Dark Horse Comic Reviews (5/14/14)
By: Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart
Art: Mike Mignola
The great thing about Hellboy is that there is always one more adventure to be told. When I first heard that Mike Mignola was going to kill off the Titular character, I thought that creatively, Hellboy has just run its course, but after reading this issue (and the ones preceding it) I realize the error of my thinking.
Hellboy in Hell #6 is the jump off point of a new arc for the series. What this arc is about I haven’t the foggiest, but it doesn’t matter. Hellboy in Hell #6 is still a good Hellboy story through and through and that is all that matters.
Mignola and Stewart tell a tale that story-wise does not need much explanation or support from the previous Hellboy tales. It’s a kind of standalone issue that newcomers can easily read without feeling lost and while veterans get a chance to catch their breath. This issue follows Hellboy confronting an old nemesis, while also fleshing out some of the geography of Hell itself. Told in the present and in the past this issue contains everything you need to know to enjoy the story and is not bogged down by needless exposition. Little hints thrown in at the end of the story point to previous mysteries, but are not necessary to enjoy the story.
As always Mignola’s artwork is a great fit for this character, and more importantly Hell itself. The use of shadow really plays heavily in his art style and for the dismal expanse that is Hell it really serves to help the world look foreboding, and menacing. Every corner looks like it would contain some unspeakable horror, lurking deep with its shadowed recesses and I would dare say that the second main character of this series is probably the domain of Hell itself.
With that said the heavy use of shadow could sometimes make it hard to tell when there is a new setting or location, since many of Hellboy’s adventure take place at night in shadowy foreboding places. In particular during the flashback panels I did catch myself thinking as to whether he was still in Hell or somewhere else and if not for the exposition I might have thought it was all on singular adventure.
Despite a few gripes this is a solid issue. While not doing much to further the plot, it gives a brief respite from all the craziness of the previous chapters and is a good entry point for the series. Anyone hopping on board would not have too much trouble getting caught up, and honestly Hellboy is just a great adventure comic. Its rich history and characters are a benchmark of fine stories, and having him dead and in Hell is just an excellent way to continue those adventures in a fresh intriguing way.
By: Mike Mignola and Scott Allie
Art: Max Fuimara
As a long time fan of Hellboy, I can say with much surety that I was very interested in reading Abe Sapien, especially since the status quo within the Hellboy universe has changed. Abe Sapien has always been an intriguing character, and now with his own series we get to see him overcome his own challenges without the support of the BPRD.
With that said Abe Sapien #12 is an issue, which is not heavily focused on the titular character. In fact I would say he is more of a plot device rather then a character but within the context of this story that is fine. Mike Mignola and Scott Allie do a wonderful job of telling a story that stands on its own just fine. This is especially good as this is my first read of the series, and as an entry point this issue leaves me with none of the confusion or frustration that can happen when you jump on a series in the middle.
This issue follows two characters that, having survived the world changing “apocalypse”, are currently hiding in an abandon house in the country. Mignola and Allie give a kind of origin story, explaining who these characters were before the apocalypse as well as showcasing who they are now after the calamity has fallen. As a narrative device it works and it works well. The whole issue quickly brings you up to speed with these new additions and sets up the next issue’s to jump right into the meat of what I assume will be the next arc.
Art wise Max Fuimara does a good job of matching the foreboding and haunting tone of Mignola and Allie’s writing. His slightly stylized art goes well with the weird, and his slight exaggerations of characters features do much to convey the character of the person. In particular, one of the two characters introduced has a slightly cock-eyed look that matches his unhinged personality perfectly. Little details like that go along way bringing you into the story.
Summing it up Abe Sapien #12 was an intriguing issue. I highly recommend it as a jumping on point for anyone who might be interested in reading this spin-off. It is an engaging read that will keep you enthralled till the end and leaves you curious for the next chapter. Sounds like a keeper to me.
Reviews by: Derek Nelson (Co-host of ETMF Podcast) @etmfpodcast