Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hellboy Vol. 6 - Strange Places

Hellboy Vol. 6 - Strange Places
By Mike Mignola

Near the end of "The Island," the second of two stories contained in Strange Places, Hellboy says, "Well, that was something."

And Hellboy is right. That was something.

Strange Places brings together two two-issue miniseries, but they might as well be one longer tale since they flow directly into one another. In one, Hellboy goes undersea (we later learn he's down there for years) and romps about in watery kingdoms. In the other, he goes ... well, I don't know where he goes, exactly. A ship graveyard and a weird old inn and to Hell, I guess. Something like that. Creator Mike Mignola doesn't exactly hold the reader by the hand. Chris Claremont he is not.

Both stories are connected with Hellboy's journey to find out why everyone expects him to destroy the world. (Was that a spoiler? Oops.) Both stories, especially the latter, reveal a lot about Hellboy's nature and the forces lined up against him. So, cool stuff, right?

Pretty much.

The first tale, "The Third Wish," is the better of the two. It's got mermaids and an undersea witch and an African dude and a bell that I don't quite understand. That's right, a bell. So that's neat. I still don't understand it, but it's neat.

The second story delves more into Hellboy's nature, but it's also kind of confused and all over the place. Mignola throws out ideas and concepts and creatures and places willy nilly. The reader's job is to take all this raw information and try to get it. There were times when I had to backtrack and reread what came before just to be sure I was still following things okay. I think I wrapped my head around it all, but this story is so impressionistic I may well have missed lots. As noted in another post (I think), Hellboy seems like a series that will reward rereading, in part because you'll get a lot of stuff you missed the first time around.

In the notes for this volume, Mignola says these stories close the door on the first chapter of Hellboy's life. What does that mean for the future? I don't know. What I do know is, I'm in. I'm on board. I'll follow along. I can call you Betty, and Betty you can call me fan.

An earlier version of this review was originally posted at and was also featured at

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