A prequel to Hellboy set in World War II.
If you’re a Hellboy fan or just dig World War II history this is probably already on your radar. Rasputin: The Voice of the Dragon is a prequel of sorts focused on Professor Bruttenholm the man who discovered and took in Hellboy when he was a baby. In a way a story like this reveals how Professor Bruttenholm could be open minded enough to take in a baby from Hell.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
A conspiracy involving the Third Reich and a dead member of a sinister secret society sets Professor Bruttenholm on his first mission–to find the man who’d soon bring Hellboy to earth. The mad Russian sorcerer Rasputin had been thought dead since 1916, when a group of noblemen sought to end his influence over the tsar. Now Rasputin works with the most twisted members of Hitler’s inner circle, and he’s about to cross paths with the man who’ll go on to found the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
Why does this matter?
This is a story Hellboy fans have to read. Drawn by Christopher Mitten with a story from Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson, we’re in very good hands here. Plus it weaves in Rasputin, who is one of the most mysterious and interesting people in human history. That is, if the supernatural rumors are true.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Never trust a Nazi, even if you’re Rasputin.
The obsession Nazis had over the occult is always an interesting topic. Historically speaking, we don’t know all that much. It leaves stories like this wide open to explore some of the horrors that could have destroyed all of humanity if they got close enough to the powers of the supernatural. This story cleverly weaves in Rasputin, who has a special place in lore when it comes to the supernatural as well. Opening on him, the creative team give readers a snapshot of what he’s seen and the threat he poses to all of humanity. It’s just enough to pique your interest, running four pages long.
Much of the rest of the book is about Professor Bruttenholm and what he was up to during World War II. This section is focused more on the mystery he uncovers and the trouble it’s already getting him into by the time we reach the last page. What makes this mystery solving angle interesting is how the creators give us just enough to make it believable he’s stumbled upon anything at all. Usually characters will walk into a room and all will be revealed. Not so here, as it’s coming at you with a slow enough pace to make it a believable turn of events.
Mitten draws a strong issue, especially the opening pages with Rasputin, and he’s quite good at capturing twisted imagery amongst a normal looking world. There’s one panel for instance, that has a character’s head twisted way too far that’s deeply unsettling. This is in the foreground cast in shadow as Professor Bruttenholm walks unbeknownst of this murder. There’s an introduction of a monster in the last few pages that’s well drawn. It’s a monster we’ve seen a thousand times, but Mitten is able to give it a unique spin that makes you question what it is made of.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I may not be the right audience for this sort of comic because I’m not that interested in the minutiae of history. There’s a good four or so pages in the middle of this issue that’s driven by the details of the war that I found rather boring. I wanted the pace to pick up, especially after seeing what Rasputin is up to in the opening pages, but it keeps to its slow rhythm up until the final few pages. As far as breaking ground on the mystery, it gives you just enough to chew on until the next issue, but it also left me wanting more.
Is It Good?
A good start to an interesting new series within the Hellboy universe. History buffs will love it and Hellboy fans will need it.