Koshchei the Deathless has been my go-to for comfort storytelling. Mike Mignola has wowed me every step of the way with a deeply moving folk tale that is incredibly fantastical. The latest chapter is out today and it explores the strange Baba Yaga.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
An encounter at a witches’ Sabbath leads Koshchei down a road of betrayal, and in his revenge, he comes face to face with the enemy he least expects.
Why does this matter?
Ben Stenbeck (along with with colors by Dave Stewart) has been putting on a truly magical run of issues. The art is clean and very appealing if you dig monsters and things that go bump in the night. No matter the creature or enemy, you won’t want to look away.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I wonder what catering is like for events like this.
This issue focuses on how Koshchei may not be killed, but his heart can certainly be damaged. After leaving his bride at the altar, this issue opens with Koshchei bedding a powerful witch. About six pages in he learns her true identity which puts a serious damper on Koshchei’s life choices. After a furious battle with his ex-lover, Koshchei continues to tell the tale to Hellboy as we learn how he grew even more powerful. That power ends up costing him in pride however and Mignola does a good job showing a final showdown with a creature Koshchei could not have prepared for. It’s a twist that’s as old as stories themselves and it forces Koshchei into a corner that may explain why he gave Hellboy such trouble over the years.
It’s quite nice how the story comes full circle with issue #4. Koshchei was duped and the character who did this to him has hell to pay. Mignola continues to tell an interesting story about a villain who never intended to be evil but was manipulated and torn to make sometimes bad decisions through time.
Stenbeck and Stewart are so very good at making the imagery pop. Stenbeck uses a thicker line that gives a cartoon look to even the most gnarly beast or most serious of nude scenes. Stewart uses some great splashes of color in backgrounds devoid of detail helping to bring the action forward. There’s an interesting panel focusing on the gods in the cosmos that has an interesting Kirby styling and another highlight is Koshchei’s battle with an unbeatable foe.
It can’t be perfect can it?
My only gripe with this issue is how Koshchei learns of the betrayal. It’s via a bit of deus ex machina and reduces the power of the moment so as to switch the plot’s gears. A more interesting way of learning who his lover is would have made for a more interesting turn of events.
Is It Good?
Koshchei the Deathless continues to be one of Mignola’s greatest tales to date. The story is very good at drawing your interest and this issue comes full circle in a rewarding way.