J.G. Keely's Reviews > Hellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness Calls

Hellboy, Vol. 8 by Mike Mignola
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Jul 07, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: comics, horror, fantasy, reviewed

It wasn't until halfway through the first chapter that I suddenly thought 'hey, I thought Mignola was giving up art duties to concentrate fully on writing'. Yet the choppy line quality, intimidating mood, and bulky chiaroscuro of Mignola's style were all in full effect, despite the fact that they were the work of artist Duncan Fegredo.

The art in this volume is lush, gorgeous, and full of detail, yet completely true to the classic Hellboy style. Somehow, Fegredo took in Mignola's characteristic art, refined it, and recreated it with the hand of a master draughtsman. Yet I have always been impressed with Fegredo's sense of form and gesture, which he demonstrated so effectively in Milligan's great conceptual work, Enigma, though I did not know he was such a studied mimic.

I'm glad that Mignola decided to devote himself full-time to writing, having found an artist capable of keeping up the other end, because it has freed him up to write more in-depth, thoughtful stories without sacrificing his publishing schedule, and it also allows the dedicated artist to produce highly-detailed work.

I am usually less fond of the main plotline stories in the Hellboy series, since I find the briefer, unconnected story collections to be more experimental and rich, concentrating on tone and character instead of steady plot movement. Yet in this volume, Mignola has managed to advance the plot at the same time as he explores subtler aspects of his world.

His deep delving into Russian myth was interesting, since it is such a rich vein of unique stories and magics, and one rarely tapped by other authors. I'm glad that, like Gaiman, Mignola is not content to sit on his laurels, but keeps expanding his world and surprising us.

My only complaint is the characterization of Hellboy himself, who has always been flippant and sardonic, but since the Strange Places TPB, has increasingly become a dullard and spewer of quips. As Mignola explained in the introduction to that collection, he had just come off of working on the Del Toro film, which influenced his concept of the character and the world.

I find it extremely disappointing that the goofy, watered-down film version of Hellboy has ended up replacing the complex, conflicted character of the earlier comics. I'm glad that Mignola has moved on from the narrative exposition of Strange Places, but I hope the character will also soon escape the dulling effect of Del Toro's flashy, unsubtle film and return to what made the comic great.
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