- Posted by Johanna on January 20, 2006 at 7:59 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Mike Mignola; script by John Byrne
- PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Books; $17.95 US
This first Hellboy collection takes place at an abandoned English church during World War II, where a group of paranormal investigators assemble to prevent Nazis from raising eons-old monsters. Instead, the summoning results in a demon baby, a Hellboy, who is adopted by the team.
In this story, his mentor is killed by a frogman with a poisonous tongue after returning from a disastrous expedition to the Arctic. Mignola’s unique, sharp-edged style is perfectly suited to establish the mystically charged atmosphere that permeates the book. This is an imaginative blend of classic pulp elements — Nazis, demons, evil lizard monsters — executed with flair and driven by a hulking yet strangely cuddly hero.
The story is filled with creepy oddities, visits to exotic locations, and an historical awareness, with events spurred by a family’s obsession over nine generations. The book is an action-adventure, not out of place compared to so many other comics with outrageous-looking heroes and mystical events, but the sense of being part of something bigger sets it apart. References to previous events in both their world and ours provide a feeling of realism.
The pages are permeated with black. Figures and settings swim forward out of the dark that makes up the majority of the book’s world. The book works so well because it evokes shared fears of serpents, of deep dark water, of ancient evils and unexplained death while still providing entertaining battles.
There are preview pages available at the publisher’s website.