Archive for Hellboy

A Dance with Death


Revival #36

The Cypress sisters are missing and on the run, and the military wants them back in their facility, in jail, or dead — and they’re also working on capturing the disembodied souls of the revivers, so they can destroy the threat of the revivers by letting them self-destruct when they contact their souls. Meanwhile, Lester Majak gets in trouble when he can’t see below his new girlfriend’s surface appearance, and General Cale pays a visit to — no joke — a secret Amish ninja.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s been a while since we’ve seen poor Lester, and it looks like he’s finally realizing what a lousy person he is. And Weaver Fannie, the sword-slinging Amish warrior, looks like an interesting addition to the cast.


Hellboy Winter Special

We don’t see these nearly often enough — a short anthology comic of Hellboy stories. We get a story skulls and shamans in the distant past (written by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie, with art by Tim Sale). We get Hellboy helping settle a bunch of Chinese ghosts trapped in the Midwest (written by Mignola and Chris Roberson with art by Michael Walsh). We get Hellboy and a young Liz Sherman meeting up with a bunch of bad snowmen (story by Chelsea Cain with art by Michael Avon Oeming). And we get Dean Rankine showing us what happens when Lobster Johnson wants takeout.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Stories ranging from goofy to deadly serious, with some late Christmas cheer mixed in with supernatural terror. We should see stuff like this all the time — you can’t tell me there aren’t hordes of comics creators who wouldn’t love to make some short, snappy Hellboy comics, right?

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To the Devil, a Dinosaur!


Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1

So what do you get when an immense, quasi-intelligent tyrannosaur travels through time and meets a schoolgirl with a genius intellect and limited social skills? You get a great big bucket of glory, that’s what you get.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh, come on, you didn’t even need that much plot outline, did you? Brandon Mongclare and Amy Reeder write the story, and Natacha Bustos provides the art. We get a wonderful heroine in intelligent, awkward, arrogant Lunella Lafayette — and in the original Moon Boy’s brief appearance, he winds up being more interesting and appealing than he’s been in most of the other times we’ve seen him. Devil Dinosaur himself is still a bit of a cypher, but I’m sure that’ll change in future issues.


Itty Bitty Hellboy: The Search for the Were-Jaguar! #1

Art Baltazar and Franco bring Mike Mignola’s pulp horror heroes back in kid-friendly form. Hellboy and Liz are on the way to the Island of Rogers, where all the Rogers the Homunculi live. They only have one pair of underwear, and the one who wears that single pair is the leader of the whole island. So this mission of mercy is to bring all of them underwear. Because, good grief, those homunculi need undies! Meanwhile, Rasputin and Karl are on their way to the island to photograph the mysterious were-jaguar, but they’re soon captured by the Rogers. Hellboy and Liz meet up with Kate from the BPRD, and Lobster Johnson and Smitty go after the bad guys, with limited success. Will the Rogers ever get their undies? Will the were-jaguar make his appearance?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s always wonderful to see Baltazar and Franco making great all-ages comics, and they really out-do themselves when it comes to these normally-dark characters.


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Some dire villain has used a convenient Time Platform to erase Squirrel Girl and Tippy-Toe from the current timeline while also sending them back in time to the 1960s! And the only person who can remember her at all is her roommate Nancy! Can Doreen and Tippy get accustomed to life in the ’60s? Can they make contact with other time travelers? Can they figure out how to get back to the present? Will Nancy find out who’s responsible for this villainy? Maybe someone who owns a Time Platform and hates Squirrel Girl and is on the cover of this comic anyway?

Verdict: Thumbs up. All the stuff we love about Squirrel Girl, just transported back to the ’60s. There are lots of little moments to appreciate here — Doreen’s newspaper ad trying to get in touch with other time travelers is really excellent, for example.

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Hello, Kitty


Hellboy in Hell #8

Hellboy must be cured of the condition that’s causing him to waste away, and he needs to contend with the giant monster version of Dr. Coppelius, who wants to kill Dr. Hoffman — the only man who can cure Hellboy. Hoffman manages to trap Coppelius in the body of a dead cat — but at that point, you’ve got a giant vengeful dead cat, which isn’t much of an improvement. Once Coppelius is vanquished, Hoffman is able to reveal that the Furies themselves are after Hellboy, claiming that he spilled his family’s blood. But it turns out he’s innocent — his demonic half-sister is to blame. Who gets punished now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very fun story with Mike Mignola’s always great art. Loved the depiction of the Furies — a trio of monstrous buzzing green flies.


Red Sonja #18

The mad empress still wants the librarians’ spire burned down, and Sonja has committed herself to protecting them. While they wait, the librarian-priestesses read her stories from their books. In time, Sonja learns that the Empress has sent her Vipers — three vastly skilled and terribly cruel assassins. She’s heard of all three — she figures she might be able to take down two of them, but not all three. So what’s to be done? Will evil finally prevail?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A brutal and action-packed story — and a reminder that while Sonja is a devil of a warrior, she also has more brains and heart than anyone ever gives her credit for. This may be Gail Simone’s final story in this series, but I hope whoever takes over keeps up the high quality tales.


Nameless #5

Against the backdrop of a high-tech seance held in a gloriously eerie haunted house, we learn more (or do we?) about the monstrous and infinite power of Xibalba, and about the horrible past and present of the man called Nameless. Who are Nameless’s enemies? Who are his allies? What hope can there be when God is an impossibly sadistic alien serial killer?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Half the time, I didn’t even know what was going on — but I still loved every minute. It’s creepy, gory, quiet, apocalyptic horror, and the series is still worth reading and enjoying.

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Swear-In Jar


Prez #3

Beth Ross is about to be sworn in as the new President of the United States. Her vice president is Preston Rickard, who is so hated in Washington that no one will ever assassinate Beth, just to keep Rickard out of the Big Chair. Beth decides to build her cabinet out of the smartest people in the country, including a Neil DeGrasse Tyson analogue and an unemployed foreign policy expert. But the powers-that-be are hoping to assassinate Beth after she takes her oath of office but before Rickard does — will her presidency end before it even begins?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love the story, but a lot of the really great stuff in this issue is background. We follow factory drone Manny Esposito as he gets used and abused by the megacorps that run the world, and that gives us a ton of info about this future version of America. And the distressing thing is how close it really is to the current version of America. Business, politics, and media are getting more and more sociopathic and corrupt as time goes on. How long will it take for the world of this comic to look like the our own world? Heck, all we need to do is develop better hologram technology, and we’re there. Let’s just call it now — this is the sharpest work of political satire currently being produced in comics. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that this is the best political satire being produced in any medium right now.


Hellboy in Hell #7

Been a while since we saw the last issue of this, hasn’t it? The previous issue came out about 15 months ago — I’d actually thought the series was over. But Mike Mignola is apparently still hard at work on it. This issue has Hellboy suffering from a parasitical infection of his very soul, which is causing him to waste away. After a brief vision of his love Alice, who tells him that the world is dying but will be reborn in England through a new World Tree, his new doctors take him for treatment to Dr. Hoffman, who is being persecuted by Dr. Coppelius, who possesses great supernatural powers, as well as an even greater grudge. Hoffman thinks he can devise a cure, but Hellboy will have to hold off Coppelius…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s always great to see Mignola writing and illustrating Hellboy. A number of great things in here, too — the creepy recitation of the Three Witches’ speech from “Macbeth,” the glorious glimpse we get of Alice, and a golem yelling “Halibut!” — so it’s certainly worth picking up.


Lumberjanes #17

Abigail is dead-set on destroying the monstrous Grootslang — and she really can’t destroy it. It’s much too powerful, and after it gets done killing her, it’s going to go wild on everyone else it can, too. While Rosie tries to save Abigail, the girls are researching how to stop the Grootslang. Turns out it loves jewels, and they’ve found a gigantic stash of jewels in Abigail’s cabin. But what if it can’t be bribed? There’s sure to be trouble then…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great story all the way around — great drama and humor, great characterization and conflict, great humor. And a great, understated cliffhanger, too.

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Eyes Wide Shutter


Shutter #2

Kate Kristopher, once the world’s greatest explorer, has been kidnapped by a robot and a bunch of ghost ninjas, while little mouse people imprison her in a crystal gem prison. And then a bunch of lion gangsters driving a flying car attack, all while the NYPD’s saucer police try to contain the mayhem. Kate makes a narrow escape, but winds up in the hospital, while the lions and ninjas go to jail. But powerful sorcerous interests want Kate — and they may be closer to her than she suspects.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Such a wonderfully weird, bizarre book. But I do hope Kate starts acting a bit more proactively — she doesn’t do much in this issue.


Hellboy in Hell #6

Hellboy is still trapped in Hell, and it seems that his punishment is to hang around listening to 19th-century fops rattle on. But then he gets attacked by a vampire, and there’s a great big brawl all over Hell. Does this great battle mean anything to the future of Hell — or is it all a dispute over an old card game?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s ultimately a light, fun story — and there’s still some interesting hints about Hell’s future being talked about at the very end. Ahh, yes, plus we also get to enjoy Mike Mignola’s artwork — that’s always a big plus.


The Returning #3

Beth Turner has been cornered by a horde of changers — people who’ve had a near-death experience and are now dangerous homicidal maniacs — and they really want her dead. But somehow, Beth discovers that she’s able to fight them all off and even kill a couple of them, even though she’s just taken a bullet to the shoulder and has never been a fighter. She makes her escape and goes to a local diner, hoping to get cleaned up and get on her way. But the local folks recognize her, and one of them shoots her in the stomach. After she fights them off, too, she runs into Marcus Harmon, her mysterious benefactor. He tells her that changers are actually possessed by demons, he and she are both possessed by angels instead, and it’s their job to destroy the changers based on the names that appear on their bodies wherever they’ve been wounded. So why has Marcus’ name appeared on Beth now?

Verdict: Still not really sure about this one. Usually by this point in a short horror series, the explanations are all out of the way, but in this case, there are just more and more mysteries piling up. Don’t know how they’re going to wrap it all up next issue…

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The Red-Headed League

Y’all up for a bunch of comics about redheads?


Red Sonja #8

Sonja has successfully corralled Gribaldi, the world’s greatest chef, on the orders of a corrupt emperor, who wants to experience the talents of the greatest artisans in the world before he dies. Gribaldi is obsessed with cuisine, which doesn’t endear him to Sonja, who sees food only as sustenance — and she’s also frustrated because she can’t convince Gribaldi to help her satisfy her more carnal hungers.

Anyway, Sonja and Gribaldi are now off on their second quest — to obtain the services of Kalayah, the world’s greatest animal trainer. Unfortunately, Sonja would really rather see him dead, messily, because of his sadism and cruelty to the animals in his shows. But when attends a show in which a trained bear is savaged by starved dogs, Sonja mercy-kills the bear, and she and Gribaldi are thrown into the dungeon. Even if Sonja can escape execution, how will she obtain the Beast Lord’s services?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art and story, wonderful characterization, and an outstanding villain given an appropriate comeuppance. I hope you’re enjoying this comic, people.


Black Widow #5

Natasha is on the trail of a terrorist killing machine called the Hammer of God, a former Russian Orthodox monk. She tries to stop him from blowing an airplane out of the sky, but he still manages to get it on the ground. He’s killed when he’s sucked into the airplane engine, and Natasha learns that the airplane had only a single passenger. Who is he? Who paid for a whole flight just for him? What does he know, and who wants him dead?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice mix of action and intrigue, though it’s frustrating how the Black Widow’s leads keep getting killed off so quickly. But this is finally feeling like an exciting comic, and that’s definitely a good thing.


Hellboy: 20th Anniversary Sampler

Yes, Hellboy is obvously a redhead. And definitely as dead sexy as the other two.

We get an excellent collection of short stories here. First, Mike Mignola and Fabio Moon tell a tale of Hellboy’s fight against the Coffin Man, a demon who raises and steals the dead, and his shapeshifting demon donkey. And yes, this is entirely as funny and awesome as you’d expect it to be. Next, there’s a tale written and illustrated by Mignola about Hellboy going up against a poetry-quoting ghoul who has previously masqueraded as a normal family man to hide his hunger for dead bodies. We also follow Abe Sapien and Johann Strauss as they face a zombie plague with an unusual genesis. All that, plus a bunch of wonderful cartoons about Hellboy by R. Sikoryak — in the form of Peanuts, Popeye, Garfield, Dilbert, Ziggy, and more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s grand, glorious fun, with all the strongest, most enjoyable aspects of Mignola’s Hellboy storytelling on display. And that definitely includes the humor — aside from Sikoryak’s wonderful cartoons, I haven’t enjoyed a line in a comic in months the way I did Hellboy yelling “SIT DOWN, DONKEY!” at a shapeshifting monster mule.

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So Very Many Comics…

I’m still trying to clear space for more holiday gift recommendations, so I’m gonna see if I can clear all my regular comics reviews all at once. Strap on your seat belt, kids — we’re gonna do a review marathon…


FF #15

The Future Foundation has everything planned out, and they’re ready to take down Doctor Doom. They send in a bunch of robots controlled by the kids to distract Doom and his robots and to wreck up his Latverian castle, while the grownups and their allies infiltrate and sabotage Doom behind the scenes before finally moving in for the final confrontation. But will all their preparation allow them to succeed against Doom the Annihilating Conqueror?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action, great humor, intrigue, drama — and thanks to co-writer and scripter Lee Allred, the story is jam-packed with in-jokes geared directly to fans of the late, lamented City of Heroes, the best dang superhero MMO ever. I loved it, and I want a lot more of it, so I’m crossing my fingers that the series will continue, despite its predicted demise.


Red Sonja #6

Sonja was prepared to duel Dark Annisia to the death, but they’ve both been surprised by the re-emergence of the genocidal tyrant Bazrat, who reveals that the plague that afflicted Sonja and the kingdom wasn’t actually a plague at all — it was all poison administered secretly to the populace. Can Sonja and Annisia stop fighting long enough to stop the madman?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action, drama, and art, and a genuinely smart story, all wrapped up in a nice chainmail bow.


Itty Bitty Hellboy #5

Abe’s little sister Eve is having a birthday, and everyone is invited to the party! Hellboy, Liz, the Rogers, Baba (and her chicken-leg hut), Hecate, Lobster Johnson, Johann Kraus, and many more all show up. Presents are opened, seaweed cake is devoured, hot sauce is splashed on people, and Hellboy gets turned into a chicken. Just like every other day then, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very funny, very cute — it’s too bad this is the final issue, because Art Baltazar and Franco did a great job making Hellboy and his supporting cast look so adorable.


Young Avengers #14

Evil has been vanquished, and it’s time for the after party. A wide selection of artists are on hand to help document the first half of the Young Avengers’ last big party, along with most of the other young superheroes in the Marvel Universe. Wiccan and Hulkling reconcile for good, we learn more of Miss America’s origin and about her secret connection to Wiccan, and Kate Bishop decides where she stands with Noh-Varr.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bunch of excellently crafted stories about relationships — both romantic and familial — all backed up by a bunch of cool artists. I’m gonna miss this series, but it’s nice to see they’re going out pushing the envelope.


A Voice in the Dark #2

Zoey is worried that her urges to commit murder are going to get the better of her, so she starts up a campus talk-radio show, hoping she’ll be able to quell her homicidal desires by basking in other people’s darkness. And her very first caller is someone who’s contemplating suicide. Can Zoey keep her from killing herself? Can her uncle and his fellow police officers find the girl in time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art and a great story that does not go where we expect it to go. Is there anything Zoey can do to keep from getting completely washed over in blood? Maybe not — and it’ll be fun seeing how it all turns out for her…


Daredevil #34

Matt Murdock wants to strike a serious blow against the racist Sons of the Serpent — and he particularly wants to take their ally, the Jester, out of circulation. He’s managed to obtain the Darkhold, an ancient mystical book that the Sons consider their Bible, and he’s also gotten hold of a device that will allow him to broadcast to every TV, radio, and web browser in New York City. He enlists the aid of Kirsten McDuffie and then makes his broadcast, warning New Yorkers about the Sons and threatening to destroy the Darkhold if they don’t turn over the Jester. Can the gamble pay off? Or will the Sons kill McDuffie as revenge?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an excellent story, with some real shining moments for McDuffie. The action is quite nice, and as always, Javier Rodriguez’s artwork is phenomenally beautiful.


Revival #16

The authorities are now exterminating the local livestock, which has gotten a serious dose of whatever is causing the revivals, and Ramin and Sheriff Cypress are the targets of a low-level terrorist attack. Dana Cypress enlists her ex-husband Derrick and her sister Em — a secret Reviver — to help investigate whoever murdered Em. And Derrick runs into a mysteriously deformed arsonist. What the heck’s going on?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The series is definitely trending away from horror right now and back toward noir. Not a bad thing at all — great characterization and art, and I’m still loving the story.


Pretty Deadly #3

Ya know, I’m not sure I could tell you the plot in a way that’ll really make sense. But we learn more about Ginny and Fox and Death, how they got the way they are, and what may be coming up for them eventually.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I liked this issue a lot more. It made a lot more sense, I could keep track of who the characters were, and there were multiple really good, really powerful scenes. I hope they can keep the quality high on this one.

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Young Avengers #13

It’s the final battle between the Young Avengers and the monstrous shapeshifting mind-controlling Mother! And while Wiccan tries to become the Demiurge, and the teen heroes on Earth fight off the alternate-universe monster versions of the Young Avengers, the rest of the team is fighting Leah and her allies — who are all, somehow, different facets of Loki’s personality. No, I don’t understand how it works either, but once Teen Loki confesses, Leah and the rest of her stooges vanish, except for the zombie Patriot. But it may do no good, because Mother is about to eat Wiccan and take control of the universe. Can Hulkling manage to give his lover the pep talk he needs, or is this the end of everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up. No, I didn’t really understand all of it, but it was stylish and beautifully illustrated and fun, and it’s everything that great superhero comics should be — and we gotta enjoy the heck out of this series while it still lasts. So it’s worth getting, either now or whenever it gets released in trade paperback.


Velvet #2

Velvet has been framed for the death of several agents, and she’s on the run, trying to avoid getting apprehended or killed. Is there anyone she can trust, or is she completely on the outside now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, it’s a very short plot description because nearly the entire story is devoted to epic chase scenes and fistfights. The action is absolutely fantastic, and you should be reading this one for that alone.


Hellboy in Hell #5

Hey, I thought this one ended months ago. Hellboy is still in Hell, and he meets up with some old gentleman who sold his soul to the Devil years ago. He and his friends agreed to the bargain on the condition that if they could answer the demon’s questions on the day he harvested them, they could go free. Can Hellboy figure out a way to get the old man’s soul free?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice story, and it’s got real live Mike Mignola artwork. Yeah, this really better be on your list, kid.


The Fox #2

So the Fox finds himself running around some bizarre crystalline world being menaced by a giant monster — until suddenly his wife Mae appears, wearing a costume similar to his and calling herself the She-Fox. And she pretty much kicks his ass all over the city. But wait a minute — wasn’t Paul in some crystal world just a minute ago? Who’s trying to gaslight him and how can he escape? Plus we get a short backup story about the Shield and how he spent part of World War II.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story’s fine and the art’s nice. The story and characters are growing on me, though I still wish this were a bit more epic and out of the usual Marvel/DC formula.

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Heaven and Hell


Itty Bitty Hellboy #4

Well, Hellboy and his pals went to Hell last issue — this time, they’re going to visit Heaven! Watch them learn to fly clouds, explore different words starting with “H,” meet lovestruck aliens, and steal lemonade. Meanwhile, Hecate and Baba Yaga give the two Rogers some groovy disco pants.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very, very cute cartooning and storytelling — and the bit with the Rogers’ pantslessness continues to be the series’ most hilarious running joke.


FF #14

Doctor Doom is plenty irritated that he can’t track the Future Foundation, and he’s taking it out on all his allies. The Foundation, meanwhile, is holed up in the Blue Area of the Moon, enlisting the aid of Sun Tzu — an immortal alien, like Julius Caesar — to plan strategy. They also go out collecting robots and time-traveling wizards. Bentley-23 tries to sneak a peek at bathing superheroines, and Dragon Man gets the blame for it. Scott Lang is concerned that he’ll enjoy killing Doom too much, and Ahura decides to embrace adulthood and fight with the FF, rather than staying safe with the other kids. But do any of them really stand a chance against Doom?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It still has plenty of room for humor and fun, but this is also a much more serious issue, very concerned with adult concerns — and the transition from childhood to adulthood — as the team prepares to go to war.


Hawkeye #14

We get another issue focusing on Kate Bishop, trying to be a low-rent, dead-broke superhero in L.A. She volunteers to help a couple preparing for their wedding — someone has stolen the orchids they’d dreamed of having at their wedding, and some wealthy scumbag named Flynt Ward is responsible. The police refuse to get involved, and Ward has too much muscle on his side. Can Kate get the goods on the villain without getting run over by a car? Probably not…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great fun, snazzy dialogue, fun art, action all over the place. I would really love to see Kate Bishop with her own ongoing series — she’s just so much fun.

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Stories in the Sand


The Sandman: Overture #1

Neil Gaiman writing Sandman again? With J.H. Williams III on art? Is it any wonder this was something many comics readers were very interested in?

Basically, this is a Sandman prequel — the adventure that Dream was engaged in immediately before the first issue of Sandman in 1989. We get reacquainted with a few of the Sandman supporting cast as they would’ve appeared around 1913 — the Corinthian is looking for victims, Destiny and Death perceive dire omens for Morpheus’ future, Merv Pumpkinhead has had a fateful encounter with Sigmund Freud, and something strange is happening to Dream — something so strange it surprises even him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, I’m keeping the description deliberately vague. Half the fun of this is enjoying the surprises. But the story catches your interest from the beginning — a dreaming flower? Yes, please, more. — and the characters are true to how we remember them. Even the briefly-met new characters are cool in all the ways that Sandman characters should be.

Williams’ art is, as always, stunningly gorgeous, and his layouts are just so much fun. Quorian’s tale is told through branches, the Corinthian’s through teeth, Destiny’s through pages of his book, George Portcullis’ through a portcullis. And the stunning beauty of the gatefold plot twist — man, it’s something else. If you love the Sandman — and if you love comics, you really are required to love the Sandman — you definitely need to go read this book.


The Raven and the Red Death

Very simply, retellings of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and “The Masque of the Red Death,” through Richard Corben’s unique and beautiful visual and storytelling style.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I got excited about this as soon as I heard it was coming out, and I was not disappointed. I love Corben’s work, and it’s fantastic that we’re still able to see comics from him on a fairly regular basis.


Itty Bitty Hellboy #3

The gang makes banana walnut pamcakes and then annoys Baba Yaga (who lives in a bucket). They want her to use her magic powers to make everything big. Banana walnut pamcakes, cupcakes, potato chips, shoes, lobsters, you name it. Baba gets sick of it all and sends them all… TO HELL. Everyone really seems to enjoy it, and all the demons are convinced that Hellboy is going to use his big stone hand to destroy the world. Can banana walnut pamcakes save the world from fiery destruction? Meanwhile, Baba and Hecate both fall in love with Roger, so Baba clones him, so both of the girls can get some sweet, sweet homunculus lovin’.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Seriously, I think by now y’all should know how much I love this stuff, right? Baba and her bucket are hilarious, as are Liz and her love of hellfire, the giant pancakes, and the never-unfunny running gag about Roger’s underwear.

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