by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart
No matter how many other fantastic Mignolaverse titles there are every month, when Hellboy proper comes out everything just feels right. Maybe this is repetition, but it really makes the month special when Mike Mignola gives us a glimpse into the world of Hell that he’s placed his beloved, demon creation. Hellboy in Hell is a magnificent comic achievement that easily becomes the benchmark for any comics that are unfortunate enough to follow it. Mike Mignola is in his element, literally doing whatever he wants to a world that he’s created–and subsequently destroyed and turned into a monster-infested battle zone. But, that’s a different story all together.
There’s something about writing Hellboy that seems to turn someone as talented and as smart as Mike Mignola on a good day–he’s an absolute legend–into a god of comics. He’s like a staff wielding Odin, come to Earth to gift us with his magnificent work before returning to Asgard to resume his regular duties and watch over us all until it’s time to walk amongst us mortals once more. Okay, okay maybe he’s not Odin in one of his many disguises… maybe. The fact remains that when Mignola gets to work on Hellboy in Hell, it’s something else entirely. There’s a richness and depth that, while still found in abundance in his the titles, seems amplified somehow. There’s a feeling of more history here and he’s spent so much of his life crafting every corner and edge of Hellboy’s world and character that maybe, for him, it’s like seeing and old friend again and he relaxes and just does what he does. Who knows what goes on in his mind when he creates these books, but for as good as the rest of the Mignolaverse is–and they are extremely good–Hellboy in Hell towers above them all.
It’s not just in writing that Mignola is a god amongst mortals. No, with a pencil and some of the blackest ink you can image, Mignola is as deadly as they come. Considering the layout between issues and, generally speaking, the gaps in between new Mignola art work there’s the potential to forget just how good this guy really is. You get used to other styles, some more similar to each other than you’d like–think “house” style at any given publisher, though that’s thankfully not as bad as it might have been at one time–and you get sucked into a more typical comics style week after week, month after month and the image of the pure art style that Mignola has gets faded in your mind’s eye. So to open up a fresh comic from the man himself is all at once a slap in the face and a wake up call. There is no one like Mike Mignola; his art is pure, it’s raw, it’s pitch black and gloomy while simultaneously being energetic and captivating. There is nothing like it on the planet and never will be. Mike Mignola is the Jack Kirby of this generation. He does comics his way, and screw what comic art conventions might say. It’s brilliance on another level that will ultimately live on forever and influence countless artists and creators, as Kirby has and continues to do.
Speaking of being an influence to countless creators and artists, Mignolaverse veteran Dave Stewart–the King of the Eisners and the Master of Color–once again delivers in a way only he can. It looks like Mignola himself must have painted a few pages towards the beginning (which turned out brilliant and was an excellent contrast to the rest of this issue) and Dave handled the rest. Enough can’t be said about simplicity. Getting it right is not easy and in fact it’s something that very few have managed to accomplish. Dave’s color palette is utter visual ecstasy; the reds, the muted tones, the perfect blending with the heavy, signature blacks of Mignola all just work on a level that is likely overlooked by some. It’s simple, yet complicated. It has depth, but it’s flat colors. It’s something that, frankly, no one else has been able to replicate and at the end of the day it just wouldn’t feel right if anybody tried. Just like Mike Mignola, Dave Stewart is one of a kind and it’s always a visual stunner when his name is on a book.
Is Hellboy in Hell every bit as good as described above? Absolutely. It’s all that and then some. It’s a special comic in a category all its own from creators that transcend anything you think you know about comics. If you haven’t read Hellboy, at the very least, you’ve not truly experienced comics yet. The depth, genius, both artistically and with the story, are far beyond what you might come into the series expecting. It’s its own beast and something you just can’t compare to other comics in the industry. It can’t be stressed enough here, or in any of the reviews before this, that you need to read Hellboy and experience it for yourself. Until then, it might be time for this reviewer to go back and read everything all over again.