I’ve decided I’m going to write about each Hellboy trade paperback that I buy after I read it from now on, because they’re great. To summarize what’s come before this one, Hellboy is a demon who came through a portal opened by Nazis and now he’s trying to be a good guy, but his apocalyptic destiny keeps on creeping up on him and getting him very annoyed. He’s fought a lot of mythical creatures and spirits and always had a witty tagline.
Each volume usually has two or more stories of varying length. This one has two, the second of which includes an epilogue and sketches from a couple of aborted attempts. They’re both excellent, and I think I may have enjoyed this volume more than most of the others for its simplicity and foreboding.
The first story, The Third Wish, begins with a trip to Africa and the introduction of a possibly ancient witch doctor who pushes Hellboy into an undersea adventure inspired by the same story on which Disney’s The Little Mermaid is based, only way darker and shorter. He’s dragged into a cave by Ursula’s counterpart, the Bog Roosh, who is basically a giant fish/eel with boobs. Actually it was a trio of mermaids of some relation to her that brought Hellboy to the cave, and in seeking reward they pretty much all manage to get murdered through Roosh’s manipulation of their wishful intentions like some sort of evil djini. Hellboy’s not a fan of that so he brings out his right-hook and does a little damage. The doomish part is brought into the picture through Roosh’s claim that she needs to destroy Hellboy to prevent the apocalypse, which just makes him madder because although he doesn’t want to accept his destiny, it’s beginning to wear him down.
The second half is more explicitly about the great evil that he is meant to bring to world. The Island is a desolate ship graveyard full of strange castles and skeletons, one of which was once a prophet of the Ogdru Jahad (the giant slug-bug monsters in space), and it just so happens he’s waiting for some blood to spill on the ground and wake him up, and Hellboy unfortunately obliges. There’s then a pretty lengthy discussion on the origin of Earth and the Ogdru Jahad and Hellboy’s supposed failure to embrace his future. Of course he ends up kicking ass and goes home but it seems like he doesn’t have a whole lot of hope left. The epilogue is a discussion amongst several observing spirits/ghouls about the doom that continues to approach to to Hellboy’s refusual to die, and then we’re treated to some awesome sketches and stuff.
Mike Mignola’s writing is consistently engrossing. The voice of Hellboy is always a great contrast to the stuffy olde-english way in which almost all of the other characters speak, although their language always makes for delicious prose, like “Little fish, little fish. Pretty as you are… oh but I will make of you such a horror.” Love this stuff.