Friday, November 23, 2012

Comic Reviews: Hellboy: The Bride of Hell & More

The Bride of Hell

    Another collection of short stories that flip back and forth through Hellboy’s life and career as a monster hunter with the B.P.R.D., this one leans more toward the Creepy/Eerie type of horror stories and weird tales.  Several artists guest, though it’s heavy on Richard Corbin.

    The first story, Hellboy in Mexico, or A Drunken Blur, is just fun.  Hellboy ends up in Mexico because of some…problems, and teams up with three Luchador on a holy mission from Mary.  They have a blast, drinking and partying and taking out evil.  But things can’t last like that forever, and like so often happens with Hellboy, there is a kind of sad, melancholy ending.  Next up is Double Feature of Evil, two short stories that feel very much like something out of Tales from the Crypt.  A creepy murder house with flashes of Poe.  And a looser from the gift shop who can’t take no for an answer.  “It’s never a good idea to piss off a god with an alligator head.”

    The Sleeping and the Dead is really beautiful, with heaping doses of that Hammer Horror vibe.  Vampires and ghosts and a creepy old British mansion in the 60s.  Like so many of these stories, Hellboy walks into a situation that is really, profoundly sad.  Sure, there’s the horror of the monsters, but there’s the sadness of the fractured and used up people at the heart of the evil.  A self loathing brother, a sweet girl turned into a nightmare beast, a mummified cat.  That old story.

    The title story, The Bride of Hell is interesting.  Another odd look at deep history, religion, the nature of evil, and the other side of the coin.  More of that ugly-beautiful art of Richard Corbin.  And another monster that ends up being more sad than terrifying.  His story is actually kind of fascinating.  While The Whittier Legacy is more humorous (though still a bit sad), and heaped with Lovecraftian danger.  And it’s actually drawn by Mignola, for USA Today’s website of all things.  And then there’s Buster Oakley Gets His Wish.  …What the hell is wrong with Mike Mignola?!  “You don’t usually see cows with arms --and underpants.”  True, Hellboy.  True.  I guess when Hellboy gets involved with cattle mutilation in Nebraska, it’s gonna get weird.  Real weird.

The Storm and the Fury

    This is the third part of the Mike Mignola/Duncan Fegredo collaboration and marks the end of many things.  Not only does it finish the story started in Darkness Calls (in truth, started much earlier than that), but it takes the world of Hellboy to places it can’t really come back from.

    Fegredo is well in command of the art by this point, and Mignola is burning bridges left and right.  However, there’s not a lot I can say about this book that wouldn’t involve unconscionable spoilers.  What I’ll say is this, if you’re a Hellboy fan, and you’ve not been keeping up to date, you’ve pretty much got to read this final three book arc.

    Mignola has taken the character to new places, changed things a great deal, and reminded us readers that there is no status quo in Hellboy’s universe.  There are connections to history and mythology, to pulps and fairy tales.  And through it all, a deep melancholy.  I’m very curious to find out where things go from here.

House of the Living Dead

    A direct sequel to the Hellboy in Mexico, this story is inspired by the ridiculous, but kind of awesome House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula.  It also reminds me of some of those awful Mexican horror films from the 60s.  Not the ones with the wrestlers, like Santos.  But the really awful ones.

    The art is full on Corben, with all the ugly-pretty you can handle.  It’s gross, but beautiful in a weird way.  His women are all fleshy and weird.  His men even weirder.  And his Hellboy is kind of skinny and droopy looking.  But somehow it works for this sad little tale.

Hellboy: The Bride of Hell and Others
Author: Mike Mignola
Artists: Richard Corben, Kevin Nowlan, etc.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
ISBN: 978-1-59582-740-1

Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury
Author: Mike Mignola
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
ISBN: 978-1-59582-827-9

Hellboy: House of the Living Dead
Author Mike Mignola
Artist: Richard Corben
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
ISBN: 978-1-59582-757-9


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