In the finale of this two-part story, we pick up where we last left our titular hero as Hellboy and his team simultaneously face off against bizarre horse and bull man hybrids, as well as a British agent bent on using the power of souls to rule the world!
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1954: Ghost Moon #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
And that may be the fastest I’ve ever summed up a comic book’s premise. But really, that lack of depth in the comic’s description is pretty indicative of this issue.
After issue one, I had hoped that Mignola and Roberson would take this opportunity to provide the story the support it needed to justify the hastiness of part one. Unfortunately, instead, issue two falls prey to the same weakness as its predecessor and winds up wrapping up the story at hand as quickly as possible, and not much else. Hellboy works best when his story is told through the lens of the horror genre; slowly building a sense of foreboding and dread as more and more mystery surrounds him until the monster is revealed and the fists get thrown. Here, however, fists come first and fast, so it becomes much more of a ticking time bomb, action hero style story, more focused on buttoning up exposition in long monolouges than getting to emotional depth. Consequently, most of the book becomes pretty one note. What I’m about to say is technically not a spoiler considering this is a comic set in the past, but even without that, it’s clear that Hellboy and his compatriots were never in any real, permanent danger and that the villain of the piece just needed to be smacked hard enough and the good guys would win.
No matter how rushed the pacing is, Churilla and Stewart keep up with the art. It’s always fun to see a horse-headed minotaur man swing around a giant sword. Stewart’s colors seem off a little for some reason, though. They feel a little brighter and less shadowy than issue one. When I first opened the book I thought it was a different artist, but after comparing the two books side by side, it’s less pronounced. What was certainly odd, however, was the number of full page, “out of body” splashes Churilla did. I know that it was a convention established in the previous book, but here the “cut-aways” felt much more like a crutch to expedite the communication of information.
Despite all of this, it’s still very much a Hellboy book. If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Hellboy! And called he was. He found the bad guy, fought the bad guy, high-fived the good guys. But it’s only because good Hellboy stories are so good that it’s hard to let the weaknesses of this particular story slide. I would have loved to see this as a three or four part story, let the mystery breathe, let us learn more about China and its ghost stories, and then get to the fist fights with the Bull Man. As it stands, however, this story is only okay. But hey, like all Hellboy stories, it drops some hints towards the next story, so there will be more to come…