Battling His Destiny
After a brief break because of Portsmouth Comic Con, Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows takes a look at Hellboy Volume Five, the hardback which reprints Darkness Calls and The Wild Hunt
Hellboy Volume Five: Darkness Calls and The Wild Hunt
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Colourist: Dave Stewart
After the fourth volume, with its selection of shorts and one-offs, volume five offers two fairly meaty stories. We got Hellboy drawn by other artists in its predecessor but here Duncan Fegredo takes over as the regular interior artist. At first, it is a little jarring as it is so different to Mignola but all credit to Fegredo, he quickly makes him his own, putting his own take on Mignola’s creation.
Darkness Calls features the return of Hecate and Baba Yaga. The latter is bent on killing Hellboy and sends Koschei The Deathless to dispatch him. Visually there are some particularly beautiful highlights here like the panel where Big Red is followed by cats and Hellboy’s multiple battles with Koschei are kinetic and filled with action. Darkness Calls works because it is classic Hellboy and Fegredo brings something fresh and new to proceedings with his art which is scrappier and less precise than Mignola, but packed full of energy.
The Wild Hunt follows directly on from Darkness Calls where Hellboy finds himself in the middle of a war to decide who will become queen or king of the faeries. Fegredo is more settled here with the art and visually he is a little more restrained than he was in Darkness Calls. The action focuses on England and Ireland as well as the faerie realm and here a major fact about Hellboy is revealed. I am not certain that placing Hellboy squarely in the Arthurian legends quite works for me at this point in the story however The Wild Hunt is another fabulous read, full of the ingredients that make a classic Hellboy tale (revenge, faeries, unwanted destiny). It is all leading up to the grand conclusion of Hellboy’s adventures and there is an epic feel to the story here that Mignola pulls off with style and panache. Visually, Fegredo manages to display his versatility as an artist, moving between the eerie gothic and the more colourful sequences with an adeptness that few others could match. Colourist Dave Stewart is a perfect match for his line art as well, bringing his work to life vividly and subtly.
The back of the book has an extensive sketchbook section which really offers a glimpse into Fegredo’s approach to these two stories and is a perfect endcap to this hefty tome.
Mignola has always managed to confound people’s expectations with Hellboy and this fifth volume is a compelling enough read that it makes you want to see which direction the story takes next. Both of these stories show that Mignola has been evolving as a creator and his work on Hellboy reflects that.