Hellboy in Hell #4

Hellboy in Hell #4

 

Read a review of Hellboy in Hell #3 here .

There are moments when comics transcend the informality of their medium, bringing weight and depth to a story uncommon in most titles. Hellboy in Hell has achieved this, building the mythos of the character and heightening an already stellar backstory with more tension, intricate characters and moral uncertainty. The layers Mike Mignola is weaving into this story are impressive, drawing upon actual historical sources as well as his own Hellboy lore. This chapter gives readers more information to work with and draw our own conclusions, as the end goal is still unclear, as are the motivations of the supplementary cast of characters.

hellboyprofiles.jpgHellboy has been tempted time and again but it seems that he may have fallen prey to his demonic influences without even realizing it. Say it ain’t so, Big Red. It’s a punch in the gut to fans without feeling cheap or an overused tactic to get a reaction. It’s a blow I don’t think anyone saw coming, and one that even Hellboy is still reeling from. Was it just a dream? A trick? A magic spell cast to confuse and demoralize him, or even more simply just rattle his bones while in hell? Whatever it turns out to be, I’m hoping its anything but the truth, as that would be a near unforgivable act for the character, as much as readers may understand or consider to be the best course of action overall. What’s done for the greater good is rarely the same as an act of goodness, and all the rationalizations cannot take back the step across that line.

This issue reveals who Hellboy’s mystical pal is and though I did not recognize them, at least one fan more familiar with his universe picked up on it from the start and wrote in to let Dark Horse know. I love reading fan mail columns at the end of Dark Horse or Image comics, they tend to post the really interesting letters and don’t seem to edit them if fans mention other publishers. That’s a classy move.

Mignola and Dave Stevens work together so well that the art is nearly flawless; telling the story without overcomplicating pages and interrupting the narrative. There are panels that exist solely to add atmosphere; not a common artistic move in comics but really adds to the ambiance without distracting from the story underway. It’s a cinematic editing style translated to another medium, melding collage, story and simple yet impactful images to create something uniquely Hellboy/Mignola-esque. Mignola’s art has always stood apart from other comics on the shelf, and maybe I’m only noticing this now, but Hellboy in Hell feels more like pouring the pages of an ancient book of lore, both art and story wise, that just happen to be filled with modern quips and humour. An excellent series that should definitely be on your pull list.

 

Hellboy in Hell #3 Review

Hellboy in Hell #3 Review

Issue #3 of Hellboy in Hell delves deeper into the mythos of Pandemonium, both Hellboy’s origins and the aftermath of his father, Azzael, granting him the Right Hand of Doom. It seems Hellboy has more than a few evil uncles in his demonic family, princes of Pandemonium who brought down Angels of Destruction when they learned of Azzael’s gift to this bastard child. So unworthy was he in their minds that they sought to destroy the entire city to prevent him from claiming said gift. Such destruction to no avail, as Azzael sent Hellboy away just in the nick of time: Earth his unlikely final destination. His son safe, Azzael was stripped of all power and imprisoned alive forever. All for Hellboy, who would grow to become a force of good despite his demonic origins. Even though Azzael is undoubtedly evil, that moment of kindness for his creation brings more shades of gray to hell than there’s ever been.

It makes sense though, that Hellboy came to be in a more unique way than simply a demon being born. There had to be a catalyst beyond growing up on Earth surrounded by human kindness to explain his fight for good instead of a fall back into evil. Nature vs. nurture is a valid argument but one would think that not many demons can or would fight their nature. It seems like an inherent trait of being a demon: evil to the core and motivated by that malicious intent. I believe that this little detail of his father’s kindness says a lot about the spirit in which he was created, as evil as the Right Hand of Doom’s overall purpose may be. Did he affix it to Hellboy knowing that it would not be used in the way it was meant? Did he do it to spite his brothers and other children? What made Hellboy so different that he deserved that gift? Such a simple moment—that’s not even the biggest revelation in this book— really got my mind spinning all the possibilities, which is a delightful after-effect for this comic to make.

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Hellboy gets to meet a few of his relatives in this issue and in a completely unsurprising twist, ends up fighting them. Let’s not ignore the irony of Hellboy being the black sheep of his family. The battle is quite brutal and you really do start to worry about Hellboy during it. Not as worried as you will be though, when you finish off this issue. Mike Mignola has written in a hell of a twist that legitimately shocked me. Where does Hellboy go from here? Well, according to the name of the next issue: Death Riding an Elephant.

Mignola’s art with Dave Stewart’s colours is always great but this issue’s colour palate in particular resonated really well. The simplicity of some panels is accentuated by touches of bright colours, setting a consistent mood without becoming dull. It’s a beautiful book. The return of Hellboy has been truly great with real surprises throughout. Easily one of my favourite Hellboy books already, I’m anxious but excited to see what will happen next.