Hellboy has been around since the '90s, but I only started reading Mike Mignola's masterwork after the first "Hellboy" movie came out. And the comics are so much better than the movies. I liked the films, but Mignola's stories are amazing.
But the problem with coming into the Hellboy comics from the movies is that the story has already moved on from the initial premise. Hellboy isn't an agent of the BPRD and he hasn't been for years. So the main Hellboy epic has been based around him finding out more about his destiny as opposed to the fun stories of Hellboy discovering strangeness wherever he goes.
Fortunately, the one-shot adventures like Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish almost always flashback to the time when Hellboy was "The World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator." This time out, Hellboy is called in to investigate some missing cows, which turns into his first encounter with life from another planet.
Yes, that's right. It's Hellboy versus Grey Aliens.
Not the 20th Century Fox Aliens (although that could be fun too). No, these are the little Grey Aliens with all of their 1950s ridiculousness, who live up to their bad reputation of genetic mutation and other violations in one of the more hilarious moments of the book. Hellboy also finds an unexpected ally in the other title character, Buster Oakley.
Buster doesn't actually say much in this book, and I won't spoil why. But when we first meet him, he's an ordinary kid who's a little too into invoking demons from hell for his own good. And lets put it this way… things go bad for him very quickly. His fate is kind of tragic, but there's still an element of humor about it that keeps it from getting too dark.
Hellboy himself carries the book's story through his dialog alone. Mignola actually doesn't get enough credit for his writing, but he really captures a unique, almost working class hero in the voice of Hellboy. There's also some really funny asides at the beginning with an elderly couple who seem to care for their cows a little too much and they get pissed when Hellboy doesn't share their regard for their four legged friends.
The real star of this book is the art of Kevin Nowlan. Nowlan is one of those guys in the comic book industry who doesn't seem to have the following he deserves for his work. But I've been a fan of his for years and the art in this issue is some of his best to date. It's even some of the best Hellboy art to date and that is saying something. Since Mignola doesn't do as much art for Hellboy as he used to, it's sometimes hard to find someone who can render that character as well as he can. And Nowlan more than delivers a worthy rendition of our favorite hero from hell.
There's even a Max Fleischer-esque alien robot that Hellboy and his new ally get to take on, in my personal favorite scene in the story. Nowlan's sequential skills are sensational and the action flows perfectly throughout the book.
The only problem with this story is that it's done too quickly. Granted, it's slightly longer than a standard issue, but I want more Mignola and Nowlan however I can get it.
But if you want a quick Hellboy story to tide you over until the next miniseries from Mignola, this is the one to get.