Hellboy in Love #3
After tramping across the British countryside to recover a briefcase choked with valuable artifacts, Hellboy and his lover Anastasia are catching up on some well-earned rest and relaxation. However, on a chance to her friend Professor Howard Morhaim, the two wind up entrenched in the shadows of an ancient conspiracy out for blood.
I’ve never felt such bitter feelings regarding a book being bi-monthly before. This book is just too damn good to not have in my pull box every month.
Issue #3 marks the beginning of a new story line (within this mini-series) that aims to the further the burgeoning relationship between Hellboy and Anastasia as their romance develops within the midst of supernatural adventure. Our main plot follows the two into Turkey as they visit an old colleague of Anastasia’s, who has uncovered a puppet theater of the ancient world. Soon after it was dug up however, beings of darkness began slaughtering the archaeological teams crew, sending the two into a historical conspiracy of supernatural origin.
Its Indiana Jones meets Hellboy, ’nuff said.
For those skeptical about the threat of ‘romance’ as a genre for Hellboy, it is about as romantic as David Micheline’s Spider-Man was back in the 80’s. This is to say that our story is still focused on its supernatural plots, the romance aspect a key component in character dynamics and flavor.
The best thing about this issue, and this should be no shock to older Hellboy readers, are the characters. This book exhibits a raw and simple approach to storytelling that puts its characters on display in full view. Hellboy is a lovable bad ass whose stony exterior is sent into flurries of fluster by Anastasia’s quick and flirtatious personality.
An earnest amount of comedy and heart comes from their dynamic, which is where most of the book’s quality lies. This issue especially takes a good amount of time setting them up their romance. In a particularly quick but important moment, it is clarified that Anastasia’s interest in him is completely divorced from her own fascination with the odd and supernatural. I truly appreciate how much care the team has put into maintaining the image of their romance as something healthy and wholesome.
Matt Smith provides both the pencils and the cover, doing a bang up job on both. His art tows the line between being a copycat or parody of Mignola’s original Hellboy work. It’s just distinct enough to stand out, and versatile in its tone. When the story takes a darker turn, his pencils adapt in a natural way. He really brings to life the scraggliness of the shadow creatures that permeate this issue. Chris O’Halloran’s colors follow the same train of discipline, Clem Robins balancing the importance of dialogue and what’s in the frame with expertise.
If I were to have any complaints, it would be that this issue focuses on a lot of emotional setup. The book opens with a long winded gala scene that, while used to establish character motivations, may drag on for others who are here just for the fun. That section of the issue really works for me. The team plays with how the world will view the two as a pair, many having doubts regarding Anastasia’s ability to remain focused on her work with Hellboy around. The B.P.R.D. is shocked to see big red taking some time for himself, but leaves it at that.
In truth, I really enjoy how this mini-series is approaching its story. There’s a trend within the modern era to craft a mini-series structured for a definite five issue arc. For some books, this can be more of a hindrance than a blessing. There is nothing that turns me off more as a reader than when I pickup a book that reads better as a film than it does a serialized comic story. Every issue should have some sort of resolution within it, no matter how short the total series will be. This issue sets us up at the beginning of a new arc, Shadow Theater, making this short lived series feel a little meatier around its bones. I feel like I’m reading something of value every two months because of this instead of vacuous decompression.
Dare I say it, Hellboy in Love may just be one of those few, perfect comic books.
Like those before me at Comic Watch have said, it's become increasingly difficult to take any critical shot at our boy in red. Hellboy in Love is a good series for readers old and new alike. This issue was a blast to read, and an absolute recommendation for all.
Hellboy in Love #3: Love is a Battlefield
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10