Mister Mignola’s Magnificent Mythological Madness

The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects

I meant to review this a few weeks ago when it first came out — but it turned out to be a lot more popular than the stores in North Texas were prepared for. Every new shipment they’ve gotten was sold out by the time I made it to the store, so I had to wait ’til last week to pick it up.

This is a collection of a lot of Mike Mignola‘s non-Hellboy stories, especially the ones that are very, very weird and funny. We get, obviously, the Eisner-winning “The Amazing Screw-On Head” from 2002, about a robot hero called forth by Abraham Lincoln to fight the evil Emperor Zombie. We also get another Eisner-winning story — “The Magician and the Snake,” a short tale co-written by Mignola’s seven-year-old daughter, Katie. And besides that, there are the fantastically bizarre and wonderful tales of “Abu Gung and the Beanstalk,” “The Witch and her Soul,” and “The Prisoner of Mars.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Well, first, if you’ve never gotten to read “The Amazing Screw-On Head,” this is a perfect opportunity to remedy that little empty part of your life. Screw-On Head, Mr. Groin, and Mr. Dog and their valiant struggle against Emperor Zombie and his undead hordes as they quest for a magical item in the Aswam Valley (“generally considered to be the worst place on earth”) is a masterpiece of quirky humor and Victorian action, and it certainly measures up with a lot of the best Hellboy stories.

The other stories are also very enjoyable. “The Magician and the Snake” is by turns funny and tragic and dragon-on-a-skateboard awesome, which is quite a feat for a five-page story. “Abu Gung and the Beanstalk” is a fantastic twist on Jack and the Beanstalk, with some brilliantly funny lines. “The Witch and her Soul” features the Devil and a couple of puppets, and that’s pretty nice right there. And “The Prisoner of Mars” is entirely bizarre, with a Munchausenian plot and clinically insane characters.

It’s a very attractive hardcover, and it’s great fun to read and re-read. Heck, it’s probably the type of thing you could read to your kids if you want them to start exercising the really weird parts of their imaginations. And you do want them to start exercising the really weird parts of their imaginations, ’cause that’s where all the fun stuff lives.

Go pick it up. If your local shop doesn’t have a copy on hand, they’ve probably got some more on order…

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