Title: Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories
Writer(s): Mike Mignola
Illustrator(s): Mike Mignola, Richard Corben, Duncan Fegredo, Mick McMahon and many more.
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Format: Paperback – Omnibus
Release Date: June 5th 2018
Genre(s): Comics, Horror, Fantasy
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Previously on Hellboy:
Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola
Hellboy Omnibus Volume 2: Strange Places by Mike Mignola
As part of Dark Horse Comics latest reprints, Hellboy received a heavenly treatment that will undoubtedly help introduce the character to new readers, but also allow longtime fans an opportunity to dive into the dark and mythical world of Mike Mignola without having to figure out where to start and what to read next. This new line of omnibuses features a total of four hefty volumes that recollects the story of Hellboy and his adventures 50 years after his occult birth and all the special paranormal missions he was sent on as an agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) in New York. Alongside these four volumes, two extra volumes recollecting short stories that highlight Hellboy’s time prior to the original comic book run are also released and this right here is the first of those two volumes.
The fun thing about Hellboy is that he has faced an outstanding number of creatures throughout his career. The adventures he’s had throughout his career are however not explored in the main series. Most of the things he’s seen and dealt with are things of the past, and some of them do however find themselves haunting him here and then countless years later. In this first omnibus that collects 16 stand-alone stories of Hellboy, readers get to experience some of the dangers that have haunted many, and solved only by the B.P.R.D., and especially by Hellboy himself. With the collaboration of so many different writers/artists, Mike Mignola offers us a look at some stories that rose him and his collaborators to fame, such as “Hellboy in Mexico”, “The Crooked Man”, “Double Feature of Evil”, “The Corpse” and many more. These adventures that take place between 1947 and 1961 give fans an even deeper look at Hellboy and his problem-solving skills.
Unlike the main storyline where it sometimes can get quite hard to understand what’s going on with all the lore being thrown at the reader quickly and without guidance, these short stories are a lot easier to follow. Each story doesn’t necessarily follow each other, but they all have a structure that has a start and an ending. In fact, each of them teases us of the occurrence of a strange phenomenon somewhere in the world with details on what the whole mystery is about, with of course a touch of supernatural. Hellboy is usually always the one that has to deal with it, and while he arrives on the site hoping that there’s nothing wrong, he’ll quickly realize that things will always go to the dogs when he’s called upon. And in his case, it might not necessarily be dogs, but most ly vampires, zombies, ghosts and what not. The mythology in each story that’s incorporated and adapted by Mike Mignola within his own universe is truly entertaining and there’s always something ugly that ends up going head-to-head with Hellboy. And let me tell you, it always ends with an exchange of fists that never leaves anything undisturbed.
What I truly appreciated about this collection is the number of different collaborators on it. While Mike Mignola’s artwork will always be iconic and associated to Hellboy, it’s the various different take by different artists that makes this such a unique experience. One of my favourite artwork was done by Duncan Fegredo in the short story called “The Midnight Circus”. The story features a young Hellboy (see the picture below with all the monkeys and lion) who wishes to be treated equally among humans and runs away into a mysterious circus where haunting yet beautiful things occur. The fact that the artwork varies from one story to another really makes it easier for the reader to appreciate the story and the art while never finding themselves bored or overwhelmed by a particular style. Although, I have to say that being bored might be a bit tough with Hellboy’s short and sharp humour always kicking in.
This first omnibus collecting short stories is definitely a lovely look at Hellboy’s earlier adventures, but also all the humour, mythology and horror that embodies his very life as a half-demon.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
Hellboy: Sword of Storms is the first animated Hellboy movie released in 2006! It’s loosely based on the comics by Mike Mignola, but you still get Ron Perlman as the voice actor behind Hellboy!