When looking at a collaboration between two creators whose work you know individually, it’s easy to jump to the wrong conclusions about who contributed what. With AI, for example, lots of people said they hated the Spielberg bits and loved the Kubrick bits, without really knowing which was which.
I don’t want to make that mistake reviewing this Hellboy book. Certainly, it seems much more like a traditional super-hero comic than later volumes, especially in the first half of the story, and it’s tempting to put that down to John Byrne’s scripting. But I’ll resist that temptation: I think it’s more that these four issues see Mignola himself finding his own voice after leaving Marvel and DC, his own style of storytelling.
I loved the artwork. Though Mignola’s work is very stylised, and can from time to time be a little confusing, it’s very beautiful, and suits the subject matter perfectly. I always enjoy the fact that Hellboy is asymmetrical; however nice this demon is, you should always feel a little bit uneasy about him.
The story here is a straightforward pastiche of Lovecraft, but that’s not a bad thing when it’s done so well. It’s very different from the first movie, sharing only the bare bones of the plot, so don’t be tempted to pass it over for that reason. It’s not one of those books where, once you’ve seen the film, reading the book feels like going through the motions.
Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction, Mike Mignola and John Byrne, Dark Horse, tpb, 128pp.