Story by Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson, and Scott Allie
Art by Mark Laszlo, Leila Del Duca, and Andrea Mutti
Colors by Dave Stewart, Michelle Madsen, and Lee Loughbridge
Review by KrisK
Hellboy serves as a unique franchise. Around for 27 years, the character manages to consistently star in comics and movies, and birthing spin offs. Outside of the Big 2, few franchises manage the long term popularity of Hellboy. (Only series coming close in my mind is TMNT.) The books kept alive the paranormal comic genre, feeding it with a massive mythos of monsters.
If you’ve never read a Hellboy comic or seen one of the movies, Hellboy entered the Earth through a portal created by the Nazis. The allies killed the Nazis, and adopted the demon child, at the time, the size of a large monkey. Hellboy’s father is the demon Azazel, and his mother was a witch. He fights his destiny as the bringer of the apocalypse.
These days, he serves on the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense with a team of crack agents and paranormal beings. To quote the movie, “There are things that go bump in the night. We are the ones who bump back.”
The Hellboy Winter Special 2020 lacks the Bureau, and outside of the opening story, lacks Hellboy. The stories bring all of the dark wonder which more than makes up for it.The first story sees Hellboy find a wandering ghost street to help a man return a gold coin. The man, since given the gold coin as a thank you, sees specters and fire every night. The second story combines murder mystery and ghost story. Something murdered Mr. Durant, but it might not be the monster outside the cabin. The final story serves as clerical confession. The team of believers killed the evils of the world, but they see evil in a different form this night.
The three short stories capture what’s best about the genre. The mystery and wonder, mixed with the horror and moral quandaries, leave you intrigued and distressed. The question of what is worst, the monster or the man (a favorite question of the series and the genre) sits at the center of the second and third tale. The stories refresh and entertain the reader though, because of the artistry of the tales.
A beautiful melancholy threads its way through the tales and the franchise. The other part of the genre which feeds our inner beasts is the just desserts aspects. Good behavior rewarded, and bad behavior punished. Both sides of the coin show in the first two tales. The third tale though, stays with the reader, dwelling in an abstract way on the cost and morality of war.
The writing by all three writers, though not shocking with series godfather Mike Mignola, concentrates the best qualities in a Hellboy tale into engrossing chapters in the BPRD Universe. While all three stories reflect their own unique styles separate from the main book, they all harken back to it. The colors especially serve to tie the book to the previous tales in the universe.
Verdict: Buy! This comic functions as both a perfect introduction to the Hellboy world, and as a welcome fix between Hellboy issues. Fans and novices could hope for no more from a winter special.