Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Hellboy: Bride of Hell oneshot review


This one had sold out at my regular shop ages ago so I didn’t get to review it when it came out in December. But I found this one elsewhere (Yay!). I’ve never read enough Hellboy to justify getting it but after this one, that might change…

SYNOPSIS: At the Bureau for Paranormal Research & Defense HQ, a TV reveals the disappearance of eighteen-year-old Teresa Cipriano. The BPRD A special branch of the US government” is reported to be involved … meanwhile, in northern France, the girl is about to be sacrificed in some sort of occult ritual. Hellboy sneaks up on it but a bear trap on his leg reveals his presence. A dark, winged figure materializes and tries to carry off the girl. Hellboy shoots it and grabs her off it, running into the forest. He wonders why the demon doesn’t follow, since it could easily get through the trees. He then sees some Christian ruins and an old monk who tells him of Saint Hagan, whose followers set up a church there, but were all killed by the demon, who followed them from the East. Hellboy leaves Teresa in the church, locates the demon’s lair and is attacked by it – the demon who turns out to be Asmodeus. Back at the ruins the monk tells sleeping Teresa of how Asmodeus was captured by King Solomon but was eventually driven into the desert, where he garnered many followers and wives who were very dear to him. But they were all killed by Hagan’s followers, so for this, Asmodeus killed them. He’d been telling the same story to Hellboy, and Hellboy remarks of how he stole many women in modern times. Asmodeus reveals they gave their lives willingly, showing his mark (which was shown on Teresa’s leg). Meanwhile, at the ruins, Teresa awakes and is horrified at the cross held by the monk. She knocks it out of his hand, shouting about how Asmodeus – her husband – will “bust him up”. The monk disappears, and his words (of how evil things in this place will die) are spoken by the corpse of a knight, rising from a nearby crypt. Meanwhile Hellboy quickly beats the hell out of Asmodeus. He rushes back to the ruins, where he sees the corpse kill Teresa, explaining that she was a “bride of hell” and must go to hell to serve the devil.

THE ART: First off let me say this. Mignola originally drew Hellboy and his simplistic, shadowy artwork was a breath of fresh air from the perfect, dream-body drawing of the Big Two. But Mignola no longer draws Hellboy, and many fans have criticized new artists Duncan Fegredo and (in this case) Richard Corben for being bad “imitators”. Dark Horse editor Scott Allie said what everyone should have figured out; they aren’t imitators. They’re artists who are telling the story in the style of Mignola. They don’t have to mimic him. And Corben does an excellent job of this. His simple lines nonetheless convey the action and pulp-horror mood extremely well. His slightly different use of shadow, greater use of lines and an overall more fluid, organic feel to the artwork. A very capable artist who expertly conveys the action. Colorist Dave Stewart does an exquisite job on rendering the art as usual, his washed out palette (with slightly more rendered tones than usual) enhancing and complementing Corben’s lines perfectly. A flawlessly drawn issue.

THE STORY: an extremely simple yet gripping tale that intrigues and compels the reader to continue. It’s a mark f Mignola’s writing skill that he can take such a simple concept (a woman being sacrificed in an occult ritual) and make a story out of it, complete with drama and events that set it in motion over 700 years ago (Asmodeus’ talk with Hellboy, p16-21). With this story Mignola proves that all is not always as it seems in the Hellboyverse – Teresa willingly being sacrificed to Asmodeus is something I hadn’t seen coming. There is perhaps a little too much exposition (10-12, 16-21) but that can be accepted since with Mignola’s style and genre of work, exposition is inevitable. So, the results:

HELLBOY #45: BRIDE OF HELL one shot
Written by MIKE MIGNOLA
Art by RICHARD CORBEN
Colors by DAVE STEWART
Cover by MIKE MIGNOLA


ART RATING: 9.5 out of 10
STORY RATING: 9.5 out of 10
OVERALL RATING: 9.5 out of 10


ERRORS: Not so much an error, but something that seems amiss. Asmodeus is an immortal demon from hell and yet he seems to be decaying and not healing. The wounds HB inflicted on him shouldn’t be a problem but his whole body looks like it’s been dragged out of the ground. There’s nothing in the story which I think justifies his decayed state, but knowing Mike there’s probably a reason.

VERDICT: skillfully written and exquisitely drawn (kudos to both Corben and Stewart), this issue will delight old fans and bring new ones into the fold. A perfect introduction to Hellboy. Rated 9.5 out of 10.

Posted by Fanbot at 10:25 am, TUESDAY 26 January

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