Friday, February 13, 2009

Hellboy Vol. 7 - The Troll Witch and Other Stories

Hellboy Vol. 7 - The Troll Witch and Other Stories
By Mike Mignola & others

So I sat down with the first seven Hellboy collections (I believe that as of this writing there are now eight) in an effort to get caught up and wrap my head around the cult phenomenon that is this big-fisted, cigar-chewing, red devil guy. That's what you've been reading the last week or two. Me churning my way through Mike Mignola's Little Franchise That Could.

It just sort of crept up on me, this Hellboy thing. One day it was this little book by some guy who was pretty good but far from a superstar, the next it's this whole Thing, with movies and cartoons and devoted fans. Word was, it was awesome. When my buddy Bill pushed, pushed, pushed for me to read it, I could not refuse. The collected editions landed at my door (thanks, Bill!) and I dove right in.

And now I’m done! The Troll Witch and Other Stories caps off my reading of this series (for now), and I've got to say, this was a satisfying finish. I've mentioned before that I think Hellboy shines in the short story format, and that continues to hold true throughout this volume. Here we've got short entries in the Hellboy mythology that get us in, show us something wild, and get us out again. Cool. I love that.

Following the events of Strange Places, Hellboy is now wandering the globe, searching for who he is, what he is, his purpose, answers, and so on and so forth. Yada yada yada, big mystical journey, you get the picture. But really what he's doing is allowing Mignola to toss him into all sorts of wild situations.

And toss him into wild situations he does.

The title story might have been the weakest one here. The standout for me was "Makoma," lifted from African fables and lovingly drawn by Richard Corben. Absolutely gorgeous in every way and bizarre in the way ancient fables are, this was a GEM. Lovely landscapes and happenings that leave you scratching your head, it's a great example of the sheer, limitless possibility inherent in Mignola's creation.

The other stories are a mixed bag, some better than others but largely solid stuff. This volume isn't as consistently strong as The Chained Coffin or The Right Hand of Doom, but it's well worth a dip even if only to see Mignola make world mythology his own.

This series has been a delight to read. Thanks to Bill Johnson and his monkey for making it possible.

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

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