Writer & Artist – Mike Mignola
Colors – Dave Stewart
Letters – Clem Robins
Publisher – Dark Horse Comics
Hellboy in Hell returns with more tales of “Red’s” afterlife adventures in issue five, The Three Gold Whips.
Once again Hellboy creator Mike Mignola writes and handles art duties, along with colors by Dave Stewart and letters by Clem Robins, and the wait was definitely worth it.
We start out with Hellboy on a staircase in Hell somewhere having a smoke, when an older gentleman approaches asking for directions to a cemetery. The Right Hand of Doom says he doesn’t know where it is but since he’s not doing anything but hanging out on a staircase he’ll help the old guy find it.
The “Old Guy” is Jules Dulot, an army deserter, who along with Guy Roulet and Nodier, ran from a battle in Smolensk and sought shelter in an old Church. The names and place I just wrote in the previous sentence are presented to you the way they were presented to me while reading the story. I have no knowledge of them being actual historical or even literary figures. They may very well be references to some obscure Russian parable for all I know and that’s why I love Mignola’s writing! He draws on different myths and legends, historical events, and literature for inspiration and he is a master of telling a story with art and very little actual dialogue between characters, allowing the reader to fill in the gaps with their imagination. In short, Mignola is a genius.
So, Jules tells HB that at midnight in the old church, a devil appeared and bought all of their souls in exchange for seven years of living like a king and three whips that produce gold coins when cracked at the ground. The demon also told them that at the end of those seven years he would come for them and if they could tell him what meal awaits them in Hell as well as how they shall eat it and how they shall drink it, they will retain their souls and be free of the consequences of the deal.
When Jules’ seven years were up he was out walking and encountered a talking snake that gave him a clue for whatever reason to save his soul and so now here he is in Hell, looking for the cemetery. The snake told him to find the demon’s grandmother in the cemetery and she may help him solve the riddle.
Are you still with me folks? I know to the uninitiated this sounds like a convoluted mess but trust me here, this book is fantastic!
Mike Mignola is a master of the comic book medium. His Hellboy/BPRD universe is incredibly vast and his many characters are so well developed they get their own solo ongoing series! Many creators have taken on this amazing world and have added to it over the years forcing me to compare Mignola’s universe to that of one of his biggest inspirations, H.P. Lovecraft.
Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos has been an inspiration to authors, painters, comic book creators, and musicians for decades. Many famous horror novelists have added their own spin to the mythos through the years but none of those come close to the original stories. The same can be said about Mignola and his world in my opinion.
As I said, many creators have taken on BPRD stories and characters and as good as some of these are, nothing compares to the dark, moody, strangeness of Mignola’s art and dialogue.
Meanwhile in Hell…Hellboy and Jules find the cemetery and a couple of skeletal soldiers recognize Jules and show them to the grandmother’s place.
I won’t say any more to avoid spoiling the outcome. You’ll just have to read it to find out if the demon’s grandmother will help our heroes or betray them? What meal awaits Jules in Hell? How will he eat and drink it? Does Hellboy care one way or the other?
When Hellboy in Hell premiered I wasn’t sure if I liked it all that much. The initial first issue was fine. I didn’t really have any complaints but I felt it just needed more. The next three issues picked up a bit and then the book was gone! I honestly wasn’t sure if the book was even coming back because it had been so long between issues but I am glad it did. Something just seemed to click in my mind with issue five that kind of made me step back and think “Ahhh…I get where this is going and I love it!”
It is good to see Hellboy again and even better that Mignola is running the show. I give Hellboy In Hell #5 The Three Gold Whips a solid…
5 out of 5 nerds