With Itty Bitty Hellboy Dark Horse has watered down and simplified the main characters of Hellboy for a much younger audience. The Search For The Were-Jaguar finds all of our favorite Mignola characters as cute miniature versions of themselves in a series of crazy adventures that is sure to entertain kids and satisfy parents who don’t want their children reading a more mature comic. Itty Bitty Hellboy is wacky, colorful, and fun, bringing laughs to our usually somber cast of characters.
Search For The Were-Jaguar is the first issue in a four issue mini-series that continues Baltazar and Franco’s Itty Bitty Hellboy run. It doesn’t continue any type of storyline from previous issues so its easy to just pick up and read, perfect for a car ride, or a quick distraction. Baltazar’s art is colorful with thick bold lines, and his character designs are cute without being over the top. His skill especially shines through with some of Hellboy’s facial expressions; full of energy and mischievous glee. The writing, at least for an adult reader is a little scatterbrained. Despite there being a plot, the perspective shifts so many times from character to character that even for a children’s comic could be a little confusing. With only twenty-four pages of comic there seemed to be just a little too much packed in, sometimes it seemed like the writers just wanted to make sure that each character made an appearance even if this wasn’t relevant to the plot.
Ultimately the plot is secondary to the humor, which is really the stand out part of this comic. Besides, this isn’t a Mignola penned issue of the latest B.P.R.D, it’s Itty Bitty Hellboy after all. It’s not supposed to be more than some funny jokes wrapped around cute iterations of Dark Horse’s flagship characters, and in that sense it works. Hellboy is delivering a shipment of underwear to Rogers Island, where Roger the homunculus and his brothers live in reckless, nude abandon. All of the mainstay characters make appearances: Lobster Johnson, Abe Sapien, Rasputin, and many others to tell the tale of Roger Island and the mysterious Were-Jaguar. The issue reads very quickly, with just the right amount of text. And after some hiccups Hellboy delivers the underwear to the Rogers, who promptly put them on their heads.
Each page reads almost like a comic strip, delivering a laugh at the end of every few panels. This set up definitely helps move the comic along, and for kids with shorter attention spans will surely keep them interested. With its immature content, this might not be the most enjoyable read-a-long for parents. But with a fast pace and a joke-a-minute style it definitely will have a readership among younger fans. For kids who are trying out the medium of comics this is certainly a great entryway. Dark Horse has a great thing going, fostering a love of some of their best characters in early readers. Itty Bitty Hellboy is a charming and fun read for a younger generation of comic readers or readers-to-be, an entertaining starting point, and a goofy story of some weird characters delivering underwear to those in need.
Itty Bitty Hellboy: The Search For The Were-Jaguar #1 Writer: Art Baltazar Artist: Art Baltazar, Franco Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 11/25/2015 Format: Miniseries; Print/Digital