Weathering The Storm
After a brief break because of Portsmouth Comic Con, Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows takes a look at Hellboy Volume Six, the hardback which reprints The Storm And The Fury and The Bride Of Hell
Hellboy Volume Six: The Storm And The Fury and The Bride Of Hell
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artists: Duncan Fegredo, Richard Corben, Scott Hampton, Mike Mignola, Kevin Nowlan
Colourists: Dave Stewart, Kevin Nowlan
The Storm and The Fury, the final part of Mignola and Fegredo’s trilogy of Hellboy stories, is arguably one of Big Red’s most ambitious tales ever. This was split into two series, The Storm and The Fury when it was first published. Hellboy battles Nimue, who imprisoned Merlin all those years ago, and joins forces with his adversary the Baba Yaga to defeat her army. He refuses to lead the army of the noble dead of England in order to defeat Nimue. He does buy the world a little more time at the end of the story, but Hellboy is dragged into Hell, setting up the story in Hellboy In Hell.
Visually, Fegredo’s work is the boldest yet, tapping into Arthurian legends and Lovecraft with aplomb and he also displays a rare versatility, mixing up his style for things like the flashback with Trevor Bruttleholm and lending majesty to sequences like the ones where we see a resurrected King Arthur. The colouring of Dave Stewart is magnificent as ever, a perfect foil for Fegredo’s distinctive linework. The fate of Hellboy hangs in the balance at the end of this story, to be resolved in the final volume. Mignola returns to draw a nifty epilogue to the tale which foreshadows what is to come.
The other half of this hardcover contains a series of shorter stories, written by Mignola but drawn by other artists. First we have Hellboy In Mexico, a slight but entertaining story that sees Hellboy team up with Mexican wrestlers to fight evil drawn by the returning Richard Corben. It barrels along at quite a pace but Corben still doesn’t quite have the visual power of a Mignola or a Fegredo. Corben also draws Double Feature Of Evil and Sullivan’s Reward, a pulpy story that works as a fun short complete with all the classic Hellboy ingredients (evil gods, murdering petty men). The Sleeping and The Dead is a wonderfully gothic vampire tale set in England drawn by Scott Hampton, who imbues it with an ethereal mood and elegance. His take on Hellboy is slightly fey but it works well. Corben is back for The Bride Of Hell, a short with a clever twist in its tale. Visually, it does display a few of his shortcomings for me but its strength as a story helps to lift it considerably. The Whittier Legacy is a short and very punchy Mignola drawn tale which again displays his ability to pack in so much into such a small page count. The book ends with Buster Oakley Gets His Wish, a supremely daft and brilliant tale of alien abduction drawn by Kevin Nowlan. This is the pick of the shorts in this volume for me as Nowlan’s wacky take on nostalgic Americana is such a fantastic fit for Hellboy that it makes you wish it were longer.
The book closes out with another fascinating sketchbook section, offering another look into the mind and processes of Fegredo, Hampton and Nowlan too. Volume six proves just how versatile Hellboy is as a character, as he lends himself equally well to intimate gothic horror tales as he does to grand Arthurian legends or silly 1950s sci-fi stories. The Storm and The Fury is certainly Hellboy’s greatest and most ambitious epic up to this point too. The evolution of the character since its debut in 1994 is very impressive and there is a lot here for fans of him to enjoy and appreciate.