By Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart
Ever since Mike Mignola launched the series Hellboy in Hell it has been one of the more abstract comic books on the stands, in both story and art. Issue #10, the sudden and climatic series finale, is no exception and in fact pushes the boundaries of the abstract to their limits. Killing Hellboy and sending him to Hell was Mignola’s way of straying even further from what is considered normal for mainstream comics. It’s all part of Mignola’s style as he continues to redefine the rules of comics by crafting stories that suit him artistically. In short, Mignola does what he wants to do and it always works. As a result his books are of the highest quality.
For whom the bell tolls.
Hellboy in Hell was supposed to last longer but the ending crept up sooner than expected and the decision was made to end the title. This must be a benefit to calling the shots with a successful creator-owned title and in no way does it mean Mignola became uninterested or lazy. Instead it would seem he is doing the book justice by letting the story dictate it’s own lifespan rather than dragging it out. Much has been accomplished in just ten issues, and Hellboy has managed to tie up several loose ends, pertaining mostly to his family, including his wife. With every issue it seemed Hellboy’s situation – despite being in Hell – was steadily improving until he realized he could no longer ignore his true purpose. In this issue Hellboy finally transforms into what he was always meant to be, the Beast of the Apocalypse, and it is truly a most epic moment.
Fans have been anticipating the possibility of this moment since Hellboy’s debut in the Eisner Award winning “Seed of Destruction” (1995), but no one knew just how it would go down. Whether in visions or dreams Hellboy was always depicted as leading the armies of Hell onto the Earth, but in this case he unexpectedly became the Beast of the Apocalypse while in Hell. And in that moment the reader is relocated to the edge of the action with a scene that may be too massive to convey up close.
Thank’s to Mignola’s long time collaborator, colorist Dave Stewart, we are treated to big, red, orange and yellow panels that defy Mignola’s usual deep blacks. The silence is deafening while the story, for the most part, is told in images and Dave Stewart is right there making it complete and whole. Hellboy just wouldn’t be the same without Dave Stewart and that’s a fact. No one handles the artwork or the storytelling the same. Stewart understands the function of color in Hellboy and the importance of red in particular, which is reserved to heighten moments of intensity. Meanwhile Stewart finds the perfect hues to enrich the surrounding grays, and the entire palette increases the shear magnitude of this last issue.
The end is has bits of familiarity that may offer clues of what is to come. But it is unclear when Hellboy will resume as a title, and whether we’ll have to wait until then to find out what affect this issue will have on the overall story. Mignola fans have grown accustomed to waiting and share an understanding that greatness such as this cannot be rushed or churned out on a monthly basis. Nevertheless Hellboy in Hell will be missed. Mignola and Stewart have been at the height of their game and giving us a healthy dose of the good old days mixed with a masterful evolution of their collective style. No matter what happens next, or when it may happen, you can bet Hellboy’s story isn’t over by a long shot.