’s a really odd plot, but it’s quite entertaining. Being in Hell, weird shit works as our suspension of disbelief is already out the window since…well, we’re in Hell. If you can buy the fact that there’s a demon from Hell who killed a dragon and is now living back in Hell, you can buy a demon getting bored and giving dudes gold whips which spit up money. Seems to me Hellboy stories have always been best when it’s been Hellboy working against other demons. He did this in the first four issues of In Hell, except there wasn’t a lot of fighting involved. I know Mignola will continue to tease us with how Hellboy killed Satan, but I’m sure Mignola is going to have a long run on Hellboy In Hell, so there’s no rush with any reveals. And I didn’t hate this whip story. I am wondering where the Hell the floating guy (give me time, it’s been a few months), went, you know, that dude who gave Hellboy a tour of Hell. Pretty sure that was supposed to be Sir Edward Grey.
Yet again, this issue is all about the sweeping landscapes of Hell and the creatures found therein. In fact, it’d be interesting to see how the series played without any dialogue or prose at all. I’m willing to bet it would be just as powerful, with a few minor exceptions where it’s referenced by other demons that Hellboy killed fucking Satan.
Dave Stewart needs to color errythang. I’ve run out of ways to say the same exact thing over and over, so here’s a new way I’ll put it: Go look at other comics Dave Stewart hasn’t worked on, then go look at something he has colored. Take in Stewart’s style, like a fine wine, robust and aged to perfection. (Call me, Dave. We can talk about…well, I don’t know, I’ll probably just ask you questions about coloring stuff.)
Is it Good?
Maybe it’s because the bar already felt lowered due to the disappointment with the first four issues of In Hell, but this has been one of my favorite issues so far. On the surface it seems like it should be really boring, but it’s actually compelling, and ever so slightly moving. The big red guy still has a soft spot for us shaved apes.
There weren’t any Dickens references, so there’s that. I don’t mind the classic literature references; sometimes they work, and sometimes they seem odd. Dickens nods in Hell seemed odd. Why not throw in a little Shakespeare while you’re at it…
Wait…oh yeah that’s already been in an issue.
- The art is beautiful, and Mignola is on fire, figuratively.
- No pretentious literary quotes out of nowhere.
- Stewart colors the colors pretty like I like them.
- Still not very impressed with what Hellboy does in Hell.
- Dude, why isn’t Hell more… frightening?
I guess what keeps bothering me is how blasé I am about the landscape of Hell. Yeah, it’s pretty as…well, all Hell, but I hope that in some issue soon some crazy shit Mignola has Hellboy do will just explode my eyeballs out of my head like I made cherry bomb glasses. Until that day, I’ll continue to read the issues and like them, but not be floored by them. But, certainly give it a read if you’re a Hellboy fan. Or start from Hellboy In Hell with no backstory of HB at all. I’m pretty sure you can do it. There haven’t really been any references to his life above yet. Maybe just read the wiki, and then read it. Certainly extensive research is not required. A love of Brimstone and demons saying “crap,” is.