In the winter of 1975 Hellboy finds himself in the woods of Austria investigating a paranormal event at a local church.
From the Dark Horse synopsis:
The only thing more exciting than pitting Hellboy against this Satanic spin on Santa is the team-up of Mike Mignola and Adam Hughes.
What’s the skinny?
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has teamed up industry veteran Adam Hughes to bring us a 36-page standalone holiday one-shot, featuring Earth’s greatest paranormal investigator and his meeting with the legendary Krampus.
Some of you may know Krampus as that weird Christmas monster from a slew of B horror movies that’ve popped up over the last few years. Though what you may not know is the horned, anthropomorphic, half-goat, half-demon figure is a monster out of European folklore. Krampusnacht falls on December 5th each year, preceding the Feast of St. Nicholas, both which are still celebrated in parts of Europe. During Krampusnacht, Krampus punishes children who’ve misbehaved and when I say punish I don’t mean coal — I mean he kills and eats them. Well at least in my favorite versions of the folktale, like this one for instance.
Krampusnacht begins with Hellboy wandering the snow covered woods of Austria on a dark winter night in December 1975, on what we can only assume to be the evening of Krampusnacht. It’s not long into his wanderings before a ghost appears, pleading with our hero to “save her boy” and in turn leading Hellboy to the one he seeks.
Enter Wilhelm Schulze, an old man who recently made quite the disturbance at a local church, with the only intention being getting the attention of our half-demon protagonist. Schulze explains he’s been patiently awaiting Hellboy’s arrival and has dinner on the table. After sharing a quick drink together it’s time to get down to business.
Schulze reveals himself to be the legendary half-demon, half-goat figure of Christmas nightmares, Krampus himself. To convince Hellboy of the truth of his claim, Schulze provides him with a rather grisly memory of some of Krampus’ finest work. What follows is an epic and slightly confusing struggle.
What’s the catch?
For those unfamiliar with the character, you’re bound to be scratching your head a bit. But that’s to be expected and the questions Mignola will raise with with those new to Hellboy will hopefully lead you to one of the best characters in comics.
Is it good?
I’ve always admired Mignola’s love of history and its constant involvement in his stories. Whether through hard facts or speculation, you can always count on some historic presence in the man’s work. So the first thing I did on being introduced to Wilhelm Schulze was look him up on Wikipedia. I wasn’t disappointed with what I found.
Schulze was a German professor, dean and scientist who studied veterinary medicine and specialized in pigs. What stuck out to me though was a study he conducted between 1974 and 1978, titled Attempts to Objectify Pain and Consciousness in Conventional (captive bolt pistol stunning) and Ritual (knife) Methods of Slaughtering Sheep and Calves. The results of which found captive bolt stunning to be less humane than using a ritual knife. I won’t spoil things for you, but I didn’t point this out for the heck of it.
Adam Hughes isn’t an artist I’d expect to find on a Hellboy book. While he’s without question a very talented artist, his notable works Wonder Woman, Catwoman and Batgirl are on the other end of the spectrum from a horror title. Man am I glad he decided to shake things up! Krampus is without a doubt the standout from in the art department in this story. The character’s design is nightmare inducing, with a truly demonic visage and a gruesome transformation midway through the issue. Throughout the entire issue Hughes impresses with heavy detail from start to finish and shadow work that adds to the creepy feel and beautiful colors.
Is there anything else I need to say to convince you that this is a one-shot you’ll want in your collection? Adam Hughes’ artwork is reason enough, but Mignola’s patented style of showing more, saying even less and adding a dab of history makes this issue a must have. Krampus is coming your way this holiday season and you’ll want to meet him whether you’ve been naughty or nice.