Hellboy Double Feature of Evil and Beasts of Burden

The publisher provided online review copies for these two one-shots.

Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil

Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil

Story and cover by Mike Mignola; art by Richard Corben
Preview available at Dark Horse website
Also available with alternate cover by Corben

“Sullivan’s Reward” is set in 1960 Kansas, which immediately makes me think of In Cold Blood, a resemblance enhanced by meeting a mild-mannered murderer. He spins a tale of a haunted house, a cursed gift with an unusual history. (I’d say “unexpected”, but when you sit down to read a Hellboy comic, you expect just this kind of thing.) There’s poetic justice (the strength of Hellboy’s formula) and lots of lovingly illustrated battle with the supernatural. Corben’s creepy dotted style, where everyone looks off to begin with, is an excellent match for the demonic paranormal investigator.

“The House of Sebek” is set in the same time period but a significantly different location: a Northeastern museum with a crazed Egyptologist. It reminded me a little of an episode of the old Batman TV series, in a good way, only with much more gore. My favorite part of the comic is the opening framing sequence, which illustrates moving through an abandoned movie theater with posters for ancient horror films. It sets the stage for the two stories contained here as fiction, presented for our entertainment. I’m not sure who that audience is or why they’re watching Hellboy kill things, but maybe I can ask the same question about the readership. It’s some nice cartooning, anyway, with monsters that look just like us getting their comeuppance.

Hellboy/Beasts of Burden

Hellboy/Beasts of Burden: Sacrifice

Story by Evan Dorkin with Mike Mignola; art and cover by Jill Thompson
Preview available at Dark Horse website
Also available with alternate cover by Mignola

An astounding crossover, where two character groups with different approaches and feels interact in ways sensible to both and in a fashion that reveals more about each. Jill Thompson’s painted art is as gorgeous as always, and she gives Hellboy a presence and solid weight that makes it reasonable for him to be surrounded by talking animals.

The demon and the dogs team up to investigate a mysterious underground tunnel protected by spells, leading to the discovery that a previous antagonist has returned. Hellboy helps out the dogs (and cats) in fighting, although the pets get plenty of focus too. I’m always happy to see another story with these characters, especially illustrated by Thompson, who has a stunning affinity for creatures.

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