Title: Hellboy Omnibus Volume 2
Story-Arc: Strange Places
Writer(s): Mike Mignola & John Byrne
Illustrator(s): Mike Mignola, Gary Gianni, Richard Corben & Dave Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Format: Paperback – Omnibus
Release Date: July 3rd 2018
Genre(s): Comics, Horror, Fantasy
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Previously on Hellboy:
Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola
It’s a cruel world for Hellboy. He lives like a human and yet is treated like a monster. Come to think of it, it’s actually something you could easily draw parallels to regarding some unfortunate folks in our society, but Hellboy’s occult and paranormal universe makes his particular situation far more distressful. Imagine being constantly drawn to an unwritten and universal rule condemning you to a life where you are the key to the end of times. Heavy, right? At least having that accursed right hand still has some benefits, like being able to pummel those relentless creatures back into the darkness where they crawled out from. Now, the real question is: How will Hellboy deal with the burden he shoulders? Clearly ignoring it hasn’t been very fruitful lately.
Hellboy Omnibus Volume 2: Strange Places collects stories printed from 1998 to 2005, including Conqueror Worm, Strange Places, Into the Silent Sea, and “The Right Hand of Doom“, “Box Full of Evil,” and “Being Human” from The Right Hand of Doom and B.P.R.D. Being Human. The beauty of these new paperback omnibus editions is how the stories are presented in a chronological order, making it so, so much easier for readers to follow Hellboy in his quest of self-discovery. For anyone who has ever tried to understand where to start with his stories, Hellboy isn’t the easiest series to follow with multiple series within the same lore (i.e. Hellboy, B.R.P.D., etc.). These omnibuses easily levels the playing field for readers by giving them the unique and equal opportunity to understand what’s up without being lost in the process.
What mostly occurs in this volume is Hellboy’s re-evaluation of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense and their methodology. On one of the missions he was sent on, alongside a new member of the team who was previously encountered in the past, Hellboy was presented with an ethically questionable dilemma that made him question the integrity of the organization. Coupled with this issue, he also runs into more dark and sketchy figures who strongly believe in Hellboy’s role in life (the tool to the end of the world). This throws our friendly and feisty red fellow into all sorts of direction, and one that will bring him to be in exile and explore the sea. If there’s one thing he’s never stopped doing, it’s exploring both the real-world and the paranormal. The things he sees and the things he lives through are truly astonishing.
Most of the stories tend to follow one another and make slight references to past events, or even short stories collected in the short stories omnibuses. I found this omnibus to be even more coherent and a lot easier to follow, even with more world-building going on. There are details regarding Hellboy and his destiny that are better delivered throughout the stories, and it’s nice to see how Mike Mignola blends the whole paranormal and supernatural lore within the narrative. Hellboy however continues to be himself with his snappy one-liners, brutal fist fights and honourable and caring (or care-free?)personality.
The artwork continues in the same vein as the first omnibus, with a more picturesque and sequential style (as in, more choppy between panels), and mostly focuses on the dialogues and the hard-hitting shadow-heavy drawings. Your imagination is sure to be stimulated by the Lovecraftian universe. What was truly refreshing however is the change in style for certain stories, especially with Gary Gianni and Richard Corben as the artists. The style is much more modern and detailed, which really helps in admiring the character even more through different lenses. I can clearly state that there’s plenty to appreciate with Hellboy, both with the character and the world.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) was also written and directed by Guillermo del Terro, and was loosely based on stories (and short stories) from Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. This sequel still had Ron Perlman as Hellboy, and proved to be quite a success among viewers and fans alike! As previously mentioned, a reboot is on the way (2019) with David Harbour taking on the role of Hellboy, and Neil Marshall directing the movie!