Friday, April 09, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 65 (4/9) -- Hellboy: The Wild Hunt by Mignola and Fegredo

The Wild Hunt is the ninth book reprinting the occasional Hellboy series from Mike Mignola, though this time Mignola just wrote (and provided covers), with Duncan Fegredo handling the art.

(And this is where I break to provide links to previous volumes I've written about, in reverse chronological order: eight, seven, six. There are also a pile of B.P.R.D. reviews from me for ComicMix, plus other random eruptions from the Hellboy-iverse like Lobster Johnson and Abe Sapien, but I've already given enough links for one parenthetical remark.)

Wild Hunt is also where the eschatological plot begins to pick back up, after several volumes of wandering-Hellboy stories (while Mignola was distracted by the two movies, I suppose) that were atmospheric and wonderfully folkloric but were each separate and discrete. Hellboy was, after all, brought to Earth to bring about Armageddon, and there are still forces that are keen to use him to do so -- his infernal father primary among them.

(There's a nice scene, in which Mignola and Fegredo almost but not quite wink at the audience, with a montage of all of the supernatural folks that have tried, and failed, so far to call down the Hellboy Apocalypse to further their own ends.)

It's only when the reader reaches the end of The Wild Hunt that he realizes that this is two hundred pages of rising action with no climax. A new villain emerges, and draws power to herself. Hellboy meets an old friend, and then spends most of the book learning unexpected things about his past and refusing to do something an ally insists he must. In the end, though, both Hellboy and the new villain are still preparing for the big battle -- which will happen in some other miniseries/collection, some time later. Wild Hunt does become somewhat disappointing in retrospect; the major action here is yet another case of Hellboy-doesn't-become-evil, mixed with that old folkloric favorite, finally-agreeing-to-take-up-your-fated-burden.

Mignola has played the Villain Tempting Hellboy card so often now, he really needs to either retire it, or have Hellboy actually become evil for a while -- otherwise, the constant temptation that is always overcome just becomes silly. But it does make for some fine scenes here, and even a talky Hellboy series is a great, exciting package.

Fegredo also does excellent work here, providing art that's clearly in the Mignola school without aping the most obvious Mignola-isms -- like the huge inky pools that threaten to overwhelm every third Mignola page.

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Mono Puff - Hello Hello
via FoxyTunes

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