Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book Review: Hellboy in Mexico by M. Mignola et al.

Hellboy in Mexico written by Mike Mignola with art by Richard Corbin, Mike Mignola, Mick Mahon, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon

This is a collection of stories written by Mike Mignola about the five months that Hellboy spent in Mexico back in 1956.

Hellboy in Mexico--Hellboy and Abe Sapien are stuck in the Mexican desert in 1982. They seek shelter in an abandoned gas station where Abe discovers a picture of Hellboy with some luchedores (Mexican wrestlers). Hellboy tells a story from his 1956 sojourn in Mexico. He went with two other B.P.R.D. agents to investigate some mass killings. Things were horrible and the other two left. Hellboy joined up with a band of luchedores who were already fighting vampires and other monsters. He doesn't know any Spanish but they manage to fight all day and drink all night, until the demons get the better of them. A bittersweet ending was in store, triggering a five-month stay in Mexico that is aptly described as "a drunken blur." The story is a great blend of horror and humor. The art by Richard Corben is distinct from Mignola's style but works very well for the story.

Hellboy versus the Aztec Mummy--Hellboy catches up to a bat-demon and has a big fight with it and a bunch of zombies. There isn't much story here, just plenty of atmospheric fun. The exposition dump at the end is probably unnecessary other than filling out the bottom of the last page.

Hellboy Gets Married--The drunken blur continues as Hellboy follows a mariachi band with a cute senorita in tow. He winds up marrying her though it turns out his beer goggles are exceptionally thick. Big fight ensues. The tale is a bit formulaic for Hellboy but Mignola includes lyrics from a few melancholic Mexican ballads to help set the tone. The weird talking wedding ring/snake is pretty cool too.

The Coffin Man--A small girl bursts into a bar asking help for her uncle. The locals say they buried him yesterday, so what's the deal? She's worried about the Coffin Man, a grave-robbing zombie witch. Hellboy, being a stand-up guy, stands up and head out to help the girl watch over her uncle's grave. This story showcases the weird, made up mythology that Mignola is so good at crafting.

House of the Living Dead--Hellboy has joined the luchedor circuit (mostly for drinking money) when he is called out by a mysterious doctor to fight the doctor's latest creation. That creation turns out to be Frankenstein's monster. The other classic Universal monsters (Dracula and the Wolf Man) show up, making a nice homage to the 1930's films. The story is both fun and melancholic, the classical Mignola blend. The art by Richard Corben follows the Hellboy in Mexico style and makes a nice conclusion to this book.

The book also contains one-page introductions by Mignola discussing the origins of the stories and weird details (who knew that Mexican vampires can turn into turkeys?). The back has various sketches by the artists working on the stories. They are almost all drafts of final art, which I find only mildly interesting. I like it better when they showcase different ideas or show the development of a character's look or style.

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