Archive for Luchadores!

House of Hellboy

Hellboy: House of the Living Dead

This came out last year, and somehow I missed it entirely ’til just a couple months ago. It’s yet another installment in the always-enjoyable collaborations between writer and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and horror-art legend Richard Corben. Even better, it’s a direct sequel to their glorious “Hellboy in Mexico” one-shot from a couple of years back.

Let’s look at some of the backstory here: in the 1950s, Hellboy spent time in Mexico, drinking and fighting vampires with three brothers who were luchadores — masked Mexican wrestlers. But one of the brothers was turned into a vampire, and Hellboy was forced to destroy him in a wrestling bout in an ancient Aztec temple surrounded by zombies — and the guilt sent him into the bottle for several years. This is a story from that era of Hellboy’s history.

So Hellboy is now supporting himself and his drinking habit by wrestling as a luchadore himself. He’s visited by a man who offers him the chance to wrestle his employer’s champion — and if Hellboy refuses, he’ll kill an innocent girl. And Hellboy soon finds himself dealing with a genuine mad scientist, his genuine crazed hunchbacked assistant, and a genuine Frankenstein monster — who Hellboy must defeat to save the girl. And even if he can stop the monster — which isn’t guaranteed — he’ll also have to deal with a werewolf, vampires, and demons before the night is through.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An excellent story, action-packed, funny, melancholy, and crammed to the gills with everything you’d want in a Halloween comic. Mignola claims to have never watched any of the classic Mexican luchadore-vs.-monster movies, but what he’s created here is at least as good — you’ve got spooky stuff from all the monsters and ghosts, but you’ve also got a massive dose of atmosphere by setting it back in 1950s Mexico — earthy, poverty-stricken, traditional, and largely focused on luchadores.

Corben’s art is, as always, phenomenal — beautiful as the innocent Sonia, depraved as the mad Tupo, gruesome as the stitched-together brute, menacing as the revitalized vampire and his brides — he even manages pure simple blandness in the dimly obedient Raul. It’s at turns gorgeous and brutal, and you couldn’t look away if you wanted to.

It’s a grand comic, perfect for Halloween or any time you need awesome monsters and luchadores to get through your day. It’s definitely worth picking up — go bug your local shop for it.

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Muy Bueno!

Hellboy in Mexico

A cool little tale of Hellboy’s past, released by Dark Horse in time for Cinco de Mayo — back in 1956, he was assigned to travel to Mexico to track down a force that was causing vampires, witches, and monsters to attack and murder whole villages of innocent people. He runs into some allies — three brothers, all luchadore wrestlers, who had a vision in which the Virgin Mary commanded them to go forth and fight evil. They team up with Hellboy, and all four spend their days destroying monsters and their nights partying hard. Hellboy gets along especially well with the youngest brother, Esteban. But they get sloppy one night, and Esteban gets taken by dark forces. Days of searching turns up nothing, no matter how many vampires they torture, until they find a poster advertising a new rudo luchadore, Camazotz — and a scrawled note demanding Hellboy meet him for a wrestling match from hell. Does Hellboy stand a chance against his former friend?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Numerous thumbs up. Multitudinous thumbs up. Combining Hellboy with luchadores and vampires and zombies is something that’s been hinted at from time to time — the character Lobster Johnson’s history includes a number of old Mexican luchadore movies made in his name — but this is just beyond awesome. It’s a little surprising that we haven’t seen stuff like this more often — we’ve followed Hellboy into just about every other corner of the world already. It really does combine the two genres — Mignola-style pulp horror and luchadore fiction — perfectly — part scary, part heartbreaking, part pure kaboom-blasting-brilliant. I want more of this stuff so very, very much.

Detective Comics #864

Looks like our focus is now going to pass from Batwoman back to Batman — this time, we’re getting a story about Dr. Jeremiah Arkham, former director of Arkham Asylum. He’s now an inmate of his asylum, despised by his former inmates but still ultimately ruling over them because he’s such a remorseless psycho badass and because he used to be the mad mob boss Black Mask. But Arkham still has some big plots in place — he’s attached a bomb to the chest of a stockbroker to get him to sabotage the stock of every corporation in Gotham. Batman has a plan to get Arkham to reveal the codes to disarm the bomb — he gives him access to his three secret patients — three emotionally damaged people who Arkham has kept hidden in cells deep in the asylum’s depths — but is Arkham prepared for the strange transformations his patients have undergone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Weird, weird, weird. Disorienting and skewed, brutal and mad. Just perfect for a story set inside a madhouse.

Spider-Man: Fever #2

Spidey’s soul has been captured by a bunch of interdimensional spider-demons. They plan to eat him, but they perceive that he’s part spider and part human. So they give him a test — travel into the world of the flies and capture something called the Sorror-Fly. Meanwhile, Dr. Strange travels the mad magical dimensions trying to track Spider-Man down. He gets help from some dog creatures and from an Australian sorceress on walkabout. He travels down a magical river in a mystic swan-boat, meets up with sentient matchsticks (“I’m sorry,” he says. “I don’t speak Match.”), and makes his way through one bizarre world after another. Will he be able to save Spider-Man? And how close is Spidey’s relationship to the spider-demons?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of awesomely weird stuff. Brendan McCarthy really unleashes his imagination here, with an incredibly mad plot and fantastic, crazed artwork. Spidey’s costume as he journeys into the desert is really cool, and almost every page is just beautifully rendered. It may not always make perfect sense, but it’s turning into an outstanding ride.

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