I organized my trades the other day. My Hellboy trades leapt out and demanded to be read.
First, I read my BPRD. Then Abe Sapien. Then Lobster Johnson. I skipped Witchfinder and went to the final and main course – Hellboy itself.
Man. Those are some incredible books. I’ve only made it through the first two trades: Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil. I’ll wax ecstatic about the later.
At the end of the first trade, Hellboy beats Rasputin and the Cavendish clan and thwarts the plan to wake Sadu Hem and summon the Ogdru Jahad. Wake the Devil picks up there. The basic plot is that the skeleton of what may be a vampire is stolen. The BPRD searches out the vampire’s castle to prevent his rejuvenation. There are three potential castles so they split up and Hellboy gets the right one. There is even an early joke that Hellboy is certain to draw that particular short straw.
Then the plot gets busy. Cryogenic ally thawed Nazis are behind the plot. Rasputin’s ghost schemes. The castle Liz Sherman visits may not have vampires, but it has its own dangers. And back with Hellboy, Nazis and vampires are the least of his concerns when he angers Hecate, queen of witches.
The sheer numbers of ideas on each page is the greatest joy. The first trade was similar, but each idea had a ton of exposition too. In Wake the Devil, they just show up and Hellboy starts punching them.
The sense of humour is the next bit of awesome. This book has many laugh out loud moments. Mostly in Hellboy’s jaded, blue collar approach to the mythological threats. But there is also some slapstick moments – especially the Nazi denouement.
The development of Hellboy’s story is cool. More mysteries are introduced than resolved. It is nifty.
Mignola is doing full writing duties on a long story for the first time. All the above is a credit to what were, at the time of release, his surprising talents. He was already a great artist and he had credit for Hellboy’s creation. He had some entertaining short stories. But Wake the Devil was the revelation of just how groovy HB could be.
Oh, yeah, the art. Mignola’s art defines Hellboy. There have been many cool artists that have worked on the creation: Corben, Fegredo, and Davis to name three. But Mignola is the best at showcasing his ideas and creations.
All told this is a favourite of my comics collection.