The third trade volume of Mike Mignola’s Helloboy series isn’t all that connected with the over-arching plot and story of Hellboy, but is more so a presentation of various little events throughout Hellboy’s career as a paranormal detective. Essentially, The Chained Coffin and Others is a collection of short stories, all featuring different ancient folk-tales, but with the twist of Hellboy eventually becoming involved in them. While it may have been nice to continue where we left off in the previous volume of the series, Wake the Devil, to find out more about Hellboy and the ominous “purpose” that he was awoken for, this volume is still fun and enjoyable, mostly to do with the fact that the character of Hellboy is just as strong as ever: he is powerful and seemingly indestructible, and his nonchalance about the serious situations he gets himself into really draws you to him as a good-spirited individual, though it is clear that he does care for people, despite his seemingly casual nature. If you couldn’t tell, I personally just love Hellboy, as I find him to be a really positive and amusing character.
There are 7 short-stories in The Chained Coffin and Others altogether, including the following:
1. The Corpse – Based on an old Irish Folktale, Hellboy must seek to give an animated corpse a Christian burial before sunrise in order to obtain a child that has been stolen from it’s family.
2. Iron Shoes – Once again based in Ireland as a follow-up to The Corpse, Hellboy must try to defeat a demonic goblin-esque creature that stomps on people with his iron shoes.
3. The Baba Yaga – Originally mentioned in the previous Hellboy volume, Wake the Devil, this story concerns how Hellboy shot out the eye of the Russian witch known as the Baba Yaga.
4. A Christmas Underground – At the aid of a cursed, dying woman, Hellboy searches finds himself searching for the spirit of the woman’s daughter underneath a graveyard.
5. The Chained Coffin – Based on another old folktale, Hellboy has a vision of a priest and a nun standing watch over a chained coffin, to try and prevent the soul inside from being taken by a demonic force.
6. The Wolves of Saint August – Yet again based on an Irish tale about St. Patrick cursing a group of pagans, Hellboy travels to Griart in The Balkans, after the small town is all but destroyed by what appears to be a group of werewolves.
7. Almost Colossus – Following up events concerning the homunculus first seen in Wake the Devil, the homunculus finds a “brother” version of a homunculus created before him, which seeks to take revenge on humans.
In general, all of the stories presented are quick and easy to both read and understand. I found myself going through the entire book in just one short sitting, in fact. While on the one hand, I wish some of the stories were a bit longer and more in-depth, they all still seem to work very well on their own: I think maybe I wanted them to keep going because I found the folklore and general plot of each of them to be heading in such interesting directions. Hopefully I will be able to get my hands on some more volumes in this series soon, to spend some more time with this fantastic creation of Mike Mignola.
[Be sure to check out more reviews on the Cannonball Read group blog]