Hellboy: Strange Places

The Third Wish

At the end of Conqueror Worm, Hellboy mentioned he might go to Africa. Here he meets an old shaman who tells him the stories whispered in his ear by a spider. He speaks of a monster in the scene known as Bog Roosh, a humanesque fish creature. Hellboy ends up on the wrong side of a wave and finds himself washed into the ocean. He ends up entangled with three mermaids who turn him over to the Bog Roosh. As a reward, she grants each mermaid a wish. Of course, the wishes backfire.

The tapestry of world folklore being drawn by Mike Mignola grows and grows with each story. Adding Africa into the mix provides another delightful world culture into the mix. This folklore presents the shaman magic that we’ve yet to see. It’s also interesting reading about Mignola’s initial desire to make this more about African folklore, but evolving it into a mermaid story. It would have been interesting to see more of Africa, but I think Mignola makes the right call here as this story focuses more on Hellboy.

Once again, a monster confronts Hellboy and his destiny to bring on the apocalypse. Bog Roosh is yet another being that has no desire to see the apocalypse and traps him in her underwater lair. A nail fastened to his head and chains made out of the bones of one of his enemies binds him to the Bog Roosh’s lair.

The big feature of the book in the art realm is the new color pallet the underwater story provides. Dave Stewart has a blast working in deep, pale purples and muted blues into the visual landscape of the story. It provides a nice contrast to the warm hues of Africa that open up the book. It’s also a nice visual signifier of the difference in locale provided by the underwater setting.

The Island

Freed from the grips of the Bog Roosh, Hellboy washes up on an island with a marooned ship. Soon he finds himself drinking and singing alongside a group of sailors. He tells them of his crazy adventure, but then finds that he’s been talking to skeletons and ghosts, not flesh and blood men. This leads to one of the greatest lines of the series where Hellboy says he’s been drinking with dead sailors.

The sailor setting also gives Mignola to weave in a literary influence with Moby Dick. Hellboy ends up fighting this whale-like worm creature and quotes one of the film adaptations of Moby Dick as he stabs a sword into the beast. Evoking Moby Dick also revitalizes the themes of fatalism and self-destruction that are core attributes of Hellboy.

Hecate shows up and tells Hellboy of the beginning of all things, the spirits that once roamed the world and brought everything into being. Hellboy’s right hand is the hand of an evil spirit that crafted the seven serpents, imprisoned them, and flung them into the heavens. A second race of men is also mentioned for a second time.

And the epilogue once again shows the gallery of monsters waiting for Hellboy to usher in the Apocalypse. What’s particularly intriguing is that Hellboy is infatuated with the evil of the world. The priests and hunters of such creatures almost never appear, it’s always the monsters that are seen. Hellboy is this one glimmering rogue agent killing monsters as he stumbles upon them, throwing a wrench into the whole machine of doom. But can this demon escape his fate? Can he deny the Right Hand of Doom? Can he forge another path? We know of his heritage as a demon, but what of his lineage as a human? To be continued…

© 2016 James Blake Ewing