Monday, October 22, 2012

Comic Review: Hellboy Library Edition Volume 5

    The fifth, massive volume of Hellboy’s Library Edition contains the first two parts of a three part epic.  It also marks a fairly monumental change in Hellboy.  Not the first time someone else has done some art for the book, but an actual handing over of the artistic reigns for the regular series.  Mike Mignola continues to write, but Duncan Fegredo does the art (Dave Stewart still on colors).

    I was frustrated with the beginning of the volume.  The first few chapters had too many threads going on at once and I found the art to be far too busy.  This combined to create a mess I had a devil of a time extracting any meaning from.  A bunch of witches jibber-jabbered, broken by the occasional ‘Aw, Crap!’ or ‘Jeez!’ from Hellboy.  But to what end?  Honestly, I couldn’t figure it out.  It wasn’t until he came across the house with the domovoi that I started to make head or tales of the story.

    I’m glad I just re-read volume 2 this past week, because the story in this book draws heavily on some of the short stories from there.  In fact, The Corpse of all things, is key.  Hellboy facing off against Russian folklore always feels right, for whatever reason, and here he deals with several strange things from that dark and frozen land.  And while Hellboy is dealing with various problems, forces are aligning against him.  Ancient evils are being called forth and destinies are being forged.

    But it’s really with the start of The Wild Hunt that this volume grabbed me and pulled me in.  Hellboy begins to pull himself out of his years long depression that has taken him to hell (of sorts) and back, via death, Africa, an island, and all kinds of crazy.  And the machinations of a porcine a-hole put Hellboy in the gravest of danger.

    There has long been talk through Hellboy of his eventual destiny, as the Beast of the Apocalypse, to destroy the world of man, topple the walls of hell, and rule as the new King of Hell.  And Hellboy, not interested in any of that, has done his best to ignore that kind of talk, and punch the crap out of anyone who spouts too much of it.  But he’s finally beginning to realize that ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, and it is time to make choices.  And the more he understands about himself, his ancestry, and those who would use him for their own purposes, the more ready he is to make those choices.

    I gather Mignola has some pretty big plans for this series, and that this three part story sets the stage for what I’m starting to think may be the climax and conclusion of Hellboy’s story.  Certainly old threads are being tied up or woven into the greater story.  I’m curious to see if there will be interaction with B.P.R.D., as they’re both in the same world, but events in each don’t seem to effect the other in any deep or meaningful way, so far as I can tell.  Now that he’s got a handle on things, I wouldn’t mind seeing Fegredo stay on as primary artist for the series.  He’s close enough to Mignola that it isn’t too jarring looking at newer and older stuff, yet not so close that it is mere imitation (at least, after the first three chapters).

Hellboy Volume 5: Darkness Calls & The Wild Hunt
Author: Mike Mignola
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
ISBN: 978-1-59582-886-6


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