Thursday, November 14, 2013

#CBR5 Review #51: Hellboy, vol. 4 – The Right Hand of Doom by Mike Mignola

I don’t really know why I’ve found myself liking Hellboy so much lately, but I really do enjoy him as a character a lot, as well as how Mike Mignola uses dark folklore tales as the basis of his short, episodic stories, just changing them slightly to suit the world of Hellboy. And there are always little explanations from Mignola as to where the stories came from, which I find to be incredibly interesting. Then again, I have a thing for supernatural lore being used in different works, if just in influence, or being reinvented in a new way, and The Right Hand of Doom definitely follows the pattern of Hellboy’s past volumes in that it plays little installments from his life involving different paranormal threats, which may or may not be connected to a bigger picture. I really enjoy it, but I know that some people aren’t into that kind of thing, just like how I like the somewhat less-detailed nature of Mignola’s drawings, which makes them almost seem more moody and dark (heeeeey, early expressionism, nice of you to drop by), while others enjoy more detail. Really I have been finding the Hellboy series to be one of those things that if you like it, you like it quite a lot, but if you don’t, then you are indifferent to it and just don’t see the appeal.

In any case, the tales involved in this 4th volume of Hellboy follow three different stages of his life, and pan out as follows:

Part 1: The Early Years
Pancakes – A two-page, almost joking story about Hellboy trying pancakes for the first time. Seemingly nonsensical, but the demons of Pandemonium appear unhappy that this has occurred for some reason.

The Nature of the Beast – Hellboy is called to England by a mysterious club to destroy a creature known as the St. Leonard Worm. His success in defeating it was not by his own hands, and yet lilies appear to grow from Hellboy’s battle blood, linking him to the folklore of the beast in the first place.

King Vold – Professor Bruttenholm sends Hellboy to help another professor friend to research the myth of a figure known as King Vold.

Part 2: The Middle Years
Heads – In this adaptation of an old Japanese folklore tale, Hellboy finds himself invited to stay at a rural Japanese home with what appears to be a group of other travelers, only to find them decapitated in the middle of the night. Or have these bodies chosen to be this way?

Goodbye, Mr. Tod – An other-worldly monster that wants to enter the physical plane of earth is using a medium known as the Amazing Mr. Tod. As per usual, Hellboy is called to diffuse the situation.

The Varcolac – While hunting a Romanian vampire countess, the giant vampiric creature known as the Varcolac is summoned on behalf of the Countess.

Part 3: The Right Hand of Doom
The Right Hand of Doom – The son of Professor Malcolm Frost meets with Hellboy, to discover an apparent reason as to why the Professor had tried to destroy Hellboy in the past. The cause appears to be something to do with Hellboy’s large, stone hand, and a sheet of ominous symbols that may suggest that it is prophesized to be a tool of destruction in the earth.

Box Full of Evil – Hellboy and Abe Sapien are sent to investigate a mysterious robbery at a castle that results in the release of a minor demon, Ualac. Ualac yearns for the crown of the Beast of the Apocalypse, but ultimately needs to fight Hellboy for this title.

At the end of the day, seeing as this is the 4th volume of the Hellboy series, I’m sure by now you know if you like the style of writing and the character enough to make you want to read it. It wasn’t my favourite of the series (so far) by any means, but I still enjoyed it. But as I said earlier, I like this kind of thing.

[Be sure to check out more reviews on the Cannonball Read group blog]

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