GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Comic Review: Hellboy Library Edition Vol. 5 (ARC) | I Smell Sheep

Friday, July 13, 2012

Comic Review: Hellboy Library Edition Vol. 5 (ARC)

Writer: Mike Mignola
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Mike Mignola
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Publication Date: July 11, 2012
Format: FC, 408 pages; HC, 9" x 12"
Age range: 16
ISBN-10: 1-59582-886-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-59582-886-6

Hellboy has racked up multiple Eisner Awards, numerous spinoffs, a novel line, video games, cartoons, and two feature films. Hellboy Library Volume 5 collects two complete trade paperbacks, Darkness Calls and The Wild Hunt; the short story The Mole; and an extensive selection of previously unreleased sketches and designs.

* The oversized Hellboy hardcover series continues, collecting the beginning of the Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo saga!
* An extensive selection of new sketchbook material.

must admit I have not read Hellboycomics in many years. It’s not that Idislike the character, I actually find him to be an interesting figure,particularly because of his constant struggle with his own demons (punintended). The main reason I exited hismythos was because I wanted Mignolia to draw all Hellboy related books, and Ifrankly hated both movies. Anyway, theformer reason is, I admit, typical of a comic book geek and Mignolia’s decisionto let another artist, Duncan Fegrado, do the artwork in this volume isfortunately discussed as being a difficult choice. Fegrado admits he would have beendisappointed that Mignolia was not drawing it if he wasn’t the one chosen to doso. In other words, Fegrado “getsit.” The latter reason is also a resultof my comic book geekiness, I just felt like the movies did not capture thecharacter. Anyway, that is a debate foranother day.

Hellboy Library Edition, vol. 5 was overall a nice return to th
e Hellboy mythos for me. It contains three stories, “The Mole”,“Darkness Calls”, and “The Wild Hunt”, and while the stories work together thelatter two are effectively standalone additions in the Hellboy canon. Of course the ever persistent theme of ourhero struggling with his destiny is again; well, persistent throughout theseworks. However, before turning my focusto each of these stories, it is important to first address the work as a whole.

The full work is, as expected,nicely presented with a nice price tag to boot and has an extensive sketchbookfeaturing concept work by Mike Mignolia and Duncan Fegrado. While much of the introductory material, theafterward, and even the sketchbook is peppered with implicit and explicitapologies to the reader that the artist is not Mignolia, even some from Fegradohimself, the reality is that Fegrado is an excellent artist who has managed tocapture aspects of Mignolia’s work while displaying his own style as well. Oneinteresting aspect of the first introduction, the one to the entire libraryedition, is that Scott Allie the Senior Managing Editor is unusually forthright about how he and implicitly how Mignolia felt about people they have worked with, but apologetic about issues of shifting style and moving away from just another ghosting of Mignolia works.

“The Mole”
Thisstory, featured originally as a Free Comic Book Day story, is vivid, tragic,and existential in just a few pages. Inthis volume it is labeled as the prologue to “Darkness Calls” but arguably toboth of the stories in the library edition, and it serves this purpose wellbecause it effectively allegorically sums up the entirety of the strugglesHellboy is plagued with throughout the volume. One of the most interesting things about Hellboy is that he is theembodiment of the clich√© – “No good deed goes unpunished” and this conceptplays out over the course of the two subsequent stories.

“Darkness Calls”
The first story in this libraryedition is aptly titled “Darkness Calls” because Hellboy is constantly findinghimself in the midst of trouble; trouble that has come “a callin’.”. Theart was excellent, and I particularly liked the coloring. I have always found it interesting thatHellboy who tends to be blood red stands out on the page from the otherelements, effectively reinforcing to the reader he is the focus of the storybut also at a deeper level that he is a tragic figure plagued with a propensitytoward violence whether of his own or someone else’s doing. That being stated, of the two main stories inthis edition, I found this one to be the least compelling. Essentially it is a presentation of Hellboyas a ball in a pinball machine being bounced around and beat on simply forbeing who he is. While I was not asimpressed with the story of “Darkness Calls” the work is an excellent exampleof how the graphic medium can be used effectively to present large scale actionsequences while simultaneously reinforcing the power of paneling to controlpacing. Ultimately, the story is ameditation on revenge; therefore, the heavy use of action sequences isappropriate, though not profound.

“The Wild Hunt”

The second story “The Wild Hunt” is basically a
continuation of ‘Darkness Calls”. Mignolia speaks about these stories and how they are part of a largerstory, and “The Wild Hunt” I believe is a culmination of past events in the Hellboymythos. While “Darkness Calls” I feltlacked depth one would expect from a work being presented in a library edition,“The Wild Hunt” delivers this depth. Itdoes of course have excellent action sequences, but for the characters,including Hellboy, who act out usually violently their actions have tragicconsequences. If “Darkness Falls” is ameditation on revenge then “The Wild Hunt” is a meditation on the perils andconsequences of it.

Fegrado also demonstrates his truecommand of the Hellboy style in “The Wild Hunt” where he truly comes into hisown. While I will always be fond ofMignolia, I am completely satisfied with Fegrado as a Hellboy artist and evenfind his work in this library edition to be beautiful, even in its violence. “The Wild Hunt” is an excellent ending tothis volume and has again rekindled my interest in the Hellboy mythos. Thank you Fegrado!

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Guest reviewer: Dr. Cary Gillenwater

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