Saturday, September 29, 2012

Book Review: Hellboy Vol. 11: The Bride of Hell and Others

Hellboy Volume 11: The Bride of Hell and Others by Mike Mignola (and others!)

This trade paperback collects half a dozen or so short adventures of Hellboy throughout his career with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.). The book features a variety of great comic artists, including Richard Corben and Kevin Nowlan, working on interesting stories. It is dedicated to "the twin masters of the ghost story--M. R. James and J. Sheridan Le Fanu." Mignola channels the history of horror storytelling quite well. His stories are always fascinating to me because they blend Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos with a lot of other mythology, folklore, history, and fantasy.

In addition to the title story about a woman seemingly sacrificed to the lust of the Devil, the collection also contains a personal favorite, "Hellboy in Mexico, or A Drunken Blur." He teams up with some luchadors (Mexican wrestlers who were inspired by the Virgin Mary) to fight a plague of monsters by day and drink a lot at night. The story has a lot of humor and pathos. (See my review of a follow-up story here.) Another fun story, "Buster Oakley Gets his Wish," involves some American mid-western teenagers messing with the occult and getting more than they bargained for. Hellboy's investigation is hilarious and action packed. All of the stories have a great blend of horror, humor, imagination, and action.

The trade paperback format is a great way to enjoy these stories because each tale has a one-page description of the origin of the story, what is factual, what is taken from other stories, and what Mignola made up himself. Also included in the back of the book are some sketches and early design work for the monsters and the creepy locations with comments by Mignola and the other artists. It gives a nice peek into the creative process.

Parental content advisory: there's some mild swearing and taking the Lord's name in vain; lots of blood and gore though not too realistic; some occult practices though they are depicted in a negative light. It's a horror comic, what do you expect? I'd recommend early teens and up.

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