Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Richard Corben, Kevin Nowlan, and Scott Hampton
Colours by Dave Stewart
Cover by Mike Mignola
Published by Dark Horse
In the recent history of independent comics, it’s hard to argue there’s any character who has joined the main stream quite like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. With his gruff mixture of everyday working stiff attitude and other worldly demonic origins, Hellboy has always been as approachable and endearing a superhero as they come. Consequently, he’s seen as high an amount of content put out as anyone outside the big two, and a whole mess of it can be found in Hellboy Library Edition Volume 6, a handsome and extensive hard cover from Dark Horse.
Collecting the notorious ‘The Storm And The Fury’ storyline, as well as a slew of other miniseries and one shots, Volume 6 flashes many of Hellboy’s longtime storytelling strengths, as well as no shortage of its weaknesses. Hellboy has long drawn influence and inspiration from a wide variety of sources. Consequently, it’s difficult for a single series to emerge above the pack as a defining, culminating piece of work. That’s exactly what The Storm And The Fury attempts to be, and it inevitably falls a little short. It’s plenty entertaining on its own merits, but given Hellboy’s long history and immense cast, choices of setting, characters, and events seem arbitrary rather than appropriate for the significance of results.
Thankfully, there’s no shortage of content in this collection that better captures Hellboy’s classic cocktail of the kooky with the occult. Adventures with Mexican Wrestlers, old school Vampires, and Cow/People hybrids highlight the rest of the offerings, mixing in breezy and amusing yarns unburdened by the weight of expectation heaped upon The Storm and the Fury. That being said, a few stories recycle the same plot devices and character types, particularly The Sleeping and the Dead and Sullivan’s Reward, while The Whittier Legacy and The House of Sebek are so preposterously slight as to call the entire merit of their existence into question. Yet they all function well as trifles and diversions, and fans and collectors alike should be pleased as punch for their inclusion.
Enthusiasts for the Hellboy aesthetic should also all be happy with the work compiled here. Mignola’s still in fine form, and his various collaborators do well to carry on and pay tribute to his iconic style. Duncan Fegredo has a welcome talent for the ghoulish, though now and then, it reveals itself in unwelcome places. He strains to capture the subdued nature of the Hellboy’s doting Alice, but hits various dragons and monsters out of the park. His and Mignola’s extensive notes on the art and rough sketches are also welcome peeks into the creative process. Along with a couple introductions and an afterword, Hellboy Library Edition Volume 6 proves a more than worthy a addition to any bookshelf.