Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 164 (7/17) -- Hellboy, Vol. 10 by Mignola, Corben, and Others

I've already covered four Hellboy-iverse books from Mike Mignola and his merry crew just in this stretch of Book-A-Day -- B.P.R.D., Vol. 11, Hellboy, Vol. 9, B.P.R.D., Vol. 12, and Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder -- not to mention the books that I reviewed earlier, either here or at ComicMix. (Links heading backwards into that thicket are available by tracking backward through the links in the previous sentence.) And I don't want to turn into one of those bloggers who writes about how awesome the twenty-four page story fragment of Batman was this week -- there are too many of those on the Internet already. So I want to be brief here, and not too laudatory about something I've already made it clear that I like.

On top of that, this trade paperback primarily reprints the Mignola-scripted and Richard Corben-drawn The Crooked Man miniseries, which was an Eisner nominee for Best Limited Series last year -- when I was one of the judges that voted for it in that category. (The voters -- of whom I wasn't one -- gave it the award, as well.) So you might reasonably assume that I think this is a pretty good story -- especially so if I've ever mentioned here how I've never quite warmed up to Corben's overly fleshy art.

I liked Corben's art here more than anything else I've seen of his -- I think I like Dave Stewart's colors better than when Corben did them himself, or maybe I'm just getting more tolerant and open-minded in my old age -- but what really makes Crooked Man for me is Mignola's folklore-steeped story of witches, curses, the Devil, and redemption in the Appalachians. Which still has room for Hellboy to range through, cursing and smoking and punching things, of course.

Also in this book is an introduction by Gahan Wilson; "They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships," a story co-written by Josh Dysart and illustrated by Jason Shawn Alexander in which Blackbeard's head is reunited with his body; "In the Chapel of Moloch," one of the few all-Mignola stories from movie-frenzied mid-aughts, about a sculptor and his muse; "The Mole," a short nightmare illustrated by Duncan Fegredo; and a short section at the end with sketchbook pages and covers.

Hellboy is what it is: I think it's one of the great adventure comics of our time, with a hero that can be both pulpy and touching, and a scope that includes everything from several kinds of Lovecraftian horrors to more subtle and folkloric monsters. I'd love to see Mignola spend some time doing more Hellboy short stories; I find his best work is those short, atmospheric pieces jumping off from specific folktales. But all of the kinds of Hellboy stories are good comics, and I hope to keep seeing them for a long time.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: The Builders And The Butchers - Devil Town
via FoxyTunes

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