Archive for Hellboy

Friday Night Fights: All-Wrasslin’ Monster Action!

Hey, it’s the last Friday before Halloween, and that means it’s time to check in with some extra-monstery violence! So let’s get right to it — from May 2010’s brilliant Hellboy in Mexico by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben, here’s Hellboy facing off with the masked vampire luchador Camazotz!

If there’s one thing I love about Halloween, it’s the way it brings together demonic monster-fighters and vampire luchadors.

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Pour Out a 40

Comics these days seem to be full of endings and final issues and cancellations. And this week was the one for unexpected tearjerkers.

Batgirl #24

It’s the final issue of Stephanie Brown’s Batgirl series, as so wonderfully brought to the page by Bryan Q. Miller. The mastermind behind the Reapers stands revealed — and it’s Stephanie’s father, the Cluemaster! It was all part of a twisted plot to keep tabs on his daughter, and now that it’s all out in the open, he shows his latest hobby: gardening. Specifically, growing alien Black Mercy plants. He crushes them to a powder, then blows the powder into Steph’s face, but before she succumbs to the plant’s hallucinogenic powers, she still manages to defeat her father. She awakens in the hospital a few days later, learns that her mother knows her secret identity, and gets to have a rooftop chat with Babs Gordon. So what did Steph see while she was under the Black Mercy’s influence?

What follows are a half-dozen fantastically awesome splash pages depicting Stephanie’s fondest desires, ranging from just plain kicking butt as Batgirl, getting to travel back in time with Babs and Cassandra Cain as the other Batgirls to meet the Blackhawks during World War II, battling evil in a fantasy kingdom, and earning a Blue Lantern power ring (while Oracle gets a very well-deserved Green Lantern ring).

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s all awesome, from beginning to end. I’m glad Bryan Q. Miller got to give Stephanie a proper farewell, and I’m going to miss this comic and this character an awful lot.

Hats off for Batgirl, everyone.

Hellboy: The Fury #3

I don’t know if I can review this one without spoilers or not. We’ll see — but the secret about how this ends hasn’t been very well hidden anyway…

England is getting completely wrecked up by a gigantic, catastrophic lightning storm, all while Hellboy battles a dragon — in fact, while he battles The Dragon, the one who’s supposed to bring about the Apocalypse. While fighting on a field that’s foretold to be the site of Ragna Rok. Alice, Hellboy’s new girlfriend, is trying to get to him to help out somehow. She learns from Queen Mab what the world’s grim future holds. Mab says that Hellboy can’t win, and he won’t be able to help the B.P.R.D. fight off the horrors that will come about in the aftermath. But can Hellboy prevail? Can he get any last-second aid from friends in the spirit world? Can he defeat the Dragon? Can he survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s… not the ending I would’ve wanted, but it feels right, and so it’s the right ending. I didn’t spoil anything, did I? Whether I did or not, it’s an absolutely masterful comic.

The first letter in the letter column is a short note to Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, from a little kid, handwritten on lined paper. He closes it by saying, perfectly, in a way you could only come up with if you were still trying to figure your way around the English language:

“Would you want to kill Hellboy? I hope not, because I would plead you not to.”

And I got a little teary about that.

Hats off for Hellboy, everyone.

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Descent into Hell

Hellboy: The Fury #2

The war building is not just a matter Hellboy and the Noble Dead of England versus Nimue’s faerie army — this is the first act of the Apocalypse itself. The Four Horsemen are riding, two-thirds of the people on Earth are going to die, and it’s looking less and less likely that anyone is going to survive all this. Alice wants to see what’s happening and witnesses the last witches drowning themselves in remorse over helping to cause this. The Wild Hunt rides, lightning storms destroy humanity’s cities, and Arthur and his knights are destroyed. And Hellboy is battling a mighty dragon — no, wait, make that the Dragon. And Hellboy isn’t doing so great.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s apocalyptic, it’s grim, it’s terrifying — and it’s still intensely exciting and fun. The art is beautiful, the writing is beautiful, and you should be reading this.

The Unwritten #27

Tom Taylor’s investigations into his father’s journals have turned up something new — a comic book starring a superhero called the Tinker who pre-dates Superman by two years — and who almost no one has ever heard of before. Tom and Lizzie are able to magically eavesdrop on a conversation from the ’30s between Tom’s father, Wilson Taylor, and Pullman, the ruthless assassin who now runs the Cabal, in which they discuss whether the Cabal needs to be concerned about the development of the comic book medium. Later, Tom, Lizzie, and Savoy read Wilson’s journal as he recounts going in search of the comic’s creator.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I was a bit surprised that this series was going to go meta and focus on comics so soon — I was expecting some more romps through classic literature, maybe something in “Frankenstein” or non-Western lit — but it’s a pretty happy surprise. The Tinker looks like an interesting character, and it’ll be nice to learn more about what Tom’s father used to do when he worked for the Cabal.

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Brain Games

iZombie #14

Gwen finds herself in an even stranger situation than normal — the most recent brain she’s eaten was from a skeeball nut who wants her team to win the league championship. Yes, apparently, there is a such thing as competitive skeeball. So Gwen is posing as a skeeball whiz from out of town who’s doing the team a favor for her “late friend” — and she suddenly discovers Amon the mummy hanging out watching everyone play. Turns out he really is a genuine over-the-moon near-demented skeeball fanatic. Horatio is having to deal with an unusually large number of zombies than Eugene, Oregon normally has to deal with. And where are Ellie the ghost and Spot the were-terrier? Well, Spot’s stuck underground where he’s been fighting off zombies for quite a while, and Ellie is trying to figure out how to get him free. Meanwhile, with the more-secret-than-normal covert ops group called the Dead Presidents, the team is planning their next moves against a mysterious zombie master — and they may be heading for Eugene soon.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The extremely rational and sophisticated Amon’s obsession with skeeball comes completely out of nowhere and is absolutely hilarious. Plus we’ve got tons and tons of intrigue and more fun stuff with the Dead Presidents.

How to improve this series: Definitely keep writer Chris Roberson on board this series. He’s announced he’ll stay on this comic as long as he can, even though DC just kicked him off the Superman comics after he saved them from J. Michael Stracyzski’s mishandling. Roberson is an incredible writer, and Vertigo needs to make sure they stay on his good side.

Hellboy: The Fury #1

Lots of backstory needed for this one: the sorceress Nimue has crowned herself the Goddess of War and plans to lead an army of monsters to destroy humanity. Hellboy has learned he’s descended on his mother’s side from King Arthur himself, making him the rightful king of England, but he’s decided he doesn’t want to lead the army of England’s noble dead, and he’s set out to battle Nimue’s forces alone — and he’s booked passage to Nimue’s castle through the Russian witch Baba Yaga, in exchange for one of his eyes.

As Hellboy gets to the castle, Nimue is having some serious trouble with unwelcome transformations and a growing realization that she’s merely a pawn of the Ogdru Jahad, who will destroy everything on Earth, including her. Alice Monaghan hands Excalibur over to an impossibly old man, who turns out to be Arthur himself, and Hellboy battles his way through Nimue’s army — and through Nimue, who turns out to be Hecate. Having come so far, is there anything Hellboy can do to stop mankind’s destruction?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So awesome to see Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo doing work this amazingly beautiful.

How to improve this series: Right now, there’s nothing that can be done to improve this. It’s pretty near perfect.

B.P.R.D.: The Dead Remembered #3

Young pyrokinetic Liz Sherman has traveled to a small town with Professor Bruttenholm of the B.P.R.D. to try to stop a haunting. But while the professor and the local priest try to exorcise the house, Liz and a local boy she’s befriended have realized that the house isn’t haunted — it’s the woods around the house. And their attempts to dispel the spirit aren’t turning out well — though Liz assumes the ghost was an innocent woman executed as a witch, it turns out she really was a witch, and not a very nice one. She’s using Liz’s powers to make herself stronger. How will they be able to get rid of the ghost before she kills someone?

Verdict: Thumbs up — but the ending was a lot weaker than I expected. Up ’til then, there was great mood, outstanding art, colossally awesome escalation of the action, especially jumping back and forth between the present and the past. The ending was weak, but it was still fun to read.

How to improve this series: Well, like I said, a stronger ending, with more stuff for Liz to do, would’ve been good. And the art by Karl Moline and Andy Owens was just grand, so I’d like to see more from them somewhere down the line.

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A Cloud of Bats

Batman Inc. #6

The global underworld is plenty alarmed by the presence of Batman Incorporated — Bruce Wayne is recruiting new Batmen left and right. He puts Red Robin in charge of the newest version of the Outsiders, uses a bunch of sockpuppets to spread doubt about his true identity, and informs everyone that they’re going after a multinational crime ring called Leviathan. We catch glimpses of Batman Inc. associates like Nightrunner (nice to see DC didn’t get run off by the short-lived controversy over that character), Batgirl, Huntress, Oracle (her online avatar now has its own bat ears), Blackbat (Cassandra Cain, the much-missed former Batgirl), Australia’s Dark Ranger, North Africa’s Batwing, a new Wingman, Gaucho, and much more. But Leviathan has plenty of tricks up its sleeve…

Verdict: Thumbs up. So very many awesome things here, particularly the return of Cassandra Cain. I just love the way the story and all of these characters are coming together.

Hellboy: Being Human

Mike Mignola reunites with superstar horror artist Richard Corben for a new story from Hellboy’s past, this time co-starring the late Roger the Homunculus. The story is set in 2000, when Roger hasn’t been alive long and is still wracked by guilt because he accidentally (but only temporarily) killed Liz Sherman when he was brought to life. Hellboy brings him along on a minor haunting in South Carolina. Someone keeps digging up a long-dead family and moving them into the ruin of their old family home. When the witch who raised the family to torture them returns, she immobilizes Hellboy with a mystical Hand of Glory — but will Roger stand a chance of freeing his friend and stopping the witch?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, Mignola and Corben are a combo that can’t miss. Lots of awesome zombies, demons, and horrors, beautifully illustrated by Corben and beautifully humanized by Mignola.

The Unwritten #25

Tom Taylor finally returns to Earth after a few months of getting knocked around inside literature itself. Lizzie Hexam and the newly vampiric Richie Savoy are planning on breaking into an auction house to steal a lot of items originally owned by Tom’s father, Wilson Taylor — and Tom’s new mastery over the crystal doorknob will allow them to march right past the security. But will Tom be able to resist exploring his memories inside the auction house? And will they be able to deal with their enemies inside?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice start to a new storyarc, with Tom finally in more control of his magical abilities and the search for the truth getting taken to a higher and more dangerous level.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • A “useless machine” is basically an engineer’s joke. You switch it on, and a mechanical hand emerges to shut itself back off again. Most are pretty simple. This one is pretty epic.
  • This recipe for vegan pad thai is the most metal recipe for vegan pad thai ever.
  • There’s something about these “My Little Pony” mashups that I just can’t get enough of.

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Down the Rabbit Hole

The Unwritten #24

We get another break from the main storyline to return to the intensely freaky tale of Pauly Bruckner, reluctant and foul-mouthed storybook rabbit. After escaping from a children’s story set in idyllic Willowbank Wood, Pauly finds himself trapped on a surreal and deeply depressing endless staircase with a bunch of other storybook animals, all trying to climb to a possibly mythical Golden Door. Pauly eventually winds up taking over the group and leading it his own way, but is there really any way out for him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So very, very weird. I wish Pauly Bruckner had his own series — he’s just so wonderfully bizarre.

Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish

So who is Buster Oakley? He’s an awkward teenager dabbling with his friends in witchcraft and Satanism, hoping for amazing power. Hellboy is called out to his small area of Kansas after he and his friends disappear and after a bunch of cows disappear and later turn up mutilated. Hellboy is expecting to have to deal with Satanists… but he gets one heck of a surprise when he gets abducted by aliens. Of course, we can expect that Hellboy will come out of this okay, but can we say the same thing for Buster?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice, action-packed story with a giant dollop of humor on top. We don’t often — or ever, really — see Hellboy fighting bug-eyed aliens from outer space, so this is one heck of a change of pace. And Kevin Nowlan’s artwork is a ton of fun, too. If you haven’t gotten this yet, go do so as fast as you can.

Batman and Robin #22

The White Knight intends to kill off as many relatives of Arkham inmates as he can, because he believes they’re all tainted by their association with their crazy, criminal relatives. Batman and Robin save as many as possible, then follow the White Knight to Arkham Asylum itself, where he intends to drown all the inmates. We get the White Knight’s origin, including his connection to Dr. Phosphorus, and we get a furious punch-a-thon to close out the storyarc.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, very nice artwork, and a pretty good conclusion. My only quibble — we never learn exactly how Robin manages to save all the drowning inmates.

Secret Six #32

So the Secret Six have gone to Hell — this time, in a luxury elevator operated by Etrigan the Demon. And their primary foe is their former teammate Ragdoll, who has been made a Prince of Hell. And besides his army of demons backing him up, he’s also got his old deceased friend Parademon on hand. Ragdoll worries that he’s going sane, Catman goes looking for his father, Bane learns that he’s likely hellbound, despite his attempts to live an honorable life, and Ragdoll reveals a surprising ally.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, good characterization, and lots of twists and turns.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales

Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #2

Well, Hellboy is trapped in a basement with a monster that’s part zombie, part ghost, part nursery-rhyme-quoting little girl, and he’s not doing so well. The monster can knock him around easily, but she turns insubstantial everytime Hellboy throws a punch. Meanwhile, the vampire who created her and turned her big sister into a vamp gets mad when he finds out that Hellboy killed the older vampire, so he sets a horde of zombies after a couple of investigating B.P.R.D. agents. Can Hellboy figure out a way to stop all this? Or is his usual punch-first-ask-questions-later methodology going to release the monster into the world?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely done story that flips between punchathon violent to understated creepy. Best place to find stories like that is, as usual, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy stories.

iZombie #10

Gwen finally goes to see Tricia Nakagawa — a girl who knew her when she was still alive — to let her know that her deceased mother still loves her — and discovers a secret she was not prepared for. Spot discovers that Ellie’s new talent of shoehorning her soul into other people’s bodies might be useful for helping his grandfather. Horatio and Diogenes have some serious trouble with the vampires. And Galatea’s plans get progressively nastier.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But this is a series that’s starting to look like it’s mired down in soap-opera plot developments that never lead to any resolution — it’d be nice to see some plot threads start getting tied down here and there.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #1

Edward Grey, former Witchfinder for the British government, has gone walkabout in the American West. He stumbles into a mostly lawless town with a destroyed church. He ends up gunning down a lot of the locals in a saloon gunfight and gets escorted out of town by a frontier scout — who probably just saved him from getting beaten to death by the rest of the folks in town. The scout reveals some of the town’s past — a mysterious incident that cause much of the population to vanish, leaving only some sort of magic circle etched into the floor of the church. So what’s behind all this? And why do so many people want Sir Edward dead?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice beginning for a new storyline — and I like the idea of moving the very British Witchfinder into a more rough-and-tumble environment.

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Elephant Graveyard

Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #4

Edward Hyde, the good half of serial killer H.H. Holmes — well, he might not be the good half after all. In fact, there may be no good half of him, because the minute he’s alone with Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, he goes straight-up psycho on him. Can Billy and the rest of the freak posse catch up to him before he makes his escape? And in the backup story, the Goon and Franky are up against a gang of feral hobos, the King Hobo, and Dr. Metaphoric Name. Can they survive the terrifying onslaught?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some unexpected twists to the story and altogether a good ending, along with a nice lead-in for the next series. The Goon story is, as always, funny, crude, and awesome.

Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #1

Hellboy is hunting a vampire, when some old guy shoots him to rescue the bloodsucker. When Hellboy gets back to his feet, he tracks the vamp’s blood trail back to an old mansion, where the old gunman tells how an vampire once decimated his family, turning him into a slave, turning one of his sisters into a vampire (the one, in fact, that Hellboy just destroyed), and doing something even more unspeakable to his youngest sister. And when Hellboy gets dropped into the spooky basement, something nasty is going to be coming after him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice and creepy, just like I like my Hellboy stories.

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The Hero Sandwich List of Favorite Comics for 2010

I don’t think I’ve ever tried to do a year-end retrospective list — it’s always too difficult for me to pick out a list of things I enjoyed the most out of 12 whole months. But what the heck, I’m gonna try it today.

This list is strictly listed in alphabetical order. I can’t claim it’s a list of the best comics — I haven’t read all the comics, after all — but it’s the list of the 15 comics that I enjoyed the most.

American Vampire

Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Stephen King came together to re-invent the vampire for the rough-and-tumble American West. Outstanding characters, close attention to setting, and rip-snorting horror make this a must-read for anyone who loves non-sparkly bloodsuckers.


The adventures of Stephanie Brown as the newest Batgirl are full of great humor, great action, great dialogue, and great characterizations. This is one of the best superhero comics around.

Batman and Robin

Grant Morrison’s triumphant run of Batman comics had its most epic stretch in these stories of Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne, as well as Alfred, Dr. Hurt, and the Joker. The scale of Morrison’s storytelling here was breathtaking.

Blackest Night

Possibly the most successful crossover storyarc in years, this grabbed readers’ imaginations and didn’t let go for months. Even better than its commercial successes were the overall excellence of the plotline. At its height, there was nothing as good as this story about zombies, power rings, and emotions.


I’m not a fan of the new series, but Garth Ennis’ original Crossed miniseries was the most harrowing, brutal, relentless, depressing, and terrifying horror comic to hit the stands in a long, long time.


This was, without a single doubt, the best comic series of the entire year. Nothing else came close. Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon deserve to win so many awards for this one. If you missed this series in the original run, you should definitely keep your eyes open in the next few months for the trade paperback.

Detective Comics starring Batwoman

Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III didn’t create the character, but they crafted her best stories. While Rucka brilliantly fleshed out her backstory, personality, and supporting cast, Williams took the stories and created some of the year’s most beautiful artwork and design.

Hellboy in Mexico

This story of, well, Hellboy in Mexico was my favorite, but I also loved all of the other collaborations between Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and fantasy artist Richard Corben. These two meshed together creatively in ways that very few creators are able to do, and all of us readers were the beneficiaries.

Joe the Barbarian

Grant Morrison’s fantasy story is both epic and mundane in scale, which is really quite a trick — Joe is in diabetic shock, and he’s hallucinating that his home and toys have turned into a fantasy kingdom. But what if he’s not really hallucinating?

Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit

The second chapter of Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of Donald Westlake’s crime fiction is a beautiful tribute to Cooke’s retro-cool art sensibilities and the pure fun of good pulp crime novels.

Power Girl

Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner created the best version of Power Girl ever for a year’s worth of funny, smart, sexy, exciting superhero stories. These creators loved this character, and you can tell that in every story they published about her. I still hope they’ll be able to come back to this title eventually.

Secret Six

Far and away DC’s best team book, Gail Simone has hooked us a bunch of people who are extremely likeable and also completely crazy and prone to trying to kill each other from moment to moment. This shouldn’t work as well as it does, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s colossal fun to read every single month.

Strange Science Fantasy

Scott Morse’s retro-pulp series packed a heck of a lot of audacious fun into six short issues. This was a treat visually, emotionally, intellectually — even on a tactile level, what with the heavy, rough paper it was printed on.

Thor and the Warriors Four

The Power Pack go to Asgard. I didn’t really expect much of it, to be honest, but readers were treated to godlike quantities of humor, excitement, whimsey, and awesomeness, thanks to writer Alex Zalben and artists Gurihiru, and to Colleen Coover’s excellent backup stories.

Tiny Titans

Probably the best all-ages comic out there right now. These comics are smart and funny and cute and just plain fun to read.

Aaaaand that’s what I got. There were plenty of other comics that just barely missed the cut, but these were nevertheless the ones that gave me the most joy when I was reading them.

So farewell, 2010. And hello, rapidly onrushing 2011. Hope you’re a better year for all of us, and I hope we can all look forward to plenty more great comics to come.

Now y’all be safe and have a good time tonight, but call a cab if you need it — I want to make sure all of y’all are here to read me in 2011.

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Hell is for Heroes

Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil

We get a couple cool Hellboy stories here, written by Mike Mignola, illustrated by Richard Corben, and framed as a couple of late movies at the most run-down theater in the universe.

In the first one, Hellboy is called in to investigate a man named Sullivan who claims his home is forcing him to kill — he tricks someone into entering a specific room in the house, the door slams, screams ensue, and a few gold coins bounce down the staircase in payment. When Hellboy enters the room himself, will he be able to combat the evil both inside and out? The second story focuses on a lunatic who thinks he’s a reincarnated priest of the Egyptian god Horus who raises a bunch of mummies to fight Hellboy and kidnap a woman he loves. But when the pressure’s on, what happens to an Egyptian priest who prays to the wrong god?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love all these collaborations between Mignola and Corben — they really play to each other’s strengths in these stories. I don’t think I could pick which of these was my favorite story — both are great examples of the best in horror comics. Corben’s art really should be savored — every panel is beautiful.

Morning Glories #4

Casey is working on a plan to rescue Jade from the psychotics running the academy and is trying to recruit some of her fellow classmates to assist her. The only one who flat refuses is Jun, who has his own suspicions of how dangerous the school is. The other three agree to help and meet in the basement to make Casey’s homebrew recipe for tear gas. But of course, no plan goes off without a hitch, especially in a place as surveillance-heavy as the Morning Glory Academy.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great intrigue all around, ever deepening mysteries, ever greater dangers. Excellent dialogue, even if it sometimes does run on for too long. They say the next issue will be the end of the first storyarc, and I’m very keen to see how they’re going to wrap this up.

Tiny Titans #34

Everyone thinks Superboy and Zatara look exactly alike. They don’t see the resemblance, but sure enough, when Raven magically switches their costumes, the mistaken identity cases get even more extreme. Supergirl takes Zatara off for a flight even though he can’t fly, and Cassie, Starfire, Barbara, and Bumblebee drag Superboy along to get him to create party favors for their tea party. All that plus Robin spends the whole issue eating breakfast, Jor-El shows off his observational skills, Plasmus gets a tuxedo, and everyone gets their own Kid Flash costume.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, lots and lots of funny stuff. I only wish we’d seen more of the cast in this issue — these stories seem to hit their highest points when more of the Titans get to participate in the madness.

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