The first thing that struck me when i got the book was its great design. Great cover art, and the first few pages really gives the reader a feeling that something special is about to happen.
The introduction is a really fun read, written by one and only Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, grandfather of horror, and member of Lovecrafts circle of writers. All in all a great first impression. This is something i really like about collected works, you often get some nice artwork, introductions and maybe some good stories on its origin.
During the final years of the Third Reich, Hitler and his cronies are getting desperate. They enlist several experts on the occult, and attempts to turn the tides of war by ways of magic.
So the story starts on a remote island in Scotland, where some of Hitlers leading occultist perform a summoning ritual.
This is an introduction story, so there is little or no plot to be found. The main story evolves around how Hellboy came to earth, a tale of a russian occultist and mad man, and his ultimate clash with the beeing he summoned.
Hellboy immediately strikes you as interesting, and in comparison to lots of other comic heroes, is a really unique. He (it?) is a huge, red, demon, with sawed off horns. At least we can presume he is a demon, although the story merely hints as to where he originates from.
Hellboy fires of hilarious one liners more often than he fires his gun, and his jokes are definitely hitting target more often then his marksmanship does. He is vulnerable, he is flawed, and all these traits makes him a hero you can`t but love. In some way he reminds me of Hellblazers protagonist, John Constantine, although Hellboy, in this volume at least, is not as dark spirited and nihilistic.
Hellboy is obviously a young and underdeveloped character in these first issues, but by choosing to tell the story from Hellboys perspective, Byrne & Mignolia manage to properly convey their plans for the continuing development of the character.
Hellboy was intended to be a team book, with several other characters. Mignola states that he ditched that idea because he "i couldn't come up with a name for any of the other characters or the team". But he still chose to include a few. In this book you`ll find the amphibian unknown species the call Abe Sapien, and the human Elizabeth Sherman who has pyrotechnic abilities.
These two teammates of Hellboy really don't contribute much to the character gallery in this first volume, and gives Hellboy the spotlight almost through the entire book. Readers can expect to be proper introduced to those two in the following books.
The story falls nicely into the classic horror genre. Even though the characters are more modern than say Lovecrafts, it`s still the classic tale of greed and madness of desperate men consumed by the powers they invoked. People obsessed with achieving personal goals and power.
Using Hitler and Himmlers rumored interest in the occult really knocks this through, just as the Indiana Jones movies did back in the eighties.
The tale is really well crafted, and the artwork really do it justice.
It`s unique quality fits the uniqueness of the characters, and its earthy coloring really sets the mood. Just flipping through the pages and look at drawings is a great experience in it self.show more
by Robert Andre Lie