Although the Mignolaverse is decades younger than Marvel’s 616 universe or some versions of the DC universe, I still lack much of an understanding as to the world’s history or character stories. That ignorance is mostly due to my desire to read those stories in the fancy schmanzy library editions I just can’t afford at the moment since I’ve dug the Hellboy character since I first saw Guillermo Del Toro’s film version of the reluctant demon. I say all that just to clarify that there’s a lot I missed in this issue that would’ve probably had greater impact for this comic’s former reviewer. However, even having just read the previous issue in addition to this one, I felt enthralled by Hellboy’s tale in hell. Balancing the humor and horror that’s made Hellboy such a hit, this issue provides a physically weakened Hellboy the chance to show just impressive he remains with writer and artist Mike Mignola nicely concluding another arc in this miniseries. After Hellboy found out last issue that even in death a person can still get sick (in his case with a bout of soul parasites), he manages to persuade Hoffman, a deceased healer to help him out of his latest bind. Hoffman goes off to find a mandrake root for Hellboy’s procedure, and asks Hellboy to distract Wilhelm, a dead soul who continues to harbor a grudge against Hoffman. Immediately Hellboy dukes it out with Hoffman’s giant cat form, an enjoyable brawl that goes on just long enough. Hoffman then takes Hellboy to visit the Furies, who may be Hellboy’s last shot of getting a cure for those damn soul parasites. The visit results in a family reunion that goes poorly, like damn-this-is-cruel-even-for hell-poorly.
It’s a testament to Mike Mignola’s love of Hellboy that even after more than a decade now of writing and illustrating Hellboy in one form or another, he seems to continue to enjoy creating new stories for the character. Rather than a cash-in, this Hellboy story adds further layers and complications to both Hellboy’s and our own understanding about his origin and ultimate destiny. And even though this issue concludes another arc, it contains a great refresher about Hellboy’s conception and his recent adventures in hell that’s delivered in a two-page spread highlighting the important figures in Hellboy’s life. Mignola makes Hellboy’s hell a foreboding setting, aided by Dave Stewart’s colors that lean towards washed greys and blues, which adds greater contrast to the demons and hellfire that frequently appear.
I most like that this issue shows that Hellboy has clearly gone through some substantial development since his earlier days as a shoot first, asks questions later type of guy. When convening with the Furies, Hellboy maintains a calm demeanor in spite of their false accusations that he murdered his brothers and uncle. And despite the poor treatment he’s received at the hands of others, Hellboy remains a compassionate figure, caring for the fates of those who want to see him dead. In a comic concerned with exploring whether Hellboy can shake his demonic origins, the demon with the Right Hand of Doom proves again and again that he’s far more than a being fated to rule hell and bring about destruction.
As a person with little knowledge for the Mignolaverse, I definitely recommend checking out Hellboy in Hell even if you don’t care to read the stories that preceded it. This series gets to the core as to why this character has had great staying power. Once you make it to the final few haunting pages though, you’ll really have to fight off the urge to binge read all that Mignola has done with this character.
Hellboy in Hell #8 Writer/Artist/Creator: Mike Mignola Colorist: Dave Stewart Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 9/23/15 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital