HellBoy Winter Special Writers: Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, Chris Roberson, Chelsea Cain, and Dean Rankine Pencils: Time Sale, Michael Walsh, Michael Avon Oeming, and Dean Rankine Colors: Dave Stewart and Dean Rankine Letters: Clem Robins
Mike Mignola’s Hellboy is one of the more recognizable and popular of comic book characters outside the big two, that being DC and Marvel. The Dark Horse Comics paranormal investigator has been around since 1993 and has been in numerous mini-series, one shots, straight to DVD animated films, video games, and two live action feature films staring Ron Perlman and directed by Guillermo del Toro. There is a strong cult following around this character.
As someone who is not well versed in the Hellboy universe as opposed to the two live action feature films and the first trade paperback volume which contains the first Hellboy mini-series, Seed of Destruction, I was hoping that this seasonal special will increase my hunger for more of the character. Unfortunately it ultimately disappointed me.
This anthology special contains four short story one shots which you would think would center around the character of the title character. However the stories fail in that regard as these seem more interested in the side characters rather then the one in the title. I was hoping to get some quick insights as to who Hellboy is as a character outside of him being a paranormal investigator but the first and last story don’t even feature him. Those stories may make more sense and have some long time Hellboy reader value to them that I’m unaware of but it’ll confuse and turn away new comers. If theses are indeed winks to the hardcore Hellboy fans than those should be used in the background not in the foreground. They should not be the focus of a one issue special which should be used to attract new readers.
Fortunately there is some enjoyable value to this book. The artwork for each individual story does do a good job of reflecting the tone of each one shots. The colors do a great job of building atmosphere as well as setting the temperature for each setting. The outside felt very cold and gloomy while the indoors felt warm and cozy.
The one story I did enjoy however was “Mood Swings”. It had a fun comedic-horror tone to it that got some chuckles out of me as well as giving us some insight into the psychology of Hellboy through a sympathetic but brief scene between him and a young version of Liz. I was hoping to get more of that with this special.
Overall Hellboy Winter Special was ultimately a let down. Though it does have some nice art, a bit of good comedy, and a brief sympathetic scene, it’s not enough to save this book. The sheer lack of insight into the Hellboy character and focus on side characters can confuse and ward off new comers. This special does a nice job of delivering on the promise of winter but fails on the promise of Hellboy.
Score: 2 out of 5
Review by Eric Bradach