Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hellboy in Mexico by Mike Mignola and various artists

The Hellboy empire has mostly run to sidebars for the last decade or so -- from the ongoing B.P.R.D. and Abe Sapien comics to the various comics about the big red guy not drawn by creator Mike Mignola. Oh, sure, Mignola and his collaborators did manage to finally make it to the long-promised magical apocalypse and more-or-less kill off Hellboy himself, but even Hellboy's post-life adventures recently petered out and most of the apocalypse has been seen in the B.P.R.D. series, mostly written by John Arcudi.

I've said before that, for me, the best pieces of the Hellboy saga are the short stories drawn by Mignola himself, usually based on a particular legend or bit of folklore, in which Hellboy meets an unearthly thing and deals with it. (Usually by punching it back to hell, admittedly, but not always.) Second best, I guess, would be similar stories drawn by other people.

Hellboy in Mexico is a continuity insert made up of a cluster of those stories, set during a drunken, doom-filled ramble through Mexico during Hellboy's early days, during the last few months of 1956. The stories here have been in the main Hellboy collections (Hellboy in Mexico, drawn by Richard Corben) or appeared as their own individual books (House of the Living Dead, also with Corben on art) or scattered elsewhere. But this book does pull them all together, in order, to tell the story of Hellboy's five-month-long "lost weekend" and how he befriended some wrestlers, fought vampires (and a werewolf, and a Frankenstein monster, and more), and punched out the god Camazotz.

All of these stories are scripted by Mignola, and (besides Corben, who does the two longest stories in the book) they include art by Mignola himself, Mick McMahon, Fabio Moon, and Gabriel Ba. This is very much a sidebar, obviously. But, since Hellboy is dead in the modern day, and the world he used to live in has comprehensively fallen apart and bears no relation at all to our own, sidebars are just fine.

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