For my first review i’m delving into the first Hellboy comic I ever read. Coincidentally this was also the first comic I ever read. I have been a huge fan of hellboy ever since the movies came out. What Guillermo Del Toro did with the Hellboy movies is nothing short of amazing. He brought the characters from page to silver screen with beautiful character design and a stellar story structure.
And now to the comic.
The story was written by Mike Mignola and penned (drawn) by Duncan Fegredo. The series was published by Dark Horse comics in 2007. The art in the book is amazing and Fegredo, is officially my favorite artist. The story starts in Italy somewhere underground. We see a hooded figure standing by a stone basin filled with what is assumed as blood. He is summoning something, the “Queen of night” and dipping his hands in the blood. He continues the summoning ritual while drawing strange runes or symbols on the ground around the basin.
He finishes the ritual on the phrase “I command thee,” never a good way to start when summoning demonic or powerful beings I tell ya. Animals start freaking out and a red smoke billows from the basin. Suddenly a sinister looking statue shows up behind him. “Command?” she says, her statement dripping with malice. He is startled and turns to grovel to her, claiming that he is her humble servant. “I would not have you in my service,” she continues.
This part I was slightly confused by, the summoned character seems to be in a sarcophagus of some sort, it almost looks like one of the torture devices used hundreds of years ago. Mostly I attribute that to being unfamiliar with the Hellboy characters. The art in this book is superb, simplistic yet carries the story well, the panels move seamlessly into each other. The story continues with the hooded character showing that he is half reptile and half man. Then he proceeds to bind the Queen, she does not take this well. He binds her by saying the phrase “I bind thee by the four corners of the earth, by the sun, your enemy and by thine own secret name. Ilsa Haupstein!” Upon uttering her name she flees back and crashed against the wall, by this time it is no longer a sarcophagus, she has take form of a demonic looking woman. She asks how he got her name, “you were betrayed.” he says. This is where I really fell in love with Mignola’s story telling, i’m a huge fan of the mythic and mystical styles and the way this story plays out runs perfectly along those lines.
He brings a candle to a skeleton against the wall, mentioning her lover. This next panel is great, a darkened picture of the skeletons face whispering “Ilsa…” making us think that there is some sentience to this body.
Next we jump to England, what looks like Stonehenge, a crow flies and lands in the middle of two old women saying “well met, my sisters.” Talking crows, love it. They are asking “You found it?” as the crows changes into a woman. “Near a certain castle (apparently the castle from Hellboy:wake the devil) a wood with a clearing burnt black.” I really love this imagery, it gives it a very mystic feel. “There, forgotten, a pair of broken horns.” Now from what we know of Hellboy is that he does have horns, big ones, but he shaves them down or breaks them off to look more human. “One to keep, one to carve.” Here I can only assume that they are going to perform some ritual with his horns. When she says “One to carve.” the panel shows her holding a small red carving of the upper torso of hellboy.
Now we jump to inside a house and get our first look at Hellboy, he’s sitting in bathrobe in a high back chair next to a fireplace. He is talking to another character named Harry. Harry also called Hellboy his cousin. I’m not sure about that part, I was unaware Hellboy had any family. They are talking about how Hellboy has apparently been there a month, this must be leading off of a previous story, there is a panel in the middle showing the three women whispering “Hellboy” to the horn. Hellboy remarks that he basically washed up on Harry’s doorstep, who is remarking that he’s glad it happened and brings back the old days. My curiosity is peaked here with the introduction of Harry, I want to read more into Hellboy to figure out who he is. They conclude talking, and we cut to a few landscape pictures with some mysterious people singing or speaking a poem about “stormy” Another few images of Hellboy and Harry talking, and he decides he will go for a walk. Harry gives him his WWII .45 after Hellboy mentions that his signature revolver must be somewhere at the bottom of the ocean. Now I really want to read the previous issues.
As Hellboy is walking through the woods, we get beautiful images of the dark woods and we continue with the “stormy” poem, not knowing who is speaking it. Hellboy notices a shadow in the woods and the last panel is a dead looking face behind the branches. Next he is set upon by three travelers calling him “the captain” I believe these were those speaking the “stormy” poem. As they walk they talk about Henry Hood, and they come to the place where he hung the witches. Henry Hood was a witch hunter responsible for the deaths of over 260 witches. They show flashbacks of him being cursed by three witches, and how he was caught in bed with a witch and had his eyes burned out with copper and buried alive. Looks like the dead face behind the branches was good ol’ henry. Showing himself in a beautiful panel, his eyes glowing orange from the copper. The three travelers stop, saying “Here’s the hour of the night,” and “here the tomb” as one of them flattens out on the ground. The last one pulls a vial from his coat saying “Here’s the juice.” and proceeds to rattle off what I assume is a spell while pouring drops of the liquid onto the “tomb.” Hellboy gets rooted to the ground. The three travelers start changing, their eyes glowing, speaking the last bit of the spell “Secret, black and midnight hags… The quick and the dead…” The travelers look in Hellboys direction, “and you captain! they gather for you!” Just as three dead looking bodies explode from the ground.
The issue ended on that scene, and what a scene to end on. For my first ever comic book I think I picked a winner, the art style and story completely drew me in and I was hooked. Yes there was some confusion at certain parts of the story but I think that mostly stems from not knowing the characters of Hellboy. The story moved at a steady pace, it didn’t feel rushed or overly complicated and the art work moved seamlessly from panel to panel with each page beautifully moving the story. This story was very easy to pick up and get sucked into, as an fng I totally recommend it.
F.N.G RATING 5/5