Saturday, June 23, 2007

Review - Hellboy: Darkness Calls 2

By Mike Mignola & Duncan Fegredo
Colors by Dave Stewart, Letters by Clem Robbins
Published by Dark Horse Comics, May 2007. $2.99

Oh, Hellboy. I remember asking my folks to drive me to Raven’s Haven in Day Heights, Ohio, seeking out the first issue of HELLBOY: SEED OF DESTRUCTION, because MONKEYMAN & O’BRIEN by Art Adams was going a back-up feature in each issue. I wasn’t the least interested in this red dude with sawed-off horns, drawn by a guy whose art I’d hated in the Marvel Comics “Days of Future Present” storyline, but a talking gorilla and a hot redhead? Thank you, yes!

But as I picked up each issue of that first miniseries, I found myself drawn more to the story of a hulking devil with a red right hand fighting off Nazis and a ghostly Rasputin, than the misadventures of a monkey doing … whatever they did in that Monkeyman story. The point is, Hellboy is one of the few mid-90’s indie creations that’s been published (semi)consistently since its inception, and with DARKNESS CALLS it’s still finding new ground to cover. This is the first series drawn by someone other than Mignola, and while Duncan Fegredo’s art is discernably different, it still feels like the same world. Ghastly ghouls and speaking skeletons are still around, the pacing that feels Hellboy-unique is consistent with previous series.

I love the pacing -- the silent reaction panels, the close-ups of strange statues and weird birds -- you know you’re reading a Hellboy comic with the tiny panels and big-eyed owls. Though Hellboy lost his supporting cast a series or two ago (effectively spun-off into BPRD), this has actually managed to free the series to delve deeper into the Lovecraftian supernatural of his world. Issue two has witches, undead armies, Baba Yaga, battling zombies, more witches, mustachioed imps, and a cameo by Hellboy’s devilish dad -- the result is that it feels packed without being frantic. HELLBOY is probably best read in trades, which almost always contain a bonus epilogue not seen in the miniseries, but as single issues go, HELLBOY: DARKNESS CALLS is the only reason to paw through the otherwise license-cluttered Dark Horse shelf these days.

Tell me more: Hellboy, Dark Horse Comics,

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