A space capsule, adorned with a swastika, is on a collision course from near-Earth orbit with Hunte Castle, a hidden bungalow that was once a hotbed of bizarre Nazi science. And it's that bizarre Nazi science that ties everything in Hellboy's weird little world - and all the HELLBOY books to date - together.
If you're anything like me - and certainly, if you're reading artbomb, you must be at least somewhat - you'd be happy to read Hellboy's adventures again and again and be perfectly content to see the Evil Magic Space Nazis get punched out again; to see giant spooky monsters that are more ink than line almost wreck everything only to be felled at the last moment again; to see monkeys, castles, statues and bugs again; and, of course, to see Hellboy fall through a floor. Again.
Because, you know, it works. It's fun. It's the best antecedent to comics' pulp origins that we have. Mike Mignola knows what he's doing. HELLBOY's fun. HELLBOY's great.
And then, in this fifth collected HELLBOY volume, Mignola reveals that he's got a method to his madness and that all of these stories are in fact heading somewhere. There's an overarching storyline that we're being lead down, and yet - Worry not! - you're still getting a fistful of Evil Magic Space Monkeys and shaky floors and all that jazz.
Mignola skips around from pulp adventure to romp, from horror to action, from comedy to oddly human drama (odd, because they're moments between Hellboy and a homunculus named Roger) seemingly at whim, with little regard to what's come before or what'll come after and yet never, ever loses control. And it's easy, because you're having so much fun, to underestimate the intelligence and skill beneath it all. So I say again: HELLBOY's fun. HELLBOY's great. And that Mike Mignola sure is smart.
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.