Damn Everything but the Circus


Hellboy: The Midnight Circus

If it’s Halloween, it must be time for a new Hellboy graphic novel. This one is written, as always, by Mike Mignola, with illustrations by Duncan Fegredo and lovely coloring by Dave Stewart.

Our story is set in 1948, when Hellboy was just a little kid. He’s stuck in the BPRD’s headquarters all the time, and everyone treats him like a baby — and he’s decided he wants to get out, for just one night, and do his own thing.

And then Hellboy runs across a circus — A.T. Roth‘s Circus Spectacular! “From the clock strikes midnight — to the fearful crack of dawn!” A whole big circus, operating only at night, with almost no publicity, out in the middle of nowhere. Sounds wholesome, doesn’t it?

It’s pretty obvious that this isn’t a normal circus, as the clown who starts the festivities does so by causing the demonic performers to appear out of thin air in the middle of the big top. He’s enticed by a sultry succubus, but rescued by the ringmaster. Hellboy tells the ringmaster about reading the story of Pinocchio — the artificial boy who wants to be real, turns into a donkey, and is then restored when he’s eaten by a fish.

While Professor Bruttenholm and the rest of the BPRD look for him, Hellboy is shown nightmarish visions by the ringmaster. He flees the circus, pursued by demonic animals — and then gets cornered by evil spectral hobos. Can Hellboy survive the night? Will the forces of Hell turn him to their side?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A great multi-layered story by Mignola. The bit about Pinocchio seems like a throw-off bit, but the theme keeps reappearing in ways both obvious and subtle that make great sense for the story.

And Fegredo’s art is just absolutely monumental. The center ring of the circus, with the flame and lightning and demonic elephants, is stunningly beautiful. The undersea voyage, the hobo camp, the attack of the animals — all simply gorgeous. You’ll want to read this over and over just so you can glory in the artwork.

And it’s Kid Hellboy. In a circus of fear.

That’s what Halloween is all about.

Go bug your local comic shop ’til they order you a copy. You won’t regret it, children.

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