Marvel is trying to take over the world of cinema. DC Comics is about to re-boot a whole batch of their catalog. Then there’s Hellboy, who just keeps plodding along. Year in and year out, the giant red demon with the attitude of a world weary plumber keeps us all interested in his dark and epic adventures.
This week comes Hellboy: The Fury #1, the one-on-one showdown with the Queen Of Blood. It’s been a long road to this supernatural fight club and the results should change the future of Hellboy, or at least that’s what Dark Horse is telling us. Regardless of what the future entails for Hellboy, the fact remains that these stories continue to be spectacular. So many great comic characters get stuck in a rut or fail to hold our attention - not Hellboy, his life always makes for great comic fodder. The Fury #1 comes at the end of a long list of events that I could explain but, in the words of Inigo Montoya, let me sum up.
Hellboy has discovered he’s a descendant of King Arthur, he’s fallen in love with a girl he rescued once from fairies, he has Excalibur and he’s about to slap out against Nimue without the help of his undead army. Nimue has decided she is now the Goddess Of War - oh and did I mention Hellboy sacrificed his left eye to get past Nimue’s guards?
The Fury #1 is a book about transformations, some literal, some figurative. Hellboy is transforming, He’s left the B.P.R.D., opened his heart and is becoming a new kind of leader and hero. The Goddess Of War is turning into a monster and a kindly old gentleman transforms to take his rightful place as a solider from the round table. Don’t worry, along with all this rich subtext is good old fashioned slaying and decapitating action. Mike Mignola proves again that he is a consummate storyteller. Nobody can shift from bittersweet moments to dark savagery and then to humor as fluidly as Mignola. It’s the reason Hellboy continues to be such a sought after character.
Duncan Fegredo tackles the art in The Fury and, while I wish Mignola would write and draw, Fegredo does a great job. Hellboy only works with a certain type of artistic vision. It’s gothic art, devoid of bright colors (except Hellboy) and relying mostly on shading. If handled incorrectly it’s a mess, but with Fegredo it becomes fine art. His style moves with the same fluid motion as Mignola’s story. There is always something happening in the background, subtly. Wind, rain, steam, something is always there that gives a dark undertone to the visuals and keeps our brains actively moving.
The muted colors are etched into the blacks of each panel in such away that it brings out the bigger than life aspect of the whole comic. I wish the Big Two would take a page out of Mignola’s book. Instead of focusing on marketing and tricks to stay relevant, instead rely on consistently great stories.