Koshchei in Hell #3
After retiring to Hell for an eternity of rest, wine, and reading, the dragon slayer Koshchei has been dragged back into the fray of supernatural conflict. With Hellboy gone, Hell is now his. As such it is his duty to prevent the return of Pluto, a deity with a pension for turning eternal rest into eternal chaos. After plugging the hole in which he was trying to rise from, Koshchei wands himself washed ashore the sandy banks of hell, tired, cold, and vulnerable to all the monsters waiting in the shadows of Hell.
Stories about life after the grand adventure, when our legends exist to grift off the myths of yesterday, tend to be stories with strong emotional meaning and visually striking imagery. The latter has been especially true of this series so far, but with issue #3 KOSHCHEI IN HELL reaches its emotional crux just in time for this penultimate chapter.
The fantasy adventure writing is really, really strong in this issue. While it has been from the start, the ride the team has the reader on is never short of interesting at all moments. Each issue has its own central plot that wraps into Koshchei’s larger goal, and issue #3 places our hero on the shores of Hell with a new travelling partner, the last Demon. This issue is very action heavy, skimping on a plot heavy narrative instead to take the reader on a beautifully illustrated mini-quest to thwart a group of witches from summoning Pluto themselves.
As Koshchei grows ragged, we begin to open up the seeds of his emotional journey started way back in issue #1. His immortality is sucking away more and more of his life, our hero’s desire for rest constantly upset by the fact that he cannot die. This issue explores this notion in subtle and at times heart wrenching ways. Mingola’s mastery of the storybook style is on full display within this issue. It says so much without having to choke the page with words. He’s gotten his writing craft to a level of perfection that’s grossly consistent.
Some could argue that this books existence is only to serve plot lines from previous Hellboy Universe books, but that is a mixed take as a lot is being done to explore Korshchei’s state of life as a figure of myth. The plot works completely in service of our titular character, but alone is not mind-blowing. That’s okay of course. A good story is what any comics fan wants at the end of the day, and this story is a damn good one.
The art and colors in this series have been nothing short of magnificent, this issue sepcifically containing some of the best panels in this series so far. Ben Stenback’s pencils are precise with anatomy but fluently abstract with design. Characters are dynamic and expressive in their own special ways, the setting around them rendered with a beautiful simplicity that understands and portrays the complexity of a dark fairytale narrative with excellence. Dave Stewart is a colorist in need of no introduction, elevating the atmosphere, tone, and emotion of the story with well-shaded colors and shadow.
While KOSHCHEI IN HELL #3 might be a Hellboy Universe book following up on and wrapping up plot lines from previous series, it itself still has a lot to say about the nature of a mythological figure and their unending life of pain and battle. Excellently written with outstanding artwork, Mignola and his team continue to be one of the best in comics to date.
ICYMI! Koshchei in Hell #3: A Seance in the Sands of Betrayal
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10