Normally I like the odd Hellboy collections more than the main plot--they have greater variety in theme, tone, and homage--but this isn't one of my fa...moreNormally I like the odd Hellboy collections more than the main plot--they have greater variety in theme, tone, and homage--but this isn't one of my favorites. The title story was rather simplistic, compared to other Hellboy shorts. No real surprises, no inexplicable, vivid monsters, just a straightforward country witch story. I appreciated that Mignola was riffing on the classic EC titles, but I didn't feel the imitation came off that well.
I know Corben is one of those artists with a great reputation, but I was not moved by his art in this story. Some of the panels had some really grotesque, well-textured caricatures, but many of the other depictions felt a bit flat, particularly the faces. I can appreciate when a form is distorted well, with a sense of volume to it, but there was something soft about the edges and lines here that weakened the characters, especially when the EC homage was making me nostalgic for Wally Wood's implacable inking.
Both Wood's and Mignola's art tends to be defined by those dark, inky spaces, the chiaroscuro separation of light and shadow which throws the grotesqueries into sharp relief, so I felt the more vague forms Corben used were a poor choice for either Hellboy or an EC allusion.
Fegredo's work is splendid as always, and it was nice to see Mignola return and do a bit of art, himself, though his contribution struck me as particularly unadorned. Whether this is because Mignola has taken a hiatus from art and is not in his top game, or whether I'm comparing him to Fegredo's masterful draughtsmanship, it's hard to say. Dysart's work was fairly strong, with good coloring, but again, I missed the crisp lines that defined most of the series.
In The Chapel of Moloch is a fun exploration of the old Lovecraftian notion of the artist whose minute senses bring him into accidental contact with the Other World, but again, it was a bit bland and predictable, particularly in comparison to some of the more imaginative and wondrous stories of other collections like The Chained Coffin. This is one of those rare times that I'm more interested in the overarching plot than in the eccentric asides, so I won't mind returning to it in the next collection.
Strong story by Moore, but I just have trouble getting past Jacen Burrough's art. It feels like he's drawing with one half less dimension than necessa...moreStrong story by Moore, but I just have trouble getting past Jacen Burrough's art. It feels like he's drawing with one half less dimension than necessary, and his characters are so terribly ugly. His stylization is less an example of deliberate simplification and more the result of his lack of sophistication. Utter shame to see Moore's stories visualized so poorly.
Between the description of an 'infinitesimal glass of sherry', the litany of cutesy place names ('Crook Manor', 'Ceck's Bottom', 'Pock-on-the-Fling')...moreBetween the description of an 'infinitesimal glass of sherry', the litany of cutesy place names ('Crook Manor', 'Ceck's Bottom', 'Pock-on-the-Fling') and actually reminding the reader in as many words that the theme of the book is 'the grotesque', I now know what it's like to read a book with the iconoclastic spirit of Gormenghast as written by an author lacking the wit or idiom to carry it off. It's affected, trite, and tiring. Mostly tiring.(less)