Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hellboy Vol. 4 - The Right Hand of Doom

Hellboy Vol. 4 - The Right Hand of Doom
By Mike Mignola

First things first: "Pancakes" is the greatest story in the history of comic books. It's two pages long and the greatest story ever.

Okay, with that out of the way ... If I raved about The Chained Coffin, I must do the same about The Right Hand of Doom, another collection of shorter stories and another home run for Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. From start to finish, from the brief but brilliant "Pancakes" to the shocking "Box Full of Evil," this fourth volume of Hellboy stories was nothing short of a kickass treat. This is how Hellboy is meant to be read. In short bursts of awesome; bits of mythologies and stray ideas plucked from the crusty cracks of Mignola's mind; bite-sized nuggets of excellent.

There is lots to recommend here. "Pancakes" is just two pages, but I defy anyone to read this and not fall instantly in love. I read it over and over (and over and over). HILARIOUS! Hellboy as a kid is as cute as they come. "King Vold" is a very strong short that plays with some familiar European myths and some very traditional thematic ground. Nothing wrong with that, as Mignola knows how to twist those old tales in interesting ways. Really stunning art here, too. "Heads" was among my favorites. It's short and to the point, but it also features some of Mignola's best visuals and has a wicked sense of dark humor. How can you not love a swarm of angry, biting heads? This has to be seen to be believed.

But the real core of this collection are the title story and "Box Full of Evil," both of which offer insight into Hellboy's origins ... including telling us pretty much exactly what Hellboy truly is. And what he is ain't pretty. The truth had been hinted at before, but this just lays it out for all the world to see. Quite a bold character concept, and one that sank me into Hellboy's world for good.

With every story I read, Hellboy's unique blend of superheroic sensibilities, Gothic horror, myth, and small doses of noir grows more appealing. Mignola races through his tales at a brisk pace, utterly relentless in the flow of information. His art is as unique and stylized as anything else out there, yet his storytelling is generally clear and punchy and as good as anyone's. The writing is sparse but suits the tales being told.

In short, Hellboy rocks. I now get what the accolades are all about. I'm glad to call myself a fan.

An earlier version of this review was originally posted at IMWAN.com and was also featured at Popthought.com.

Read my regular, everything-and-anything (usually on writing and music) blog right over here.

No comments:

Post a Comment