This review was originally posted at IMWAN.com and was also featured at Popthought.com.
Hellboy Vol. 2 - Wake the Devil
By Mike Mignola
Mike Mignola, who hand-built a nice little empire for himself with his fan favorite Hellboy, continues the Big Red Dude's saga in this second volume, Wake The Devil.
What an interesting, sometimes confusing, sometimes compelling story. Even more hints at who and what Hellboy really is? Check. More Nazis? Check. Vampires and strange creatures? Check. Suggestions something much larger is at work? Check.
Mignola's unique, wild style is, as the kids say these days, wicked as hell. (Actually, I don't think the kids say that.) Strange angles and swaths of shadow and rough-hewn edges abound. It's dark, exciting art, as if Gene Colan's horror work were merged with Jack Kirby's wildest 1970s imaginings, and then tossed into a Frank Miller blender for good measure. He uses this style to great effect, giving us a story about vampires and talking heads and mysterious elder gods. Hellboy was maybe sent here to destroy the Earth or something, and Rasputin never really died and is conspiring to release some cosmic dragon or something, and it's all tied together into some big end of the world thing.
Got to admit, there is a lot to swallow here, and it's thrown at you without hand-holding. There were brief moments when I had to pause in order to wrap my head around what I was reading. See, Mignola is sparse with his text and forces the reader to pay close attention to his rapid shifts in perspective. He doesn't litter his stories with captions, either. He just go, go, goes, leaving me sometimes scratching my head and saying, "What's going on here?"
But part of that is because he's clearly not playing his entire hand. He's got more to show you, but is in no rush to do so. Keeps you guessing. Keeps you interested. And that's cool with me.
The parts you do get are really interesting. Mignola seems to have taken a bunch of real mythologies and mixed them up and dished them back out as something new. It's a big fat blender filled with stuff nicked from here, there and everywhere. I love stuff like that. I like the bits he's playing with, how he's reinventing stuff, how he's re-imagining old myths as modern stories. Makes me curious to see more, to see exactly what he's got up his sleeve.
Seeing this, it's pretty to understand how Hellboy went from being the little book that could to a mini empire all its own.
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