Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Hellboy: The Sleeping and The Dead #1 of 3
Dark Horse Comics
Mignola & Hampton
The first issue of the next Hellboy mini series doesn’t necessarily pick up where the last mini series left off as set in motion by various stunning events, such as those seen in The Wild Hunt. Instead, this mini series seems to be a bit of a detour as the storyline is set in England in 1966 before Hellboy went solo. This issue offers an excellent puzzle for Hellboy to solve as he falls prey to a common problem he seems to have; he generally underestimates the size of the dilemma until he’s up to his neck in trouble. This was a fun first issue.
The issue opens with the hysterical, Ghostbusters-like chase where a ghost-like woman is about to attack a man sleeping in a bed when Hellboy bursts in guns a blazing. The sleeping man was the bait so Hellboy could chase out the demon. He pursues on foot only to be stopped by a man trying to protect the woman.
Hellboy awakes to find out that the man protecting the woman has an agenda. He’s got two sisters with vampire ties that he wants to help. One, which Hellboy shot, could not be saved. The other was transformed into something slightly more horrible than a regular old vampire. After Hellboy hears the back story he decides he will face the vampire that turned the two girls. Hellboy gets in over his head immediately.
The book offers up an interesting situation because, as the man mentions to Hellboy, how many European vampires has Hellboy come across? Not many because they’ve been in hiding for centuries. Hellboy stumbled upon a couple of messy ones that led to them getting exposed. If you recall the Hellboy one-shot called Hellboy in Mexico, he does battle vampires, but those aren’t the elusive European ones. Clever work, eh?
The issue works well because it contains the usual level of humor mixed with action and a strong dose of the explanation of the situation. I found myself laughing when Hellboy lit up a cigarette and tells the man how he’s pretty sure he understood what he’s done as he stands over the bloody body of the woman he’d killed. Then I felt you could feel the sarcasm shift to seriousness as the man began to explain the vampire’s plans over the last few centuries. The character work drives these comics and this issue is a perfect example of that definition.
Scott Hampton has the same problem every Hellboy artist has and will always have: they aren’t Mike Mignola. Fear not though because I felt the pencils captured the essence of Hellboy and his world very well. I did feel some of the detail (or is it inking) wasn’t as heavy as when Mignola draws Hellboy but the issue is exactly what you want: it’s a Hellboy comic capturing his range of emotions well.
Hellboy has his hands full for the next two issues. I’m sure there are more surprises on their way but this issue had a few I didn’t see coming. Hellboy comics are great when Hellboy is still a little naïve and maybe a little too arrogant and that’s where this issue is set. I enjoyed this issue and can’t wait to see where this mini is going.
4.5 out of 5 Geek Goggles