Friday, June 29, 2018

Book Review: Hellboy in Hell Vol. 1 by M. Mignola et al.

Hellboy in Hell Volume 1: The Descent story and art by Mike Mignola, colored by Dave Stewart, and lettered by Clem Robbins

After dying in battle with a dragon, Hellboy faces his afterlife. He's dragged into Hell by a spiteful opponent, though it seems like the last thing the denizens of Hades wanted. Mignola's capital of Hell, a city called Pandemonium, has been abandoned by all the princes and dukes of the damned lands--they heard Hellboy is coming. Only Satan himself remains, though mostly because he is too sick to move. Hellboy pays his dad a cryptic visit and then has all sorts of odd run-ins with various characters in Hell. His two brothes want Hellboy's Right Hand of Doom for their own so one of them can be the new ruler of Hell. Hellboy doesn't want the job but he definitely doesn't want them to have it either. Hellboy winds up in a lot of the same sort of battles he had on Earth.

Mignola stepped back into the artist's role for this series, giving his distinctive style an unbridled lease on creativity. The visuals are very striking and imaginative, evoking the murkiness, strangeness, and horror of Hell. The story meanders a bit, as if the grand scheme is not some earth-shaking plot but more of a travelogue of the bizarre. Mignola blends in Milton, Macbeth, and Dickens as he weaves his tales, giving some structure and some foreshadowing to the tales. I read these stories as individual issues back in the early 2010s and it's great to revisit them.

Recommended, highly for Hellboy fans.

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