Hellboy vol. 12

Talk about your incredible conclusions! How do I possibly review Hellboy Vol. 12 without massive spoilers? You should know, I have only read Vols. 1-3 before signing up to review 12, and I must say I think it’s only my vast knowledge of Celtic folklore and mythology that kept me following the thing. Yes, yes, readers, I am now planning to fill in my sizable gap. Pronto.

But I digress.

What I love about Hellboy in general is a similar thing that’s done in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It’s a thing that makes me smack my nerdy lips with delight as I read. Well, of course we’ve got the incredible mysterious tension, and the perfect rhythm of not only what the reveals are, but when they occur. I had a writing professor once declare that [when writing mysteries] it’s actually less important what happens, than when the reader knows what happened. Also, the wry jadedness of Hellboy, his stubborn attitude coupled with the vulnerability of not belonging, and not really understanding who he is (or buying or liking it much when he does find out) that makes his character the perfect POV character. But back to my point: what the Hellboy comics do is they REFERENCE.

Oh boy, do they reference. Literature (Lovecraft much?), history (hi Nazis, hi Stalin), mythology (tell me what’s more terrifying than hearing a huge bloodthirsty horde of basically orcs screaming to Badb and the Morrigan), all while keeping a breakneck pace with characters whom we really care about. And any readers who, like me, are know-it-all nerds tend to squeal with glee every page or so. Sometimes every panel. This is rich storytelling at its best.

Of course, no comic review can be complete without discussing the art. Mignola’s work embellishes and echoes the writing in the best of ways. I first came across Mignola’s work when the White Wolf re-releases of the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories came out with his cover art. His work is simultaneously streamlined and crammed with detail. He’s also amazing at giving otherworldly characters plenty of emotional expression. One of my all-time favorite artists, no question.

Now I have to go get my hands on Volume 4…

~Prof. Jenn