The Crooked Man
Hellboy goes down south. He meets a good old country boy named Tom. Tom reckons that Hellboy can’t be the devil if he can entered a church. Besides, Tom’s seen the devil before, a lanky man with a creepy smile known as The Crooked Man. A local witch takes an shine to Tom and turns his father into a horse. When the horse is killed, it reverts back to the body of his father,.Tom takes it upon himself to carry his dead father to the church, saying it’s penance for his sins. Good old fashioned Southern justification.
Richard Corben takes over the role of artist for this story. Of course, he’s no Mike Mignola, but few are. His art is noticeably more plastically than Mignola’s art, but his drawings have a great caricature nature to them. It works quite well with the Southern setting. His eyes, in particular, are unnerving. While it’s always a disappointment to not get Mignola art, Corben does a solid job.
They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships
A throwback to the B.P.R.D. days where Hellboy and Abe hunt down a man who found the skull of Blackbeard. This results in tons of old sailors rising up from their watery graves to the surface. Everything builds to a climatic fight between Hellboy and Blackbeard and it’s something to behold.
Once again, Mignola hands over the artist reigns to someone else. Josh Dysart’s art is similar to Corben’s in that it’s feels more plastic and there’s a heavy leaning towards caricature. It also continues the colorization of bluish-greys, which fit quite well with Abe being in this story.
In the Chapel of Moloch
An artist takes up residence in the titular chapel and begins drawing paintings of monsters. He becomes obsessed with one particular monster and creates a massive carving of him. When Hellboy goes to investigate, he identifies the sculpture as a demon known as Moloch. The sculpture comes to life, inhabited by Moloch, and the two fight.
Mignola art is back, baby! That signature twist, just slightly offset from realism. That pure delight in hewing a monster into being and breathing life into it. The master at work. There’s also a compelling theological underpinning of this story. A chapel of the demonic in which perhaps the greatest demon enters to destroy another demon. Hellboy fights against many forces, but perhaps the biggest is the demonic both the other and that within.
A free comic book day offering, The Mole is a tiny Hellboy story with not a lot going to it. Hellboy plays poker with ghosts, rounding out his company after drinking with ghosts in Strange Places. There’s also a mole that turns into a monster, so that’s neat.
Most of this issue is this release’s first glimpse of a new collaborator. Once again passing the artist’s cap to someone else, Duncan Fegredo’s art has an uncanny resemblance to Mignola’s art. He’s a bit more detailed in his drawings, less abstract, but he captures the weird, roving lines of Mignola that to the average reader they might not even register that it’s a different artist. Obviously, he’s not as masterful as Mignola, but he’s an excellent substitute.
© 2016 James Blake Ewing