This review was originally posted at IMWAN.com and was also featured at Popthought.com.
Hellboy Vol. 3 - The Chained Coffin and Others
By Mike Mignola
When I dipped into The Chained Coffin, the third collection of Mike Mignola's brilliant Hellboy, this one a collection of short stories, my reaction was immediate: Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes, YES, as in the "yes" of great, great pleasure.
What I'm trying to say is, the third Hellboy collection is nothing short of pure, distilled AWESOME. Utterly, completely and totally awesome. Mignola completely ditches the Epic Story Arc approach so common in collected editions. Instead, this is a collection of short stories, and wow does Hellboy shine in the short format. And this is coming from a guy who reeeeaaaallly likes his epics.
Mignola gets in, gives us a dose of dark fable-laden adventure, and gets back out with the unpredictable grace of a drunken vampire bat, sometimes coasting on a current of moody visuals, at other times darting and swooping through bizarre characters and landscapes. Every story here is a winner, but each in a different way. From the wickedly funny "The Corpse" to "The Chained Coffin" and all it reveals about Hellboy's origins to the dark and ugly "The Wolves of Saint August" to the imaginative follow up to "Wake the Devil", "Almost Colossus", this volume is chock full o' reading goodness. Picking a favorite is difficult. The story of the sentient constructs in "Almost Colossus" was quite compelling, while Mignola's ability to get across tense, lurking horror in "The Wolves of Saint August" really grabbed me. WAY too much good stuff for one slim volume.
Hellboy + short stories = teh winz!
The list of things to like is extensive. Bits of humor help keep the Gothic horror from getting too suffocating. The highly stylized art is a real treat, Kirbyesque in its visual power, dark and brooding like Colan at his best, yet unlike either of them in execution and approach. The writing is just right, neither overbearing nor too sparse. Mignola carries his end of the bargain just fine. All in all, a rock solid bit o' dark adventure. I really, really liked this.
No, that's not correct. I LOVED this.
Read my regular, everything-and-anything (usually on writing and music) blog right over here.