Review: Hellboy – The Midnight Circus (OGN)

Written by Guest Contributor: Jordan North Finally Hellboy is back in my life. After the characters hiatus from comics it’s refreshing as hell to get him back for a little bit. And, even though this isn’t the Hellboy were used to seeing pop giant caps in monsters, that doesn’t stop this story from being one of the most brilliant takes on the character I’ve seen in some time.

This story ultimately is about a little boy who doesn’t fit in, and over the course of fifty-seven pages we take a journey with this young kid (made all the more powerful knowing how kick-ass he becomes) as he struggles with life, standing out, fear and destiny.

Getting to see a window into this part of the character’s life was intriguing and fun. Try not to smile as a little red boy jumps up and down on his bed describing Nazi fighting in his comic books, or root for him when he questions the motives of the circus’ corrupt ring master. It took a gentle touch to show the character at this age as both an innocent youth and a guy that will go on to be one of the world’s most successful paranormal detectives. Mignola nails it.

Hellboy The Midnight Circus CoverIn the opening panel few pages a Young Hellboy, no more than 8 or 9 sits at a bar with a couple B.P.R.D field agents, the only friends he has around. They don’t judge him for who he is and how he looks, but even under those rare circumstances he can’t quite fit in, there’s always something stacked against him. In this case his being too young to hear the randy stories of the much older agents. So Hellboy steals a cig and runs off to engage in a little private mischief, classic Hellboy. What follows is an acid-trippy night in hell for the young demon as visions of his fiery origin and purpose taunt him.

The body of this book is strange, and it doesn't always add up, but you get the feeling that that’s really kind of the point. Hellboy’s demonic circus is a reflection of the topsy-turvy world of youth, particularly his. Hellboy is teased and tantalized and ultimately manipulated before realizing that in the end, for now, he just wants to go home. On the way however we get some great moments, a la Mike Mignola’s expert handling of a younger version of his character that somehow manages to be even more empathetic than his older, more confident self. The kid is run through the gamut here facing off against evil monkeys and devilish priestesses. It’s in these moments of peril that the character shines. Facing off against an apparition of his beloved professor or running through the woods from murderous ghosts, this is a character that doesn’t even have to ask you to root for him. Mignola seems to know this character like he knows himself.

Duncan Fedrego does his part to take on Mignola’s characters and art style the end result of which is a more detailed and textured version of the classic style that I wouldn’t like permanently, but it does a damn good job of setting up an epic feel for a stand-alone event and feels right on.

This is a book any Hellboy fan has to pick up and one that any comic fan would be missing out to pass up on. Rarely are heroes depicted so young which is interesting in and of itself, but with all the heart that Mike Mignola infuses into this book and his trademark character the whole project is brought up to the next level. Great work is done here by all. Don’t miss out.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Mike Mignola Artist: Duncan Fegredo Colorist: Dave Stewart Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $14.99 Release Date: 10/23/13