Written and drawn by Mike Mignola
Colors by Dave Stewart
“People are like houses. The more experience you have, the more memories, the more rooms you have in your house. Some of these rooms are worth revisiting while others.. better left locked, boarded up and bricked over.”
Time again to dip back into Mike Mignola’s Hellboy universe and experience one of the most consistent titles on the shelves today. This issue concludes the first arc of the series and we once again join our intrepid recently deceased hero as he treks through hell. However, in true Mignola style, not everything is as it seems.
Last issue we left off on a truly major plot development with Hellboy coming to the realization that, oblivious to him, he had slain the Devil himself and the ramifications of this spilled over into this issue. Beginning with Hellboy drifting through the abyss, nothing matters in hell anymore after his murder of the great King or so he has been told.
His guide and savior from the first few issues soon saves him, and we are treated to an origin story for our Charon ‘stand-in’. What we get is the story of Edward Grey, an occult specialist from England that Hellboy knew in 1888. Much like Hellboy, Grey is confined to Hades, but having led a life of fighting evil, he was tragically caught by a demon summoned by a group he was investigating and dragged to hell where he was torn asunder. Some creatures on the banks of Acheron found his body parts and sewed him back together where he exists in his present form.
It was tragic to learn of such a noble and good-spirited character’s grisly end and how unfair it was. While serving as a guide for Hellboy, Mignola has used Grey as a guide for the reader as well, opening up knowledge of the surrounds of hell and Hellboy’s role in the underworld. With Satan dead and Hellboy’s brothers out of the picture there is no expectations or ruler of Hell. As Grey states, Hellboy is free, free of the burden of his supposed destiny and rule and is able to do what he wants. As of now, Hell is a barren limbo and scenes toward the end of the issue suggest that Grey knows more about events and Hellboy’s destiny than he has let on, further deepening the plot, very, very intriguing.
As I’ve said before in reviews, this series so far has felt like a grand Shakespearean play with its story and has referenced the great playwright many times. Mignola in this issue again includes themes from Macbeth and even John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The writer has always shown reverence for all literature in his work and its quite apparent in this first arc he is tipping his hat to these great works in his own world building. By no means is it plagiarism, simply Mignola’s love letter to his own heroes.
Once again Mignola delivers another fantastic issue in both story and art. Every issue is a showcase for his talent and he is just as much adept at somber and moody scenes as he is at huge flashy fight scenes, this issue is further proof of that. As always, Mignola’s art and story are amplified by Dave Stewart’s wonderful coloring. Setting the tone for the book is not only on the shoulders of Mignola but also Stewart who strongly contrasts gloomy blues and blacks with fiery reds and oranges to depict hell and its inhabitants. It’s a sublime partnership that makes every page a joy to behold.
The first arc has been at times, a slow build but it has been dotted with intense action, thickening plot threads and huge revelations to the mythos of Hellboy so I’m excited to see where the creative team takes it from here. This issue serves a nice little capper to the first arc but still leaves me wanting more. Bring on the next arc!
4.5 out of 5 nerds